MetroBet dishes out fantasy football advice for this weekend's NFL Divisional playoff round.
Jeffery Provides Safe Floor
Alshon Jeffery has some undeniable chemistry with Nick Foles, that much is clear. In last year's run to the Super Bowl, Jeffery flourished with Foles under center to the tune of 12 catches (on 18 targets) for 219 yards and three touchdowns over the three games the Eagles played in the postseason. He's off to another fast start in this postseason after hauling in six balls (on nine targets) for 82 yards in the Eagles Wild Card Weekend win over the Bears. Thanks to their seeding, the Eagles now have the Saints on deck, and it's really as simple as looking at the matchup to see the great opportunity in front of Alshon Jeffery. Across the regular season the Saints ranked 29th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game, and they particularly struggled in containing wide receivers. Given the high-powered nature of the Saints offense and the strength of their run defense, expect Nick Foles to attempt at least 30+ passes in this game, and I would be surprised if Jeffery sees fewer than 12 targets. With that kind of volume, there's a realistic chance that Jeffery turns in the best wide receiver performance of any player this weekend, and will come at a significantly lower cost than guys like Keenan Allen, Tyreek Hill and Michael Thomas.
Continue to Ride the Mack Train
Marlon Mack surprised everyone, including me, by absolutely steam-rolling the Houston Texans' third-ranked run defense. After not allowing a 100-yard rusher all season, they were obliterated by Mack for 148 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. He now draws the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round, and they represent a far juicier opportunity. Kansas City finished the year 27th in run defense, and they were gashed by powerful backs all season. The Colts will want to do everything they can to keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes' hands, and the key to controlling the clock is controlling the ball with the run. There is some slight risk here that Mack may be phased out of the game plan if the Colts fall behind early, but I have enough faith in the Colts underrated defense (and their offense) to keep this game close throughout. Expect Mack to handle another 20+ carries in a win-or-go-home game--he should be able to convert those into another 100 yards and hopefully at least one score.
Sony Will Struggle On the Ground
The Chargers defense was positively smothering for a majority of their Wild Card Round win over the Baltimore Ravens. They allowed Lamar Jackson to make some huge plays with his legs and arm in the fourth quarter, but the Ravens running backs were utterly neutralized for the entire game. We may see a similar game script unfold in the Divisional Round when the Chargers take on the Patriots, and for that reason it's tough to trust the Patriots' dynamic rookie running back. Sony Michel is currently splitting touches with Rex Burkhead and James White, and both are more involved in the passing game than he is. With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram applying pressure on Tom Brady and company the entire game, it's easy to fade the Patriots running game, especially. It's likely he won't even see his typical majority of snaps, as Brady will be trying to get rid of the ball quickly--that should lead to a healthy dose of James White all afternoon. Unless he scores a touchdown, it's all but guaranteed that Michel will have a disappointing fantasy day.
NFL Sleepers of the Week
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles -Nick Foles will need to throw to keep pace with Drew Brees, and Goedert has had a knack for the end zone all season--he proved it again last week. He's a sneaky, ultra-cheap DFS play this weekend.
Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers - The Patriots will be doing everything they can to take Keenan Allen out of play, and that could leave Williams available to make some big plays. He's also a red zone monster, and this game will not be run-heavy.
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys - With Allen Hurns out for the remainder of the playoffs following his gruesome injury, Gallup should be able to vacuum up a majority of the targets he leaves behind. He's second-fiddle in targets behind Amari Cooper, but that also applies to defensive attention. Don't be shocked if he finds pay dirt.