NFL Analysis for Week 1 of the Playoffs, Jan 4-5, 2020

Hello everyone! ?

bathrobeDFS here with your analysis for the first week of NFL playoffs. I will work through all four games, analyzing any and all relevant data I can muster with regards to how they will perform in a DFS capacity. So let’s get deep into it!

One note before we begin: Make sure you are joining us on Flick. We are chatting, in great detail, about NFL picks, as well as how we think the regular season is going to play itself out. Head to, download the app on your phone, and then search by the codeword “bathrobedfs.” If you are having any issues, send me a tweet @bathrobeDFS and we will work it out!

Be sure to also throw me a follow @bathrobeDFS on twitter. I post a bunch of analysis and legit fantasy stuff there (especially for slates/games I can’t write up)

Also, if you want access to my projections and ownership caps for NFL and NBA, head on over to Just a note: we will be switching over to this site for projections soon! I am still doing projections and ownership cap work for the playoffs.

Offensive Injuries to Monitor ?
(officially posted Later Today – Thursday)

? Buffalo Bills (10-6 – 5th Seed) at Houston Texans (10-6 – 4th Seed)

Saturday, 435pm

Vegas Info

  • Vegas Info (Monday Morning) – O/U 41.5 – HOU 22.25 – BUF 19.25
  • Vegas Info (Tuesday Night) – O/U 43.5 – HOU 23 – BUF 20.5
  • Vegas Info (Wednesday Night) – SAME
  • Vegas Info (Thursday Night) – O/U –
  • Vegas Info (Friday Night) – O/U – 

The Story ?

Welcome to the playoffs everyone!! I absolutely love this time of year. Four games is just an absolutely beautiful slate size, and I think that the more research you do, and the more you know, the better off you’ll be. There’s a lot less “luck” involved when the slate isn’t made up of 13 teams with random people going off. Luckily, I do more research than I can handle just to share it with you, so hopefully that will help you make some serious money this week. Let’s start by taking a look at the first game, BUF/HOU!

Looking at the Buffalo defense, we are seeing a unit that shows serious splits. They are 5th best against the pass and 18th best against the run. If you break down the passing game even further, we see a Bills team that is 5th best against the slot and 7th best against the perimeter. There really is no great place to attack them. That means one thing – The Texans moving Nuk Hopkins all over the field, scheming him, and setting him up to be the deciding factor in this game. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Deshaun Watson targets Nuk 3x as many times as the next closest player on this team. I expect it also means a ton of dump off passes to Duke Johnson, Darren Fells, and Jordan Akins. I don’t expect any of those 3 to be nearly as highly owned as they should be. Especially considering this is a Texans team that prefers to pass it, and I expect will be playing from behind this game (even if Vegas disagrees). To me, it just plain adds up. 

The other question is the status of Will Fuller and Kenny Stills. Both are still limited at practice, though I imagine we will see a Questionable tag from both of them heading into the weekend. I want to say this – regardless of who the WR2 and WR3 are on Houston, I am going to have a sparing amount. Again, even with Houston poised to throw the ball all game, I don’t expect them to find much success in attacking the Bills through the air, except with elite talent and dump off players.

On the other side, we are seeing a Houston team that will be getting JJ Watt back. It goes without saying that this is a huge, huge boost to the Texans D. Not only does it give them back their best defender against the run, but it gives them a hell of a pass rusher as well. He’s going to make it harder for both Devin Singletary to succeed, as well as Josh Allen. Still, this is a Bills team that is projected to win this game, and I think they are going to be completely overlooked. Even though the Texans D will be improving, they are still 7th worst overall. And, again, while I expect their rush defense to improve, they were 11th worst overall. On top of that, their pass D was also 7th worst. I expect Buffalo to find a lot more success than people imagine, and I want to make sure I have a decent amount. 

