NFL DFS – Main Slate Optimizer Groups & Stacks + Game Notes – Divisional Round Saturday & Sunday

This article focuses on building lineups with a quality foundation by utilizing the powerful Groups and Rules/Limits tools within the industry’s optimization tools. All of the concepts and pairings included below can be applied to hand-building as well. The goal is to create lineups that have high-scoring correlation and take advantage of combined outcomes within stacks while limiting the likelihood of building inefficient or negatively correlated entries for a full slate of NFL DFS lineups.

This video was made in a former life and features a detailed demonstration of how to apply these concepts in one leading optimizer tool: Fantasy Cruncher – How-To Video

All references to Sims were done via friends of the site:

Don’t miss the new Above/Below feature article for a few of our top picks


Divisional Round DraftKings & FanDuel NFL DFS Stacks & Optimizer Groups


Rules and limits are powerful tools for lineup creation for NFL DFS where our primary focus is creating highly correlated lineups via stacking players from the same game. Lineups will typically be coordinated around the quarterback selection, which informs at least one pass-catcher choice, establishes a budget, eliminates a defense, and sets the tone for the lineup. We will typically look to correlate a quarterback and at least one of his pass-catchers in every lineup, with most of those including a skill player from the opposing team who will have a chance to support the stack in a high-scoring game that drives offense on both sides to create additional correlated scoring potential. Stacking multiple pass-catchers in the same lineup is a sound approach as well, though there are typically overall ceilings on how much volume is available at any given position. We do not typically include running backs who are not pass-catchers as priorities in NFL DFS groups, they typically stand alone with the selection of the quarterback-based stack informing remaining salary which then informs the running back selections. High-volume backs and pass catchers out of the backfield can be included in the groups utilized below, but it is frequently not necessary to do so with the very best players, they arrive in lineups without help.

The following rules and limits are typically applied in an optimizer’s Advanced Options menu. Notes are included to elucidate the reasons behind each rule and to explain what it does during the lineup creation process. These settings can typically be saved for re-use, which is highly recommended. Saving the Week 1 groups that will be created below is also a very good idea to save time with updates instead of recreation each week. These groups are created manually, but most optimizers include automated group creators that can help accelerate the curation process.

DraftKings + FanDuel Settings & Advanced Options

Unique Players Per Lineup– This setting forces the optimizer to utilize at least X new players who were not in Lineup 1 when it creates Lineup 2, and so on. It is recommended to utilize at least two, and more can be applied depending on the degree of differentiation desired within lineups.

Team Salary– a minimum or maximum salary spend can be applied here as needed, though this is not a part of the recommended process in this space as leaving salary on the table is an easy path toward creating unique lineups while not necessarily making a negative expected value play.

FLEX position– allows restrictions on what positions can be rostered at the FLEX spot. The only position to consider in this case is tight end, but that is something to be restricted at the individual level via Groups, rather than at the global level.

Global Exposure Settingallows caps on the maximum percentage of lineups a player can appear in within a given pool of lineup construction. This is a powerful tool for shaping lineups but if settings are too low attempts to build a full set will fall short due to a lack of available players, one of the most common errors in optimizer building. Most optimizers include the ability to calculate ownership caps continuously or at the end of the pool creation process. If caps are calculated continuously, a player with a 25% cap who is utilized in Lineup 1 will not be available for use again until Lineup 5 , we recommend turning OFF continuous calculation.

Randomness – provides a random multiplier to each player’s projected point total based on the set values. This is a valuable tool that helps differentiate lineups instead of simply creating them in order of highest median projected scores. Using some randomness for lineup generation is strongly recommended but the degree to which it is applied is down to personal preference, but 15-25% is fine to get started. We suggest heavier randomness to more event-based players like wide receivers while tracking volume-based positions like running backs more toward their median or ceiling projections.

DraftKings + FanDuel Team Stack Rules

This set of rules will force optimizers to build lineups with certain combinations. We are looking to stack at least one skill player, almost always a pass-catcher, with his quarterback while also playing a skill player from the opposing team in the lineup. The theory behind this build is that a high-scoring stack will require some response from the opposing team to deliver a ceiling score in most situations. When that is not the case, the team that is winning will simply slow down and run out the clock. Most optimizers utilize a “complete the sentence” approach for rule creation with selections from drop-down menus following a very straightforward logic. Exceptions to these rules can be added for specific teams and players on most optimizer products.

  • QB with at least one WR/TE from Same Team (note: It is fine to set this to two or to utilize two versions of this rule, one with WR/TE and one with RB/WR/TE, but we refine this via Groups)
  • QB with at least one RB/WR/TE from the Opposing Team (we typically prefer the pass-catchers but high-volume running backs can be effective here)
  • QB with at most zero DST from the Same Team (this is a personal preference; high-scoring teams and quarterbacks tend to leave their defenses on the field, exposing them to simple point-scoring negatives)

Limits & Custom Rules and Requirements

Limit rules can be applied to restrict certain combinations from coming together. This is powerful for limiting multiple running backs from the same team or getting overweight to a certain stack within a lineup.

  • Limit QB/RB/WR/TE from Same Team to three (this should be loosened for short playoff slates)
  • Limit RB/WR/TE from the Same Team to one unless paired with QB from the Same Team OR the Opposing Team (this should be loosened for short playoff slates)
  • Limit RB from Same Team to one (we also do this with WR in a separate rule that adds an “unless paired with QB or opposing QB” but it’s a personal preference for NFL DFS, we typically do not want two pass-catchers from the same team without their quarterback) (this can be loosened for short playoff slates)

We will maintain the list of rules and limits throughout the season, with occasional tweaks, if needed. Each week sees yet another fresh crop of value plays as situations change and injuries create opportunities around the league. These changing roles and emergent value plays are accounted for in the process of creating these groups from week to week. After a large pool of lineups is created utilizing these groups, it is still of critical importance to filter them for factors including ceiling projections and leverage potential. These groups should help ensure that a highly correlated premium set of options that rotates through a variety of combinations is utilized to create the full lineup pool.

