In the weekly Fantasy Trends, we leverage the Trends tool to find quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs with notable data points for the upcoming DFS main slate. For more of our weekly football content, visit our NFL homepage.
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The Weekly NFL Fantasy Trends returns with a special playoff edition. In this piece, I examine how players perform in the playoffs versus the regular season based on home-away and favorite-underdog splits. I’ll also call back to previous Trends pieces to help you identify wide receiver value for this weekend’s main slate of games.
In theory, playoff football should exaggerate the statistical disparity between players on either side of these splits. Teams that make the playoffs are — for the most part — elite teams. And the elite of the elite earn home-field advantage during the playoffs.
So, teams playing at home not only benefit from home-field advantage, but they have also proven themselves as superior teams throughout the regular season. Of course, there are usually wild card teams with better records than some division winners, like the Chargers facing the Ravens. Nonetheless, the Ravens are favored at home by three points.
Of note, I analyzed all four skill positions but found only quarterbacks and wide receivers noteworthy for this article. Running backs and tight ends produced noisy and underwhelming results. Running back production is more isolated than any other skill position, and tight end usage is generally both low and volatile. As a result, in certain circumstances, it may be better to evaluate running backs and tight ends on the individual level rather than holistically.
So, let’s see if the data supports or refutes the hypothesis stated above. Do favorites flourish offensively, or do teams become more conservative with their title hopes on the line?
Quarterbacks boast improved production at home and as favorites during the regular season. However, during the playoffs, their average actual points and Plus/Minus scores swell even further. Moreover, the Plus/Minus for quarterbacks in road games falls from -0.13 to -2.55 during the playoffs. Such quarterbacks average a paltry 14.81 average actual points and 38.9% consistency.
It’s a similar story for underdogs in the postseason. Their Plus/Minus falls from +0.01 in the regular season to -2.11 during postseason play, and their average actual points falls from 16.41 to 14.60, despite an increase in DraftKings pricing on average. When rostering quarterbacks in DFS during the playoffs, target home favorites and fade road underdogs.
- Deshaun Watson, Texans: $6,700 DraftKings
- Mitch Trubisky, Bears: $6,200 DraftKings
- Lamar Jackson, Ravens: $5,800 DraftKings
- Dak Prescott, Cowboys: $5,500 DraftKings
- Andrew Luck, Colts: $6,400 DraftKings
- Philip Rivers, Chargers: $5,900 DraftKings
- Russell Wilson, Seahawks: $5,700 DraftKings
- Nick Foles, Eagles: $5,400 DraftKings
Results: Wide Receivers
Wide receiver production naturally correlates with quarterback by virtue of their shared passing connection. Accordingly, wide receivers produce eerily similar results to quarterbacks. Home and favorite wide receivers report improved average actual points, consistency, and Plus/Minus scores. Conversely, road and underdog wide receivers report exaggerated negative Plus/Minus scores, low consistency, and low average actual points.
Of course, targeting wide receivers requires more discernment than targeting quarterbacks due to the sheer size of the player pool. So, rather than advising you to target home favorites, — of which there are many — let’s try to trim the player pool even further.
In an article from a couple weeks ago, I analyzed how defensive matchup affects different kinds of wide receivers. That article reported compelling results for wide receiver production based on matchup, but it also identified air yards as a key mitigating factor to fantasy production. I grouped wide receivers into quartiles based on air yards percentile, and each quartile reported unique results based on defensive matchup.
Below, I’ve highlighted wide receivers to target — or to fade — based on our trend this week and my analysis on wide receiver defensive matchup two weeks ago. Check out the aforementioned article for a more thorough explanation of my methods and results.
Consider targeting these “Quartile 1” Wide Receivers:
The following wide receivers fit our trend as home favorites and also rank among the top-25th percentile in air yards at their position. These players are typically resilient to defensive matchup.
- DeAndre Hopkins, Texans: $8,700 DraftKings
- John Brown, Ravens: $3,700 DraftKings
Consider targeting these “Quartile 2” or “Quartile 3” Wide Receivers:
The following wide receivers fit our trend as home favorites and rank between the 25th and 75th percentile in air yards at their position. Wide receivers from these quartiles are extremely matchup-dependent historically. The following players draw advantageous matchups against teams with an Opponent Rating of 51 to 100.
- Amari Cooper, Cowboys: $7,500 DraftKings
- Allen Robinson, Bears: $5,600 DraftKings
- Taylor Gabriel, Bears: $4,500 DraftKings
- Michael Gallup, Cowboys: $3,600 DraftKings
- Cole Beasley, Cowboys: $3,500 DraftKings
Consider fading these “Quartile 2” or “Quartile 3” Wide Receivers:
The following wide receivers fit our trend as home favorites and rank between the 25th and 75th percentile in air yards at their position. Wide receivers from these quartiles are extremely matchup-dependent historically. The following players draw difficult matchups against teams with an Opponent Rating of 1 to 50.
- Doug Baldwin, Seahawks: $6,200 DraftKings
- Alshon Jeffery, Eagles: $5,900 DraftKings
- Tyler Lockett, Seahawks: $5,300 DraftKings
- Mike Williams, Chargers: $4,700 DraftKings
- Tyrell Williams, Chargers: $4,100 DraftKings
- Nelson Agholor, Eagles: $3,800 DraftKings
- David Moore, Seahawks: $3,500 DraftKings
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players mentioned here. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our NFL news feed.
Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Pictured Above: Amari Cooper