First, we can start with Devin Singletary. He hasn’t exactly been a bellcow back, but I expect that to change. The Bills are going to want their best players on the field, so expect Singletary to soak up even more usage today while Frank Gore takes a backseat. I think Singletary will be used to help run the clock down as the Bills try to maintain their lead, he will be used at the goal line, and he will also be used a tremendous amount in the passing game to help move the chains. If you think the Bills lose this game, I still expect Singletary to find a ton of work with a few more targets as well. I expect him to more than exceed value on his 6k salary, and that he won’t be owned nearly as much as he should, especially on full PPR sites.

Second, the Buffalo pass game. I love Josh Allen today. I think he’s going to have to do everything for the Bills team, and I think this is a great team for him to be able to do that against. Apart from JJ Watt, I’m not expecting him to face much resistance. On the occasions the Texans secondary can cover all of the passing options, Allen will be more than able to scramble his way to victory. I love the floor his rushing game gives us. I love the ceiling. And I love getting it all at far less ownership than he deserves. Given that there’s no real CB on Houston that worries me, I am just going to pair Allen with the two WRs he’s been going to all season – John Brown and Cole Beasley. I expect both of them to have a good enough day you won’t regret playing them. I also expect that they will be two of the highest owned players I have today.

OTF Plays (over the field)

  • Josh Allen, John Brown, and Cole Beasley – I expect them to all get a ton of work today, and I expect them to all be hugely successful
  • Devin Singletary – I expect his workload to get a nice boost and, even though he will have JJ Watt to contend with, I expect him to be used enough, and get enough short passes, to more than make up for it. Plus, the price is great.
  • DeAndre Hopkins – Regardless of how fantastic the Buffalo pass D is, Nuk is on a different level, and they move him around constantly to make sure he always has the best look (to the detriment of the other WRs)
  • Houston TEs – I expect both Akins and Fells to get extra work today. I’m not going to have, like, 100% of these guys or anything. But I am going to certainly be a few % points over the field.
  • Duke Johnson – Like I have been saying all season, if the Texans are in a game where they will rely on passing, Duke Johnson is the way to go. He is especially useful the more you get per reception. On DK, 4400 is just not enough.

? GPP Options (tournament plays)

  • Deshaun Watson – The Buffalo pass game is just too good to count on Watson. I am probably going to wind up under the field here. But, while Buffalo’s pass defense is spectacular, Watson will still throw to Nuk, the TEs, and Duke a ton and it’s not impossible that he find success there. Especially given the Texans should be playing from behind
  • Bills D – The Bills D is really good. Much better than the Houston offense is, and I don’t think they’re going to get the respect or ownership they deserve here. 
  • Houston D – I don’t love this play but, again, they are getting JJ Watt back and he is an incredible gamechanger (as well as the name of my Cat, for an unrelated reason). He makes the Houston D worth more than 2600. Even if Buffalo doesn’t make a ton of mistakes, I am still fine with taking a chance on them here.

? UTF Plays (under the field)

  • Frank Gore – I think Singletary gets the use today. Too many people are going to play Gore for his price and his name recognition.
  • Carlos Hyde – Again, Houston is going to be relying on the pass game, which means not enough work to justify his price and ownership
  • Will Fuller and Kenny Stills – Or whoever the WR2 and WR3 are. I don’t expect them to find much success, even if they get a good amount of targets.

? Tennessee Titans (9-7 – 6th Seed) at New England Patriots (12-4 – 3rd Seed)

Saturday, 815pm

Vegas Info

  • Vegas Info (Monday Morning) – O/U 43.5 – NE 24 – TEN 19.5
  • Vegas Info (Tuesday Night) – O/U 44 – NE 24.5 – TEN 19.5
  • Vegas Info (Wednesday Night) – SAME
  • Vegas Info (Thursday Night) – O/U –
  • Vegas Info (Friday Night) – O/U – 

The Story ?