Sunday Updates

Any changes and recommended boosts to specific players will be provided in an early morning update each Sunday.

NFL DFS Divisional Round Features & FREE Projections

Construction Concept

Team groups are built by utilizing the quarterback as the KEY player in group settings. The quarterback decision in each lineup is the driving factor in which stack is utilized in that lineup and which corresponding plays are then made to work within the structure and requirements. Built to specification, each team will have two groups, a team group, and an opponent group, both of which utilize the same quarterback as the key player. Each game will have a total of four groups. This is the best approach to truly capture the requirement of playing individual “run-back” plays from the opposing team. A more basic approach would be to include all of the skill players from a game in each quarterback’s group and rely on rules and limits to restrict any potential overflow. It is highly recommended to save the Week 1 groups as a foundation that will be updated for the rest of the season. The recommended groups will include skill players who have an active role in their offense and provide significant correlation with their quarterback’s scoring, often bell-cow running backs who do not specialize in the passing game will not be included in groups as they are projected highly and appear on their own in basically correct distributions, while also not always providing the strongest positive correlation plays. Stacking quarterbacks with pass-catchers and allowing running backs to fall into the lanes then created by settings, available salary, and randomness should create a well-distributed set of quality lineups. These groups are updated weekly to account for changes in utilization, schemes, injuries, target shares, and more.

Team Groups for DraftKings & FanDuel – Divisional Round

The goal is to create a large pool of well-built lineups that can be utilized in any large-field GPP contest. Our approach is to build far more lineups than needed and utilize a sorting table or sim process to filter to the best set of lineups for entries. The lineups created in these crunches should provide a broad distribution that includes some of the lower-owned high-upside skill players from each stack. Applying boosts is critical in pushing and pulling ownership to individual players within their team’s stacked lineups if they are appearing too much or too little.

The groups below are designed so that each quarterback will have two groups to create, one with his skill players and another with the opposing team. A more basic approach would be to add them all to one large group with an “at least three” and let rules and limits set things, but there is a more granular level of control in creating them separately.

Utilizing two groups also allows us to place running backs into the “run-back” position in certain teams while not including them in the primary stack for their team. This is useful when there is a situation with an extremely highly projected running back who does not necessarily fit into his team’s passing game. These players are threaded throughout the following construction recommendations.

Note for the Rotogrinders optimizer, we recommend trimming the automatically created groups that can be accessed under Team Groups, Opponent Groups, and Max Position Groups to match these groups for lineup building. We typically utilize the Stacks tab to enforce constructions as well, but a key requirement is missed in the automated groups. The Max Position groups need the manual addition of the running backs and tight ends to the group that is created with the wide receivers with a setting of max 1 and the team’s quarterback selected as a key player with the designation of using that group when the quarterback is NOT in the lineup. This is done to eliminate the possibility of three skill players from the same team appearing at running back, tight end, and wide receiver together without their quarterback involved. A simple limit of three players per team will keep things to just a quarterback with two skill players in stacks after that. Update: if one were to reset their saved settings on RG’s optimizer new options will reveal themselves, including thankfully a toggle to take care of this from the main build rules page. There is also a non-QB group with a max-1 setting that works better for this purpose because the toggle on the main page will limit stacks to just a 1-1 combination, seemingly as a bug.

Note for all optimizers the rules can be utilized to force bring-back plays in some sets of crunches and turned off for others as a global function instead of changing each group to “exactly one” bring-back play, wherever applicable, but it will apply to all teams.

Baltimore Ravens

Key Player: Lamar Jackson

Setting: at most two (this allows for “naked” Lamar Jackson lineups)

Team Group: Zay Flowers, Isaiah Likely, Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor, Charlie Kolar (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most two

Opposing Group: Nico Collins, Devin Singletary, Dalton Schultz, John Metchie III, Robert Woods, Brevin Jordan (large field), Xavier Hutchinson (large field)

Lineup Notes: Lamar in stacks, Lamar on his own, in any configuration the Ravens’ elite quarterback is the top overall player on the board when it comes to raw fantasy points. Jackson has a huge ceiling on any given slate between his upside in the passing game and his ability to gain rushing yards and score touchdowns on his own, he is helped by a Vegas line favoring his team by 10 in a game with a 43.5-point total that sits at the bottom of the board this week. In 16 games, the quarterback threw for 24 touchdowns (and only seven interceptions) while adding another five on the ground. He rushed for 821 total yards, his highest mark in the last three seasons, but his yards per attempt was actually the lowest mark in those three seasons at 5.5 (6.8 last year, 5.8 in 2021). Jackson’s passing yards per attempt jumped from just 6.9 last year to 8.0 this season, the highest mark in his career by a fair margin. At $8,700 on FanDuel and $7,900 on DraftKings, Jackson ranks as QB1 by fantasy points on both sites and he lands as QB2 by points-per-dollar value on FanDuel and QB3 in that category on DraftKings. Jackson pairs well with Zay Flowers, who posted an impressive 858 yards on 77 catches with five touchdowns in his rookie campaign. Flowers was targeted 108 times in 16 games, with an 8.4-yard average depth of target on the season, he is a high-end volume-based receiver with touchdown upside.

The Ravens will be without Mark Andrews once again, but high-end backup Isaiah Likely is a decent substitute for a discounted price. Likely was targeted twice in Week 18 but he had 20 targets collectively over the four weeks prior to that outing and, more importantly, he has scored five touchdowns in those five games, including one in Week 18. Likely has excellent upside for a cheap touchdown with two or three catches and a handful of yards at the tight end position, which could easily be enough with this weekend’s short slates. Likely is TE3 by fantasy points on FanDuel and TE4 on DraftKings while landing as TE3 by value on DraftKings and as the top value tight end on FanDuel. The team also offers Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman, and Nelson Agholor as the depth chart thins. Bateman was a frequent target throughout the season, though he went untargeted on 21 routes in a meaningless Week 18 game to skew recent averages for those not paying attention. The receiver had a big-play 14.1-yard average depth of target on the season while hauling in 32 of 56 targets but scoring just one touchdown. As a lower-owned dart throw in a high-end offense, one could do worse than a few shares of Bateman. Beckham was rested entirely in Week 18, when we last saw him in Week 17 he drew just one target which he caught for 33 yards. The veteran receiver was limited for opportunities down the stretch, he drew only three targets in each of Week 16 and Week 15 after a season-high 10 in Week 14. Beckham posted 97 yards and scored one of his three touchdowns in that game, and he had a four-catch 116-yard game in Week 11. There is some touchdown upside for Beckham but the opportunities are generally somewhat limited, though one could argue that these are the games that the veteran is on the roster to help win in the first place.

