After a fairly boring wild card weekend in which all four home teams
won going away, the matchups in the divisional will hopefully provide
more drama and intrigue.
Will Big Ben break his trend of poor performances on the road
give the Steelers a date in the AFC conference game with the Patriots
(yes, I am giving Brock Osweiler and the Texans zero chance to
beat Brady and the Pats), or will Andy Reid continue his post-bye
week magic and shut down Big Ben at Arrowhead?
Can Russell Wilson lead an underdog Seahawks team to victory
against a revamped Falcons defense, or will Matt Ryan turn around
his 1-4 career playoff record and give Atlanta their first playoff
win since 2012?
Of all the narratives that will be talked about this on talk
radio and pregame shows, the inexperience and youth of the Cowboys
vs. the veteran Packers is the one that is most interesting to
How will rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott handle the
pressure and spotlight of playing in the NFL playoffs for the
first time? Will Dak continue to play well beyond his years, or
will the stress of sending the Cowboys to their first NFC Championship
game since 1996 be too much for the first-year quarterback?
For DFS purposes, my plan of attack is to target veteran players
who have playoff experience and attractive matchups like Patriots,
Packers, Falcons and Seahawks. It wouldn’t surprise me to
see Dak and Zeke put up numbers against the Pack, but I’d
rather let other DFS owners target the young players while I stick
Here are a few players that I will be targeting on my DraftKings
tickets this week.
Tom Brady has thrown 13 touchdowns in his
last five playoff contests, averaging 306 yards per game.
H2H/Cash - Tom Brady vs. Houston ($7,600 on
With three touchdown passes in three of his last four games,
including a near-flawless 25/35 for 276 yards and three touchdowns
to close out the regular season against Miami, Tom Brady and the
New England passing attack entered the playoffs churning like
a well-oiled machine.
Although the Houston defense ranks second in the league against
the pass and no quarterback has thrown for more than two touchdowns
since Week 12, none of those quarterbacks are named Tom Brady
and none of those games took place in Foxboro.
The New England defense is going to have little difficulty shutting
down Osweiler like they did in the 27-0 Week 3 shellacking, giving
Brady numerous short fields to play with and a positive game script.
My only reservation is that the Patriot D/ST scores a defensive
touchdown and/or LeGarrette Blount scores multiple rushing touchdowns.
Otherwise, Tom Brady is a lock for 275 yards and three touchdowns,
with the upside of a possible monster game at home.
Wilson posted one of his worst games of the season in Seattle’s
Week 6 loss at home against Atlanta, as the Falcons limited the
diminutive signal-caller to zero touchdown passes in the game.
It was the start of a three-game stretch where Wilson failed
to log a touchdown pass, primarily due to the fact that he was
dealing with knee and ankle injuries that limited his mobility.
Those ailments have since healed and Wilson ended the season on
a high note with eight touchdown passes and one interception in
his final three games of regulation.
I like Wilson as a GPP play because he presents a high upside
play at a relatively low cost compared to Rodgers and Brady, and
the Falcons proved Week 6 that they can move the ball against
the once vaunted Seattle defense.
Other option to consider - Alex
Smith vs. Pittsburgh
I wrote about how my curiosity on how well the Cowboys rookies
will handle the pressure of their first playoff game will make
me a bit hesitant on starting Dak Prescott and members of the
Cowboy passing game.
That same concern does not apply to Zeke simply because I think
he will be a volume monster in this game, which is exactly what
cash game owners are looking for in their running backs.
Aaron Rodgers is white hot right now, and the best way for the
Cowboys to limit Rodgers is to keep him off the field by running
Zeke and the ground game over and over again.
The former first-round pick from Ohio state has not reached more
than 30 carries in a game since Week 3 against the Bears when
he rushed for 140 yards on 30 touches. Look for similar numbers
this week as the Cowboys look to control time of possession.
Why on Earth would someone want to start Freeman against Seattle,
a team limited him to his worst performance of the season with
only 40 yards on 12 carries and no touchdowns?
The answer is simple. Freeman has been a beast at home this season,
scoring 11 of his 13 touchdowns. Whether it is scheme or playing
in the comforts of home at the Georgia Dome, Freeman has been
the main scoring back for the Falcons at home while Tevin Coleman
has done most of his damage on the road (six of eight TD’s
Not surprisingly, Seattle is a much better defense at home than
one the road, giving up nearly five points more per game away
from CenturyLink Field. It should also be noted that the Seahawks
have struggled against good offenses without injured safety Earl
Thomas, with Arizona and Green Bay scoring 34 and 38 points respectively.
