Playoff DFS is the best.
And with the expansion and two extra teams playing, we now have two 3-game slates on Saturday and Sunday set up. After not seeing your family and friends all day on Sunday’s for the last 17 weeks, you now have an excuse to tilt through games all weekend.
Obviously, 3-game slates are totally different beasts than the typical 10- or 12-game slates we’re accustomed to. We’ll see ownership pile onto the best plays / values because everyone’s options are so limited. So, as a reminder, keep these things in mind when you’re building lineups in shorter slates:
- Don’t be afraid to leave salary ($) on the table — There will be a lot of player and lineup overlap with only three games to pick from, so building with $300+ on the table will give you a unique construction. The goal in tournaments is always first place and leaving money on the table will at least give you a pathway there. The field still rarely leaves salary available because it feels uncomfortable.
- Take a Stand: Stack games — This is probably the most important point. Everyone focuses on values and matchups when it comes to DFS, but picking the right game environments for fantasy points is paramount every week but especially so on 3-game slates. With scarce options to choose from, we have to identify the games that are most likely to shoot out and games that could underwhelm. Playing 4-6 players from a single game in the same lineup allows you to capture all of the upside from that game if it indeed ends up being the highest-scoring on the slate. An example of this could be a Tom Brady-Antonio Brown-Rob Gronkowski + J.D. McKissic-Terry McLaurin lineup. In this scenario, you’re banking on the Bucs’ winning big with their passing attack while Washington trails and plays catch up. And if they’re trailing and throwing to keep up with Brady, you know it’ll be McKissic and not Antonio Gibson on the field in hurry-up mode.
Note: This will be the second to last Angles of this season. I’ll do one more column next week for the Divisional Round. I’m going to condense the article a bit and really just focus on chalk / pivot plays.
Saturday Slate Angles
Injuries to monitor
- Mike Evans (knee), Alex Smith (calf), Jared Goff (thumb), Cole Beasley (knee), DeForest Buckner (ankle), Andrew Whitworth (knee), Jamal Adams (shoulder)
Who will be chalk?
Josh Allen ($7.5k DK; $9.0k FD) — It all starts with Allen on the Saturday slate. I suspect we’ll see Allen push 40% ownership in large-field tournaments and 50+ percent in single-entries along with a mega chalk Stefon Diggs ($7.7k DK; $8.7k FD) as his top stacking option. Diggs is going to push 60% ownership as the clear WR1 on the Saturday slate against this Colts secondary that is down Rock Ya-Sin and just allowed the second-most receptions (17.2) and third-most yards (217) to opposing WRs over their final five games. John Brown ($4.5k DK; $5.7k FD) looked like his old self last week after dropping 4/72/1 in one half last week. With Cole Beasley out, the Bills target share will be condensed to Diggs, Brown, Gabriel Davis, and Isaiah McKenzie. We’ll see an Allen-Diggs-Brown double stack as the highest-owned pairing on this slate.
Cam Akers ($5.1k DK; $6.1k FD) — I have no idea what DraftKings was thinking with Akers’ price at just $5,100. Despite dealing with a high ankle sprain, HC Sean McVay loaded Akers up with 25 touches on a bell-cow like 67% of the snaps in a must-win game against the Cardinals last week. Now, over his last four games, Akers has handled 22, 31, 16, and 25 touches and averaged 109 scrimmage yards per outing in this span.
Logan Thomas ($4.9k DK; $6.4k FD) — The Saturday-only slate is brutal for tight ends which will pave the way for to be the highest-owned option on the slate, likely followed by Rob Gronkowski ($3.9k DK; $6.0k FD). Thomas closed out the season as the TE3 in fantasy points per game (16.3) behind only Kelce (23.4) and Waller (23.3) in this span. He’s mispriced by at least $500 on DraftKings.
Jared Goff ($6.0k DK; $7.0k FD) with Robert Woods ($6.2k DK; $6.7k FD) and Cooper Kupp ($6.0k DK; $6.4k FD) — Goff returned to practice on Thursday, which should put him on track to play on Sunday after he missed Week 17. With everyone on Cam Akers — and rightfully so — the leverage, if Akers should fail, is the Rams passing attack. Seattle’s defense definitely improved down the stretch, but how much of that was their schedule? They faced a motley crew of Colt McCoy, Carson Wentz, Sam Darnold, Dwayne Haskins, C.J. Beathard, and Goff (when he got hurt) in Week 12-16. With Kupp back off of the COVID list, we know exactly where the ball is going. In their final eight games played together, Woods saw 76 targets while Kupp saw 73.
Chris Godwin ($7.0k DK; $7.8k FD) — If Mike Evans plays, we’ll see Chris Godwin line up in his usual slot role and draw the worst matchup of the Bucs’ WR trio. Washington is far more vulnerable to outside receivers, which is where Antonio Brown and Evans predominantly lineup. Over the full season, The Team has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per game to slot receivers but the 12th-most FPG to outside receivers. I’m never one to overreact to matchups or WR vs. CB draws, but Godwin will probably go a little over-owned in what is undeniably a tough spot.
Antonio Gibson ($5.7k DK; $6.2k FD) — This just comes down to game-script. If Washington is losing in this game, we’ll see a ton of J.D. McKissic on the field in hurry-up mode. Over their last 10 games played together, McKissic has out-snapped Gibson by a massive 177 to 65 margin on passing downs when Washington is trailing. Plus, Tampa Bay has one of the three run defenses that actually matter as they allowed a league-low 3.44 yards per carry and 77.8 rushing yards per game to RBs this season. All of this adds up to McKissic at only $4,900 on DraftKings. There are a lot of factors in his favor:
McKissic has put up 14.9 fantasy points per game in losses but just 8.4 FPG when Washington wins this season.
