Fantasy Football Divisional Round Weekend: DFS building blocks, values and a star to fade

Whether you've played Daily Fantasy on Yahoo before or are giving it a try for the first time, this column will take a look at the DFS landscape during the NFL playoffs, revealing whom I like building lineups around, stars to fade, undervalued plays and bargain bin options to help you construct a better team.

Lineup building blocks

Christian McCaffrey ($42) vs. Green Bay Packers

McCaffrey has returned to a full practice after San Francisco’s bye, so he appears to be recovered from his calf injury. CMC scored 100+ more fantasy points than any other running back in 2023, and he gets a middling Green Bay defense Saturday night. There’s rain in the forecast, but the 49ers have by far the highest implied team total (30 points) this weekend. In a slate filled with questionable running back options, McCaffrey stands out even more than usual.

Deebo Samuel ($30) vs. Green Bay Packers

Samuel was the No. 1 fantasy receiver during Weeks 13-17 before resting for the meaningless finale. He averaged 94.6 yards from scrimmage and totaled eight touchdowns over that five-game span. Samuel runs 33% of his routes from the slot, where Green Bay allowed the second-most fantasy points this season. The Packers are especially vulnerable over the middle, which is where Kyle Shanahan’s offense attacks most. Green Bay also struggles against first-down passes, where Brock Purdy led the league in YPA (11.1) and dropback success rate. Stacking 49ers makes sense this week.

Lamar Jackson ($36) vs. Houston Texans

Baltimore’s offense looks healthy coming out of its bye (but they won't activate Mark Andrews just yet), and Jackson got 9.3 YPA with 17 total touchdowns over eight home games this season. The Texans turned into an extreme pass-funnel defense down the stretch, shutting down the run but yielding the most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to quarterbacks over the final five weeks of the year. The MVP favorite led the league in YPA under pressure, and Baltimore has a healthy implied team total (26.5 points). Jackson’s DFS salary is $3 less than Josh Allen, who has a much tougher matchup this week.

Star to Fade

C.J. Stroud ($30) @ Baltimore Ravens

Stroud might be the single most valuable player in football right now and will enter 2024 as a borderline top-five fantasy QB. But he’s a DFS fade this week given his matchup and salary, which is bigger than Brock Purdy's ($29) and Jared Goff's ($27). The Ravens allowed the second-fewest YPA (5.9), EPA/pass (-0.19) and passing touchdowns (18) this season while leading the league in sacks (60). Baltimore ceded just 4.6 yards per play at home, and Stroud saw his YPA drop to 7.3 while throwing just six touchdowns over seven games on the road this year. The Texans have easily the lowest implied team total (17.5 points) this week, so Stroud is a shaky DFS play.

Undervalued Options

Jared Goff ($27) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Goff has averaged 284.4 passing yards (8.3 YPA) and totaled 23 touchdowns over nine home games this season. The Lions are healthy on offense and have the second-highest implied team total (27.5 points) this weekend. Tampa Bay is a pass-funnel defense that ranked first in run defense DVOA over the final five weeks of the season but struggles to pressure the quarterback. Detroit had its highest pass rate over expectation (+13%) when these teams met earlier this season, so Goff looks undervalued in DFS this week.

Mike Evans ($26) @ Detroit Lions

Evans slowed down toward the end of the season, but he led the league in air yards this season while finishing as fantasy’s No. 5 wide receiver. He’ll look to redeem himself against an extreme pass-funnel Detroit defense after dropping a possible long touchdown last week. The Lions allowed by far the fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points to running backs over the final five weeks of the season, but gave up the third most to wide receivers over that span. Baker Mayfield looked healthy and played terrific in the wild-card round, and Detroit’s potent offense at home should result in plenty of Tampa Bay passing.

In a matchup indoors with an over/under approaching 50 points, Evans is undervalued in DFS this week (especially given the 0.5 PPR format).

Rashee Rice ($26) @ Buffalo Bills

Rice has averaged 9.7 targets and 92.6 receiving yards while scoring four touchdowns over his last seven games. He’s emerged as Patrick Mahomes’ clear No. 1 target and profiles as a top-12 fantasy WR moving forward. Rice has been incredibly efficient and finished third in yards after the catch during his rookie campaign. Buffalo is stout against the run but could be missing slot corner Taron Johnson, which would be significant. Rice ran more than 50% of his routes from the slot this year, and he remains undervalued in fantasy.

Bargain Bin

Cade Otton ($10) @ Detroit Lions

Otton led Tampa Bay in targets (11), catches (eight) and receiving yards (89) during Tampa Bay’s wild-card win, and his day could’ve been even bigger if not for a dropped potential touchdown. Mayfield looks healthy, and the Buccaneers get an extreme pass-funnel Lions defense this week. Detroit is incredibly stout against the run but allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Otton looks mispriced at the DFS minimum.