Greetings, NFL DFS Gamers! Welcome to the Awesemo daily fantasy football Single-Game Prime Time series for FanDuel and DraftKings Showdown slates. Much like for the regular season “primetime” games, we will be providing free analysis for the single-slate nightcap playoff action on DraftKings and FanDuel. This will include team capsules as well as player rankings and comments for all of your daily fantasy needs. We have loads of information and NFL DFS picks to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Divisional Round Sunday Night Football game between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
NFL DFS Picks: Divisional Round Sunday DraftKings + FanDuel
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 24.5
The one thing that has really stood out to me over the last month is just how good New Orleans has been on defense. The Saints have the second-best rushing DVOA and the third best against the pass.
It has been 22 games, counting regular and postseason, since the Saints have allowed an opposing signal-caller to top 300 yards passing. Tom Brady took his shots in Week 1 and again in Week 9, though he failed miserably. His average outing in these two tilts was a meager 224 yards on 37.0 attempts with five interceptions against two touchdowns. In their 17 games this season, New Orleans has allowed multi-touchdown games to opposing field generals only eight times. In simpler terms, in just over half of the times that New Orleans has taken the field, they have allowed more than one touchdown to a quarterback.
While Brady rolled up some impressive stats, most came in the last three games of the season. He tallied nearly 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns while playing Atlanta twice and Detroit once. This is the exception, not the rule.
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Well, we have a situation here. Last weekend Ronald Jones allegedly ended up with a quad injury that kept him from taking the field. Color me skeptical, as he also has allegedly been a divisive force in the locker room. Bruce Arians has not been friendly on the fantasy front. He has said that Leonard Fournette will start, but Jones will be available for his regular workload.
This is shaping up to be an interesting leverage situation. Unless we get better intel, which is unlikely do we really want Jones in our lineups? Even if the workload is consolidated with Fournette, the Saints have stymied the Buccaneers ground game in the two regular season tilts. In Week 1 New Orleans took the lead early in the fourth quarter and never looked back. Tampa Bay rushed 26 times for 86 yards and a score. The Week 9 matchup was a 38-3 drubbing, with the Bucs rushing the ball only five times for 8 yards. It will fun to see where the ownership projections land with this conundrum.
Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown arguably make up the best receiving trio in the league. Evans was solid last weekend after wrenching his knee in Week 17. He led the team with six catches and 119 yards on 10 targets against Washington. Godwin saw a dozen targets for 79 yards and a touchdown, while Brown had only three targets but brought in two of them for 49 yards and a score.
Lest we forget, Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore thrives in his matchups against Evans. In the last four meetings, Evans has 21 targets for nine catches, 135 yards and a touchdown. Who knows what will transpire tonight, but that is something to consider as a tiebreaker.
Last week Rob Gronkowski had only one target, and that this the third time in the last five weeks where he has seen two or fewer. We know he is a primary red zone target, but with so many other options available for Brady, Gronkowski is not guaranteed any consistent workload. Cameron Brate popped up with his best game of the year, getting six targets for 80 yards and is a fine discount dandy.
The Saints have allowed only four sacks in their last four games, along with four turnovers. Tampa was fourth in the league with 48 sacks and fifth with 25 takeaways. We will need a fortuitous pick six or scoop and score for this unit to be worthwhile.
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New Orleans Saints: 27.5
This could be the end of the line for Drew Brees, who turned 42 on Friday. This is his 20th season in the league and the 15th with New Orleans. More than ever the last two seasons he has relied on his playmakers to work their magic after the catch. He can still throw deep, but the arm strength and accuracy are waning for sure. While he did tally six touchdowns in the two regular season meetings with the Bucs, he had just 402 combined yards passing. He is absolutely in play tonight, but we will want to adjust our expectations accordingly.
Alvin Kamara benefits with Brees under center, as he sees a healthy number of short passes. Tampa Bay has held him in check with 56 yards rushing and 60 receiving, though he has three total touchdowns. We know that Kamara can score from anywhere on the field, and that dynamic upside pushes him to the top of our wish list. Both Latavius Murray (quad) and Taysom Hill (knee) are unlikely to play. That boosts Kamara and also moves Dwayne Washington and Ty Montgomery into the player pool as lottery tickets.
While Michael Thomas had just seven targets last week and played about two-thirds of the snaps, he is still the lead option for the Saints. Brees will likely go to him early and often on short and mid-range routes, which gives him a solid fantasy floor. Tre’Quan Smith should be back after missing three games with an ankle injury. This will cut into the opportunities for Deonte Harris, who led the team last week with seven targets for 83 yards, and Emmanuel Sanders. It may also mean that Lil’Jordan Humphrey will land on the inactive list.
Even though it seems like this has been a disappointing season for Jared Cook, he still had 507 yards and led the team with seven touchdowns receiving. While he may only see 3-4 targets, he is live for a look in the red zone. Adam Trautman and Josh Hill are dart throws if you are building 100 lineups.
The Saints averaged nearly three sacks per game, and they were third with 26 takeaways. Brady was sacked nine times in the last four games, but he had only one interception. This unit is in play, as most gamers will not want to use them against Brady.
Divisional Round Sunday Night DraftKings Showdown + FanDuel Single Game NFL DFS Strategy
The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups and also for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value, but for those of you who are taking the MME approach, remember that correlation with your lineups is key. This means matching a receiver or two if you have a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. This also works conversely with pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with their signal-caller.
EMac’s Divisional Round Saturday Night Football DraftKings + FanDuel NFL DFS Rankings
Divisional Round Sunday Night Football Top 10 NFL DFS Picks
- Alvin Kamara: Easy call for Captain/MVP on both sites.
- Michael Thomas: Perfect leverage over Kamara in the Captain/MVP slot.
- Tom Brady: I have a hard time seeing him with fewer than 40 pass attempts.
- Drew Brees: While the yardage total may not be there, the touchdowns should be.
- Wil Lutz/Ryan Succop: We need salary relief.
- Antonio Brown/Chris Godwin: Coin flip.
- Tre’Quan Smith: DraftKings only, but he is mispriced at $400. Even if he only sees a couple of targets, it is worthwhile. On FanDuel I would have him at the top of the next section.
- Leonard Fournette: This feels about right, and there is a chance that Jones is in the doghouse.
- Emmanuel Sanders: The veteran is steady, but he is also well behind Kamara and Thomas in the pecking order.
- Jared Cook: Touchdown or bust.
Divisional Round Sunday Night Football Secondary NFL DFS Picks
- Mike Evans: It seems like Lattimore is in his head. Plus, Brady has plenty of other options.
- Rob Gronkowski/Cameron Brate: The pricing differential has me considering them as equals.
- New Orleans D/ST: Too bad we won’t have a full house in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
- Tampa Bay D/ST: Can you envision a wobbly pass from Brees getting picked off for a score? I can.
Divisional Round Sunday Football Lottery Tickets NFL DFS Picks
- Ronald Jones: Even if he were starting, I don’t think I would have him much higher than Gronkowski or Brate.
- Deonte Harris: With Smith back and the price on DraftKings leaping after last week, I likely will not use him. He is reasonable at $7,500 on FanDuel.
- Ke’Shawn Vaughn: Distinct leverage option off of Fournette/Jones. High risk with limited reward.
- Scott Miller: Does just enough to warrant his own line.
- Josh Hill, Adam Trautman, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Tyler Johnson, Michael Burton, Jameis Winston: Touchdown Trolls.
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