Fantasy Football Playoffs: Divisional Round DFS plays and sleepers

The first round of the NFL playoffs was fun  ... but not too much fun.

Teams averaged 18.1 points per game; no team scored more than 24 points. Only one quarterback surpassed 250 yards passing; only two running backs had over 100 yards rushing; only three running backs scored; only four receivers had over 100 yards through the air; and only five players who caught a touchdown had more than 40 yards to go with it.

It goes without saying we're hoping for more in the second round. The good news is that the Divisional Playoffs feature the best remaining teams and often result in close, competitive games. Finding the best players for what amounts to the last good weekend of DFS games is what matters.

Quarterbacks

Top Play

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Andrew Luck IND • QB • 12
CMP%67.3
YDs4593
TD39
INT15
YD/Att7.19

Instead of thrashing the Texans through the air in a high-scoring game, Marlon Mack found room to run and the Texans offense just couldn't keep up on the scoreboard, limiting limiting Luck's pass volume. Interestingly enough, those results sent Luck's price down $200 on DraftKings (and up $500 on FanDuel) in a week where there are several other interesting quarterbacks to choose from. I'd be surprised to see Luck be as popular as he was in the Wild Card round, but that doesn't mean he's a bad choice. If anything, it makes him more attractive as he faces a Chiefs pass defense that's allowed at least two touchdowns to five of the last six quarterbacks it's faced with an average of 7.6 yards per pass attempt given up.

Next Best

  • Patrick Mahomes, KC: His price is close to Luck's, so if you have the cash to spend, don't be afraid to use it. Indianapolis' pass defense has been awesome, holding seven of eight quarterbacks it's faced to one or fewer touchdowns. Most of those quarterbacks stunk. I suspect the Colts will play a bend-but-don't-break zone defense that will keep Mahomes zipping a lot of short passes. They'll add up. 
  • Nick Foles, PHI: Three of the last four passers against the Saints have tossed two or more scores with at least 213 yards. It's hard to envision the Eagles' run game being effective or leaned upon against New Orleans' tough front seven. Foles is the seventh-most expensive quarterback ($7,400 on FanDuel, $5,400 on DraftKings) in a week where eight teams play, making him the best bargain on the board.
  • Drew Brees, NO: Brees has been uncharacteristically off over his last four games, throwing for over 225 yards once and completing one or fewer passing touchdowns. But he's come up with two-plus touchdowns in 10 of 13 career playoff games and has chucked it for 294 or more yards in 6 of last 7 playoff outings. He's the second-priciest passer of the week ($8,700 FanDuel, $6,700 DraftKings), which means he'd need a classic Brees-style game to come through, but the Eagles, on the road for the third straight game, should oblige after giving up over 300 yards to Mitchell Trubisky last week.

Sleeper

  • Philip Rivers, LAC: Not sure many people view Rivers as trustworthy. He's on the road again, playing against a Patriots team he's 1-7 against lifetime and has one game in his last four with multiple touchdowns. But it's his deeper-than-ever receiving corps and heavy odds he'll be trailing that gives him hope for a strong stat line. He's especially appealing on FanDuel ($7,300, eighth-cheapest passer) versus DraftKings ($5,700, fourth-cheapest passer).

Running backs

Top Play

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Marlon Mack IND • RB • 25
Att195
Yds908
TD9
FL2

With sincere apologies to the studs in the Cowboys-Rams game, Mack happens to be a bargain relative to his matchup, his recent track record and his upside. The Colts haven't been scared to use Mack, giving him more than 20 carries in three of his last four and setting him up for touchdowns in each of his last five. The Chiefs have bent for five running back touchdown rushes in their last five with well over 4.0 yards per carry. Mack will be part of the Colts' offensive formula, and at a relative discount to the big-name backs ($5,800 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel), should be a part of your winning lineup formula.

Next Best

  • Ezekiel Elliott, DAL: The priciest runner on DraftKings ($8,200) and No. 2 on FanDuel ($8,700), Elliott has a rosy outlook versus a Rams run defense that's fallen flat recently. L.A. afforded five total touchdowns to rushers in its last three and let legendary speedster Alfred Morris churn for 6.9 yards per rush in its last game. He's an absolute must in cash games and a pretty good pick in tournaments, too.
  • Damien Williams, KC: Indy figures to play a lot of zone defense to keep from the big play beating them. That would open up Williams to gash the Colts' front both on carries and catches. He's scored in four straight (six touchdowns total) with over 100 total yards in two of his last three. He's not quite the bargain on DraftKings (sixth-highest back at $5,100) as he is on FanDuel (11th-highest, $6,100).

Sleepers

  • James White, NE: A lot is working in White's favor, particularly the lack of reliable downfield threats at Tom Brady's disposal. That should help White see a steady amount of targets, as should whatever the Chargers decide to do about their front seven. Last week they went with seven defensive backs and the Ravens couldn't adjust. Previously they've leaned on fewer DBs and more linebackers like a typical defense would, but that would mean putting backup linebackers on the field. Either way, the Patriots will test that middle unit and it spells out a great opportunity for White. I wish his price on FanDuel ($,7400, fourth-highest) was as low as it is on DraftKings ($4,900, eighth-highest)
  • Austin Ekeler, LAC: Ekeler's worth the dart throw on the hunch he sees a little more work because the Chargers will throw it a bunch. But he'd see a lot more work if Gordon can't get going — the two split reps when both were healthy last week against the Ravens. He's a better bargain on DraftKings ($4,500) than FanDuel ($6,200).

