It was the divisional round in 2014 or 15 where I got hooked on DFS. Also where I won my first tournament and couldn’t believe a $3 entry fee could take me so far. Isn’t that what we all hope for however? That miracle best lineup ever?
The reason why the Divisionals are so good for DFS though (in my opinion) is that because there are only 4 games to play, high ownership on certain players is practically a given. So much so often times you will find you can’t avoid it as you are constructing a lineup. So the key to winning becomes less about avoiding chalk but finding leverage off that chalk and that can make for some very fun and unique lineups. Let’s look at the Rams Packers game first because I think I can show you what I mean.
Davante Adams is currently projected as the highest owned receiver close to 32% of the field. I think Davante Adams is a must play every week. He has helped me win 2 out of my last 3 Fantasy Championship. His consistency in his offense is what makes him so appealing. Also, people seem to forget every week how damn good this guy is at getting separation and running his routes. Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill? Do they scare me when I am playing $8,000+ receiver sure – but with Adams it’s just a different animal. DK Metcalf to me is a guy who could approach Adam’s stature in DFS – someday. If you want to even look at Metcalf as distant close comp, in this matchup against the Rams – I think you probably need to play Davante Adams. Adams lines up all over the field and unless Jalen Ramsey decides to Shadow him, which is possible, I think Adams will be fine in this matchup. BUT he is chalk and the Aaron Rogers -Davante Adams stack is chalk. So where is the leverage? In this game you also have the highest owned running back on the slate – Cam Akers. I think because most people rostering the Rogers-Adams stack will run that back with Cam Akers. Why? Jared Goff is playing in cold weather with a bum thumb. Logic says the Rams will want to run the ball against the 24th worst team in the league against running backs. So where is the leverage? Play Akers-Adams game stack and no Rogers. Sure both Akers and Adams are chalk, but you can open yourself to play another less chalky QB-WR stack to offset. For instance Tom Brady – Chris Godwin or Lamar Jackson – Hollywood Brown for instance. Or play Rogers-Akers game stack with no Adams. Stack Rogers with TE Robert Tonyon and run it back with Akers. Tonyon by the way, hovering around 8% owned and he has a touchdown in 7 of his last 8 games! Play Robert Tonyon – only $4,200 on DK! Or stack Rogers with Marquez Valdez Scantling who really only needs to catch a 50 yard bomb for a touchdown to pay off his salary.
This is not me saying don’t play Rogers – Akers – Adams game stacks, I will have a few lineups with it. I mean Aaron Rogers is chasing an NFC Title repeat, another Superbowl appearance and another MVP title this weekend. It’s tough to look past Rogers and his #1 target. What I am trying to do here is show you some ways to play these guys while gaining leverage on the field. But there are other plays at WR to consider that I think have arguably more upside than Adams today who also can provide you leverage on the field.
Michael Thomas – Thomas is only about 2% less owned than Adams, but his salary on DK is why he is my top leverage play. Thomas is nearly $2,000 less than Adams and what that saving can open up for you is where you can begin to build a unique lineup from. Plus you get a healthy Mike Thomas at home in the Voodoo Dome with Drew Brees under center – a lethal combination for opposing defenses. Thomas admittedly wasn’t lights out against the Bears last week with 73 yards and a score but now he plays a team ranked 25th against Wide Receivers and allowing over 270 yards per game through the air. How do you not like an underpriced Mike Thomas today.
Tyreek Hill – $600 less expensive than Adams today, 4% less ownership and he plays the Browns at home in Arrowhead. Are you freakin’ kidding me. To be fair it will be tough to find leverage with Hill only because naturally you will want to pair him with Patrick Mahomes who is the Chalk QB today at 30% ownership. But there is a way that I like. Game stack Baker Mayfield – Tyreek Hill and instant leverage found. I do not think I need to go into #Analysis why Patrick Mahomes is a GREAT play today so it is tough to not roster him in this matchup, but Baker makes for an interesting leverage play stacked with Hill and/or Travis Kelce as Baker’s ownership is in the basement and with the way he and his offensive line is playing, there is no reason on paper why Mayfield could be one of the highest fantasy scoring QB options on the slate. Also there is real value on this slate that you can find to allow you to include Adams or Thomas on a Mayfield – Hill game stacked lineup. More on that later.
