The Wildcard Round gave us some close games(outside the Colts dominance) with three of the four road teams moving on. The Divisional round brings us four matchups with three of them featuring teams that did not play each other in the regular season. From a fantasy perspective, this is the final slate of the season with more than two games so let’s load up and cash big before the Conference Championships.
In this article we are going to provide you with some relevant stats for each matchup followed by a short preview and top picks from both Chris Durell and Josh Kronfeld. For a look at some advanced team and player stats be sure to grab a copy of the DFS NFL Cheatsheet.
For even more analysis and our industry compliant skeleton lineups, be sure to join both Chris and Josh in the RotoPros Community Chat. Not a RotoPros member yet? Get on over and sign up to get a two-week free trial today.
Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs
Vegas Line > KC -5.5
Vegas Total > 57
Previous Meetings > No previous meeting in 2018
Offensive Ranks > IND - Run(20th) Pass(6th) KC - Run(16th) Pass(3rd)
Defensive Ranks > IND - Run(8th) Pass(16th) KC - Run(27th) Pass(31st)
Chris’s Breakdown - This matchup has the highest Vegas Total of all four games and where I will have the most exposure. It starts with the Colts side as the matchup lines up perfectly as the Chiefs ranked 31st against the pass(273.4 yards per game) and 27th against the run(132.1). My thoughts here is that the Colts will do their best to try and keep Mahomes and the explosive Chiefs offense on the sideline by running the ball with Marlon Mack who has been red-hot carrying the ball 24 or more times for 119+ yards in three of his last four games with a combined five touchdowns. I also feel this is a great spot for Andrew Luck and the passing game as the Chiefs give up the 5th most fantasy points per game to QB’s, 11th most to wideouts, and the most to tight ends. I will be running multiple Colts stacks with a combination of TY Hilton and Eric Ebron.
On the Chiefs side of things, it will be nearly impossible to fade likely MVP, Patrick Mahomes. He threw for 300+ yards 10 times, threw 3+ touchdowns 10 times, and ended up leading the league with 50 touchdowns(11 more than the next closest QB) and finished 32 yards behind Big Ben in passing yards. More good news as the Colts defense was slightly worse against the pass than the run. This does not mean Damien Williams is not in play as the Colts may have ranked 15th in fantasy points against RB’s but gave up the 7th most receiving yards to the position. He is a great value at the position. When stacking with Mahomes, I will first be looking at Travis Kelce as the safe option as the Colts gave up the 3rd most fantasy points per game to tight ends. Tyreek Hill will be a deeper GPP play for me as the Colts were dominant against wideouts giving up the least fantasy points per game to the position.
Score Prediction - IND 34 KC 31
Josh’s Breakdown - I’m very excited for this matchup as we should be in store for some major highlights from both high-powered offenses. Starting with the Colts side of things, my hat is off to Quinten Nelson and the rest of this offensive-line as they were the first unit I have seen out-muscle the impressive Houston front-seven all season. TY Hilton most likely won’t practice all week, which is consistent with his regular season routine so there’s nothing to worry about there. Ryan Grant looks set to miss out, leaving Dontrelle Inman as another interesting option if you’d like to keep your exposure to this lower-owned and cheaper. In summation, all of the same Colts who had big day’s last Saturday are in-play again; Hilton, Ebron, Mack, Inman as this one should be a real heavyweight bout. Moving onto the Kansas City side of the ball, Mahomes is most likely the MVP this season and should be up to the test of battling it out with Andrew Luck at home. Watson (KC) is still injured, and given the Colts ability to play lockdown-coverage the second half of the season Kelce makes for the safest target, with Tyreke, Conley, Benjamin all coming in as GPP targets.
Score Prediction - KC 45 IND 38
Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams
Vegas Line > LARM -7
Vegas Total > 49.5
Previous Meetings > No previous meeting in 2018
Offensive Ranks > DAL - Run(10th) Pass(23rd) LARM - Run(3rd) Pass(5th)
Defensive Ranks > DAL - Run(5th) Pass(13th) LARM - Run(23rd) Pass(14th)
Chris’s Breakdown - The second game on Saturday takes us to the NFC where the Cowboys who snuck by the Seahawks will face a Rams team that is coming off a bye after securing the #2 seed in the conference. Both teams finished the regular season with Top 10 rushing attacks with their elite running backs, Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley. You won’t be able to get both in your lineup this week and as of writing this, I lean towards Zeke for a couple of reasons starting with the fact the Cowboys offense runs through him. While Gurley led the league with an astounding 21 touchdowns, Zeke led the league with 1,434 rushing yards and was second to only Saquon Barkley with 2,001 all-purpose yards. Both defenses, however, will be concentrating on stopping these elite backs so do like the idea of stacking the passing games. For the Cowboys, it will be Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper and for the Rams I prefer stacking Jared Goff with Robert Woods or Brandin Cooks. Woods is slightly more expensive on both sites but has been much more consistent this season with double-digit points in all but two games, one of which was Week 17 where the Rams did not push their starters. Cooks has the home run, GPP winning upside so definitely don’t count him out.
Score Prediction - DAL 23 LARM 27
Josh’s Breakdown - This is a very interesting matchup as the LA Rams are fresh, healthy, and coming off a first-round bye, while the red-hot Cowboys travel to LA and bring with them an absurd amount of their fans leaving home field advantage only on paper. I personally prefer to target Todd Gurley over Zeke given the savings and the likelihood that Gurley is back to 100% in a matchup where the run-defense is certainly more vulnerable than the passing-defense for Dallas. Josh Reynolds makes for my favorite Rams WR as he has shown a strong rapport with Goff in the brief amount time he has filled in for Kupp particularly in home matchups. On the Dallas side, Blake Jarwin will be a dart throw, GPP play given the upside and ownership projections on Kelce/Ebron.