Wide receivers

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Brandin Cooks LAR • WR • 12
TAR117
REC80
REC YDs1204
REC TD5

Dallas' defense has gained respect over the last month or so but there are weak links that Cooks could exploit. Amazingly, it's been cornerback Byron Jones who's slouched in the Cowboys' secondary and should make him a target. Cooks' speed and route-running could keep him a step ahead of Jones. Moreover, his price is far from prohibitive ($5,600 DraftKings, $7,400 FanDuel) and his upside is incredible.

Next Best

  • Michael Thomas, NO: Because his top-ranked price matters, Thomas will need 100 yards, at least one touchdown and a bunch of catches in order to return the kind of value we'd desire. Thing is, it's possible. Allen Robinson had his best game of the year in the wild-card round, DeAndre Hopkins went to town on the Eagles three weeks ago and Amari Cooper found the end zone three times back in Week 14. While he's not a must for lineups, he's the preferred choice over Tyreek Hill, who's the same price on FanDuel ($8,400) and $500 cheaper on DraftKings ($7,400).
  • Robert Woods, LAR: Woods has been the steadiest Rams receiver, landing at least seven targets in six of his last seven and scoring in three of those. He'll play in the slot a lot and see nickelback Anthony Brown, a beatable matchup. He's a better choice if you're on DraftKings ($5,900).

Sleepers

  • Mike Williams, LAC: The hunch is the Patriots will stick Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore on Keenan Allen, opening up Williams for a likely showdown with veteran Jason McCourty. That can be appealing for Williams, who has sneakily made 13 deep-ball receptions for the Bolts this year, including four for touchdowns. His remaining six scores all came from 10 yards or closer, which is in line with his rep for being a big-bodied end-zone target. He's 10th-most expensive on FanDuel at $6,600 and 11th-cheapest on DraftKings ($4,700).
  • Ted Ginn, NO: A lot of people are forgetting about Ginn since he barely played after Week 4. But he's exactly what the Saints need offensively — a burner who can line up anywhere and stretch defenses deep. FanDuel made the mistake of listing him at the cheapest possible price of $4,500, making him an absolute must. Over on DraftKings he's $4,400, which is a good price but nowhere near as cheap relative to the position.

Tight ends

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Travis Kelce KC • TE • 87
TAR150
REC103
REC YDs1336
REC TD10
FL1

Kelce should see a slew of targets as he's a behemoth against the Colts' smallish defensive backs. Indianapolis might be in a real pickle at safety — either Malik Hooker plays at less than 100 percent or one of J.J. Wilcox or George Odum get pressed into action. The Colts have given up a touchdown to a tight end in two of their last three. 

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Eric Ebron IND • TE • 85
TAR110
REC66
REC YDs750
REC TD13
FL1

The Chiefs defense is equally iffy against tight ends with guys like Ron Parker getting crushed in the passing game. They've allowed 10 touchdowns on the year to tight ends including seven in their last six. Ebron is already a touchdown-dominant behemoth 

Kelce is the most expensive tight end out there ($7,500 FanDuel, $7,000 DraftKings). Ebron ranks third in price ($6,600 FanDuel, $5,500 DraftKings). Almost every lineup will feature one or the other, and probably more Ebron since he's cheaper. If you want to be unique and can swing it, use both.

Sleeper

  • Antonio Gates, LAC: All the hype is around Hunter Henry coming back for the Chargers, but we have no idea how much he'll play or how effective he'll be. Gates, believe it or not, is the healthier and seemingly safer option. He's the same price as Henry on FanDuel ($4,900) and is only $400 more on DraftKings ($3,200). He'll need a touchdown (or an uncharacteristically great game) in order to return good value, but he's the punt play to roll with if you go big at other positions.

DSTs

Top Play

Saints DST

According to Las Vegas, the Eagles are expected to score 21 points, the lowest single-team total of the weekend (the Chargers are right behind them at 21.5). That would make sense — they scored 16 points last Sunday at Chicago and 24 points the week before versus a bad Redskins defense. Plus, the Saints held the Eagles to seven points in their first meeting this season. They're the best bet for a good tally, though they're also the most expensive.

Sleeper

Chargers DST

  • It's a little sickening to trust a Gus Bradley-led defense against Tom Brady, but the Patriots' receiving corps is thin and the Chargers are loaded with pass rushers and quality defensive backs. It'll take a strong effort from New England's running backs (along with some Philip Rivers turnovers) in order to hang a ton of points on the Chargers. If you're going to cheap on a DST, pass over the Eagles (because the Saints could go nuts), Colts (because the Chiefs could go nuts) and Cowboys (because the Rams could go nuts) and go with the Chargers since the Pats aren't as certain to go nuts. 
Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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