He’s averaged 8.8 targets per game in Alex Smith’s full starts and 5.7 T/G without him.
Over the final five weeks of the season, the Buccaneers allowed 7.0 receptions per game to opposing running backs (second-most).
With a high floor and underrated ceiling, McKissic is one of my favorite plays this weekend.
Sunday Slate Angles
Injuries to monitor
- Alvin Kamara (COVID), Willie Snead (ankle), Rodger Saffold (ankle), Roquan Smith (elbow), Jaylon Johnson (shoulder), Buster Skrine (concussion), Darnell Mooney (ankle), Joe Haden (COVID; out), JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee), Joel Bitonio (COVID; out), Denzel Ward (COVID), Kevin Jackson (COVID), Harrison Bryant (COVID), Ronnie Harrison (COVID; out), Donovan Peoples-Jones (concussion)
Who will be chalk?
Lamar Jackson ($7.8k DK; $9.3k FD) — Duh. Over his final five games, averaged 27.9 fantasy points per game — which is actually more than last year when he finished as the QB1 (27.7 FPG).
Derrick Henry ($9.2k DK; $10.2k FD) — Duh again.
Alvin Kamara ($8.5k DK; $9.0k FD) — If he plays, we’re going to have to decide between Kamara and Henry with the way roster construction rolls this week. You can’t play them both. Kamara is much cheaper on both sites and I think that will make him higher owned than Henry at the end of the day, but there are two major causes for concern. Obviously, Kamara hasn’t been able to practice with the team all week because he’s going through the league’s COVID protocols. Can we expect to see him in his usual role, especially in a game where the Saints are massive favorites? They may not need him to get his usual 12-15 carries and 6-8 targets if they blow out the Bears. Also, a guy named Michael Thomas is back. And in the eight games that Thomas missed this year, Kamara has been the RB1 with 30.9 fantasy points per game. When Thomas has played, Kamara dips to 18.7 FPG. The reasons to fade Henry are straightforward — he’s more likely to fail if the Titans lose — but Kamara is a little more nuanced.
Mark Andrews ($5.2k DK; $7.0k FD) — He’s the best tight end play on the Sunday-only slate and it’s not remotely close. Frankly, he’s probably the best TE if you have action down on the 6-game slate too. Andrews has seen a monster 33% target share over the Ravens final five games, which is basically Davante Adams levels of usage. Of course, a 33% target share on only 25 attempts from Jackson is the caveat. But, if this game shoots out like the over/under implies, the Ravens may have to throw a little bit more than they’re used to.
Ryan Tannehill ($6.6k DK; $8.2k FD) — Our guy Wes Huber made a great case for Tannehill here. Tannehill is obvious leverage off of what will be a very popular Derrick Henry and his stack candidates are straightforward between A.J. Brown and Corey Davis. One way to play this game is to stack Tannehill with Brown and/or Davis and then run it back with Marquise Brown and/or Mark Andrews on the Ravens side. The Titans secondary is an absolute mess and might be without Adoree Jackson (knee) again. So, if the Ravens build a lead, it’ll force the Titans to abandon the run and throw more to catch up. I think we’ll see Tannehill come in at 10-15% ownership, well behind Jackson (30% or more) and Ben Roethlisberger (20-25%) on the 3-game Sunday slate. On the full 6-game slate, Tannehill will be even lower-owned with Josh Allen and Tom Brady in the mix.
Nick Chubb ($6.7k DK; $7.7k FD) — The Browns are coming into this spot fighting all of the odds. They don’t have their coach. They don’t have their best lineman (Joel Bitonio). And they might be without two of their top-3 corners and S Ronnie Harrison is already out. What else could go wrong? Everyone is counting out the Browns this weekend while conveniently forgetting that the Steelers offense was broken to close out the year. If Cleveland is going to pull off the improbable, it’ll be with their run game and a monster game from Nick Chubb. And despite being $6,700 on DraftKings — which is the lowest price we’ve seen since he returned from injury — no one is going to play him. Chubb has gone over 100 yards or scored a touchdown in 10-straight games and once he returned from injury in Week 10, he was the RB8 in fantasy points per game (18.4).
David Montgomery ($6.9k DK; $8.4k FD) — Both things can be true: 1) Montgomery is playing at a career-high level; and 2) He’s benefited massively from a soft schedule. Over the final six weeks of the season, Montgomery was the RB1 in fantasy with 25.7 fantasy points per game. But, in this stretch, he faced the 6th-worst defense in Rushing Expected Points Allowed twice (Packers), the Lions (5th-worst), the Texans (worst), and Jaguars (9th-worst). The Saints are the first good defense he’s faced in a long time, and they’re a damn good one, as they ranked second-best in the league in EPA per carry and second-best in yards per carry allowed. Montgomery is a great price on DraftKings but I don’t think he carries the same 25-30 point ceiling that we’ve seen in recent weeks in this spot.
Diontae Johnson ($6.2k DK; $7.0k FD) — Considering price, I’d argue Johnson is the second-best receiver play on the 6-game slate behind only Stefon Diggs. The Browns could be down 3 of their 5 starters in the secondary because of COVID protocols, most notably Denzel Ward. This matchup could not be any better for Johnson, who has been a true fantasy WR1 when healthy even though he’s not remotely priced like it. In the 12 games that Diontae Johnson finished without an injury and Ben Roethlisberger was starting, he averaged 17.5 fantasy points per game. That would have made Johnson the WR7 just ahead of A.J. Brown (17.4).
Anthony Miller ($3.3k DK; $4.7k FD) — I’m really hoping Miller doesn’t start getting buzz with Darnell Mooney (ankle) likely out. In a game that the Bears are going to have to chase from behind, Miller will be the top value of the week if Mooney sits.