Fantasy Football: Gdula's Game Notes for the Divisional Round
numberFire has no shortage of tools -- lineup generators, fantasy projections, and more -- to help you round out your rosters, but some extra prep never hurt anyone. So, here are some notes to know about each and every game on FanDuel's main slate for the Divisional Round.
Core Plays: Players suited for all types of daily fantasy games -- cash games and tournaments -- and players to target when building a main lineup.
Secondary Plays: Players who have good matchups or situations but are overpriced. Or players who are affordable but have tough matchups.
Tournament Plays: Players with paths to production but who are either overpriced or have tough matchups and who rate out with low production floors. Not everybody is in play in DFS, but players without the best prices and matchups still deserve consideration in large-field tournaments.
Minnesota at San Francisco
|Over/Under | Spread||44.5||-7.0|
|Implied Team Total||18.75||26.25|
|Percentage of Bets on: Over | Favorite||52%||48%|
|Percentage of Money on: Over | Favorite||47%||57%|
|Adj. Seconds/Play Rank||13||14|
|Adj. Pass Defense Rank||6||2|
|Adj. Rush Defense Rank||13||8|
Fresh off a road upset, the Minnesota Vikings are once again underdogs -- this time against the NFC's top seed. The San Francisco 49ers center off a bye with the third-best implied total on the four-game slate. Both teams are around average in adjusted pace, but both were also 26th or lower in pass rate over expectation.
Minnesota Offense Notes
- Kirk Cousins ($7,600) rates out as the worst passer this weekend from a raw fantasy point and value standpoint in my projections, as he faces the NFL's second-best adjusted pass defense based on numberFire's metrics. Cousins, in six games against top-12 pass defenses, has averaged 227.7 yards, 1.5 touchdowns, and 0.5 interceptions. His Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (-0.04) and Passing Success Rate (40.8%) pale somewhat in comparison to the NFL average in that split (-0.02 and 43.7%, respectively). However, if we look at his four games against top-12 pass defenses since his early-season turnaround, he has posted 0.12 Passing NEP per drop back (225.8 yards, 2.0 touchdowns, and 0.3 picks). Still, Cousins now has five straight games with fewer than 20 FanDuel points, and he's merely a differentiator.
- Adam Thielen ($6,900) played 83.5% of the snaps and ran 90.9% of the routes (according to ProFootballFocus) last week, en route to 9 targets and 129 yards. Meanwhile, Stefon Diggs ($6,800) had only 3 targets for 19 yards but ran 97.0% of the pass routes. Thielen also accounted for 51.5% of the team's air yards in the Wild Card Round.
- In three games since Thielen's return (Weeks 15, 16, and 18), the target distribution from Cousins has been very dispersed: 18.8% for Thielen, 16.5% for Diggs, 14.1% for Kyle Rudolph ($5,400), 10.6% for Ameer Abdullah ($4,900), and 9.4% for Dalvin Cook ($8,000). Cook does have just two games in that split, though, and in terms of targets per game, he has 4.0 per contest.
- Last week's routes favored Rudolph (66.7%) to Irv Smith Jr. ($5,100; 51.5%), and Rudolph had 7 targets, while Smith had just 2.
- Last week's slot routes were 15 for Bisi Johnson ($4,800), 10 for Thielen, and 9 for Diggs. The 49ers ranked third in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers and tight ends on the full season.
- Dalvin Cook ranks as the top running back this weekend. He faces a 49ers defense that is (relative to their pass defense) beatable on the ground (19th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to backs and 27th in yards before contact allowed to backs). He had 28 carries and 5 targets last week and should be the focal point of the Minnesota offense.
San Francisco Offense Notes
- In five games against top-12 pass defenses this season, Jimmy Garoppolo ($7,800) has thrown for 242.0 yards and 1.8 touchdowns, on average. The efficiency is actually amazing (8.96 yards per attempt and 0.21 Passing NEP per drop back, marks that are 2.29 yards and 0.23 expected points, respectively, better than the NFL averages against top-12 pass defenses). It's more a matter of volume than efficiency for Garoppolo.
