Welcome to The Breakdown for the Divisional Round for the NFL playoffs, a deep game-by-game breakdown that covers game theory as well as player/game analysis for the full NFL weekend slate. If you have been with me from a past life, welcome back! I know there are many game-by-game articles out there, so I truly appreciate the loyalty.

For those that are new, here is a basic guide. The “CORE” plays are for a DFS player that is building a single entry or three-max GPP lineup. The “core” plays can be used in cash, but I always send out a morning “cash core” update (I put it at the bottom of this article) to narrow down the player pool even further. Most optimal cash lineups will be centered around opportunity opened up by injury, so no sense of spending hours tinkering. Reserve your cash game entries with the plan of modifying closer to lock.

I encourage you to read the whole article, as there is a lot of roster construction and other strategy tips you will miss. I also have on-going jokes and other fun things I slip in to see who is reading and who is not. OK, enough with my BS, let’s get into the playoff action.


All odds come from FanDuel Sportsbook as of the start of the week.

“GPP only” plays that are not in BOLD are for MME only. BOLD CORE plays are the players I will have the most exposure to.

LAR +6.5. O/U: 45.5
LAR: 19.5 | GB: 26.5

Pace and playcalling 

The Rams head for Green Bay after eliminating the Seahawks 30-20 last week. Los Angeles travels well, finishing 5-4 ATS on the road this season and 21-13 since Sean McVay came to town. 

In a game of strength-vs.-strength, the Green Bay offense comes in first in points per drive and points per game, while Los Angeles is first in both points and yards allowed per drive in addition to giving up the fewest points per game. 

Looking at the Rams defense against other top-ranked offenses, we see they have allowed some production, especially on the road. At Buffalo, Tampa, Arizona, Seattle, Miami and San Francisco, they gave up 26.5 PPG. That is a massive split compared to what they did at home, averaging just 12.6 PPG. 

Green Bay has stomped on “good defenses” in the second half of the season, averaging 35.6 PPG against Indianapolis and Chicago (twice) in their last seven games.

From a pace perspective, this game ranks last on the slate. Green Bay takes its time between plays, 30.3 seconds is 32nd (neutral). The Packers are just so efficient (.514 points per play, first) that it doesn’t affect them for fantasy. What it does do is limit their opponents’ plays, giving up the fewest plays per game this season. That has them in the top-four in fantasy allowed to QBs, WRs and TEs, despite being league average from a yards-per-play (and points-allowed) standpoint. 

Green Bay passes at a modest 57% neutral rate but will run heavy (48% pass rate) once up by even a field goal or more. The Pack has played from the lead for 552 plays, second to just Buffalo. Only Baltimore played more snaps with a double-digit lead this season.


The Rams have scored 1.3 TDs per game in their last three, which is tied with the Giants for last. The two TDs they managed against Seattle last week was the first time they have scored more than one offensive TD since Week 13.

Jared Goff has been named the starter, with John Wolford declared out. Last week, the Rams didn’t even carry a backup to Goff, but Blake Bortles will fill that role this week. Goff was struggling mightily even before his surgery, so it is a tough spot for the California native, who will be playing in freezing weather while dealing with a thumb injury that affects grip. Packers LB, Za'Darius Smith and company have been terrorizing opposing QBs lately, which has led to them allowing 17.2 PPG over their last five, after 25.7 PPG allowed over their first 11.

Cam Akers and the Rams defense has to be the game plan with Goff hurt and struggling. Akers has become a true workhorse back, averaging 24.8 touches per game over his last five. 

Los Angeles runs the second-most plays per game and gains the most first downs per game. With the Green Bay rush D still being the more vulnerable unit, I assume we will see another 20-plus touches for Akers (27.5 average, last two), as they try to limit possessions for Aaron Rodgers. Akers played 73% of snaps last week, after 66% in the first game without Darrell Henderson, a loss, indicating he is going to be a factor regardless of script. In his last four games, Akers ran 18.5 pass routes per game, compared to 3 per game in his first seven. 

Green Bay is much better this season against the rush. Last year, the Packers ended 31st in adjusted line yards allowed (29th in RB yards per carry), 21st in explosive rush rate. This season, they are 23rd in adjusted line yards allowed, 16th in RB yards per carry, and 12th in explosive rush rate. They still were vulnerable against the RB pass, allowing 90 receptions on 110 targets (82%), which has them ranked 29th in DVOA against the RB pass.

