Before we get into the daily fantasy (DFS) picks for the Divisional Round, we should probably discuss the FanDuel "fiasco" from last weekend's slate.
In case you haven't heard, FanDuel canceled all slates that started at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The reasoning and cause of their doing so have been debated, but the fact is they voided all those entries. The whole incident inspired, "Why would you ever use FanDuel again" debates.
Let me say upfront that I prefer DraftKings to FanDuel. And I certainly have, do, and will continue to play more on DraftKings than FanDuel. But I will continue to play on FanDuel, and here are just a few of my reasons:
One, I'm always looking for additional value. FD regularly has certain players in DFS that are a better value than DK. Secondly, despite my issues with FD, I don't want it to die. The presence of FD keeps DK from being a virtual monopoly. As long as there is a certain level of competition, DK will be forced to keep improving their product as well as offering different promotions.
Third, just as I love playing different types of seasonal leagues, I like playing different types of DFS with different scoring systems and formats. FD provides that. Finally, I have you dear readers who play on FD (and sometimes just on FD). If I am going to make suggestions for you, I want to at least play on the sites you play if I can.
So let me know your thoughts about the FanDuel fiasco and if we should stop offering FanDuel advice. I've already spent a lot more time than I should on this, so let's jump to this weekend's picks.
Safe Quarterback Pick for the Divisional Playoff Games
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (DK $8000, FD $9200)
The Chiefs, led by Mahomes, are averaging 297.8 passing yards per game. The Jaguars meanwhile are ranked 28th against the pass, allowing 238.5 yards per game. The last time these two teams met, Mahomes threw for 331 yards and four touchdowns.
Do you really want to bet against Mahomes in the postseason? He's thrown three-plus TDs in each of his last three playoff games, and seven of his last 11. I can understand pivoting in GPPs, but in cash games, Mahomes is a must-play at QB.
High-Leverage Quarterback Pick for the Divisional Playoff Games
Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys (DK $5400, FD $7000)
Maybe I should just leave Purdy untouched like most DFS players will this week. But I am feeling a little emboldened by my Daniel Jones pick last week, who had a historic postseason debut. And my guess is that at least six other QBs see higher ownership rates than Purdy. But given the likely low ownership rates and his reasonable salary, Brock sure looks purdy to me.
Stupid puns aside, Purdy seems to be only getting better and better. In his last two games, he's thrown for three touchdowns in each and has a QB rating over 130. That's not too shabby.
Despite Dallas dominating Tampa Bay on Monday night, the Cowboys D still gave up 351 yards to Tom Brady and the Bucs. Do I think Purdy will have 350-plus yards? No. Can he pass for close to 300? Absolutely.
And Dallas did allow wide receivers to catch 22 touchdown passes during the regular season, the most in the league. Don't be surprised to see Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel heavily involved in Sunday's game plan. That makes Purdy an extremely viable DFS play.
Safe Running Back Pick for the Divisional Playoff Games
Travis Etienne Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs (DK $6400, FD $6800)
Etienne's usage has been all over the place this season, but head coach Doug Pederson seems to finally trust him. He saw an 86 percent snap rate in last Saturday's win over the Chargers, his second-highest rate of the year.
Furthermore, Etienne averaged more than 66 rushing yards per game during the regular season. He also caught 35 passes this season for more than 300 yards. Those two combined give him a solid floor. But Kansas City is still only the 19th-stingiest team in allowing fantasy points to running backs. The Chiefs yielded the most receptions to the position during the regular season. They also let four different rushers go for 100-plus on them – Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry, Kenneth Walker III, and Samaje Perine. Etienne is coming off his own 100-yard effort against Los Angeles and has another great matchup on Saturday. Play him accordingly.
High-Leverage Running Back Pick for the Divisional Playoff Games
If you are doing MME, I could certainly see having a few entries with the likes of Elijah Mitchell or James Cook, but I would not have them in a majority of my GPP entries. And if I'm playing a Single Entry GPP, I would certainly go with the top half-dozen or so RB options. There is no need to make a high-leverage pick at RB for a larger percentage of your entries.
Safe Wide Receiver Pick for the Divisional Playoff Games
Brandon Aiyuk/Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys (DK $5000/$5900, FD $6500/$7100)
I like both of these options this week and just couldn't choose one over the other. As previously mentioned, Dallas allowed 22 TDs to WRs in the regular season, the most of any team. The Cowboys also gave up plenty of yardage (ninth) to the position as well.
I expect the Cowboys to concentrate on stopping the 49ers' other two major weapons, primarily Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle. That should leave plenty of targets for Aiyuk and Samuel.
Samuel finally looks like he is over his injury, which should scare the heck out of Dallas. He put up 165 scrimmage yards last week against Seattle.