- In eight games with Emmanuel Sanders ($5,700) and George Kittle ($7,400) sharing the field, Kittle leads the team with a stellar 30.4% target share. Sanders is second at 20.3%. Then it's Deebo Samuel ($6,100) at 17.5% as the only other 49er with a double-digit target share. That's pretty much the dispersion over the team's final five games, as well. Since Week 13, Sanders leads the team with six downfield targets, Samuel has five, and Kittle has just one.
- On the season, the Vikings ranked second in Target Success Rate allowed to tight ends despite a top-10 rate of targets going to the position. Kittle should see volume, but the efficiency could get dinged. Minnesota was 29th in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers, a much easier path for production. Still, this is a three-headed monster, and that helps to narrow things down if choosing to stack Garoppolo.
- Raheem Mostert ($6,700) closed the season with four straight games of 53.1% to 59.7% of the team's snaps, meaning that he's still been given primary back treatment, but the 73.7% snap rate we saw in Week 13 didn't always stick. Mostert has seen more than two targets in a game only three times this season, none of which game over the final five weeks. Neither Tevin Coleman ($5,200) nor Matt Breida ($5,000) project for significant workloads, but they could do enough to eat away at Mostert's production, especially if the Vikings were to get ahead.
Core Plays: Dalvin Cook, George Kittle
Secondary Plays: Jimmy Garoppolo, Deebo Samuel, Emmanuel Sanders, Raheem Mostert
Tournament Plays: Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph
Tennessee at Baltimore
|Over/Under | Spread||46.5||-9.5|
|Implied Team Total||18.5||28.0|
|Percentage of Bets on: Over | Favorite||44%||53%|
|Percentage of Money on: Over | Favorite||52%||67%|
|Adj. Seconds/Play Rank||22||32|
|Adj. Pass Defense Rank||14||4|
|Adj. Rush Defense Rank||6||21|
The Tennessee Titans outplayed expectations last week by beating an elite defense, but they did so by scoring only 14 offensive points and throwing for 72 yards. They'll probably need a similar script -- riding Derrick Henry ($9,600) -- and winning the field position battle because the NFL's best offense awaits them. There could be wind concerns in this game, so keep an eye on the reports.
Tennessee Offense Notes
- Derrick Henry is the most expensive player on the four-game slate and is $9,800 on the Saturday-only slate. Henry handled 34 carries for 182 yards and a touchdown last week and had one target on a screen pass. He played a season-high 80.7% snap rate after setting a previous high in Week 17 (75.8%). Henry will be ridden -- make no mistake. The Baltimore Ravens ranked 22nd in Rushing Success Rate and 29th in yards before contact allowed to running backs this season, so the Titans' game plan is all but certain, and Henry could rack up yardage once again.
- The question mostly comes in whether or not they can limit the Ravens from getting ahead.
- Last week, Ryan Tannehill ($7,800) threw only 15 times for 72 yards, and he now has fewer than 30 pass attempts in seven of his past eight games. Half of those games have featured 20 or fewer pass attempts. Tannehill has played five top-12 pass defenses this season, including last week's playoff matchup. He has averaged 22.0 pass attempts for only 172.4 passing yards but 1.8 passing touchdowns. The Ravens are the NFL's best pass defense since getting Marcus Peters, based on Passing NEP per drop back.
- No Titan had more than three targets last week (and Anthony Firkser ($4,500) and Tajae Sharpe ($4,900) were the ones to get to three). A.J. Brown ($7,400) had a lone target for four yards. Corey Davis ($5,000) had an empty two targets but did see 61 air yards on them (a 43.6% share).
- Since Week 12, Brown leads the team with a 25.3% target share (5.7 per game) and 11 deep targets (31.4%). Davis is second in each (16.5% and 25.7%), though those work out to only 3.7 targets and 1.3 downfield targets per game. Only once over the past six weeks has a Titan had more than two downfield targets in the same game. Brown and Davis are bounceback candidates but have a tough matchup yet again, as Baltimore is second in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers.
