NFL Divisional Round DFS: Team Points of Interest
“I did not alter the balls.” – Tom Brady
What a wacky weekend of games we witnessed as the Texans were blown out, the Bengals self-destructed, and the Vikings kicked their way out of the playoffs. Their players undoubtedly feel left out after missing a chance to enter the divisional round (there are three puns in there to start your Monday morning). The Packers defeated the Redskins with relative ease as Aaron Rodgers played at the MVP caliber we’ve seen in previous seasons. The Chiefs defense, the Packers passing offense, and Russell Wilson are three areas that stood out during the Wild Card round. Wilson, playing against a tough Vikings defense, managed to create some big plays that essentially won them the game.
I’d like to formulate my DFS Millionaire Maker team today; however I’m awaiting word on Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger is supposedly listed as day-to-day; however he couldn’t lift his arm to tip his cap after the Bengals game on Saturday. Antonio Brown took a vicious hit and claims to be fine. Nonetheless, I’d like to see them both practice before I construct a team. Instead, today we break down some key points of interest between these eight teams so that you can create a strategy that gives you the edge over the competition.
Seattle Seahawks – Rushing Defense
You may want to fade Jonathan Stewart this week as he takes on the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks allowed just 81.5 rushing yards per game all regular season, the best in the league and Stewart hasn’t played in a game in almost a month. Though he is expected to play, he has yet to practice during this postseason and the Seahawks rushing defense is playing out of this world at the moment. They limited Adrian Peterson to 45 rushing yards on 23 carries, an average of two yards per carry, and will try to do the same against the Panthers. In their previous meeting earlier this season, Stewart did score two touchdowns; however he was limited to just 78 rushing yards and 3.9 yards per carry.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Passing Offense
While the statuses of many players are uncertain at the moment, the Steelers will need to pass the ball effectively if they intend on beating the Broncos. The Broncos rushing defense allowed a league best 3.3 yards per carry this season and just 83.6 yards per game. The Steelers running game could struggle against this tough defensive unit, forcing them to put the ball in the air. They have averaged 288 passing yards per game this season, the third best in the league and the Steelers completed 66.3% of their passing attempts, the fifth best percentage in the league.
New England Patriots – Tom Brady
If the Patriots have any hope of winning another Super Bowl, they’ll need Tom Brady to have a spectacular postseason. No quarterback this season threw for more than Brady’s 36 touchdown passes, and he also averaged 298 passing yards per game, fourth best average in the league. No remaining quarterback in the postseason has more passing attempts or completions than Tom Brady this season and while he’s up against a red hot Chiefs defense, his workload and statistics justify his $7400DK price tag.
Carolina Panthers – Pass Catchers
If you’re looking for a DFS edge, you may need to look at the Carolina Panthers’ pass catchers. As I explained earlier, running against the Seahawks is a difficult task. However, their receiving options might have a little bit of luck. In their earlier matchup this season, Greg Olsen finished with 131 receiving yards and one touchdown while the receivers finished with 269 total yards. I’d have Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn, Jr. on my radar because if the Panthers expect to beat the Seahawks, their receiving core will need to have a big game.
Arizona Cardinals – Passing Offense
The Cardinals passing offense is a key area I would be looking at while constructing a DFS strategy for the divisional round. Carson Palmer threw for 35 touchdowns this season, the second most in the league, and Cardinals’ receivers average 298.4 receiving yards per game, the fifth most in the league. The Cardinals are matched up against the Packers, who have given up 20 receiving touchdowns this season and an average of 12.1 yards per catch, the seventh highest average in the league. Look for this passing offense to explode against a Packers team that struggled to contain them during Week 16.
Green Bay Packers – Rushing Attack
During their Week 16 matchup, the Cardinals did an excellent job of stopping the pass, as Aaron Rodgers finished with just 151 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. However, the Packers finished with 101 rushing yards and averaged 3.9 yards per rushing play in comparison to the 2.0 yards they gained per passing play. Lacy and Starks should see a heavy workload against the team that blew them out 38-8 during Week 16 of the season.
Denver Broncos – Defense
The Denver Broncos defense should be a strong play this week solely based on the fact that they allow just 283.1 yards per game, the best in the league. They allow 83.6 rushing yards per game, the third best rushing defense in the league, and the Steelers are banged up, yet another key reason to take the Broncos defense.
Kansas City Chiefs – Defense
The matchup is scary, considering the Patriots have one of the best passing offenses in the league, but the Chiefs defense finished with 29 DraftKings’ points during the Wild Card Round and should be considered for the divisional round. The Chiefs defense had four interceptions, one fumble recovery, three sacks and one touchdown while holding the Texans scoreless. We know that Tom Brady is not Brian Hoyer, but this Chiefs’ defense is red hot at the moment and should be included in your considerations for DFS contests this week as an upside contrarian option.