FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Divisional Round (Sunday Slate)
The NFL playoffs continue along on Sunday at 3:05 pm ET, giving us a second two-game FanDuel Divisional Round slate to hop into.
As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's daily fantasy tools at your disposal. In particular, our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values, while the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals and every team's strengths and weaknesses.
Now, let's run through some of the top plays of Sunday's slate.
Patrick Mahomes ($9,200 on FanDuel): In a huge shocker, Patrick Mahomes tops numberFire's projections across all positions. Kansas City is sporting a 33.50 implied total as 10.0-point favorites over Cleveland, and there's little reason to think this offensive juggernaut will slow down against a defense that ranks 29th in schedule-adjusted pass defense, per numberFire's metrics. Only Aaron Rodgers is averaging more Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back than Mahomes this season -- 0.38 to 0.33 -- and Rodgers, Mahomes, and Josh Allen were the only quarterbacks to exceed 30.0 Passing NEP per drop back.
Tom Brady ($7,700): Tom Brady has now thrown for more than 340 yards in five of the past six games, including last week's 381-yard, 2-touchdown outing against a strong Washington defense. He gets another tough test against New Orleans, which ranks third in adjusted pass defense, but this game's 52.0 total suggests that we'll get a back-and-forth affair. Brady may not be at the peak of his powers, but he's been efficient this season, ranking eighth in Passing NEP per drop back.
Baker Mayfield ($7,400): On a two-game slate, I don't think it's crazy to take a chance on Baker Mayfield as the underdog in a game with a 57.0 total. After a string of lackluster midseason performances impacted by poor weather, Mayfield seemed to flip a switch from Week 12 on. Excluding Cleveland's Week 16 game against the Jets, when they were missing all their regular wide receivers due to COVID, Mayfield averaged 0.42 Passing NEP per drop back over the other final six games during this stretch, which is equal to what league-leader Aaron Rodgers produced this season.
Alvin Kamara ($9,000): Alvin Kamara saw his usual volume in the Wild Card round, tallying 27.0 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets), although he curiously saw just 2 targets. Tampa Bay is a brutal matchup for running backs -- they rank second in adjusted run defense -- but it wouldn't be surprising if the Saints decide to skew Kamara's opportunities back toward the passing game, which is what they did the last time against the Bucs (9 carries and 6 targets). With the most secure workload on the slate, Kamara tops our running back projections by a wide margin, and Latavius Murray's status is up in the air, too.
Nick Chubb ($8,200) and Kareem Hunt ($6,200): It likely had a lot to do with the positive game script Cleveland enjoyed in their surprise upset over Pittsburgh, but it's still notable that Nick Chubb saw a season-high 26 adjusted opportunities, which included catching all 4 of his targets for a career-high 69 receiving yards. Of course, Kareem Hunt is always a threat to Chubb's upside, and sure enough, while Hunt saw just 10 adjusted opportunities versus the Steelers, he got four of Cleveland's five red-zone carries, converting two for touchdowns. Since Chubb returned in Week 10, he has the edge in adjusted opportunities per game (21.0 to 16.1) and total red zone carries (27 to 20). But Cleveland's had just two losses over those nine games, and a negative game script would almost certainly favor Hunt. Both are firmly in play against Kansas City's 29th-ranked adjusted rush defense and should be deployed according to the correlations in your lineups.
Leonard Fournette ($6,300): Much to the dismay of many, while Ronald Jones ($6,300) was active for the wild card round as expected, a pregame quad injury led to him playing zero snaps, crushing several DFS lineups. That ended up resulting in a big night for Leonard Fournette, who converted 27 adjusted opportunities into 21.2 FanDuel points. Jones returned to practice on Thursday, so his status remains unclear, but it's possible we could potentially see another big workload for Fournette against New Orleans. Note that the Saints have allowed the fewest FanDuel points per game to running backs, so Fournette will have a tough time matching last week's output, but the projected workload still rates him as an appealing point-per-dollar value.
