Sunday’s two-game divisional round slate features some of the biggest stars in the NFL, as the Browns-Chiefs and Buccaneers-Saints are settle to battle it out. Building DFS lineups on short playoff slates is never easy, but when you factor in tough defenses and worrisome injuries, it gets even more difficult. We’re opting for a few “sure things” in our FanDuel tournament lineup, but our picks are also relying on more than a few value sleepers.
Our central stack will likely be pretty chalky, as we’re paying up for the Chiefs trio of Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. From there, we have one more bonafide “star” and a bunch of boom-or-bust sleepers. We’ll be the first to admit this lineup has questions, but those types of lineups can easily cash in the playoffs, so let’s get weird!
Divisional Round Sunday FanDuel Picks: NFL DFS tournament playoff lineup
QB Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs vs. Browns ($9,200). You could pick any of the four starting QBs this week and be fine, but we’re going with the best — and most expensive. Mahomes has the best matchup of the four, and while he might be chalky and/or limit your potential at other positions, he simply has the highest ceiling. Kansas City will not lean on its lackluster running game, so you know Mahomes will have to be a do-it-all force.
RB Kareem Hunt, Browns @ Chiefs ($6,200). It’s easy to play up the “revenge” factor here, but the bottom line is Kansas City struggles against the run and Hunt can put up yards in a variety of ways. He usually sees at least eight touches, and in a game where Cleveland figures to try to run early and might be forced to pass more late, Hunt has a realistic chance of outperforming teammate Nick Chubb. Regardless, he’s a relative value compared to Chubb ($8,200) and Alvin Kamara ($9,000), so if you’re willing to take the risk of fading Chubb, Hunt makes sense.
RB Taysom Hill, Saints vs. Buccaneers ($5,100). Hill’s knee injury has us worried, but if he plays, he’s a tremendous value. In two games against Tampa this year, he posted 86 passing yards, 67 rushing yards, and 35 receiving yards. He figures to get at least six touches, and given his extreme efficiency and the way in which New Orleans uses him, that can be enough for him to pay off. If something were to happen to Drew Brees, Hill would really outperform his price. There’s a low floor here, but at this price, it makes sense to take a chance on Hill.
WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs vs. Browns ($8,800). This T. Hill isn’t a risk, as the Chiefs’ speedster is basically guaranteed production. He has the best matchup for any WR on Sunday, and you know he’ll be targeted all over the field. Pay up and enjoy.
WR Michael Thomas, Saints vs. Buccaneers ($7,200). Thomas has averaged six catches and 70.6 yards per game since initially returning from injury in Week 9. He’s been dinged up again since then, but in his first game back last week, he caught five passes for 73 yards and a score. In a game where New Orleans figures to have a tough time running, Thomas should see significant targets, putting him in position for his best game of the year. Don’t miss out, especially at this price.
WR Rashard Higgins, Browns @ Chiefs ($5,300). The popular narrative with teams against the Chiefs is that they fall behind big and are forced to pass a lot in the second half, thus benefitting receivers. That sounds good, but it didn’t really happen this year, as Kansas City allowed the third-fewest FanDuel points to WRs. So, our use of Higgins isn’t necessarily based on that narrative; it’s more due to his consistent targets (6.8 over the past five games) and his ability to get loose for both big plays and intermediate gains. Also, we needed to pay down after paying up for Mahomes, Hill, Thomas, and Travis Kelce, and unless we wanted to add another Chiefs pass-catcher, we didn’t have many viable options. If you don’t like Higgins, Emmanuel Sanders ($5,700) makes the most sense.
TE Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. Browns ($8,500). Jared Cook ($5,600) and Austin Hooper ($5,500) have favorable matchups and are much cheaper, but Kelce’s is actually the most favorable, as the Browns give up the third-most FanDuel points to TEs. More than that, Kelce is basically like playing a WR2 at TE, so even though he costs a lot, you know you’re getting elite production.
FLEX Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers @ Saints ($5,600). This one is a gut feeling, and there are plenty of other options to consider if you don’t like Gronk. He was shut out on just one target last week, so we don’t expect many to be on him, especially with Cook and Hooper in better matchups at similar prices. Still, we can’t shake the feeling that Gronk is due for a big play or touchdown, and we know Tampa will be throwing often. Again, there are plenty of other options, including the aforementioned TEs, WRs like Sanders, or whoever starts at RB for the Chiefs, but we’re taking a chance and hoping for some differentiation here.
D/ST Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Saints ($3,500). Admittedly, this play doesn’t make a ton of sense when looking at the rest of our lineup, but it’s the only defense other than the Browns we could afford. We could make some tweaks to get the Chiefs or Saints, but we’re fine with the Bucs, who generally make teams one-dimensional, which creates more opportunities for sacks and INTs. New Orleans can score a few TDs and the Bucs can still pay off, so we’re hoping for some big plays.