Welcome to the start of the NFL postseason! Saturday features a two-game slate starting at 4:30 p.m. ET.
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
There isn’t a huge pricing disparity between the four quarterbacks on Saturday’s slate. They’re all priced within $1,100 of each other on DraftKings, and the gap falls to just $900 on FanDuel.
Justin Herbert is the most expensive option. He had a subpar season statistically, finishing with career lows in touchdown passes, adjusted yards per attempt, and passing yards per game, but he had to deal with plenty of adversity. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams were both in and out of the lineup with injuries, so Herbert rarely had his full complement of weapons.
Unsurprisingly, that had a negative impact on Herbert’s fantasy numbers. He posted an average Plus/Minus of -1.67 on DraftKings this season, and he failed to crack 20 fantasy points in his final six starts. Williams and Allen were available for the final five, so that excuse doesn’t apply either.
However, Herbert does draw the best possible matchup vs. the Jaguars. They finished the regular season 30th in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA, which is easily the worst mark among the playoff teams. They also allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.
Ultimately, Herbert leads Saturday’s quarterbacks in median and ceiling projection per THE BLITZ, and he stands out as the clear top choice on FanDuel. His $7,800 price tag comes with a Bargain Rating of 65%, which is also the top mark at the position.
On the other side of that matchup, Trevor Lawrence warrants heavy consideration on DraftKings. He’s priced at just $5,700, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 93%, and Lawrence has been one of the best quarterbacks in football recently. Over his final eight games, Lawrence racked up 16 total touchdowns – 14 through the air, two on the ground – to go along with nearly 255 passing yards per game. He had at least 19.26 DraftKings points in five of those contests, and he racked up at least 28.94 in three.
The matchup isn’t nearly as friendly for Lawrence as it is for Herbert, with the Chargers possessing a run-funnel defense. They rank just 29th in rush defense DVOA, but they’re 10th against the pass. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that opposing quarterbacks attempted the third-fewest passes per game against the Chargers.
However, Herbert does stand out from a Vegas perspective. The Jaguars are listed as home underdogs, and he has crushed in that spot this season. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +4.74 as a home dog, and he’s scored at least 28.94 DraftKings points in his last two occurrences (per the Trends tool). Those games were against the Cowboys and Ravens, who also possess strong pass defenses.
The other game features the Seahawks and 49ers, and it’s tougher to get excited about that contest. The total is 5.5 points lower at 42.0, and the 49ers are listed as nearly double-digit favorites. Those aren’t the types of game scripts that tend to lead to fantasy production. Still, we can’t ignore one contest on a two-game slate.
Geno Smith was one of the best stories in the NFL this season. He had been banished to a backup quarterback role after flaming out with the Jets, but he bounced back to make the Pro Bowl in his first year as the Seahawks’ starter. Unfortunately, Smith’s play tailed off at the end of the season. He averaged just 5.82 adjusted yards per attempt over his final five games, finishing with eight touchdown passes and five interceptions. He had 15.32 and 7.08 DraftKings points in his two games vs. the 49ers this season, and it’s hard to envision much improvement in the postseason.
Brock Purdy was “Mr. Irrelevant” in the 2022 NFL Draft, and no one expected him to see the field for the 49ers this season. However, injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo forced him onto the field, and Purdy responded with a perfect 5-0 record as a starter. He’s also been a consistent fantasy producer, racking up at least 16.48 DraftKings points in each game. He doesn’t bring the highest ceiling to the table, but he has an excellent floor for a solid matchup vs. the Seahawks.
NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Christian McCaffrey has had some monster games since arriving in San Francisco. He’s scored at least 28.6 DraftKings points in four of his past six contests, but one of the exceptions was last week vs. the Cardinals. Elijah Mitchell returned to the lineup in that outing, and it’s possible that he could steal some between-the-tackles work from McCaffrey moving forward.