- Jonnu Smith ($5,300) is a punt option because tight end is so limited. He ran 55.6% of the team's pass routes last week, though Baltimore ranked fourth against tight ends this season.
Baltimore Offense Notes
- Lamar Jackson ($9,400) can bust any slate, especially a four-gamer against a mid-level pass defense. Jackson's Ravens ranked first in adjusted passing efficiency on the season. He's the odds-on favorite to lead the weekend in fantasy points -- not that it's a surprise.
- Removing Week 17 from the equation, Jackson's target distribution since a Week 8 bye has been: 22.0% for Mark Andrews ($6,800), 16.1% for Marquise Brown ($5,300), 10.8% for Nick Boyle ($4,900), 9.7% for Hayden Hurst ($4,700), 9.1% for Seth Roberts ($4,900) and Mark Ingram ($7,500) and 8.6% for Willie Snead ($4,500). So, it's Andrews. It's Brown a little. And then it's who knows? That has always been a problem in our attempts to stack Jackson all season, and guessing right or wrong on a two- or four-game slate could make all the difference. At least we know where to start.
- Of note, Snead played 73.5% of the snaps in a meaningless Week 17 game. Brown played 51.5%.
- While the script sets up for a lot of rushes, the Titans are tougher against the rush (7th) than the pass (14th).
- Mark Ingram is now dealing with calf tightness but would be a strong play if he's good to go simply because there is an overall lack of workhorse options on the slate. Ingram doesn't qualify for that necessarily, but double-digit carries and a two or three targets can go a long way on a small slate. It's a tough rushing matchup, as the Titans are 11th in yards before contact allowed to backs, so avoiding Ingram due to workload and injury concerns is justifiable.
- If Ingram were to miss, then Gus Edwards ($5,400) would vault toward must-play territory at such a low salary.
Core Plays: Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, Derrick Henry
Secondary Plays: Mark Ingram, A.J. Brown
Tournament Plays: Ryan Tannehill, Marquise Brown, Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith
Houston at Kansas City
|Over/Under | Spread||51.0||-9.5|
|Implied Team Total||20.75||30.25|
|Percentage of Bets on: Over | Favorite||50%||48%|
|Percentage of Money on: Over | Favorite||59%||64%|
|Adj. Seconds/Play Rank||20||11|
|Adj. Pass Defense Rank||24||5|
|Adj. Rush Defense Rank||22||28|
The status of Will Fuller ($5,600) will be vital for this game, as the Houston Texans' offense simply isn't the same without him, and -- as 9.5-point underdogs -- they'll need to score to keep up with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Houston Offense Notes
- Deshaun Watson ($8,300) scored 29.38 FanDuel points last week despite not having Fuller. Watson ran a season-high 14 times for 55 yards and a touchdown. Removing that from his game log, he had 17.88 FanDuel points as a passer. Watson did accrue 0.20 Passing NEP per drop back in that game. Entering Wild Card Weekend, he averaged -0.02 in games without Fuller and 0.35 in games with him, a massive shift in efficiency (the comparison is Lamar Jackson with Fuller and Andy Dalton without him). The Chiefs' pass defense ranks fifth on a per-play basis after adjusting for opponent strength.
- We actually have five games in which Fuller played at least half the snaps against top-12 pass defenses. In them, Watson averaged 225.2 yards (maxing out at 280) and had 7 touchdown passes distributed unevenly (3, 0, 1, 3, 0). Still, Watson averaged 0.13 Passing NEP per drop back in this sample. That should inspire confidence in the Texans' offense to stick close, but we shouldn't expect 350 yards out of Watson unless we get a full-on shootout.
