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NFL DFS Picks: Sunday Divisional Round Showdown Strategy

Kyle Dvorchak



Yahoo NFL DFS Picks today tonight free expert daily fantasy football rankings ownership projections optimal lineup optimizer tonight Week 11 Monday Night FOotball Giants vs. Buccaneers tonight MIke Evans Tom Brady

Divisional Round Sunday features two games for which DraftKings has posted solid Showdown NFL daily fantasy football prize pools. As with all of my NFL DFS picks and Showdown Strategy pieces for DraftKings NFL and FanDuel NFL, you can find the data that backs the takes in this article. All Showdown trend data can be found in this sheet that will be updated after each full NFL week concludes.

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Daily Fantasy Football Advice: Sunday Divisional Round Showdown Strategy

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5), 57.5 Total

NFL DFS Picks: Captain

Chiefs players will dominate the Captain position as 10.5-point favorites, so we can knock out the Browns options fairly quickly. If Cleveland manages to pull off the miraculous victory, Nick Chubb will likely be the reason why. Chubb has finished 12 games this year. His splits between wins and losses are drastic:

  • Wins – 18.2 carries for 103.3 yards
  • Losses – 12.7 carries for 56.7 yards

Chubb is the player on Cleveland most affected by the team’s outcome. He makes the most sense as a Captain from the Cleveland side.

The Chiefs side of the ball is far more open. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is questionable with a hip injury but would be a contrarian Captain option if he does go. Travis Kelce has out-scored Tyreek Hill in each of the previous four weeks, which will likely draw more ownership Kelce’s way. This is despite the two players scoring within a point per game of each other over the course of the season. Their volume is similar as well, with Hill likely have a modest edge:

  • Kelce – 24.7% target share, 26.3% air yards share
  • Hill – 23.2% target share, 34.7% air yards share

All of this comes with the caveat that both players are not at the level of Patrick Mahomes. Even though Mahomes leads the early Showdown slate with a $12,000 salary, he is still projected as the best points-per-dollar value above $4,000. Mahomes in the Captain is the optimal roster construction from a cash and low-entry tournament perspective. Favoring one of his pass-catchers or his running back in the Captain is the best way to get different in large-field tournaments.

NFL DFS Picks: Flex

With Sammy Watkins out, the Flex conversation starts with the Kansas City receivers. Watkins was out for a stretch of games in the middle of the season. Over those games, the split between the backup receivers was stark:

Name Route Rate Air Yards Share Target Share
Byron Pringle 49.3% 7.2% 5.3%
Demarcus Robinson 80.0% 16.9% 13.8%
Deon Yelder 9.3% -0.2% 0.5%
Mecole Hardman 48.8% 10.2% 9.0%
Nick Keizer 11.6% 0.6% 2.6%

The backup tight ends were included as notable players to create unique lineups in the largest tournaments. The most important data points here are the clear advantages held by Demarcus Robinson, who was nearly an every-down player and saw a significant target share and air yards share. Byron Pringle played a similar role to Mecole Hardman, is $600 cheaper and will be far less popular.

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Cleveland’s side of the game comes back into focus in the Flex conversation because we have to play at least one of them. The receivers are the best options as run-backs in Chiefs-heavy lineups. After Odell Beckham went down, Rashard Higgins took over his role and leads the Browns in air yards dating back to Week 7. Jarvis Landry isn’t far behind with 521 air yards, but he also has 48 targets, 16 more than Higgins. Austin Hooper has 31 targets in his previous three games and played on 90% of the Browns’ snaps last week. This game looks like a spot to jam Chiefs with a contrarian Captain and run it back with one to two Browns at most.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints (-3), 52 Total

NFL DFS Picks: Captain

As slight favorites with a much tighter opportunity distribution, the Saints are going to draw much of the attention at Captain. The best way to leverage this is either to look at the lesser owned of the Saints or a Buccaneers receivers. Starting with New Orleans, Michael Thomas likely comes in as significantly less popular than Alvin Kamara. Both players are projected to be the highest-scoring non-quarterbacks on the second Showdown slate, but Kamara will likely see more ownership. Thomas led the NFL in air yards share over his small sample of games, and he just saw seven targets in his first contest back in the lineup last week. Using him over Kamara looks to be the quickest path to building a Saints-heavy lineup that is unique.

The Buccaneers become a mess when trying to decipher their target distribution. From Week 9 (when Antonio Brown joined the Buccaneers) to Week 16 (Mike Evans‘ final healthy game of the regular season), Evans led the team with a 22% target share and a 28.9% target share. Evans could get overlooked in favor of his fellow Tampa Bay receivers, but the volume clearly points to him as the Bucs’ receiver to target. The drop from Evans’ volume to Chris Godwin‘s is far great than going from Godwin to Brown. However, Godwin is only $600 more than Brown at Captain, so Brown is nothing more than a contrarian double pivot. Brady is also a viable pivot point off of the Saints. Brady has topped 340 yards passing eight times this year, and all of those games featured a final total of at least 54 points.

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NFL DFS Picks: Flex

The biggest question for this game will be the status of Ronald Jones. Tampa head coach Bruce Arians already announced Leonard Fournette as the starter even if Jones is healthy. With Jones active, Fournette would be a speculative, but viable play because of his palatable $6,800 cost. If he is out, Fournette is likely the chalkiest non-quarterback from Tampa Bay because of his 19 carries and four targets in the Wild Card Round. Ke’Shawn Vaughn only saw six opportunities but would be worth a shot in large-field tournaments because of his $1,600 price.

Rob Gronkowski put up an embarrassing zero points last week, but he still ran a route on a majority of Brady’s dropbacks. Cameron Brate stepped up with four catches for 80 yards last week, but a whole season of data points to playing Gronkowski over Brate even at an elevated price. From Week 9 to Week 16, Gronkowski saw a 16.3% air yards share and a 12% target share. His dud last week should keep his ownership extremely low relative to his upside.

The Saints don’t feature their secondary receiving options much, but the prices on them are worth considering. Emmanuel Sanders ran a route on 76.1% of his team’s dropbacks last week. Jared Cook ran six fewer routes and has yet to top 100 yards or score multiple times in a game this year. Sanders’ upside is far greater than Cook’s. Tre’Quan Smith was activated from IR on Saturday and should return to the No. 3 receiver role. He’ll be one of the lowest-owned starting players on this slate, even if his role remains uncertain.

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If you like fantasy football and care about data, there's a 50/50 chance I've written for your favorite site. In a few short years I've covered, season-long, dynasty, best ball, and DFS for football. I used to be watching games and pretend to know what I was talking about but now I just spew numbers that forecast outcomes better than any scout. Come for the numbers, stay for the bad jokes and Zach Zenner references. RIP XFL.

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