- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
Vikings at 49ers
- (Swanson) Line: SF -7.0 Total: 44.5
Game Thoughts: The Vikings shocked the world with an
improbable 26-20 win over the Saints last week in the Super Dome
to earn a trip to take on the No.1 seed San Francisco 49ers on
Saturday in the divisional round.
The No.6 seed Vikings beat the Saints by playing solid defense
and limiting mistakes on offense while leaning on their ground
game and running back Dalvin Cook.
Kirk Cousins played well in the victory, with 242 passing yards
and a touchdown, including a 43-yard bomb in overtime to Adam
Thielen that set up the game-winning touchdown pass by Cousins
to tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Although Cousins managed just one passing touchdown on the day,
in the final play of the game, he made critical throws when needed
and didn’t put the Vikings in bad situations by forcing
throws that were not there. He will need to do the same this week
against a 49ers defense that gave up the ninth-fewest points to
The 49ers enter the game fresh off a bye week that allowed injured
players like Kwon Alexander and Jaquiski Tartt to get back on
the practice field. Tartt missed multiple games with a rib injury
and should be able to return to his starting role as the strong
safety opposite of free safety Jimmie Ward.
Alexander is back on the practice field after missing significant
time with a pectoral injury. He has been cleared to return to
the field by the medical staff, but the final decision on his
availability on Saturday will come down to head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Outside linebacker Dee Ford is still limited with a hamstring
injury and looks to be a long shot to play against Minnesota.
His return would have given the team a much-need pass rusher on
the opposite side of rookie Nick Bosa.
Two matchups to watch in this game will be the Vikings offensive
line’s ability to protect Cousins. Minnesota tied with Baltimore
for giving up the fifth-fewest sacks in the regular season, while
the 49ers tied with Buffalo with the 5th-most sacks on the season
per game. If Cousins is able to have time to find open wide receivers,
he could take advantage of the 49ers in the slot with Adam Thielen.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs returned to practice Thursday after
missing Wednesday an illness. He will likely play, but he could
be at less than 100%, and his absence would be a hit to Cousins
and the passing offense. Adam Thielen was added to the report
with a cut on his ankle. Thielen missed Thursday but both players
are likely going to play.
SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28
Running Game Thoughts: In a classic battle of our best against
your best, the battle in the trenches and the ground game of the
Vikings going against the No.3 ranked 49ers rush defense is going
to be a critical matchup in this game.
The Vikings managed to rush for 136 yards on 40 attempts against
the Saints last week, a team that also ranks in the top-5 in fewest
yards allowed on the ground. Dalvin Cook carried the ball 28 times
for 94 yards, including a 22-yard scamper. Cook scored both of
the Vikings rushing touchdowns, and will once again be active
in this Week’s game against San Fransisco.
The return of strong safety Tartt going against Cook in the run
game will be something to watch. Tartt is a skilled run defending
safety who plays like an extra linebacker. The 49ers will play
a ton of single-high safety with Tartt up in the box to play the
run and guard Kyle Rudolph in the passing game.
Game Thoughts: Jimmy Garoppolo averaged just under 20
fantasy points per game in his first full season with the 49ers,
leading San Francisco to a 13-3 record and a first-round bye as
the No.1 seed in the NFC.
His 19.9 points per game placed him 21st overall at the position
for quarterbacks with at least ten starts. Although the 49ers
are a run-heavy team, Jimmy G threw more touchdown passes than
Aaron Rodgers, and the former New England Patriot threw for more
yards this season than Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield.
For fantasy purposes, Jimmy G was serviceable at times, but he
proved to be more of a solid real-life quarterback than one for
The 2019 Vikings are a far cry of the stout defense that the
league has grown accustomed to under Mike Zimmer. Although Minnesota
gave up the 10th-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks, that
same unit gave up the eight-most to opposing wide receivers. The
aging secondary, led by Xavier Rhodes, can be beaten, especially
on play-action with safety Harrison Smith playing near the line
of scrimmage for run support.
The tight end position is huge in Kyle Shanahan’s offense,
and George Kittle is arguably the most well rounded and talented
tight end in the league. Only Baltimore gave up fewer points to
opposing tight ends than Minnesota this season, making the matchup
of Kittle against the linebackers of the Vikings a matchup to
On the injury front, the Vikings enter this week’s game
against the 49ers a beaten-down bunch after their win over the
Saints. Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen and defensive end Ifeadi
Odenigbo are were limited with knee and hamstring injuries this
week but are expected to play, along with defensive tackle Linval
Joseph and cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31
Running Game Thoughts: No other team in the National Football
league scored more fantasy points or rushed for more yards at
the running back position that the San Francisco 49ers. Running
the ball, and running the ball well, is a staple of Shanahan’s
offense, and the Niners will look to get all three of their running
backs going on Saturday.