Darrel Williams ($4,800): Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($6,100) missed practice on Thursday, and if he's out again this weekend, that could lead to an increased role for Darrel Williams at a very modest salary. With CEH out in Week 16, Williams emerged with season-high clips in adjusted opportunities (22) and snap rate 70%. Of course, Le'Veon Bell ($6,000) is still around, and this backfield is never easy to trust, but Williams' salary opens up a lot of flexibility if you're willing to take the plunge.
Tyreek Hill ($8,800): Only Davante Adams averaged more FanDuel points per game than Tyreek Hill among wideouts this season, and with Adams playing on Saturday, that pretty much leaves Hill in his own tier. You don't really need me to tell you what kind of score he could post against a poor Browns pass defense. Sammy Watkins ($5,400) missed practice again on Thursday, and his potential absence could open up targets for Mecole Hardman ($5,200) and Demarcus Robinson ($5,100) as punt plays. Hardman gets the edge in our projections, but it's actually Robinson who has seen more consistent targets and snaps when Watkins has been out.
Michael Thomas ($7,200): Michael Thomas caught 4 of 7 targets for 73 yards and his first touchdown of the season against the Bears (15.8 FanDuel points), and with his salary getting only a slight bump, he projects as the best point-per-dollar value at the position again on Sunday. Although he ended up in a three-way tie for the team lead in targets -- still not exactly the ball hog we saw in 2019 -- he did so on just a 67% snap rate, so the hope is his he gets an uptick in playing time in his second game back from injury.
Mike Evans ($7,100): As always, all of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin ($7,500), and Antonio Brown ($6,500) are viable. Evans seemed like a shaky bet going into last week, but he showed no limitations from his knee injury, churning out 119 yards and 6 receptions on 10 targets. That arguably puts him back to the front of the line this week as Brady's favorite red-zone target. Evans finished the regular season tied for the league's seventh-most red-zone targets (18) and second-most targets inside the 10-yard line (14).
Jarvis Landry ($6,900) and Rashard Higgins ($5,300): Since Mayfield upped his play in Week 12, Jarvis Landry has averaged 8.7 targets over his last six games, while Rashard Higgins has averaged 6.0. They both project as quality point-per-dollar values, and while Landry is obviously the preferred option -- he's scored double-digit FanDuel points in five of those six contests -- Higgins may be a necessary inclusion in a lot of Kansas City game stacks due to the premium salaries of the Chiefs' big three.
Travis Kelce ($8,500): Travis Kelce averages nearly 10 more FanDuel points per game than any other tight end on the slate, and his lofty projection reflects that. No one else can match his upside at the position, arguably making him one of the bigger priorities when making lineups this weekend.
Austin Hooper ($5,500): Of the remaining starting tight ends, you could argue that not a whole lot separates Austin Hooper, Jared Cook ($5,600), and Rob Gronkowski ($5,600), but it's Hooper who projects as the best choice behind Kelce. Hooper is coming off an encouraging game against Pittsburgh, leading the team with 11 targets and turning them into 7 receptions, 46 yards, and a score. The Chiefs ranked 23rd in Target Success Rate allowed to tight ends through Week 16 (they sat several starters in Week 17), and the shootout potential of this game should benefit Hooper. As for the other two tight ends, Cook is easier to trust than Gronkowski is, as Cameron Brate ($4,900) actually out-targeted Gronk six to one last week.
Kansas City D/ST ($4,200): Although this game could shoot out, that means we're also expecting a heavy passing game script from Cleveland as 10.0-point underdogs, which opens up the potential for sacks and turnovers. As noted earlier, Baker Mayfield has been on a roll lately, but it's not like any defense has an easy matchup on this slate -- all four offenses are top-10 in numberFire's metrics. The Chiefs' defense is the top unit by numberFire's projections.
Tampa Bay D/ST ($3,500): I suppose anything's possible on a two-game slate, but chances are you're not going to feel super comfortable rostering Cleveland's subpar defense against Patrick Mahomes and friends, leaving us with Tampa Bay as the best low-salaried squad. While an efficient Drew Brees isn't an especially appealing quarterback to attack, the Bucs generate the third-highest pressure rate, per Pro Football Reference, and a strong rush defense should lead to more drop backs from Brees.