Nelson Agholor saw work in Week 18, which is not a good thing in this context. With the season sacked away, most of the important Ravens either were spectators or were out there running sprints like Bateman. Agholor, meanwhile, played 57 snaps and drew five targets on 43 routes, surprisingly catching them all but posting just 39 yards for the effort. Agholor had a career-low 8.8-yard aDOT this season, dropping from 11.4 last year, 14.3 in 2021, and 15.3 in 2020. Agholor is an even more limited dart throw of an option when he is not seeing big play opportunities. Devin Duvernay is a deep very large field dart throw with a low ceiling, he is also questionable to play. Charlie Kolar is a depth chart tight end who had three catches for 23 yards in Week 18 and drew a target in each of the three games prior to that outing, he is another dart-throw option for very large field contests.

Running back Gus Edwards is not a frequent target in the passing game, he can be played alongside Jackson and a Ravens’ pass catcher in this short format regardless of that fact, but he is not a strong correlated scoring piece. The running back is a wrecking ball when the team gets inside the 20-yard-line, he drew 14 carries in the red zone over Weeks 15-17, scoring a touchdown in each game. Edwards sees regular volume with mid-teens carries, though he does lose a bit of touchdown potential with his quarterback’s ability to take one in from a few yards away or up and over the line, as well as now a pair of additional running backs. Justice Hill had 387 rushing yards on 84 attempts with three touchdowns this season, he also picked up 206 receiving yards and another touchdown as the team’s primary receiver out of the backfield. Hill was targeted 10 times in Week 18 but that does not count for much, he saw five targets the week before in a more representative data point. Hill sees the occasional opportunity in the red zone, he could easily steal a touchdown in this game at low cost and low ownership but another running back is lurking. Dalvin Cook was elevated to the main roster for this game. After working his way to the Jets amid plenty of fanfare in the offseason, Cook’s 2023 never got off the ground, whether that is to be blamed on Aaron Rodgers’ injury and the Jets’ overall approach remains to be seen. For the season, Cook had just 214 rushing yards on 67 carries. Cook did not play with the Ravens this season, it is difficult to project his role but there is enough buzz to think he could see at least a few relevant touches.

Despite the low overall total, this game could turn into a bit of a pass-heavy back-and-forth heavy-hitter if rookie CJ Stroud can keep the magic rolling for another week. Stroud will be up against a tough Ravens defense that is playable in this spot. The Texans offer several strong bring-back plays against Ravens stacks, two are playable in this format, with Nico Collins standing out in a mix of receivers once again.



Buffalo Bills

Key Player: Josh Allen

Setting: at most two (this allows for “naked” Josh Allen lineups)

Team Group: James Cook, Stefon Diggs, Dalton Kincaid, Dawson Knox, Khalil Shakir, Deonte Harty (large field), Trent Sherfield (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most two

Opposing Group: Isiah Pacheco, Travis Kelce, Rashee Rice, Mecole Hardman Jr., Justin Watson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling (large field)

Lineup Notes: Despite additional snow late in the week, there are no real weather concerns other than a bit of non-impactful cold in Buffalo, unless things change. The Bills are hosting the Chiefs in the closest game of the week on the board in Vegas with Buffalo favored by just 2.5. At just 45 points the game total is somewhat low for these two teams, it ranks third out of the four available games. Both teams in this game have firepower from the star tier and they both offer big-play-capable options from down the depth chart at the wide receiver position. While those options tend to be unreliable, particularly for Kansas City this season, they are also capable of helping to create a tournament-winning lineup when they connect for a deep touchdown. In last week’s Wildcard game against Pittsburgh, Bills quarterback Josh Allen threw three touchdowns and completed 21 of 30 passes for 203 yards, he also added a score on the ground while rushing for 74 yards on eight carries. Allen has one of the highest ceilings at the quarterback position in full weeks, let alone on a four-game slate, he threw for 29 touchdowns and ran for another 15 this season, trailing only Jalen Hurts at the position. Allen averaged 4.7 yards per rush attempt on his 111 carries. The quarterback did throw 18 interceptions, he is a risk-taking gunslinger but he tends to payoff any lingering downside with touchdown scoring. Allen is QB2 by fantasy points but he dips to QB7 by value on FanDuel and QB6 on DraftKings. On a short slate with plenty of available values and a desire to differentiate, it is easy to get to Allen on a raw scoring basis. The quarterback is probably best with correlated options from his team along for the ride in stacks, but he can be played in odd lineups on his own if they come together on the short slate.

Stefon Diggs is the obvious choice at the receiver position for this team, he had seven catches for 52 yards on nine targets in the playoff game last week, but he did fail to find the end zone. Diggs has not scored a receiving touchdown since Week 12, despite drawing regular volume in the 7-8 target range. The receiver is elite as Allen’s primary weapon, he had a 10.4-yard aDOT this season, racking up a massive 1,672 air yards with 1,183 receiving yards and eight touchdowns overall. Despite the recent dip in touchdown output, Diggs remains an elite option. The Bills are without Gabe Davis, their WR2, once again this week, creating opportunities for cheaper pass-catchers. In last week’s game Khalil Shakir was targeted three times and he caught them all while scoring a touchdown and posting 31 yards. Trent Sherfield was untargeted in the Wildcard game, while Deonte Harty drew one target in that game and one the week before. The tight end spot had plenty of upside for the Bills last week. Rookie Dalton Kincaid scored his first playoff touchdown and had 59 receiving yards with three catches on six targets. Kincaid is the more frequently targeted tight end, but with Davis out we could easily see another week with opportunities in the end zone for Dawson Knox, who has scored in each of the team’s last two games. Knox was targeted twice last week, he had one catch for nine yards and the score, so the upside is limited and price-based, but he has potential if a two-score outburst or an additional catch with a bit of yardage attached were to land in his lap. In Week 18 the tight end was targeted three times, he had two catches for 22 yards and a touchdown in that one.

