NFL Divisional Round DFS: The Fade List
“It’s about proving we are right.” – Doug Baldwin
We’re just a few days away from the Divisional Round games and as a Browns fan I’m excited today, knowing that we just hired Hue Jackson. DFS players can start looking towards the Browns’ offense next season because Hue knows a thing or two about how to turn a team around. After all, if it weren’t for Vontaze Burfict’s senseless hit, A.J. McCarron would have defeated the Steelers last week, which is pretty remarkable when you think about it. In other news, we still have no idea if Big Ben will be playing this weekend. He recently confirmed on a radio show that he suffered a sprained shoulder along with torn ligaments and as of right now, he’s getting “mental reps.” Jeremy Maclin did not practice on Tuesday and DeAngelo Williams is still on the outside looking in.
Today I want to talk about the players that you should be avoiding during the divisional round. We’re at the stage in the season where we must minimize risks and take players who have proven themselves this season. Health also plays a big factor in a sound DFS strategy and you cannot risk putting a questionable player out there knowing he hasn’t practiced all week and will get limited reps. Here is the Divisional Round Fade List. Enjoy!
Ben Roethlisberger/Landry Jones
As I mentioned earlier, Roethlisberger claims to be preparing for this game by getting mental reps. Mental reps put no DFS points on the board and the Steelers are in for a big surprise when they take on the Denver Broncos in the divisional round. Antonio Brown appears to be doubtful and Big Ben is struggling to lift his shoulder at the moment, so we want to avoid the unnecessary risk and go with a quarterback that is healthy. You might be inclined to save a few pennies in the event that Big Ben doesn’t play and go with Landry Jones, but please don’t. The Broncos have allowed a league best average of 200 passing yards per game this regular season. They’ve allowed just 19 passing touchdowns this season, the third lowest total in the league and they’ve sacked quarterbacks 52 times during the regular season, the most in the league. This is an ugly matchup for the Steelers and I’d suggest avoiding the entire Steelers passing offense which will undoubtedly struggle against the best defense in the league.
The good news is that Jonathan Stewart is once again practicing with the Carolina Panthers, which is a good indication that he will start against the Seahawks. The bad news is that Stewart will play against the Seahawks. The Seahawks have allowed just 81.5 rushing yards per game this season, the lowest in the league and we all saw how they contained Adrian Peterson in the Wild Card round. Peterson finished the game with 23 catches for 45 yards and Jonathan Stewart will not find much success against this formidable defense unit. Opposing teams ran at this intimidating front 362 times during the regular season, the second lowest total in the league. To beat the Seahawks you must pass the ball, which doesn’t bode well for those who select Jonathan Stewart in the divisional round.
Earlier this season, Baldwin took on the Carolina Panthers while playing at home and he was expected to lead the Seahawks’ receiving core to victory. Instead, Baldwin finished the game with three catches for 23 yards. In his past two games, he has averaged just 44 receiving yards and the Panthers allowed just 10.4 yards per reception this season, the third lowest average in the league. Baldwin had an incredible second half to the regular season, scoring an astounding 12 touchdowns during Weeks 9-16 as opposed to just two during Weeks 1-8. However, the Seahawks play on the road this week, and Baldwin has fewer catches, yards, touchdowns, and a lower yards per catch average on the road this season as opposed to home. The Panthers stopped Baldwin once before and he has since cooled off from his incredible second half, so don’t expect huge dividends from a player who was held to just 23 receiving yards the last time these two teams met.
If Antonio Brown is ruled out, you may be thinking about selecting Martavis Bryant, who would be expected to lead the Steelers’ passing offense against the Broncos. This would be a mistake. While Bryant may have made an unbelievable touchdown catch against the Bengals during the Wild Card round, that was his first touchdown in the last five games. Over the last three games, Bryant has caught seven combined passes for a total of 35 yards, an average of 11.6 receiving yards in a three game span. The touchdown he scored was cool, but don’t be fooled, he hasn’t lived up to expectations in quite some time. The Denver defense, which allowed him to catch ten passes for 87 yards the last time they met, will not make the same mistake twice. If you need another reason to fade Bryant then consider the splits. He scored five touchdowns at home this season while averaging 18.1 yards per reception. On the road, he scored just one touchdown this regular season while averaging 9.9 yards per reception.
You might be looking for a low-budget tight end option and may lean towards Richard Rodgers, but please lean another way. Rodgers has averaged just 19.75 receiving yards per game over the last four games and has scored one touchdown during that span. In his last matchup against the Cardinals, Rodgers finished with a monstrous two receiving yards on one reception. In losses this season, he has averaged 6.6 yards per reception as opposed to 10.4 yards per receptions in wins, so keep in mind that the Packers are seven point underdogs in this matchup. Opposing pass catchers have caught 343 balls against the Cardinals this season, the third lowest total of any team playing in the divisional round. Don’t be fooled by the price, Rodgers is not worth your money this week.