I am a huge, huge fan of this Titans team. Not in the sense that I root for them. In the sense that I think they are an incredibly solid team that goes consistently underrated. They play a game of slow control, something I explained in great detail in my season preview:

[The Titans are] a team that focuses on slow play and control. They don’t score a lot, but they also don’t give up a ton of points. Additionally, they run their offense by, again, trying to run as much time off the clock as possible. Let’s take a quick look at that in some more depth:

Pace in 2018:

  • Chargers – 30.25 seconds/play
  • Dolphins – 30.08 seconds/play
  • Bears – 29.82 seconds/play
  • Saints – 29.53 seconds/play
  • Titans – 29.52 seconds/play

Average time per drive (against the D):

  • Bengals – 2:57
  • Falcons – 2:53
  • Chiefs – 2:53
  • Titans – 2:52
  • Cardinals – 2:52

So, right now, we know the Titans Offense is one of the slowest in the league, taking almost 30 seconds for each play. While it may not be clear, the second stat I have listed is saying that drives against the Titans Defense take the 4th longest time. On average, a team drives against the Titans for nearly 3 minutes at a time. Generally, this would be a really bad sign. But the thing that makes this incredibly interesting is when you add the amount of points given up per drive. Let’s take a look at that last table, but add points allowed per drive up there:

Average time per drive (against the D) / Points allowed Per Drive:

  • Bengals – 2:57 – 2.50 pts/drive
  • Falcons – 2:53 – 2.39 pts/drive
  • Chiefs – 2:53 – 2.35 pts/drive
  • Titans – 2:52 – 1.72 pts/drive
  • Cardinals – 2:52 – 2.12 pts/drive

That’s pretty incredible. What’s even more incredible is just looking at the leaderboards for points allowed per drive:

  • Bears – 1.46 pts/drive
  • Ravens – 1.59 pts/drive
  • Vikings – 1.63 pts/drive
  • Titans – 1.72 pts/drive

While we will get to the fact the D isn’t as good as it was last year, what I am showing you here should amaze you, and show you exactly what kind of team the Titans are. They were not only the 4th slowest team in the NFL, they forced opponents O’s to be the 4th slowest, and then allowed the 4th fewest points per drive. This is a team that is all about slow, plodding control. On every side of the ball. Every play. Every game.

Now, if we update that information for 2019, we see this season, with a new QB, they are running slightly faster. Now they are the 11th slowest team. Still well slower than average, but faster than last season (28.37 seconds/play this season). This season, the Titans’ opponents are only getting 2:40 per drive, which is an improvement, especially considering they are still giving up nearly the same points per drive (1.78). That ties them for 9th best in the league overall. So, while they are a slightly worse version than last year in some ways, they are still getting similar results, and running the same philosophy. Run time off the clock, and make your opponent run time off the clock.

The question then becomes: How exactly do they do that? On offense, the answer is easy: run Derrick Henry as much as possible, and, the rest of the time, focus on short passes that will move the chains. They may take a big shot every once in awhile but, generally, this is going to be Henry running the ball as much as he can (and catching a ton of short passes), while Ryan Tannehill tries to throw as many short passes as he can to Tajae Sharpe and Jonnu Smith. With AJ Brown most likely blanketed by Stephon Gilmore, I am going to stay away from him. I also expect Jason McCourty to find a great deal of success against Corey Davis. This gives the Titans even less of a reason to take any deep shots. If you go here, go here knowing you’re hoping to find success through sheer volume. Apart from Henry, it’s gonna be a tough go against the overwhelming #1 Pass D in the league.

On the defensive side, the Titans try to make the opposing offense do the same exact thing as their offense – run the ball and try to focus on short passing to move the chains. They work extra hard to take away the deep ball and big plays, and they find tremendous success doing that. I expect this to continue here. That means we are going to see a ton of James White work today. He is going to be one of my favorite plays of the day (if not my favorite). I would also expect most passing work to go to the slot, which is where Julian Edelman lives. I expect him to go off today as well though, again, I expect a lot of his success to come with volume. If you are playing a site without PPR, I am not nearly as high on anyone from this game. 

