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Divisional Round Player Grid

By: Mike Johnson



The Core

This is a list of players that stand out to me at each position from using my “Checking the Boxes” criteria outlined in my course you can find in our Marketplace. This list is a starting point, from which I build out lineups using game theory and roster construction concepts (which we will also touch on) with the mindset being to find the best plays with big ceilings. Low ownership is a bonus, but not a must. This section will focus primarily on three positions – running back, tight end, and defense – as the other two positions (quarterback and wide receiver) tend to have more dependent tendencies which I try to attack from other angles (which we will get into in the other sections). I like all of these plays on all sites unless otherwise noted:

RUNNING BACK ::
CHRISTIAN MCCAFFERY

CMC is in line for an absolutely monster outing this week. The Cowboys present a beatable matchup and should score enough to keep CMC on the field deep into the game. CMC’s price is laughably low and he is the best running back option on the slate.

SAQUON BARKLEY

Had a tremendous playoff debut last week despite a pass-heavy Giants game plan against the porous Vikings secondary. This week, the Eagles defensive weakness is on the ground and Barkley should be the focal point.

MILES SANDERS

Sanders had three games this season in which he scored more than 20 points. In all three of those games, he actually scored over 30 points. When Sanders hits, he hits in a big way.

TONY POLLARD

I believe Pollard is the X-Factor the Cowboys must utilize to have a chance against the 49ers – if he splits time with Elliott, I don’t see them being competitive. From that vantage point, Pollard at low ownership and a low price tag (if we knew he would be the feature back, he would probably be $1,000 higher salary and twice the ownership) is a tremendous GPP play.

  • Side Notes/Thoughts::
    • Isaiah Pacheco // Jerick McKinnon – These two have combined to average two touchdowns per game over the last six weeks. That’s right, 12 touchdowns in six games. McKinnon has only nine carries and 12 targets over the past three weeks, which makes him feel like a bit of a risky play. Pacheco has not had a game where he reached even 3x his Draftkings salary for this week. Clyde Edwards-Helaire could also be active for this game. Long story short, there are a lot of factors that point to these two as potential “trap” plays this week but given the incredible rate of touchdowns they have had recently they do warrant some consideration.
TIGHT END ::
TRAVIS KELCE
  • Simply put, Kelce is still the king at the tight end position. In a week where pricing is so loose, paying up for him makes a ton of sense. #Regression also remains undefeated, and Kelce has not scored a touchdown in his last six games (50 targets) after scoring 12 touchdowns on 102 targets over the Chiefs first 11 games. I will be shocked if Kelce doesn’t score at least one touchdown this week, while multiple TDs with 100+ yards are squarely in his range of outcomes. Let’s also not forget that over his last six playoff games Kelce has averaged 27.9 Draftkings points with stat lines of:
    • 5 // 108 // 1
    • 8 // 96 // 1
    • 10 // 95 // 1
    • 10 // 133 // 0
    • 13 // 118 // 2
    • 8 // 109 // 1
EVAN ENGRAM

Engram has seen double-digit targets in three of his last six games, all of which were competitive games with matchups that forced the Jaguars to throw often. This week against the Chiefs should be no different and at his price tag that’s a tremendous value.

DALTON SCHULTZ

Ceedee Lamb has 102 targets since Dak Prescott returned from injury in Week 7 against the Lions. Dalton Schultz has 80 targets during that same time frame. That is a relatively tight spread between the top two Cowboys receiving options when you consider their price difference of $3,100 on Draftkings.

HAYDEN HURST

Hurst has an underrated role on the Bengals, who could easily lead the weekend in pass attempts. At a bargain basement price, Hurst is an elite option.

DEFENSE :: 
CHIEFS

The Chiefs defense has been elite in home games this year, holding opponents to 19.4 points per game at home on the season and only 15.6 points in their last five home games. The Jaguars made a ton of mistakes last week prior to the Chargers falling apart and it wouldn’t be shocking for something similar to happen this week without the happy ending for Jacksonville.

49ERS

The 49ers have forced multiple turnovers from their opponents in eight of their last nine games and this week host Dak Prescott, who led the NFL in interceptions this season.


Premium Passing Game Stacks

CINCINNATI BENGALS

The Bengals narrowly escaped their opening playoff game against a shorthanded Ravens team and clearly have some offensive line issues, so seeing the Bengals as the “premium passing stack” that I chose from the eight teams still playing may raise some eyebrows. However, the Bengals have been so dependent on their opponents to push them that they are going underrated in this spot. This is still an elite passing game that has clear personnel usage (three receivers played 90% of snaps last week and Hayden Hurst played 78% of the game). The Bills run defense is elite and the Bengals offensive line issues combined with Joe Mixon’s complete lack of efficiency this year (3.9 yards per carry) make it likely that almost all of the Bengals offense is going to have to come through the air. The combined salaries of Joe Burrow + Ja’Marr Chase + Tee Higgins were $23.3k in Week 18 and this week it is $20.1k. The Bengals defense has faced a cakewalk of offenses most of this season but that ends this week and the Bills impending success is likely going to send this Bengals passing game’s volume and aggressiveness to the moon.

(Obviously, given my feelings on the Bengals, I also think the Bills are in a great spot this week. I lean towards Cincinnati’s passing game as the top option to stack over Buffalo because Josh Allen can take so much away from his receivers with his legs. The Bills also have two running backs that have a good matchup on the ground and can produce enough to take away the “ceiling” from stacks and the Bills mix in more personnel that also spreads out volume and production in the passing game.)

GPP STACK OF THE WEEK
GIANTS // EAGLES

In a usual week when I pick my “GPP Game Stack Of The Week”, I am looking for games where one or more of these three conditions exists:: 1 – the over/under doesn’t reflect its upside, 2 – there are a lot of good value plays involved in the game, 3 – high ceiling players at low ownership. This is a relatively small slate with only four games, and none of them will go significantly overlooked by the field while all of them have totals over 46 points and potentially explosive offenses (hence why these teams are still alive). Also, pricing is relatively loose across the board during the playoffs. These factors combine to make choosing the top GPP game stack slightly more complex than a regular week, but I landed on Giants // Eagles as my favorite spot to attack from the four available.

There are several factors at play that made this my favorite spot, but perhaps the most important is the fact that these teams have very good dual-threat quarterbacks. Everyone knows how dynamic Jalen Hurts can be with his legs, but Daniel Jones has also been incredible of late. Jones has 10+ rush attempts in four of his last six games and is averaging 8.6 fantasy points from rushing alone during that stretch. Along with Jones providing that kind of fantasy production (and the ability to keep drives alive), the Giants pass catchers are all priced below $5k on Draftkings (and all below $7k on Fanduel) which is outstanding for a team that is opening their offense up and throwing at a very high rate late in the season. On the Eagles side, Jalen Hurts should be back at full strength (finally) and the last thing people remember about this Philadelphia team is the ugly offensive performance they turned in against Giants backups in Week 18. However, Philly scored 48 points in the first matchup between these teams. The Eagles defense has also been far more beatable than most people think, as they have given up 32 points to the Commanders, 33 points to the Packers, 22 points to the Giants, and 40 points to the Cowboys since Week 10. 

TL;DR – The offenses are both really good and the defenses are very beatable.


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