Stefon Diggs! It is bizarre but he is actually cheaper than last week on DK! He is nearly $1,000 less than Adams and to be honest his usage alone should put him in serious consideration this weekend. Sure the Ravens have a great defense but so did the Dolphins, so did the Colts. This guy has seen LESS than 9 targets only 4 times this season and he has only dipped below 8 targets twice. 6 Catches for 128 Yards and a score against the Colts last week and his price dropped? What is going on here? He is about 5% less owned than Adams – BUT because Patrick Mahomes’ ownership is so huge, Josh Allen is projected at less than 15% owned. Now to be fair the Cincinnati game aside, the Ravens have held their opponents to 14 points or fewer in 3 of their last 4. However two of those teams were the Giants and Jaguars … Allen – Diggs stacks, let’s go!
Marquise Brown! Crazy right? Marquise Hollywood Brown in the conversation of Mike Thomas, Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams? Well the proof is in the pudding. 6 Touchdowns in his last 7 games. In fact he has gone 85 yards or more OR a Touchdown in all 7 of those games. The Bill’s secondary is something to note BUT the difference maker is his QB Lamar Jackson who creates opportunity. Lamar too – way to under owned for this game, the way he has been playing and Hollywood is way to underpriced (in my opinion). I like this game to put up a lot of points and I think a unique approach would be to Game Stack Lamar or Allen with Diggs and Hollywood, the use Adams or Thomas and do a second game stack there. Adams with Akers, Thomas with Godwin for example or even Tyreek Hill with Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt. Your lineup will appear chalky, but if Lamar or Allen’s ownership holds, the QB position will give you leverage.
I hope this can give you some ideas on how to play the Studs, eat some chalk but gain leverage while you are doing it. There are a lot of great plays in these 4 games and some really striking value to be found too. So let’s get into who else I like and where I can I’ll give you more strategy for leverage. By the way, so I don’t repeat myself too much – everyone that I highlighted in bold above is in play for me today in one way or another and I think they should be in your player pool. So if I don’t go back to them below, don’t think I don’t like them today.
We spoke at length about Davante Adams, Aaron Rogers and a bit on Cam Akers but this Packers Rams game really intrigues me for a number of reasons above and beyond those three studs. (PS – I really like Cam Akers today, way underpriced on DK for a guy likely to see 20 touches against a defense ranks 25th against running backs. He is my favorite running back play today). While I do not have a lot of interest in his quarterback, Robert Woods pops out to me as a guy that is way UNDER OWNED and way UNDER PRICED for his opportunity. Cooper Kupp is a game time decision after not practicing all week due to a knee injury. He is a game time decision. But I like Woods today as I think Jared Goff will be looking his way early and often. I like the end around plays and sweep plays that Woods often runs and he is just a solid receiver in a plus matchup. I down grade Woods slightly if Kupp plays but if Kupp is out, I think Woods is a somewhat sneaky WR 2 or Flex. I should mention too if Kupp is out Josh Reynolds is only $3,900 on DK and he becomes immensely interesting. I also think Ram’s Tight Ends are in play. Especially if Kupp sits, I think Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett should be in your player pool. Surprisingly, Higbee is the 3rd highest owned Tight End behind Kelce and Andrews, so for me I like Everett as the cheap dart throw leverage … I think a lot of the Higbee ownership is due to the uncertainty on Cooper Kupp. I’d rather play a cheap Josh Reynolds however over both tight ends.
