Welcome to arguably the best NFL week of the season. The Divisional Round features a two-day, four-game main slate at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
In this article, I’ll be using various FantasyLabs tools and other industry metrics to break down the slate.
Finally, make sure to check out all the projections available for purchase within the FantasyLabs Models. Subscribers now have the option to purchase Derek Carty’s THE BLITZ from our Marketplace. Projections from One Week Season and Establish the Run are available if you’re a subscriber to those specific sites (our optimizer is a separate add-on feature).
You can also combine them to create your own aggregate projections:
NFL DFS Quarterback Picks
The Divisional Round features some of the top quarterbacks in football. That includes Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow, but Jalen Hurts was better than all of them from a fantasy perspective. He led all quarterbacks with an average of 25.6 points per game this season, largely due to his ability as a runner. He racked up more than 50 rushing yards per game during the regular season, and he punched in 13 total touchdowns.
Hurts should be able to shred the Giants if he’s 100% healthy. The Giants have been very exploitable defensively this year, ranking 22nd in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA and 32nd against the run. Hurts destroyed this unit in their first meeting this season, racking up 30.38 DraftKings points in a 26-point victory.
Of course, the big question is just how healthy is Hurts? He didn’t look like nearly the same player after returning to the lineup in Week 18, finishing with just 9.46 DraftKings points vs. the Gmen. He had arguably his worst game as a passer, averaging just 5.26 adjusted yards per attempt, and he managed just 1.44 yards per carry as a runner.
The Eagles were on a bye last week, and Hurts has been officially removed from the team’s injury report. That’s a great sign, and Hurts is easily the top projected QB on this slate in THE BLITZ.
On the other side of that matchup, Daniel Jones is coming off a historic performance last week vs. the Vikings. He finished with 30.84 DraftKings points and became the first QB in postseason history with at least 300 passing yards, 70 rushing yards, and two passing scores.
Jones has now racked up at least 30 DraftKings points in back-to-back games, and while he might not be the same caliber of runner as Hurts, he’s pretty darn close. He averaged a career-best 44.3 rushing yards per game during the regular season, and he added seven rushing touchdowns.
Jones took his running to another level in the Wild Card round, racking up a career-high 17 carries. Running is basically a cheat code for fantasy quarterbacks, and Jones is bringing as much running upside to the table as anyone. The Eagles are a very tough matchup, but he’s too cheap at $5,800 on DraftKings.
Patrick Mahomes might lack the same rushing upside as Hurts, but he should be able to shred the Jaguars with his arm. They ranked 30th in pass defense DVOA during the regular season, and Mahomes torched them for 331 passing yards and four touchdowns in their first meeting. The Chiefs also lead the slate with an implied team total of 31.0 points.
Josh Allen with nothing short of remarkable during the playoffs last season. He racked up 308 passing yards and five touchdowns in his first contest, and he followed that up with 329 yards and four TDs in his second outing. He wasn’t quite as impressive to start the 2022-23 playoffs, but he still posted a positive Plus/Minus vs. the Dolphins. This game vs. the Bengals has plenty of shootout potential, so Allen clearly has some appeal.
NFL DFS Running Back Picks
There was some concern that Christian McCaffrey would split the workload with Elijah Mitchell during the postseason, and Mitchell did see 29% of the team’s carries last week. However, out of Mitchell’s nine carries, five of them came in the fourth quarter. The team had already built up a pretty significant lead by that point, so McCaffrey was on the field when it mattered most. He ultimately finished with a 74% snap share, and that figure likely would’ve been higher if not for the game turning into a blowout.
CMC remains one of the most dangerous producers in fantasy. He’s capable of beating teams on the ground and through the air, giving him multiple paths to fantasy relevance. He was surprisingly quiet as a pass-catcher last week, finishing with just two catches for 17 yards, but he made up for it with 119 yards on the ground. He also managed to find the end zone, and he had 10 scores in 11 games with the 49ers during the regular season.
The Cowboys represent a tough matchup, but McCaffrey is good enough to succeed anyway. The Cowboys were also merely 21st in pass defense DVOA vs. opposing running backs, so this is a good spot for McCaffrey to put his receiving prowess on display.
Travis Etienne was in an excellent spot last week vs. the Chargers, and he took advantage despite a pretty negative game script. The team fell into a massive hole, trailing 27-0 at halftime, but the Jaguars remained committed to getting him the football. He ultimately racked up 20 carries, which he turned into 109 yards.
That bodes well for his involvement vs. the Chiefs. Even if he doesn’t get back to 20 carries on Saturday, he could make up for it with additional volume in the passing attack. He had just one target last week, but he’s averaged closer to three targets since taking over as the team’s starter.
If the game stays competitive, the Chiefs are another solid matchup for Etienne. They were 15th in rush defense DVOA, so Etienne should be effective with his opportunities. He leads the position in projected DraftKings Plus/Minus per THE BLITZ by a pretty wide margin.
Saquon Barkley is another strong stud option at the position. He was very impactful for the Giants in their first playoff contest, finishing with 109 scrimmage yards, five catches, and two touchdowns. He also had just nine carries vs. the Vikings, and that figure should undoubtedly be higher against Philly. The Eagles’ run defense was their Achilles heel during the regular season, ranking 21st in rush defense DVOA but first against the pass.
Joe Mixon has seen a sizable reduction in value recently. Samaje Perine has taken on a much larger role in the offense of late, and he actually saw more snaps than Mixon in their first playoff matchup. Still, Mixon remains the team’s lead runner, particularly around the goal line. His price has also come down substantially on DraftKings, making him an interesting buy-low option at $6,500.