Cooper Kupp (knee) is questionable after missing practice all week, his status is key for Robert Woods, Van Jefferson (4-50-0, 8-targets), Josh Reynolds (4-29-0 6 targets) without Kupp in Week 16. It’s not a great matchup, being tied to Goff, but they should be playing from behind and are all affordable so I will update when we know more. Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett will also be in the mix, which makes this entire group risky, even if Kupp is removed. 


Green Bay scored a league-best 31.6 PPG at home this season and was only slowed down once, at Tampa Bay where the Bucs’ blitzes/pass-rush held the Pack to just 10 points. Applying pressure is the one (small) chance for the Rams to slow down this Packers offense, coming in second in adjusted sack rate, sacking their opponent at a 14% rate (last three, first). Aaron Rodgers goes from a 79.1% completion rate when clean to 43.1% when under duress (24%). If he has time to sit in the pocket allow his WRs to get down the field, it’s all over, with 40-of-46 TD passes coming kept cleam (87%). Rodgers finished fourth among full-time QBs in time to throw, and the offensive line was sixth in adjusted sack rate (second in sacks allowed). 

Injury notes: Aaron Donald (rib injury, but practiced in full) will be good to go. Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari was put on IR. 

Davante Adams vs. Jalen Ramsey (fourth in fantasy points per target allowed in coverage) is the marquee matchup, with Adams entering his playoff run as the undisputed WR1 on the season, catching 18-TD passes en route to 27.2 FPPG. 

Ramsey does not shadow often, but seeing the two big WRs he did follow this season tells us he is going to do the same with Adams:

Week 10: DK Metcalf (77.1% of snaps, 2-28 4 targets) 
Week 11: Mike Evans (73.3% of snaps, 4-40-0, 7 targets)
Week 16: DK Metcalf (64.1% of snaps, 4-38-0, 5 targets) 
Wild Card: DK Metcalf (72.2% of snaps, 4-45-1, 8 targets) 

Adams only drew shadow coverage three times this season, and I am going to throw out the games with a banged-up Darius Slay and C.J. Henderson. That leaves us with the Carlton Davis matchup in TB, which was the one game Rodgers shat the bed. I would put his success more on the pass rush and Rodgers’ issues than what Davis did.

Adams in shadow coverage (from the FTN Shadow Index):

Ramsey only traveled into the slot occasionally this season (18%), whereas Adams played the second-most slot snaps this season for Green Bay (48-448-7 on 57 targets from the slot, 31% of snaps). That is 40% of his TDs and receptions from inside, despite also leading the league in sideline or throws outside the hash marks. 

The verdict: Given his ultra-high price, matchup with Ramsey for at least 70% of the time and high ownership, Adams will not be in the core lineup this week. Even the greatest high-priced/high-owned WRs make sense to fade from a game-theory perspective. If he was 15% it would make sense, but at 38% and so many great WRs on the slate, it does not. Given his insane red-zone usage I will get exposure where I multi-enter, but will be underweight to the field (38% on FD, I will likely come in at 10-15%). 

The Rams are not a plus matchup for RBs either (3.78 RB YPC allowed, fifth) and Aaron Jones will also be very popular, making me lean to another fade on 3-Max/Single-Entry and underweight in multi-entry. We have him between 25% and 35% owned on the two main sites, so I expect to come in at about 15% and 20% respectively. Unlike most high-owned/high-priced (though he is under $7k on DK, which is reasonable) RBs, Jones has an easier path to bust, with him ranking 17th in opportunity share (18 touches per game). Another factor we will count on if we fade him is Rodgers’ high red-zone passing rate. Despite finishing 13th in pass attempts, Rodgers was tied for third in red-zone and goal-line pass attempts. Catching passes is the most appealing part of this matchup for Jones, with the Rams 10th in RB targets and T-11th in RB receptions allowed. 

One of either Robert Tonyan, Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Allen Lazard will make a play or two against this Rams defense, but none of them has a strong individual matchup. They are simply tied to the probable league MVP with 48 TD passes, so they are going to have opportunities to score. 

MVS has made a living on big plays, finishing first in average target distance (17.5 per target), and first in yards per reception (20.9), so if you are looking for the home run, he is your man. The matchup can’t be any worse, with Los Angeles first in both 20- and 40-yard receptions allowed as well as overall TD passes allowed. 

Speaking of TDs, Tonyan matched the GOAT Travis Kelce with 11 TD catches to lead all TEs. Los Angeles is tough against all positions per EPA and DvP, but tight end is the lowest of them if looking to connect Rodgers with a second receiving option in tournaments. Seven of the 17 TD passes allowed by the Rams were to TEs (41%). 

