The first round of the 2019 NFL playoffs was far from explosive. The Dallas Cowboys led the way with a whopping 24 points scored and four of eight teams didn’t even sniff 20 points.
As one can imagine, that put quite the damper on NFL DFS production. It made for very competitive tournaments, but even a good team was probably littered with a slew of bad plays.
I had some bad calls myself, but fortunately I also had several strong picks. I personally was able to cash (albeit mildly) on Yahoo, FanDuel and DraftKings, but the weak overall production curbed my winning upside.
That should change going into the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Every single game has at least a 47.5 Total, which suggests Vegas is at least anticipating several teams sounding off a bit.
Two of the best defenses in the league – Ravens and Bears – aren’t here to slow things down as much, so brace yourself for some high-flying action. Just don’t be shocked if a lot of people have good NFL DFS lineups and winning a GPP is just as hard as it was last week.
With that, let’s break down this week’s daily fantasy football slate with some of my favorite studs, sleepers and more:
NFL DFS Studs to Target
Even in a down week, I fared well in this department during the wild card round. Andrew Luck and Ezekiel Elliott were foundational pieces for virtually every lineup I created last week and they did not disappoint. Eric Ebron also scored a touchdown and the Chargers defense was a very solid play against the Ravens.
The lone gaffe? DeAndre Hopkins, who caught five passes but only managed 37 scoreless yards.
Overall, though, you were in fine shape if you stacked most of my studs.
Hopefully, I can be just as successful heading into the Divisional Round:
- Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts ($8.4k)
- Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints ($8.4k)
- Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs ($8.4k)
- Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts ($6.6k)
- New England Patriots Defense ($4.7k)
Players to Avoid
While there are always going to be some locked in plays you love, there are often options you should steer clear from as well.
Last week I wasn’t too interested in paying for the likes of Lamar Jackson, Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Blake Jarwin and the Dallas defense. For the most part, my gut didn’t lead me astray.
Jackson was brutal for three entire quarters, while nobody else on this list was so good that you regretted fading them. Luck was cheaper than Jackson on FanDuel and was just as good, too, so if you ask me this section was a perfect 5-0 from me a week ago.
Let’s keep the positive momentum rolling by avoiding these sorry sacks in round two:
- Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams ($7.8k)
- Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers ($7.4k)
- Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles ($7.3k)
- Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots ($6.2k)
- Indianapolis Colts Defense ($4k)
Contrarian Options to Consider
There aren’t too many crazy pivots to work with on a four-game slate, but there were still some things you could do to add a wrinkle or two to your NFL DFS lineup last week.
I tried doing that by rostering Nick Foles, Austin Ekeler, Alshon Jeffery, Mark Andrews and the Eagles defense on a few squads. None of those guys really panned out, although the Philly defense wasn’t awful and Jeffery notched 11 fantasy points.
Still, I’ll be hoping for much better luck with my NFL DFS contrarian picks this week:
- Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys ($7.6k)
- James White, RB, New England Patriots ($7.4k)
- Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots ($7.6k)
- Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles ($5.6k)
- Los Angeles Chargers Defense ($4.3k)
Prescott was a fine sleeper play last week, but I’m less interested in him as he hits the road to take on a talented Rams defense. That being said, the Rams do tend to give up points and they’ve been burned through the air at times this year. Nobody is going to be on Dak in this spot, either, so you know he’ll be low-owned.
White is a money contrarian play for me. The Chargers have serious problems with solid pass-catching running backs and the Pats have historically leaned on White a lot during postseason play.
James White 4900 DK @NE
Playoffs Last 2 yrs (all Home)
1 tch 19yds td
5 tch 8 yds 0td
20 tch 139 yds 3 tds
8 tch 40yds 2 tds
6 tch 28 yd 1 td
9 tch 66 yd 1 td
Home vs Road
(H) 65 tg 97 tch 681 yds 8 td
(R) 58 tg 84 tch 495 yds 4 td
LAC 23rd in DVOA vs Rec RBs#DFS
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) January 7, 2019
He also thrives at home, so things set up nicely for him in this spot. That, and I get the feeling most people won’t be amped up about his price tag or the healthy bodies in New England’s backfield. All of that should help keep his ownership low.
