DFS Divisional Round Breakdown

14 Jan 2017 - 11:29am | Roto Coach | Updated: 14 Jan 2017 - 11:33am
DFS Divisional Round Breakdown

Seattle @ Atlanta

Atlanta: -5 O/U: 51.5

Quarterback: This year’s Russell Wilson is just not the same player we saw last season. Injuries, a poor offensive line, and underwhelming play at times, all took their toll. That said, this isn’t the worst tournament spot to think about rolling out Wilson. I expect Seattle to try lean on the running game early, but I’m not convinced that even this secondary is equipped to hold the Falcons in check for four quarters. That means putting the ball in Wilson’s hands and seeking passing game production is nearly inevitable. By no means is he safe, but if the Seahawks manage to stay in this football game I’m inclined to believe it’s a big day for Wilson that gives them a fighting chance. On the other side of the ball is one of the safest cash game options at quarterback this weekend. Normally we avoid quarterbacks against the Seahawks like the plague, but Matt Ryan just finished up the best season of his career and is firmly in the MVP hunt. Furthermore, he already sliced and diced this Seattle defense to the tune of 335 yards and 3 TD passes earlier this season, and that game was played in Seattle and the Seahawks barely escaped with a victory. Things aren’t going to get any easier in the Georgia Dome, and sans Earl Thomas there’s a strong case to be made that they are going to be much worse. Ryan is a cash game quarterback this week, and you can also feel good about him as a GPP play. There are plenty of strong options, but his spot and projected gamescript catapult him to the top.

Running Back: Last week we saw the Thomas Rawls bust out for a monster performance against the Lions, which was nice to see after his disasterous stretch over the final four weeks. The most notable thing from a fantasy perspective was the production, but don’t discount the fact that Pete Carroll was willing to give him the ball 27 times with the season on the line. For a guy coming off a major injury and finishing the season banged up, that’s a really big deal. Seattle is likely to do everything in it’s power to keep Matt Ryan off the field this week, and that’s going to start with a healthy dose of Rawls. The offensive line for Seattle is still a concern, but lucky for Rawls he’ll see a Falcons team that ranks near the bottom of the league in rush defense according to Football Outsiders DVOA metric. The other player to keep an eye on here is C.J. Prosise. Lost to a fractured scapula just as he was hitting his stride, the rookie remains questionable heading into the weekend. He won’t steal many carries from Rawls, but if he is a go on Saturday he could be a factor in the passing game. After all, that’s been the former college wide receiver’s calling card as a rookie and this is a Falcons defense that ranks dead last on the season in receptions (109), receiving yards (870), and receiving touchdowns (6) allowed to the running back position on the season. Some of that is teams playing from behind against this high powered offense all season, and some of it is running out arguably the least athletic linebacking corps in the league each week. On the Atlanta side is the dreaded two headed monster at running back, a scenario that’s been giving fantasy players fits all season. And that essentially means you can’t play either of these two in cash. With a handful of much safer options at the position, both are tournament plays and somewhat intriguing at their respective prices. The knock here is the Seattle defensive front, which has been a formidable force all season and ranks near the top of the league against the run. Where the loss of Earl Thomas does up their vulnerability is against running backs and tight ends in the passing game, the latter doesn’t matter so much. But against these Falcons backs it could be a real issue. If I’m trying to pick a winner here I’m looking at the home-road splits, which overwhelmingly favor Freeman. Of his 13 touchdowns this season, 11 came at the Georgia Dome and he was slightly more productive as a receiver at home. Coleman, on the other hand, logged 8 of his 11 touchdowns in road games, averaged nearly a yard more per carry away from home, and more than doubled both his average yards per target and average yards per reception in road games. Freeman gets the nod here of the two for me in GPPs.

