Consider this your one-stop shop for all things concerning the NFL Conference Championship DFS slate. As always, consult our tools below for an even deeper dive into the numbers. Good luck!
Nick Foles joins Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham, Rodney Peete, and Donovan McNabb on the franchise’s exclusive playoff-winning quarterbacks list, but last Sunday’s performance hardly calmed the nerves of fantasy investors. Foles led a run-first attack and threw for just 246 yards and zero touchdowns, marking the fourth time in as many games that he failed to surpass 250 yards through the air. He’s led the offense to just two touchdowns over his last nine quarters under center and accordingly carries the lowest projected floor and ceiling among quarterbacks this week. If there’s a silver lining for Foles, it’s that the Vikings’ second-ranked defense in overall DVOA hasn’t been the same monster away from Minnesota since 2016.
Chris Ivory was a healthy scratch last week, although the status of Leonard Fournette’s ankle could change things this time around. If Ivory ultimately doesn’t suit up, T.J. Yeldon will continue to work as the team’s scat back and No. 2 option in the run game behind Fournette. Yeldon figures to have at least a decent sized role regardless, as his 4.4 targets per game since Week 10 are the most among all backs not eliminated from playoff contention. Yeldon’s ceiling and floor are certainly volatile with Fournette banged up, but he’s proven capable of producing with limited touches.
The Patriots delegated Kenny Britt and Phillip Dorsett to the sideline last week, as Chris Hogan played 83 percent of the offense’s snaps. He resumed his role as the team’s red-zone dominator, converting his only catch into a four-yard touchdown. Brandin Cooks was a mere inches away from cashing in on multiple Tom Brady deep balls. Meanwhile Danny Amendola picked apart the Titans underneath, racking up 13 targets – the most he’d seen in a game since 2013. This week’s matchup might not be as pristine for Amendola. He could lose some targets and slot snaps to Rex Burkhead (knee, probable) and has a brutal matchup against underrated slot corner Aaron Colvin, who allowed the third-fewest yards per cover snap among full-time slot corners this season.
Zach Ertz’s production has taken a hit with Nick Foles under center, but he’s continued to work as the offense’s No. 1 option. Ertz has converted a team-high 25 targets over the past four games into a 17-161-1 line. His 1.5 targets inside the 20-yard line with Foles surpasses his average of one-such target per game with Carson Wentz. Ertz’s only volume-related negative concerns deep balls, as he’s seen just two targets thrown 20-plus yards downfield over his four games with Foles after having nine-such targets in 13 games with Wentz.
The Minnesota Vikings head to Philadelphia as five-point road favorites against the Eagles and Nick Foles in a game with an ugly 38.5 point total. Per the Trends tool, defenses favored by one to five points on the road have averaged 8.13 fantasy points per game (PPG) with a +0.76 Plus/Minus on DraftKings and 8.05 PPG with a +0.59 Plus/Minus on FanDuel since 2014. Minnesota is the No. 1 rated defense in the Adam Levitan Model for both sites, but have the second-lowest projected sack total (1.9) on the slate. Philadelphia’s offensive line allowed the 12th-lowest adjusted sack rate (6.2 percent) and the Minnesota defense registered the 15th-lowest adjusted sack rate (6.3 percent) during the regular season so this is not exactly a classic recipe for sacks souffle.
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The Jaguars defense is good — it entered the playoffs first in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average — but in their six losses this year the Jags allowed teams quarterbacked by Marcus Mariota, Josh McCown, Jared Goff, Blaine Gabbert, and Jimmy Garoppolo to average 28.8 PPG. Some of those passers are good, but Brady is better than all of them, and the market was quick to adjust to Jacksonville’s defense this year. The Jags unit is stout, but in a playoff environment it might not be appreciably better than the remaining defenses. Read more about this and other trends from the two title games in this week’s Vegas Outliers piece.
When stud rookie running back Dalvin Cook (knee) suffered a season-ending injury in Week 4, the Vikings seemed destined for another mediocre campaign. They were 2-2 and had scored fewer than 10 points in both of their losses. Since then they are 12-1 and have ridden the backfield duo of Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon for 1,931 yards and 15 touchdowns from scrimmage on 369 carries and 61 receptions. Dion Lewis will be a desired back given his three-down role, but Murray and McKinnon might offer more bang for the buck in guaranteed prize pools. Find out more in the Conference Championship edition of our weekly Vegas Projections piece.
Four players from the remaining teams got 70-plus snaps last week: Adam Thielen (77), Brandin Cooks (76), Rob Gronkowski (74), and Kyle Rudolph (71). That fits with season-long trends: The Patriots and Vikings finished the regular season second and seventh in neutral pace of play, respectively. That really matters in a two-game slate, especially when three of the four teams rank in the top-five in defensive DVOA. Points could be hard to come by, which means that raw snaps — just being on the field for opportunities — could be more important than usual. Read more on how usage stats will affect this week’s DFS strategy in the latest Market Share Report.
Photo via Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports.