DraftKings Divisional Round Slate Breakdown with Cash and GPP Picks
As we get into the last slate of the season that will be more than two games, there are two important things to keep in mind. One is something we saw a lot of last week: defenses may force offenses to play "left-handed," which I go into in more depth in this week's Review. It's not something that should necessarily be the default expectation, but it is something you have to consider the potential impact of.
The other is that the Vegas lines should be taken with a grain of salt even more than usual this week because sportsbooks get more action than usual from casual bettors during the playoffs, causing the lines to be more a reflection of public perception and less a reflection of projected outcome than usual.
But don't take it from me, take it from oddsmakers such as Ed Salmons at Westgate Las Vegas, who provided some telling quotes in a recent article on Vegas Insider:
"As a bookmaker, you want to open these things higher than you even think they are. Even if you write a bet or two on the dog it’s no big deal, because with all the teasers and money lines, straight bets and parlays, you’ll still need that side."
Salmons had this to say about the Falcons opening as 2.5-point favorites at Philadelphia:
"The perception is the Eagles are no good with Nick Foles and Atlanta is the team that should have won the Super Bowl and just won their hardest game (of the season) against the Rams, and they’ll go in and roll the Eagles. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I think that’s what (the public is) going to bet, and that’s why the line is where it is."
The article also states that for Patriots-Titans, "Westgate’s in-house numbers had the Patriots as a 13.5-point favorite for Saturday’s primetime offering, but the bookmakers decided to post New England -14 to test the market," and for Jaguars-Steelers, Salmons is quoted as saying "the true line of this game is Pitt -6.5 ... but again, Westgate wanted to go higher and posted -7.5 as the opener."
All that is to say matchups that look good on paper may not play out as such, and games expected to play out a certain way may not, so be sure to craft your own narrative about what you think will happen.
You would never think a lineup of games featuring Tom Brady ($7,000), Drew Brees ($6,300), Ben Roethlisberger ($6,200), and Matt Ryan ($5,700) would be an ugly QB slate in DFS, but here we are. Our cash odds model paints the picture best: there’s Brady in a tier by himself, then Case Keenum ($6,100) in a tier by himself, then everyone else. As worrisome as Brady’s falling-by-the-month yardage totals are, he’s still a future Hall of Famer with an implied total hovering around 30 points at home and is going against defense weaker versus the pass than the run. I have no reservations about paying an extra $900 to get to Brady over Keenum, who is making his first playoff start and doing so against a better pass defense than what Brady will face. The Titans, of course, allowed the fourth-lowest yards per carry in the league during the regular season (3.7) and may do everything in their power to entice the Patriots to run, which is why I prefer pairing Brady with Dion Lewis, whom I'll touch on in the next section.
The Vikings gave up 20 or more points in only three of Keenum’s starts, and Keenum scored 20 or more DraftKings points in all three of them. That means you want to pair him up with Saints skill position players in GPP lineups.
My favorite GPP play outside of Brady and Keenum is Nick Foles ($5,200). Unlike the other non-Brady/Keenum options, Foles isn’t on the road and/or facing an elite defense. The Falcons rank 19th in QB aFPA and rate as the No. 2 QB funnel. Foles’ salary is low enough that he could be an asset with a good-but-not-great game if Brady and/or Keenum produce below expectation, so he works best in lineups that fade Patriots and Vikings pass-catchers.