DFS With Doug: Divisional Edition

If you are new to DFS, a Primer is available here:

Full Appendix available at the bottom of the primer for any terms not understood.

Only four days of NFL football are left in the season. Time flies too quickly. We only have a couple more slates to try and win a bunch of money for the Dynasty offseason to fund our startup draft addiction. As the slates start getting smaller and smaller, you will need to find a way to get more and more creative to make things work. The pricing is also extremely tight, so if you want to play the studs, you will have to find some value somewhere on the slate.


Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers (50.5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Detroit Lions (48.5)

Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills (45.5)

Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens (43.5)

We have enough games now that we should discuss all the totals. Ownership will swarm towards the higher two totals, but the Chiefs and Bills game should get some high ownership as well due to the profile of the matchup and the quarterbacks. Beware though—the total has been dropping, and neither of these teams scores points the way they have in past seasons. I will likely be underweight on that game from both sides and am considering a full fade entirely. I want to attack the Bucs and Lions game; they are both teams that we have wanted to play a lot of for DFS purposes due to issues in both secondaries and their offensive ability to move the ball. 

Smaller Slate Strategy

I spoke briefly about this last week, but it has intensified this week with only four games this weekend. This article is written from the perspective of building for the full four-game weekend slate. Be mindful that what I write here may not apply to the Saturday or Sunday slate individually. In smaller slates, I try to envision what the final scores may look like from all the games, then try to reconstruct how the teams that score the most will do so. If you think one game way outscores the rest, play as many guys as you think could realistically have a big game in your lineups and just try to nab some touchdowns from other games with your remaining roster spots. Make sure you try to find a couple of players that you think could make some big plays or fall into the endzone. If you play the likely names at every position, you will certainly be duped due to the limited options on a smaller slate. The effect is magnified if you play either of the two-game single-day slates.


Lamar Jackson (BAL): $7,900 vs. Houston Texans

With the nature of these smaller slates, the structure of this article needed to change. I want to take a moment at each position group with a couple of chalky guys in good spots and a couple of contrarian plays. Let’s look at the likely NFL MVP for the 2nd time in his young career—Lamar Jackson. The further into the season we get, the harder it is to find truly good matchups for any particular player. The Texans’ defense has been a solid matchup for opposing quarterbacks, and even in a loss with two pick-sixes, Joe Flacco was able to get there from a DFS perspective. This may come as a shock to some of you, but a prime Lamar Jackson has way more fantasy upside than 104-year-old Joe Flacco (Full Disclosure: I did not fact-check his age here).

Jordan Love (GB): $6,200 @ San Francisco 49ers

Last week I played over the field on Jordan Love. Unfortunately, none of my Love lineups had the right combination of Packers pass catchers. That will be the trickiest part of building any Jordan Love lineups—picking out the exact right combination of pass catchers, even though it will help your Love lineups quite a bit. When we talk about combinatorial ownership, some QBs will always be paired with the same few pass catchers. This means that of the x% of lineups with that QB, 75% of those lineups will have WRx on them. So even if WRx is 20% rostered, he will play more like 75% ownership in lineups with that quarterback. With Jordan Love you have a wide variety of ways you can build those lineups. Love is going to be low-owned and you can choose between four wide receivers and two tight ends to pair him with, all of whom are reasonably priced.

Baker Mayfield (TB): $6,000 @ Detroit Lions

I told you last week that I would be writing about Baker Mayfield again this week when the Bucs took care of the Eagles. Monday night was a very lucrative night for me in sports betting and in DFS thanks to me sticking to that take anywhere I could. Thanks to the Packers taking care of the Cowboys, we get a great matchup this week for Baker as well. While I might not be as bold as the Bucs taking care of the Lions, I do love them to cover 6.5 and I love the over. If those things both happen, Baker is going to be a fantastic value again at $6K this week. Baker is also projecting to be low-owned once again—I just can’t let that happen. 

QB Strategy

Do not be afraid to take a QB in a game script where you think they lose. It makes for an easy narrative-built game script where you do an RB bringback in that lineup or even a double bringback suggesting a high-scoring game. I plan on building lineups with a lot of underdog quarterbacks this week with that exact philosophy. 

Running Back

Christian McCaffrey (SF): $8,800 vs. Green Bay Packers

The midrange players have been priced up a bit this week, so this low price tag on CMC is a bit deceiving. He will still be very popular and likely the most popular RB on the slate, but it is not as trivial as it was getting to a $9K+ CMC most weeks during the regular season. You are missing out on other studs if you want to play Christian McCaffrey this week. That being said, he has an absolute smash spot against a Packers defense that has given up lots of fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Isiah Pacheco (KC): $6,400 @ Buffalo Bills

Consistent involvement in both the running game and passing game and he’s running like his hair’s on fire. Pacheco has been a beast from a fantasy perspective this year. I’ll admit, I was skeptical from a season-long perspective coming into the season, but I have been happily rolling him out in daily fantasy week after week. The Bills’ defense has played better since their team went on their win streak, but you are just gonna have some tough matchups in the NFL Playoffs. 

