Raybon's Rollout: Divisional Round
Welcome back to Raybon’s Rollout, where I highlight the stacks and players I’ll be rolling out in DFS. For data on the hit rates of the different stacks I list below, check out the intro in the first edition of this column here.
Last week’s slate featured four blowouts, but this week’s should be more competitive. Three games have spreads of five points or less. Below is my favorite stack for each of this week’s four games.
RB Devonta Freeman + D/ST Falcons
“Versus Seattle” may look intimidating on paper, but the Falcons have a team total of 28 and only five players in the league scored more TDs than Freeman (13) this season. In fact, Freeman has scored at least once in each of his last five home games, with three multi-TD games over that span. Over the past three weeks, the Seahawks have given up three TDs to David Johnson, two TDs and a 4-68 receiving line to Shaun Draughn, and 88 total yards and six catches to Zach Zenner. Freeman is especially attractive on DraftKings, where his salary of $5,900 is the lowest it has been since Week 7.
With a lot of studs on the slate, finding cheap value will be crucial, and the Falcons check the box as a home favorite against an opponent with one of the weaker offensive lines in the league, if not the weakest. The Falcons defense also provides nice leverage against ownership of the Seahawks offense, which tends to have meltdowns on the road. Away from the Link this season, Darrell Bevell’s unit averages only 15.9 points and 1.38 turnovers, compared to 28.4 points and 0.88 turnovers at home.
RB LeGarrette Blount + D/ST Patriots
Blount has played three career home playoff games with the Patriots. He’s scored three or more TDs in two of them. In six career regular season games when the Patriots have been double-digit favorites at home with Tom Brady as their QB, Blount averages 1.17 TDs per game. If you don’t have exposure to Blount, you risk him putting up a multi-TD game and completely destroying your profitability. Even if Blount doesn’t go completely nuts, his touchdown floor is still second to none — he’s scored a TD in 13-of-16 games overall, including 7-of-8 home games and 5-of-5 home games with Tom Brady as the QB.
If Blount is having a big game, it usually means the Patriots are in clock-killing mode because they are blowing out the opponent, which is likely given that New England is a 16-point favorite, the largest playoff spread in 18 years. The Texans averaged 14.8 points per game on the road this season, second-fewest in the NFL, and are ranked 22nd in strength-of-schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses.
I’ve been anti-Alex Smith in DFS for a long time, but I think this a great spot to roll him out. Besides the fact that I think Smith’s upside is improved with the Chiefs now making a more concerted effort to feature run-after-catch mavens Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, Smith can also provide value not by outperforming expectation himself, but from other, more expensive QBs underperforming expectation. We saw this last week, when Brock Osweiler was the second-highest scoring QB behind Aaron Rodgers.
On DraftKings, the Smith-Kelce stack is the 13th-most expensive stack, and on FanDuel it’s the 14th-most expensive. Kelce is one of the few TEs in the league with WR upside — he’s gone over 100 yards in six of his last 10 games.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m also usually anti-Antonio Brown on the road in DFS. However, this is a small slate, and Brown’s ownership will be somewhat muted due to the presence of other studs on the slate with lower price tags. But let’s be honest: although Brown’s stat line at home since 2014 of 8.4-110-1.0 is monstrous, his road stat line of 7.5-95-0.5 is no joke, either. Chiefs top cornerback Marcus Peters usually remains stationary, while Brown moves around and most often lines up on the opposite side of where Peters does…not that any matchup should ever deter you from rostering Brown. Stacking Smith and Kelce with Brown is a nice way to save at QB, pivot off Le’Veon Bell, and leverage opposing passing game correlations, all the while getting what will likely be the slate’s lowest owned stud in your lineup.
Dak and Zeke are likely going to be very popular due to their projected $/point value, and rightfully so. However, many tournament entrants remain reluctant to employ QB-RB stacks. My educated guess would be that the majority of Zeke lineups will not have Dak, and vice-versa. That means most Zeke lineups will have to pay up at QB (I doubt Alex Smith and Brock Osweiler garner much ownership). However, the Packers have been an equal opportunity defense: they are ranked 29th and 24th in QB and RB schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed, respectively. A high implied team total is the number-one indicator that QB-RB stack will hit, and the Cowboys’ team total is 28.25, the highest on the slate. Dak and Zeke combined for 44-of-48 (92%) of Cowboys TDs from Weeks 1-16.
Coaching Tendency to Exploit
Tyreek Hill’s Increased Usage
In addition to unfortunately being a polarizing player due to his off-the-field issues, Hill is polarizing in DFS as well. Some believe he is a gadget player who doesn’t see a large enough workload to sustain his TD rate, while others argue his breakaway capabilities are perfect for tournaments. I don’t buy into the former. Over his last six games, Hill has seen at least six targets in a game four times and caught five passes in each of those games. He also averages 2.3 rushing attempts over that span, including 4.5 over his last two games. In addition, he’s returning an average of 3.3 kicks per game. Add it all up, and Hill has touched the ball 9.8 times per game over his last six games — not bad for a player who scored 12 TDs on 138 total touches (8.7%) with a silly 44.2-yard average TD distance.
Injury Situation to Exploit
Jordy Nelson’s Rib Injury
Nelson is unlikely to play Sunday due to two fractured ribs. This is important because Aaron Rodgers tends to support multiple fantasy WRs at a time. Green Bay had two WRs finish as top-10 fantasy WRs this season: Nelson and Davante Adams. Once Nelson went down last week, both Adams and Randall Cobb cleared 100 yards and scored at least once, and both finished as top-five WRs on the slate. In fact, multiple Packer WRs scored TDs in 11-of-17 (65%) games this season. The double stack of two of Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Geronimo Allison is in play.