OTF Plays (over the field)

  • James White – This type of game is what they have James White for. He is going to get as many short passes as he can handle and, given that the Titans look to take away the big play, he should be able to find decent success every time. Sure he may get a bunch of 7-10 yard receptions with the occasional bigger run, but that means he’s going to get you the 100 yard bonus with TD upside. 
  • Julian Edelman – I expect him to be the main focus of the Pats pass game, while the Titans, again, work overtime to take away the big plays from the outside guys. He is going to have a ton of volume and, again, should find a ton of success there. He may not get off a 40 yard play, but I won’t be shocked if he gets double-digit catches here and, like White, a 100 yard bonus with upside for more. 
  • Derrick Henry – The Titans want to rely on Henry, anyway. He’s their best talent. He is rested up, and he is going to get the volume and more. He is the most expensive RB as well, so I expect his ownership to be relatively low while people look to other similarly priced options (like Cook and Kamara). While I don’t think it’s likely, Henry is in the running to get 100 rushing and 100 receiving yards today. He will be used that much
  • Patriots D – I think the Pats D will be the highest owned today, and for good reason. The Titans are supposed to play from behind today, which means they should have to pass it. And that means the Pats D getting Pick Sixes. While he’s had a ton of success this season, he is still Ryan Tannehill, and the Pats D is way better than he is. I expect the Titans coaching to continue to be intelligent enough to remove as much risk as possible but, honestly, they may not have the choice as the game goes on. 

? GPP Options (tournament plays)

  • Titans Short Pass Game – This means taking an extra batch of Tajae Sharpe and Jonnu Smith. Tannehill is not going to find a ton of success today in the outside receivers. The Pats passing D really is that good. That means relying on a lot of short passes to Henry, and to the slot WR (Sharpe) and the TE (Smith). DEEP GPP option – Mycole Pruitt, a TE that might get a couple extra looks today, who got a TD in week 17, and is 6 for 6 since week 12. 
  • Patriots Pass Game – The Titans are a solid D but come on. This is the Pats. Not only is it the Pats, it’s the Pats a week after losing to the Dolphins for Christ’s sake. They are going to come out primed to send a message, and determined to make up for last week where they lost the bye this week. So, while I don’t think the success is guaranteed, I am not going to bet against Tom Brady, N’Keal Harry, or Mohamed Sanu. Hell, if you want a really DEEP GPP play, the Pats use Matt LaCosse in the end zone enough to warrant taking a look or two (if you play a lot of lineups)
  • Titans D – Again, I think the Titans D is underrated. They play a particular style and it doesn’t show up in the stat sheet as often as other teams. Still, they are only 2400 and, with only 8 options, I am more than fine taking a run on them. Especially if Brady starts trying to force it deep

? UTF Plays (under the field)

  • Titans Other Pass Game – I am not messing with the Pats Pass D if I can help it. Ever. Sorry Tannehill. Sorry AJ Brown. Sorry Corey Davis.
  • Sony Michel – I know he’s the one that gets the goal line usage, so he has tremendous upside, even if he barely gets you any yards today. But I don’t expect this to be a game where the Pats are ahead enough to take their foot off the pedal and let Michel run the clock out. I expect them to have to constantly rely on passes and that’s just not Michel’s game. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if, if the lead gets big enough, they’d save Michel and rely on Burkhead instead.

? Minnesota Vikings (10-6 – 6th Seed) at New Orleans Saints (13-3 – 3rd Seed)

Sunday, 105pm

Vegas Info

  • Vegas Info (Monday Morning) – O/U 47.5 – NO 27.75 – MIN 19.75
  • Vegas Info (Tuesday Night) – O/U 49.5 – NO 28.75 – MIN 20.75
  • Vegas Info (Wednesday Night) – SAME
  • Vegas Info (Thursday Night) – O/U –
  • Vegas Info (Friday Night) – O/U –

The Story ?

I wish this game had been in Minnesota. If it had been, this would have been one of the best fantasy games of the week, if not of the playoffs. Now, though, it’s going to be a lot harder for the Vikings to keep it close, and to turn this into a shootout. Still, it has the highest total of the slate and, while the Saints stars and Cook are all super chalky, the rest of the game is being overlooked. Let’s dig in and see if that’s a smart move, or if we should be right with the field here. 

