NFL First Look: Divisional Round

By Derek Farnsworth (Notorious), Last Updated 2 months ago

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The NFL First Look is complete with sortable odds, implied team totals, pace of play, DVOA rankings and each team’s projected starters to help you get an early start on the upcoming week.

Divisional Round Thoughts

— Before we get into this week’s picks, I want to note that in GPPs during the playoffs, we don’t need to get overly aggressive with our contrarian plays. More often than not, the winning lineups are going to feature a number of chalk plays mixed in with two or three contrarian plays. Rather than pulling an all out fade of the best plays of the week, try to differentiate by taking chances elsewhere. If you expect Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin to be popular and you still like the stack, try differentiating it by making it a double stack by adding another Seahawks’ receiver in there. Or to really differentiate, play Thomas Rawls with your passing game stack. Sometimes people get too cute and fade the best plays strictly due to ownership, but just because a player is highly owned doesn’t mean that he can’t be on the winning lineup.

— After a week of somewhat disappointing games, the Divisional Round should be much better, both in terms of watchability and in terms of fantasy football.

— The Seahawks found a running game against the Lions, but the game was at home and they were never trailing. I fully expect Seattle to lean on Russell Wilson and the passing game this week, as they take on a Falcons’ defense that is ranked 24th in DVOA against the pass. There are a number of great quarterbacks in this slate, but I ultimately expect Wilson to be one of the highest owned players at his position.

— The Falcons’ offense was unstoppable at home during the regular season. In eight games at home, they never scored fewer than 24 points and they averaged 35 per game. They draw a difficult matchup against a Seahawks defense that is ranked 11th in pass DVOA and second in rush DVOA. I’m not overly concerned though, as the Falcons have the second highest implied total in the slate.

Brock Osweiler ended up having a decent outing against the Raiders in the Wildcard Round, but if you watched that game, you could tell that they don’t trust him one bit. They routinely punted the ball and fourth and short in Raiders’ territory and they ran the ball 44 times ,while Osweiler only had 25 passing attempts. As 16-point underdogs, they may be forced to air it out against the Patriots, which is not a good thing.

Tom Brady and the Patriots should be able to roll through the Texans this week. Even though Houston was ranked ninth in pass DVOA and 17th in rush DVOA during the regular season, New England has the highest implied total in the slate at 30 points. The only thing that we need to figure out is if the Patriots will do most of their damage through the air with Brady or on the ground with LeGarrette Blount.

— The Steelers’ offense was dominant last week against the Dolphins. Their first three drives were all over 80 yards and all three resulted in touchdowns. If anyone was on Twitter during the fourth quarter, they would have seen a ton of people complaining about their starters being in the game. Sure enough, on his last play from scrimmage, Ben Roethlisberger tweaked his ankle. Throw in the fact that Roethlisberger averages 10.9 fewer points on the road than he does at home and we have some concerns. It could be another Le’Veon Bell 30+ touch game.

— The Chiefs have a chance to advance to the Conference Championship and all they need to do is beat a Steelers team that really struggles to score points on the road. As strange as it sounds, the Chiefs only scored 10 fewer points during the regular season than the Steelers did. I generally don’t have strong takes in games that feature such a low spread, but I really like the Chiefs in this one (although I’d rather see the Steelers square off against the Patriots in the AFC Championship).

— The talk of the week will be around the status of Jordy Nelson. He injured his ribs against the Giants and was unable to return to the game. It’s early in the week, but the Packers don’t seem optimistic about his availability. Ty Montgomery status is also in doubt with an ankle injury. If both players are ruled out, we can safely stack the rest of the Packers’ receiving corps this week against the Cowboys.

Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have been tremendous all season, but no one will remember their great rookie years if they can’t get it done in the playoffs. The Cowboys may catch a break if Jordy Nelson is unable to suit up, but that sometimes happens when you secure the number one seed in your conference. This game has massive shootout potential, as the over/under is set at 52 points.

Color Coding

1) Numbers in BLUE represent the “elite” category, in approximately the top 25th percentile.
2) Numbers in GREEN represent the “above-average” category, in approximately the top 50th percentile.
3) Numbers in YELLOW represent the “below-average” category, in approximately the bottom 50th percentile.
4) Numbers in RED represent the “poor” category, in approximately the bottom 25th percentile.

