Since we are smack in the middle of January, weather has become a considerable factor. That said, as you can see below, the only game entering the Divisional round with weather concerns will be played in Green Bay – massive shocker.
We have a quartet of the very best matchups that could be engineered if Roger Goodell attempted to pair them himself. It’s a massive win for the NFL. This should be a huge weekend for the league, from a revenue perspective. (Not that they aren’t all massive, but you catch the drift.)
As always, the following chart provides the full names for the acronyms and the defensive coverage performance numbers for each position group holding coverage importance through Week 18:
To magnify their importance toward processing the matchup data, familiarity with these abbreviations are key. The full names of the data points in the headers of the data table above will not be written out in full within the specific matchups. You’ll find the following acronyms frequently used whenever referencing defensive coverage statistics:
Yards Allowed Per Coverage Snap = YPCS
Fantasy Points Allowed Per Coverage Snap = FP/CS
Air Yards Allowed Per Coverage Snap = AY/CS
Targeted Passer Rating (i.e., Passer Rating on Targets into Coverage) = TPR
Offensive abbreviations used when referring to the performance of QBs/RBs/WRs/TEs:
FPs/Dropback = FP/Db
FPs/Route = FP/Rt
FPs/Touch = FP/Tch
Yards/Route Run = YPRR
Air Yards/Attempt = AY/Att
Air Yards/Target = AY/Tgt
Yards/Target = YPT
Targeted Passer Rating (i.e., QB Passer Rating When Targeting Receiver) = TPR
If you’d like to learn more about/refresh yourself with each of the defensive coverage shells and other relevant schematic details mentioned throughout this series, utilize the following resources:
Fantasy Shells: Coverage Glossary
Fantasy Shells: Cover 1
Fantasy Shells: Cover 2
Fantasy Shells: Cover 3
*112-97 (54%); 5-1 in the Super Wildcard Round
Tennessee Titans (-3.5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Green Bay Packers (-6.0) vs. San Francisco 49ers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.0) vs. Los Angeles Rams
Kansas City Chiefs (-1.5) vs. Buffalo Bills
*103-83 (55%); 4-2 in the Super Wildcard Round
Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans (Over 47.0)
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (Under 47.5)
Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Over 48.5)
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (Over 54.5)
*135-69 (66%); 5-1 in the Super Wildcard Round
Tennessee Titans (-190) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Green Bay Packers (-255) vs. San Francisco 49ers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-150) vs. Los Angeles Rams
Kansas City Chiefs (-125) vs. Buffalo Bills
Quick Note: The listed pricing is for the main (combined) slate.
Matchups to Target
Joe Burrow, CIN ($6.6K DK | $7.7K FD) vs. Titans’ Cover 4
I’ll pass along all of the relevant metrics concerning Joe Burrow’s matchup with Tennessee, but my inclination is not to wager against Joey Franchise this week. The Titans allowed the most passing YPG among playoff teams (245.2), third-most YPA (6.64), and the second-highest completion rate on 20-plus throws (15.2%) and third-highest of 40-plus (2.78%). They have also permitted the second-most FPG allowed to QBs among the remaining playoff defenses (17.6).
Why am I even taking the time to recommend not wagering against Burreaux – the name he stitched on his LSU jersey on Senior Night in 2019 out of respect to Louisiana Cajun heritage?
The Titans are using the eighth-highest rate of Cover 4 — second-highest over the last nine weeks. They have also used the 12th-highest rate of Cover 1 over the first 12 weeks, but the ninth-lowest over the last five weeks. If Tennessee places a high rate of Cover 1 on the field on Saturday, The Tiger King will shred their attempts at single coverage with the second-highest everything (FP/Db, increase in YPA, and passer rating) among all qualified QBs during his career. But Burrow’s career FP/Db has declined by 26% down to 0.31 when he’s worked against Cover 4.
Since it’s an important scheme that we’ll cover in another vital matchup this weekend, it’ll be handy to understand that Cover 4 can be the riskiest of all – sans Cover 0 – shells against the pass. But that tag only applies if the read safeties lean toward the run with their “read” responsibilities. If so, short of having the advantage of elite corners, simple play action concepts can crumble the entire Cover 4 infrastructure from within when their safeties bite read on the run. However, if those read safeties remain true to their coverage responsibilities, opposing QBs have no choice but to check down. We can eliminate Burrow from using play action to pull the read safeties down. He used play action at the sixth-lowest rate this season. And the strength of the Tennessee secondary are safeties Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker. Both posted coverage metrics inside the top-10 among all safeties.
Be that as it may, the Titans permitted the ninth-highest passer rating when using Cover 4 (103.2), and one particular individual that we’ll discuss next combines with Burrow to form what should already be considered one of the top-five QB-WR combinations in the game.
Ja'Marr Chase, CIN ($7.1K DK | $8.2K FD) vs. Kristian Fulton, TEN
During the pre-draft process, one trait among Ja’Marr Chase’s arsenal that stood out above all others was his late separation. Equipped with an 82nd-percentile 40-time (4.34), 86th-percentile 20-time (2.51), and 79th-percentile 3-Cone (6.96), it’s through a combination with a 73rd-percentile vertical jump (41-inches) and 73rd-percentile broad jump (132-inches) that provides Chase with that critical late separation. Ja’Marr used his bestowed gifts to crush during his rookie season with the 87.3 receiving YPG (fourth-most), 101.5 air YPG (sixth-most), 11.6 YPT (fourth-most), 2.55 YPRR (sixth-most), 7.49 YAC/reception (sixth-most), and 0.527 FP/Rt (sixth-most).
The Titans are permitting the most FPG to WRs among playoff teams (41.1) — second-most overall. However, their coverage quality greatly improved following their Week 13 bye. Prior to the bye, Tennessee permitted 20 passing TDs vs. nine INTs, 271.1 YPG, and a 98.7 TPR. In the five games since, four TDs vs. seven INTs, 237.0 YPG (13% decline), and a 78.3 TPR (21% drop). In addition to Byard and Hooker, the coverage from Kristian Fulton stands out. He limited his coverage to the 12th-fewest FP/CS (0.19), 30th-lowest YPCS (1.00), and the ninth-lowest TPR (69.6). Having said that, Fulton’s coverage did not fare well the last time he faced a dynamic athlete of Chase’s level. In Week 16 vs. San Francisco, Fulton was responsible for 4/96/0 of Deebo Samuel’s 7/133/0 receiving line.
On however many routes Chase and Burrow catch the Titans in a Cover 1, the rookie phenom will bring his 0.71 FP/Rt (sixth-most), 3.60 YPRR (fifth-most), and 14.5 YPT (second-most) from his lone season to the table. When working across from the Cover 4 cherished by Tennessee to stuff the run, Chase has assembled 0.47 FP/Rt (ninth-most), a 116.6 TPR (16th-highest), a 39% spike in AY/Tgt (ninth-highest), and 25% target rate (10th-highest). I’ll be dedicating a healthy exposure percentage to Burrow-Chase stacks, but I am also counting a value performance from another Bengal wideout I’ll discuss next.
