DRAFT Divisional Round Breakdown and Top Plays
It’s Divisional Round time, degenerates, so strap on your DFS dancing shoes and let’s do this. The second weekend of the 2018 NFL playoffs is another small four-game slate, with an interesting smattering of matchups to consider.
DRAFT's weekly fantasy contests are not your typical salary cap format. Instead, they offer a series of snake-style draft contests with differing team amounts. You can choose from head-to-head, 3-team, 6-team, 8-team, or 10-team contests, with varying dollar amounts per contest. With each draft, players must select five position players: 1QB, 2RB, and 2WR/TEs. There are no salaries, no ownership percentages, and no large tourneys.
Below, I take a look at some of the best plays of the week, according to league size. You will see multiple references to aFPA, which is our schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric. By using aFPA, we remove bias so that we can level the playing field and compare matchups in an "apples-to-apples" manner. One more note: remember that DRAFT is a snake-style format, so you must plan accordingly in larger contest sizes.
With only two drafters involved, your cumulative score just has to be higher than that of your opponent. Since only 10 players are involved, stick to the elite DFS chalk here.
Tom Brady (NE) vs. TEN
Tommy is the clear QB1 this week, as he’s always productive in the postseason and has the best matchup this weekend. Tennessee ranks 17th in both QB and WR aFPA, so they’re certainly vulnerable to the pass. Even if the Patriots get ahead in this game, Brady and Bill Belichick certainly have no problem running up the score, which means more fantasy points for TB12. He averages 18.99 DRAFT points per week and is projected to score 18.50 on Saturday night.
Case Keenum (MIN) vs. NO
New Orleans' defense has been stout all season, but showed some weaknesses last week against the Panthers, allowing 349 passing yards and two scores from Cam Newton. On the other side of the ball, the Vikings' pass defense is stellar, which should mean more time for Keenum to make plays. He’s 4for4 John Paulsen’s No. 2 ranked QB this week and he is projected to score the third-most points at the position on DRAFT (16.6 points).
LeVeon Bell (PIT) vs. JAX
The Jaguars defense ranks surprisingly low when it comes to RB aFPA, sitting 24th in the league this season versus enemy backs. Bell has the best matchup of the week and with no salary to consider on DRAFT, he’s a must-grab in every contest. He averages 19.94 DRAFT points per contest and should see a similar number at home on Sunday afternoon.
Alvin Kamara (NO) @ MIN
Last week was a disappointment for those who drafted Kamara in DFS, as he only posted 33 combined yards and a touchdown. I wish I could say he has a wonderful matchup this week and that he’s guaranteed to run rampant, but the truth is, after the Jags, the remaining defenses are all tough against the run, making no RBs great plays this week. Drafting Kamara is betting on his explosiveness and speed, knowing he has game-breaking potential every time he gets a carry.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Antonio Brown (PIT) vs. JAX
Grab your blackboards folks, the chalkiest of chalk WRs is back. Sure, Brown gets the third-ranked defense in WR aFPA this week, but it really doesn’t matter. Even in Week 5, when his QB struggled mightily versus the Jags, Brown managed to score 20.7 fantasy points. He’s a stud no matter what secondary he faces.
Julio Jones (ATL) @ PHI
Jones isn’t exactly the pillar of health this week, but in a win-or-go-home situation, he should see his normal targets, which hovered around 10 per game this season. Philly’s secondary ranks 21st in WR aFPA, so they’re capable of giving up fantasy points. Jones will most likely see Ronald Darby for most of this matchup, who’s good but not a true shutdown corner. Projected to score 14.6 DRAFT points, the Falcons star wideout is a top play on Saturday.
Rob Gronkowski (NEP) vs. TEN
With no price tag at all on DRAFT, Gronk is always a member of the must-draft club. He faces the fifth-worst defense when it comes to the TE position, and is a perennial mismatch for enemy defenses. With New England expected to dominate this contest versus Tennessee, Gronk should see tons of red zone work on Saturday night. He’s DRAFT’s fourth-highest projected WR/TE on the slate (12.80 points).
When you enter a contest with only three teams, you’re either picking two players at a time, or you’re in the middle of two drafters doing just that. Same studs apply here; draft accordingly.
6, 8 or 10-Person Draft
Below you’ll find a few more player recommendations to assist in filling out five-player rosters when more players are involved. You’ll need to dig a bit deeper into the rankings to find a player or two who will out-produce the players your opponents draft.
Matt Ryan (ATL) @ PHI
Matt Ryan playing outdoors isn’t ideal, but his numbers when not in the dome are surprisingly decent this season. In six outside road contests in 2017, Ryan averaged 255 passing yards with 9 total touchdowns. In a week with tough QB matchups, Ryan is a decent play versus the Eagles and is projected to score 16.3 DRAFT points, which is 1.4 above his season average.
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. JAX
Usually, we’re all over Big Ben at home, but the Jaguars defense sees him drop a bit in the rankings this week. These two teams met earlier this season in Week 5, and Roethlisberger managed to throw 5 interceptions with 0 touchdowns. Playoff games have a different feel and atmosphere, and Pittsburgh is more experienced in that area, so I don’t expect a repeat bad performance from Roethlisberger this time around. DRAFT has him scoring 18.0 points on Sunday, which makes him draftable in contests with more than three teams.