Staying in this game on the other side of the ball, the Packers Stud I haven’t talked about is Aaron Jones. Who is the second highest owned running back on the slate, which is a bit surprising given the recent narrative that Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon cut into Jones’ workload too much. But it isn’t really true. We have seen when the game is on the line the Packers turn to Jones. 20 Touches against Carolina, 15 against the Lions and Eagles, 17 against Chicago – these are all teams you can run on and the Rams have shown weakness in the run game lately. I could also see draw plays and stunts, wheel routes and screens all coming Jones’ way today to try and offset the Ram’s pass rush. So I do think Aaron Jones is a pretty good play today, not my favorite but he is in the mix. I’ve already mentioned both Marquez Valdez Scantling and Robert Tonyon as stacking options with Rogers… and to me that is the only thing that prevents me from making Aaron Jones a stone cold lock is the Packers passing game. Uniquely a Jones-Adams team stack will be very unowned as no one likes to play a #1WR and #1RB on the same team. But we have seen a Derrick Henry-AJ Brown game stack take down a tournament in the past. Just sayin’.
Tom Brady has never lost 3x in a single season to the same team. How many times have you hear that this week? Look the fact is the Saints have had Brady’s number this season – BUT I do want to mention that Brady himself has said he didn’t firmly get a full handle on this offense until after the Bye and the Saints last played him way back in Week 9. Plus they have not played Brady with Antonio Brown at all this season. As a Patriots fan I can tell you Big Game Tom is real and I really like the Brady – Godwin – Brown triple stack. Throw in Rob Gronkowski if you want or take a flier on Cameron Brate or Scotty Miller (both guys are deep dart throws and more showdown players for me but I wanted to mention them) I just feel like this Bucs team is going to take it to the Saints and I think a lot of people are sleeping on it. I will not. The only Buc receiver I am not as high on is Mike Evans only because I think there is bad blood between Evans and Saints CB Marshawn Lattimore and I kinda want to stay away from that matchup. But Evans really has been Tom’s favorite target this season especially in the endzone, so it’s not that I am Xing Evans out of my player pool, I’ll just have more of Godwin and Brown.
Leonard Fournette is getting a lot of ownership here and he certainly looked great last week but the Saints have been lights out on running backs this season and while Fournette is cheap, I am just not convinced Ronald Jones is all the way out of the picture. Additionally Keyshawn Vaughn has been getting some looks too which makes the Buccaneers backfield a little too murky for me to swim in. That’s just me though. If you are an Uncle Lenny Truther, more power to ya.
We spoke a lot about Mike Thomas already but on a whole I like the Saints offense this weekend. I think Drew Brees will be playing for his livelyhood in New Orleans after the Taysom Hill experiment went so well earlier in the season for the Team. By the way I think I need to start a movement here that if Drew Brees is playing, Taysom Hill should be classified as a TE/QB and allowed to be rostered on Draft Kings and Fan Duel. I am just saying. But the reason why I like Drew Brees a lot (in addition to Mike Thomas) is that I like Emmanuel Sanders. Although quiet last week Sanders had been on a nice run with Brees over the last 4 games and as a cheap, WR2 that has no ownership I am willing to take a shot. I also like TE Jarrod Cook who definitely has Brees’ eye in the red zone and has back to back games of 4 catches and 5+ targets. Again with Kelce and Andrews on this slate, I think Cook along with the Rams tight ends are going a bit overlooked.
I have said for the last season I do not play running backs against the Buccaneers and yes Alvin Kamara is on this slate, but I personally will stand by my statement. There is no doubt Alvin Kamara is a special player with 6 touchdown upside but the last time Kamara took the field against the Bucs 9 for 40 and 1 on the ground and 9 yards receiving. Kamara is the highest owned running back on the slate and the most expensive as well and I just can’t see paying either of those costs if he has a strong chance at under 20 Fantasy Points. Not to mention how often they look to Taysom Hill and Latavius Murray in this offense. I will be underweight on Kamara today and if that kills me it kills me, but that’s my story and I am sticking to it. I much prefer Brees and his receivers.
