NFL Playoff Preview: Divisional Round Betting & DFS Tips

We’re down to the elite eight of NFL teams still alive and in just over one week, we will know who is going to be playing in Super Bowl LVI.

Before we get there, we have two games each on Saturday and Sunday to determine what four teams will advance to the Conference finals next Sunday.

Let’s preview this weekend’s four games and see what we can expect from a fantasy football perspective.

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans

Current line: Cincinnati +3.5; over/under 47.5

This will be the first postseason tilt for the Titans, the AFC’s top overall seed. The extra week of rest afforded to the team should allow star RB Derrick Henry to return, which is huge for the offense. In his eight games of action, Henry led all fantasy running backs with 23.4 fantasy points per game. D’Onta Foreman had done a tremendous job filling in and should stay involved as a change-of-pace option.

QB Ryan Tannehill had a disappointing overall season but his numbers were vastly better when he had the luxury of playing with Herny, A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones. Cincinnati’s much-improved secondary allowed the 12th-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts, but Brown remains an elite, but pricey DFS play.

The Bengals will have a fairly significant edge through the air, where QB Joe Burrow threw for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns in 16 games. In the regular season, the Titans surrendered the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, so Burrow remains a strong play in Week 20.

Only the Vikings allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers than the Titans, so expect another huge outing out of All-World rookie WR JaMarr Chase, who has gone for 116-plus receiving yards in three of his last four games. Opposite of Chase, Tee Higgins also has a tremendous matchup and is firmly in our top-10 weekly fantasy projections. Slot receiver Tyler Boyd and TE C.J. Uzomah should also be on the radar.

Best Bet: OVER 47.5

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers

Current line: San Francisco +5.5; over/under 47.5

These two rivals had some storied postseason matchups in the mid-to-late 90s and the latest matchup should be just as exciting. Both squads have high-octane offenses and enough defensive playmakers to contest every yard. The biggest question is how will Kyle Shanahan‘s squad adjust to game time temperatures currently projected to be a frigid 9 degrees?

Those kinds of conditions could impact the game immediately, as San Francisco QB Jimmy Garoppolo has never started a game where the temperature was below 40 degrees. The wind isn’t expected to be too much of a factor but Garoppolo is also dealing with a thumb injury that could further hamper San Francisco’s passing game in those conditions.

Fortunately for the Niners, their offense is predicated on the rushing attack. Led by sixth-round rookie RB Elijah Mitchell, who has averaged 97 rushing yards per game over his past nine outings. In addition to Mitchell, WR Deebo Samuel has blossomed into a dangerous dual-threat option who doesn’t even need targets to make an impact on the field and in fantasy lineups. Expect Shanahan to challenge a Green Bay run defense that allowed the third-most yards per attempt in the regular season.

Outside of Samuel, the only other relevant fantasy option in San Francisco’s passing attack is TE George Kittle, but Kittle has been held under 30 receiving yards in his last four games. The auxiliary wideouts in Shanahan’s attack are little more than boom-or-bust NFL DFS options that can be squeezed in cheaply.

For the NFC’s top overall seed, this is a statement game for Matt LaFleur, who was in this same position a year ago but lost the NFC Championship at home to Tampa Bay after easily dispatching the Rams in the Divisional round.

The adverse weather shouldn’t affect Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers at all. The Packers boast the league’s top wideout in Davante Adams and will be further reinforced by the return of slot receiver Randall Cobb.

Green Bay also has two excellent running backs in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, who emerged during the season’s second half. While San Francisco’s defense was solid against the run and pass, they could be without elite pass-rusher Nick Bosa. Meanwhile, Green Bay’s own stop unit should be bolstered by the return of LB Za’Darius Smith and CB Jaire Alexander.

Best Bet: Green Bay -5.5

Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Current line: Los Angeles +3; over/under 48.5

This is a rematch of a Week 3 game played in LA in which the Rams prevailed over the Buccaneers 34-24. However, with this game taking place in Tampa, it will be a much more difficult task for Sean McVay and company to sweep Tom Brady, who has won an NFL-record nine consecutive games in the Divisional round.

Speaking of Brady, he lit up a solid LA secondary in that September meeting. In that game, Brady threw for a season-high 432 yards and scored two total TDs. We can’t expect that kind of producing again against a Rams’ secondary that allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2021, but backing Brady in a revenge scenario is generally a solid strategy.

Tampa Bay’s offense could also be bolstered by the return of RB Leonard Fournette, who has missed a month with a hamstring injury. Fournette can make an impact as both a runner and receiver and those pass-catching skills should benefit an offense that is thin at wideout.

Mike Evans ranked 2nd among all wideouts with 14 touchdowns but failed to score in Week 3. He still managed to put up a solid 8/106/0 line in that matchup, however, so we’re expecting another strong performance against an excellent LA secondary. Tyler Johnson played only three fewer snaps than Evans last week but only had an 8.3% target share, the same as Breshad Perriman, who was in on less than half of Tampa’s snaps. With Perriman ruled out, Scotty Miller makes an appealing low-cost dart throw.