The Rest: Since there are only four QBs remaining to choose from and they’ll all need to be drafted in larger contests, here’s the way I think they rank this week:
Leonard Fournette (JAX) @ PIT
Another guy in the disappointment department last week, Fournette scored only 9.3 DRAFT points against the Bills. Last time the Jags and Steelers met, the rookie rushed for 181 yards on 28 carries and scored twice. That was in Week 5 when Pittsburgh still had a healthy Ryan Shazier on the field, and without him, they have given up six rushing touchdowns and over 500 yards on the ground in five contests. I think he’ll get the volume this week to put up a decent number, plus some may be scared off after a dud in the Wild Card round.
Derrick Henry (TEN) @ NE
With DeMarco Murray ruled out again this week, Henry will carry the backfield load in New England on Saturday night. He posted an impressive 26.1 DRAFT points last week at Arrowhead, despite the Titans getting down early in the matchup. The rankers at DRAFT like Henry again this week, as he’s their third-highest projected rusher on the slate.
Devonta Freeman (ATL) @ PHI
Freeman is dealing with a knee issue but is expected to play on Saturday in Philadelphia. The Eagles run defense is certainly no pushover, but Freeman should see the volume needed to score points for your mini-roster this week. His touches per game during the regular season were 16.6 to Tevin Coleman’s 12.2, and he out-snapped Coleman 61% to 49%.
Dion Lewis (NE) vs. TEN
With a combined 58.1 DRAFT points in his last two outings, Lewis has carried the bulk of the load in the murky Patriots backfield. Of course, Rex Burkhead and James White appear to be healthy this week, throwing a minor wrench into DFS lineup building. New England’s 30 implied points total is the highest on the slate this week, meaning there should be plenty of work to go around. Despite Burkhead’s return, Lewis should still be the guy to draft this week in medium-sized contests. It’s probably safe to snag Burkhead or even White when there are 10 or more teams involved.
These two can be drafted almost interchangeably as they both have their merit versus the Saints. Murray sees more goal-line work, but is nearly invisible in the passing game, while McKinnon averaged 4.5 targets per game in the regular season. Drafting one over the other really depends on how you see this contest playing out. If you think Minnesota will go ahead then roll with Murray, but if you see them needing to play catchup, I’d bank more on McKinnon. They are projected as the eighth- and ninth-highest scoring backs on DRAFT, with Murray set to post 11.50 points to McKinnon’s 9.30.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Michael Thomas (NO) @ MIN
The Vikings rank second in WR aFPA which isn’t super appealing, but Thomas has the volume to make him a worthy play this week. He’s averaged 9.3 targets a game in 2017 and finished as the WR6 in overall fantasy points in the regular season. DRAFT has him as their top WR this week with a projected point total of 15.40.
Adam Thielen (MIN) vs, NO
In Weeks 16 and 17, Thielen was pretty quiet, putting up only a combined 12.5 DRAFT points to teammate Stefon Diggs’ 29.5. The Vikings will need Thielen to step up on Sunday against a Saints defense ranked 19th versus opposing wideouts. He’ll most likely be facing New Orleans’ CB Marshon Lattimore, which shouldn’t scare players away from drafting the stud WR. Similar to Murray and McKinnon above, DRAFT has Thielen and Diggs projected one after the other with Thielen’s score at 11.30 to Diggs’ 10.20.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) vs. JAX
The Steelers rookie WR was on the field for at least 85% of Pittsburgh’s snaps over the last three weeks of the regular season and dropped an insane 30.8 DRAFT points on New Year’s Eve versus Cleveland. With Brown back in the mix, his volume may take a small hit, but Smith-Schuster has the best matchup in the Steelers' offense this week, as he should avoid the A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. DRAFT has him as the fifth-highest scorer at his position on this week’s slate.
Dede Westbrook (JAX) @ PIT
Last week was a mess for Jags receivers, but they get the lowest-ranked defense versus the pass of all eight remaining playoff teams. The Steelers ended the season as third-worst in WR aFPA, which bodes well for Westbrook’s potential on Sunday. He’s at the top of the pecking order with the highest volume of targets in Week 17 and the Wild Card game for and he could be a pleasant surprise this weekend. He makes for a decent contrarian play in later rounds when players are drafting second and third tier WRs.
Brandin Cooks (NE) vs. TEN
The return of Chris Hogan could cut into Cooks' production this week, but with Brady under center, it’s always a good idea to take his WRs. Tennessee sits in the middle of the league in WR aFPA, and we know that both Brady and his coach will game plan accordingly. Cooks is projected to put up 9.80 DRAFT points on Saturday night.
Eric Decker (TEN) @ NE
Here’s your somewhat dart throw of the week, a guy who will most likely not get drafted, but could be a late-round savior. As 13.5-point underdogs, the Titans should be pass-heavy this week and Decker has shockingly been the only guy outside of Delanie Walker with double-digit red zone targets. He doesn’t come without risk, but who are we as fantasy players if we don’t take a shot in the dark at times?
Zach Ertz (PHI) vs. ATL
Atlanta ranks 26th in TE aFPA this season, which is a good thing for Ertz and his QB Nick Foles at home. In Weeks 15 and 16, the Philly TE saw a team-high 23 targets, and it’s apparent he’s a huge part of the Eagles offense, especially with Foles under center. Ertz is always in the draft conversation and could be somewhat forgotten about in larger DRAFT contests this week with all the WRs in play.
DRAFT well this week, my fellow degenerates, and go get that money!