We spoke about Baker Mayfield earlier and why I like him in a game stack with Tyreek Hill as a leverage play, we didn’t get to talk about the Browns weapons and I think the Browns are being overlooked in general and I am ready to attack. Jarvis Landry is seeing about 25% ownership on the slate and it I think it is warranted. The Browns love the empty backfield 4 wide set a lot and with the way that offensive line has been protecting Baker, especially in second half of this season Landry has seen mismatch after mismatch. And he even throws touchdown passes too. Landry has seen 8 or more targets in 5 of his last 7 and put on a show against a tough Steelers defense last week 5 for 92 and a score. I look for Landry to have a big game against the Chiefs. I also think taking a cheap dart throw at Rashard Higgins or Donovan Peoples-Jones here isn’t a bad idea, if you are building Baker Mayfield stacks. No one is going too deep at Wide Receiver from an ownership perspective but especially in the case of DPJ who has emerged as a deep threat, I do like offsetting some of the Chalk from Landry by double stacking with another Browns receiver. These two may be more of a showdown play for me but I wanted to mention them as I could see Baker airing it out against the Chiefs to keep pace. I do like Austin Hooper the Tight End as well a lot. He is coming off back to back touchdown games and now sees the Chiefs Defense who rank close to dead last (31st) against Tight Ends. He is emerging as a favorite target for Baker too, seeing 11 or more targets in 2 of his last 3. Again with Kelce, Andrews and Higbee sucking up ownership, Hooper is dwindling below 15% and could be a solid pivot if he sees 8 or more targets including a Red Zone target.
The two Browns I am most interested in however are Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Both of these guys are Underpriced today – Chubb at $6,600 and Hunt at $4,800 and frankly, we have been playing running backs all season against the Chiefs who allow over 120 yards on the ground. The Browns are second only to the Titans as one of the most run heavy offenses in the league and they are first for running plays in neutral or losing game scripts. I do not know if you noticed last week but the Browns flipped the script with these two guys last week. Chubb labeled as the power runner by the media had nearly as many receiving yards as he did rushing and he CAUGHT a touchdown. Meanwhile Hunt labeled as the Pass Catching back in the offense had more carries than targets and had 2 touchdowns on the GROUND. Don’t be surprised if the Browns may flip the script again against the Chiefs to catch them off guard with these two. Chubb is the 6th highest owned running back on the slate and Hunt the 7th and I’d rather play either of them over Leonard Fournette or Devin Singletary both with more ownership. I am going to have a lot of the Cleveland backfield.
What is left to say about the Chiefs that has not been said. A rested Patrick Mahomes at home with a potential repeat trip to the AFC Championship on the line against a team ranked 22nd against Quarterbacks and allowing nearly 280 yards through the air. Good Luck Browns. It is no wonder Mahomes is far and away the most owned QB on the slate and Tyreek Hill right beside him. But for me, it’s Travis Kelce time. Arguably the Wide Receiver two on this team if not on the entire slate, no other tight end sees the target share; the yardage or the red zone opportunities than Kelce and the Browns have been SHREDDED by tight ends, ranking almost dead last (30) against the position. Kelce is the #1 Owned and #1 Priced Tight End on the slate for good reason. Often it is said you can’t play Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in the same lineup and I say, Why? Price prohibitive – ok maybe – but in this matchup I am going to give you the green light. I think the Browns keep this game competitive and I think that means Mahomes will be throwing and I could see both Hill and Kelce having a big day. But I love Travis Kelce here. Last night I watched Thor the Dark World and when he smashed his hammer into that Dark Elf at the end, it reminded me of Thor spiking the ball to the end of the Browns playoff hopes. Book it Danno.
I don’t mind taking a flier on Demarcus Robinson or Mecole Hardman either since Sammy Watkins is out. I prefer Hardman to Robinson in Tournaments due to the explosive speed plays he can make where I think Robinson will see more targets. Both are fine in Showdown Slates too and in Showdowns I don’t mind taking a flier on Byron Pringle either who had a nice game in Week 17 with the starters sitting. I do think a sneaky play, especially in Showdowns is stacking Hardman with the Chiefs DST as Hardman is a kick returner with wheels and if a kick is returned for a touchdown you get double points with the DST stacked.
