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Favorites & Fades

Divisional Round

By: Mike Krueger | Ken Ilchuk | Nick Caron | HC Green
Updated: 1/22/23





- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
- Lines and totals updated Saturday/Sunday morning

Jaguars @ Chiefs - (Ilchuk)
Line: KC -9.5
Total: 52.5

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

No Brainers: RB Travis Etienne

Favorite: TE Evan Engram

Since the beginning of December, Engram has had five games with at least 5 catches, three games with double digit targets, two 100-yard games, and four games where he averaged at least 13 yards per catch. He also has four touchdowns in that seven-game stretch. He’s become a reliable target for QB Trevor Lawrence, and will have to be an early check down option against a Chiefs defense that can get after the QB (55 sacks are 2nd-most in the NFL this season). But KC is also allowing almost 11.0 fantasy points per game to TE’s over the last three weeks.

On the Fence: QB Trevor Lawrence

After throwing four INT on his first 16 attempts in the Wild Card game against the Chargers, Lawrence went 18 for 23 for 211 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. Lawrence has been a low end QB1 for most of the end of the season, and he could be a good bargain play this week. The question is which version of Lawrence shows up? He went 29/40 for 240-2-0; 4-26-0 in Jacksonville’s 27-17 loss against Kansas City back in Week 10. The Chiefs gave up the most passing TDs (33) this season.

Fade: WR Marvin Jones

Despite scoring for the first time since Week 15, Jones saw just six targets in a game where Trevor Lawrence threw the ball 47 times. He’s a last-ditch option in this offense behind Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Engram and not fantasy-relevant.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

No Brainers: QB Patrick Mahomes, RB Jerick McKinnon, TE Travis Kelce

Favorite: WR Kadarius Toney

Toney has 115 total yards on nine touches from scrimmage over the last two games, and he poses a threat in the punt return game. He doesn’t have a lot of production beyond that, but he’s explosive and seems like the type of player HC Andy Reid will look to use in a variety of ways especially with Mecole Hardman (abdomen) not expected to play. The volume isn't likely to be there for Toney so you'll be taking a chance on his efficiency.

On the Fence: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

Smith-Schuster has posted three straight games of 35 yards or less. He’s on the field for most of KC’s offensive snaps (73% in Week 18) and is the assumed WR1, though he is solidly behind TE Travis Kelce in all progressions. QB Patrick Mahomes’ ability to spread the ball to a wide variety of weapons has put a low ceiling on all of the Chiefs wideouts including Smith-Schuster.

Fade: RB Isiah Pacheco

The emergence of Jerick McKinnon has hurt Pacheco who's only seen 19 touches in his last two games combined, and the fact that Ronald Jones got a goal line call over Pacheco in the season finale doesn’t bode well. The fact is, Andy Reid is more comfortable with McKinnon in high-levarage situations, especially on third down and won't be hesitant to lean on him more if this game is close in the fourth quarter. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ankle) was back at practice this week but will not play.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Jaguars 27 ^ Top

Giants @ Eagles - (Caron)
Line: PHI -8.5
Total: 48.5

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: WR Isaiah Hodgins, QB Daniel Jones

It’s been a difficult season passing the ball for Daniel Jones, but fans of the Giants quarterback should be excited about what they saw in the wild card round against the Vikings. Minnesota’s defense is terrible, but Jones completely torched them, completing 24 passes for 301 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Interestingly, it was just Jones’ third 300-yard game of the season, but two of those performances have come over his past three starts. He’s been red hot as of late and a lot of that has come alongside a true late-season breakout from wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins. Hodgins has now scored in three straight contests and five of his past six. He’s been an unlikely fantasy star, but there’s no question that he’s the player Jones is looking for frequently in the end zone. This is a tough matchup against a very good Philadelphia defense, but if the Giants are going to get the win as underdogs again this week, they’re going to need big games out of Jones and Hodgins.

On the Fence: RB Saquon Barkley, WR Richie James

Saquon Barkley was used quite sparingly in the Giants’ victory over the Vikings, but he was still able to exceed 100 total yards and score two touchdowns on just 15 touches. We all know what Barkley is capable of and he’s going to touch the ball plenty enough to be started by most teams, but we need to admit that this is a difficult matchup against a team that has had a week off to recover. Barkley sat in the Week 18 matchup between these teams and he actually had his fewest touches of the season when they matched up back in Week 14, when he carried the ball just nine times for 28 yards, adding only two receptions in the passing game. The Giants were blown out in that game, however, so expect Barkley to be more involved in this one, even if his upside is limited much more than it normally is.