The Chiefs utilize a pair of running backs in Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon, and both players have some viability on this slate. McKinnon is the more well-rounded option, and he’s been a massive producer as a receiver of late. He’s scored eight receiving touchdowns over his past six games, and he’s had three games with at least 20.1 FanDuel points in that stretch. Pacheco is the between-the-tackles grinder, so he should be the one asked to kill the clock if they can build up a lead.
NFL DFS Wide Receiver Picks
Given all the stud quarterbacks available on this slate, it’s not surprising that there are plenty of high-end receivers as well. However, Ja’Marr Chase stands out a cut above the rest. Chase suffered an injury in Week 7 vs. the Falcons, and he was slightly limited in his first game back in Week 13. Since then, Chase has been an absolute target hog. He’s racked up at least 11 targets in five straight games, including 12 last week vs. the Ravens. Overall, he’s posted a 33.5% target share over that time frame, which is the top mark in the NFL.
Chase has also been extremely productive as a touchdown scorer this season. He’s racked up 10 scores in 13 games played, including four in his past five contests. He’s finished with at least 19.0 DraftKings points in all four of those games.
The only real concern with Chase has nothing to do with Chase himself. The Bengals are currently down three starters on the offensive line, so Burrow could have less time to throw than usual. That would limit Chase’s ability to get downfield. However, the Bills have been pretty mediocre at rushing the passer, and Chase is capable of doing plenty of damage after the catch. The good clearly outweighs the bad in this scenario.
The Giants’ receiving corps has been a prime source of value for weeks, and that’s not going to change in the Divisional Round. Isaiah Hodgins has started to get priced up a bit, but Richie James remains extremely affordable at just $3,900 on DraftKings.
James served as the team’s clear No. 3 option last week, trailing well behind Hodgins and Darius Slayton in terms of route participation. However, he still managed a 16% target share, which is a strong number for a No. 3 receiver. He finished with four catches for 31 yards on six targets, and he even had an opportunity in the red zone.
Ultimately, James stands out as a clear source of savings on this slate, ranking first at the receiver position in projected DraftKings Plus/Minus per THE BLITZ.
The Jaguars are another team providing value at receiver. Zay Jones stands out as an outstanding value on DraftKings, where his $4,700 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 90%. He’s been a big part of the Jags’ passing attack all season, and he posted a 29% target share last week vs. the Chargers. Jones has also been one of the top touchdown threats at the position, ranking 10th in expected receiving touchdowns per Pro Football Focus. Marvin Jones is also worth considering as a low-owned tournament option after his route participation jumped to 91% last week.
Most of the top receiving options stand out as superior values on FanDuel, including Stefon Diggs. His $8,200 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 89%, and he’s slightly cheaper than Chase. Diggs racked up nine targets, seven receptions, and 114 yards last week vs. the Dolphins, and he clearly has the upside for another strong outing.
I was slightly concerned about what Deebo Samuel’s role would look like for the 49ers during the postseason, but those concerns were clearly unfounded. He stepped right back into his role as the team’s top receiver, racking up nine targets, six catches, 133 yards, and a touchdown. He also added his usual three carries on the ground, giving him a solid floor for his price tag.
NFL DFS Tight End Picks
Travis Kelce is back on the slate, which means he automatically goes in the “Stud TE” section of this write-up. He was so much better than every other tight end in football this season, averaging 5.2 more PPR points per game than the next closest option. The only reason the gap was even that close was George Kittle going on a tear to end the year. Either way, the gap between Kelce and Kittle was still larger than the gap between Kittle and Juwan Johnson, who was the No. 19 TE in terms of PPR points per game.
However, Kelce wasn’t the same dominant force down the stretch. He failed to find the paint in each of his final six games, and he posted a negative Plus/Minus in five of his final seven contests.
Still, it’s hard to envision Kelce struggling in this matchup. The Jaguars’ struggles in the passing game were particularly pronounced vs. opposing tight ends, ranking 32nd in DVOA vs. the position. Kelce finished with 20.1 DraftKings points in his first matchup vs. the Jags this season, so this is a prime spot for him to break out of his slump.
Kelce is an elite target on FanDuel, where his $8,000 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 92%.
Dallas Goedert is officially back for the Eagles, and he stands out as the best non-Kelce option at the position. He was a force for the Eagles prior to getting injured in Week 10, posting a target share of greater than 20%. He ranked fourth at the position in target share, and he averaged just over 60 receiving yards per game. It was business as usual for him and Hurts in their Week 18 tune-up, with the two players combining for six catches on seven targets.
Goedert should be able to do some serious damage vs. the Giants, who have been extremely vulnerable against opposing tight ends this season. They rank 31st in DVOA vs. the position, and they surrendered a huge game to T.J. Hockenson at the position last week.
Dalton Schultz stands out as an elite target on DraftKings, where his $4,200 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 96%. He’s coming off a monster showing last week vs. the Buccaneers, finishing with 28.5 DraftKings points thanks to seven catches, 95 yards, and two scores. Schultz now has two games with at least 24.6 DraftKings points in his past three, and he’s racked up 27 total targets over that time frame.
If you’re looking for a punt play at the position, Hayden Hurst seems like your best bet. He posted a 79% route participation last week vs. the Ravens, and he garnered a 19% target share. That makes him a slightly stronger option than Daniel Bellinger in that price range.