Core plays: Cam Akers, Green Bay DST 

GPP only: Aaron Rodgers/Davante Adams/Robert Tonyan 

BAL +2.5. O/U: 50
BAL: 24 | BUF: 26.5

Pace and playcalling 

The Colts slowed it down and tried to play ball-control offense last week, allowing the Bills to run 58 plays (64.5 in 2020) and hold the ball six minutes below their season average. Baltimore did it to the Titans as well, holding them to 49 plays, 15 below their season average. This will be the plan again, as the Ravens bring their rush-centric slow offense (55.8% this season, 54.6% last week) into Buffalo against the high-powered Bills offense. 

Baltimore drains clock, running a play at the second-slowest pace and running at the league’s highest rate (neutral situations). They aren’t built for coming from behind, which could be an issue against Buffalo, who played from the lead for the most snaps this season (Baltimore, fifth). When they were trailing by a touchdown or more (109 plays, third-fewest), Baltimore still ran it at a 51% rate, 4% higher than second-place New England. The Ravens simply aren’t going to abandon the run with Lamar’s scrambling factoring in, even against Kansas City (34-20 loss) he passed 27 times. I have no issue with their offense given the personnel, I just don’t understand why they can’t do what they do at a faster pace to increase their play volume. At 6.7 yards per play (over the last three, fourth), even 5-7 plays a game would be significant from a percentage standpoint. At 365 total yards per game (18th), the extra 40 yards of offense (12%) would out them at 405 yards per game which would have been second, behind Kansas City and ahead of Buffalo. 

Buffalo passes at the fourth-highest rate, and highest on first down (11th in neutral pace). Even when up by at least 7, they passed at a 56% rate (first). 


Lamar Jackson has regained his 2019 form (28.52 DraftKings points per game over his last six) thanks to a very favorable schedule. He has faced Dallas, Cleveland, Jacksonville, the Giants, Cincinnati and Tennessee, who all rank in the bottom 13 in DVOA and points allowed. Their success has been tied to their opponent, allowing 32.8 PPG to teams with winning records this season (eight games), compared to 17.5 versus teams at .500 and lower (eight games). 

Last week, they got let off the hook by a terrible Indianapolis game plan, but they still allowed 472 total yards to the Colts. The Bills have played in three games against rushing QBs (Kyler Murray and Cam Newton twice) and allowed 46.3 rushing yards per game with 4 total rushing TDs. They also allowed 10-36-0 to Patrick Mahomes, 4-42-1 to Ryan Tannehill, and rushing TDs to Russell Wilson and Jared Goff (third-most rush TDs to QBs). Jackson has surpassed 80 rush yards in five of his last six and 50 yards in 10 of his last 11, while scoring five times in six games. He’s behind Mahomes and Allen in ownership on DK, but ahead of Allen on FD, due to being $800 cheaper. He is third in my rankings. 

J.K. Dobbins is stuck in a backfield committee, seeing 10 touches last week (37 yards) compared to 8 for Gus Edwards (38 yards). Dobbins has averaged 12.1 touches in his last six games, Edwards 10.5. Where Dobbins keeps getting it done is with TDs, stretching his streak to seven straight. 

The Bills are not a good rush D, 29th in explosive rush rate, 19th in adjusted line yards and 20th in RB yads allowed. They are also dead last in open field rush D, giving up the eighth-most rush attempts of 10-plus yards (tied for sixth in rush TDs allowed). Both backs appealing in our secondary lineups, but with the significant price and ownership edge, I prefer Edwards. 

Marquise Brown has been running most of his routes recently from the slot and left side, which will keep him away from Tre'Davious White for at least two-thirds of his routes (chart via NFL Next Gen Stats). Bill have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to LWR, the sixth-fewest FP to RWR (per FTN Data), as illustrated on this Sharp Football heat map of the Bills secondary. 

The Ravens made an effort to get Brown the ball at the line of scrimmage last week, with two backward passes (they count as rush attempts), which negates CB coverage. They have also targeted him at a much higher rate to end the season. Over his last seven games, he saw 7.14 targets per game (averaging 4.71 receptions, 63.86 receiving yards, 0.86 TDs and 16.94 fantasy points per game), after 5.8 targets (3.2, 43.1, 0.2, 9.02) before that. Hollywood is 7th in deep targets, and had 5 RZ targets in his last two games to end the season. He has massive upside at an insulting $5.2k price tag on DK. 