WR Richie James has quietly been quite consistent down the stretch this season. He didn’t play in the Giants/Eagles game in Week 18, but he otherwise scored double-digit fantasy points in five of his final seven games of the regular season. He did perform the worst of the Giants’ main wide receiver trio during their wild card victory over the Vikings, but James is an under-the-radar reliable option against the Eagles, whom he scored against back in Week 14.

Fade: WR Darius Slayton

The breakout from Hodgins has really helped the Giants down the stretch and the Giants’ passing game has really hit its stride at the most important part of the season, so it’s reasonable to have confidence in the other passing game options like Slayton. He’s had his moments this season and could certainly show up in this game, but it’s worth noting that Slayton had one of his worst games of the season when he was targeted just three times against the Eagles back in Week 14. He was the team’s top pass catcher a week ago so there will probably be quite a few people who look to him to repeat that performance, but he’s been the worst of the Giants’ top three receivers throughout most of the second half of the season.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

No Brainers: WR A.J. Brown

Favorite: WR DeVonta Smith

A.J. Brown has been the better player this season, but DeVonta Smith has really flown under-the-radar during his big second half of the season. He scored 13 or more fantasy points in six straight games to end the regular season and that number stretches to nine of his final 10 games. He’s really only had one truly dominant week, against Dallas in Week 16 when he scored two touchdowns, but his consistent production and high target share has been undeniably impressive. Smith has been targeted at least eight times in nine straight games, including two games against this very same New York defense that he’ll be facing again here in the Divisional Round.

On the Fence: QB Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts missed Weeks 16 and 17 before returning to secure an Eagles’ first-round bye for the playoffs in Week 18. The Eagles were able to walk away with a win against a crew of almost exclusively Giants backups, and while any game in the NFL is difficult to win, fantasy managers have to be a bit worried about what we saw from the quarterback. He threw for just 229 yards and no touchdowns with an interception, but more importantly, he was held to just 13 yards on nine carries—his second-lowest rushing performance of the season. We should have a bit more confidence about Hurts’ health now that he’s had an extra week to recover, but we can’t be completely confident that he’s fully healthy heading into this game. He struggled against the second and third-string units for the Giants, so a matchup against the starters could be troublesome. Still, Hurts’ upside is undeniable as he’s one of the few true difference-making quarterbacks in fantasy and he did torch the Giants’ starting defense when he was healthy and they played back in Week 14.

Fade: RB Miles Sanders

Running back Miles Sanders has had a rollercoaster season, but his end to the regular season was about as bad as it can possibly get. Following three straight impressive performances from Weeks 12 to 14, Sanders finished the year on a four-game streak where he finished with fewer than seven fantasy points in every contest. Some of this was to be expected as the Eagles were playing without Jalen Hurts, or with a hampered Hurts, for three of their final four games, but even still, his performances have to be concerning for fantasy managers. It might be tempting to roll with Sanders as he had one of his best fantasy performances of the season against the Giants win Week 14, but there’s a real chance that he’s held to another dismal fantasy game this week, particularly if Hurts is still hampered by injury.

Prediction: Eagles 27, Giants 20 ^ Top

Bengals @ Bills - (Green)
Line: BUF -5.5
Total: 48.5

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

No Brainers: QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, WR Ja’Marr Chase, WR Tee Higgins

Favorite: WR Tyler Boyd

While the stats were wiped from the much-anticipated Monday Night showdown between these two clubs following the Damar Hamlin incident, the one TD that had taken place was a pass from Burrow to Boyd. The veteran was quiet in last week’s Wild Card win over Baltimore, catching three passes for 26 yards, but if a team starting a third-string rookie throws 45 times against the Bills you can bet that Cincinnati will look to target Buffalo’s pass defense as well. While it’s a toss-up as to who will get more chances this Sunday between Boyd and Hayden Hurst as the No. 3 target, Boyd feels like the better option of the two.

On the Fence: TE Hayden Hurst

Hurst almost had a strong playoff debut for the Bengals. Almost. Instead, he came up inches short of a receiving touchdown -- it was initially ruled a score but ultimately was reversed upon review -- and lost a fumble while fighting for extra yardage while being well short of the sticks. He did finish second in receptions (4) and yards (45), however, and fellow TE Mike Gesicki accounted for Miami’s only passing touchdown against the Bills, which gives the former first-round pick a risk/reward vibe here.

