- It's harder to find value in NFL DFS contests just four games on the slate, but Le'Veon Bell is the cure to all ills.
Much like we saw in the Wild Card round, the home teams are heavily favored this weekend, save the Eagles, who lost their starting quarterback a few weeks ago. What the Wild Card round taught us, though, is that the Vegas lines may not be quite as reflective of actual expectation as we see in the regular season. In short, the public bets NFL playoffs probably more than any other sport at any other time, allowing Vegas to leverage the lack of knowledge that most sports bettors have. That typically results in lines that aren’t quite so sharp as usual. For a more detailed analysis of this phenomenon, read Chris Raybon’s introduction in his Divisional round slate breakdown on 4for4.com.
Knowing that this factor is at work, DFS players can put less weight on player performance indicators from Vegas, such as point spreads, that are often the primary decision point while building lineups.
The following will highlight the most notable values from the 4for4 Lineup Generator for both FanDuel and DraftKings.
Editor’s note: “Value” doesn’t necessarily mean inexpensive, but rather the best bang for your DFS buck. These players, regardless of price tag, project to give you the most production per dollar this week.
Le’Veon Bell ($9,400) vs. Jaguars
One of the most common occurrences this year has been Bell sitting at the top of 4for4’s Value Reports despite having the highest salary on the slate. In a week with just four games, Bell laps the field in terms of value expectation. On FanDuel, it’s relatively easy to roster the Steelers back without giving up much in terms of floor at the other positions. The Jaguars are one of the more obvious run-funnel defenses in the league, ranked in the top 10 in 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to every skill position except running back, where they rank 24th. Even if the Jaguars sell out to stop Bell in the run game and let their outstanding cornerbacks play single coverage on the outside, Bell can still beat Jacksonville through the passing game, as he was one of three running backs to end the season with over 100 targets. The Jaguars allowed the second-lowest passing-touchdown rate inside the red zone this season, so it would behoove the Steelers to feed Le’Veon when they get near the goal line.
Adam Thielen ($7,600) vs. Saints
Thielen and Stefon Diggs both project as top-four values at their position, according to 4for4’s Value Report, but Thielen has a markedly easier matchup. Over the final month of the season, Thielen ran the majority of his routes in the slot and it’s there that he will avoid the Saints’ tough cornerback duo of Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley. Thielen‘s team lead in red-zone targets gives him additional touchdown equity over his teammates, which is paramount when it comes to exploiting FanDuel’s scoring system.
Rob Gronkowski ($7,100) vs. Titans
Only one non-running back projects as a better value than Gronkowski this week, but he has an unmatched ceiling among skill-position players, save maybe Le'Veon Bell. The Patriots are the only team projected to score at least 30 points this week, and Gronk has one of the best on-paper matchups of the week against a Titans defense that ranks 28th in tight end aFPA. With the return of Chris Hogan, James White and possibly Rex Burkhead, Gronk has the most secure role in New England’s offense, and Tennessee is a defense to be picked on near the goal line. Only five defenses faced a higher passing rate in the red zone this season, and no team left in the playoffs allowed a higher passing-touchdown rate inside the 20.
Case Keenum ($6,100) vs. Saints
Minnesota is projected for the second-most points this weekend, but Case Keenum is priced as the QB4, making him 4for4’s top quarterback value of the week. New Orleans has tough boundary corners, but has allowed multiple boom weeks to opposing quarterbacks this season—only seven defenses let more quarterbacks score 20+ DraftKings points than the Saints. Efficiency is king when it comes to fantasy quarterbacks, and only one quarterback left in the playoffs score more fantasy points per pass attempt over the final six weeks of the season than Keenum.