On the Saints side, we know exactly what’s going to happen. Drew Brees is going to throw the ball to Michael Thomas as much as is humanly possible while Alvin Kamara, who they’ve been limiting all season in preparation for the playoffs, controls the run game. These 3 are projected to be the highest owned at their positions and I don’t think that’s crazy. I mean, in terms of share of work, there are few players that will have more or do more than Brees, MT, and Kamara today. Still, I can’t help but thinking the smartest way to attack a GPP with a single lineup is to play one of these 3, at most, and try to get better value from other players. I mean, let’s look at it: 

The Vikings are the 7th best D in the NFL. They are 7th best against the pass and 9th best against the run, one of only 4 teams to be in the top 10 in both categories (with the Pats, Steelers, and Rams). Xavier Rhodes is still amazing and he should be shadowing Michael Thomas all game (as should the free safety and whoever the hell else can get to him). It doesn’t mean that the Saints and Thomas won’t be successful. I mean, he’s going to go down as one of the top WRs to ever play the game if he can keep this up. But it also means the Vikings know exactly what kind of threat he poses, and that he will be the overwhelming focus of some elite defensive players. So am I going to have MT? Of course. Am I going to get to 50% like the field? I don’t think so.

Kamara, as well, comes with risk. As much as we assume his workload will increase in the playoffs, there’s every chance they just keep doing what worked this year, leaving Kamara with a good chance of underperforming when it comes to his salary, expectations, and being the highest owned player on the whole slate. Don’t get me wrong, I think Latavius Murray is even harder to trust with his highly questionable workload and 5k price tag. But I don’t think he’s going to be languishing on the bench, and I think, if the Saints are able to come out to decent lead, Murray will be tasked with helping to run the clock out, increasing his upside and lowering Kamara’s. Unless it’s the Super Bowl, they have an excuse to protect their players for “next game”

With how stout Rhodes is, and with how well Mackensie Alexander has done with the slot this season (Minnesota has allowed the 7th fewest points to slot receivers this season), it’s not crazy that Drew Brees also underperforms his salary, expectations, and chalk ownership. Still, he’s the hardest one for me to quit, as it were. Even if the Vikings prove effective in limiting MT, they can’t stop him. And, on top of that, Brees still has Ted Ginn (who has a great matchup), Kamara (for dumpoffs), and both TEs (Cook and Hill). I think that, regardless, those guys are gonna get some good looks, and if you’ve watched Brees in the pass, he has no problem spending all game making Ginn and Cook superstars today. 

On the other side of the ball, the Vikings will face a Saints D that is 11th best overall. They ended the season ranked 13th best against the pass and 5th best against the run. Those splits, as well as the fact that Minnesota is expected to trail all game, will lead me to lean heavily on the Vikings pass game here. The issue: Marshon Lattimore is awesome. And he is going to be shadowing someone. The question, then, is who? My guess, given the way it has worked in the past, is that Lattimore will shadow Stefon Diggs, leaving Adam Thielen to hit jackpot. Last year, when they matched up, Lattimore shadowed Diggs and held him to 2 catches on 2 targets for only 35 yards. This means I will be loading up on Thielen as one of my favorite WRs today. If there is word that Lattimore will not be shadowing Diggs (or will be shadowing Thielen), I would have to completely change how I approach Minnesota.

