Division Round Playoff Preview: Saturday

Breaking down the divisional round of the 2023 NFL playoffs.

brock purdy

After going 5-1 picking the Wild Card games, my Division Round Playoff Preview: Saturday breaks down the upstart Houston Texans traveling to Baltimore, and the Green Bay Packers trip to San Francisco to face the NFC’s top seed.

Using our RDA* projections, we can break down each game to find the statistical edge that can give us a leg up in playoff fantasy and daily fantasy lineups. Also, we can determine the best bets to make.

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Houston Texans (11-7) at Baltimore Ravens (13-4)

Time: 4:30 Eastern

Line: Baltimore -9.5

Total: 43.5

Money Line: Texans +340, Ravens -420

Houston Offense

Look no further than last week’s thrashing of Cleveland to identify the value of probably rookie-of-the-year C.J. Stroud. Three weeks prior, that same Browns squad destroyed Houston on the same field. However, Stroud missed that game with a concussion. Back and healthy, the No. 2 pick lit up the league’s top defense.

But things won’t get easier in the division round. Stroud now must go on the road to face a well-rested Baltimore defense that ceded the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Stroud has also played noticeably better at home and will contend with freezing temperatures and windy conditions.

Baltimore ranked 6th against the pass but just 14th versus the run. That could mean a few more opportunities for Devin Singletary. “Motor” led all NFL running backs in the Wild Card round with a 72% snap share. Expect another week of heavy usage, making Singletary a strong option in DFS and playoff lineups.

Back in the season opener, Nico Collins reeled in 6-of-11 targets for 80 yards in Houston’s 25-9 loss in Baltimore. This is a favorable game script for Collins, but Houston’s implied total of 17 points is a concern. Our RDA* projections have Collins approaching 12 points on Sunday.

Noah Brown was placed on IR. That means No. 2 wideout duties will go to Robert Woods. Woods hasn’t done much this season but did go 10/6/57/0 against the Ravens in the season opener. John Metchie logged 35 snaps and a 13.6% target share last week. Xavier Hutchison was also in on 44% of Houston’s snaps.

The Ravens only allowed three touchdowns to tight ends all season. But, with Houston’s receiving corps thin, expect Dalton Schultz to be heavily involved. Schultz has topped four catches in four of Houston’s past five road contests.

Baltimore Offense

Lamar Jackson had his worst fantasy game of the season against the Texans back in Week 1. He was limited to 169 passing yards and 38 on the ground. While the Texans have made significant strides on that side of the ball, we’re expecting a much different outcome in the rematch.

In fact, our RDA* projections have Jackson as the top QB for the slate. The projections indicate Jackson will throw for 228 yards, two scores, and contribute an additional 64 rushing yards. That makes L-Jax a must-start in all fantasy formats paying in Week 20.

Those strides Houston made defensively highlight the amazing job DeMeco Ryans did. The Texans improved to 6th in the NFL in run defense. Baltimore will employ a committee backfield. Gus Edwards leads the way but will need a touchdown to pay off. Edwards cedes most pass-catching work to Justice Hill. After cutting Melvin Gordon, don’t discount Dalvin Cook‘s chances of leading this backfield in touches, making him a sneaky DFS option.

Zay Flowers is Baltimore’s No. 1 wideout. Only the Jets allowed fewer touchdowns to wideouts (5) than Houston’s 10. Flowers put 17.7 fantasy points on this defense in Week 1. He’s also scored five touchdowns in his last five games. Consider Flowers a strong WR1 play in this slate.

After Flowers, it’s trickier. Odell Beckham is the best bet to make an impact downfield. Beckham’s 14% target share easily outpaced the ancillary wideouts. Of those lesser options, Rashod Bateman will see more snaps and targets than Nelson Agholor.

Houston’s biggest defensive weakness came against tight ends. Now that we know the Ravens have ruled Mark Andres OUT, Isaiah Likely becomes a locked-in top-4 play this week. His reduced salary makes him particularly appealing in DFS showdown slates.

If this game comes down to turnovers, it could swing Houston’s way. The Texans were +10 in turnover differential. The Ravens actually led the league with a +12 margin. However, Houston had an NFL-low 14 giveaways. Most of Houston’s key offensive contributors also have experience in colder weather. I think the Stroud can keep them hanging around in this game and will take the points.

Houston +9.5 

Green Bay Packers (10-8) at San Francisco 49ers (12-5)

Time: 8:15 PM Eastern

Line: San Francisco -9.5

Total: 50.5

Money Line: Packers +360, 49ers -450

Green Bay Offense 

Jordan Love and the Packers are on quite a heater. Green Bay has won four straight, seven of nine, and Love has produced 21 touchdowns and thrown only ONE interception since Week 11. Meanwhile, the 49ers have picked off a league-leading 22 balls this season.

However, the Niners have had issues against the pass. The Niners are also below average in pass rush and on third downs. This looks like another favorable game script for Love to keep drives alive and keep the Packers within striking distance.

Aaron Jones won many fantasy contests last week. His usage indicated that he was primed to exploit a sagging Dallas defense. San Francisco’s 4th-ranked fantasy run D will be a more formidable opponent. But Jones remains an elite play due to his involvement in the passing game.

All of Green Bay’s wide receivers are in play against a subpar San Francisco secondary. Christian Watson returned last week but only played in 41% of Green Bay’s snaps. He did emerge unscathed, so fair to assume we’ll see a bump. Jayden Reed had a rare zero but had a 14% target share. Romeo Doubs had the finest game of his career last week thanks to a massive 29% target share.

TE Tucker Kraft tripled Luke Musgrave in snaps last week in Musgrave’s return. I expect to see a more even split here. When looking at DFS options, Kraft is the preferred option due to his lower salary.

San Francisco Offense

Except for that Week 16 disaster against the Ravens, Brock Purdy has excelled at home. He’ll be facing a good defense here in the Packers, but a week off to rest and entering this game fully healthy could make all the difference. Our RDA* projections predict Purday to lead all quarterbacks in passing yards and TD tosses this week.

Christian McCaffrey is fully healthy after sitting out the season finale and bye week. Green Bay ranked 28th against the run this season and allowed six running backs to top 100 scrimmage yards.

Both Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are top-5 options this week per our RDA* projections. Recent trends and the history of this NFC rivalry are conducive to a lot of scoring. Both of San Francisco’s wideouts can be considered elite starts. A Purdy/Deebo/Aiyuk stack boasts a ton of upside.

Also leading the RDA* projections for Week 20 is TE George Kittle. Green Bay ranks middle-of-the-road defending the position. But Kittle has averaged an insane 22.1 fantasy points per game in his last five at Levi’s Stadium.

The Niners have failed to cover their last five home games and the Packers have won and covered four of their last five overall. Also, the OVER has hit in eight of Green Bay’s 10 road games and in five of San Francisco’s last seven home contests. This game should be a lot of fun, with plenty of scoring.

Packers +9.5

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About Jody Smith 487 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.