Tyler Boyd, CIN ($4.8K DK | $5.8K FD) vs. Elijah Molden, TEN
Over the last four weeks, Chase has doubled the receiving yardage of Tee Higgins, more than tripled the yardage of Tyler Boyd, and collected as many targets and receptions as both, combined. But all of that attention Chase has pulled in his direction has resulted in multiple money look opportunities for Higgins (two) and Boyd (three). And it’s no secret that, during his last six games, Boyd has averaged 14.7 FPG. With WR12/WR13 pricing on a four-game slate, Boyd will pack quite the value-salary relief punch if the matchup calls for it.
As mentioned, a high rate of Cover 1 from the Titans could sink their chances of advancing. And Boyd isn’t going to let the Burrow-Chase hook-up steal all of the Cover 1-thunder. Over the last three seasons, Ty-Borg has collected 34% of his yardage and 36% of TDs on only 25% of routes when attacking Cover 1. His Cover 4 numbers fall shy of Higgins’, but the matchup across from Elijah Molden more than makes up the difference. Molden has authorized 0.27 FP/CS (17th-most), 1.19 YPCS (14th-most), a 103.6 TPR (eighth-highest), and he’s allowed the ninth-highest completion rate on 20-plus throws among 36 qualified slot corners.
Derrick Henry, TEN ($7.5K DK | $9.0K FD) vs. Bengals’ Cover 2
To this point, all of the analysis has been about Cincinnati playmakers. Judging my expectations for this Divisional Round from volume might give the impression I am counting on the outcome favoring the Bengals. Not so. He may be making his return to the field after a 10-week absence, but I am counting on Derrick Henry being at 100% health or close enough to it that we will not be able to distinguish the difference.
Should we question King Henry’s heart?
When Tractorcito was a true freshman during his first set of spring practices at Alabama, the Yulee, Florida native broke his tibia in a scrimmage that required surgery. His Yulee High HC, Bobby Ramsey, stated the following in regards to Henry’s dedication: "I can see a situation with him and the shape he's in and the way he works that, if they say three months, I put it at two to two-and-a-half to when he's really back." With some outlets calling for Henry to miss some-or-all of the 2013 season, his commitment to his recovery allowed him to return in time for the opening week of the season against Virginia Tech.
Should we fear a reduction in opportunity volume in light of Henry’s extended layoff?
Since we only have one absence – Week 9 against the Chargers in 2016 – during Shocka’s career, we are unable to make direct predictions to workload following an injury. But we do know the team has already stated that the game flow will dictate how much Henry plays. Given that Tennessee will have home-field advantage throughout, my money will be on management giving the staff a green light on using as much as needed to get the job done.
With the Burrow-Chase-Higgins-Boyd powerhouse on the other side, this will be a date where the Little Tractor should be needed in order to secure the victory. And it will be the best RB vs. run defense matchup that we will see during these playoffs. Yes, Josh Jacobs played the same Cincy defense when he posted 127 total yards in the Super Wildcard Round. But nobody needs to be convinced of Henry’s superiority over Jacobs. Cincinnati offers the most lenient run defense among all of the playoff teams. It’s true that they are enabling the fifth-fewest rushing YPG (96.8) among all teams, but they are also handing out the third-highest rushing first down rate — seventh-highest all season (26.3%), third-most YPC (4.3), and fourth-most TDs/game (0.83) among playoff teams. And the Bengals are licensing, by far, the most FPG to RBs (25.4) over the last four weeks – a full 20% more on the ground than the next worst playoff team. It may require a bit of trust to pay out RB1/RB1 dollars for Henry, just keep in mind that we can roster him with massive reductions in what we are typically forced to shell out for Henry. I’m all in.
Anthony Firkser, TEN ($3.1K DK | $5.2K FD) vs. Bengals’ Cover 2
I’ll discuss some premium TE options later. However, in order to structure many of the lineups I’ve invested my bankroll dollars in for this weekend, one of the search results for those salary-saving punts at the position led me to Anthony Firkser. For much of the season, I considered Firkser to have squandered an excellent opportunity to secure the TE1 responsibilities in Tennessee. In fact, after watching the former Harvard Crimson alum attempts at blocking, it’s pretty clear he will never secure a three-down role in an offense.
Even so, the guy teammates refer to as Harvard has really stepped up for the Titans since MyCole Pruitt landed on IR after Week 17. Over the last two weeks, Firkser has assembled a combined 7/80/2 line on seven targets (13.5 FPG), 3.85 YPRR, 10.3 AY/Tgt, and a 153.9 TPR. And 6/65/1 of that line was acquired over 13 routes on third down. Geoff Swaim will continue to headline the position with his superior blocking, but Firkser is one of my go-to GPP punts at TE for the Divisional Round.
Matchups to Avoid
Joe Mixon, CIN ($6.6K DK | $7.8K FD) vs. Titans’ Cover 4
Placing elite CBs on the field in a Cover 4 is critical. Perimeter corners are often left on an island when the safeties read blocking responsibilities from their assigned reads and attack the run. One factor we must monitor is concerning Jackrabbit Jenkins:
There’s a new, very notable addition to the Titans injury report.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) January 19, 2022
Titans starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins did not practice at all today with an ankle injury.
He would likely get the matchup versus Tee Higgins if healthy. Jenkins had been a full participant yesterday.
Since the safeties take on the primary run-stopping responsibilities in a Cover 4, Joe Mixon’s outlook remains unchanged without Jenkins on the field. During the three games where the Titans were without Jenkins, they empowered all of 19.4 FPs to RBs… combined! Among all teams, Tennessee has limited opposing RBs to the second-fewest FPG overall (18.4), second-fewest over the last four games (15.4), and over their last two (14.5). Among playoff teams, Shane Bowen’s unit is permitting the fewest rushing YPG (84.6), the fewest YPC (3.9), and the lowest rate of 20-plus runs (0.82%). Mixon had a cherry opportunity to decimate a poor Las Vegas run defense and he let us down. I see nothing sans volume favoring Mixon this weekend.
Final notes on Cincinnati
Overall Backup Opportunity Level = Low
Carry Share: 19.1% (only 3.8% opportunity share during Wildcard round)
Route Share: 40.7%
Target Share: 45.3%
WR (Very Low)
- Route Share: 5.0%
- Target Share: 3.1%
- Route Share: 20.9%
- Target Share: 16.0% (all to Drew Sample)
Even if Jenkins is unable to take the field, I will not be sprinting out to roster Tee Higgins ($5.7K/$6.4K). In the three games without Jenkins available (Weeks 11, 14 and 15), Tennessee allowed the fifth-, 11th- and seventh-fewest FPG to WRs, respectively. If he’s going to be ruled out, the first sign will be Chris Jones being added from the practice squad. With Greg Mabin added to the COVID list on Wednesday, the responsibility for defending the left sideline would likely fall on Buster Skrine, and with Chris Jackson maintaining his responsibilities in dime packages.
