NFL Playoff Fantasy Football Strategy For The Divisional Round
As detailed last week on RotoExperts, there are innumerable ways to play NFL Playoffs Fantasy Football. A good number of these games allow weekly lineup changes as teams get eliminated from the NFL playoffs. As such, they call for roster changes and manipulations as the NFL playoffs progress. Fantasy rosters that had a rough Wild Card Weekend will likely be looking to pivot off of the “chalk” roster constructions, and teams that pulled out ahead need to play their cards wisely
Good Chalk Pivots
In the NFFC game detailed in Scott Engel’s article on the different forms of available NFL Playoffs Fantasy Football, it is noted the NFFC places a multiplier on players on your roster based on how many weeks they are on your team. Todd Gurley is likely to be the heaviest owned player on the Rams’ roster for not only this game against the Dallas Cowboys, but for the remainder of the playoffs. For teams that used Mitch Trubisky as their Bears player or Zach Ertz as their Philadelphia player, it doesn’t make much sense to use Gurley. Goff and Woods both have the ability to outscore Gurley over a three-game period and there are higher priority players at their respective positions. Patrick Mahomes is at 55 percent owned in the NFFC game at the moment and Drew Brees is owned on 46 percent of teams, so rosters with Goff are almost an anomaly. In competitive games this year, Goff scored over 20 Fantasy points on eight occasions and Top 30 Fantasy points in three of those games. Woods has been the most consistent Rams wide receiver and does not appear to be amongst the 20 most owned players. If touchdown variance fails Gurley, there is a decent chance of Woods outscoring him in PPR formats.
These are not the Patriots of old. They are only the number two seed in the AFC instead of being the undisputed number one and without a functional Rob Gronkowski, their team lacks offensive firepower. I expect a good number of runs in this game and for the posted total of 46.5 to be either accurate or a slight over forecast. Gordon has some injury concerns—though he is fully expected to be active for this road playoff game—which should continue to drive his ownership down. Gordon is a more thin play than usual due to his lack of involvement in the passing game, but winning these massive field tournaments is really about racking up the touchdowns, and Gordon is the most likely player to score two touchdowns in this Chargers-Patriots game. Additionally, if the Chargers do win this game and go on to the play the Chiefs, his chances of a good multiplied score in the Kansas City game are relatively high.
If we agree that the Chargers-Patriots game is likely to feature more runs than the other three playoff games, it makes sense to like not only Gordon at low ownership, but Sony Michel as well. Michel is a temperature gauge for the Patriots offense; when they are doing well and playing with the lead, he is likely to get a full complement of carries and have decent touchdown equity. He had 116 yards and a touchdown in a win against Buffalo, 20 carries in a win against Miami and 21 carries with a touchdown against the Jets. These are the teams that the Patriots are used to beating, and history says they are likely to beat the Chargers at home as well. Michel has less routes to a productive Fantasy score as he had only and had only 11 targets on the entire season. But at what projects to be less than 5 percent ownership in the NFFC Championship game, Michel probably has more value in this spot in formats that do not multiply the score the following week. I would like Michel less than Gordon in a theoretical matchup against the Chiefs.
Spots To Avoid
Most of the Fantasy studs still in the playoffs are projected to do quite well this week. T.Y Hilton, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ studs, New Orleans is facing off against a middling Philadelphia defense and Amari Cooper will get to play from behind in the Superdome. However, one Fantasy stalwart projects to do much worse than his average and that is Stephen Gostkowski. The Patriots’ kicker finished eighth in 2018 in kicker Fantasy points but is not a good target this week, especially as it would cause you to give up James White, Julian Edelman or Sony Michel as your Patriots selection in formats like the NFFC or others that limit the number of players you can take from one team. This game has the lowest total of the week and is likely to feature some snow (projecting from a few days out). Those environments are generally less kind to kickers.
Stop me if you have heard this before: the Chargers/Patriots game has a low total compared to the rest of the weekend’s’ games. The Chargers have the third lowest implied team total of the slate but I would actually wager on at least Dallas outscoring them and having a more favorable passing game script. Allen had only six targets in the romp against the Ravens last week and he could face similar problems in a lower-scoring, more methodical contest this week. Allen is one of the 10 most owned players in the NFFC Championship format and is an elite game theory fade for me based on game environment and projected game script. Both Melvin Gordon and Mike Williams are more enticing to me for game theory and ownership reasons than Allen this week.
Mack was one of the best values of the opening round of the playoffs, as he exploded against the Texans for 24 carries, 148 yards, three targets and a touchdown. It seems a bit silly to recommend him as a fade for this extremely high total game against the Chiefs, but it does follow the logic of how the Colts have played. When the Colts were chasing games this year, Mack lost snaps to Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines, as both of them are better pass catchers than Mack. Hines actually finished the season as the Colts’ third leading receiver in terms of receptions but played only nine snaps in the blowout win against the Texans. Sentiment amongst fans of the Colts seem to be that the team was saving him for this game, as they are likely to be passing the ball at a very high clip. Hines is explosive as a pass catcher and if he starts hot, I expect Mack to be a peripheral player for a majority of the game.