In terms of the running game, the Saints are incredibly stout, and even better in the Superdome. Given the fact that the Vikings will likely be playing from behind (and are projected to lose by the most this weekend), I have no problem taking a shot on Dalvin Cook as a ceiling play for an underpriced 7800. I think he has upside. I think he’ll get a ton of work in the passing game. I just don’t think he will be the focus of this offense the way that Minnesota would prefer him to be, as he was at the beginning of this season. As the Vikings switched more to the pass as the season progressed, we saw Cook go from one of the top fantasy performers in the NFL to one that is simply above average. I mean, if you go back to week 9, Cook has had one game where the Vikings leaned on the run. In that game, in week 10, he got 26 rush attempts and put up 31.3 DKP. In the other games? 15.6 DKP on 21 carries in week 9, 16.7 DKP on 11 carries in week 11, 14.4 DKP on 9 carries in week 13, 15.5 DKP on 18 carries in week 14 (against DETROIT), and 7.3 DKP on 9 carries in week 15 (though that is the week he was injured).  Still, paying 7800 for someone who should go overprojected, who isn’t guaranteed a ton of work, and who is coming back from an injury that prevented him from playing a couple weeks is a lot to ask. I am going to have a hard time going there myself. The same goes for the rest of the Vikings run game, now crowded with Alexander Mattison returning and joining Mike Boone whose role is uncertain, at best, this weekend (and probably non-existent)

OTF Plays (over the field)

  • Ted Ginn – While everyone is loading up on MT and Kamara and Brees, they are going to ignore the fact that Ginn has the best matchup of anyone on this Saints team, by far, and Brees trusts the hell out of him. He’s only 3600. I expect him to go off today.
  • Saints TEs – Again, I expect the Saints to throw a decent amount here, and I expect more of those passes to go to Ginn, Jared Cook and Josh Hill than you may otherwise think.
  • Adam Thielen – With Diggs likely getting the Lattimore treatment all game, I will be loading up on Thielen. Everything lines up perfectly for him to have one of those amazing games

? GPP Options (tournament plays)

  • Drew Brees – I will probably wind up being under the field on Brees, but there’s just too much to like here. He has too many options. Even if the Vikings are successful at limiting (not even shutting down) Thomas, Brees can just wing it to 3 or 4 other dudes who will face much weaker coverage (or dump it off to Kamara, who is enough of a talent on his own to make a play happen)
  • Kirk Cousins, Olabisi Johnson, and Kyle Rudolph – Thielen should be the main focus of Cousins, but we should still see a game where Cousins is forced to throw it a whole bunch. Given that Stefon Diggs will have it the hardest, I expect a lot of looks to go down the line to Rudolph and Johnson as well. 
  • DEEP GPP PLAY – Taysom Hill – When games are tough and things are close, the Saints love the scheme some crazy TD plays to Taysom Hill, someone who will be unowned, as people will not commit a QB spot to him. But, over his last 5 games he has three with 11.9 DKP, 12.3 DKP, and 18.5 DKP. Using him let’s you take Derrick Henry and Kamara and Michael Thomas and Nuk Hopkins with enough money left over to field a punt D and some cheap value plays everywhere. Again, this is a DEEP, crazy GPP play. But crazier things have happened, especially on 4 game slates. 
  • Tre’Quan Smith – I don’t trust him for the majority of the length of the field, but whenever the Saints are in the red zone, Smith has proven to be big enough and strong enough that gosh darnit, Drew Brees really, really likes him. He has a TD in 3 of his last 5 games and 4 of his last 6. He is 4k and no one is on him. 
  • Vikings D – 2200?? I know the Saints are tough. But the Vikings D is legit. They average over 9 DKP per game. That’s the 2nd most of any team on this slate. And they are the cheapest. Over the last 4 games they’ve put up 7, 9, 27, and 13 DKP? And they’re 2200?? Come on, son. 
  • Saints D – Say what you will about the Vikings, the Saints D is also legit, and they are playing at home where the crowd is going to make it even harder on the Vikings offense. 

? UTF Plays (under the field)

  • Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara – As I wrote earlier, I am still going to have a bunch of exposure to these two players. I just won’t have them 10% above everyone else.
  • Dalvin Cook – I know the Saints are going to do everything they can to shut him down, and I know they have a lot of fantastic pieces who’ve been successful at stopping the run game all season. Demerio Davis is the 2nd ranked linebacker this year according to PFF and for good reason. He is not only fantastic at stopping the run, he’s fantastic at limiting the yards after catch of RBs, something that is Cook’s bread and butter. Still, all that being said, Cook is still an amazing talent at only 7800 who will take advantage of the fact that, the further the Vikings fall behind, the more of an open field he will get (as the Saints play to protect against the deep pass). I just can’t trust him as the 4th most popular play on the day. 
  • Stefon Diggs – He is projected to be the 6th highest owned WR overall, including being well over the ownership of Thielen. And he’s the one getting Lattimore. I know one place I’ll take a stand against the field.

