NFL DFS: Divisional Round Strategy
Updated: Jan 16, 2021
We're on to the quarterfinals! As we get the better teams facing each other, lineup construction gets harder - so how can you find an edge against the competition? Hopefully I can break down some ideas for you to do just that.
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If you're new to DFS, I'd recommend checking out our DFS 101 article before getting started, as it can give this column a lot more context.
Please note that the authors of this post are also players of daily fantasy sports, and the selections they make when creating their rosters may or may not include players listed below. You can find Derek Devereaux on DraftKings via the username DerekDevereaux.
This week’s roster construction beer of choice
Bell's Brewery - Hopslam Ale Double IPA
I wish this beer was more readily available than it is, because it's a gem. A big hit of dry hops mixed in with primarily a grapefruit flavor. At 10%, this is a hefty beer, but well worth the effort to get your hands on it.
My entry strategy
Once we get down to two games in a day, I tend to avoid the single-day slates. I'll be entering three entries in a three-max contest this week for the combined Saturday & Sunday four game slate, and as I did last week, I will not be playing any cash games.
All lines via Bovada, current as of Friday afternoon.
LA Rams at Green Bay -7, 45.5 total
Baltimore at Buffalo -2.5, 49.5 total
Cleveland at Kansas City -10, 57.5 total (up from 52.5)
Tampa Bay at New Orleans -3, 52 total (up from 49)
Where will the ownership fall?
Wait, do I have to write more than that? Ugh.
The Chiefs will be heavily owned in this slate, and it should be pretty clear why. I think people will want to play the Saints and Bucs game as well.
LA Rams (implied team total: 19.25)
If you want the lowest ownership on the slate in a suboptimal spot, the Rams are your play! Look, the Packers defense is not elite, but this offense is absolutely flailing. Jared Goff is going to start, with or without healthy fingers. Given they are seven point underdogs, the logical thing to do would be to play the passing game, but the Packers are, to put it nicely, not great against the run. I'm probably avoiding this for a stack but I might want a random one-off of Cam Akers or a cheaper passing piece (Josh Reynolds? Van Jefferson?).
Green Bay (implied team total: 26.25)
The Rodgers/Davante Adams stack is always in play. I don't care if Jalen Ramsey is shadowing him. To me, that just means he will be lower owned. That being said, I think you could easily get similar enough production, or even better production, for the cost from other wide receivers, so I don't think Adams is necessary, either. Aaron Jones tends to go underowned relatively often, so he could be a sneaky tournament play. Everyone else is "hope I get them right" plays and cheap enough, but we know where the majority of production should go.
Baltimore (implied team total: 23.5)
I don't want any part of this backfield anymore. Yes, one of them could go off, and in theory, the most likely is Dobbins, but the touches are so split and random that pinning that down just seems like a wasted effort - especially when Lamar is taking some of that rushing production, too. I would much rather run skinny stacks with Lamar and call it a day here. I think the total in this game is low - I think this game is most likely to overperform expected total.
Buffalo (implied team total: 26)
Devin Singletary is the sole back in this backfield now with Zack Moss out for the postseason. In theory, the volume is going to be there. However, we saw some spots earlier this season where he played without Moss, and he didn't exactly explode with those opportunities - an average of 13.3 DK points in weeks 3 through 5. I think Singletary will be popular - he’s extremely cheap for the theoretical volume. The passing game is where I would target if you believe in the Bills, and that's there primary method of putting up points anyways.
Cleveland (implied team total: 23.75)
Cleveland loves to run the football. The Chiefs are most beatable against the run. In theory, the Browns will want to limit how much Mahomes has the ball in his hands. All that being said, they are double digit underdogs on the road. So what do you do? Well, first off, I think you play something here as a runback for any Chiefs stacks - either Chubb, Landry or even Hunt I guess. Browns stacks aren't crazy, but I say that only because they're cheap enough that you can still put in other parts and just hope the Browns keep up. A Baker-Landry-Hooper stack, for example, would only put you back $14,800, plus a Kelce or Hill runback on top of that puts you in the $23,000 range. In large tournaments where you need to beat a bunch of people? Sure, why not?
Kansas City (implied team total: 33.75)
I think playing Mahomes and Kelce and Tyreek Hill together might be too expensive to pay off; you could certainly do it and try to make up elsewhere, but you could just as easily run them as separate stacks (either Mahomes/Kelce or Mahomes/Hill), and if you want to throw in a third piece with them - Hardman, Robinson, Pringle - then that's at least giving you the salary savings. I'm probably avoiding the backfield.
Tampa Bay (implied team total: 24.5)
There's an outside chance we see Leonard Fournette as the theoretical bellcow pending Ronald Jones' health status. I don't think I care. The Saints run defense has proven to be stellar more often than not. The problem, as always, is that it's really hard to figure out who to stack with Tom Brady in the passing game. It could easily be any of Evans, Godwin, Antonio Brown or Gronk that goes off, and even worse, it could be that all of them just meet value and don't exceed it. If you asked me to rank them in a vacuum on Friday afternoon, considering price and assuming ownership is pretty much spread evenly among the receivers, I would probably rank everyone in the following order: Godwin, AB, Gronk, Evans.
New Orleans (implied team total: 27.5)
What to do here? Alvin Kamara is one of the best backs in football, facing one of the best run defenses in football. Of course, he also catches the ball out of the backfield, so he has a solid theoretical floor on DK where we get a point per reception. You can also play the passing stack too, with a Brees/Michael Thomas stack seeming logical. You can even play Kamara with those two...deciding which route you take in a lineup will be key. You could, of course, play either of them as one-offs too - and that's probably the direction I will take where I don’t play a Saints stack.
Defenses still don't matter.
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Good luck, and may your screens be green!