Wide Receiver: We saw Doug Baldwin go nuts against the Lions last week, and in a game where we expect Wilson and the passing game to play a much bigger role for Seattle, it’s hard to fathom that not involving a whole lot of Baldwin. The Falcons lack a shutdown corner to start with so if Wilson can get him the ball then Baldwin is in for a nice game here with the expectation that Seattle is going to need to keep pace on offense. Paul Richardson played well last week and rewarded those who believed in him as the heir apparent to the Tyler Lockett role in this offense. The highlight reel touchdown catch from last week should serve to make him popular, and he does bring the double dip potential as a returner. Still, I’m inclined to believe Jermaine Kearse could play a larger part this week in what should be a more wide open game, and he can be had at a discount. For the Falcons Julio Jones is always on the radar, but the matchup isn’t great and he’s going to see plenty of Richard Sherman. Still, he blistered this defense for a 7-139-1 line at Seattle so there’s certainly some big upside here. That said, you’ll need to be willing to pay for it. Sherman coverage for Jones means Mohamed Sanu reaps the benefits. He should be targeted heavily in this game and is a viable option in all formats. When healthy this season, his targets have been relatively safe. With a full cast of pass catchers back for the Falcons, second half star Taylor Gabriel gets a GPP flyer tag here and shouldn’t be anywhere near your cash games. Remember, he’s now fifth in the pecking order behind Jones, Sanu, and the backs. If you roster him and he doesn’t break a big play you’re likely drawing dead.  

Tight End: On the season the Falcons gave up the sixth most fantasy points to the tight end position, but Jimmy Graham has seen more than 4 targets in a game just once in his last five. His recovery ahead of this season from a devastating knee injury was nothing short of miraculous so perhaps he’s battling some fatigue and soreness down the home stretch. Regardless, he’s hard to trust at this point, especially given the premium price on most sites. He’s not safe, but if he does manage to get going against this Falcons defense then Atlanta could be in for a long afternoon, as they won’t have an answer. The Falcons will run out veteran blocking tight end Levine Toilolo and rookie Austin Hooper here, but neither is a fantasy consideration unless you’re desperate for a punt tight end that might see a red zone target. Even then, there are better options than either of these two.

Defense: While Seattle certainly fields one of the league’s preeminent defenses, the Seahawks are difficult to consider on the road against the NFL’s top offense this season. There are seemingly safer places to go on this slate for top options on the defensive side of the football so limit your Seahawks exposure here. For what it’s worth, I do think you can dabble on the Atlanta side in tournaments because of the inconsistency we’ve seen from Russell Wilson and company. Atlanta is going to score, while Seattle has struggled to put points on the board against even mediocre defenses this season, especially on the road. Coming into Saturday’s game the Seahawks have totaled just 40 points over their final three road games. And it was hardly a murderer’s row of defenses, as those last three contests were against Tampa Bay, Green Bay, and San Francisco. If Atlanta jumps out to a lead here and Russell Wilson needs to throw them back into the ballgame, even Atlanta’s poor secondary may be able to capitalize.


Houston @ New England

New England: -15 O/U: 44.5

Quarterback: When these two teams met on Thursday night in Week 3, the Patriots blanked Brock Osweiler and the Texans on the way to a 27-0 victory at Foxboro. And as is if that weren’t bad enough, lest we forget it was Jacoby Brissett under center for New England, and not Tom Brady. As well as Brock Osweiler managed to play against the Raiders last week, he’s not a quarterback to seriously consider this weekend. Right now the Texans implied Vegas total is less than 15 points, which is also the Vegas spread for this game as of this writing. After a strong showing last week against a beaten down Raiders team that was forced to throw its third string quarterback to the wolves in his first NFL start, the Texans are in for a serious reality check this week. And while Tom Brady would seem like fantastic play this week, the massive spread and the expected poor quarterback play on the other side suggest that he might not be needed to do much on offense this week. Oh, he’ll toss a couple touchdown passes in this one, but New England is likely to be operating on cruise control by sometime in the third quarter, and that’s generally when LeGarrette Blount is called on to pound teams into submission. Brady is a strong tournament play due to the solid floor, but this game figures to spiral out of control enough that the ceiling may not be there for him.