James Cook has been the primary running back for Buffalo this season, he had a strong game in both facets of the offense in the team’s Wildcard game last week with 18 carries for 79 yards and four catches on four targets for a disappointing five receiving yards. Cook had just one truly big game this season, a 179-yard one-touchdown rushing outburst with an additional 42 yards and another touchdown in the passing game in Week 15 against Dallas in a game that saw him carry the ball 25 times. Overall, Cook had just two rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns this season, with 1,122 yards on 237 carries on the ground and another 445 yards in the passing game. Backup Ty Johnson ran 15 snaps with the offense in the playoff game last week, carrying the ball eight times for 26 yards. Latavius Murray saw just nine snaps and had two carries for 13 yards. Notably, it was Johnson, and not the bruising veteran, who picked up five carries in the red zone in the Wildcard game, though he failed to convert on any of them and he had zero rushing touchdowns this season.

The Chiefs are a strong bring-back team with elite tight end Travis Kelce offering the opportunity at oddball two TE lineups that land well. Rashee Rice is the team’s top wide receiver, he separated from the pack with his unique ability to actually catch the ball and make plays for superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who posted lower numbers than we are used to seeing this season. Mahomes is QB6/6 on FanDuel and QB6/7 on DraftKings this week. The team has Isaiah Pacheco as a premium running back with touchdown potential, while the remaining receivers are lesser dart throws at low ownership.



Detroit Lions

Key Player: Jared Goff

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Amon-Ra St. Brown, David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta, Josh Reynolds, Jameson Williams, Donovan Peoples-Jones (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most two

Opposing Group: Rachaad White, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Cade Otton, Trey Palmer, David Moore, Deven Thompkins (large field)

Lineup Notes: Two rides that we do not quite want to see end come to a head in the game between the Buccaneers and Lions with Detroit favored by six in a game with the second-highest total (by 0.5) at 49.5. Lions quarterback Jared Goff is QB3/3 on FanDuel and QB3/2 on DraftKings, he offers excellent upside and strong points-per-dollar potential with big play options at every skill position. The Lions have been a strong group for fantasy this year, Goff threw for 4,575 yards and 30 touchdowns this season, the second-highest touchdown total of his career and third-highest yardage output. The quarterback matched last season’s output with 7.6 yards per pass attempt and he added a pair of rushing touchdowns, though that is not our goal in targeting Jared Goff by any means. Amon-Ra St. Brown had a 7.6-yard average depth of target while racking up 1,515 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. St. Brown was heavily targeted this season, in 16 games he saw 163 opportunities in the passing attack, by far the largest chunk of volume on the team. In last week’s Wildcard win over the Rams, St. Brown drew nine targets and had seven catches for 110 yards, though he failed to score a touchdown for eager fantasy owners. St. Brown had scored in each of four games to end the season, with 90 yards in the Week 17 game and more than 100 in each of the others, he remains a high-octane option in every format on all sites.

The Lions are strong for daily fantasy because, as good as St. Brown is, he is not the team’s only option. Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta ranks fourth by points and value on FanDuel and third by points but seventh by value at $5,900 on DraftKings. LaPorta played through a hyper-extended knee in last week’s playoff game, he is expected to do the same this week. The tight end had three catches on his three targets, picking up 14 yards and, crucially, adding a touchdown. He has more upside with an additional week of healing under his belt, LaPorta was more frequently targeted in the season’s average game and he ended the year with 889 yards and 10 touchdowns on 86-120 receiving as the team’s clear number-two option. Jameson Williams is an option we will keep chasing, given his big-play-adjacent 15.7-yard average depth of target this season. Of course, it is important to note that those opportunities came on just 42 targets in 12 games. Williams turned those deep looks into 354 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 24 catches, at $5,300 on FanDuel and $3,600 on DraftKings he has meaningful price-based potential. Williams played 38 snaps with the offense in the Wildcard round, drawing two targets which he caught for 19 yards total, he last saw the end zone in Week 11. Josh Reynolds was more highly targeted than Williams in last week’s game and that could easily be the case once again. Reynolds drew seven targets last week and he had seven in Week 18, catching five passes in each of those games, with 80 yards in last week’s playoff game. Reynolds has big play potential as well, his average depth of target was 10.3 yards this season and he put five touchdowns on the board with 608 yards on just 40 catches. Brock Wright was untargeted in 22 snaps with the offense last week at tight end, he had one touchdown and 13 catches this season. Donovan Peoples-Jones is a depth chart option who played just two snaps with the offense and went untargeted last week. He had 21 snaps and caught 2-2 passes for 28 yards in Week 18 but there is only a small window of opportunity for both Peoples-Jones and Antoine Green who was also untargeted in his three snaps last week.

David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs have been a hell of a tandem at the running back spot this season. The duo put another pair of touchdowns on the board last week with each scoring early in the game as they took turns on the team’s first two drives. By the end of the day, Montgomery was in the lead with 14 carries and a single target, which he caught for 11 yards. He had 57 yards on the ground and scored for the fourth week in a row. The running back had a great season with 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns on 219 carries, and his counterpart was no slouch. Gibbs managed to find a strong role despite the presence of Montgomery, the rookie carried the ball 182 times for 945 yards and 10 touchdowns, posting 5.2 yards per attempt and adding 52 catches for 316 yards and a touchdown in a relevant role in the passing game. Gibbs has a rushing touchdown in five of the team’s six most recent games, including last week’s playoff game, with six total over that stretch, he is a strong option who can be paired with his teammate or played as a correlation option in Goff+2 passing stack configurations.

