FanDuel Single-Game Fantasy Helper: NFC Championship
Leading off the Conference Championship games, the 13-3 Los Angeles Rams travel to take on the 13-3 New Orleans Saints. For the postseason, FanDuel provides a variety of contests, including single-game slates, allowing football enthusiasts to stay involved in the action.
For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the main slate. However, kickers are included in these contests and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5-times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.
Bookmakers currently peg the Saints as 3.5-point favorites with a 56.0-point over/under. With a projected high-scoring affair in store, here are the notable match-ups to target on this slate.
Drew Brees ($16,000): Drew Brees has shown stark home/road splits throughout the last two seasons. At home, Brees has averaged 301.9 passing yards in that span, compared to 239.6 on the road. While the matchup remains a slight concern with the Rams ranking 10th in pass defense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics, LA has also shown major cracks to opposing passing games throughout the season. In three of their last four games, they have allowed at least one pass catcher to eclipse 100 yards receiving, including Michael Gallup's 119-yard performance last week. All of this bodes well for Brees, who rang up 346 passing yards and 4 scores when these two teams met in New Orleans earlier this season. While he is expensive, he has shown a reliable high floor at home throughout the season.
Todd Gurley ($16,000): After last week's surprising timeshare with C.J. Anderson, Todd Gurley could fly slightly under the radar in the NFC title game. Gurley out-snapped Anderson 56.96% to 43.04% in the Divisional Round, but Anderson received more touches (24 to 18). Despite the touch discrepancy, Gurley held the edge in the receiving game with two targets to Anderson's one. In the regular season, Gurley recorded 59 receptions on 81 targets while Anderson managed only seven targets in his three games with the Rams. Projected to play from behind as 3.5-point underdogs, Gurley figures to see an increased pass-game role this week. Also notable, the Saints lost stud defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins last week to injured reserve. With Rankins off the field, the Saints allowed 0.34-more yards per carry. Ultimately, Gurley's role appears safer than it may seem, making him a solid target this week in what's expected to be a high-scoring affair.
Alvin Kamara ($14,500): A full $1,500 below Gurley, Alvin Kamara may carry higher ownership than Gurley on the single-game slate, but he offers perhaps the highest ceiling among all players. Last week, Kamara bested Mark Ingram in snap share (68.83% to 40.26%) and touches (20 to 11) on his way to 106 total yards. In addition to his elevated usage, the second-year pro also draws an awesome matchup against a Rams D that's struggled with opposing backs. According to our metrics, the Rams rank 24th in run defense, and they allowed the 6th-most rushing yards to opposing backs (461) over the final four games of the regular season. With a 29.75-point implied team total, Kamara should have no problem hitting value in a plus matchup against the Rams.
Robert Woods ($11,500): Far cheaper than the first three guys we've touched on, Robert Woods enters this contest coming off a pedestrian 6-catch, 69-yard game. However, with LA a 3.5-point underdog, the Rams project to throw the ball far more than they did last week. After Cooper Kupp was placed on injured reserve, Woods led the Rams in targets (52), receptions (31), receiving yards (387), and air yards (553) to close out the regular season. Despite the slow game last week, his 8 targets, 6 catches, and 69 yards led all Rams pass catchers. From a matchup standpoint, New Orleans presents a pass-funnel defense, sitting 4th in run defense and 17th in pass D. Woods also runs 78% of his routes from the, where he will draw the coverage of P.J. Williams. Playing Woods in the MVP slot should provide leverage while allowing you to have some cap flexibility.
Josh Reynolds ($8,500): In LA's first playoff game, Josh Reynolds returned to a full-time role, playing 87.34% of the Rams' snaps. He received five opportunities (4 targets, 1 carry) and totaled 28 yards. Similar to Woods, Reynolds fell victim to the Rams' run-first approach in the Divisional Round. As noted above, the Saints present pass-funnel tendencies, and if the Rams fall behind, they should be airing it out. Ultimately, Reynolds provides a cheap attachment to Jared Goff and LA's passing game in a solid matchup.
Ted Ginn Jr. ($7,500): Criminally under-priced, Ted Ginn has worked as Brees' clear number-two receiver since returning from injury. In his last two healthy games, Ginn's 15 targets rank second on the team behind only Michael Thomas. Last week, Ginn recorded 7 targets on a 51.95% snap share, leading to 3 catches for 44 yards. Ginn also ran 31 routes on Brees' 40 drop backs. Keith Kirkwood is out, cementing Ginn's role. As we mentioned, the Rams have allowed at least one 100-yard pass catcher in three of their last four games. After failing to deliver a big game last week, Ginn could see less ownership than he should, and he's awfully appealing at this cost.
Tre'Quan Smith ($6,000): For many of the same reasons as we just talked about with Ginn, Tre'Quan Smith looks like a solid play on this single-game slate. With Kirkwood already ruled out, Smith figures to step in for three-wide sets for the Saints. Among New Orleans' ancillary pass catchers, Smith's 21 snaps last week bested Tommylee Lewis' 4 and Austin Carr's zero. Smith largely disappointed throughout 2018, with only one game of more than three catches, but he warrants consideration as a cheap dart throw attached to Brees who could strike for a big play.
Gerald Everett ($5,000): Another player negatively affected by the Rams' run-first approach last week, Gerald Everett figures to receive more playing time with the Rams projected to trail. While Everett's 43.04% snap share ranked behind Tyler Higbee's 69.62% a week ago, Everett still held the edge in routes run (14 to 9). If the Rams fall behind, Everett should see an uptick in playing time, and his salary allows a flexible roster construction with multiple studs.
Matthew Gajewski is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Matthew Gajewski also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mgajewski. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.