And then there were eight. As we look back at the exciting Wild Card Round in the rearview mirror, Saturday afternoon is arguably the best weekend in football. The cream has finally risen to the top in the 2023 NFL Divisional Round where we will witness four games featuring the 93% Grade “A” meat of the league’s finest. The slates are getting smaller and smaller each week as we approach Super Bowl LVII, so we will need to be even sharper and more creative in our DFS builds. Being different will make you uncomfortable, separate you from the field and keep you above the pay lines in your GPPs and cash games.
Let’s get down to business. Remember to hop on our Discord chat for all your questions and advice on your lineup builds and always take the time to use our optimizers and projection models. The party starts now…NFL Divisional Round Breakdown here we go!
Just when you thought the Jaguars were toast last Saturday, it goes to show you the game is never over until the clock hits 0:00. The second half in Jacksonville was a true storybook ending for Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars, throwing four touchdowns after four interceptions. But can they continue on their hot streak against the number one-seeded Chiefs on the road? Absolutely.
Kansas City has been one of the most generous passing defenses league with a DVOA of 29th in the league. The writing is on the wall for Lawrence and his receiving core… put the ball in the air. Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram will all be busy running routes, likely playing from behind. The Chiefs’ zone formations do allow receptions to running backs too, giving up 19 in their last three games. Travis Etienne could also be effective in this matchup. We like the players but love their price tags. All are affordable as mid-range salaries on DraftKings, and valid contrarian punts would be Jamal Agnew ($3,000 on DK) and Marvin Jones Jr. ($3,600 on DK). Both are third and fourth in snap share and would be your dart throws on DraftKings and FanDuel.
It will be business as usual for Pat Mahomes at Arrowhead Stadium making his fifth consecutive visit to the postseason, and his opponent couldn’t be any juicier. The Jags land right below the Chiefs in passing DVOA at 27th, and Mahomes exploited this defense back in Week 10 throwing for 331 yards and four touchdowns. The key to his success in the regular season has been his ball distribution, allowing everyone a piece of the offense besides tight end Travis Kelce.
Jerick McKinnon, Kadarius Toney, and Justin Watson have all reaped the rewards of Mahomes, especially in the absence of Mecole Hardman’s pelvis injury. Of course, we still like Ju Ju and MVS and are viable this Saturday afternoon, but all will be in plenty of other people’s lineups. Rookie Skyy Moore and tight end Noah Gray will see the field too, with the injuries to Hardman and fellow tight end Jody Fortson. Lock them both in for punt plays at receiver and tight end positions, and elude a lot of the chalk.
Big Blue pulled off the upset in Minnesota last weekend in a very fantasy-friendly Vikings defense which allowed them 31 points and the victory. They’ll ride that momentum down I-95 into the heart of the NFC’s number-one seed and division rival Philadelphia Eagles. Can they pull off another upset? Only time will tell.
First-year head coach Brian Dabol has unlocked quarterback Daniel Jones, turning him into a QB-1 for the postseason, scoring well over 30 fantasy points (78 rushing yards) against the Vikings. Running back Saquon Barkley was also on his game scoring two touchdowns, and giving the Giants a one-two punch on the ground heading into Philly.
But the real story in New York has been walk-on receiver Isaiah Hodgins. Thrown to the waivers by the Bills, the Giants snagged him in Week 10, scoring five touchdowns in his last six games. Fellow receivers Darius Slayton and Ritchie James have also picked up the slack regarding all the injuries this season, and are priced way too cheap in this matchup that Vegas foreshadows the Giants trailing by a big margin. The Giants’ pass catchers will provide much-needed salary relief with a high ceiling for builds on Saturday-Sunday.
All eyes will be on quarterback Jalen Hurts when he leads the number one-seeded Philadelphia Eagles onto the field this coming Saturday night. Hopefully, we will get the regular season, MVP-caliber Hurts instead of the Week 18 one that put up just nine fantasy points against a third-string Giants’ defensive unit. Time will tell if he is back to 100% as the Eagles cannot afford to lose to a Giants team playing with house money and nothing to lose.
I love the controversy around Hurts‘ injury, it’s driving his stock down and giving him a huge edge in DFS as possibly the lowest owned, highest potential on the slates. He slaughtered the Giants’ in Week 14, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for one in only three-quarters of play.
As for the other options in Philly, they are all a go for me except for AJ Brown. We all saw Justin Jefferson disappear in Minnesota last weekend, thanks to a healthy cornerback Adoree‘ Jackson, and safety Xavier McKinney. Brown’s high salary may not pay off as did Jeffersons‘, so a pivot to Devonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and Quez Watkins would be pretty clever on Saturday for DFS. Tight end Goedert especially after the monster game TJ Hockenson had against the Giants’ linebackers last week.