Fade: N/A

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

No Brainers: QB Josh Allen, WR Stefon Diggs

Favorite: WR Gabriel Davis

In his last three postseason games, Davis has accumulated 16 receptions, 355 yards, and a half-dozen touchdowns. Such high-level production led Tony Romo to gleefully dub him “Big Game Gabe” (and then repeat it every time he caught a pass). We’ll see if it continues to hold true in the Divisional Round. Recent history suggests otherwise with Davis’ 113 yards last Saturday representing his first 100-plus-yard effort since Oct. 9, when he logged 171 yards and two TDs. Still, his usage has ticked up with 19 targets in his past two games, and he figures to see plenty of work with Diggs commanding double teams from Cincinnati’s secondary. Davis is a high-upside play.

On the Fence: RB Devin Singletary

There are two factors that will determine whether Singletary delivers fantasy value this Sunday: 1) how much will Buffalo want to run the ball after seeing Allen deal with some concerning turnover issues against Miami?, and 2) how will the Bills divvy up the work between Singletary and James Cook, who has five more touches (23-18) over the past two games. If we see a healthy dose of the run, and the team decides it wants to lean on the more experienced hand, Singletary could deliver decent value. If it’s the Josh Allen Show and/or the more powerful Cook gets the yeoman’s share of the work, then there may be little left for Singletary.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Bengals 24, Bills 20 ^ Top

Cowboys @ 49ers - (Krueger)
Line: SF -3.5
Total: 46.5

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: WR CeeDee Lamb

You can make a good case that Lamb is a “No-Brainer” this week given wide receiver is really the only weak spot of the 49ers defense. The Cowboys are likely to struggle running the ball against San Francisco’s top-ranked run defense, especially if they’re intent on given the ball to Zeke 15 times. It might make coaching sense to come out with a pass-heavy gameplan, featuring Dak Lamb, Gallup, Schultz and company but I doubt Mike McCarthy sees it the same way. Still, Lamb is a good bet for 100 yards in this game as one way or another, the Cowboys are going to be forced into throwing the ball.

On the Fence: RB Tony Pollard

Pollard may not get many opportunities in this game if Dallas falls behind early and the running game sputters, which is very likely against this tough San Francisco run defense. Pollard (58%) did see a bigger snap share than Elliott (48%) last week, which is encouraging and he is likely to be more involved in the passing game should Dallas opt to throw the ball more than usual. Pollard has the talent to break big plays which keeps him in consideration this week but there are enough ceiling-restrictive aspects to this game that keeps Dallas’ best RB in the RB2 conversation instead of the RB1.

Fade: RB Ezekiel Elliott

If you’ve watched the Cowboys this season, it’s clear who the better running back is and it isn’t Zeke. He’s looked explosive at times but those times have been few and far between. His 3.8 yards per carry this season is the worst of his career and he’s been a non-factor in the passing game with just 17 receptions and 92 receiving yards. Now facing a defense that’s given up the fewest amount of fantasy points to the position, and it’s easy to see why Zeke should not be in your lineup.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

No Brainers: RB Christian McCaffrey, TE George Kittle

Favorite: WR Deebo Samuel

The 49ers came out of the gate last week with a little change-up, splitting McCaffrey out wide and using Deebo more in the running back role. Once the second quarter hit, they settled in to more of their traditional offense and by the end of game, Samuel had 9 touches for 165 yards and 1 TD. He was in on 77% of the offensive snaps, making it safe to say there are no restrictions after returning from his knee/ankle injuries. The Cowboys have solid against fantasy running backs this season (only 6 TDs allowed) so it would make sense for Kyle Shanahan to scheme up plays for Deebo in both the pass and run game. I’d favor him over Aiyuk this week.

On the Fence: QB Brock Purdy, WR Brandon Aiyuk

It’s quite remarkable what Kyle Shanahan has done for Purdy, who despite some glowing press, is still making some understandable, yet questionable decisions when throwing the ball. He got away with two terrible throws behind receivers that could easily have been picked off last week against Seattle. That being said, there’s no doubt he’s performed well in this scheme and continues to throw multiple TDs in every game he starts… seven games in a row now. I’m concerned the Cowboys pressure may put an end to that streak which would certainly impact Aiyuk who now has a healthy Deebo back in the mix. Aiyuk has seen just five targets in each of his last two games and with McCaffrey, Kittle and Deebo all viable in the passing game, somebody’s going to be left out.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: 49ers 26, Cowboys 23 ^ Top