- In nine games in which Fuller has played at least half the snaps, DeAndre Hopkins ($8,100) leads the team with a 28.8% target share, while Fuller has 24.5% of the targets. No other Texan is above 13.0%, and Fuller actually has a significantly higher air yards share (37.4%) than Hopkins (30.7%). Last week, Hopkins had 8 targets for 90 yards for a third straight game with fewer than 15 FanDuel points.
- Kenny Stills ($5,700) would step back if Fuller is a full go, but he did run every route and see 77 air yards on 5 targets in the Wild Card Round. He's more of a Sunday-only differentiation dart than anything else.
- Darren Fells ($5,200) had four targets last week and played a 95.7% snap rate, keeping him in play on the two- and four-game slates at his salary.
- The Chiefs rank as a run-funnel defense, one that is stingy against the pass but beatable on the ground.
- Carlos Hyde ($6,400) handled 16 carries for just 48 yards last week. He did score on his lone target. Hyde played 58.0% of the snaps while Duke Johnson ($5,600) played 39.1%, a similar split to what they had in their past three relevant games. We have now seen Hyde get at least 16 carries in each of his past three games with extended snaps, and that gives him a floor against a lowly rush defense.
- Johnson remains in the discussion if assuming the Chiefs do make good on the spread and play with a lead. Hyde averages a 55.8% snap rate in wins but 42.2% in losses. Johnson plays 59.9% of the snaps in losses.
Kansas City Offense Notes
- The Chiefs are a very simple offense to target for DFS and get a promising matchup for the Divisional Round.
- Patrick Mahomes ($8,400) ranks as the best per-dollar quarterback play on the slate, narrowly edging out Jackson. Mahomes faces a soft Texans defense, which did get J.J. Watt back last week. Even with Watt through the first seven weeks, the Texans graded out 20th or worse in Passing NEP per drop back, Passing Success Rate allowed, and sack rate. Mahomes himself ranked fourth in Passing NEP per drop back this season.
- In five post-bye games with Travis Kelce ($7,500), Tyreek Hill ($7,900), and Sammy Watkins ($5,200), Mahomes' target distribution has been 29.0% for Kelce, 21.3% for Hill, and 14.2% for Watkins. Hill has the lead in downfield targets with 10 (38.5%), and Kelce and Watkins each have 6 (23.1%). It's a three-headed monster, and Kelce and Hill both rank as the best per-dollar plays at their respective positions in my projections. Watkins is more of a low-end, should-get-you-something, third-receiver option.
- In an important Week 17 game, Damien Williams ($6,900) played 70.0% of the team's snaps and has been the only back in the rotation to see RB1 treatment when healthy. Williams had 12 carries and 7 targets for 154 total yards and 2 touchdowns. Williams rates out as the best per-dollar play on the slate among running backs with that expected workload.
Core Plays: Damien Williams, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, DeAndre Hopkins
Secondary Plays: Deshaun Watson, Carlos Hyde, Will Fuller, Sammy Watkins
Tournament Plays: Duke Johnson, Darren Fells
Seattle at Green Bay
|Over/Under | Spread||47.0||-4.0|
|Implied Team Total||21.5||25.5|
|Percentage of Bets on: Over | Favorite||25%||49%|
|Percentage of Money on: Over | Favorite||28%||56%|
|Adj. Seconds/Play Rank||17||18|
|Adj. Pass Defense Rank||16||8|
|Adj. Rush Defense Rank||25||31|
In this one, we have easily the tightest spread of the weekend, two teams who are about average in pace, and two poor rush defenses. That keeps a shootout in the cards if it flows the right way, but a significant chunk of the bets and money are on the under.
Seattle Offense Notes
- Russell Wilson ($7,900) has 17 rush attempts over the past two games, added work that gives him a floor and ceiling.
- The Green Bay Packers are eighth in adjusted pass defense. Wilson is no stranger to tough opponents, though, as 10 of his games have come against top-16 opponents, and he has seven such games against top-12 pass defenses.