Is that cause for concern? Not really. McCaffrey still dominated the touches in the first half, racking up 75% of the snaps and rushing attempts before halftime. With the game well in hand, the team decided to lean on Mitchell and Jordan Mason to close out the contest.
McCaffrey is also capable of providing elite production without a ton of traditional carries. He’s obviously an elite pass-catcher, and Mitchell shouldn’t impact his work in that department in the slightest. The Seahawks rank 30th in pass defense DVOA vs. opposing running backs, so this is the perfect matchup for McCaffrey to put his receiving chops on display. He doesn’t stand out as the best pure value on this slate, but he owns the top ceiling projection in THE BLITZ.
Kenneth Walker closed out his rookie year strong, rushing for at least 107 yards in each of his final three games. He didn’t manage to find the end zone in any of those contests, but he still posted a positive Plus/Minus in each.
Walker was extremely busy down the stretch, racking up at least 23 carries in each of his final three contests. He had at least 21 carries in six of 11 games as a starter, so his volume is pretty much unmatched among Saturday’s running backs. Overall, he’s had at least 90% of the team’s rushing attempts in three of their past four games, so he’s emerged as a clear bell-cow runner.
It’s not going to be easy for Walker against the 49ers – they rank second in the league in rush defense DVOA – but he only needs one carry to potentially return value. He’s a dynamic athlete, with his 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine ranking in the 98th percentile at the position (per Player Profiler). His 10 carries of 20+ yards ranked tied for second in the league, while his three carries of 40+ yards ranked tied for fourth. He’s a big play waiting to happen, and he should have plenty of chances against the 49ers.
Austin Ekeler is the other stud running back to consider on this slate, and he’s probably the closest facsimile to McCaffrey in the league. He’s not nearly as good between the tackles, but he’s elite when it comes to catching passes and scoring touchdowns. He finished as the top fantasy running back this season in terms of PPR points per game, but his role as a pass-catcher did decrease as the team’s receivers got healthier. He averaged nine targets per game from Weeks 2 through 14, but he had four targets or fewer in his final four games. That gives McCaffrey a slight edge in my eyes.
Last but certainly not least is Travis Etienne Jr. In fact, he might be the best pure value at the position given his matchup vs. the Chargers. They’ve allowed the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season, and Etienne excelled after the team traded away James Robinson. He averaged 5.17 yards per attempt after taking over as the team’s starter in Week 6, so he has plenty of upside in this spot.
If you’re looking to play a non-starter at the position, Mitchell is probably your best bet. He should have a role alongside McCaffrey, particularly given the spread. If the 49ers are able to establish a comfortable lead, it could be Mitchell who is asked to kill the clock in the fourth quarter. That makes him an interesting GPP option at just $4,700.
NFL DFS Wide Receiver Picks
This slate is missing a true stud at the receiver position, but Keenan Allen is the closest thing to it. He’s actually looked quite studly since returning to the lineup in Week 11, racking up the second-most fantasy points at the position. That includes 33.2 DraftKings points in Week 18, which was the top score at the position.
Allen has been remarkably consistent since returning to the lineup. He’s racked up a 26% target share, and he’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in six of his final eight games. He had a near miss in a seventh, finishing with a Plus/Minus of -0.16 against the Titans, and he still managed to crack double figures in his lone “bust.”
There’s also a chance that the team will be without Williams, which would be a huge boost for Allen. Williams did travel with the team to Jacksonville, but he sounds like a true game-time decision. He didn’t get in even a single limited practice this week, and while that would almost always result in an absence during the regular season, the team could make an exception during the playoffs.
Zay Jones stands out as the clear top value at the position on DraftKings. He’s priced at just $4,300, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 94%, and he leads all receivers in terms of projected Plus/Minus per THE BLITZ. His eight Pro Trends are also tied for the top mark at the position.