In actuality, I will view the absence of Jenkins as another boost to the potential upside for Chase since he’s run 35% of his routes from the right side, and where he tracked down 20-plus balls for 26% of his yardage and 46% of his TDs on 7% of routes. The Titans gave up all of three TDs (fifth-lowest rate) and 8.7 FPG to TEs this season (fifth-fewest). The time to target C.J. Uzomah ($3.4K/$5.5K) was the Super Wildcard Round.
DFS inactive list:
Brandon Allen ($4.8K/$6.1K)
Samaje Perine ($4.5K/$4.8K)
Chris Evans ($4.0K/$4.7K)
Trayveon Williams ($4.0K/$4.5K)
Mike Thomas ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Trenton Irwin ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Auden Tate ($3.0K/$4.6K)
Stanley Morgan Jr. ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Trent Taylor ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Drew Sample ($2.5K/$4.2K)
Chris Myarick ($2.5K/$4.0K)
Mitchell Wilcox ($2.5K/$4.0K)
Final notes on Tennessee
Overall Backup Opportunity Level = High
- Carry Share (with Derrick Henry active): 4.8%
- Route Share (with Derrick Henry active): 46.4%
- Target Share (with Derrick Henry active): 56.5%
- Route Share (with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones active): 24.2%
- Target Share (with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones active): 14.1%
TE (Very High)
- Route Share: 44.3%
- Target Share: 60.4%
I’m slightly torn on Ryan Tannehill ($5.8K/$7.3K) and A.J. Brown ($6.2K/$7.6K). Among playoff teams, the Bengals have allowed the second-highest completion percentage (67%), second-most passing YPG (234.6), second-most YPA (6.74), the highest completion rate on 20-plus throws (15.5%), and the second-most FPG to QBs through the air (14.3). On the other hand, the secondary for Cincinnati has really tightened up the production allowances over the last third of the season. They are putting the ninth-highest rate of Cover 2 and top-17 rates of Cover 1, 3 and 6 on the field this season. That featured Cover 2 rate presents a significant hurdle for Tannethrill and AJB.
During his time with the Titans, Tannehill’s FP/Db has been cut in half (-48%) across from Cover 2 with one TD vs. four INTs. As for Brown, his FP/Rt has face-planted by 63% during his career against Cover 2, and topped by a 53.9 TPR. On 129 career routes, he has 11 receptions and zero TDs. However, all is not lost since Cincy is utilizing the 10th-highest combined rate of Cover 0, 1 and 3. The one factor toward high usage rates of Cover 1 from the Bengals has been in building double-digit leads. In that scenario – which I am not counting on becoming a reality, the Titans will have mostly abandoned the run.
The back-and-forth factors didn’t eliminate Tannehill as one of my large-field (LF) GPP targets with his contrarian-laden but reasonable QB7/QB7 pricing. But I will likely head into the Divisional Round without a single AJB stock. When he does get some Cover 1 and 3 looks, he’ll be dealing with Eli Apple who’s enjoyed a career year in limiting his coverage to the 11th-fewest FP/CS (0.19), 16th-fewest YPCS (0.88), eighth-fewest AY/CS (0.08), and positioning himself to be the third-lowest targeted corner.
I’ve lost all faith in Julio Jones ($4.7K/$5.6K) emerging for Tennessee as the dominant force we witnessed in Atlanta. If he’s simply able to exit this game across from Chidobe Awuzie’s excellent coverage with his hamstrings intact, it should be considered a victory. Mike Hilton fought through a leg injury last week to keep up with Hunter Renfrow. If he’s active – which I am expecting — Nick Westbrook-Ikhine ($3.8K/$5.1K) will be of zero utility in my eyes. However, if Hilton is unable to play, NWI will work across from Vernon Hargreaves III. That’s a face-off worthy of listing Westbrook-Ikhine as a punt to keep in mind with WR24/WR24 pricing.
DFS inactive list:
Logan Woodside ($4.8K/$6.0K)
D'Onta Foreman ($5.4K/$5.5K)
Dontrell Hilliard ($4.3K/$5.1K)
Chester Rogers ($3.2K/$4.7K)
Dez Fitzpatrick ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Cody Hollister ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Racey McMath ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Geoff Swaim ($2.8K/$4.6K)
Ryan Izzo ($2.5K/$4.0K)
Matchups to Target
Elijah Mitchell, SF ($5.8K DK | $7.3K FD) vs. Packers’ Cover 4 | 6
While he may have missed six games this season, Kyle Shanahan and Mike McDaniel have zero reservations riding Elijah Mitchell as their bell-cow property. When he’s been active, he’s carried 83.9% of the RB carry share. And, in the 49ers’ Wildcard victory over the Cowboys, Mitchell took 100% of the RB carries. While searching for every possible weakness in the Green Bay defense, one of the only two vulnerabilities I was able to locate is against the run. The Packers have allotted 4.7 YPC (third-most), 1.88 goal-to-go (GTG) carries/game (14th-most), a 30.4% rushing first down rate (the highest), and 10.0 FPG through the air to RBs (13th-most).
Considering the some great, some so-so qualities of Mitchell’s matchup, one can get a sense of the limited expectations I have for San Francisco’s chances of earning a victory. In the last 14 games played on Lambeau Field with below freezing temperatures, opposing RB1s have averaged 4.22 YPC, 61.1 rushing YPG, and 0.36 TDs/game. With his complete monopoly on RB touches, I’m expecting an output in the neighborhood of 17-18 FPs to set Mitchell up as a floor play. Especially since he’ll have the league’s top run-blocking O-line working in his favor.
George Kittle, SF ($5.3K DK | $6.4K FD) vs. Darnell Savage, GB
The 49ers’ WRs will have significant issues to deal with on Saturday. Green Bay will see the return of Jaire Alexander, combined with the exceptional perimeter corner duo of Rasul Douglas and ‘21 first-rounder Eric Stokes. The Packers depend on their tricky rotation of the fifth-highest rate of Cover 4, fifth-highest of Cover 6, and they also apply the highest rate of man-match Cover 3. Short of oversimplifying the complexity of man-match 3, I’ll simply pass along that the coverage assignments change depending on the routes the receivers run. Joe Barry brought it over from his Rams’ days, although Los Angeles dropped their usage of man-match 3 by 42% under Raheem Morris, compared to the Brandon Staley and Barry days.