? Seattle Seahawks (11-5 – 5th Seed) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-7 – 4th Seed)

Saturday, 440pm

Vegas Info

  • Vegas Info (Monday Morning) – O/U 46 – SEA 23.75 – PHI 22.25
  • Vegas Info (Tuesday Night) – O/U 45.5 – SEA 24 – PHI 21.5
  • Vegas Info (Wednesday Night) – O/U 45 – SEA 23.75 – PHI 21.25
  • Vegas Info (Thursday Night) – O/U –
  • Vegas Info (Friday Night) – O/U –

The Story ?

I have a feeling that, when it comes down to it, I’m gonna like this game more than most. There are a few reasons for that, which I’ll get to over the course of this section, but the most significant is the defenses. Let’s take a closer look at what I mean.

First up, the Philly defense finished the season 12th, but they showed some ridiculous splits. They wound up 4th best again the rush and 16th best against the pass. When you have the 4th best rush D going up against 4th stringers and people they signed out of retirement, it doesn’t bode well for the chances of these overpriced Seattle RBs – Travis Homer, Marshawn Lynch, or emergency backup Robert Turbin. If Homer and Lynch were in the 3000s, I could understand taking a chance here given the matchup and their projected workload. But 5300 and 5200 respectively for the two? Yeah. No.

So, that leaves us with a Seattle offense that can lean pretty heavily on the pass game today. And, when you break down the Philly pass game, you hit the jackpot here. Against the perimeter, where DK Metcalf plays 90% of the time and Tyler Lockett plays 30%, Philly is the worst in the NFL. Against the slot, though, Philly has been the best in the league. That’s where Tyler Lockett normally plays but, given that no one is going to be shadowing anyone here, I expect Lockett to spend more time on the outside than normal this game. This means an absolutely fantastic day for Russ Wilson and his two star WRs and they’re not being owned nearly high enough for that. I have no problem taking any other Seattle pass option, but they would be GPP plays, at best. Metcalf and Lockett are the elite talents on this team and they won’t face nearly enough resistance to limit both of them consistently all game. 

On the other side of the ball, you see a Seattle D that shows pretty stark splits as well. In addition to that, they’ve had one of the lowest variance ratings of any defense all season meaning, basically, what you see in the stats is what you get. And the stats say that Seattle has to go into Philly, dodge some batteries, and face a defense that was a respectable 15th against the pass, but an exploitable 7th worst against the run. That leads to the major question: What the hell do we do with the Philly rushing game??

You have Miles Sanders who is nursing an injury. He is questionable, but he’s supposed to play according to the coach. Assuming he suits up, we don’t know how major his role is going to be, or if he’ll be limited in any way. You have Jordan Howard, who recently returned from injury, was limited to one snap in week 17 (even with Sanders getting injured), but is supposed to have a role on the offense this weekend. What that role is has yet to be determined, but I expect it to be a change of pace from Sanders, when they don’t want to do a passing play. Not a very stable or bankable role at all. Then you have Boston Scott, who’s been running like his ass is on fire and he’s being chased wasps. While his recent success has been largely due to taking advantage of injuries, you can’t deny the upside of someone who is the pass catching back on a team that is supposed to trail, going against one of the worst run defenses in the league. Apart from the inherent risk of playing a 6k 3rd-down/passing back, the only issue you have to deal with is ownership. 

