FFPC Divisional Round Challenge Strategy
The Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) is back again with another great playoff contest. If your Playoff Challenge team didn’t go well or you missed out last week, you have another chance! Before we dive in, I’ll go over the revised rules.
The FFPC Divisional Playoff Challenge is similar to a daily fantasy tournament but is played throughout the playoffs. You build one lineup with eight players and are not allowed to make any changes for the rest of the playoffs after this Saturday. You can find the full rules here. The twist is that you are only allowed to pick one player from each team. That’s right, no stacks with one team. Your starting lineup in this contest is comprised of:
- 2-Flex (RB/WR/TE)
As is custom with contests at the FFPC, scoring is PPR and TE-Premium. This means running backs and wide receivers get one point per reception while tight ends are awarded 1.5 points per reception. The rest of the scoring is pretty standard and can be found here. The only other quirk is that players score double in the Super Bowl.
The big difference between the original Playoff Challenge and this one is you don’t have to fade any teams or use a kicker or defense.
Identify which teams you think will be in the Super Bowl
While it's easy to speculate which teams you think will be in the Super Bowl, leveraging sportsbook odds is a good way to begin identifying the favorites. Below are Super Bowl odds as of January 13, 2021 (Via DraftKings):
- Chiefs +205
- Packers +375
- Saints +600
- Bills +650
- Ravens +800
- Buccaneers +900
- L.A. Rams +2000
- Browns +3000
We can also go further from there and leverage odds from 538 and Football Outsiders to create an “expected games” total (H/T John Paulsen for the help here):
The way you use this information is by understanding which of your players will play the most games and how that relates to their upside. For example, you probably don’t want Baker Mayfield as your quarterback with only 1.27 expected games, and the worst odds at winning a Super Bowl.
Utilize our projections
Our projections are some of the best in the industry. If two players project similarly but come with a large difference in ownership, it could be the sign of a good pivot.
Mix chalk plays with pivots
The way Joe Paeno and I won this exact contest last year was by playing a low-owned Raheem Mostert over George Kittle, who had 60%+ ownership. We also played Patrick Mahomes over Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. The rest of the players were pretty chalky: DeAndre Hopkins, Stefon Diggs, Derrick Henry, Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett and Mark Andrews. We ran really pure with Mostert trampling Green Bay for over 200 yards and four touchdowns, while Kittle was blocking. The concept and idea remain valid. Let’s dig into who is expected to be chalk and some viable pivots off the chalk.
These are the players I expect to be the highest-owned on each team:
- BAL: J.K. Dobbins, Mark Andrews
- BUF: Stefon Diggs, Josh Allen
- CLE: Nick Chubb
- GB: Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers
- KC: Travis Kelce
- LAR: Cam Akers
- NO: Alvin Kamara
- TB: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Tom Brady
These are the players I perceive to be the best ways to differentiate your entry and potentially take down the entire tournament. The prize pool is extremely top-heavy so only playing the chalky plays won't get you very far.
Devin Singletary (pivot off Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen)
I expect Devin Singletary to come in extremely low-owned (under 10%) with Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen carrying most of the Bills' ownership. This might not be a Raheem Mostert type of pivot but I think it could help differentiate yourself from the field. The key here is that Zack Moss is out for the rest of the postseason. In the three games Moss missed and Singletary played, Singletary averaged 17.3 touches (compared to 10.9 with Moss in the lineup). Singletary figures to see 15+ touches against the Ravens in what should be a high-scoring contest (50-point total).
In my opinion, there are a few factors to this pivot. Singletary needs to outscore Stefon Diggs, whichever quarterback you play has to outscore Josh Allen, and playing Singletary frees up another flex spot for a wide receiver in a thin running back pool. Diggs will probably carry similar ownership to last week (60%) and Josh Allen will probably be at about 30%. It’s worth noting the Bills could very easily lose here—they are just 1.5-point favorites and will likely be 3-to-4 point underdogs next week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Singletary as the featured back, even for just one or two games, could certainly run hot and outscore Diggs with a couple of touchdowns and a more active role in the passing game. It’s nowhere near a 50/50 bet, but Diggs will likely carry ownership six-to-10 times higher than Singletary, which doesn’t reflect the true chance of Singletary outperforming him. I’m not going all-in on this pivot but will have at least some exposure.