The Packers are putting the highest combined rates of Cover 4, 6 and man-match 3 on the field, as well as the highest combined rate of Cover 4 and 6 – the focus of this tout of Kittle. I can pass along that Kittle has shredded man-match 3 over the last three years (2.98 YPRR and a 122.4 TPR). However, the overall usage rates of the scheme are too low to properly compare success among the field. As for Cover 4, it’s the coverage where Stone Cold Kittle has generated 0.51 FP/Rt (second-most), 2.68 YPRR (second-most), his AY/Tgt rises by 21% (fifth-highest), and he’s been targeted at the second-highest rate (27%) over the last three campaigns. Across from Cover 6 over that same stretch of time, Kittle has created 0.62 FP/Rt (the most), 2.80 YPRR (second-most), a 126.6 TPR (fourth-highest), and he’s been targeted on 28% of his routes (second-highest).
It’s full-blown reality that Kittle has combined to post a 9/78/0 line and 4.2 FPG over his last four games. That said, Green Bay has allowed the third-most FPG (17.8), fourth-most red zone touches/game (1.0), and the most TDs/game (0.47) to opposing TEs over those last four weeks. Kittle also constructed a 7/92/0 line across from the Packers in Week 3. To drive home my view of Kittle as this being the premium TE spot of the Divisional Round, jump back to Week 15 when Darnell Savage Jr. was responsible for guarding Mark Andrews – one of the few elite TEs GB faced all season. MANdrews proceeded to collect 5/94/2 of his total 6/96/2 line inside Savage’s coverage. And, among 40 qualified free safeties, Savage has allowed the fourth-most FP/Rt (0.16), ninth-most YPCS (0.60), fifth-most AY/CS (0.05), and the fifth-highest TPR (115.1).
Aaron Rodgers, GB ($7.1K DK | $8.4K FD) vs. 49ers’ Cover 3 | 4
One of the most polarizing presences in the NFL, you either love him, despise his existence, or stand unbiased as a film and process-driven analyst. Since I personally do not subscribe to the jerk-of-the-month newsletter, my view of Mr. Rodgers' dealings in his neighborhood is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Truly a maestro of quarterbacking magnificence, in addition to tossing 37 TDs vs. only four INTs this season, he also led all QBs with a 111.9 passer rating, posted 7.75 YPA (fifth-most), 19.0 pure passing FPG (third-most), and 0.527 FP/Db (the most).
The 49ers will rotate the sixth-highest rate of Cover 3 with the sixth-highest of Cover 4. San Francisco has allowed the highest completion percentage (68%) among playoff teams, but the second-fewest passing YPG (195.0), double-but the third-highest completion rate both on 20-plus (14.5%) and 40-plus throws (2.96%). The’9ers allowed the 13th-most FPG to QBs this season (17.4) — but they improved to the 11th-fewest over the last four weeks (13.6). Perhaps the most concerning metric for Aaron Rodgers is that his league-leading passer rating plummeted to 21st-best (67.9) when under pressure this season. And, while Nick Bosa has yet to clear the concussion protocol, he did return to a limited practice on Wednesday.
With the conflicting arguments in mind, what has me convinced that Rodgers will be worthy of QB3/QB3 Divisional Round dollars? First of all, the game-time temperature on Lambeau Field will be around 8℉ and feel like -6℉. In the last 14 games played on Lambeau Field with below freezing temperatures, the Packers are 14-2, and Rodgers has completed 71% of his attempts for 32 TDs vs. two INTs. It just so happens that both of Rodgers’ two defeats in sub-freezing Green Bay temps concluded his 2020 and 2019 postseasons. And that ‘19 defeat came at the hands of San Francisco (20-37), when the 49ers went on to lose to Kansas City (20-31) in Super Bowl LIV. Let’s just say that we can count on the revenge card being located in AR12’s pocket.
Davante Adams, GB ($8.5K DK | $8.7K FD) vs. Emmanuel Moseley, SF
Another commodity that will be in Rodgers’ pocket will be his favorite weapon, Davante Adams. During those last 14 below-freezing games at home, Tae has averaged 8.8 receptions, 111.9 yards, 1.5 TDs, and 29.0 FPG. During his last three games against SF, dating back to that defeat in the ‘19 Conference Championship, Adams has averaged a 10/148/0.7 line (29.1 FPG). When he’s gone up against Cover 3 over his last three seasons, Sunday Adams has manufactured 0.58 FP/Rt (fourth-most), 2.72 YPRR (seventh-most), and has collected 32% of Rodgers’ targets (the second-highest rate among qualified WRs).
When defenses have placed a Cover 4 on the field, Adams has responded unkindly with 0.49 FP/Rt (seventh-most), 2.67 YPRR (fifth-most), and a 29% target share (second-highest). In their efforts to contain him, San Francisco’s Emmanuel Moseley will align across from Adams anywhere from one third-to-one half of his routes. To date, Moseley has limited his coverage to 0.21 FP/CS (21st-fewest), 0.97 YPCS (27th-fewest), 0.17 AY/CS (fifth-most), and a 72.2 TPR (14th-lowest) as the corner targeted a the 11th-highest rate. That said, SF has used an average of seven defenders to cover Adams during their last three matchups. I am sure of this since I recently watched all three to pull the many of my data points for this matchup.
There really is no decision to be made. When constructing your Divisional Round lineups, the very first, turkey shoot addition should be Adams. In Cash/Single-Entry (SE), 100% of all the field’s lineups should include Adams. Reserve the Adams-less rosters to the very last of your large-field (LF) GPP arrangements where you toss the very deepest of your dart throws.
A.J. Dillon, GB ($5.1K DK | $6.1K FD) vs. 49ers’ Cover 3 | 4
Let me begin by passing along that Aaron Jones is practicing in full in anticipation of this upcoming game. It’s very possible that Showtime convinces his coaching staff to allow him to take on a larger share of the workload. The 49ers boast a top-10 run defense. They allowed the seventh-fewest rushing YPG (97.8), seventh-fewest YPC (4.0), the third-lowest rushing first down rate (22.1%), and the fewest FPG to RBs over the last four weeks (13.7). But San Francisco has, oddly enough, handed RBs the fifth-most red zone (RZ) touches/game (6.0), seventh-most RZ carries/game (4.5), and the seventh-most GTG carries/game (2.5) over the last four weeks. And they also packaged the 11th-most TDs/game (0.94) to RBs this season.
Easily the most significant absence in Week 3 when Green Bay faced San Francisco and the team remained played without him until Week 18: All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari. With David Afrasiab Assad Bakhtiari back in the fold, the ground game for GB becomes all-the-more deadly. And it’s been especially deadly since Week 8 when AJ Dillon has either split or taken on a majority share of the backfield. Before you assume Jones is the superior receiver, consider that Quadzilla has bested him in YPRR (1.57 vs. 1.24) and YPT (8.46 vs. 6.11) this season. The only thing holding Algiers Jameal William Dillon Jr. back from reaching RB1 status is essentially splitting the backfield opportunities with Jones.
In games with Jones active, The Sauce has garnered a 51.3% carry share, 36.4% route share, and 33.3% target share. And those percentages do not take the recent shift to near-even involvement into the picture. With RB12/RB7 pricing for the 6-foot-0, 247-pound AJD, we have ourselves a consideration staple for GPPs of all but the SE of sizes. Especially if the 31.3-to-18.5 average scoring advantage the Packers hold over their opponents in their last 14 games on Lambeau Field with sub-freezing temperatures takes root.
Final notes on San Francisco
Overall Backup Opportunity Level = Very Low
- Carry Share (maneuvering various injuries): 30.5% (14.4% went to Deebo Samuel)
- Route Share (maneuvering various injuries): 47.7% (16.7% in Wildcard Round)
- Target Share (maneuvering various injuries): 60.0% (zero targets in Wildcard Round)
WR (Very Low)
- Route Share (maneuvering various injuries): 9.0%
- Target Share (maneuvering various injuries): 9.2%
TE (Very Low)
- Route Share (with George Kittle active): 11.6%
- Target Share (with George Kittle active): 2.1%
During those last 14 frozen games on Packer turf, opposing QBs have completed less than 59% of their attempts, and have turned the ball over more times (20) than they have connected for TDs (18). And they have also thrown for 20% less passing YPG than Rodgers. An average of 12.0 FPG to opposing QBs under those conditions will not get it done for Jimmy Garoppolo ($5.2K/$6.5K) and his QB8/QB8 pricing. In addition to Jaire’s return, elite edge rusher Za’Darius Smith is also expected to return.
Do I think it’s possible that Deebo Samuel ($7.6K/$8.6K) will overcome this challenge to post profit over value?
In no uncertain terms, yes! I consider the phenomenal specimen nicknamed after the film Friday’s villain of the same name as one of the top-five “WRs” in the game. And we may have never seen a player in the modern NFL era with the ability to seamlessly shift between WR and RB at the level Samuel has displayed this season. That said, my insistence on investing at least top-six dollars on a QB, locking Adams in as my WR1, and to also make every effort toward rostering King Henry as my RB1, finding the available cap space to include Samuel’s WR3/WR3 pricing is very difficult. Samuel slides around the formation to the point that he’ll work across from each of Eric Stokes, Rasul Douglas, and Jaire Alexander at various points. None of the three offer much in the way of vulnerabilities. But Samuel does offer an extremely solid floor due to his rushing ability.
The other two starting 49er wideouts were immediately crossed off my list. Brandon Aiyuk ($5.2K/$5.9K) will fall under the coverage of Douglas – one of my most-trusted/feared outside corners. Douglas has anaconda-choked his responsibilities to 0.19 FP/CS (10th-fewest), 0.74 YPCS (sixth-fewest), and a 49.6 TPR (third-lowest). He’s intercepted or batted away 14 targets vs. three TDs. And Jauan Jennings ($3.4K/$5.0K) will square off with Alexander. We don’t have enough coverage snaps from Jaire this season, but he held his opponents to the second-fewest FP/CS (0.14), third-fewest YPCS (0.56), and the lowest TPR (52.9) last season. Like Henry, I fully expect Alexander to either be at 100% or close enough to it where nobody will know the difference when he takes the field on Saturday.
DFS inactive list:
Trey Lance ($5.0K/$6.2K)
Jeff Wilson Jr. ($4.4K/$4.6K)
Trey Sermon ($4.0K/$4.5K)
JaMycal Hasty ($4.0K/$4.6K)
Mohamed Sanu Sr. ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Trent Sherfield ($3.0K/$4.6K)
Travis Benjamin ($3.0K/$4.6K)
River Cracraft ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Charlie Woerner ($2.5K/$4.1K)
Ross Dwelley ($2.5K/$4.1K)
Final notes on Green Bay
Overall Backup Opportunity Level = Moderate
RB (Very High)
- Carry Share (with Aaron Jones active): 51.3%
- Route Share (with Aaron Jones active): 36.4%
- Target Share (with Aaron Jones active): 33.3%
- Route Share (maneuvering various injuries): 13.2%
- Target Share (maneuvering various injuries): 12.0%
- Route Share: 47.0%
- Target Share: 48.1% (only 3.2 targets/game, split between three backup TEs)
Over Aaron Jones’ ($6.8K/$7.5K) last three games against San Fran, he’s averaged 4.26 YPC and 18.6 FPG. As already explained, those numbers are from the pre-Quadmonster world. If he finds a way to reach paydirt at an otherworldly rate, his RB2/RB3 pricing could work out. But I am expecting more of a grind against a formidable SF ground defense. For me, it’s AJD or no GB RB.
Since he missed their ‘20 matchup, Allen Lazard ($4.4K/$6.0K) has assembled all of two receptions inside K'Waun Williams’ coverage in their other two clashes. Williams did permit Amari Cooper to reach the house last week, but K1 has held his assignments to 0.22 FP/CS (ninth-fewest), 0.97 YPCS (ninth-fewest), 0.05 AY/CS (eighth-fewest), and an 87.4 TPR (ninth-lowest). The Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($4.3K/$5.5K) vs. Ambry Thomas matchup packs plenty of unknowns. MVS injured his back in Week 18 and we held out of practice entirely on Wednesday. And Thomas has been limited with a knee contusion. If both take the field (MVS is doubtful), MVS will become a decent streamer since Thomas is permitting 0.32 FP/CS (sixth-most), 1.44 YPCS (eighth-most), 0.24 AY/CS (second-most), and a 130.3 TPR (third-most among 77 qualified perimeter CBs).
DFS inactive list:
Jordan Love ($5.0K/$6.1K)
Patrick Taylor Jr. ($4.0K/$4.6K)
Equanimeous St. Brown ($3.0K/$4.7K)
Juwann Winfree ($3.0K/$4.6K)
Amari Rodgers ($3.0K/$4.5K)
David Moore ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Josiah Deguara ($3.0K/$4.9K)
Marcedes Lewis ($2.6K/$4.2K)
Tyler Davis ($2.5K/$4.2K)
Dominique Dafney ($2.5K/$4.1K)
Matchups to Target
Matthew Stafford, LAR ($6.2K DK | $7.4K FD) vs. Buccaneers’ Cover 2 | 3
At first, I was quite surprised to see Matthew Stafford listed with QB6/QB6 pricing. That was until I took a moment to look at those priced ahead of him: Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes II, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Joe Burrow. When you understand that I also consider Ryan Tannehill to be among the top-10 QBs in the game, and that Jimmy Garoppolo has played at a top-10 level this season, we have the perfect representation of the absolute requirement for a top-10 QB in order to compete in today’s NFL. I wouldn’t go as far as listing Jimmy G among the top-10 — top-15 is more in line with my view of his abilities — but we definitely haven’t seen any QBs outside the top-15 lead a team to the Conference Championship Round over the last three seasons.
For Stafford, we already have 29.5 reasons to show him attention this weekend. That’s the number of FPs he collected in LARs 34-24 Week 3 victory over Tampa Bay. However, one particular injury during that game must be considered. A knee injury forced Jamel Dean out for the remainder of the game after only 12 snaps. I’ll save the particulars on Dean for the OBJ write-up below, but will express that only a couple corners in the game can compete with his coverage excellence. Assuming Dean plays the entirety of this game, a 25% reduction in production would be completely appropriate. Even with that hit to his numbers, 22.1 FPs would easily cover floor value for Stafford.
The Bucs are utilizing a rotation of the fourth-highest rate of Cover 2 and ninth-highest of Cover 3. While Tampa Bay has granted 17.3 FPG to QBs this season (15th-most), they’ve cleaned up their act with the ninth-fewest over the last five weeks (12.7). In spite of that, the Buccaneers’ eighth-highest rate of zone coverage mostly plays into Stafford’s strengths. Over the last three seasons, Stafford has fabricated 0.41 FP/Db (the most) and a 102.3 passer rating (sixth-best) against Cover 2. Across from Cover 3 over that same stretch, 0.40 FP/Db (12th-most), but he has only thrown nine TDs vs. 12 INTs. With seven INTs over his last four games – zero TDs vs. three INTs against Cover 3, it may not be the most beautiful performance, but his arsenal of receiving weaponry and the high Cover 2 rate are worthy of our attention.
Cam Akers, LAR ($5.5K DK | $5.7K FD) vs. Buccaneers’ Cover 2 | 3
The most notable absence on the other side of the ball from that Week 3 clash was Cam Akers. During the six games prior to the Super Wildcard game against Dallas, Sony Michel had emerged as the bell-cow for Sean McVay and Kevin O'Connell. Everything changed last when Akers somehow rehabilitated a preseason Achilles rupture in only a couple days beyond five months since the initial injury. But you wouldn’t know it from Akers’ play from last week. He had a pair of long runs called back due to penalties that would’ve made his 22/58/0 line sparkle. Akers’ physical, elusive running style appeared completely intact from prior to the injury, and he was also quite deadly as a receiver.
Akers tacked 13 YAC yards onto a 27-air yard Wheel down the right sideline and would have been able to take another 27-air yard Wheel down the right sideline to the house if he didn’t drop it. All told, Akers overtook Michel in carry share (45% vs. 34%), route share (45% vs. 36%), and target share (11% vs. 0%). The Bucs have only enabled 8.7 FPG on the ground to RBs (the fewest among all teams), but they have granted 13.5 FPG through the air (second-most). With a 4/91/0 receiving line during his three career playoff games – which would skyrocket had he collected that potential 49-yard TD – and his bruising approach on the ground, Akers is a virtual bargain with his RB8/RB9 pricing. If you end up passing on either Henry or Devin Singletary in Cash/SE, Akers should be the next name on your list.
Tom Brady, TB ($6.8K DK | $7.8K FD) vs. Rams’ Cover 3 | 4 | 6
Do I need to sell The GOAT? With Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey on the other side of the ball, maybe a little. Entering the season, I carried the narrative that Tom Brady had been fortunate that he wasn’t forced to face the Rams in the Conference Championship last season. It was TB12’s previous struggles across from Cover 4 and 6 that formulated that opinion. That was until the 44-year-old submitted FP/Db improvements of 22% against Cover 4 and 19% against Cover 6 this season. And we have a solid example of that from Week 3 when Brady completed 75% of his attempts for 432 yards, one TD, and 24.3 FPs against the same Los Angeles defense.
We all know the merits of the Buccaneers’ offense under Brady – even sans Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown – and of the daunting task in facing the Rams’ defense. I am expecting far more offensive fireworks from these teams this time around than Vegas is projecting. We do need to closely track the status of RT Tristan Whirfs, center Ryan Jensen, and Rams LT Andrew Whitworth, as well. If I was a betting man, and I most definitely am, I’d wager that all three will be on the field on Sunday. While I am predicting that the Bucs will move on to the Conference Championship, if LAR does unseat TB and The GOAT this week, I am 100% counting on Brady posting well in excess of the 20.4/19.5 FPs needed to hit his floor with QB4/QB4 pricing.
Matchups to Avoid
Odell Beckham, LAR ($5.3K DK | $6.5K FD) vs. Jamel Dean, TB
It was the perfect spot for Odell Beckham Jr. to blow up and, while his output could’ve been much better, he at least succeeded in hitting profit levels with a 4/54/1 receiving line against Arizona last week. At the time of writing Advanced Matchups last week, I was not privy to the information that Marco Wilson would return, and OBJ also had a splash gain wiped due to penalty and was also stopped just shy of another TD. That was last week. Everything concerning his upside flips upside down heading into the Divisional Round. A certain someone by the name of Jamel Dean will be stationed along the right sideline:
Dean has locked in an omoplata on his coverage responsibilities to the tune of 0.16 FP/CS (sixth-fewest), 0.75 YPCS (eighth-fewest), and a 59.8 TPR (sixth-lowest). Over his last seven games, Dean has allowed his coverage assignment to average 2.4 receptions, 21.9 yards, and zero TDs. In fact, he hasn’t allowed a TD reception since Week 1 (15 games). Am I expecting that he’ll shut OBJ down? I most certainly am. It’ll somewhat be balanced by the following Matchup to Avoid.
Mike Evans, TB ($6.8K DK | $8.3K FD) vs. Jalen Ramsey, LAR
In the two games Mike Evans has played across from the Rams with Jalen Ramsey on the roster, he put together a 15/155/1 combined line (19.8/14.5 FPG) over 19 targets. If Evans matches that average, he’d hit right around value on DK with WR5 pricing, but 30.3% below value on FD with WR4 pricing. The decision to fade Evans on FD is not even close to a difficult one. Facing Ramsey’s coverage is the equivalent of Masahiko Kimura himself locking one of your arms into a reverse ude-garami.
Ramsey shadowed Evans in their game last season, but he mostly remained planted to the right sideline in Week 3. In total, Ramsey was only responsible for 5/54/0 of Evans’ line from those two games. We have no way of knowing if Ramsey will be tasked with tailing Evans this week. However, we do know that he will switch mid-game to a shadow if an opposing WR is finding consistent success (i.e., Week 12 at Green Bay vs. Davante Adams). That’s more than enough for me to completely disregard Evans this weekend.