The hefty total and a Tampa Bay team with three elite skill players make for a solid bring-back stack. All of Rachaad White, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin look like good options in that capacity and there is room for two in any given lineup.



Green Bay Packers

Key Player: Jordan Love

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Aaron Jones, Jayden Reed, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Dontayvion Wicks, Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft, Bo Melton (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most two

Opposing Group: Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, Jauan Jennings

Lineup Notes: Another team we are not quite ready to let go of draws the worst overall matchup on the slate. The young Packers squad that has been extremely fun to watch this season heads into San Francisco as significant underdogs on Saturday night. The 49ers are favored by 10 points with a slate-high 50 points on the board for the game. San Francisco had a strong defense in 2023, the team ranked eighth with 1.2 passing touchdowns allowed per game and fifth with just 5.9 yards allowed per pass attempt. While they landed just in the middle of the pack with a 14th-ranked 4.1 yards allowed per rush attempt, the team was solid in a fourth-place tie with just 0.6 rushing touchdowns allowed each week. San Francisco racked up 48 sacks on a 20.9% pressure rate despite just an 18% blitz rate this season, they have an impact pass rush that will keep quarterback Jordan Love on his toes. The Packers will live and die with the performance of their quarterback this week, Love’s emergence has been one of the best stories of the 2023 season and there is no real reason to doubt him and his rotating cadre of solid young wide receivers in this situation. Love added to his legend by throwing three touchdown passes and completing 16-21 attempts for 272 yards in last week’s Wildcard win over the Cowboys, a performance that looks very similar to his run of strong games through the second half of the year. Love had either two or three touchdown passes in eight of nine games leading up to last week’s excellent performance. For the season he was second in the NFL with 32 touchdown passes and he completed 372 of 579 attempts for an average of 7.2 yards per attempt and a total of 4,159 yards. Love had a fantastic season by any measure, one that was helped by a dynamic and emerging group of wide receivers, not to mention the team’s capable running backs when they are healthy.

Love is spoiled in the passing game, in weeks when Christian Watson has been hurt he can target Jayden Reed, if Reed draws too much coverage there’s always Romeo Doubs, if Doubs is covered then someone left big Dontayvion Wicks open in the end zone for an easy six. The team has been deep and dependable at the position, consider them the Bizarro Chiefs. After catching 41 passes in 14 games for 611 yards and seven touchdowns last year, Watson missed the bulk of this season. The receiver managed to play in just nine contests but he still put up strong numbers for the limited action with five touchdown grabs and 422 yards on 28 catches. Watson carries no injury designation into the Divisional Round after playing 22 snaps and catching his lone target for nine yards in the Wildcard Round, his first game since Week 13, last weekend. There is potential for an outburst if all is truly well with the receiver’s health. While we had bigger eyes for Reed in last week’s game, it was Doubs who came up with the big outing, putting up a career-high 151 yards and a touchdown on 6-6 receiving. Doubs’ monster performance in no way guarantees a repeat this week, but the receiver is at worst an interesting mixer on the Packers’ deep roster. At least two of the team’s receivers can be paired with Love, which means that there is plenty of room for either Reed or Wicks in this discussion. Reed was targeted three times in a disappointing Wildcard game, he had zero catches in a meltdown fantasy game. The receiver was coming off of a four-catch 112 yard performance in Week 18 and a six-catch 89-yard two-touchdown game in Week 17. Reed was out for Week 16 but he had a touchdown on six catches for 52 yards in Week 15 and was regularly targeted throughout the second half of the season. The receiver finished the year with eight touchdown catches and 793 yards on 64 catches with a 10-yard average depth of target. Reed also drew 17.5% of the team’s red zone targets on the season, he has strong touchdown upside even if the volume is limited by the positional depth. Wicks had just two targets last week but he made the most of them with a pair of catches for 25 yards and a touchdown. He managed to score twice in Week 18 with six catches on seven targets and he also scored in Week 16 while missing the Week 17 game. Wicks had a 9.9-yard aDOT on the season with 8.2% of the team’s red zone volume in the passing game, but he managed to score four touchdowns and post 581 yards on just 39 catches and 58 targets. With several pieces out in Week 17, Bo Melton stepped up for 105 yards and a touchdown on six catches and nine targets. He was targeted seven times in Week 18 and caught five passes for 62 yards and he had 44 yards on four catches in the Week 16 game. With the team closer to full strength last week, Melton still drew 22 snaps with the offense, he was targeted twice but caught just one pass for seven yards. Depth receiver Malik Heahth did not play last week after drawing limited action throughout the season, he is unlikely to be relevant.

Running back Aaron Jones has been on a rampage over the last month. Jones has four straight games with more than 100 yards on the ground, posting 127-120-111-118 yard performances from Week 16 through last week’s Wildcard Game. Jones had three touchdowns and a massive fantasy score last week but he oddly failed to score in any of the other big performances, his true upside depends on getting in the end zone. If the team clicks back to the passing game against San Francisco’s elite rush defense it could be a longer-than-expected day for Jones owners, the running back may revert to heavy yardage and volume but no touchdown output. Still, Jones has a fairly strong projection on both sites at $7,400 on FanDuel and $6,700 on DraftKings, and backup AJ Dillon is questionable again this week. Dillon is moderately effective in his limited role, if he does not play we will see Emmanuel Wilson in the primary backup role. Wilson had eight carries for 20 yards in the Wildcard game, including five carries in the red zone. Patrick Taylor picked up just three carries and six yards in limited work.

The 49ers are the league’s most elite offensive group with four excellent-skill players. Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle are top-notch bring-back options, so naturally it will be Kyle Juszczyk, aka the guy married to Taylor Swift’s tailor friend, who scores this week.



