DFS GPP Breakdown: Divisional Round
Hey all and welcome to the Divisional Weekend! Last week went fairly well for me though nothing Earth-shattering. My lineup that had Love, Jones, Doubs and Ferguson was my best. Turning our attention to the divisional round, we only get 4 games this weekend. DraftKings has slates for Saturday and Sunday as well as a main one that has all 4. Let’s get into it.
HOUSTON TEXANS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS
There is a slight chance of wind being a factor here. Currently, the forecast calls for winds up to 17mph. We should only factor that in if it exceeds 20mph.
The Texans are fairly banged up. Noah Brown’s season is over and Robert Woods and John Metchie are dealing with ailments as well. Their defensive line has multiple players who have logged DNPs at practice this week as well. Will Anderson is one of them and that would be quite a loss for Houston.
The Ravens are much healthier and will likely (pun intended) get Mark Andrews back. The only real player to note is CB Marlon Humphrey who has not been practicing with his calf injury. That’s a plus for Houston should he miss.
The majority of interest in this matchup, from both a betting and DFS perspective, is falling on the Baltimore Ravens. Most of the talk about this game is around Lamar Jackson’s likely MVP season and the fact that the Ravens sport the best defense in football. What I feel many are ignoring is that CJ Stroud is good and well coached. DeMeco Ryans is up for coach of the year, and the crew he brought with him from San Francisco has been excellent as well, especially OC Bobby Slowik. While I agree that Baltimore is good and also well-coached, the Texans are getting a little overlooked this weekend. CJ Stroud is looking like the lowest owned QB on the slate.
Nico Collins was supposed to have a tough matchup against the Cleveland secondary last weekend, but he put up a 6 – 96 – 1 stat line and 22 DK points anyway. I’m not willing to say that he is matchup-proof yet, especially when the Texans are as banged up at WR as they are, but the Ravens were 6th worst against the WR position over the last 4 weeks of the regular season. I am a believer in John Metchie’s talent, and my hope is that he will continue to see an expanded role this weekend.
The matchup isn’t all that good for the Texan ground game, but like Collins, the same holds true for Devin Singletary and his involvement. Last week was a tough matchup and he still had 16 DK points, though a TD did bail him out. Either way, Singletary should be a considerable factor in Houston’s game plan, and teams have been running on Baltimore lately.
CBs Derek Stingley and Steven Nelson have shown themselves to be vulnerable during the regular season, and the beating Amari Cooper put on this group a few weeks back is still fresh in our minds. Other than that game against Cooper, Stingley and players like Desmond King have been playing better. Those things being said, if winds are not an issue on Saturday, then Houston could be susceptible to the deep ball. Over the final part of the season, the Texans are 3rd in receiving yards allowed to outside WRs and 1st in deep throw attempts against. The recent (which I say with air quotes because he hasn’t played in 3 weeks) deep threat for the Ravens has been OBJ. I wouldn’t count out Zay Flowers to be a featured weapon in his playoff debut. He has over a 20% target share against zone heavy teams like the Texans.
We’ve got a bit of a curveball thrown at us for this game as the Ravens signed Dalvin Cook to their active roster on Thursday. Between him, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, and MG3, this a crowded backfield. In the last meaningful game the Ravens played, December 31st against the Dolphins, Gus Edwards saw a majority of the carries. Houston has become one of the better defenses against the run, so someone like Edwards is probably going to need to get there with TDs.
I’m not liking the TE outlook for Baltimore right now. Andrews will be back, but I don’t expect Likely to take a complete backseat. Choosing between the two is almost as tough as getting the backfield correct. Some fantasy glory could be in store for the person who does, however, as the Texans allowed the 5th most yards against TEs this season and Njoku did just fine against them last Saturday too.
- Chalk: Ravens DST, Nico Collins, Lamar Jackson, Zay Flowers
- Mid: Devin Singletary, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Mark Andrews, Dalton Schultz
- Pivots: Texans DST, CJ Stroud, Rashod Bateman, OBJ, Nelson Agholor, Isaiah Likely, John Metchie, Xavier Hutchinson
- Prayer: Dalvin Cook, Brevin Jordan, Melvin Gordon
GREEN BAY PACKERS @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
Green Bay is still banged up, but that didn’t seem to matter last week against the Cowboys. CB Jaire Alexander may miss this game. While he hasn’t been the player he was in past seasons, this could still be a huge loss for Green Bay against San Fran’s multitude of receiving weapons. CBs Corey Ballentine and Carrington Valentine just don’t pose the same kind of resistance that Alexander does. Most other players like Christian Watson and Jayden Reed got in limited practices this week.
