If you rolled with my NFL DFS picks last week, odds are you at least cashed in most of the FanDuel contests you played in. The only real gaffes were Allen Hurns (nice work with the 87 passing yards, Blake Bortles) and Rishard Matthews, while virtually every other pick was good-to-great.
Drew Brees worked out as one of the best overall quarterback plays, Devonta Freeman and Leonard Fournette were both serviceable and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce both churned out solid outings.
The Jacksonville defense was an easy call, too, while Sam Ficken put up 7 fantasy points as a cheap kicking option.
I placed in several contests with these picks scattered across numerous teams, so hopefully things worked out on your end, as well.
Round two of the NFL playoffs is upon us and gives us the last normal daily fantasy football slate of the year. The next round will give DFS gamers just two games and once the Super Bowl arrives, you’ll be looking at just DraftKings’ new “one game” contests.
For now, let’s keep the focus on this week’s NFL DFS action, where there are some interesting plays to consider. Here’s a look at how my favorite lineup shakes out at FanDuel this week:
Note: FanDuel oddly did not create a 4-game main slate for their big GPPs. Use these picks as needed for those 2-game slates, but I’ll be looking at the full 4-game schedule.
QB: Tom Brady – New England Patriots ($8.8k)
Matt Ryan offers some value, but he’s on the road against a capable Eagles defense. That, and he hasn’t approached elite production much this year. Even when he’s playing well, he just doesn’t deliver as a fantasy asset. Drew Brees and Case Keenum are worth a look, but I don’t love the matchups.
That could bring DFS gamers to Nick Foles or Marcus Mariota as the other value options and to me, they’re not options at all. The same is probably the case for Big Ben. He tossed 5 picks against the Jaguars and this is just an awful matchup. All of these passers would be contrarian, but for all of the wrong reasons.
I don’t think there is any way around paying up for Tom Brady this week, while there is a strong narrative supporting a big performance. The matchup itself is favorable, as the Titans are known for stopping the run. The pass? Not so much. Tennessee gave up big plays to KC in the first half last week and on the year rank 25th against the pass, overall.
My hope would be Brady comes in with lower ownership because he’s expensive and people think there is a rift in New England. That, and his late-season form hasn’t been great. All of that isn’t enough to keep me off an elite fantasy quarterback who could easily blow up in a huge home playoff game. Fade Brady at your own risk this week.
RB: Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings ($6.8k)
Murray isn’t overly involved in Minnesota’s passing game, but he’s the team’s top rusher and will see most of the work at the goal-line. He has nice scoring upside and has seen 20+ touches in each of his last three contests.
The matchup with the Saints isn’t unforgivable, as the Saints rank just 15th against the run. Murray also has a concrete role and is a reasonable value on this slate.
Most will look to Le’Veon Bell and/or Alvin Kamara, but I’m not sure they’re necessary. I’ll just use Murray, who is cheap by comparison and could have game flow work to his advantage at home (Vikes are favored by 4).
RB: Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons ($7.2k)
Game flow should assist Freeman, too. The Eagles can be tough against the run, but Freeman is a classic do-it-all back that can kill defenses as a runner and receiver and also excels in the red-zone. Due to a lack of trust in Philly’s offense, I think Atlanta gets several cracks at touchdowns in this one.
Freeman comes in at a solid price and has panned out with 13+ fantasy points in 4 of his last 5 games. The Eagles are a brutal matchup by the numbers (#1 against the run), but Freeman’s ability to rack up catches and punch in scores make him an underrated RB option. Hopefully it makes him low owned, too.
WR: Danny Amendola – New England Patriots ($5.2k)
I’m a fan of the Pats this week, as they have the best matchup on the board. That could put Amendola front and center as an elite value option, as he can be very busy in the slot in the right situation. That could arrive this week, as the Titans struggle against the pass and I think Tom Brady could look Danny’s way, early and often.
This is a risky play due to Amendola’s low ceiling, but he’s been a big producer in the playoffs in the past and could be overlooked with all of the elite wide receiver options. I’d much rather roll the dice with him than spare Jags or Titans receivers, too.
WR: JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers ($7k)
Antonio Brown is due back, which means he should see a ton of top Jags corner, Jalen Ramsey. He posted fine numbers in this same matchup earlier in the year, but this is not a matchup to exploit and Brown won’t be quite 100%.
That doesn’t mean you flat out can’t use Brown, but I think this is the perfect situation to pull the hard fade. Instead, I’m more into Pittsburgh’s other two wide receivers, with JuJu taking the lead over Martavis Bryant. Smith-Schuster is a red-zone force and can make big plays, while he storms into the playoffs in a groove, posting 14+ fantasy points in each of his last three games.