The dark horse on the Chiefs for me though is Clyde Edwards-Helaire. CEH hasn’t practiced this week but local reports are saying he was held out for additional rest and not continued injury. If CEH is playing, I will take shot. First off no one will play CEH let alone a Chiefs running back (Lev Bell or Darrell Williams for example) especially against a Browns team ranked 7th against the run and barely giving up 100 yards. But something tells me that there is a design for CEH should he take the field and especially as a pass catching back, I just have a feeling people are sleeping on a potential game breaker. Especially if the Chiefs go ahead big. If CEH is in, I’ll have a share or two. If he is out I won’t have a Chiefs running back on any of my rosters.
I saved the main event (at least in my opinion) for last. I think that the Bills and Ravens will be the game to watch and the game to try and take as much from. Yes the Ravens have a strong defense and yes the Bill’s secondary can shut teams down … but all of that aside – Josh Allen vs Lamar Jackson are you freakin’ kidding me. You have the new Gunslinger in town against the reigning MVP who has recently got his groove back. You are talking about two offenses that have combined 141 points over their last 2 games. Amazingly as I noted earlier, with Patrick Mahomes taking up so much ownership you are looking at Josh Allen perhaps with his lowest ownership in 2 seasons at sub 15% and Lamar Jackson at 15%. Holy moly. Last week Jackson ran for 136 yards and a score and threw for 179 yards and a score while Allen thew for 324 yards and 2 scores and ran for 54 and a score. Fire Up a showdown slate and make sure both of these guys are in the lineups. No seriously, on the main slate I think it comes down to personal taste. Defensively both teams have reasons to give you pause. But I’ll be honest if the only two QBs you use in your lineups today are Allen and Jackson, I don’t blame you.
We talked about Stefon Diggs earlier and how shockingly misplaced he is – but what about Cole Beasley? $4,900 on DK are you serious? If the Ravens are rushing and hurrying Allen all day, Beasley should have himself a fine game. He is seeing some ownership at 17% but not enough in my opinion. The X in this equation for me though is John Smoky Brown who put up a goose egg last week, but look if the Ravens are able to slow Diggs down at all who is the other field stretcher Allen can drop a bomb too… ok maybe that is Gabriel Davis now, but honestly I like both Brown and Davis as cheap low owned pieces to a Bills stack or even as cheap lineup fillers with upside. Isiah McKenzie also fits that mold too, though he is more of a Showdown play for me. I do have a lot of interest in Tight End Dawson Knox however. That shovel pass touchdown between he and Allen last week will be on highlights forever and it really got the Bills going. I like Knox as a low owned pivot to the chalkier Tyler Higbee for example.
The thing that is stuck in my craw though is the ownership that Devin Singletary is seeing. With Zack Moss out, I get it – the backfield should be Singletary’s and he is cheap only $4,500 on DK. But am I missing something here? Am I missing the Devin Singletary breakout game to base any of this ownership off of? He is projected at near 30% ownership! Easy fade for me. I’d rather look at a similarly priced Gus Edwards in this same game. The Bus has been busy in this backfield and due to pricing he makes a very solid leverage play versus the chalk Singletary.
I also think JK Dobbins is being overlooked too. Dobbins should be in a great matchup here with the Bills in the back half of the league against the run and allowing over 120 on the ground. Dobbins has been scoring Double Digit fantasy points since week 13 and additionally has one or more touchdowns in every game in the same span. Dobbins is at 10% ownership currently. I will finish with my 3 Ravens targets that I think you need to be looking at. Mark Andrews of course, one of Lamar Jackson’s favorite targets and the second highest owned TE on the slate. Andrews should have every opportunity to perform against the Bills who rank near last in the league against Tight Ends (29th). Then we have old faithful Willie Snead. Snead has been quiet over the last 3 games but as a guy running 70% of the Wide Receiver snaps I think he is 3 catches for 65 yards and a score away from giving you a solid contrarian pivot from Hollywood Brown (who if you remember I also like today). Last but not least – Myles Boykin. Since the Raven’s bye, Boykin has become much more involved with 3 touchdown catches and we have seen Lamar look deep Boykin’s way several times over the last 3 games. Another dart throw, perhaps a Showdown Play more than anything else but as a second piece to a Lamar – Hollywood or Lamar – Andrews stack I think Snead and Boykin have a lot of upside and no one is playing or talking about them.
Good Luck in your Contests!