This slate is the exact opposite of last week. Whereas we had trouble even filling out our cap with exciting plays during Wild Card Weekend, DraftKings actually had to reduce the salaries this week to ensure we could make reasonable teams. There are so many stars as six of the top 11 teams in yards per play all are in action. The key to the slate will be figuring out how to fit as many of these price-discounted stars as we can.
The point of this column is to use the news, snap counts, usage, matchups and trends to both be a little contrarian and avoid whiffs. Note that I am discussing the DraftKings main slate only, aka the four divisional round games.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
Damien Williams operating as the lead dog
Spencer Ware (questionable, hamstring) could return Saturday, but he’s no longer a major factor. In a best-case scenario, Ware would hold the same smallish pass-down role he held when Kareem Hunt was with the Chiefs. This team’s feature back is now Williams, who got a contract extension Dec. 27 and got first-team treatment in Week 17, when he was pulled in the second half. Williams has seen 19 targets on his past 154 snaps and projects to play around 50 snaps Sunday.
The Colts allowed 110 running back receptions during the regular season (second-most in the league), which is not a fluke as their Cover 2 scheme forces targets underneath. On top of that, Williams has a whopping seven carries from inside the 5-yard line despite only really playing in five games all season. So we have major reception and touchdown equity at $5,100.
Gerald Everett’s slate-opening price
Given all the stars on this slate, there are not many viable options under $4,000. One way to gain access to more stars is to punt off at tight end, where Travis Kelce ($7,000) is the no-brainer standout play but is priced appropriately. The guy who carries a very low floor but opens up the slate is Everett ($2,700), who has seen at least six targets in three of his past four games. After failing to top 24 snaps in any of the Rams’ first 12 games, he’s played at least 34 in four straight. That includes 51-of-68 in Week 16 and 45-of-73 in Week 17. Everett is also no stiff as the 2017 second-round pick caught 90 balls in his final 24 games at South Alabama and is a really strong athlete. He posted eye-opening Combine numbers in the vertical, broad, 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle when adjusted for his 6’3/240 frame. On top of all that, the Cowboys were only 19th DVOA against tight ends while sixth against WR1s and third against WR2s.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
Ted Ginn against the Eagles
Ginn ($4,400; knee) came off IR/return in Week 16 and promptly saw eight targets for a 20 percent share. It wasn’t a huge surprise as the Saints desperately need his threatening vertical speed as opponents sit on underneath targets Michael Thomas/Alvin Kamara. Ginn rested Week 17 and had the bye last week, meaning we should expect that knee to be as healthy as it’s going to get. So it’s reasonable to project Ginn back into the role he held in the three games before his injury: 63 percent of the snaps and a 15 percent target share.
The good news is those targets will be deep down the field as Ginn annually is among the NFL’s leaders in both average depth of target and yards per reception. The Eagles gave up the third-most pass plays of 20+ yards during the regular season. And via ESPN’s Mike Clay, the past four offenses to face the Eagles have combined to drop back 189 times while calling only 55 rushing plays. That’s what happens when your starting corners are shaky youngsters Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc and Rasul Douglas.
CONTRARIAN GPP STACKS
Sony Michel and Patriots D/ST
It’s not often the general public is all-in on an underdog. And it’s even rarer the public is falling over themselves to bet against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots. So the fact 60 percent of the tickets and 68 percent of the money is coming in on the Chargers is a red flag. If we think the Patriots will play well and win, then it very likely will be through Sony Michel and the defense.
The Chargers are excellent against wide receivers as they play a ton of dime defense while sporting two of the game’s better corners in Casey Hayward and slot man Desmond King. They excel in the pass rush with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. The best way for the Patriots to attack is through Michel, who is playing a juiced-up version of the old LeGarrette Blount role. His lack of receiving role means he’ll need 100 yards and a touchdown to really crush, but that’s why he’s only $4,700. A big game from the Patriots’ defense would lead to 20-plus carry game scripts for Michel.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is adamlevitan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.