Houston Texans

Key Player: CJ Stroud

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Nico Collins, Devin Singletary, Dalton Schultz, John Metchie III, Robert Woods, Brevin Jordan (large field), Xavier Hutchinson (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Zay Flowers, Isaiah Likely, Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor

Lineup Notes: Vegas sees Saturday afternoon as the end of the line for amazing rookie quarterback CJ Stroud and his band of pass-catchers. The Texans are one of those young teams that seemingly doesn’t know they’re not supposed to be here yet, making them dangerous even against a squad like this Ravens team. In addition to fielding one of the top offenses on the slate, Baltimore’s defense was terrific again in 2023. The Ravens ranked at the top of the board with only six rushing touchdowns allowed all season, 0.4 per game, despite giving up a 25th-ranked 4.5 yards per rush attempt. The Ravens yielded just 5.1 yards per pass attempt this year, easily the league low and they allowed only 1.1 passing touchdowns per game on the season, tying for second with the Bills. The Ravens had a league-leading 60 sacks on a 19.5% pressure rate and a 21.9% blitz rate this season and they ranked third in the league in limiting opposing teams to scores on just 28.7% of their drives despite sitting seventh with 195 drives against. Through any lens, the Baltimore defense is a challenge to overcome, the Texans faced this Ravens team before Stroud was fully formed back in Week 1. The rookie quarterback did not crumble in the face of this aggressively good defense in his first game, while he did not throw a touchdown pass he also was not intercepted and he completed 28 of 44 attempts for 242 yards, just 5.5 yards per attempt but not a bad debut considering the circumstances. Stoud was excellent this season, he will run away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award after posting 4,108 yards and 23 touchdown passes with just five interceptions in his 15 games. Against a similarly strong defense – though that is more of a debatable point lately – in last week’s game against Cleveland, Stroud was electric with 274 yards and three touchdown passes on 16-21 passing in a wipeout performance.

Stroud and receiver Nico Collins have an elite connection. The wideout had 96 yards and a touchdown in the playoff game last week, catching six of his seven targets despite heavy attention all game. He had a huge performance in Week 18, putting up 195 yards and a touchdown while catching nine of nine. Collins had a breakout year with 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns on 80 catches in just 15 games, by far career highs in every category. At a pricey $8,700 on FanDuel and $7,100 on DraftKings, Collins will have to get open in a hurry, given the pressure that he and his quarterback will be facing. There is potential here and there is a possibility that the Stroud-Collins duo is underappreciated by the field as a pairing. Dalton Schultz is a premium tight end who ranks as TE6/6 on FanDuel and TE6/4 on DraftKings this week. Schultz drew just two targets last week but the one he came down with was for 37 yards and a touchdown, he has similar upside for a score this week. The tight end was more reliably targeted throughout the season, he finished the year with 59 catches on his 88 opportunities, totaling 635 yards and five touchdowns. Veteran wide receiver Robert Woods has not drawn much in recent weeks, he had two targets and caught one for 11 yards in last week’s game after skipping Week 18. Woods had four catches for 58 yards in Week 17 and saw a few targets down the stretch this season but overall he had just 426 yards and one touchdown on 40 catches and 75 targets this year. While Woods struggled to see much volume, John Metchie III had a three-target game last week, catching all three passes for 44 yards. Metchie had just one catch in every game from Week 11-18, except a zero-catch game in Week 16, he was not a big part of the offense throughout the season but he sees a few targets a week and can be considered a dart throw pairing at low ownership for large field slates. Metchie caught 16 passes for 158 yards and zero touchdowns on the season but he sees an increased role with Noah Brown out once again. Xavier Hutchinson grabbed both of his targets but managed just 12 yards and no scoring last week, and the team added Steven Sims from the practice squad for depth. Depth tight end Brevin Jordan drew just one target last week after going untargeted in Week 18, but he made a huge play with a 76-yard scoring romp that got the rout truly in gear for Houston. Jordan is a low-volume dart thrown with total touchdown (or oddly huge play) dependence again this week, but he is playable as a dart throw in large fields.

Devin Singletary is the team’s volume running back, he had 13 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown in the Wildcard round and 24 carries for 63 yards and a score in Week 18. Singletary is regularly targeted in the passing game and he has upward of 20 potential touches each week, making him a bit appealing on opportunity alone. After starting the season with undefined roles, Singletary seized this job in Week 10 with a 150-yard performance on 30 carries. He had two more 100+ yard games the rest of the way and posted four rushing touchdowns and 898 yards for the season. Dameon Pierce has not touchdned the ball much in recent weeks, he was limited to just three carries and six snaps last week after playing zero snaps in Week 18 and just 12 in Week 17.

The Ravens have strong bring-back options with Zay Flowers leading the way ahead of Isaiah Likely, but the team is not the top target on the board when it comes to pure upside at skill positions, they are not a required bring-back team but plenty of lineups will mix them in on a short slate regardless.



Kansas City Chiefs

Key Player: Patrick Mahomes

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Isiah Pacheco, Travis Kelce, Rashee Rice, Mecole Hardman Jr., Justin Watson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Noah Gray (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most two

Opposing Group: James Cook, Stefon Diggs, Dalton Kincaid, Dawson Knox, Khalil Shakir

Lineup Notes: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes ranks as just QB6/6 on FanDuel and QB6/7 on DraftKings this week in what feels like a bit of a legacy game between him and Bills quarterback Josh Allen. This is the closest point spread on the board at just 2.5 in Buffalo’s favor at home, and the game is carrying a 45-point total that sits third out of four games this week. The opposing Buffalo defense ranked eighth this season with just a 32% scoring rate against, though the faced just 181 drives, the 25th-highest total in the league. Buffalo’s defense allowed just 5.5 yards per pass attempt and 4.6  yards per rush attempt this year and they yielded just 18 passing touchdowns, a second-ranked 1.1 per game to tie with Baltimore. The Bills gave up 0.8 rushing touchdowns per game this season, they have an opportunity to limit Kansas City in conditions that will be cold but not to a game-impacting degree. Despite a lousy group of wide receivers on the whole, Mahomes still managed to throw for 4,183 yards and 27 touchdown passes this season, though he did cough up 14 interceptions. While the total is not bad it represents a massive downturn from last year’s production and from the typically elite output we have seen over the past few years. In 2020, Mahomes threw for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns, with 8.1 yards per pass attempt. In 2021 those totals bounced to 4,839 yards and 37 touchdowns but just 7.4 yards per attempt before peaking at a whopping 5,250 yards and 41 touchdowns, with 8.1 yards per attempt last season. Mahomes’ 7.0 yards per pass attempt this season represented a career low by nearly half a yard per attempt (0.4).