Final notes on Los Angeles
Overall Backup Opportunity Level = Low
RB (Very High – see Cam Akers write-up)
Carry Share (with Sony Michel featured): 10.4%
Route Share (with Sony Michel featured): 11.2%
Target Share (with Sony Michel featured): 21.7%
WR (Very Low)
- Route Share (with Odell Beckham Jr. featured): 6.8%
- Target Share (with Odell Beckham Jr. featured): 6.8%
TE (Very Low)
- Route Share (with Tyler Higbee active): 10.6%
- Target Share (with Tyler Higbee active): 4.5%
Stick a fork in Sony Michel’s ($5.3K/$5.3K) floor and ceiling. He’ll cost you the equivalent of Akers and you’ll be lucky to get one-third of the involvement. Considering the glowing quotes after last week from Sean McVay concerning Akers, one-third of the carries is likely much too high. And Michel offers nothing as a receiver. When healthy, this is the Akers Show. No way Mike Edwards holds Cooper Kupp ($8.6K/$9.5K) anywhere inside his 0.14 FP/CS (second-fewest), 0.58 YPCS (third-fewest), or 76.7 TPR (fourth-lowest among inside corners). But I am also struggling with the thought of Kupp roasting Edwards for the 11/145/0 or 9/96/2 lines he collected against TB in their last two games. Granted, Edwards is not going to shadow Kupp.
The responsibility for Kupp will be spread out across the defense. And that’s precisely how the Los Angeles coaching staff prefers – not that shadowing him would be the best of ideas. Davante Adams is my WR1 this week, hands down. And the path to truly difference-making numbers from a RB is, in my view, on the shoulders of Derrick Henry. In order to fit Adams, Henry, a top-six QB, and Kupp into the same lineup, while possible, you’re going to need considerable salary-savers elsewhere.
Van Jefferson Jr. ($4.2K/$5.5K) has taken a clear backseat to OBJ during the last five games. However, with Dean potentially locking down Beckham for much of the game, Jefferson could be in line for some production. Carlton Davis was prone to the longball last season, and Jefferson has posted 0.48 FP/Rt (11th-most) and a 127.3 TPR (sixth-highest) against Cover 3 during his career. Just strictly limit any Jefferson darts to LF GPPs. With Tampa Bay completely closing down shop on TE production as the season wound down, I need my cap dollars far too much elsewhere than to wager on Tyler Higbee ($4.0K/$5.4K) reinventing the wheel.
DFS inactive list:
John Wolford ($4.1K/$6.1K)
Jake Funk ($4.0K/$4.6K)
Bennett Skowronek ($3.0K/$4.6K)
Landen Akers ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Kendall Blanton ($2.5K/$4.1K)
Brycen Hopkins ($2.5K/$4.1K)
Johnny Mundt ($2.5K/$4.0K)
Jacob Harris ($2.5K/$4.0K)
Final notes on Tampa Bay
Overall Backup Opportunity Level = Average
- Carry Share (with Leonard Fournette active and featured): 30.3%
- Route Share (with Leonard Fournette active and featured): 28.5%
- Target Share (with Leonard Fournette active and featured): 22.5%
- Route Share (maneuvering around injuries): 15.3%
- Target Share (maneuvering around injuries): 9.9%
- Route Share (with Rob Gronkowski active): 35.7%
- Target Share (with Rob Gronkowski active): 30.5%
Leonard Fournette ($5.7K/$7.0K) is practicing. Not that it matters, but Ronald Jones II ($5.6K/$5.2K) is not. If Playoff Lenny is back, Giovani Bernard ($5.0K/$5.4K) reverts back to backup receiving duties, and Ke'Shawn Vaughn ($4.7K/$5.3K) will be no better than third in the rotation. If Fournette entered this matchup at 100%, I’d be willing to invest more than LF GPP exposure. I remain unconvinced and this Los Angeles run defense has held opposing RBs to the third-fewest FPG the last five weeks (16.9).
If Cyril Grayson ($4.1K/$5.2K) is able to take the field this week, the very short actionable list of salary-saving wideouts would grow by one. Grayson obviously doesn’t have the reps to qualify, but he has obliterated Cover 4 and 6 this season. Across from Cover 4, he’s posted 0.97 FP/Rt, 3.27 YPRR, and a 150.2 TPR. When attacking Cover 6, one reception for 62 yards on eight routes. While working against Darious Williams should certainly not be considered a cakewalk, drawing any matchup across from Ramsey is essentially soft. And Grayson would likely have that luxury.
If you watched last week’s game, you are fully aware of the horrendous games played by Breshad Perriman ($4.0K/$5.1K) and Tyler Johnson ($3.7K/$5.0K). Perriman was so bad that I will not be surprised if he is benched in favor of Scotty Miller ($3.3K/$4.9K) or the Bucs simply divert that attention toward Rob Gronkowski ($5.8K/$7.1K) and Cameron Brate ($2.7K/$4.5K). I want nothing to do with either Johnson or Perriman. The light just hasn’t come on yet for Johnson and Perriman may have used up the NFL of his opportunities.
Gronk is obviously several million light years superior to Brate, but the incredibly difficult LAR matchup does leave me with more confidence in trusting Brate’s TE11/TE11 pricing over Gronkowski’s TE2/TE2. I am setting the cutoff for my TE punts this week at seven FPs. If I can at least extract that number, I’ll consider them to be a complete victory.
DFS inactive list:
Blaine Gabbert ($4.6K/$6.0K)
Le'Veon Bell ($4.0K/$4.7K)
Scotty Miller ($3.3K/$4.9K)
Breshad Perriman ($4.0K/$5.1K)
Jaelon Darden ($3.0K/$4.6K)
O.J. Howard ($2.5K/$4.2K)
Darren Fells ($2.5K/$4.0K)
Codey McElroy ($2.5K/$4.0K)
Matchups to Target
Devin Singletary, BUF ($5.9K DK | $7.2K FD) vs. Chiefs’ Cover 2
While I will most likely be in the minority, I believe the elite players from the Buffalo-Kansas City matchup are mostly priced beyond what I am willing to commit. The strength of the Bills’ defense is against the pass. And the Chiefs’ RB rotation is not one that has me very motivated. It’s the exact same with the KC defense. Yes, Kansas City has authorized 43.8 FPG to WRs the last five weeks, but those numbers are inflated due to games without Rashad Fenton and L'Jarius Sneed.
After really making strides following a rough start, the Chiefs undeniably struggled to contain opposing RBs over the last four weeks of the regular season. In addition to offering backs 23.7 FPG (13th-most), RBs averaged 12.3 FPG through the air (third-most), and the Chiefs let Drew Lock run for a 4/35/2 line. At this stage in the game, nobody in the know is going to get caught off guard by Devin Singletary’s 21.0 FPG from his last six games, and 25.2 over his last three. He has become a complete Cash/SE staple. I find it nearly impossible to discover compelling reasons not to lock him in as the RB2 of the Divisional Round. And he provides the highest floor of any RB. Imagine making that statement eight weeks ago.
Isaiah McKenzie, BUF ($3.5K DK | $4.8K FD) vs. L'Jarius Sneed, KC
Looking for the poster boy for deep, salary-saving WR punts? You’ve come to the right place. It just so happens that we saw a changing of the guard during the Bills’ victory over the Patriots last week. Gabriel Davis appears to have (finally) supplanted Emmanuel Sanders as the WR2, and Isaiah McKenzie jumped ahead of Cole Beasley in the rotation. Considering Buffalo dwarfs all teams sans Arizona in their usage rate of 10 personnel, even a WR4 elevation in responsibilities is a significant one. And McKenzie did something with the opportunity, posting a 3/45/0 line on three targets.
