The NFL regular season is over but DraftKings is still running huge GPP contests for the Divisional Round, including the $2.5M Fantasy Football Millionaire with a $1,000,000 prize for first place. If you are a regular reader of this article, you should already understand the importance of entering unique lineups in top-heavy, large-field tournaments such as this week’s Milly Maker. On a four-game slate, where competing rosters will overlap much more than usual, the urgency to separate your lineups from those of your opponents becomes amplified.
The most important thing you can do before building lineups this week is to tighten up your player pool by scripting each game. As an example, let’s say you feel strongly about Kansas City blowing out Houston. What would that look like in a box score? Carlos Hyde’s defense vs. position matchup and affordable salary make him an OK point-per-dollar value on the surface. But if you think the Texans will be playing from behind, Hyde is unlikely to see enough touches (or carry enough touchdown equity) to reach his ceiling. If the game goes according to your script, avoiding Hyde completely will help your lineups jump in front of the ~15% that will include him.
With this concept in mind, our format will change for the playoffs. The focus will be on predicting the outcome of each game and building a player pool that is fully in sync with those predictions.
Vikings @ 49ers
Minnesota pulled the upset last week by winning the battle of the trenches against the Saints league-best offensive line. The 49ers linemen form a solid unit but aren’t on the same level as New Orleans. While a repeat performance is a big ask for the Vikings in San Francisco, Minnesota’s front seven has to be playing with confidence right now and is capable of dictating the game script for a second-straight week. Siding against first-time playoff quarterbacks worked out well in the Wild Card round and playoff newbie Jimmy Garoppolo is prone to make a poor decision or two most weeks. This game should be close and could go the Vikings way if Dalvin Cook can find running room.
High Exposure Plays
Deebo Samuel ($5,200) - Since Week 8, Samuel is the cumulative WR10 in DraftKings scoring format. On most regular-season main slates, the WR10 was typically priced in the $7K range, which indicates Samuel is an excellent point-per-dollar value relative to his second-half production. Already one of the best yards-after-the-catch receivers in the game as a rookie, Samuel presents a mismatch for anyone Minnesota can throw at him in coverage -- especially with Xavier Rhodes struggling, and fellow cornerbacks Mackensie Alexander and Mike Hughes set to miss their second straight game.
George Kittle ($6,200) - Travis Kelce’s matchup gives him the slight edge over Kittle as the best tight end play on the slate but you want plenty of exposure to both players and have a green light to use them together in the same lineup. Kittle finished the regular season hotter than any non-Tyler Higbee tight end and is all but locked into his usual 8-10 targets. The Vikings have talent at safety and linebacker but Kittle isn’t phased by matchups and his touchdown potential is theoretically elevated by the 49ers status as home favorites.
Dalvin Cook ($8,000) - Cook put any doubts about the health of his shoulder to rest by turning 28 carries and five targets into 130 total yards and two touchdowns against the Saints’ fifth-ranked rush defense (DVOA) last week. The 49ers, who allowed the third-fewest PPR fantasy points to enemy running backs this season, represent another stiff test but one Cook is more than capable of acing. Even if the game plays out closer to Vegas’ implied script, Cook would gain the upside for six-to-eight targets as a pass-catcher. As the only game-flow independent running back on the slate, Cook warrants overall RB1 exposure and can be used as a run-back option in 49ers stacks.
Jimmy Garoppolo ($5,600) - If San Francisco is limited to two-to-three touchdowns, it doesn’t leave Garoppolo with much of a ceiling. The 49ers scored 50% of their touchdowns on the ground this year, which was the third-highest rate in the league. There are, however, two important reasons to come in over the field on Garoppolo:
He is cheap. Garoppolo has exceeded a 4x multiple of his current salary in 25% of his games this season, a rate that figures to double his ownership.
So are his pass-catchers. Kittle, at a middling $6,200, is Garoppolo’s most expensive stacking partner. If a 49ers team stack hits, it will likely be surrounded by expensive plays from the most favorable offenses.
Also in the Player Pool
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Own %||Comment|
|Kirk Cousins||QB||@SF||$5,700||6%||If game is played 100x, it shoots out in more than six.|
|Raheem Mostert||RB||MIN||$5,800||26%||At least one rushing TD in six straight.|
|Adam Thielen||WR||@SF||$6,200||10%||Injured again and gets Sherman in coverage. Likely fade.|
|Stefon Diggs||WR||@SF||$5,600||26%||Wanted the ball more last week. Should get it this week.|
|Emmanuel Sanders||WR||MIN||$5,400||19%||In similar spot as Samuel with less ownership.|
|Kendrick Bourne||WR||MIN||$3,700||1%||Playing enough snaps to impact the box score.|
|Kyle Rudolph||TE||@SF||$3,400||2%||Raise exposure if Thielen can't get go.|
|Minnesota Vikings||DST||@SF||$2,700||7%||Three sacks and one forced turnover not far off a baseline.|
|San Francisco 49ers||DST||MIN||$3,000||20%||Could lead all DSTs on slate if they can shut down Cook.|
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