Of course, most of the blame for this can be placed at the feet of Travis Kelce’s girlfriend a largely inept group of wide receivers. Mahomes only established a connection with Rashee Rice, whose development in the passing game saved the season from total disaster. Rice had 938 yards and seven touchdowns with 79 catches on 102 targets this season and he is coming off a strong first playoff game that saw him put up 130 yards and a touchdown on eight catches and 12 targets. Rice is the clear top receiver and he has overtaken Travis Kelce for target volume late in the season. Kelce had 71 yards on seven catches with 10 targets last week but he has not seen the end zone since Week 11 against Philadelphia. The tight end remains elite, dating a music star does not drain one of all of their life force, with the possible exception of Keith Richards who has been undead since 1972. Kelce has a significant ceiling and his 10 targets last week are encouraging after he had just 18 combined from Week 15-17, he ranks as TE1/2 on FanDuel and TE1/1 on DraftKings this week. Justin Watson caught two of two passes for 20 yards last week, he had three touchdowns and 460 yards on 27 catches in the regular season but drew just 53 targets. Watson dropped seven passes in his limited action, which explains the total lack of faith in the passing attack. Kadarius Toney is questionable to play, he has not been ina action since Week 15 and he has not been relevant at all this season with 27 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown on the year. Marquez Valdes-Scantling had one catch for eight yards on two targets last week, he has not had more than two catches since a three-catch game in Week 7 and he had one touchdown this year after scoring just twice last year and three times in 2021. Mecole Hardman was viable in Week 18 with starters resting, he had 11 targets and caught six of them for 77 yards, in the playoff game last week he ran only a handful of routes on 25 snaps with the offense, seeing three targets and catching one for three yards, he also had a carry for -4 yards. Richie James Jr. caught one of two opportunities for six yards last week in the Wildcard round (it goes on like this with this team). Justyn Ross is questionable after missing last week’s game. Ross had six catches for 53 yards in his 10 games this season, he does not have much potential even if he suits up despite having a bit of ability.

isiah Pacheco carried the ball 24 times for a solid 89 yards and a touchdown last week against the Dolphins with much of the fantasy industry riding his coattails, the lead back in this offense has similar upside again this week. While he is facing a quality rush defense, Pacheco should see plenty of volume again, the Chiefs are limited with what they can do through the air if Kelce and Rice are bottled up in the passing game. Pacheco has smashmouth upside that plays well in the Buffalo cold, he could see upward of 20 touches again and he has fairly significant touchdown-scoring potential. After taking the reins as the primary running back partway through the season, Pacheco ended the year with 935 yards and seven touchdowns on 205 carries in 14 games. Clyde Edwards-Helaire carried the ball seven times in the Wildcard round, rushing for 21 yards and adding a catch for five more yards, his opportunity is limited though one of the carries did come in the red zone. If Edwards-Helaire manages to score or pick up a few additional touches it could be damaging to the bulk of the field who will have Pacheco, which provides additional upside to shares of the backup at a much cheaper price, though it is nothing more than a large field dart throw. Edwards-Helaire had one rushing touchdown and 223 yards on 70 carries this year and he scored one in the passing game.

While Josh Allen is the most individually appealing Bills player, the team has capable bring-back options. Stefon Diggs is the obvious name but the down depth chart receivers are playable as dart throws and both tight ends can be utilized as bring-back plays.

Update: Travis Kelce was accidentally missing from this list in an earlier update.


San Francisco 49ers

Key Player: Brock Purdy

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud (very large field), Kyle Juszczyk (very large field), Ronnie Bell (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most two

Opposing Group: Aaron Jones, Jayden Reed, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Dontayvion Wicks, Luke Musgrave, Tucker Kraft

Lineup Notes: Brock Purdy threw for 4,280 yards and 32 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions this season. Brock Purdy is the one potential weak link for the 49ers in their quest for a Super Bowl. Both of these things can be true, though Purdy probably deserves a bit more than hearing people say he is carried by the elite skill players that surround him. Purdy is carried by the elite skill players that surround him. While the quarterback delivered accurate passes and a fair 8.2 yard intended air yards per pass attempt, he benefitted from a league-high 6.7 yards after the catch per completion this season (Jake Browning was second at 6.5, and Mahomes was surprisingly third at 6.4). Purdy was in the middle of the league with a 75.5% on-target rate this season and he was sacked just 28 times while facing just a 20.1% pressure rate. Purdy has demonstrated that he belongs in the league despite his legendary draft status, but the 49ers will – to a degree – live and die with his performance at the key position.

All of those yards after the catch and big plays are provided by a world-class group that includes Christian McCaffrey and his similarly skilled pal Deebo Samuel, both of whom are good for huge play upside with ability in both the rushing and receiving aspects of the game. McCaffrey is the team’s primary running back but he is also a significant weapon in the passing game. Samuel is the team’s primary receiver but he is also a significant weapon in the rushing game. For the season, McCaffrey posted 1,459 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on 272 carries and added 567 receiving yards and seven more touchdowns on 67 catches with 8.4 yards per reception and 6.8 yards per target (83). Samuel, meanwhile, drew 89 targets and caught 60 of them for 892 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games. He had a 7.1-yard aDOT with 541 yards and 9.0 yards on average coming after the catch this season. Samuel added 27 carries for 225 yards and five touchdowns, an average of 6.1 yards per rushing attempt. The high-end duo can be played together where affordable, even in lineups that are not stacked with their quarterback. This is also true for both Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle, who also had strong seasons. Aiyuk was a non-factor in the team’s Week 18 game with just three catches and 25 yards on four targets, but he was a fixture for underrated fantasy scoring this season with seven games of 100+ yards, seven touchdowns, and 1,342 yards total on 75 catches. Kittle logged just 65 catches but cracked the 1,000-yard mark with 1,020 and six touchdowns on the year. Jauan Jennings is a capable dart throw receiver who rejoins the team after several weeks out. Jennings had just one touchdown this season and one last year, catching 19 passes for 265 yards on 33 targets in his 13 outings this season. Ray-Ray McCloud was active for the first time since Week 12 in the team’s Week 18 game, he caught a season-high three passes for 22 yards, he is not expected to see much work this week outside of his utility in the return game. Chris Conley saw action in Week 18, catching three of six passes for 69 yards, he is not expected to see that volume this week. Ronnie Bell had one target in each of the games from Week 15-17 then five targets in the Week 18 game with the second string, he is not much of a factor this week.