Miller has been a model of consistency over his past three games
with a touchdown in all three contests. Unfortunately, he has
been constantly mediocre when it comes to his per carry average
(sub three in two of the three games).
The Patriots have not a single running back to rush for more
than 100 yards per season, partly because the defense plays well
against the run and partly because the New England offense has
been so good that opposing running backs have been taken out of
the game because of negative game scripts.
I anticipate that will be the case once again, with Miller receiving
between 10 and 20 carries without scoring a touchdown.
Jordy Nelson has been ruled out of the game with fractured ribs
sustained in Green Bay’s Wild Card weekend win over the Giants.
In Nelson’s absence, Aaron Rodgers leaned heavily on Adams and
Randall Cobb, with the former catching eight of 12 targets for
125 yards and a score.
I expect similar target volume for Adams against the Cowboys,
as Rodgers will look to exploit a defense that ranked 21st in
the regular season in points allowed to opposing wide receivers.
Last year Adams struggled when Nelson went down and did not embrace
the number one wide receiver role. With a healthy Randall Cobb
and Jared Cook to help take some of that pressure off, Adams seems
to be more confident in the lead job.
Other option to consider - Dez
Bryant vs. Green Bay
In last week’s preview, I wrote about the volume increase Richardson
received once Tyler Lockett went out for the season with a leg
injury. Instead of listening to my own advice, I went with Richardson’
teammate Jermaine Kearse and was the beneficiary of a whopping
two catches for 14 yards while Richardson scored a touchdown.
I won’t make that same mistake twice. Richardson has clearly
carved out a role for himself in the Seattle offense and his circus
catches are becoming a weekly occurrence. I like his chances of
converting between five and eight targets into 75 yards and a
score this week - a perfect option for GPP players.
This one might be a bit of a stretch when you consider the fact
that Julio caught nine balls for 139 yards and a score against
Seattle Week 6. But when you look closer at that game, his score
came on a busted coverage play between Richard Sherman and a safety,
which is something that does not happen regularly.
With how well Jones and Ryan burned the defense when they played
in Seattle, I would imagine defensive coordinator Kris Richard
will work on a scheme to limit Jones in the rematch.
I could be wrong on this one and Jones may blow up, but I feel
like he is the riskiest of the expensive skill position players
this week and I will likely avoid him on my tickets.
The last time I recommended Kelce he burned me with one catch
for eight yards and no touchdowns, leaving myself and many other
DFS owners out to dry.
In a week where top tight end options are hard to find based
on the fact that the Steelers, Cowboys, and Packers do run much
of their offense through the tight end position, pickings are
a tad bit slim for owners looking for a high floor play.
Pittsburgh finished the season as the 11th-worst team against
tight ends, highlighted back-to-back double-digit games for Dennis
Pitta and Gary Barnidge. You can score against Pittsburgh with
tight ends, especial those that are big and fast like Kelce.
Cook is my breakout player of the week in the divisional round,
as the injury to Jordy Nelson and Dallas’ struggles at stopping
the tight end (Cowboys allowed the most yards and fourth-most
touchdowns to tight ends this season).
In terms of targets trends, you cannot go wrong with Cook, with
the veteran tight end garnering eight targets in three of his
last four games.
Witten’s production has been nearly impossible to predict
this season, leaving fantasy owners guessing when and where the
future hall of famer will be utilized in the Dallas offense. After
catching all ten targets against Tampa Bay Week 15, Witten was
a complete afterthought in the team’s blowout win over Detroit
the following week.
He could be due for a big game after not being utilized the last
two weeks, but who really knows, and the Packers have not allowed
a receiving touchdown to a tight end since Ryan Griffin in Week
Defensive Play of the Week
New England vs. Houston ($4,000 on DraftKings)
The only team with a clear advantageous matchup against a turnover
prone team, the Patriots will likely receive a sizable ownership
share in all formats this week. Don’t be scared off by that
fact. Spend the $4,000 needed to secure the team with the highest
floor and a decent shot at a defensive touchdown.
If you are in need to a home run option and a team that could
score a special teams touchdown, Tyreek the freak and the Chiefs
are a decent choice as well.