Running Back: For as long as the gamescript will allow, the Texans are going to lean on Lamar Miller here. He played well against Oakland last week, and really set the tone for the Texans offense early on. Unfortunately for Houston, the Patriots field one the league’s best run defenses, and with Osweiler unlikely to keep the defense from keying on Miller, he’s just not in a good spot here. On a four game slate like this you can always look at contrarian options in tournaments, but I can’t envision a scenario where I’ll have any Lamar Miller this week. On the other side of the ball you can take a long look at LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, and James White at their respective price points. Blount feels like the safest option here, as he carries the rock late in blowouts, and this game certainly projects to be that. Outside of studs Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott, Blount likely has the safest floor of any running back this weekend. White and Lewis are tournament plays only here because they continue to cut into the workload of each other. At this point White seems like the receiving back, with Lewis spelling Blount, but remaining on the field at times as a pass catcher. Neither is safe, but Lewis has the higher ceiling, and that’s what you need to take down a GPP.

Wide Receiver: For Houston the only wideout to consider is DeAndre Hopkins. And even then you need to be concerned that Brock Osweiler is the one who needs to get him the football. Still, Houston is going to be playing from behind in this one and the message seems to have gotten through to Brock about getting the ball in the hands of his best receiver. Hopkins has 20 targets over his past two games with Osweiler under center and there’s something to be said for garbage time, of which there should be plenty here. For New England Julian Edelman should be a solid option this week, but the path of least resistance against the Texans is definitely not through the air. Edelman shouldn’t see any A.J. Bouye coverage in the slot, but there’s always the possibility that the Texans decide to shadow him and force Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan, and the newly acquired Michael Floyd, to beat them. And let’s be honest, targeting Floyd, a guy who’s literally been on the roster for a few weeks, here would be about as Patriots as it gets. None of the three are cash game plays, but in order I like Hogan, Floyd, and then a banged up Mitchell, who has been a question mark all week. These guys are nice fillers as cheap upside fillers that let you pay up for the studs.

Tight End: C.J. Fiedorowicz may be one of my favorite point per dollar plays of the week. Guys like Graham and Travis Kelce are going to be uber popular this week, but Fiedorowicz continues to see targets in this offense now that he’s healthy again. He and Ryan Griffin split the tight end targets last week, but Fiedorowicz played nearly twenty more snaps, and let’s face it, Osweiler has clearly shown a propensity for targeting the big tight end. With Gronk lost for the year it’s the Martellus Bennett show in New England. Still, the Texans have been one of the best teams at defending the tight end position all season, and this just doesn’t seem like a place we need to go.

Defense: The Patriots haven’t been a particularly dynamic defense this season, but they’ve already seen the Brock Osweiler act once, and boy did it end badly. This is going to be everyone’s favorite cash game defense, and they’ll also be super chalky in tournaments as well. It’s a safe play, but merits pivoting off of if you’re building multiple tournament lineups. You can’t touch Houston this week in anything but a GPP, and even then you need the extremely improbable to happen.


Pittsburgh @ Kansas City

Kansas City: -1.5 O/U: 44

**This was originally the early game on Sunday and scheduled to kick off at 1:05 EST. Due to an ice storm expected to hit Kansas City early on Sunday, the NFL has moved the kickoff to 8:20pm EST.**

Quarterback: On the Kansas City side we can skip right over Alex Smith. Every season a matchup or two pops up in which he makes sense. But on a four game slate with a handful of stud quarterbacks to consider, you can skip right over ole’ noodle arm and move along. In all honesty, his ceiling is probably lower than Brock Osweiler, who should at least post some garbage time stats once the game is out of hand. On the Pittsburgh side of the ball is Ben Roethlisberger, who normally merits some serious consideration. That said, this feels like a really tough spot to roster him this week. Big Ben has displayed some serious home-road splits over the past few seasons, and Arrowhead on a bad weather day doesn’t exactly set him up to get right. This Chiefs defense is for real and has the added incentive of being embarrassed by Ben earlier this season in Pittsburgh. I’m off both quarterbacks here.