San Francisco is looking quite healthy for this one. The extra time has enabled the likes of CMC, Dre Greenlaw, and Logan Ryan to log practices this week.
Along with the Texan coaching staff and QB, I am feeling pretty strong about Jordan Love and HC Matt Lafleur having a good game plan for San Fran. Will they win? Probably not, but -10 seems high. The Packers have faced and beaten some good teams this season, and they just had their way with one of the best defenses in football. I’m not sure counting them completely out is wise.
I was spot on about the slot being the primary target with which the Packers would attack the Cowboys defense last week. However, I was quite incorrect about which receiver would be the beneficiary as it ended up being Romeo Doubs and not Jayden Reed. What an embarrassment of riches the Packers seem to have at WR now. Anytime you take out someone who has been your primary slot WR and insert someone else AND get the same production, well that’s just an extreme luxury.
The 49ers often use an additional safety in the box to help the run defense, which I anticipate them doing considering Aaron Jones’ recent usage and big game against Dallas. I further expect the 49ers to dial up some pressure on Jordan Love and force him and his penchant for throwing off his back foot to beat them. The slot WR is a weapon I expect the Packers to use again. The 49ers’ slot CB is Deommodore Lenoir. He plays both outside and in the middle, but it’s primarily slot duties for him when other teams use 3 WRs. Lenoir is 6th among all CBs in yards allowed this season.
The Packers are bad in the middle of the field as well; they are giving up the 5th most fantasy points per game to slot WRs over the last part of the season. CB Keisean Nixon allowed 82% of the balls thrown his way to be caught, and he has allowed the 2nd most receiving yards among all slot CBs. Deebo Samuel lines up all over the field, and the Niners setting him up for matchups against Nixon is a strategy that makes sense here. However, as stated earlier, should Alexander miss, both Deebo and Brandon Aiyuk will see better matchups on the perimeter as well.
George Kittle is looking to be highly owned. Green Bay has been middle of the road in terms of defending the TE spot; LB Quay Walker certainly had his hands full with Jake Ferguson last weekend. Kittle is a much more complete player than Ferguson, it just comes down to whether or not the 49ers are going to use him in the passing game or as a blocker for the run game.
Green Bay has been pretty good against the run as of late, but CMC is CMC and will factor into the 49er game plan. He’ll be one of the highest owned players on the slate. His price tag is a little depressed for the 4 gamer, but like usual, a ceiling game is probably necessary for him to make the winning lineup.
- Chalk: CMC, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Jayden Reed, Aaron Jones
- Mid: 49ers DST, Deebo Samuel, Brock Purdy
- Pivots: Packers DST, Jordan Love, Romeo Doubs, Luke Musgrave, Christian Watson, Dontayvion Wicks
- Prayer: Bo Melton, Malik Heath, Tucker Kraft, Jauan Jennings (a Deebo injury would make him viable), any other SF back.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS @ DETROIT LIONS
Tampa is mostly okay from an injury lens. Chris Godwin and Chased Edmonds registered DNPs on Wednesday, but Godwin was on the field on Thursday. Baker is on the report, but he’s been practicing and will play.
Detroit is looking pretty good as well. Their biggest concern is C Frank Ragnow who did not practice on Wednesday as he deals with a knee injury. He did get in a practice on Thursday though. Good thing as he could prove vital for the success of Detroit’s run game. Kalif Raymond also looks likely to miss again.
Even though this game only sports the second highest total of the weekend, I expect much of the ownership to land on this matchup as many expect a shootout in our one domed game of the slate.
Amon-Ra St. Brown is going to be one of the higher owned players this weekend. Tampa employs a heavy use of zone Covers 1 and 3. Against these coverages, the Sun God has a 33% 1st read rate and will often find himself up against slot CB Christian Izien who has allowed a 79.7% catch rate. The Bucs have also allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to slot WRs and the 4th most to WRs in general. It’s looking like both Josh Reynolds and Jameson Williams are going to be owned as well.
The Bucs yielded the most fantasy points to TEs over the last month of the regular season. Sam LaPorta showed no ill effects from his hyperextended knee against the Rams. Both the WR and TE position players should have run after the catch opportunities on Sunday.