The Bills have allowed 8 TD passes to tight ends, which was 37% of all their passing TDs. Jackson targeted his three TEs nine times in last year’s matchup (6-97-1). With Nick Boyle OUT and Hayden Hurst in Atlanta, that leaves all the TE targets for Mark Andrews. In eight games since Boyle’s injury, Edwards has seen all but one TE target. Jackson still targeted his TEs at a 27.8% rate this season (fifth), but it is down from the ridiculous 2019 rate, 42.5% (first). 

Teams have targeted their TEs at a 24% rate against Buffalo (fourth), allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to the position. Last week, the Colts shredded the interior of this Bills D, targeting their TEs 16 times for 136 yards and a TD. 


Josh Allen didn’t let the team’s low play volume slow him down, completing 26-of-35 passes for 324 yards (35.35 fantasy points). He also rushed for 54 yards, just the third time he surpassed 50 yards this season, but the second time in as many tries in the playoffs. He has six games with 29-plus DK points in his last nine games, averaging 30.52 FPPG over that span. He has shown a modest floor in those other three games, averaging 18.9. 

Yes, it is a tough matchup, but that is the deal as you progress in the playoffs. This league favors the offense, and I think this Bills offense and Allen in particular are playing too well to be shutdown. BAL is 10th in pass DVOA (9th overall), so I wanted to look at games Allen had against teams with top-12 DVOA ranks:

  • Miami (6th pass, 11th overall) — Allen posted 29 fantasy points, which could have been more but Buffalo didn’t have him run in Week 17.
  • LA Rams (4th pass, 1st overall) — His “signature game” against the league’s best defense. Allen posted 311 passing yards and 4 TDs, while adding a rushing score for 36 fantasy points.
  • Indianapolis (8th pass, 7th overall) — 35 fantasy points last week, the eighth time he has been over 30 on DraftKings this season.
  • Arizona (9th pass, 10th overall) — Just 29.36 FP in this one, slacker.
  • San Francisco (7th pass, 10th overall) — Another 375-4-0 for 34.1 fantasy points.
  • Pittsburgh (1st pass, 1st overall) — This was a sloppy game against the Steelers, which feels like his floor, 238-2-1 plus 6-28-0 on the ground for 19.32 fantasy points.
  • Denver (11th pass, 13th overall) — His ceiling game this season, 40.1 FP on DK .

Zack Moss suffered a season-ending ankle injury last week, which puts Devin Singletary back in our lives as a viable RB option in DFS. Per our NFL Splits tool, we can see the bump he gets when Moss is out, averaging 17.33 touches per game in three contests for 13 fantasy points per game. 

The Baltimore defense loaded up to stop Derrick Henry last week, holding the rushing champ to 2.2 YPC on 18 attempts. This week, they will focus their attention on Allen and the passing attack, setting up Singletary well from runs out of shotgun formation. He ranked 75th in average defenders in the box (6 per carry, per FTN Data), seeing over 53% of his carries from shotgun formations (4.3 YPC). He only saw a stacked box on 2.6% of his attempts (64th), where he managed just 0.8 YPC, a vast comparison from when he went up against a “light front” (6 or fewer men in the box, 4.5 YPC). Baltimore was 12th in rush DVOA and surprisingly 19th in RB yards allowed per carry (4.5, this removes QB carries). They also allowed the 10th most FP to RBs via the pass, giving up 5.06 RB receptions for 38.15 receiving yards per game this season. 

Mahomes is the QB1 on the slate in terms of raw projected points. That said, Allen is right there for me, given the price break and significantly lower ownership. Stefon Diggs will also be close to half the ownership of both Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams, so he too is 1A in my overall WR ranks, slightly behind Hill. Baltimore has not shadowed this season, not once, so expect Diggs to be matched up against all three of the Ravens talented CBs. We saw A.J. Brown move around last week and post a line of 6-83-1. Diggs ran more than 30% of his snaps from the slot, where Baltimore allowed the ninth-most targets per game (5.6 rec, 62 yards). He should also be able to work on Marcus Peters for a third of his snaps or more if they choose. Peters was targeted often with teams staying away from Jimmy Smith still. He saw 7.7 targets in coverage, which yielded 4.6 rec and 60 yards per game. 

Again, Baltimore has allowed production to the slot, setting up Cole Beasley for another solid spot. He is banged up and not fully practicing, but I fully expect him to play again and have him projected for a similar sort of game (4-5 receptions for 40-50 yards). 