Running Back: Le’Veon Bell is a strong play in all formats this week. The most popular running back on last week’s slate, Bell paid off in a major way. We shouldn’t expect the same success here against a good Chiefs defense, but it’s likely he’ll need to play a larger role in the passing game, which should bolster his value. The closer the game, the heavier Bell’s target volume. And we should certainly see that play out here. No one in the NFL has the guaranteed touches that Bell does so if you’re building a cash lineup either he or Ezekiel Elliott need to anchor the running back position this week. On the Chiefs side the only running back we’re taking a look at is Spencer Ware. Ware sat out the season finale as a precaution, but he should be back and good to go for this one. The Chiefs are going to run their usual slow, methodical offense, and Ware will be a big part of it, garnering somewhere in the ballpark of 16-18 touches. Charcandrick West will play the change of pace role, but isn’t involved enough to warrant any consideration. While the Steelers defense has improved significantly against the run in the second half of the season, Ware’s involvement as a receiver should help elevate his value. He’s a strong option this week as a second running back and the opportunity cost in what Vegas projects to be the closest game of the week makes him a solid play.

Wide Receiver: Marcus Peters is likely to draw Antonio Brown in coverage this week, but it’s not going to make a difference. Don’t expect him to shred this Kansas City defense the way he did Miami last week. But at this point the Steelers are running out of options, and Brown has historically come up big in important situations. He had success against this defense when they met earlier this season, but that was at home and minus some of the weather elements that may play a lingering role in this contest. Outside of Brown, the Pittsburgh receivers are pretty tough to trust. With Ladarius Green unlikely to play you can take a look at Eli Rogers. He’s only in play in tournaments, but if the Chiefs sell out to stop Brown in the passing game, outside of Le’Veon Bell, he’s the most likely to benefit. Wide receiver value has been nearly nonexistent for Kansas City this season. At least until Tyreek Hill started running circles around everyone. He’s purely a boom-bust tournament play, but his ability to break big plays as a receiver, runner, and return man puts him in play for GPPs. Jeremy Maclin has been wildly inconsistent since returning from injury, and it wasn’t like he was lighting the world on fire prior to going down. Brown is the only remotely safe wideout in this one.

Tight End: Between Week 11 and Week 16, Travis Kelce posted at least 5 receptions and at least 100 yards receiving in five of six games he played. But with just one of those coming in the final three weeks of the season he’s certainly slowed a bit. Still, he’s the focal point of the Chiefs passing attack and if the Steelers are successful in moving the football, he could be in line for a big game here. He’s likely to be the highest owned tight end on the board, but he probably has the safest floor in cash games given the recent struggles of Graham. On the Steelers side of the ball, no Ladarius Green once again puts Jesse James on the radar. He was a popular bargain punt against the Dolphins last week, but with the Steelers jumping out to a big lead early on he was marginally involved in the offense. He’s still a punt option this week, but limit your expectations as Kansas City has defended the position very well this season.

Defense: Either defense is an option here with the lower projected Vegas total and now the weather threat. Of the two I think the Chiefs are the stronger play. They field the stronger unit to start with and Big Ben has not been the same player on the road. Arrowhead is a brutal place to play and the Steelers offense is far less conservative than Kansas City’s. Pittsburgh’s matchup isn’t bad, but we know Alex Smith and company aren’t going to take chances or really push the ball downfield. That limits the opportunities for mistakes and will lower Pittsburgh’s ceiling.


Green Bay @ Dallas

Dallas: -4.5 O/U: 52.5

Quarterback: While I have more confidence in Matt Ryan than some, Aaron Rodgers is the safest quarterback on the board this week. The best way to attack the Cowboys defense is through the air, and Rodgers has been playing as well as any quarterback in the league over the second half. The loss of Jordy Nelson is certainly going to hurt, but it had little noticeable impact last week against a very good Giants defense, as Rodgers shredded the G-men in the second half-all without Nelson. Rodgers is going to throw the football if the Packers get behind, and because the Green Bay running game is in shambles, he’s also going to throw it plenty even if they’re ahead. He’s going to be chalky at quarterback this week, but much like the Patriots defense, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong. To me, Dak Prescott is the most interesting tournament play at quarterback. I really felt like his statement game of the season was one the road at Green Bay in Week 6. Up to that point he had played well but had been more of a game manager from week to week. Then he diced up the Packers for 247 yards and 3 TDs through the air, while Elliott ran wild all afternoon. The challenge here is knowing how much the Cowboys are going to need to rely on Prescott. We know they’ll lean heavily on the running game to start, but if the Packers have success moving the ball through the air and this game goes the way of a shootout, Prescott could smash his price across most sites.   