Gus Edwards (BAL): $5,900 vs. Houston Texans

I want to give you at least one running back that is playable but not super chalky—Gus Edwards. It is a bit thin, but it is hard to get different at running back without taking on some risk. This is a good way to access the Ravens’ points without playing a chalky Lamar stack. You play for a game script where Edwards vultures two touchdowns and the Ravens score only three or four touchdowns total. You may have to live with 8 carries for 17 yards and no touchdowns, but scared money don’t make money. 

RB Strategy

Right after telling you about Gus Edwards, I’m going to say that I’ll probably just eat all the running back chalk. I’ll try to have a good distribution of all the top guys and force my lineups to get different elsewhere. 

Wide Receiver

Deebo Samuel (SF): $7,700 vs. Green Bay Packers

We find ourselves in a week against a predominantly zone coverage defense in the Green Bay Packers. You know what that means—it’s Deebo time. Breaking all your efficiency models completely is a habit of Deebo Samuels. He will drop 40 DK points in a game where he has 6 targets and 4 carries. It defies all reasonable mathematics! Let’s turn off the spreadsheets and the projections for just a second and maybe go outside and touch some grass. Deebo is a baller and ballers go ball. 

Mike Evans (TB): $7,200 @ Detroit Lions

My gut play of the week punched me in the gut. I think the Eagles read my article last week because they were hellbent on not letting Mike Evans be the reason they lost. They preferred to get dusted by Chris Godwin, Trey Palmer, and David Moore. The premise was on point, but the run-out was poor. Hopefully, some of the people who played Evans last week are tilted and will refuse to click him this week. I’m going to trust my process here in a good matchup and jam a lot of Mike Evans again.

Romeo Doubs (GB): $5,600 @ San Francisco 49ers

After a great game last week, Doubs is the most expensive pass catcher. This price is pretty poor as projections will have Jayden Reed scoring more points at a cheaper price. You can even go all the way down to Christian Watson at $4.2K. At this price, Doubs is an awful value. Why am I mentioning him then? This is an opportunity to pay up to be contrarian. Everyone else playing a Packers receiver will play the cheaper options, and in smaller fields and cash games, you should too. In a larger field though, this is a great opportunity to leverage other Packers pass catchers if Doubs can get there for a second week in a row.

Rashod Bateman (BAL): $4,000 vs. Houston Texans

While the former first-round pick out of Minnesota has lacked the consistency that we wanted out of him when he was drafted, Bateman has shown an ability to make some big plays in his career. On these smaller slates, I am much more willing to play a looser play like Rashod Bateman to try and make my lineup a bit different. With this price tag and the size of this slate, one long touchdown could be all you need for him to climb you up the leaderboard.

WR Strategy

Since I am choosing to eat chalk at running back, the wide receiver position is where I plan to get a bit different. It is much easier for a WR3/4 on a team to get a long touchdown than an RB2 to do the same. Look at last week alone some of the guys we had catching touchdowns: Khalil Shakir, Tutu Atwell, David Moore, and Trey Palmer all scored touchdowns last week, making them fantastic plays at their cheap price point. Shakir and Palmer had some reasonable ownership, but the other two were very unplayed in lineups.

Tight End

George Kittle (SF): $5,200 vs. Green Bay Packers

Kittle projects as the best value and highest-owned tight end on the slate. I’ll likely lock him in for cash but fade mostly in tournaments. It is scary to fade a guy like Kittle because he can simply crush a slate, but I prefer to roster him when he is low-owned so that if he does crush a slate, I am watching lineups fall below me. I will be looking to attack the tight end position in other ways for my tournament lineups.

Noah Gray (KC): $2,500 @ Buffalo Bills

Not the KC tight end that you expected me to talk about here, huh? With pricing this tight, finding anything playable at the minimum price is a huge deal for salary considerations. You are hoping for a touchdown, but if he has 3 catches for 20 yards, it might be enough if the salary relief opens up more upside elsewhere in the lineup. 

Gut Play of the Week

Deebo Samuel (SF): $7,700 vs. Green Bay

I think the 49ers will dance with the girl that got them there. Deebo has crushed slates all season long and I’m gonna ride with him once again.

Lineup Build

Just to get you started, I’m going to give a little preliminary lineup build to show you how I think about these things. Sometimes I’ll start at other positions, but let’s start with our quarterback today. Let’s go with Jordan Love for example: I’m going to go with a game script of the Packers playing from behind though so I know I at least want CMC in as a bringback. Then, I’ll use Romeo Doubs as well as to make my lineup varied enough that I can easily eat some other chalk as well. I’m thinking of a double stack with a double bringback for this lineup. 49ers pass catchers are expensive, so let’s open up some salary with Christian Watson at only $4.2K and Noah Gray at minimum salary. We can now play my boy Deebo Samuel as a bringback as well. 


I’ll leave the rest for you, but after a defense at $3K, you will have $6K per position to fill a running back and flex spot. There are lots of potential routes you can go there with a core build like this. Play around with building different lineups and see what comes out for you. Best of luck this week!

Thanks so much for reading. If you want to discuss more, you can reach me on Twitter @DougHarrelson. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our Dynasty Football Factory Membership to get all things Dynasty, DFS, Sports Betting, Devy, and IDP. Annual subscribers also get access to our discord server, where you can talk to our entire staff!