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NFL DFS Strategy: Sunday Divisional Round Tournament Breakdown

Kyle Dvorchak



NFL DFS Picks for Yahoo Cheat Sheet daily fantasy lineups AFC NFC Conference Championship Games featuring Travis Kelce

DraftKings and FanDuel both joined the Saturday and Sunday slates into one NFL DFS main slate, but they still have action on both individual days as well. We’ll be looking at the tournament strategy for both slates, closing with NFL DFS Picks for daily fantasy football lineups for DraftKings NFL and FanDuel NFL contests on Sunday. Let’s get to it.

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Daily Fantasy Football Picks: Sunday Tournament Strategy

NFL DFS Picks: Quarterback

Quarterback is a really interesting position on both the full-weekend slate and the Sunday slate because Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have a 33.75-point implied team total. That is higher than every other team by at least 6 points. Our NFL Top Stacks tool has Mahomes as popular but not popular enough on the full-weekend slate, and the same likely holds for Sunday. With nearly a touchdown advantage or more over every team on the slate, Mahomes is projected to run laps around the other quarterbacks.

If not going for the chalk, Drew Brees is an appealing option. The Saints are second on the weekend in implied team total at 27.25 whole the Bucs and Browns are at least three points behind them. Brees’ scoring potential has also been far greater with Michael Thomas on the field. Over the past two years, he has averaged 0.5 more touchdowns with Thomas active than when Thomas is hurt (or suspended by his own team).

Baker Mayfield and Tom Brady both get the fantasy luxury of playing from behind, but the process of getting behind doesn’t involve their teams scoring a ton of points. Brady has topped 340 yards passing eight times this year and all of those games featured a final total of at least 54 points. His game versus the Saints has a 52-point total.

Daily Fantasy Football Picks: Running Back

Running back is going to revolve around the health of two players: Ronald Jones and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Jones is dealing with a quad contusion, and Bruce Arians already announced Leonard Fournette as the starter even if Jones is healthy. With Jones active, Fournette would be a speculative but viable play at $4,900 in DraftKings NFL contests (whose prices I’ll be referencing throughout this article). If he is out, Fournette likely will be far less owned than his volume from the Wild Card Round would suggest. He saw 19 carries and four targets, while Ke’Shawn Vaughn contributed just five carries and a lone target.

Edwards-Helaire did not practice on Friday, but that could have been nothing more than a rest day for a player coming off a multi-week hip injury. In his previous three games, Edwards-Helaire out-carried Le’Veon Bell 41-to-10 and out-targeted Bell 9-to-5. Bell even saw fewer carries and targets than Darrel Williams in the Chiefs’ final regular season game of significance.

Alvin Kamara looks to be something close to a lock with the potential value at running back and receiver. In his first playoff game of the year, Kamara rushed 23 times and fell one yard short of the 100-yard bonus. Latavius Murray logged just four carries. Both Murray and Taysom Hill are also banged up heading into Sunday. If either can’t go, Kamara’s value will only climb further.

The Browns backfield could end up being a trap. Chubb’s splits in wins versus losses are concerning:

  • Wins – 18.2 carries for 103.3 yards
  • Losses – 12.7 carries for 56.7 yards

For $1,700 less on DraftKings, Kareem Hunt looks like a better tournament play.

NFL DFS Picks: Wide Receiver

The expensive wide receivers look like an easy place to rely on correlation instead of our own “football knowledge.” Tyreek Hill (or Travis Kelce, who scores like and costs as much as a wide receiver) and Thomas can be played without their quarterback but playing their quarterback without them looks to be less than optimal. Because Thomas is only $6,700, Hill is $7,900, and Kelce exists, Hill could be supreme leverage over both of them. Fitting in one of Kamara or Thomas and one of Kelce or Hill seems like a more than reasonable rule to set for building lineups.

Sammy Watkins is out for this game and he missed a few games earlier in the year. In those games, Demarcus Robinson was the clear backup to target:

Name Route Rate Air Yards Share Target Share
Byron Pringle 49.3% 7.2% 5.3%
Demarcus Robinson 80.0% 16.9% 13.8%
Mecole Hardman”}”>Mecole Hardman 48.8% 10.2% 9.0%

Even Byron Pringle has some value as a pivot in large field DraftKings and FanDuel NFL tournaments. The Browns have two prominent receivers to target as runbacks in a Chiefs stack. Rashard Higgins leads Cleveland in air yards share since Odell Beckham went down. His 30.9% target share gives him an incredible ceiling. Jarvis Landry leads the team with a 27.1% target share in that span but is also going to be more popular at $1,200 more.

The Bucs are mostly an enigma at receiver but Mike Evans does look like the top option. Before getting injured in Week 17, Evans led the team with a 22% target share and a 28.9% target share since Antonio Brown joined the team. Godwin’s target share of 19.9% was three points higher than Browns’ but the latter’s air yard share was actually higher. Godwin’s projection is higher, but Brown sees enough volume to out-score him on any single week.

Daily Fantasy Football Picks: Tight End

Kelce is the obvious play at tight end, and it’s difficult to argue with his incredibly high ownership. He set the record for yards receiving by a tight end in a season and also finished top-five in receptions. Instead of trying to get crazy by fading Kelce, using two tight ends may be a similarly unique approach with better odds of hitting a tournament winning score in DraftKings and FanDuel NFL contests.

Austin Hooper is averaging 10.3 targets per game in his past three contests and his team is an underdog of over ten points. Using him as the runback in a Mahomes stack is a great way to parlay an early Chiefs leads on the back of Kelce.

Rob Gronkowski scored all of zero points last week but was heavily involved in the offense with Brown in the fold. From Week 9 to Week 16, Gronkowski saw a 16.3% air yards share and a 12% target share. His dud last week should keep his ownership extremely low relative to his upside.

No one outside of Kamara and Thomas can be trusted on the Saints but it’s likely that at least one of them returns value if Brees hits. Jared Cook and Emmanuel Sanders were second and third on the Saints in routes run last week. Neither will be particularly popular so using them in Brees stacks will be massively contrarian.

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If you like fantasy football and care about data, there's a 50/50 chance I've written for your favorite site. In a few short years I've covered, season-long, dynasty, best ball, and DFS for football. I used to be watching games and pretend to know what I was talking about but now I just spew numbers that forecast outcomes better than any scout. Come for the numbers, stay for the bad jokes and Zach Zenner references. RIP XFL.

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