- In those seven games, Wilson has actually averaged 39.1 passing attempts, 290.0 yards, and 2.3 touchdowns, good for 0.15 Passing NEP per drop back (compared to -0.02 for all other quarterbacks in that split). While the attempts are boosting the raw production, we can at least bank on the efficiency to be there on limited attempts -- if that's what happens for the Seattle Seahawks.
- In four games since Tyler Lockett ($6,700) has been deemed fully healthy, he has had a 27.3% target share (8.3 per game), D.K. Metcalf ($7,000) has had a 21.5% share (6.5 per game), and Jacob Hollister ($5,700) has had a 17.4% share (5.3 per game). We're getting Wilson with a more concentrated target tree than we normally do.
- The downfield targets are likewise fixated on Lockett and Metcalf, who have 10 each (40.0%) in this sample. Lockett and Metcalf ran every route last week. David Moore ($5,100) once again was the third option (69.4%). While the Packers are a good pass defense overall and are 11th in Passing NEP per attempt allowed on downfield passes, we can still keep the Seahawks' pass-catchers at the forefront.
- Travis Homer ($5,500) again received lead back treatment, seeing a 68.8% snap rate in last week's wild card win, while Marshawn Lynch ($6,000) played 28.1% -- basically identical usage to Week 17's split. Homer ran 11 times last week for just 12 yards, though.
- Since Week 17, the carry splits have been 21 for Homer, 18 for Lynch, and 17 for Wilson, and all have terrible Rushing Success Rates behind an injured offensive line.
- The team has run 22 red zone plays in this span: 16 passes to 6 rushes. Lynch has five of the carries, while Wilson has the other. Lynch is a touchdown-or-bust option. Homer still looks like a fine enough play for the salary as a third back in a lineup, as he's one week removed from a 92-yard game and faces a poor running back defense. Green Bay can be beaten on the ground.
Green Bay Offense Notes
- The Packers have a decent overall matchup against a Seahawks defense that is average against the pass and 25th against the rush.
- Coming off a bye, the Packers should have Jamaal Williams ($5,100) back. That's bothersome for Aaron Jones ($8,200), particularly at his hefty salary.
- In games in which Williams played played at least 30% of the team's snaps, Jones averaged 12.9 carries, 58.3 rushing yards, 4.5 targets, and 31.3 receiving yards (boosted by a 159-yard Week 8 outing). In four games without Williams playing 30% of the snaps, Jones' tallies spike to 20.0 rushes, 95.5 rushing yards, 6.0 targets, and 40.3 receiving yards.
- Boiled down, Jones averages a 76.0% snap rate, 26.0 opportunities, and 135.8 yards without Williams and a 55.1% snap rate, 17.4 opportunities, and 89.6 yards with Williams. Williams himself averages 8.4 carries and 3.3 targets.
- Aaron Rodgers ($8,100) has led the NFL's 13th-ranked adjusted passing offense and gets a mid-level Seattle defense. Seattle ranked only 31st in adjusted pressure rate, and the Packers were 6th in pass rate over expectation. They're one of the most interesting offenses by far on the short slate, and Rodgers ranks third behind Jackson and Mahomes in my projections.
- There's been a recent shift with the Packers' pass-catchers, as Allen Lazard ($5,400) has played at least 75.0% of the team's snaps in three straight games to end the season. In this small-but-relevant sample, Davante Adams ($8,400) leads with at 34.4% target share (14.0 targets per game), Lazard is second at 16.4% (6.7 per game), and Jimmy Graham ($5,000) is third all the way down at 9.8% (4.0 per game). Adams is a premier play this weekend, and Lazard is probably underpriced for his role, which includes 2.7 downfield targets per game over the past three.
- Seattle is 15th in Target Success Rate allowed to receivers and 19th against tight ends. Graham is far from a priority but could be a tournament option against a former team of his.
Core Plays: Davante Adams, Tyler Lockett, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson
Secondary Plays: Aaron Jones, Jacob Hollister, D.K. Metcalf, Travis Homer, Allen Lazard
Tournament Plays: Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, Jamaal Williams