WR: Stefon Diggs – Minnesota Vikings ($7.3k)
I’d like to find my way to Julio Jones this weekend, but I’m also not going to force him. The Falcons are still on the road against a good defense, after all, while Matt Ryan has been touch and go all year. Minnesota doesn’t have an amazing matchup against the Saints, but they did blitz New Orleans in week one and will be on their home field.
Diggs was a monster (24 fantasy points) in that contest and seems to offer some value and upside this weekend. Diggs has taken a backseat to Adam Thielen quite a bit this year, but it’ll be interesting to see if that opens the door for a better game out of him in this matchup.
On paper, Diggs should be fine, while he closed out the regular season in solid form with 12+ fantasy points in 3 straight games. Everyone wants the stud WRs on this slate, but you can’t fit them all. I think dropping down to guys like JuJu and Diggs could be a contrarian (and winning) daily fantasy strategy.
TE: Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots ($8.5k)
There are four viable tight end options on this slate, with The Gronk leading the way.
I’d be more inclined to give Zach Ertz a shot on DraftKings (full PPR), while Delanie Walker is a steep drop down from these top two options.
Austin Hooper is a punt option, but not one I’m seriously considering. Kyle Rudolph is another interesting option, but he almost certainly needs a touchdown to work out. I’m not into playing that game this week.
All roads end up leading me to Gronkowski, who was a monster at times this year and should be hungry to dominate after missing the playoffs with an injury last year. Gronk is virtually matchup proof, but he’s in a good spot against a weak Titans defense that has struggled against the pass all year.
Travis Kelce did as he pleased before being knocked out of last week’s contest with a concussion, so there’s little reason to be scared off of Gronkowski. My hope is the price tag lowers his ownership, but chalk or not, I can’t fade him this week.
K: Matt Bryant – Atlanta Falcons ($4.8k)
The top three kickers are all in play this week, but I’ll side with the discount via Bryant or Philly’s leg, Jake Elliott.
Vegas likes Atlanta to win this week and Bryant went nuts (18 fantasy points) in a win in L.A. a week ago. He’s been a top notch fantasy kicker all year, too, having dipped below 7 fantasy points just twice all season.
Bryant is in a good spot against the Eagles, who have an aggressive defense, but should be negatively impacted by the absence of Carson Wentz. Even if Philly holds strong in this game, I think Bryant being active is a pretty decent bet. You really only need 8-10 fantasy points for him to pay off and I think he gets that with ease.
I trust Philly’s offense less and I don’t trust Tennessee’s offense at all, so Bryant feels like the obvious call at kicker. If you have the cash, Stephen Gostkowkski might be the top overall play, but value considered, I’d give that label to Bryant.
You can look at Will Lutz or Kai Forbath, but Bryant is cheaper, so he’s my main man at kicker.
DEF: Atlanta Falcons ($4.4k)
New England gets Marcus Mariota at home and they’re unlikely to implode like the Chiefs did a week ago, so based on matchup, they’re my favorite defense this week.
I won’t consider the Titans on the road against Tom Brady, while the Eagles aren’t an amazing bet against a suddenly confident (and hot) Falcons squad. Minnesota is viable at home and the Saints have been improved across the board this season, but I fear these units could cancel each other out.
The Steelers are interesting against Blake Bortles, but they’re the most expensive squad available.
I prefer the Pats based on matchup, but I don’t love their price and I want their offensive options on this slate. That leads me to the Falcons, who weren’t elite during the regular season, but sure looked good holding an explosive Rams offense to 13 points last weekend.
Atlanta is fully capable of generating a pass rush and they’re facing Nick Foles, so they look like the best overall defense on the board.
Overall, this looks like a really fun 4-game daily fantasy football slate. I wish this slate was available for FanDuel’s huge GPPs, but they still have a few solid contests to compete in. My main approach is a balanced roster and I’m not seeing a huge impulse to force the would-be studs into my teams.
Elite options can disappoint in the NFL playoffs and there are some pretty brutal matchups on this slate. That has me having little issue fading guys like Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Alvin Kamara and Le’Veon Bell. They’re all beasts and warrant consideration, but I’d rather have a solid option at every position if possible.
It’s anyone’s guess if that leads to a big payday, but that’s my strategy for the Divisional Round. Use this lineup or these picks as you wish, but good luck this week, no matter how you build your NFL DFS roster!