Let’s not forget about Eagles running back Miles Sanders. He went for 144 yards rushing with two scores back in Week 14’s massacre. But his production is heavily reliant on Hurts‘ ability to run the football. I’ll have my share of Sanders at $5,700 on DraftKings in hope that Hurts is back to his true form as the top dual-threat quarterback. Also, check out Boston Scott “the Giant Killer” (5 TDs in six games) as a nice punt for running back at $4,300 on DraftKings.
The Bengals will be out for blood on the road in Buffalo, in a game that many believe would have been in Cincinnati if their regular season game played out with the Bills. Right from the gate in Week 17, Burrow marched down the field to hit Tyler Boyd in the end zone, with plenty more to come this Sunday in hopes of making a second straight trip to the AFC Championship game.
Even though they’ll be without three starting offensive linemen, Joe Burrow has the firepower and agility to carve up a Bills defense that allowed 31 points to a Miami third-string quarterback last week. So can we pair Burrow with his main man Ja’Marr Chase? We could but there may be better options.
Chase could be in line for a dose of TreDavious White and double coverage on Sunday, so pivoting to Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd could pay off dividends in DFS. The salary relief is also a bonus using Higgins, whose $5,800 price tag on Draftkings can be paid easily.
The AFC champs were sloppy and looked out of sorts in that Wild Card matchup with Miami, allowing third-string rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson to move the football comfortably. But even on his worst day, the Bills’ Josh Allen continues to rack up fantasy points, but how? He runs…and he throws, rarely handing off the pigskin.
Then there’s his go-to receiver Stefon Diggs, who may see some Eli Apple when Gabe Davis is not on the field. Good luck covering Diggs after what we saw Demarcus Robinson do last weekend…deuces. Tight end Dawson Knox has also been money in the bank, catching a touchdown in five straight games. He could make it six as the Bengals have been a tight end turnstile, allowing eight touchdowns to the position this season.
One more Bills player to consider is James Cook. The rookie running back is priced at $4,800 on DraftKings and has scored two touchdowns in his last three games. He is the clear number-one option at his position and can hit paydirt again in this potential high-scoring game.
Well, they’ve finally jumped a hurdle in history, a road playoff win…congrats Cowboys fans. But the fun has just begun as they face the Niners in Santa Clara in the finale. I’m really looking forward to seeing Dak in action against the number-one-ranked defense. If he can do half of what he did against the Bucs (five total touchdowns, 305 yards passing) on Sunday it could lead to a victory.
Second Team Pro Bowler Cee Dee Lamb gets the best matchup on paper by lining up in the slot against corner Charvarius Ward. Lamb has dominated in the slot all year, and should absolutely crush against a Niner team that has been tough to run on all year.
I’ve been pretty quiet on DST options so far up until now, I think Diggs and Kearse finally get Purdy to fork over the ball more than once in this game. Dallas takes shots on defense, and as perfect as Purdy has been thus far, Micah Parsons is a problem. He lines up all over the field with one motive, unless Trent Williams saves the day, Brock may have to earn every yard this Sunday.
The unbeaten and practically undrafted Brock Purdy has been the savior of the Forty-Niners’ injury-ridden season, projecting them as a favorite to win it all. Yes, he did have over 37 DK fantasy points in almost two-quarters of football, can he repeat that? Nope, I can’t even see him get close. After watching Tom Brady throw the ball 66 times and barely put together one decent drive last weekend, I’m out.
Who I do like is McCaffrey, but you don’t need me to tell you that. His yards after the catch have set the bar for running backs in his career. And with all the pressure headed Purdy’s way via Parsons and company, McCaffrey will again feast over the middle with dump-offs and screen passes.
Deebo Samuel finally woke up in the playoffs, catching 9 balls for 133 yards and a score. He draws another nice matchup against the Dallas 27th DVOA to opposing receivers. Teammate Brandon Aiyuk also could’ve had a monster day if he held onto that pass that hit him in the numbers. Both are solid and severely underpriced on DraftKings ($5,900 and $5,000).
By the way, if you still believe in Purdy, then go with your gut. The guy is the lowest-priced quarterback with the highest ceiling, giving you the best ROI in DFS for the slate.
Thanks for reading my NFL DFS Divisional Round Game by Game Breakdown. You can reach me on Twitter @JoeDiCarlo78 or in our Discord where we will have our experts talking about plays across every sport and tag me @JDiCarlo78 for any lineup build opinions or questions. Be sure to sign up for an ALL-ACCESS GOLD ACCOUNT here at Win Daily Sports and Gain access to our Projection Models. Good luck to everyone this weekend and let’s crush!
Capper Steve is our featured handicapper. He is a former professional poker player and highly successful DFS cash game competitor. His career highlights include winning 10 of 13 wagers during the 2018 NFL playoffs and correctly predicting and successfully wagering on the last three CFB National Champions. He is also very profitable in NBA and NHL wagering and is a dedicated MLB handicapper.
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