I went deep into the Bills formations and WR usage last week, with them and Arizona being the only two teams using 4-WR sets. That meant that, even though John Brown was back, he was not a lock for heavy usage simply because he will be the WR2. He did play full-time snaps (97%), compared to Gabriel Davis’ 56%, but Davis matched him with 4 targets, with Davis catching all four for 85 yards while Brown got shut out. Baltimore has been good against deep passes, tied with the Rams for fewest 20-yard receptions allowed. In a revenge game, at his low price/ownership after folks tilt last week, I prefer Brown, but will have both tied to Allen in GPP stacks. 

Dawson Knox has seen a nice uptick in usage, averaged 5.2 targets per game over his last five after seeing just 2.86 targets in his first seven. That has only produced 7 fantasy points per game, but this is the deal with punt TEs. Baltimore allowed the 11th most targets to TEs and 5 TDs (23% of their total passing TDs). He is back in play as a low-owned GPP TE, connected to Allen. 

Core plays: Josh Allen, Devin Singletary, Stefon Diggs, Marquise Brown, Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews

GPP only: John Brown, Gus Edwards (prefer on FD), Cole Beasley (prefer on DK), Gabriel Davis, J.K. Dobbins, Dawson Knox

CLE +10. O/U: 57.5
CLE: 23.5 | KC: 34

Pace and Playcalling 

This game comes in with a total nearly seven points higher than BAL/BUF, making it the no-brainer game stack on the slate. CLE has now scored 40+ points in three of its last six games and four times this season. They have scored 30+ points eight times (including last week). Removing the two terrible weather games (HOU and LV), CLE has averaged 29.33 PPG (10-5 to OVER). CLE averaged 3.6 TDs P/G on the road this season (fifth), behind only KC, BUF, GB, TB. 

With TEN eliminated, CLE has the lowest DVOA left in the playoffs (25th pass, 25th overall). 

KC has surpassed 30+ points nine times in one less try, and have reached 40+ points one time, the snow game in Denver where Mahomes didn’t even play the fourth quarter and threw for 200 yards. They finished higher this season in both yards and points per drive, so don’t believe those that say this offense is not as good. 

The pace of this game should be good, CLE played slow (24th) and were 29th in pass rate in neutral situations this season (51%), driven by a 47% pass rate in their first 11 games (31st). They ended the season being much more aggressive (neutral), passing at the 10th highest rate (62%) and playing at the 4th highest pace. 

WIth CLE as a 10-point dog against the champs, the game script favors them playing from behind. The Browns played at an Arizona Cardinals (circa 2019) pace, snapping the ball every 22 seconds and passing at 65% while using no-huddle on 13% of those plays. 

KC plays fast (eighth) and throws often (60% neutral, 66% in the first half). If they get out to a lead (7+), they still pass at the third-highest rate (55%) and stay at about the same pace, giving this game all the factors needed to go over the lofty 57 total. Last season, KC waited for HOU, another team that was an upset winner, and annihilated them 51-31. I played a super teaser UNDER 72.5 early this week, just because that is such a ridiculous number, but the more I research this game the more worried I get. 

Injury Notes: T Jack Conklin (knee/hamstring), LB B.J. Goodson (shoulder), TE David Njoku (hamstring) and TE Stephen Carlson (groin) are listed questionable for Sunday's AFC Divisional Round matchup with the Chiefs. Conklin, Goodson and Njoku were limited participants in Friday's practice after missing Wednesday's and Thursday's. Carlson, who was added to the injury report Thursday, did not practice Friday.  


Baker Mayfield is dirt cheap on DK and thus my favorite QB on that site for the ability to fit in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill while not sacrificing roster construction. Don’t get me wrong, I will have Patrick Mahomes on one of my three-max teams, but right now, it is Mayfield sitting in my single entry. Even if CLE gets stupid and tries to start the game conservatively (I don’t think they will), KC should get them into that super-fast, pass-first mode I outlined in the pace section. He has thrown for 14 scores in his last seven games while adding 17.8 rush yards a game (last five). 

KC allowed visiting passers to complete 66% of their passes in KC this season for 7 YPA. They started giving up production to opposing QBs over the second half of the season. Tossing out the two bad weather games in DEN and BUF, they allowed Derek Carr 347-3 + 275-3, Tom Brady 345-3, Tua 316-2, Matt Ryan 300-2 and Justin Herbert 302-3. 

Nick Chubb ripped apart the dream of Steelers fans, taking 22 touches for 145 total yards and a TD. I continue to attack his passing props, as they are slow to adjust to his reinvigorated role in that regard. With the uptick in pass rate from Baker, Chubb has seen more usage in the passing game (3.33 targets per game, last three). If the Browns fall behind, I am counting on those 3-4 targets, plus his 15+ rush attempts, to get him to RB1 status once again (19.33 FPPG, 5 games with 24 +FP). KC yielded 141.8 total yards per game to backs, allowing the fourth-most targets and third-most receptions P/G to RBs. 