The same could go for Edelman, who should have a big role with Josh Gordon jettisoned to the sun. Edelman was always going to be active out of the slot regardless, but the loss of Gordon makes him a more viable touchdown threat as well. A so-so matchup with L.A. and his price tag should make him a fun contrarian play this week.
Goedert is not the first tight end people will look to, but he did show up with a score and some solid plays against a good Bears defense last week. It’s tough to know if his role will grow or not, but in a game where Philly might end up passing a lot (and the Saints could take out their top two weapons) it’s possible Goedert is very sneaky.
I actually like some Patriots plays this week, but in that same breath I think you need to consider going the other way and rostering the Bolts defense. They were rock solid last week and it’s no secret that Tom Brady and this New England offense have not been amazing this season. If the whispers turn to fact and the Pats hit a wall in round two, using the Chargers could prove to be genius.
NFL DFS Sleepers
My last stop for the second round of the NFL playoffs is the sleeper department, where you can hopefully snag a couple of cheap options that open up some salary.
Last week I didn’t hate the idea of using Dak Prescott, Darren Sproles, Keke Coutee, Hunter Henry, and the Indianapolis defense. Henry was scratched before the games started and Sproles wasn’t great, but you should have been pleased with Dak, the L.A. defense, and Coutee.
Coutee actually had a monster game (22 fantasy points) and was probably the top sleeper play from last week.
Hopefully, we can hit on someone like him again and help boost our GPP upside for the Divisional Round:
- Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers ($7.3k)
- Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs ($6.1k)
- Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints ($5.3k)
- Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers ($4.9k)
- Dallas Cowboys Defense ($4.2k)
It’s hard to find a true NFL DFS sleeper at quarterback on a four-game slate, but Rivers qualifies at this ridiculously cheap price tag. New England is not awful defensively, but they can give up production through the air and Rivers has plenty of weapons to work with. He has sneaky upside as he tries to get his first ever win against the Pats.
A cheap Chiefs player at home in a must-win game? Sure, sign me up. I know Williams could share the rock with a healthy Spencer Ware, but he’s been way too good to be banished from the offense. He is still going to get touches and if he’s the guy that scores on short runs, he’ll pay off in a hurry at this cheap price.
You will need some cheap plays if you want to load up on studs this week and Smith is one of my favorites. He obviously can take any deep ball to the house, but he also specifically destroyed this Eagles defense (10-157-1) earlier this year. Ted Ginn Jr. ($4.5k) is even sneakier, but he feels a little less reliable with so much missed time.
Dallas feels like a very sneaky defense this week. Not only do they rely on a more controlled tempo with their running game, but they have a very balanced defense that has stifled some tough offenses. If Jared Goff’s slide continues, the Cowboys could hang in this one and perform better than their price suggests.
Overall, it’s pretty clear that the second round of the NFL DFS playoffs projects as a total nightmare. I think there will be way more scoring, but more points and better options as a whole honestly only complicates things even more.
Your favorite studs are not the locks they were during the regular season. The intensity is so much greater in the playoffs and pretty much every defense out there is at least capable of playing fantastic football.
Rivers having issues with the Pats is certainly one thing to consider, everyone being down on Brady and New England is another. The steep regression of Jared Goff is another, while DFS gamers may have a tough call to pick between Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck up top.
That Colts vs. Chiefs game does feel like the game to target for the most part. I’m going to start my NFL DFS lineups with some combination of Luck/Hilton/Ebron and go from there. Ideally, I’m saving a little cash with my defense and nabbing a value rusher like Mark Ingram or Damien Williams.
I want to get at least one stud running back and one stud wide receiver, but I’ll also want to think about how to differentiate my squad. Taking a cheap shot on guys like Smith, Ginn, Chris Hogan, and Josh Reynolds may do the trick there.
There is a lot to think about this week. Hopefully, my breakdown of the Divisional Round helps you in some manner. Either way, good luck and enjoy the games!