Score Prediction - LAR 31 DAL 27
Los Angeles Chargers @ New England Patriots
Vegas Line > NE -4
Vegas Total > 45.5
Previous Meetings > No previous meeting in 2018
Offensive Ranks > LAC - Run(15th) Pass(10th) NE - Run(5th) Pass(8th)
Defensive Ranks > LAC- Run(9th) Pass(9th) NE- Run(11th) Pass(22nd)
Chris’s Breakdown - Kicking things off on Sunday is a matchup between two teams with some history, most of which has been good for the Patriots and bad for the Chargers. Phillip Rivers and Tom Brady will meet for the eighth time in their careers with Brady getting the W in each of those matchups. Narrative street isn’t something I turn to for fantasy, however, so let’s dig into the matchup.
The Patriots have the slight edge in both offensive categories but the the Chargers have the edge when looking at the defensive ranks. The pairing of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram is one of the best pass-rush duos in the league and getting to Brady will be top priority. I think we will see Brady with a lot of short dump-offs/screens and passes over the middle to help avoid the pressure so my top Patriots in DFS this week are Julian Edelman and James White who could both easily see 8+ targets. If you feel the Patriots get up early and carry the lead into the second half, Sony Michel makes a high upside option who could see 20+ carries in this projected cold weather game.
For the Chargers, everything revolves around Phillip Rivers who finished 8th in passing yards(4,308), 7th in touchdowns(32), and for upside, 3rd in yards per attempt(8.5). The top choice to pair him with is Keenan Allen who is coming off his second straight 1,000-yard season and was one of only three wideouts(Hopkins, Thomas) with a 70%+ catch rate on the season. For a value play in GPP formats I also like Mike Williams. He may not get the same target share but has big touchdown upside(11 in regular season) and scored two in a game three times this season. You also can’t talk about the Chargers without mentioned Melvin Gordon. He dealt with some injuries and only played 12 regular season games but still racked up 1,375 yards from scrimmage which was 5th overall in average yards per game(114.6). He Gordon makes a terrific pivot play off the more spendy Elliott, Gurley, Kamara.
Score Prediction - LAC 28 NE 24
Josh’s Breakdown - As much as I would like to go ahead and agree with my colleague’s prediction of a slight Charger victory, it’s just too difficult for me to go against all of the Brady/Bellichick magic these eyes have witnessed occur over the years in Foxborough. In my opinion when you’re as great as the Patriots core-leaders are with as much championship experience as they have, there’s a certain change that occurs from how they played during the regular season and how they will play now that it is “showtime”. With that being said from the NE side of the ball, I think Tom Brady makes for one of the best plays of the weekend and will be very interested in seeing how he handles Derwin James in the secondary for LAC. Pairing Brady with any two of Edelman, Gronkowski, or James White will be one of the most reliable stacks of the weekend and given Coach Bellichick’s history of focusing on shutting down the opposition’s best player, should be “run-back” with either Mike Williams, Melvin Gordon, or Hunter Henry if you’re looking for a super-GPP play.
Score Prediction - NE 35 LAC 24
Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints
Vegas Line > NO -8
Vegas Total > 50.5
Previous Meetings > NO won 48-7 in Week 11
Offensive Ranks > PHI - Run(28th) Pass(7th) NO - Run(6th) Pass(12th)
Defensive Ranks > PHI - Run(7th) Pass(30th) NO - Run(2nd) Pass(29th)
Chris’s Breakdown - The divisional round is book-ended by my two favorite matchups. The defending Champs are coming off an upset win in Chicago with their savior, Nick Foles and now get a much tougher matchup against the Saints. After a somewhat suspect start to the season for their defense, the Saints played much better down the stretch and were dominant against the run. This should force Nick Foles to throw it up a ton to keep up with the Saints and this makes him an excellent GPP play. I will start my Philly stacks with Zach Ertz who finished 6th in targets(156) among all pass catchers and had an elite 74.4% catch rate. Alshon Jeffery is also on my radar as the next guy in the pecking order for targets and for a deep GPP play, I also like Nelson Agholor. For the Saints, it is the usual suspects of Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas. I will have a ton of exposure to all three and even together in a Saints stack. If you think it is a complete blowout, I also like Mark Ingram to get a ton of carries in that scenario.
Score Prediction - NO 34 PHI 24
Josh’s Breakdown - At this point I think it is safe to say Nick Foles has clearly made some sort of deal with the Devil, God, or perhaps even both. With that being said I believe all occurrences from these two teams previous matchup are effectively irrelevant as the game-script will be completely different this time. There’s been a lot of focus on the improvement of the Saints Defense, and I expect that to continue this Sunday as they should keep up the pressure on Foles and look to dominate the Eagles O-line in what will undoubtedly be a very emotional opening to the game. One thing that I do believe holds true from their last meeting is that Drew Brees will most likely be looking to target the Saints #2 receiver if the Eagles again choose to focus on double-teaming and shutting down Michael Thomas. Last time that was Trequan Smith, however this time it will be back to Ted Ginn Jr. The Saints have been doing a decent job defending Tight Ends and the middle of the field in general, and with this being said I have the most interest in ex-Saint Darren Sproles, Nelson Agholar, as well as Golden Tate from the Eagles side of the ball.
Score Prediction - PHI 44 NO 41