Wildcard weekend was wildly wonderful, and the joy of playing daily fantasy football is once again upon us. The divisional round of the playoffs brings a star-studded four-game slate that kicks off on Saturday at 4:35 p.m. ET.
In this positional breakdown, I’m looking at one tight end at the top of the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
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Model Tight End
As was the case last week, one tight end stands out above the rest in our Pro Models.
- Travis Kelce: $7,000 DraftKings; $7,500 FanDuel
Travis Kelce: Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts, 54.5 Over/Under
UPDATE (1/12): The game total has dropped significantly due to snowy and windy conditions in Kansas City. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) is questionable but expected to play. Running back Spencer Ware (hamstring) is officially questionable, but he’s expected not to play.
On the Wednesday edition of The Action Network NFL Podcast, we talked about Kelce as the slate’s top option, and it’s not hard to see why we’re enthusiastic.
The Chiefs are implied for a slate-high 31.0 points as home favorites coming off a bye week. And Kelce has had a historic fantasy season for a tight end.
Although the Chiefs went 3-2 after their Week 12 bye, they are still the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and on a per-game basis they’ve …
- Outscored their implied total by 6.2 points (No. 1 in NFL)
- Exceeded their game total by 8.3 points (No. 1)
The Chiefs rank first in scoring at 35.3 points per game, and Kelce is a key contributor to their success, ranking top-two among all tight ends with his 150 targets, 103 receptions, 1,336 yards receiving, 1,401 air yards, 552 yards after the catch and 10 touchdowns.
Since his All-Pro campaign in 2016, Kelce leads all tight ends with 13.1 FanDuel points per game. He’s also provided outstanding salary-adjusted value with his +2.92 Plus/Minus.
I really like Kelce’s matchup with the Colts, who have a funnel defense: This season, they rank fourth against the run in Football Outsiders’ DVOA but 20th against the pass. Their secondary is better than it was last season, and the linebackers are the strength of the Colts defense, but they aren’t at all imposing as pass defenders: Rookie Darius Leonard has been targeted a position-high 90 times, and Anthony Walker has a subpar 55.7 Pro Football Focus (PFF) coverage grade.
As much as they’ve improved defensively since last season, the Colts rank 20th in pressure rate and 29th in adjusted sack rate. The Chiefs should be able to move the ball against them. And the Chiefs and Colts are both top-10 in situation-neutral pace: They will likely combine to have the week’s fastest-paced matchup.
This season, the Colts have limited opposing pass offenses through a heavy reliance on a Cover 2 zone defense, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes hasn’t struggled against the zone, and the Colts have been vulnerable to tight end production because of their scheme. This year, they are 29th in pass DVOA against tight ends and have allowed a top-three mark of 12.7 FanDuel points per game to the position.
Kelce will probably match up most with strong safety Clayton Geathers, who has a 63.2 PFF coverage grade and has allowed a 75% catch rate. Kelce should dominate him. For guaranteed prize pools, you might want to use our Lineup Builder to stack Kelce with Mahomes. Since 2014, No. 1 tight ends have had a 0.47 correlation with their quarterbacks, but Kelce has had a 0.78 correlation with his passers.
One drawback to rostering Kelce is that he’s in Kansas City. While playing at home is normally advantageous, that’s not necessarily the case for Kelce and the Chiefs. With head coach Andy Reid (since 2013), no home team has made under bettors more money than the Chiefs have with their 17-32-1 over/under record (including playoffs), good for a 27.2% return on investment (per Bet Labs).
The outdoor and raucous Arrowhead Stadium is a hard place to play, especially once the weather is cold, and it’s not just road teams that have played worse in Kansas City this season (per the RotoViz Game Splits App).
- Chiefs on road: 38.3 points per game, 3.25 points per drive, 332.4 yards and 3.88 touchdowns passing
- Chiefs at home: 32.4 points per game, 3.11 points per drive, 308.4 yards and 2.38 touchdowns passing
Throughout the Reid era, the Chiefs have scored 3.1 fewer points at home than on the road. Although the market is expecting a shootout, we could see fewer points than expected, especially because of snowy and windy conditions in Kansas City. Over the past 15 seasons, outdoor postseason games have a 53-72-4 over/under record. For comparison, domed postseason games are 29-10.
Additionally, wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) is expected to play after practicing on a limited basis all week, and Kelce has exhibited notable Watkins-based splits this year.
- Watkins plays fewer than 80% of snaps (nine games): 16.7 FanDuel points per game, 10.2 targets, 7.3 receptions, 85.8 yards receiving, 0.78 touchdowns
- Watkins plays at least 80% of snaps (seven games): 13.3 FanDuel points per game, 8.3 targets, 5.3 receptions, 80.6 yards receiving, 0.43 touchdowns
With Watkins back on the field, Kelce could easily see fewer targets than he has over the past couple of months.
Even so, Kelce is extremely unlikely to have a poor game, given his position-high median and ceiling projections in our Models. He truly might break the slate.
The Chiefs’ postseason struggles are legendary — they are 0-9 against the spread at home since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger — but the connection Kelce has with Mahomes is unlike any other they’ve ever had.
On Saturday I will probably bet the over on Kelce’s yardage prop. This year, Kelce amassed the second-most single-season receiving yards of all time for a tight end, and the Colts have allowed a league-high 1,234 yards receiving to tight ends. No other team has allowed a yardage total even close to that to the position.
To find the best bets in the props market, use our Player Props Tool, which is powered by our industry-leading projections. Since Week 1, the props with a bet quality of 10 have gone 227-113-12, good for a 64% win rate. Without question, you should supplement your DFS action with player props.
With a position-high +4.02 Projected Plus/Minus and eight Pro Trends, Kelce is the No. 1 FanDuel tight end in all our Pro Models.
Divisional Round Positional Breakdowns
Be sure to read the other divisional round positional breakdowns.
For more in-depth NFL analysis information, check out The Action Network.
Pictured above: Travis Kelce
Photo credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports