NFL

FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Divisional Round (Rams at Buccaneers)

We've got a huge NFC clash at 3:00 p.m. EST on Sunday afternoon between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

On FanDuel Sportsbook, the home Bucs are 3.0-point favorites in a game with a 48.5-point total. That makes the implied score 25.75-22.75 in favor of Tampa Bay.

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.

Our Brandon Gdula has done a deep dive on single-game strategy, and we have projections for the single-game slate if you select the game from the slate tab. It's worth checking out both of those things before you make your lineups.

MVP Candidates

Our projections have Matthew Stafford ($16,000 on FanDuel), Tom Brady ($16,500), and Cooper Kupp ($15,500) in their own tier for this slate, projecting each for at least 18.9 FanDuel points. No one else carries a projection above 14.9.

Brady paces the pack at 19.8 FanDuel points. A banged-up offensive line -- Ryan Jensen and Tristan Wirfs didn't practice Thursday -- is definitely concerning, but Brady keeps churning out solid fantasy days regardless of who is around him. He's put up 27.40, 25.04, and 18.84 FanDuel points in his last three games. He didn't have Chris Godwin for any of those contests, and Antonio Brown was missing for two and a half of them.

I'm not crazy about using Brady at MVP, though -- especially if Wirfs or Jensen sit, leaving a short-handed Bucs O-Line to tangle with the likes of Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd. The Rams gave up the fourth-fewest FanDuel points per game to signal-callers (16.3), so even if Tampa's front five were at full strength, this would be a rough matchup for Brady.

I don't love Stafford at MVP, either, although his projection of 18.9 FanDuel points necessitates that he's on our radar. The Rams have shifted to a more run-heavy approach of late (52% pass rate since Week 15), and that's lowered Stafford's ceiling in fantasy. He's thrown for more than 244 yards only once in the past five games. Also, Andrew Whitworth hadn't practiced yet through Thursday, which would be a big-time negative for the whole offense. (Editor's note: Whitworth has been ruled out.)

Stafford recorded 24.28 FanDuel points last week against the Arizona Cardinals, but it took three total scores -- including a rushing touchdown -- to get there as he had a mere 202 passing yards. Unless the Rams have to go pass-heavy, Stafford just doesn't have the upside I crave to put him in the multiplier slot.

Kupp is my favorite MVP play. He's scored at least 14.6 FanDuel points in an astounding 13 straight games, and the Bucs' pass D ranks 11th-worst by our metrics. Kupp roasted them for 9 catches, 96 yards, and 2 touchdowns earlier this season. We project him for 19.5 FanDuel points.

I'm also intrigued by Leonard Fournette ($13,500) as a contrarian MVP option. There's an obvious risk with Fournette because he hasn't suited up since December 19th, and Tampa Bay's offensive line is unlikely to be at 100%.

But Lenny is expected to be out there on Sunday, and while it's not a given he returns to the kind of workload he was getting pre-injury, if he does get that volume, Fournette is a viable MVP. He'd logged at least 20 total touches in each of his last three full games prior to going down, and he averaged 7.5 targets per game over his last six contests. We peg him to generate 13.7 FanDuel points.

Flex Breakdown

Mike Evans ($14,500) and Rob Gronkowski ($13,000) are the clear top two pass-game options for Tampa Bay.

Evans could see a lot of Jalen Ramsey, which isn't ideal, but our model is really into him, forecasting Evans to score 14.9 FanDuel points. He hauled in 9 catches for 117 yards and a tuddie last week in the Wild Card Round and saw 10 looks on 37 Brady attempts. He got to the Rams for 8 catches and 106 yards in the regular-season meeting, although it's worth noting that Brady threw it 55 times in a negative game script in that one.

Gronk was pretty quiet last week except for a wide-open touchdown, finishing with 5 receptions for 31 yards. He'd seen 10 targets and made 7 catches in each of the two previous games, and we know what kind of red-zone threat he can be. Our algorithm has Gronk producing 12.5 FanDuel points.

Outside of Gronk, Fournette, and Evans, we're throwing darts with Bucs guys.

If you think Fournette gets a decreased workload or doesn't have his usual role in the passing game, Giovani Bernard ($10,500) is a logical choice. Unfortunately, he's been salaried up after leading the backfield a week ago. Between salary-salvers Cameron Brate ($7,500) and Tyler Johnson ($7,500), I lean Johnson. The upside is non-existent, but with Cyril Grayson Jr. and Breshad Perriman looking very questionable, he could see a little more volume.

On the Rams' side, Cam Akers ($11,000) appeared to take over this backfield from Sony Michel ($10,000) in the Wild Card Round. Akers played 53% of the snaps and racked up 17 carries with 2 targets. Michel, meanwhile, was in on 40% of the plays and finished with 13 carries and no targets.

I think we have to treat Akers as the lead guy, and even in a difficult matchup versus a stout Tampa Bay run D, he's a solid flex play. Akers' pass-game skills should keep him in the mix if LA falls behind, and he just flat out looked great last Monday. We project him for 12.0 FanDuel points.

Odell Beckham ($12,000) and Tyler Higbee ($8,000) have distanced themselves from Van Jefferson ($8,000) as the top secondary options behind Kupp. Beckham and Higbee notched four targets apiece last week while Jefferson saw just one. All three stand to benefit if the underdog Rams have to throw more in a negative game script or if LA has trouble running the rock.

The negative for OBJ's outlook is his salary. While Beckham has been a tuddie machine since moving to the Rams, the volume is lacking as he's seen more than five targets just three times in his last seven games. He probably has to find the end zone again to pay off at this salary.

Higbee and Jefferson are at much more palatable salaries. Higbee had been targeted at least six times in four straight weeks prior to the four-target game in a super positive game script against the Cards. He has a much better floor than Jefferson does. We rate Higbee as the best point-per-dollar play among those with a salary under $11,000.

If you use Jefferson, you're hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with a chunk play. He's had more than 4.6 FanDuel points only once over the last five weeks, and it was just 8.3 FanDuel points. But Jefferson will surely see a lot lower draft percentages than Higbee does, so if he does make a big play, it could be a slate-changer.

Our model has both Ryan Succop ($9,000) and Matt Gay ($8,500) projected for 8.2 FanDuel points. Succop has drilled eight of nine field-goal tries over the last four weeks. Gay has missed just one field goal across his last 14 games.