In this weekly column, we will identify the best plays, values, and tournament options for your NFL DFS lineups. We’ll also offer the best “fades” at each position, indicating which players to avoid when building your lineups.
This article will bring you the best plays for games on Saturday and Sunday. There are two separate slates for contests at FanDuel this weekend and DraftKings offers a combined 4-game slate as well as individual 2-game slates.
Keep in mind that some of the plays offered are better for “Cash” games, i.e. 50/50, H2H, and Double-Up formats that require a more conservative approach. Some plays are recommended for GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) tournaments where it’s necessary to take more risk in the hopes of separating from a large field. Those GPP plays can also be ideal for Best Ball formats where players with higher upside are valuable.
For those interested in the DFS Single-Game Slate contests, here’s a quick recap:
In the “Showdown” mode on DraftKings, there are five utility spots and a “Captain” slot, who receives 1.5x multiplier for all DK points accrued. Pricing differs for players when selected in the Captain spot versus the FLEX spots, with all players required to fit under a $50k salary cap. All options are in play from QBs, RBs and WRs, to kickers and D/ST from each team.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kickoff since things can change quickly in the NFL. Please note any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if he doesn’t respond well in warm-ups.
NFL DFS SUNDAY DIVISIONAL ROUND BEST CONTESTS
DraftKings: Divisional Millionaire (Sun): $20 entry, $3.5M guaranteed – $1,000,000 to 1st!
DraftKings: Play-Action: $3 entry, $1M guaranteed – $100,000 to 1st!
FanDuel: Sunday Million: $4.44 entry, $1M guaranteed – $200,000 to 1st!
FanDuel: Sunday Million: $4.44 entry, $1.25M guaranteed – $250,000 to 1st!
Top NFL DFS Plays for Divisional Round Slate
Best Play: Josh Allen ($7.4k DraftKings, $8.8k FanDuel)
Patrick Mahomes ($8.0k, $9.2k) is certainly worth paying up for on the 4-game slate at DraftKings, but Allen is clearly the best option on Saturday’s slate. Aaron Rodgers could cool off against a brutal Rams defense and Lamar Jackson is almost completely dependent on rushing stats given how stingy the Bills secondary has been lately. While the Ravens secondary is also on fire, Allen has thrived regardless of matchup with multiple passing TDs in 8 of last 9 outings. He’s still never thrown a red zone interception and just completed 74.2% of his passes against a stingy Colts defense. The Bills posted a modest 36.2% rush-play rate in that game and might abandon the run right away with Zack Moss (ankle) out.
Tom Brady has more upside in a head-to-head matchup between two future Hall of Famers. But Brees is clearly the safer play given his matchup. The Bucs allow 249.1 passing YPG and 66.7% of the TDs they’ve allowed have come through the air. Tampa plays “funnel defense” to deny interior runs and the Saints will have crafty counters in place to get Alvin Kamara and Deonte Harris the ball on short passes. At this stage in his career, Brees is less likely to push the ball downfield in a shootout, but he’s savvy enough to execute in the red zone and keep the Saints marching into the NFC Championship.
This is a true legacy game for Brady. No one is going to take away his accolades in New England, but if he loses a third straight to the Saints and bows out of the playoffs, it will raise question marks about his ability to win big games without Bill Belichick. While New Orleans had his number in 2 meetings this season, Brady still piled up stats in a comeback effort during a Week 1 loss and he’s been throwing at a top 3 rate over the past month. The Saints allowed a league-high 72.5% of TDs from the opposition to come through the air and the Bucs might still be without goal-line back Ronald Jones (quad). Brady is a GPP option because of his floor, but he could very well wind up as the top per-dollar option of the weekend.
The Rams secondary is unbelievably disciplined and talented. Jalen Ramsey is one of the few CBs capable of playing Davante Adams to a draw and Rodgers has been leaning on Adams all year with his star receiver posting a league-high 42.4% red zone target share. Rodgers has posted some absolute clunkers in the face of consistent interior pressure and just lost LT David Bakhtiari (knee) for the year. The Rams defensive line is deep enough to generate pressure without Aaron Donald (ribs) and Donald could obviously be a game wrecker if he’s anywhere close to 100 percent.
Best Play: Cam Akers ($5.7k DraftKings, $7.0k FanDuel)
Akers was our top play for Saturday contests last week and the rookie didn’t disappoint. He’s gutted through an ankle injury with 262 scrimmage yards on 55 touches over his last 2 appearances. Those numbers came in tougher matchups than he’ll draw this week in Green Bay. The Packers rank 18th in DVOA rush defense and 75% of TDs against them have come on the ground over their last 3 games. The Rams are 7th in rush-play percentage and Akers has a stranglehold on workload with a 69.7% snap share over his last 4 appearances. The Rams QB situation is a disaster and they will clearly try to pound the rock to shorten the game and keep Aaron Rodgers off the field.