When it comes to the Philly passing game, I look at the Seattle secondary and see a lot of success by Akeem King against the slot. I see a lot of success by Shaquill Griffin on the right side of the field. I also see Tre Flowers getting targeted heavily this game, and to much success. Unfortunately, with most of Philly’s WRs sidelined, and the one reliable one they have on the roster a slot receiver, we are looking at some GPP options at best. I mean Greg Ward will play the slot a good 60% of the time. You can spend over 5k and bet that he avoids Griffin the other 40% of the time, but it’s not likely. And then, behind Ward, are you really going to trust JJ Arcega-Whiteside or Robert Davis or Deontay Burnett?? Of course you’re not. Are you gonna play them at those respective 3300, 3200, and 3100 price tags in DEEP GPPs? Of course you are. 

Lastly, while I don’t expect him to play, the elephant in the room on this slate is the status of Zach Ertz. He still hasn’t been cleared for contact but, barring him being ruled out, I wouldn’t ever bet against him suiting up. Dude is tough as nails and will do everything he can to be out there. If he plays, he will soak up like 50% of the targets on this team. If he doesn’t, you can count on Dallas Goedert (who is the 3rd most popular player on the slate) and Joshua Perkins (who put up 15 DKP last game, and is getting completely overlooked this weekend). The issue is how do we build lineups when we may not know Ertz’ status until 3pm on Sunday, when everyone else from all 3 slates are locked in? How much of a risk do you want to take? 

I hope that they make a decision on Ertz before Saturday’s kickoff, but I fear we are going to have to make our best guess and hope we are right, risking real money in the process. Just make sure that, wherever you have Ertz, he is in a position to be switched out. That is to say – if you are playing multiple TEs in your lineup, MAKE SURE ERTZ IS IN THE UTIL SLOT. That way if he doesn’t play you can switch him out for someone more appropriately priced. If he is in the TE slot, you are going to wind up leaving hundreds on the table you may otherwise have been able to utilize. Either way, unless we find out before Saturday afternoon, this sucks.

OTF Plays (over the field)

  • Seattle Pass Game – By which, I primarily mean Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, and DK Metcalf. They are 3 of my favorite plays today, especially when you consider their ownerships are so low (relatively)
  • Joshua Perkins – If Ertz IS OUT I am going to have a bunch of Perkins. A whole bunch.

? GPP Options (tournament plays)

  • Boston Scott – Philly should be playing from behind, and Scott is the dude that’s gonna be catching passes. Even if Sanders and Howard work to split the normal RB work, Scott has carved out a set role I expect him to be able to capitalize on. 
  • Carson Wentz and the WRs – I expect the Eagles to have to pass a lot, even though there aren’t too many elite options for him to throw it to. If he had a couple better players I would be OTF on Wentz but I don’t know how you can be when he’s going to rely on Ward and Davis and Burnett and Arcega-Whiteside. Ward is the only one whose shown real upside, but he’s too expensive to trust, and in the worst possible matchup
  • Seattle RBs – I mean, Travis Homer may catch 7 or 8 passes, which isn’t bad for his 5300. Marshawn Lynch will most likely get the goal line work, which is good for him. He could get lucky a couple of times. But, otherwise, I am not messing with the Philly rush D. 
  • Jacob Hollister – I think he’s going to fly under the radar today, which I understand due to his lack of name recognition. But, look at Hollister since week 10, when he took over lead TE duties – 10 targets for 20.2 DKP, 4 targets for 4.2 DKP (against Philly), 8 targets for 10.4 DKP, 6 targets for 7.4 DKP, 3 targets for 5.3 DKP, 6 targets for 11.4 DKP, and 8 targets for 6.5 DKP. Obviously, this isn’t a sure thing. But I expect Seattle to stay in a passing setup most of the game, and I expect him to be one of the main beneficiaries (with Metcalf and Lockett)

? UTF Plays (under the field)

  • Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard – I think they are going to be splitting too much work, and I don’t have enough faith in either of them to have anything more than some fleeting exposure. 
  • Dallas Goedert – I mean, I love him if Ertz is out. I don’t know how you can’t. But he’s going to be like 40% owned and that’s just crazy. I’m gonna have some, but I’d rather pivot down to Perkins and save some salary I can use elsewhere.
  • The Defenses – I think this is going to be a higher scoring game without giving us that much in terms of turnovers.

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