With the number of talented defensive linemen and linebackers,
the Vikings have what you would think they are one of the best
run-stopping teams in the NFL. That has not been the case this
season, as Minnesota ranks 19th in fantasy points allowed to running
backs while giving up a total of 12 rushing and receiving touchdowns.
The 49ers have a healthy George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk to help
seal blocks and create misdirection runs for Tevin Coleman, Raheem
Mostert, and Matt Breida.
Look for the Niners to use more screen passes than normal in
this game against an aggressive Vikings defensive front.
Another matchup to watch will be the interior line play of Danielle
Hunter, Shamar Stephen, and Linval Joseph against center Ben Garland
has played well this season in relief of starter Weston Richburg,
but he will have his hands full with the Vikings upfront.
Titans @ Ravens
- (Green) Line: BAL -9.5 Total: 47.0
Game Thoughts: There wasn't a lot of variety in Tennessee's
offensive game plan last Saturday night when Ryan Tannehill went
8-for-15 with 72 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the
upset win over the Patriots. Clearly the team felt that they could
win by running the ball down New England's throat, and they were
right. It's safe to assume the Titans will need more from Tannehill
in the divisional round. How well he'll hold up against a hard-charging
defense remains to be seen.
With Tannehill reduced to mostly turning around and handing the
ball off, the likes of A.J. Brown (one catch, four yards) and
Corey Davis (zero receptions) hardly saw action. That's the reason
I've been hesitant to endorse Brown as an every-week play since
the downside is more significant on a week-to-week basis; though
even I was shocked at how little was asked of the Titans' passing
game. I still believe Brown is the only playable option in this
group. After that you're just hoping someone like Anthony Firkser
or Jonnu Smith gets lose for a touchdown.
Baltimore brings one of the NFL's top defenses into the matchup.
That includes a sixth-place finish against the pass (207.2 yards
per game), which is doubly impressive when you consider how many
one-sided games they played where opponents had to try to pass
to catch up. The pass rush isn't great (37 sacks), but they have
difference makers along the back end, including Earl Thomas and
Marcus Peters. This figures to be a tough matchup for the Titans.
BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32
Running Game Thoughts: With 34 carries, 182 yards and a touchdown,
Derrick Henry was the Titans' offense on Wild Card weekend. He
even added a 22-yard reception for good measure, leaving him just
a yard shy of Firkser for team-high honors. The Ravens finished
fifth in the NFL in run D, allowing 93.4 yards per game, but ball
control and limiting Baltimore's possessions have to be high on
Tennessee's priority list, so I don't expect them to go away from
Henry unless they have no other choice.
Game Thoughts: When the teams kick off on Saturday, 20
days will have passed since Lamar Jackson took the field after
sitting out Week 17 and getting last week's bye to rest up. Rust
could be a factor, particularly with accuracy, but it's hard to
find fault in the presumptive MVP. Jackson threw 24 touchdown
passes against just one interception over his final seven games
while running for 569 yards during that span. He couldn't be more
opposite of the largely immobile Tom Brady, who the Titans held
down last week.
Despite Jackson's prolific touchdown numbers, he only averaged
208.5 passing yards per game and never topped 300 in a game after
Week 1. As such, it's no surprise that the Ravens didn't have
a 1,000-yard receiver with Mark Andrews (64-852-10) comfortably
leading the club in receptions, yards and TDs. Rookie Marquise
Brown (46-584-7) is the top option on the outside, making that
tandem the main fantasy options. Players like Hayden Hurst (30-349-2)
and Willie Snead (31-339-5) are desperation plays.
Tennessee finished the year 24th in pass defense at 255 yards
per game, but they did a nice job last week of shutting down Brady,
who should've had a pair of pick-sixes. This isn't a top-tier
defense, though, and I'm skeptical they can hold up against what
was the NFL's most dynamic offense in 2019 at 33.2 points per
TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4
Running Game Thoughts: Probably the most interesting subplot
is the status of Mark Ingram (calf), who is questionable with
a calf injury suffered back in Week 16. Reports are that Ingram
was at full speed in practice last week before running into a
setback of some variety. Word is he's likely to suit up, though
he might cede more carries than usual to Gus Edwards (133-711-2
Of course, the running game flows from the ability of Jackson,
who set a QB record with 1,206 yards on the ground this season.
While the Titans finished a respectable 12th against the run (104.5
yards per game), I don't see them as the kind of team that is
capable of shutting down Baltimore's ground attack.