Elijah Mitchell could pick up a few carries behind McCaffrey in the ground game, he had 14 for 52 yards and a touchdown with most of his team out in Week 18 but he also had 80 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown in Week 17 in a game in which McCaffrey carried the ball 14 times for 64 yards and caught four passes while playing just 36 snaps. Mitchell probably will not reach those heights but there is a bit of low-owned cheap touchdown potential on the right day. Jordan Mason carried the ball six times for 36 yards in Week 18 but he should fall behind Mitchell on the depth chart.

The Packers offer a deep depth chart full of quality pass-catching options for bring-back plays, and running back Aaron Jones is elite despite facing a tough defense.



Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Player: Baker Mayfield

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Rachaad White, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Cade Otton, Trey Palmer, David Moore (large field), Deven Thompkins (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Amon-Ra St. Brown, David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta, Josh Reynolds, Jameson Williams

Lineup Notes: The Buccaneers have been a quality team for fantasy scoring this season, particularly volume-based running back Rachaad White. The team lands in a 49.5-point potential shootout with the Lions this week, they are six-point underdogs but there is good reason to believe they can hang with Detroit if Baker Mayfield can get the ball out well in the passing game. In a strong performance against Philadelphia’s terrible pass defense in the Wildcard round, Mayfield threw three touchdown passes and accrued 337 passing yards on 22-36 passing. The underrated quarterback had a strong year after being largely written off by other organizations. Mayfield came roaring to life with 4,044 passing yards, 7.1 yards per attempt, and 28 touchdown passes this year, tossing just 10 interceptions along the way in 17 games. For perspective, he managed to throw six interceptions in just seven games with Carolina in 2022. Detroit is a good football team but their defense is lacking, hence the hefty game total. For the regular season, the Lions ranked just 27th with 1.6 passing touchdowns allowed per game and they gave up a 30th-ranked 7.2 yards per pass attempt on the year. The tough front seven was much better against the run, stopping opposing rushers to the tune of just 3.7 yards allowed per rush attempt this season, the third-best mark in football. Detroit gave up 0.9 rushing touchdowns per game this year but they cut that to just 0.3 per game over their last three contests. Despite a league-high 28.2% pressure rate, Detroit managed just 41 sacks this season, though they also lead the league with an 11.2% hurry rate. They were middle of the road in scoring drives allowed at a 12th-ranked 37.3% scoring on 185 drives against. Tampa Bay has more than enough firepower to make a shootout of this game.

While Rachaad White is neither the most talented rusher or the most talented pass catcher on the board, he has some of the best volume-based upside for a fair price from week to week around the DFS industry. White picked up another 18 carries in the team’s Wildcard game while hauling in one of three targets for a disappointing three yards. White saw between 20 and 25 potential touches in five of the team’s last seven games, he gets his hand on the ball constantly and has the ability to simply grind his way to fantasy relevance, though touchdowns tend to help. White scored six times on the ground in his 272 carries while rushing for 990 yards, just 3.6 yards per attempt. The running back had another 549 yards in the passing game on 64 catches, adding three touchdowns to his tally. White had a strong PPR-scoring ceiling and he missed just six of his 70 targets all season. Despite a disappointing finish, Mike Evans had another outstanding season in an outstanding career. Evans went over 1,000 receiving yards for the 10th straight year, accomplishing the feat every year in his career to this point. He had 13 touchdowns, one shy of his career-high from 2021 and marking his fifth season with 12 or more touchdown catches. Evans is an excellent downfield weapon, he had a 14-yard average depth of target and 1,890 air yards this season, representing 40% of the team’s air yards and he also saw 25.4% of the red zone volume in the offense. Mike Evans is an elite option despite not scoring a touchdown since Week 16. Chris Godwin found the end zone in the Wildcard game, he had four catches on five targets, totaling 45 yards in a good-not-great performance at his salary. Godwin is an affordable alternative to Evans, he had a 9.7-yard aDOT on the season and 27.2% of the team’s air yards at 1,287. Godwin also finished the season over 1,000 receiving yards with 1,024 but he had just two touchdowns during the regular season despite drawing a healthy 130 targets. Third banana Trey Palmer had just one big catch for 56 yards and a score last week on his two targets, his 10.5-yard aDOT is appealing as a low-cost dart throw pivot from the higher-end higher-volume targets in this offense. Palmer had 385 yards and three touchdowns on 68 targets (5.7 yards per target) in his rookie campaign. David Moore missed everything before Week 12, he finished the season with just one touchdown in a 68-yard two-catch game in Week 15 and did not have more than one catch or one target in any other game during the regular season. In last week’s game, Moore had three targets and caught two of them for 66 yards and a touchdown at extremely low ownership, the veteran could see similarly sneaky value again this week. Deven Thompkins saw just one target in the Wildcard game, he has been very limited in the passing game and can probably be skipped in all but the largest field tournaments this week. Rakim Jarret has not played since Week 11 and should not see the field. Tight end Cade Otton had an unexpected big game in the Wildcard round. While he did not see the end zone, Otton caught eight of 11 targets for 89 yards, all of which were season highs. Otton remains inexpensive and he could get in the end zone if he sees similar opportunities this week.

The Lions offer high-end bring-back plays in Amon-Ra St. Brown, David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta and the depth receivers, two can absolutely be played in bring-back scenarios against this team, though both running backs as bring-back plays is probably stretching things.



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