Both running games are going to face a challenge in this one. The Lions and the Bucs have been two of the best run defenses in football during the second half of the season. Despite that, Rachaad White is looking at some ownership, roughly 27%. I’m betting that he will be a little lower than that considering the matchup, but the backfield is pretty much his. He’ll probably need some involvement in the passing game or multiple scores to be optimal.
These two teams played each other back in October and that was one of Baker Mayfield’s worst games of the season. However, the Lions are a pass-funnel defense, and Safety CJ Gardner-Johnson just gave the Bucs bulletin board material and some extra motivation. Over the last month of the the regular season Detroit was the 2nd worst team against WRs and 5th worst against QBs. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will run routes against CBs Kindle Vildor and Cam Sutton who are likely to be in single coverage against them. The Lions employ both single high zone coverage and man-to-man. Evans specifically has had success against both schemes this year.
- Chalk: Jared Goff, Amon-Ra, Rachaad White, Josh Reynolds, Jameson Williams
- Mid: Jahmyr Gibbs, Chris Godwin, Cade Otton, Mike Evans
- Pivots: Baker Mayfield, David Montgomery, Sam LaPorta, Lions DST, Bucs DST, Trey Palmer
- Prayer: David Moore, Chase Edmonds, DPJ
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @ BUFFALO BILLS
Fun fact: this will be Patrick Mahomes first road playoff game.
The Chiefs are looking fairly healthy. CB L’Jarius Sneed is probably the biggest concern as he deals with a calf issue. He’s been limited at practice and should play.
The Bills are dealing with some injuries, particularly at linebacker. Matt Milano is on IR. Baylor Specter and Terrel Bernard are doubtful after exiting last week against Pittsburgh. In the secondary, they continue to be without Tre White. CBs Taron Johnson and Rasul Douglas are banged up, but at least they’ve been practicing. Von Miller has been practicing as well, but overall the Bills defense could be challenged this weekend. It’s still Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, who have beaten the Bills in their last 2 playoff matchups, that Buffalo has to stop. Gabe Davis is also unlikely to play.
Kansas City is going to be foolish if they don’t attack the middle of the Bills defense with Travis Kelce and Rashee Rice. While I expect Taron Johnson to play and play slot corner against Rice, the other injuries are going to be tough for Buffalo to overcome.
Buffalo has been pretty solid against the run, especially during the second half of the year. The Chiefs will still run the ball with Isiah Pacheco as evidenced by the 24 carries they gave him last week. Unlike the situation with the Ravens, I like this matchup better if only because Pacheco will be on the field the most and getting a significant majority of the RB touches.
If the Bills win this game, it’s likely going to be because Josh Allen has a strong performance. While another 52 yard TD run could be a tall ask, a rushing TD or 2 out of Allen is possible. QBs get 6 DK points instead of 4 when they run in TDs. The better way to attack KC does appear to be on the ground, so James Cook makes some sense. Just be wary of that potential Josh Allen TD vulturing.
Despite strong back-to-back outings, DraftKings refuses to significantly increase Khalil Shakir’s salary. When you combine Sneed’s recent track record of limiting WR1s and Steffon Diggs’ near disappearance from this offense, it points toward Shakir being owned yet again in DFS. Toward the end of the season, the Chiefs were the best team in football in terms of not allowing much production to the WR position.
Kansas City has been middle of the pack against TEs. Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox are likely both in play, though Knox has recently been touchdown-dependent.
- Chalk: Josh Allen, Khalil Shakir, James Cook, Rashee Rice, Isiah Pacheco
- Mid: Bills DST, Chiefs DST, Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, Stefon Diggs, Dalton Kincaid
- Pivots: Any other Chief receiver, Dawson Knox, Gabe Davis (if he plays), CEH (while he has a role, you’re probably going to need an injury to Pacheco)
- Prayer: Trent Sherfield, Ty Johnson, Lat Murray, Deonte Harty
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Matt, aka Boris, had a friend in his high school freshman English class once mistakenly call him that, and the nickname has somehow stuck ever since. He has been playing fantasy football since the early 2000s and Daily Fantasy Sports since 2015. Boris has been writing about DFS since 2020 and is excited to be a part of GridIron Experts. He has a wife (proving someone can stand him) and a daughter. Boris loves the beach, skiing, hockey, soccer, and football. He attempts to teach high school English, and aspires to make a ton of money in DFS. Follow him on Twitter @Borisnow00.