NFL Schedule & Vegas Lines

Road Team Home Team Vegas Line Over/Under Date Time Stadium
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons ATL -4.5 51.5 Sat, Jan 14 4:35 PM Georgia Dome
Houston Texans at New England Patriots NE -15.5 44.5 Sat, Jan 14 8:15 PM Gillette Stadium
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs KC -2.5 45.0 Sun, Jan 15 1:05 PM Arrowhead Stadium
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys DAL -4.0 52.0 Sun, Jan 15 4:40 PM AT&T Stadium

Implied Team Totals & DVOA Matchups

Note: The DVOA rankings in this chart are for the opponent of the offense listed in the first column.

Offense Spread Implied Total Matchup Total DVOA vs. PASS vs. RUSH vs. RB (Pass) vs. WR1 vs. WR2 vs. TE
New England Patriots -15.5 30.0 Houston 11 9 17 28 22 2 1
Atlanta Falcons -4.5 28.0 Seattle 4 11 2 3 11 28 17
Dallas Cowboys -4.0 28.0 Green Bay 19 20 12 11 27 31 6
Green Bay Packers + 4.0 24.0 at Dallas 18 19 8 20 8 18 30
Kansas City Chiefs -2.5 23.8 Pittsburgh 9 13 9 21 32 3 9
Seattle Seahawks + 4.5 23.5 at Atlanta 27 24 28 27 15 9 15
Pittsburgh Steelers + 2.5 21.3 at Kansas City 12 4 23 7 17 7 13
Houston Texans + 15.5 14.5 at New England 16 22 5 23 19 10 18

Implied Team Totals & DvP Matchups

Note: The DvP rankings in this chart are for the opponent of the offense listed in the first column. They are also adjusted for strength of schedule.

Offense Spread Implied Total Matchup QB RB WR TE
New England Patriots -15.5 30.0 Houston 2 21 2 1
Atlanta Falcons -4.5 28.0 Seattle 5 1 15 8
Dallas Cowboys -4.0 28.0 Green Bay 29 11 30 19
Green Bay Packers + 4.0 24.0 at Dallas 16 6 17 28
Kansas City Chiefs -2.5 23.8 Pittsburgh 6 25 9 12
Seattle Seahawks + 4.5 23.5 at Atlanta 27 31 19 26
Pittsburgh Steelers + 2.5 21.3 at Kansas City 8 9 24 6
Houston Texans + 15.5 14.5 at New England 17 4 12 22

First Look Legend

Term Description
DVOA Football Outsiders’ total defense ranking
vs. PASS DVOA pass defense ranking
vs. RB (Run) DVOA ranking against the run
vs. RB (Pass) DVOA ranking against RBs catching the ball out of the backfield
vs. WR1 DVOA ranking vs. WR1s
vs. WR2 DVOA ranking vs. WR2s
vs. TE DVOA ranking vs. TEs

About the Author

  • Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

  • Top-Ranked Derek Notorious Farnsworth graduated with a Masters degree from the University of Utah, but has since joined Team RotoGrinders. He is currently spotted in the Top 50 Overall rankings on RotoGrinders, and has been ranked as high as 5th. The talented Mr. Noto was a 2012 DSBC Finalist, 2013 DSBBC Finalist, 2013 DSBC Finalist (x2), 2013 DD BLB Finalist, 2013 DFBBC Finalist, and 2015 DK King of Boston Finalist. He also won the 2015-16 FCK NBA Players Championship. Notorious was nominated for the 2013 Fantasy Golf Writer of the Year and the 2015 Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA).

    Notorious

Comments

  • RP1507

    Go Chiefs!!!

  • Tjn500

    I have a bit of a lame question……would you clarify the meaning of “Note: The DVOA rankings in this chart are for the opponent of the offense listed in the first column.”

  • teamwillow

    indeed!

  • darkknight007

    Patriots defense + LeGarrette Blount all day

  • mbloodworth8

    Yes. This will be the foundation of most of my lineups. Brady might not have to throw 20 passes in this game.

  • jessicatDFS

    Hey Noto, any chance we get projected plays / pace #s? Tnx for all you do!

  • knl3011

    @Tjn500 said...

    I have a bit of a lame question……would you clarify the meaning of “Note: The DVOA rankings in this chart are for the opponent of the offense listed in the first column.”

    If the offense listed is New England, all the corresponding DVOA numbers in that row are the ranks of the opponent, in this case Houston’s defense, in each respective category. So for New England, they are facing the #9 ranked DVOA vs the pass, not read as New England has the #9 ranked DVOA vs the pass.

  • mike42

    According to simple logic, yes, but according to the patriots it could mean they come out throwing a lot.

  • cwhull

    Basically, it’s the opponent rankings (Matchup).

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