I love the NFL playoffs. Much as I relish the regular season with 7 games on in the early window, I so enjoy it when there’s only a single game happening at once. It gets that Sunday or Monday Night Football feel where everything is just stopping for this one game.
It’s easier to focus and study the game and the players. This is for both the next game, and the next season. Let’s remember how D.K. Metcalf’s explosion in last year’s playoffs was a precursor to his evolution into a WR1 this season. I also like that teams seem to funnel the ball even more than usual to their stars. That’s why you’ll see Derrick Henry running the ball 30+ times and Travis Kelce getting 15 targets this time of year. You live and die with your studs.
There will be plenty of studs on display this Super Wild Card Weekend. And a few that you may want to fade, or in this case, put them AFUERA. Let’s get into the DFS picks for the first weekend of the NFL Playoffs. All dollar amounts are Draft Kings based on Saturday or Sunday slates, not the entire weekend. More action that way. Vamonos!
DFS START OF THE WEEK
Josh Allen vs IND SAT
From Weeks 13-17, Allen threw for 1516 yards and 15 TDs against 2 INTs. He’s the QB1 over that time, so no one is hotter going into the playoffs than the Buffalo signal caller. The Colts have been vulnerable to the pass late in the season, as they gave up 326.6 yards per game since Week 13. They were blitzed by Ben Roethlisberger in the second half of their Week 16 tilt on the way to 341 yards and 3 TDs. Keep in mind that the Colts are going to play in frigid Buffalo, another dome team headed for slaughter in freezing temperatures. There is no better QB on the Saturday slate, and it’s not even close.
Lamar Jackson @ TEN SUN
Guess who’s the QB2 since Week 13? Yup, the 2019 MVP has got his groove back. Jackson has thrown for 11 TDs and run in 4 more the last 5 weeks of the season. He’s back to being Action Jackson, becoming the first QB in NFL history with multiple 1000-yard seasons. The Titans, even at home, are not a good defense. In spite of the great running games that these two teams have, this over/under is at 54.5. Look for Jackson to not only run wild against a defense that is #25 in Fantasy PPG allowed to the QB, but he’ll likely have to throw plenty because there will be mucho points scored.
Drew Brees vs CHI SUN
Since coming off the IR with what seems like more cracked ribs than a typical human has, Brees has thrown for 300 yards twice and 3 TDs a pair of times. The one game where he didn’t throw a TD, Alvin Kamara ran all over the Vikings to tie an NFL record with 6 rushing TDs. That stellar Chicago defense from years past has taken a step back since Week 13, allowing 12 TD passes over that span. Brees should have a full complement of weapons for the postseason.
Ben Roethlisberger vs CLE SUN
Did Big Ben find something in the second half against the Colts in Week 16? Those 3 TD passes with the division title hanging in the balance definitely looked like vintage Ben. The Browns have had their issues in the secondary of late, both injuries and performance, so it’s very likely that Ben takes his shots against their biggest weakness.
Baker Mayfield @ PIT SUN
Even at this low price, this game is going to test a lot for Mayfield. He’s without HC Kevin Stefanski calling the plays. LG Joel Bitonio is out on the COVID IR. Add to it that the Steelers are allowing an average of 217.8 passing yards a game to QBs since Week 13. Not a good week to be Mayfield.
Derrick Henry vs BAL SUN
King Henry surpassed 200 yards twice in the last 4 weeks of the season, crossing the goal line 5 times. He’s in his December-January mode that mimics Godzilla destroying buildings in Tokyo. The Ravens have not been very good against the run lately – 20th in Fantasy PPG allowed to the RB position since Week 13. Playing a home game, Henry will announce his presence with authority quite often on Sunday.
J.K. Dobbins @ TEN SUN
Since Week 11, Dobbins has scored in all 6 games in which he’s played (he missed one game on the COVID list). He got double-digit carries in each of those games, so he’s as close to a lead caballo as the Ravens will have. The Titans are equal opportunity against the run as they are against the pass, as they’re 18th in Fantasy PPG allowed with 22.9 points a game since Week 13.
Cam Akers @ SEA SAT
The Saturday slate looks rough for the RB position. As far as Akers is concerned, the good is that he got 21 carries last week against the Cardinals when it was debated whether he’d even play with a high-ankle sprain. Only 3 other carries were given to Ram RBs last week. His 34 yards rushing from that effort are tough to swallow, but this matchup should be easier against the Seattle defense that is just #15 in giving up 22 Fantasy PPG to RBs since Week 13. LT Andrew Whitworth should be back, which is good for Akers.
Jonathan Taylor @ BUF SAT
It does appear to be sacrilege to put Taylor anywhere but in your lineup. I had him in my lineup at first, then talked to Primo GreggyGreg, our DFS expert. He pointed out the game script could make Taylor a well-paid bystander if the Bills, 7-point favorites, run out to a big lead at home. That would lead to plenty of expletives and junk food consumption during the first game of the weekend.
Zack Moss & Devin Singletary vs IND
As with how it’s been going for these teams all season, no one is taking firm hold of the Buffalo backfield. Then pile on that the one place where the Colts have remained good on defense is against the run – #1 in allowing just 39.6 rushing yards per game since Week 13. Stay away from both Buffalo RBs.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
STACK PLAY OF THE WEEKEND
Stefon Diggs vs IND SAT
Since Week 9, Diggs has at least 7 catches in every game, and has received a minimum of 10 targets coming his way four times. There’s no question that this first-time All-Pro selection is one of the elite wideouts in the game, and the Colts are #28 against WRs in Fantasy PPG. As hot as Allen-to-Diggs has been, we’re almost expecting a massive game from Diggs.
Antonio Brown @ WAS SAT
Those 15 targets that resulted in 11 catches for 138 yards and 2 scores look like vintage AB. With Mike Evans possibly out or at best limited because of a knee injury, Brown and Chris Godwin are going to benefit. The Washington defense is just 19th against WRs in Fantasy PPG, and appear to be vulnerable when Tom Brady has time to throw,.
Marquise Brown @ TEN SUN
His somnambulate first half of the season left many people to place Brown on the bench or even cutting him. Those people missed out on 6 TDs from Week 12 on. His 41 targets during that time showed he was being looked for plenty. The Titans allowed 1087 passing yards and 11 TDs since Week 13, figures that were #31 and dead last, respectively, over that period. The high over/under says there will be some points scored through the air as well as the ground.
Diontae Johnson vs CLE SUN
It’s hard to ignore the 96 targets that Johnson received from Weeks 9-16. That was tops in the league, 10 more than Davante Adams in second place. Even amid all the drops that were very well-documented in the media, Big Ben kept looking for Johnson, who happened to be the WR5 over that span. The Browns’ weakness has been the secondary (#22 in Fantasy PPG allowed to the WR position since Week 13). This could be a big game for Chase Claypool as well.
D.K. Metcalf vs LAR
This one pains me to type up, because Metcalf is one of my favorite players in the NFL. He’s as close to Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones as I’ve seen. There’s just something about the Ram defense QQthat has not allowed him to get much going in either game. Week 10, when the Seahawk offense looked as unstoppable as the sunrise, Jalen Ramsey put a blanket on Metcalf to the tune of 2 receptions for 28 yards. The Rams have been doing that to everyone, as they’re the top defensive unit against QBs and WRs all season.
Jarvis Landry @ PIT SUN
The Browns and their fans were en fuego after qualifying for the playoffs. Baker Mayfield was 7. They’ll see that things are far different than they were last week when they beat the Pittsburgh JV squad. The Steelers are #7 against WRs in Fantasy PPG, and held Landry to 8 catches for 91 yards over both games this season.