Game Thoughts: The Texans narrowly escaped their Wild
Card Round home playoff game against the Bills and now they head
to Kansas City to face a well-rested, highly-talented Chiefs team.
This will be a rematch of the Week 6 shootout which saw the Texans
go into Arrowhead and defeat the Chiefs by a final score of 31-24.
That type of score typically indicates a big game from Deshaun
Watson and that’s exactly what we saw as Watson threw for
280 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted twice, but his fantasy
value really came with his legs as he rushed for an additional
42 yards and two scores. We’ve certainly seen the Chiefs
defense play better down the stretch but there is certainly reason
to believe that Watson will be in for another nice fantasy day
here in the Divisional playoff round, especially if the Chiefs
offense is clicking which would likely force the Texans to lean
more heavily on their passing game. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar
Jackson will likely be the top two most heavily-owned passers
this weekend both in DFS as well as playoff fantasy leagues, but
Watson offers similar upside at likely lower ownership and a lower
price tag for DFS.
Will Fuller and Kenny Stills have both been limited in practice
throughout the week. Fuller hasn’t played since Week 16
due to a groin injury, including missing this past week’s
playoff game so it seems less likely that he’ll be ready
to go this weekend. Stills, on the other hand, did play against
the Bills and he caught four of the five targets that came his
way for 46 yards. The Bills defense is very good, however, so
don’t be surprised if Stills is able to improve on those
numbers against a less impressive Chiefs defense, especially if
Fuller remains out.
DeAndre Hopkins remains the main pass catching weapon for the
Texans and his six receptions for 90 yards in a game where he
was primarily lined up against Tre'Davious White has to give us
confidence that he’ll be ready to produce top-end WR numbers
once again this week.
Tight end Darren Fells is also in an interesting spot. He actually
led the team with 69 receiving yards on six receptions against
the Chiefs when these teams played earlier this season and he
could be in line for a high target share particularly if Fuller
and/or Stills are out. There are a ton of great tight ends on
the board this weekend but if you’re looking for a cheap
option to pivot to, you could do worse than Fells.
KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11
Running Game Thoughts: One of the biggest takeaways from the Chiefs
and Texans earlier matchup has to be that veteran Carlos Hyde
dominated the game as he was given a whopping 26 carries which
he converted into 116 rushing yards and a touchdown. He wasn’t
too involved in the passing game, but that type of workload is
extremely impressive and something we need to make sure to give
a second look to. While most would expect that a veteran’s
workload would reduce down the stretch, Hyde has actually been
able to buck that trend and he’s continuing to see heavy
usage. He’s now seen at least 17 touches in three of his
past four games. Meanwhile, fellow backfield member Duke Johnson
hasn’t even reached 10 touches in a game since all the way
back in Week 13.
The Chiefs defense was poor against the run when you consider
the entirety of the season, but it is worth noting that they were
much better down the stretch against opposing backs. That’s
not to say that we should be entirely fading Hyde, but it’s
probably safe to assume that he won’t approach the 27 total
touches that he saw back in Week 6.
Game Thoughts: The Chiefs did lose to the Texans back
in Week 6, but it’s hard to blame Patrick Mahomes for that
one as the 2018 MVP threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns with
only one interception. “QB wins” guys will harp on
the Chiefs falling short, but us fantasy owners should only care
about one thing - fantasy points - and that’s exactly what
Mahomes has proven he can deliver throughout his career, including
against the Texans. There’s little reason to be worried
about this matchup as the Texans have one of the league’s
worst pass defenses, so feel free to deploy Mahomes as either
the No. 1 or No. 2 overall player on the board this weekend.
With Mahomes locked and loaded for another big game, it only makes
sense that Tyreek Hill would be ranked as one of the top wide
receivers this week as well. Hill smacked the Texans for two touchdowns
on five receptions for 80 yards back in Week 6 and the team just
doesn’t look like it’ll have an answer for his skill
set this week.
Tight end Travis Kelce’s four receptions for 58 yards against
the Texans back in Week 6 would normally be considered a pretty
strong game for a tight end but it was actually one of his worst
performances of 2019. While he was essentially held in check,
don’t be too concerned. The Texans were not particularly
good against tight ends throughout the season as they ranked in
the top 10 in points given up to the position, so it was probably
more of an aberration than a trend that they were able to contain
Kelce. He should be one of the top two tight ends here in the
Other Kansas City pass catchers simply have not been producing
with any sort of consistency that fantasy owners should be taking
notice of them. There has been some hype surrounding Sammy Watkins
throughout the week from some analysts, but don’t fall for
that trap. Fool me once, Sammy, shame on me. Fool me 63 times,
shame on me...
HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9
Running Game Thoughts: The Kansas City running game has mostly
been a completely unpredictable pile of junk throughout the season
but it appears that the team is finally committing to giving consistent
touches to Damien Williams. He’s touched the ball at least
14 times in four of his past five games, including an important
Week 17 victory over the Chargers which helped lock up a first
round playoff bye for the team where he touched the ball 16 times
for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, veteran LeSean McCoy has been held to an average of
just over eight touches per game over his past five contests and
he hasn’t exceeded 12 touches in any of them. McCoy could
still sneak into the end zone but his yards per attempt have taken
a nosedive down the stretch this season so it’d be pretty
surprising if he suddenly blew up with a huge yardage day.
Williams is the player we can have excitement about and there’s
a real potential for him to be a major fantasy factor in this
game. There are some great fantasy backs on the board this week,
but Williams should be the top of the RB2 backs and he has legitimate
top overall RB upside.
Seahawks at Packers
- (Katz) Line: GB -4.0 Total: 46.5
Game Thoughts: Playing Russell Wilson this week is placing
a bet on the Packers’ offense. Wilson is a volatile fantasy
quarterback because he plays for a coach that has no interest
in throwing the ball. Despite being the clear runner up to obvious
MVP Lamar Jackson, Wilson averaged just 32.25 pass attempts per
game. From Weeks 10-16, Wilson averaged 14.7 FPts/G, good for
overall QB25 numbers. Wilson hasn’t rushed for a touchdown
since Week 6 and attempted just 30 passes while throwing one touchdown
in the Seahawks’ win over the Eagles.
His second half swoon has taken Tyler Lockett down with him.
Lockett’s 62 receiving yards last week was actually his
second highest total since Week 9. The Packers allowed 14.8 and
10.6 fantasy points per game to opposing WR1s and WR2s respectively
this season. Since Week 10, DK Metcalf has averaged more than
a full point per game more than Lockett and was the lone bright
spot in last week’s game. It’s not unreasonable to
consider Metcalf as a better fantasy option than Lockett. Jacob
Hollister has been an afterthought in the offense for weeks, but
the Packers did give up 10.4 FPts/G to tight ends this season.
Given the abundance of tight end options on other teams, it’s
hard to imagine any reason to start Hollister.
GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13
Running Game Thoughts: With Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and
C.J. Prosise all hurt, Travis Homer and Marshawn Lynch form an
undesirable running back committee. It is unfathomable that Lynch
is still an NFL running back. Lynch and Homer combined to rush
for 19 yards on 17 carries last week. The only hope with Lynch
is that he is still a massive human and can fall into the end
zone from the goal line. Homer is allegedly the preferred option
in the passing game, but Lynch out-targeted Homer 3-1 against
the Eagles. The matchup does not matter – you are staying
far, far away from Seahawks’ running backs.
Game Thoughts: Perhaps the most overrated quarterback
when it comes to fantasy is Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers finished as
the overall QB15 this season. If you remove his career worst completion
percentage in 2015, Rodgers’ completion percentage has steadily
declined every year since 2011. This year’s 62% is better
than only the aforementioned 2015 season. In Rodgers’ defense,
he lost Davante Adams for a handful of games and beyond Adams,
the Packers have an undesirable group of pass catchers. Allen
Lazard is vastly superior to every non-Adams pass catcher, but
that’s a very low bar – Lazard is a fine WR3 or WR4,
but he’s the WR2 on Green Bay. With that being said, the
Seahawks were very generous to wide receivers this season, especially
WR2s. In fact, only the Ravens, Panthers, Bucs, and Redskins allowed
more fantasy points per game to opposing WR2s than the 13.3 allowed
by the Seahawks. I do not think Lazard is going to capitalize
on this, but it is worth noting if you are looking for a deep
contrarian play. As for Adams, he’s all systems go.
SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3
Running Game Thoughts: Aaron Jones dealt with inconsistent usage
all season, but when he was on the field, he produced. I would
expect Matt LaFleur to keep Jones on the field as much as possible
in a playoff game. The Seahawks struggled mightily against RB1s
this season, allowing 20.1 fantasy points per game. Jones has
also displayed a knack for scoring touchdowns. Regression is coming
next season, but there’s no need to fade Jones now. The
Packers are home favorites and like to give Jones the ball at
the goal line. With Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook on the road
in bad matchups, Jones has a real shot at being this week’s
top scoring running back against a banged up Seahawks’ defense.
Jamaal Williams’ return is slightly concerning, but Jones
has succeeded in spite of Williams’ excess usage.