Running Back: For the Cowboys the position begins and ends with Ezekiel Elliott. He tuned up this defense for more than 150 yards rushing in their previous meeting, although he did fail to find the end zone. Admittedly, the Packers are better against the run than the pass, but Elliott isn’t the kind of back where we worry about the matchups. He should be fine here, and I have him rated a touch higher than Bell playing at home against a weaker defense. The Packers side of the ball is a mess. It will be some combination of Aaron Ripkowski, a banged up Ty Montgomery, and Christian Michael. The Cowboys are a top five run defense to start with so outside of the passing game work, which should largely go to Montgomery, these guys are mostly tournament dart throws at this point. It seems unlikely, but if we get word that Montgomery is a full go he’s at least a decent tournament flyer, as the Packers are without Jordy Nelson and he’s a capable receiver.

Wide Receiver: The Packers did a nice job on Odell Beckham last week, but it’s going to be a little more difficult against a motivated Dez Bryant playing at home. Remember, his last playoff game was the “catch-non-catch” affair against Green Bay in 2014, and we know Dez is the kind of player who dwells on things like that. I expect big things from Dez this week, and think he goes a tad overlooked given the injuries this season and the presence of Antonio Brown, Julio, and the Packers wideouts this week. The other Dallas receiver of note is Cole Beasley. At one point this season the Packers were getting eaten up by slot receivers, but they seem to have turned the corner (pun intended) over the last month. I’m not a Micah Hyde believer, but he’s been making plays of late. I do think Beasley matches up better than some of the guys Hyde has had success against recently, and he gets targeted in the red zone more often than you’d expect from a guy his size. On the Packers side you can safely plug in both Randall Cobb and Davante Adams at their respective price points on both sites. It’s hard to see the Cowboys holding down Aaron Rodgers and the passes are going to have to go somewhere. The loss of Jordy Nelson is a big one for this team, but we’ve seen guys like Jared Cook and Geronimo Allison step up at different times this season so there’s no reason to write off the Packers offense. I think plenty of players will chase the points with Cobb, but I’m not one of them. Take away the inexplicable hail mary the Giants allowed at the end of the first half and Cobb’s statline is a much more reasonable 4-74-2, rather than the gaudy 5-116-3. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fantastic fantasy performance, but it’s heavily overshadowed Adams’ 8-125-1. It’s also worth noting that both Adams and Cook far outpaced Cobb in targets, with 12 and 9 respectively, while Cobb garnered 7. I’m always petrified that “bad” Davante Adams will rear his ugly head in a pressure spot like this, but on a four game slate we don’t have that luxury. I like Adams the best here, followed by Cobb. I also think Allison makes for a decent cheap punt, as he played more than half the snaps last week. Also, if you believe the Cowboys are going to get up big in the second half, you can always throw your own hail mary with Jeff Janis. It is playoff time after all.     

Tight End: Jared Cook saw the second most targets for the Packers last week and faces a Cowboys team that gave up a league worst 120 receptions to tight ends this season for league worst 1206 yards. With Nelson out expect Rodgers to target the athletic tight end often in this game. Cook is in a great spot, but we must always remember he’s still Jared Cook. It feels weird to say he’s a cash game play, but I think you can do it this week. On the Cowboys side, Jason Witten is also in a decent spot here. His ceiling is pretty limited, but the Packers are vulnerable in the short passing game with suspect linebacking corps and he’s been a decent safety valve for Prescott all season. Don’t expect big things, but he’s got a higher floor than guys like Jesse James and Austin Hooper for not much more salary.

Defense: I want no part of the Packers defense here. Since Week 1 no team has fared well against Ezekiel Elliott, and I’m not betting on the Packers to buck the trend. On the off chance they jump out to a big lead and force Prescott to beat them with his arm, I have a hard time seeing this secondary being up to the task. I’m also not high on the Cowboys either. We know how hot Aaron Rodgers has been and we know the way to attack Dallas is through the air. Even if they win  handily here, it’s difficult to envision the Packers not putting up a pile of points. Dallas is a GPP play, and I think if you’re going there you need to stack the defense with Elliott.

Good luck this week!

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