Aiyuk meanwhile had a huge drop on a picture-perfect pass from Brock Purdy. Expect him to atone for that, especially with some serious question marks in the Cowboys' secondary outside of Trevon Diggs. Diggs will either play zone or will likely be matched up against Samuel, leaving Aiyuk plenty of opportunity to find open spaces in Dallas' coverage or win one-on-one matchups against smaller defensive backs.
High-Leverage Wide Receiver Pick for the Divisional Playoff Games
Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills (DK $7800, FD $8500)
Buffalo gave up only 231 total yards to Miami last week after finishing sixth in total defense (319.1 ypg) during the regular season. That includes giving up the second-fewest points per game (17.9). All of this should still be fresh in most folks' minds and therefore I expect Chase's ownership to be low.
However, of the 13 games that Chase has played this season, he has a touchdown in eight of them. He's also notched five multi-touchdown games and is coming into his matchup hot with scores in four of his past five completed contests. That includes one against Baltimore last week. He's also been pretty productive in the postseason, averaging seven catches and 90 yards per game with two touchdowns in five total playoff contests.
And if the Bills' defense has a potential weak spot it's against the pass. Buffalo was 15th in passing yards allowed per game (214.6) during the regular season and gave up 21 touchdowns through the air. That's a byproduct of being stout against the run and forcing teams to throw because of the game situation, but the Bills also have dealt with injury concerns in the secondary all season long and the pass rush hasn't been the same since Von Miller tore his ACL.
We likely Chase need to score for this leverage play to pay off, but I like the odds of it happening.
Safe Tight End Pick for the Divisional Playoff Games
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants (DK $4500 FD $6300)
Yes, Travis Kelce is the best play. But the sites have priced him exorbitantly high. If you got the salary to spare, yes, grab Kelce. But Goedert could easily provide 80 percent of the production at 60 percent of the cost.
Goedert's fantasy points per game would put him within the top five of all tight ends. The Eagles' starting TE had a career-high 4.5 catches per game to go along with an impressive 12.8 yards per catch during the regular season. He missed the first game against New York, but in Week 18, he snagged seven passes.
Goedert may not have the upside of Kelce, but he's seen 13 total targets over his last two games, giving him a nice little floor. The Giants meanwhile gave up the 12th-most FanDuel points per game to tight ends during the regular season. And it's not as if they've improved recently. We only need to look back to last week, when Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson had a game-high 10 receptions for 129 yards vs the G-Men.
Goedert has gone over 49.5 receiving yards in seven out of 12 games this season and is averaging 50.6 receiving yards per game at home. At his price, I love Goedert's floor.
High-Leverage Tight End Pick for the Divisional Playoff Games
Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals (DK $5800, FD $3800)
I went with Knox last week and it hit pretty well, so we'll go back to him. Knox now has a touchdown in five games in a row. Perhaps even more interesting, Knox now has five touchdowns in Buffalo's last five completed games. Hmmm.
Add to the mix that the Bills' projected total is over 27 points and the fact that Cincinnati is a middle-of-the-pack defense versus TEs, and Knox makes for a sweet deal at this price.
Safe Defense/Special Teams (DST) Pick for the Divisional Playoff Games
Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals (DK $2900, FD $4100)
When you get down to the final four of each conference, it's rare that any of your DST options are truly terrible or spectacular. But I am super concerned about Cincinnati's offensive line issues, and I would be shocked if the Bills don't register a few sacks (even missing Von Miller). They're a solid, safe bet to get to Joe Burrow a couple of times and maybe we get a turnover or two? The Bengals, due to these issues up front, might also have trouble getting their run game going, which would limit their scoring (provided Buffalo doesn't commit a bunch of turnovers like last week vs. Miami).
And we know Buffalo can score on special teams. Remember what Nyheim Hines did at home a couple of weeks ago? I wouldn't bank on that happening, but the upside is there. But it's the floor for the Bills DST that is the reason why this unit will be in nearly all my cash lineups.
High-Leverage Defense/Special Teams (DST) Pick for the Divisional Playoff Games
San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys (DK $3300, FD $4500)
Gosh, am I tempted to go very contrarian and take Jacksonville here as the Jaguars DST has become progressively tougher as the season has worn on. But we also know that folks rarely spend up on DSTs and usually just go with whatever DST fits into their lineup. So instead, I will go against the grain by simply choosing the best DST on the board, the 49ers.
I know, the Dallas offense looked amazing last week. But it's one thing to do it against Tampa Bay, the league's 13th-best defense. It's another to do it against the league's No. 1 D. I think San Francisco can hold Dallas under 20 points while picking up a few sacks plus a couple of turnovers.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.