Jarvis Landry (pivot off Nick Chubb)
Nick Chubb will very likely be higher-owned than Jarvis Landry despite the Browns entering the game as 10-point underdogs. Considering the spread, you are banking on Landry outscoring Chubb in a one-game sample. If the game plays out how sportsbooks think it will, there’s a very good chance the Browns have to abandon the run game and throw the ball almost every play towards the end of the game. That’s the exact opposite game script Nick Chubb thrives in. There’s always a chance of Chubb running in a few goal-line scores but volume should be able to carry Landry to a similar or better point total. With Odell Beckham Jr. out of the picture, Landry has seen a significant increase in his role, recording 5+ receptions in every game since Week 12. He has scored a touchdown in 4-of-6 games during that stretch. Landry has legitimate double-digit target upside considering the expected game script for the Browns—we have both players projected for 16.3 fantasy points in this spot. I don’t think this is a massive position to take, but it is an easy choice for me to make considering Chubb will likely come with more ownership and a much, much lower floor.
Tyreek Hill (pivot off Travis Kelce)
I think ownership percentages for the Chiefs will likely remain the same without them having played a game. The ownership distribution in the $200 entry for the Playoff Challenge was:
It’s really tough to fade Kelce in this contest because of the lack of depth at the tight end position outside of him. The other options are Mark Andrews, Rob Gronkowski, Jared Cook, Austin Hooper or Robert Tonyan.
However, I do think there is a decent chance Tyreek Hill outscores Kelce on a 1-to-1 basis. We have Kelce projected for 23.4 points (TE-Premium), while Hill is projected for 22.5. Kelce is projected for just 0.9 points more than Hill but will carry four-to-five times the ownership. Hill is probably my favorite pivot off Kelce if you choose to fade him. It’s certainly not easy to project Kelce to have a bad game, but Hill has 13/269/3 upside, as we saw against Tampa Bay in Week 12 (Kelce went 8/82/0 in that game). It’s not out of Hill's range of outcomes to outscore Kelce. At a fraction of the ownership, it could pay massive dividends to fade Kelce. If you do pivot off Kelce, Gronk, Hooper or Andrews all make sense at the tight end position.
Aaron Jones (pivot off Davante Adams)
Similar to the Chiefs, it’s unlikely the ownership changes too much on Green Bay skill players, even without having played a game. Davante Adams was the highest-owned wide receiver in the entire FFPC Playoff Challenge contest at 71%, while Aaron Jones came in at 14.23% owned. Jones is a fade-matchup, buy-volume type of play. He projects to match up against the Rams and Bucs/Saints in the next two games. All three of those teams have stout run defenses, ranking 1st, 2nd and 7th, respectively, in run defense DVOA. We saw the Packers skew massively towards Aaron Jones down the stretch in the playoffs last year as he out-touched Jamaal Williams 23-to-2 and 17-to-5 in two games. He really just needs to outscore Adams to pay off as a pivot. The main issue pivoting to Jones is the tough matchups, making this a bit of a tough sell. The volume also isn't guaranteed. Jones is a unique way of looking at the situation based on Green Bay's previous playoff run. If you haven’t differentiated anywhere else, this could be a good pivot, but it’s not my favorite way to make a unique entry.
Other pivot considerations: Michael Thomas (pivot off Alvin Kamara). This pivot play is dependent on the health of Latavius Murray. If Murray plays, this is a very viable pivot as I mentioned in last week’s column. However, I will not be fading Kamara if Murray doesn't play, as it would nearly lock Kamara into 20+ touches and all the goal-line work.