By TJ Hernandez, 4for4
Special to Yahoo Sports
The NFL Divisional Round is split into two single-day main slates and Yahoo is featuring a $500K Baller on the Sunday slate with $100K awarded to first place and no management fee. The following analysis will offer a game-by-game breakdown for the Sunday slate with a slant towards the Baller which has a maximum player pool of 25,000 entries.
The first game on Sunday is a Week 3 rematch that saw the Rams hand the Buccaneers one of their four losses all season. Since then, Los Angeles has added key pieces on both sides of the ball, namely Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller, while getting back Cam Akers from injury. Tampa Bay has trended the other way, losing two of their top three receivers, and could still be without their starting running back and All-Pro tackle.
Although the over/under is respectable in this game, it’s dwarfed by what is expected to be a high-scoring night game. For that reason, relying on heavy stacks from this contest is a risky endeavor. As always on a small slate, no lineup construction strategy should be completely dismissed but if DFS players are interested in stacking the passing games here, Matthew Stafford at least offers a contrarian element, both in expected rostered rate and in salary allocation. The Rams quarterback should be the least-utilized quarterback on the slate and his $29 salary is $5 lower than any signal-caller playing on Sunday and $14 lower than the QB1.
Stafford’s salary offsets Cooper Kupp’s exorbitant $40 tag. Teams that decide to double stack the Rams might automatically slot in Beckham along with Kupp but Tyler Higbee offers some leverage off of the other tight ends on the slate — including Rob Gronkowski on the other side, who may be the most popular player at his position — after he matched Beckham with a 22% target share in the Wild Card Round.
With limited pass-catching options on the Buccaneers’ side of the ball, their targets have been heavily concentrated between Mike Evans and Gronkowski with the two combining for 44% of targets against the Eagles. Brady’s stacking viability may come down to Tristan Wirfs’s health but even with Wirfs, Brady has averaged just 18 fantasy points per game over his last five. For those who do play Brady, his other pass-catchers are nothing more than dart throws but it’s worth noting that Tyler Johnson was second on the team in routes tun last week.
Running back rostered rates on Sunday will be heavily determined by Leonard Fournette’s availability — if Fournette is active, he will challenge Devin Singletary for the most rostered running back on the slate. Otherwise, this slate will likely be full of timeshares besides Buffalo. Giovani Bernard is a good addition to lineups that build around a Rams win as Bernard’s 19.4% target share ranked second on the team last week, although Ke'Shawn Vaughn was given 19 touches himself.
Cam Akers is probably the best bet to get workhorse touches besides Fournette and Singletary. After Sony Michel started the Wild Card game, Akers mostly took over, out-touching Michel 18–13.
While Tampa Bay’s defense has the highest raw projection on the slate, the Rams stand out as the best value at only $13. If Wirfs is out, the Rams get the edge.
This will be the most heavily-stacked game of the day with Josh Allen expected to be the most popular quarterback on the slate. This game is also a second meeting for these teams with Buffalo winning handily in Kansas City in Week 5. Given the strengths of these two offenses, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where this matchup results in a low-scoring game. Although Allen is the chalk, he’s still the most intriguing quarterback option on this slate, both from a game flow and low-volatility standpoint. No other quarterback on this slate offers the rushing upside of Allen — because of that, he is the most likely quarterback to have fantasy success even if his offense isn’t as dynamic as projected.
With a full complement of healthy pass-catching weapons, figuring out who to stack with Allen might feel like a crapshoot. Despite not scoring last week, Stefon Diggs is still the clear number one option — Dawson Knox and Devin Singletary were the only Bills besides Diggs to run over 20 routes in the Wild Card Round. With Kansas City’s stout pass rush, it would make sense for this trio to again lead the team in routes and targets in hopes of neutralizing that pass rush with shorter throws. Of course, Buffalo will still take their shots, and Gabriel Davis projects as a top-five wide receiver value.
Chiefs stacks are always a toss-up between Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce but a slight edge has to be given to Hill this week as a top-three value across all positions with a salary of just $23. With most lineups leaning towards Allen, a unique construction might be double-stacking Patrick Mahomes with his top-two pass-catchers and bringing back multiple Bills players. Mahomes spread out his targets last week, but Byron Pringle continues to be the most likely ancillary receiver to have success when Hill and Kelce are both producing at their expected levels, making him more attractive in Chiefs onslaughts while Mecole Hardman is a better fit in lineups that omit Hill.
As for the backfields, Devin Singletary will jockey for position as the most popular running back on the slate and he is especially enticing as an addition to Bills onslaughts that include Josh Allen since Singletary ran more routes than any Buffalo wide receiver not named Diggs last week. Including Singletary with the Bills defense in a lineup that is light on Chiefs' players is a great way to construct towards an upset in this game.
Kansas City’s backfield is up in the air with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams questionable. If both end up being game-time decisions, fortunes could swing on who is most effective with late-swapping for this situation. Teams that are trailing in the Baller might have a huge opportunity to swap from Singletary to a Chiefs back if the field ends up ignoring this murky situation. If Edwards-Helaire is active and Williams is not, Jerick McKinnon stands out as the only true contrarian running back option on the slate after seeing 18 touches last week and stealing goal line work in Week 18.
With the Bills defense carrying the highest salary, the unit figures to be the least popular, making them an intriguing leverage option over the rest of the defenses on the slate.
TJ is a former full-time poker player who has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. After online poker was outlawed, TJ ended his poker career and dedicated himself to fantasy football. His background in poker statistics and analytics translates to success in both daily and season-long fantasy football.
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