The Browns utilized both their backs in a Wildcard win over the Steelers and could look to feature Hunt even more prominently depending on how their matchup with the Chiefs unfolds. Kansas City (-10) is obviously expected to open a big lead and they should pass all over Cleveland’s struggling secondary as Andy Reid looks to build on his impressive record of bye-week success. Hunt is the Browns preferred receiving back with 38 receptions and 304 receiving yards on the season. There is also a revenge narrative for Hunt as he faces a Chiefs franchise that released him after the video surfaced of him kicking a woman.
The Ravens backfield was impossible to forecast when they were using 3 backs, but Mark Ingram was a healthy scratch last week and their workload is now distributed more evenly between J.K. Dobbins ($6.0k, $6.5k) and Edwards. Gus the Bus carried 8 times while Dobbins saw 9 carries at Tennessee last week. He averages 6.4 yards per touch and is a powerful runner between the tackles. The Bills quick defense is most vulnerable on the interior and they tied with Denver for the highest percentage of TDs (46.8%) allowed on the ground. Edwards has 27 red zone touches this season and he’s the Ravens preferred RB to run read-option alongside Lamar Jackson.
Don’t get cute with CEH or Le’Veon Bell outside of GPP formats. The Chiefs could feasibly rotate 4 backs with Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson flashing upside towards the end of the regular season and Edwards-Helaire will likely be on a pitch count after a nasty ankle sprain sidelined him a month ago. The Browns are much tougher against the run than against the pass and Eric Bienemy rarely calls for traditional run plays near the goal line since the Chiefs have so many creative passing options.
Cleveland ranks 25th in DVOA pass defense and looked completely lost at the back end with top CB Denzel Ward (COVID) out last Sunday. Ward returns this week along with HC Kevin Stefanski, but they’re still facing something close to an impossible challenge in trying to contain Hill. The Chiefs most dangerous weapon is third in Air Yards (1,746) with the second-most TDs (17) this season. Hill has drawn a whopping 32 deep targets and can burn a defense at the second level or finish drives with his lateral quickness.
The Saints should utilize Harris more this week after he broke out with 7 catches for 83 yards against the Bears last Sunday. The 5-foot-6 speedster is exactly the type of quick receiver that gives the Bucs bigger secondary fits. Sean Payton loves to run gadget plays that will feed athletes like Harris the ball and that gives him excellent per-dollar upside at a near-minimum price tag on DraftKings.
Thomas is actually a top play to consider pairing with Tyreek Hill if it makes sense for your roster construction. The Saints top WR stepped right back into his role as lead dog with 73 yards and a TD on 5 receptions in a low-scoring affair against Chicago last Sunday. Now he’ll face a Bucs team that funnels action to the air and he should match up with rookie CB Carlton Davis, who allowed Hill to go supernova with 269 yards and 3 TDs in a Week 12 matchup. Thomas has a fantastic floor-ceiling combination in a game with shootout potential.
It essentially comes down to fading Stefon Diggs ($7.3k, $8.6k) or Adams on Saturday’s slate. The Ravens secondary is also good, but no unit is playing on the same level as the Rams. Jalen Ramsey and company will be primed to try and stop Adams and keep this game below it’s 45.5-point implied total. Diggs also commands a huge target share in a Bills offense that is even more pass-heavy and he can burn their physical corners with quick in-breaking routes.
Travis Kelce is clearly the top play on Sunday’s slate and his upside is immense enough to match his lofty price tag. But if you’re building a balanced lineup, Andrews is an economical alternative in another great matchup. Buffalo coughed up the most receptions (92) and second-most receiving yards (993) to TEs this season. Andrews commanded a 32.7% red zone target share and the highest share of Air Yards (28%) among TEs while posting an 89.5% route participation rate. He is Lamar Jackson’s top option in a game with a 56-point implied total.
The Chiefs CBs have been excellent all year and their run defense is much improved. That leaves them vulnerable to RBs and TEs on short patterns, so Kareem Hunt and Hooper are excellent values to consider with the Browns likely to play catch up. Hooper caught 7-of-11 targets for 46 yards and a TD against the Steelers last week and that was his third score in his last 4 appearances. KC gave up 9 receiving TDs to TEs and yielded the second-most DK PPG to the position.
Brate is a necessary punt play to consider as a potential Flex play if you want to jam stars into the rest of your lineup. His usage has increased while Rob Gronkowski spends more time as a blocker in recent weeks. Brate has played on 40-plus percent of offensive snaps in his last 3 appearances and the Bucs have the third-highest pass-play rate (63.5%) in the NFL this year. Brady will scan for other options if the Saints talented CBs are able to contain his trio of receivers.