Divisional Round: FanDuel Saturday Slate Helper
The Divisional Saturday NFL DFS slate on FanDuel has two matchups, with the Minnesota Vikings versus the San Francisco 49ers kicking off at 4:35 p.m. EST, and the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens doing battle at 8:15 p.m. EST. Oddsmakers are siding with the teams with the first-round byes, as the Ravens and 49ers are both favored heavily in their games. Both contests have respectable game totals of 46.5 and 44.5, respectively, so there should be plenty of fantasy points to go around.
Our NFL DFS matchup heat map will be referenced for all implied totals and spreads throughout this article, so be sure to check it out.
Here's how you should attack this short postseason slate.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens ($9,500)
Despite being priced at $9,500, Lamar Jackson projects to be the best point-per-dollar play on the entire slate -- according to our models -- by a wide margin. It makes sense, as his 1,213 yards and seven scores on the ground (in just 15 games) essentially makes him an RB1 who also led the league in touchdown passes with 36. Plus, his Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry of 0.52 was over three times the best running back's Rushing NEP per carry (Raheem Mostert, 0.15, minimum 100 carries).
Jackson and the Ravens also had an extra week to rest and prepare for this game, which likely plays a role in this massive spread. As 9.5-point favorites with a 28.25-point implied team total, Baltimore is likely to score a lot of points on the ground and through the air, making Jackson a necessity for most lineups.
Five Heisman winners will be in #Titans vs. #Ravens on Saturday.
Robert Griffin III-2011
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) January 5, 2020
Tennessee does rank top-12 in both schedule-adjusted total offense and total defense, so this game should be competitive enough for Baltimore to keep its foot on the gas.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans ($9,800)
If the Titans want a chance at taking down the Ravens, they need Derrick Henry to run like he did against the New England Patriots. The 2019 leading rusher averaged 0.48 Rushing NEP per carry and totaled 128 scrimmage yards in the first half of that win over the Pats. What's even more impressive is that he accounted for all 75 yards on their final drive heading into halftime, showing that Tennessee is comfortable feeding him even when the clock is a little thin.
The second half was a different story, as he averaged -0.08 Rushing NEP per carry to close out the game. The Pats made changes to shut him down, and those changes (mostly) worked.
Baltimore is a run-funnel D as they rank fourth against the pass and 21st against the run when adjusted for strength of schedule. That discrepancy obviously meshes perfectly with what the Titans do on offense, so if they go into this game with a heavy dose of Henry and take the burden off of Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee should be able to keep this one close. Henry is our top-projected running back on the slate.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings ($8,600)
If you're looking for an optimal lineup based on value, Dalvin Cook should get the lock button this week. The Vikings fed him 31 touches against the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card Round, and he did not disappoint, totaling 130 yards and finding the end zone twice. With Alexander Mattison essentially being a non-factor in that game, Cook should get fed once again.
While the 49ers aren't a defense to mess with, neither were the Saints. In fact, when adjusted for schedule, San Francisco is actually a better matchup for Minnesota's running game than New Orleans was. Cook is active in all phases of the offense and is the only running back on this slate who can get all three downs of work as well as goal line carries. If he gets another 31 touches, it won't really matter what defense he's playing.
Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers ($6,800)
Since Week 12, Raheem Mostert has scored a touchdown in every single game and has played more than half the snaps in all but one. The 49ers deploy a split backfield between him, Matt Breida, and Tevin Coleman, but Mostert is dominating the red zone work and has led them in targets over that span, as well.
Raheem Mostert’s top 10 plays of 2019. pic.twitter.com/zMKZyt4b8Q
— Iggy Cohn (@grantcohn) January 3, 2020
Mostert is also insanely explosive, as his 0.15 Rushing NEP per carry ranks first among backs with at least 100 carries this season. He also runs a 4.42 and is a 77th-percentile SPARQ-x athlete, according to PlayerProfiler. With that level of athleticism, he's a threat to score from any part of the field. He's difficult to trust in cash lineups given his limited usage, but he's an excellent tournament play.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings ($7,100)
Stefon Diggs was locked down by the Saints for most of the game, but by all accounts, he's still the alpha dog in Minnesota. He and Kirk Cousins had a special connection during the regular season as Diggs' 1.04 Reception NEP per target ranked third among receivers with at least 30 receptions. Diggs did that with a heavy dose of 28 deep shots (20-plus air yards), which ranked as the fifth-most among all NFL receivers.