Jones ended the season on a low note, finishing with 6.1 DraftKings points or less in three straight games, but he emerged as a big part of their passing attack this season. His 22.1% target share was just slightly lower than Christian Kirk’s team-leading 23.2% mark, and Jones also commanded 25.9% of the team’s air yards. Jones has also been one of Lawrence’s favorite options around the goal line, leading the team with 33% of their end zone targets.
Ultimately, Jones brings an elite ceiling to the table for his price tag. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +2.95 with a comparable salary this season, and he’s turned in three games with at least 21.7 DraftKings points this season. Expect him to be one of the highest-owned options at the position.
D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are always in play for the Seahawks. They are one of the most high-volume receiver duos in football, combing for more than 48% of the team’s targets and 67% of the team’s air yards this season. Both players are also positively correlated, which is rare for two top receivers. That makes the Seahawks an intriguing stack target, albeit in a brutal matchup. Lockett has posted better numbers against the 49ers this season, but Metcalf stands out as the better pure value on FanDuel.
Has Brandon Aiyuk overtaken Deebo Samuel as the 49ers’ top receiver? It’s possible. Samuel had just an 11% target share in his return to action last week, and his -4.0 average depth of target (aDOT) is extremely unappealing. Meanwhile, Aiyuk has developed excellent chemistry with Purdy, racking up a target share of at least 26% in three straight games. That said, Samuel still has plenty of pedigree, and he grades out significantly better than Aiyuk in THE BLITZ.
Zay Jones isn’t the only viable option in the Jaguars’ receiving corps. In fact, he’s not even the only viable Jones. Marvin Jones also has some appeal at a near-minimum salary on DraftKings, particularly in this matchup. The Chargers have been poor against “other” receivers this season, ranking 23rd in DVOA vs. non-No. 1 or 2 options. Of course, Christian Kirk is also usable on DraftKings, especially given his 82% Bargain Rating.
NFL DFS Tight End Picks
Purdy’s jersey sales spiked after he took over as the team’s starter, and I can only imagine that George Kittle is responsible for at least 50% of that. Kittle spent most of the year toiling as a blocker and minor pass-catcher, but he remains one of the best tight ends in football. He finally got his chance to spread his wings with Purdy under center, and he responded with seven touchdowns in his final four games. That includes two scores last week despite Deebo returning to the lineup.
The fact that Kittle maintained a 32% target share in Week 18 bodes well for his success moving forward. He was previously targeted on just 16% of his routes run in games with Samuel available, so it’s possible that Purdy will continue to lean on him in the playoffs.
Kittle also draws a phenomenal matchup vs. the Seahawks. He leads the position with an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.7 on DraftKings, and Seattle ranked just 27th in DVOA vs. opposing tight ends. Kittle crushed the Seahawks for four catches, 93 yards, and two touchdowns in their last meeting, so he provides the top ceiling at the position.
Punting the tight end position is always a viable strategy, and Colby Parkinson stands out as a strong value at just $2,500 on DraftKings. He’s split the tight end duties with Noah Fant recently, posting a route participation of at least 58% in back-to-back weeks. He’s been targeted on at least 25% of his routes run in two of his past three contests, and he managed to catch a touchdown two weeks ago vs. the Jets. If he can find the paint vs. the 49ers, he could very easily find himself in the optimal GPP lineup.
Evan Engram has always had the talent to be a top receiving tight end, and he’s put it all together in his first year with the Jaguars. He racked up career highs in yards and receptions, and he also added four touchdowns. He wasn’t particularly effective down the stretch, finishing with 3.9 and 6.7 DraftKings points in his final two games, but he had at least 14.0 DraftKings points in each of his previous four contests. Engram owns similar median and ceiling projections to Kittle at a significant discount, so he’s arguably the top option at the position.
Gerald Everett has seen his role take a hit with the return of Donald Parham Jr., but that could change if Williams is unable to go. Everett would likely see a boost in responsibilities in that scenario, making him an interesting buy-low target.