Kareem Hunt in a revenge spot, or what should be him just saying “I’m sorry again” spot. Hunt has not seen the usage he did early this season (with Chubb) but still gets highly weighted touches (targets, RZ touches) and is reasonably priced on both sites which help complete the game stack (KC is 31st in DVOA vs. RBs).  

Jarvis Landry, outside of those ridiculous weather games with HOU and LV, has been very good - 5-48-0, 4-52-0, 8-143-1, 8-62-1, 6-52-0, 7-61-1, 5-51-0 and 5-92-1 last week. Unlike most weeks, he should be popular with so many looking to stack this game. Landry has played over 60% of his snaps from the slot (last four), hauling in 17 passes on 19 targets from inside. He should have success against rookie slot CB, L'Jarius Sneed

Rashard Higgins and Austin Hooper are the cheapest ways to get exposure to the Browns in your stacks. Hooper was heavily targeted last week (11) and used as the clear “TE1” with Harrison Bryant and David Njoku getting one combined target. Hooper has come along with Mayfield, seeing a big increase in his target share. He has 37 targets (last four), compared to 2.75 in weeks 10-13 (4 games). KC allowed the eighth-most targets, fifth most yards with 9 TDs to TEs. Don’t be afraid to flex him with Kelce in your game stack as my favorite passing option on CLE. 


Sunday is all about GOAT QBs, first “Baby GOAT”, Patrick Mahomes looks to go back-to-back at 25 years old after going 14-2 in the regular season. He has averaged 29.07 FPPG in five postseason starts (+3 FPPG over his career average), averaging 294 yards and 2.6 TDs per game. The other thing that stands out with Mahomes in that short sample size is his rushing. He has averaged 5.8 attempts in the playoffs, versus 3.8 in the regular season. CLE allowed the eighth-most FP to QBs, but it is worse when you pull out the bad weather games. They allowed PIT QBs to AVERAGE over 400 passing yards a game in their last two. It isn’t a matter of do we want to play Mahomes, it is simply roster construction that makes me also like Mayfield while getting exposure to Mahomes’ expense weapons. 

Speaking of those weapons, not sure what you want me to say about Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce that will be groundbreaking. They destroyed the league this year, combining for 12.8 receptions for 179.5 receiving yards per game with 28 TDs (17 for HIll). On DK, they averaged nearly identical totals in terms of FPPG (22.1 for Kelce, 22.5 for Hill), which at their current salary would equal 2.8x. The Browns can’t cover deep passes or TEs, setting both of these guys up as the No. 1 option at their respective positions. Right now I have Kelce in the CORE, it is just a matter of whether I want to jam in Tyreek also. Check in for the Saturday and Sunday a.m. updates to see where I land with my own lineups. 

With Sammy Watkins OUT,  we can also use Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson again. Over KC’s last four games, Hill and Watkins dominated slot snaps and routes for KC, with Hardman next in line. Removing Watkins should see more slot usage for Hardman, which also provides more opportunity for Robinson outside. These two have a MASSIVE range of outcomes, from a donut to 4-5 catches with 50+ yards and a TD. CLE can’t cover anyone, but they especially stink inside (see JuJu Smith-Schuster in the WC game for proof), so I prefer Hardman. 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire was presumed fully recovered from a high-ankle sprain after getting nearly a month to heal, but he did not do any team work Thursday or Friday in practice. Andy Reid said, "A couple of days ago, he moved around real well, and then we just kind of backed off of him...He's still doing stuff, just not with the group. We'll just see how he does."

With Le'Veon Bell (knee, but practiced in full FRI) and Darwin Thompson (110 yards and 2 TDs in week 17) active, and CEH clearly not 100%, this seems like a situation to avoid if he is active. If he is declared out, I will reassess and update. 

Core plays: Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Austin Hooper, Jarvis Landry, Kareem Hunt 

GPP only: Mecole Hardman, Rashard Higgins, Demarcus Robinson

Check back later for the full rundown on TB-NO.

Pace and Play-Calling 

I know many are focusing on the previous matchups, where NO waxed TB both times, but I think this is a different Tampa Bay offense so am not putting much weight into those games, rather looking at the stats and matchups in front of us and try to predict the future. 

The Bucs are coming into this matchup scorching hot, I know their schedule has been soft, but they are just killing defenses lately, averaging 526.7 yards over their last three games (1st). 

TB scored the most points per game on the road this season (32.8 ). They play like teams should, fast and aggressive. Bucs passed at the 3rd highest neutral rate and played at the 6th fastest pace. 

Injury Report 


G Alex Cappa (ankle) – Injured Reserve – OUT

DL Jeremiah Ledbetter (calf) – Did Not Participate – OUT

S Andrew Adams (not injury related) – Did Not Participate – QUESTIONABLE

RB Ronald Jones (finger/calf) – Limited Participation – QUESTIONABLE

S Jordan Whitehead (knee) – Limited Participation – QUESTIONABLE

CB Carlton Davis (groin) – Full Participation

WR Mike Evans (knee) – Limited Participation

WR Chris Godwin (hip/quad) – Did Not Participate

G Ali Marpet (pectoral) – Full Participation

RB LeSean McCoy (illness) – Full Participation

OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) – Did Not Participate

DL Ndamukong Suh (not injury related) – Did Not Participate



CB Patrick Robinson (hamstring) – Did Not Participate – OUT

QB Taysom Hill (knee) – Limited Participation – QUESTIONABLE

RB Latavius Murray (quadricep) – Limited Participation – QUESTIONABLE

T Terron Armstead (elbow) – Full Participation

TE Jared Cook (back) – Full Participation

DE Trey Hendrickson (neck) – Full Participation


Pressure is the great equalizer for Tom Brady at this point of his career and will be the biggest factor in the Saints winning their third straight against TB. His splits are massive, 33.7% when pressured and 72% when clean. NO was third in adjusted sack rate and 7th in pressure rate. The TB offensive line has played just as well (minus the games against NO), 3rd in adjusted sack rate allowed, sacks allowed, and 4th in pressure rate allowed. 

Saints allowed the 6th fewest FP to the position, but just like WASH last week, that is thanks to a soft schedule. NO faced Teddy Bridgewater twice, a Denver team with no QBs (literally), Nick Mullens, Nick Foles, Jalen Hurts (looking at passing production), and Trubiusky. Looking at their games against top-rated QBs we see a different story. Brady himself threw for 239 and 2 (plus a goal-line sneak TD), Derek Carr (282-3), Aaron Rodgers (283-3), Matt Stafford (203-3), Justin Herbert (264-4), Mahomes (254-3), Cousins (291-3). Sure, they have done well limiting 300-yard games, but that is 22 TD passes in 7 games while holding a bunch of bums to 6 TD passes in their other 9 games. 

NO is a lot like TB, brutal against opposing RBs, so I have not put Ronald Jones or Leonard Fournette on any team of significance. Lenny looked great last week so we have to count on him being a factor, even if RoJo is back in the mix (Limited Participation – QUESTIONABLE). He got a season-high 23 touches for 123 yards, catching all four of his targets from Brady.

My TB WR ranks are as follows due to the Saints allowing the 3rd most slot targets which produced 15.9 FPPG to slot receivers (4th most).

Chris Godwin (63.4% slot rate, 13 slot targets, last four games. GOATwin has 5 TDs in his last 4 games)

Antonio Brown (36% slot rate, 8 slot targets, last four games. Lowest priced of all these WRs) 

Mike Evans - Lattimore has shut him down, but his RZ usage is so high (14 GL targets for 9 TDs) that it's worth a shot in GPPs as the lowest owned of the three. 

Rob Gronkowski is just a TD or bust TE at this point, catching 2 or fewer passes in 7-of-9 games since adding Antonio Brown to the mix. He saw one target and was shut out against WASH, with Cameron Brate going off for 4-80-0. Brate has 22 catches to Gronk’s 18 since they acquired Brown. 

The matchup is good from a volume standpoint, with teams going after the Saints with their TEs, but NO is second in TE DVOA



Alvin Kamara rushed for 21-56-2 in their two matchups, which is about what you would expect against this tough TB defense. A low yards per carry average (TB is 1st in adjusted line yards and RB yards per carry allowed), but Kamara can overcome by being a monster at the goal line (22 TDs this season, plus 1 more last week in the WC round). 

Kamara came off the COVID list last week, didn’t practice, and still dominated the game with 25 touches for 116 total yards and a score. All of a sudden they are using him like a true RB1, using him for 20+ carries in back-to-back games after not recording a 20+ carry game in his career prior. I can’t imagine they just keep running him into that front seven, so I don’t see him as a “must play” again. For one, it is an ownership thing, coming in at 37% on DK, the most owned player on the slate. By fading him, you automatically start your lineup in a different place than nearly 40% of the field. The biggest risk is his passing production (5 receptions in both games versus TB), but that has been significantly down with Michael Thomas in the lineup. Kamara has averaged 13 FP fewer with MT in the lineup (8 games) this season, averaging a solid 18.5 FPPG compared to 31 without Thomas. Both Taysom Hill (knee), and Latavius Murray (quad) are questionable but returned to limited work FRI. I may have to reassess the Kamara fade in single entry if they are both out, but for now, I have Kamara on 1-of-3 of my 3-Max teams and will have him in about 15%-20% of multi-entry lineups, which is about ½ of the field. 

TB continues to push offenses into the pass (lowest rush rate against this season), which has led to high scoring contests (10-7 to the OVER overall, 6-3 on the road). NO likes to play slow (4th slowest), and pass at a conservative 52% rate. For DFS, we hope they shut down Kamara and Latavious Murray early and turn this game into a shootout and get Drew Brees passing more (71.72% completion rate, last 3). He has thrown 6 TD passes in his two matchups with TB, who have allowed the 7th most passing TDs this season. TB started giving it up to QBs to end the season, including 376-3 to Jared Goff, 462-3 to Mahomes, 356-3 to Ryan, and even 306-1 with a rushing TD to Taylor Heinicke. 

Carlton Davis has done well against Michael Thomas (3-17-0, and 5-51-0), but I am banking on a comeback for the now healthy Thomas. With NO controlling the game, and in a tough matchup against CHI (#2 DVOA vs #1 WR), Thomas caught 5-73-1 on 7 targets. Davis has been banged up to end the season and thus TB has not shadowed since week 12 when Davis allowed Tyreek to explode for 200+. Brees has not locked on to Thomas like he did last year, but we know he can succeed if this game turns into a shootout. With his price still down on both sites, he will likely be in my core lineup and two of three in 3-Max. 

Considering he only played 24 total snaps, Deonte Harris' high target rate is even more eye-popping (7 targets, 7-83-0). The low snap share makes him risky, but if this game script goes into shootout mode, he should see more snaps as they play more 3-WR sets. 

Core plays: Thomas, Godwin, Kamara, Cook 

GPP Only: Brady-Brown-Godwin stack, Evans, D. Harris 



Top Stacks: 

CLE/KC (Sometimes the obvious choice is the right one) 

I have game stacks for all four games, as we saw last week, on short slates, a full game stack can emerge if the other three games don't meet expectations. My game stack exposure 40% CLE/KC stacks, 27.5% BAL/BUF, 27.5% TB/NO, and 5% LA/GB. 



Core (FD):  Mahomes - Chubb - Singeltary - Hardman - Landry - Kelce - Hooper

*You can make a ton of GPP variations off this core by mixing in all the other BOLD CORE plays from the article

Core (DK):  Baker - Singletary - Akers - MT - Landry - Beasley - Kelce - Chubb 

ALT BUILD if you don't want to fade Kamara 

Baker - Singletary - Kamara - MT - Godwin - Beasley - Kelce - Hooper 


I rec you stick to the 4-game slates, or play showdown. 2-game slates are terrible


Other players I am using NOT in the CORE 

Tyreek - I chose to make Kelce the priority in nearly every LU 

Allen/Diggs - Kyle's model loves Diggs on DK 

Hollywood - Went back and forth with Brown and Landry in the CORE. 


Low(er)  owned "one-offs" - Higgins, Gus Edwards, Gabriel Davis, D. Robinson

Underweight - KC RBs, GB/LA game, Dobbins, Sanders (I know Two Gun likes him, which scares me because I don't) 



Tre'Quan Smith was activated, which means we need to get Deonte Harris OUT and Smith in if you went that route. Harris should go back to his WR4 role, with Smith taking over in the slot. While Sanders (37% slot while all three WRs active), MT, and Smith were active, Tre'Quan played 58% inside to lead the team. That means Sanders will stay in his usual role on the outside, with both him, Jared Cook (55%), and Thomas rotating in the slot on occasion (MT, 26%). TB allowed the 12th most slot production this season. 


Mahomes - Hunt - Kamara - Hill - Robinson - Hardman - Kelce - Hooper (game stack + Kamara) 

You can also swap in Baker here, which will get you, Chubb & Landry 

For 3-Max, I am doing two full game stacks + a TB/NO stack with Kelce, who is my most owned player of the slate. 


Fuck FanDuel for splitting the slate, playing all DK today out of spite. lol