Seeing as how the Vikings are 7.0-point underdogs, we can expect them to throw the ball often in this contest. Our projections have Diggs seeing the most targets and catching the most balls at his position this Saturday.
It is also worth noting that Adam Thielen had to get stitches in his leg this week and is questionable to play. He's likely to suit up, but his multitude of injuries could pile up and limit his role in this contest.
Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers ($6,600)
Some players are just good at football. Deebo Samuel is one of those players. Not only did he rack up 802 receiving yards as a rookie, but he also posted 159 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The 49ers clearly want to get him the ball in creative ways, and he has the do-it-all profile to get the job done.
The Vikings' pass rush duo of Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter put on a show against the Saints. New Orleans boasted the third-ranked pass-blocking offensive line, according to Football Outsiders, so San Francisco could be in trouble. But the best way to mitigate a pass rush is to limit their chances.
An unstoppable force meets an immovable object:
George Kittle leads all TEs with missed tackles forced
Deebo Samuel ranks top-three in YAC & missed tackles forced for WRs
The Minnesota #VIkings are the highest graded tackling team in the NFL for the second straight year #SKOL pic.twitter.com/IOJusw7S6U
— PFF MIN Vikings (@PFF_Vikings) January 9, 2020
I'm no offensive mastermind, but quick passes, screens, and jet sweeps with receivers are ways to do that. Kyle Shanahan has been using Samuel in that role all season, so look for the rookie to touch the ball plenty in this game. The Vikings' secondary has also allowed the second-most receptions to wide receivers this season, so this unit is definitely beatable despite ranking sixth in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens ($5,300)
Marquise Brown is a very bizarre player. While he has excellent speed, his yards per reception and his average target distance both rank outside the top 40 receivers. Brown has also battled ankle, thigh, and foot issues all campaign, so he rarely gets a full share of snaps. And even when he's on the field, he doesn't get many opportunities as he has seen at least five targets just once since Week 9. This makes him a horrible play in cash lineups and also a risky option for tournaments.
The positive is that Brown should get plenty of opportunities in single coverage as the Titans try to load the box and stop this dynamic running game. Tennessee's cornerbacks have been suspect in the latter half of the season without Malcolm Butler and Adoree' Jackson. Jackson returned in limited fashion against the Patriots and should play in this one, but look for Baltimore to test his rusty coverage with their explosive rookie receiver.
George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers ($7,300)
The odds of George Kittle leading all players in receiving yards is pretty high on this slate. He's had at least five receptions and 67 yards in seven of his last nine games and also topped the 49ers in receiving yards this season with 1,053 despite missing two games.
The Vikings have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, but that is largely a product of who they've played. The only tight end they faced with talent near Kittle's was Travis Kelce, and he caught seven balls for 62 yards. Paying up for a tight end will be tricky without much value, but Kittle offers an excellent combination of floor and ceiling.
Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens ($7,000)
If you really want to differentiate your lineups for tournaments, paying up for two tight ends is the way to go. Mark Andrews is the other piece to the puzzle as he was the leading receiver for the Ravens this season.
Most yards per route run among TEs in a single season over the past 10 years (PFF, min. 50 targets)
2019 George Kittle (3.1)
2019 Mark Andrews (2.89)
2018 Kittle (2.82)
2013 Rob Gronkowski (2.75)
2014 Gronk (2.53)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) January 8, 2020
Andrews was also their dynamic deep threat as his 20 targets of 20-plus yards and his average target distance of 11.8 yards both ranked first among tight ends in the regular season. He also led his position in touchdowns, showcasing tournament-winning upside. Paying $7,000 for the leading receiver on the team that has the highest implied total on the slate is a bargain, and his touchdown probability is very high in this game environment.
Jonathan Taylor Smith is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice Jonathan Taylor Smith also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jtsmittyyy. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.