Kansas City is far more lenient to production out of the slot than outside. McKenzie will do much of his work across from the physical, bump-and-run coverage of L'Jarius Sneed. No nickel CB has jammed opposing WRs more than Sneed, and only two others have been targeted at a higher rate. Among 36 qualified inside corners, Sneed has tolerated 0.31 FP/CS (fifth-most), 1.35 YPCS (fourth-most), and a 97.5 TPR (15th-highest). We’ll need to give it some time for McKenzie to qualify for ranking across from the second-highest rate of Cover 2 the Chiefs have utilized, but his WR27/WR30 pricing requires very little trust in a game implied to score 54.5 combined points.
Byron Pringle, KC ($4.2K DK | $5.7K FD) vs. Dane Jackson, BUF
If salary is not an issue, sure, I’d be all over some Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. But maneuvering the salary cap is obviously a massive part of the deal. As I’ve made it quite clear that I’m devoting considerable capital elsewhere, after McKenzie, Byron Pringle is my second focus among discounted wideouts. The Bills have relied upon the sixth-highest rate of Cover 1 and, the factor drawing so much of my attention toward Pringle, the second-highest of Cover 4.
During his career, Pringle has generated 0.39 FP/Rt (29th-most), 12.5 YPT (fifth-most), and a 158.0 TPR (the highest) against Cover 4. On 19% of career routes, Pringle has collected 27% of his yardage, and 29% of his TDs when defenses put a Cover 4 across from him. His FP/Rt improves by 31%, YPRR by 23%, YPT by 23%, and his TPR spikes by 26%. I’ve listed Dane Jackson across from him, but Pringle does not run a large percentage of his routes from the perimeter. As is the case with Hill and Mecole Hardman, Eric Bieniemy places considerable effort toward using Pringle’s alignment for mismatching purposes.
Final notes on Buffalo
Overall Backup Opportunity Level = Low
Carry Share (with Devin Singletary featured): 14.0%
Route Share (with Devin Singletary featured): 14.3%
Target Share (with Devin Singletary featured): 18.8%
- Route Share (maneuvering various situations): 17.5%
- Target Share (maneuvering various situations): 13.0%
TE (Very Low)
- Route Share (with Dawson Knox active): 6.8%
- Target Share (with Dawson Knox active): 7.3%
Sans Singletary and McKenzie, the only other Bills I trust at their pricing this week are Josh Allen ($7.6K/$8.8K), Gabriel Davis ($4.6K/$5.3K), and Dawson Knox ($4.9K/$6.5K). To be clear, I am not buying into seeing the Bills dominating the Chiefs like they did in Week 5. The offense is playing at another level and Steve Spagnuolo has cleaned up a good number of the glaring defensive holes that Buffalo decimated in that early matchup. Did Ja’Marr Chase dismantle the coverage of Charvarius Ward for historic numbers in Week 17? Is Ward a punching bag in pass defense? Far from it. The way Chase and Joe Burrow played in Week 17, few defenders on the planet could have slowed them down.
The coverage metrics for Ward did not do him a single favor. Although, even with that offensive explosion inside his portfolio, he’s still only permitting 0.25 FP/CS (35th-most), 1.09 YPCS (38th-most), and a 77.0 TPR (22nd-lowest). I’ve been out on Stefon Diggs’ ($6.5K/$7.8K) pricing for much of the season, and this week is no different. Allen simply hasn’t been the dominant presence across from Cover 1 like he presented last season. If Rashad Fenton doesn’t take the field this week, nothing much changes for Emmanuel Sanders ($4.1K/$5.5K). When KC is defending 10 personnel, Mike Hughes is inserted on the outside, and Fenton kicks inside with Sneed. Hughes has played extremely well in the role.
Without Fenton, DeAndre Baker will be tasked in coverage over Gabriel Davis ($4.6K/$5.3K) when Buffalo goes four-wide. Davis will have premium opportunities to take advantage of the weakest corner in Kansas City’s rotation. Cole Beasley ($4.0K/$5.2K) is not situated in no-man’s land with around a 25% route share. As for Dawson Knox ($4.9K/$6.5K), I have invested several shares in Fort Knox after scoring six TDs over his last eight games. But I did end up dropping my exposure percentage since Kansas City has really locked down the position over the second half of the season.
DFS inactive list:
Mitchell Trubisky ($4.6K/$6.1K)
Zack Moss ($4.1K/$4.7K)
Matt Breida ($4.0K/$4.6K)
Jake Kumerow ($3.0K/$4.6K)
Isaiah Hodgins ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Tommy Sweeney ($2.5K/$4.2K)
Final notes on Kansas City
Overall Backup Opportunity Level = Moderate
- Carry Share (with Clyde Edwards-Helaire active): 32.5%
- Route Share (with Clyde Edwards-Helaire active): 52.1%
- Target Share (with Clyde Edwards-Helaire active): 53.3%
- Route Share (with Byron Pringle featured): 25.9%
- Target Share (with Byron Pringle featured): 27.0%
- Route Share: 27.0%
- Target Share: 15.9%
I’m simply not touching Patrick Mahomes II ($7.3K/$8.5K) this week. I do think the Chiefs ultimately take this game, but I am definitely not counting on another five TDs – or another close to that number – against this Bills defense. It is beginning to sound as though Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($5.2K/$5.7K) will actually take the field this week. It’s a nice spot for RB production, but excuse me for having very little faith in CEH. If he does pass every test along the way toward clearance, I’ll bite the bullet on throwing him into some LF GPPs. But I won’t be thrilled about it. Darrel Williams ($4.2K/$5.5K) appears on the doubtful side of the world. I’m taking some shots on Jerick McKinnon ($4.8K/$6.0K), even if CEH plays.
Based upon the coverage metrics, Taron Johnson is the very top slot CB in the game. Perhaps that’ll explain why I am less than motivated to devote lineup slots to Tyreek Hill ($6.6K/$8.2K), even with WR6/WR5 pricing. It happened and nobody even noticed… or cared. After years of calling for Demarcus Robinson ($3.6K/$5.1K) to be demoted in favor of Mecole Hardman ($3.9K/$5.3K), it was Hardman who was leapfrogged by Robinson last week. Yikes! I do think Travis Kelce ($6.5K/$8.2K) is able to make a significant impact in this game. However, I have zero interest in dedicating TE1/TE1 dollars to Zeus when he’s facing the top safety duo in the game: Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde.
DFS inactive list:
Chad Henne ($4.8K/$6.1K)
Derrick Gore (4.0K/$4.7K)
Marcus Kemp ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Daurice Fountain ($3.0K/$4.5K)
Josh Gordon ($3.0K/$4.6K)
Noah Gray ($2.5K/$4.2K)
Blake Bell ($2.5K/$4.1K)