Since losing Chris Godwin, Bruce Arians has called more ’12’ sets. Rob Gronkowski has been heavily-featured and remains an elite fantasy option this week. Keep Cameron Brate in mind as a potential DFS sleeper.

For the Rams, QB Matthew Stafford proved to be a big upgrade over Jared Goff. In 2021, Stafford ranked 5th in fantasy points and tied his career-high with 41 touchdown tosses, four of which came in the Rams’ 34-24 victory in Week 3

Tampa allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing passers this season, which puts all of LA’s pass catchers in play. WR Cooper Kupp won the triple crown, leading the league in receptions (145), yards (1947), and touchdowns (16), and proved to be matchup-proof. Since signing with the Rams, Odell Beckham Jr. has re-emerged as a true red-zone threat and sophomore Van Jefferson broke out with a 50/802/6 showing.

TE Tyer Higbee snagged 5-of-5 targets for 40 yards and a TD back in Week 3 against Tampa Bay and has hauled in 5-plus receptions in five of his last six games overall. Our projections like Higbee this week quite a bit.

While the matchup against an excellent Tampa run defense isn’t one to target, McVay has a loaded backfield that could be fortified by the return of Darrell HendersonCam Akers actually got more touches than Sony Michel last week and that near 50/50 split could continue, with Henderson maybe seeing a handful of snaps.

Best Bet: Tampa Bay -3

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

Current line: Buffalo +1.5; over/under 53.5

Perhaps the premier matchup for the week, there should be no shortage of fantasy and DFS scoring in this AFC battle between two of the league’s top teams. The Bills, who have won five straight and went 4-0-1 ATS during the streak, travel to Kansas City to take on a Chiefs team that has won 10-of-11. In another rematch, the Bills won 38-20 at Arrowhead back in Week 5 but are slight underdogs in the rematch.

Kansas City allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2021, so it’s no surprise to see Josh Allen as our top play. Allen is one of the league’s top dual-threat signal-callers and those skills were on display back in October when Allen accounted for 374 yards of offense and four TDs in Buffalo’s victory.

Stefon Diggs remains entrenched as the Bills’ top wideout but was held to a season-low two receptions back in Week 5. Gabriel Davis actually led Buffalo’s wideouts in snaps (40) last week against New England, while Emmanuel Sanders returned to the lineup and found the endzone for the first time since he housed a pair of touchdowns against the Cheifs. TE Dawson Knox has been a consistent secondary option and red-zone threat.

One of the biggest factors in Buffalo’s late-season run has been the emergence of RB Devin Singletary. The third-year running back has finally gotten the opportunity to be featured and has topped 80 rushing yards in four of his last five games and totaled eight touchdowns. With the game projected to be closely contested, Singletary looks like a good bet for 15-plus touches.

Patrick Mahomes is just as capable as Allen of producing the top numbers in any given slate but things won’t be easy this week. The Bills allowed the fewest fantasy points to any quarterback this season, surrendering just 12 touchdown passes. Buffalo held Mahomes to 257 passing yards in their Week 5 victory.

With Clyde Edwards-Helaire returning, the Chiefs will utilize a committee backfield. Last week, Jerick McKinnon emerged as a weapon while Darrel Williams was limited to just eight snaps. Derrick Gore played just seven, but it’s hard to put much stock into one anomaly game. Approach the KC backfield with caution but expect CEH to have the most touches.

Tyreek Hill has only topped 100 receiving yards once since Week 4 and was limited to 63 scoreless yards versus this secondary in their previous matchup. Although he’s always a threat to break a long TD from anywhere on the field, this is not a great matchup for Hill, making him an awfully expensive DFS option.

Kansas City’s secondary wideouts offer some ceiling but a substantially low floor. Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle both played 37 snaps in KC’s wild-card victory over Pittsburgh but Pringle scored twice. Buffalo’s elite secondary will undoubtedly pose a stiffer challenge and our projections favor Hardman as a better DFS value.

TE Travis Kelce went for 6/57/1 against this defense in Week 5. He remains the slate’s top overall option but will be an expensive investment.

Best Bet: Kansas City -1.5

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About Jody Smith 234 Articles
With over a decade of winning experience, Jody is a well-known fixture in the fantasy football community. He was named Fantasy Pros’ **Most Accurate Ranker** previously and was the site’s Top NFL over/under totals picker with a record 65% accuracy in 2020, while also ranking 5th in the country with a 55% against-the-spread hit rate. Jody has written for many sites over the years including Pro Football Focus, FantasyPros, CBS Sportsline, FantasyData, and is a regular contributor to the Fantasy Index magazine expert’s poll, draft, and auction.Jody’s experience ranking and projecting player performance will help prepare the Fulltime Fam for their big draft days as well as answers they can trust on Sunday for those ever crucial Who Do I Start questions.