And then there were four. All prepared to go to war, busting through the next door in order to experience more than before. They have all elevated higher than the highest floor, knowing what is in store. How will each team get there? Of course by scoring and putting up points galore. But one of the teams may channel their inner 1986 Giants and drop the hammer on opposing offenses like Thor. Hopefully, the games are not a bore. That is something I would greatly deplore, but I have faith that the action will be intense and entertain like Zsa Zsa Gabor. May all of you select the correct core, causing your lineups to soar, eliciting your friends to roar, popping the champagne and filling the glass with a jubilant pour.
Keep track of all the injuries at DK Live.
DraftKings Sportsbook has BAL favored by 9.5 points at home against HOU with the total at 43.5. SF is also favored by 9.5 points at home against GB. The total of that game is a robust 50.5.
These are my early thoughts, but much of my lineup construction will depend on projected ownership numbers at the end of the week. That said, here are my studs and values for Sunday’s main DraftKings fantasy football slate.
Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers, $6,500 — There was a two-game stretch in October when Burdy didn’t play so well, throwing two interceptions in each contest. He was suffering an injury during that time, though. The one really bad game he had was against Baltimore on Christmas, throwing four interceptions. The throw in the end zone was the only egregious one. The others were tipped by defenders. Outside of those three games, Purdy has been freaking amazing. He has only three other interceptions. During the regular season, Purdy threw for 4,280 yards and 31 touchdowns while completing 69.4% of his passes. Yes, he is surrounded by explosive playmakers and the scheme is great, but he still needs to process the information in real-time and, not only make the right read but deliver the ball on time and accurately, something he’s done for most of the season.
The Packers are 10th in blitz rate and fifth in pressure rate. According to PFF, they are 18th in pass rush and 16th in coverage. They utilize both man and zone at the 17th-highest rate in the league. It’s a middling pass defense that has actually been propped up by a relatively weak regular season schedule. They held 11 teams to fewer than 200 yards passing, but the opponents were CHI, NO, LVR, DEN, LAR with Brett Rypien, PIT, KC, NYG and MIN. Bryce Young had a career day against this Packers defense while Baker Mayfield lit them up for 353 yards and four touchdowns.
This game is in San Francisco and the 49ers are projected to score 30 points. The only question is how many touchdowns will be scored on the ground. The ceiling is obviously lower than what Lamar Jackson ($7,900) can access, who has gone for over 30 DKFP four times with a high of 39.34, but Jackson is $1,400 more, has exceeded point expectations only 30% this season, scored fewer than 20 DKFP eight times this season which includes an 8.56 DKFP performance against the Texans in Week 1.
Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers, $8,800 — Despite the high price tag, CMC has exceeded point expectations 60% of the time this season. While he’s only rushed at least 20 times in a game four times, he has gone for over 100 yards on the ground seven times and scored 14 touchdowns. What provides a high floor and increases the chances for a ceiling game is the passing game involvement. He has received at least three targets in every game but one with nine of those with at least five. CMC has two games with 10 targets and he’s scored seven touchdowns through the air. Pairing CMC with Purdy ensures a piece of all the 49er touchdowns, with the added bonus of Purdy to CMC connections in the passing game.
Other Options – Aaron Jones ($6,700)
Devin Singletary, Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens, $5,700 – The Ravens run defense is the potential weak spot, as the 4.5 yards per carry is the fourth-highest in the league and PFF rates it 15th. SF, MIA and PIT all went over 100 yards in the last three games. HOU is only 19th in run blocking, though. Regardless, this is all about volume, as Singletary is getting 70 to 80 percent of the snaps at running back and has exceeded point expectations 80% of the time this season. He’s gone for over 20 DKFP only three times but has scored double-digits in each of the last three contests.
Other Options – Gus Edwards ($5,900)
Nico Collins, Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens, $7,100 — The Ravens have one of the best pass defenses in the league. They have allowed a ridiculously low 4.7 net yards gained per attempt. The 18 touchdowns allowed and 18 interceptions are both second-best. That said, they haven’t held any team under 100 yards receiving this season, so the Texans are going to get some yards. Collins is the alpha of the receiving core and the favorite target for Stroud. Collins is the only Texan to garner over 100 targets, and that’s with him missing three games. In the Week 1 game against Baltimore, Collins caught six of 11 targets for 80 yards. The Ravens will likely shade coverage toward him but the Texans move Collins all over the formation, so he’s going to get his. It’s just a matter of how much.
Other Options – Deebo Samuel ($7,700), Brandon Aiyuk ($6,900), Zay Flowers ($6,000)
Jayden Reed, Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, $5,200 – Reed has been dealing with a chest injury he suffered in Week 17 and did not catch a pass last week against the Cowboys. The floor is low due to the injury but that also provides a wide range of outcomes. Reed leads the wide receiver corp in red zone looks, has some rushing equity and has flashed in the passing game at times. On the season, Reed has received 11 carries and scored two touchdowns. In the passing game, he has eight games with over five targets, has a 100-yard game on the resume and scored eight touchdowns. That translates to 11 games with double-digit DKFP, including a high of 26.9. The 49ers will likely put up points, so the Packers will likely have to respond aggressively.
Other Options – Christian Watson ($4,200)
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers, $5,200 – I’m not crazy about Kittle but the upside is undeniable. You just never know when that’s going to happen. The Packers play both man and zone at the 17th-highest rate and are up there in blitz rate, so it’s well within the range of outcomes that he’s held in to offer more protection. That said, he has five games over 20 DKFP this season, which includes a three-touchdown game against the Cowboys.
Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans, $4,700 – There’s been buzz that Mark Andrews ($5,000) could possibly play on Saturday. I have skepticism, but if he does, then we must pivot from Likely. If Andrews is out, though, Likely is in a great position for success. He will likely play over 70% of the snaps and will match up against a Texans team that has been seen the second-most targets and has allowed the third-most receptions and fifth-most yards to the position.
Other Options – Mark Andrews ($5,000) if he plays, Tucker Kraft ($3,100)
Ravens D/ST vs. Houston Texans, $3,500 – The Ravens are second in both interceptions and touchdowns allowed. The 4.7 net yards gained per passing attempt is the best mark in the league. The unit is first in sacks while blitzing at the eighth-lowest rate. They have exceeded point expectations 80% of the time this season and notched double-digit DKFP eight times. In the opener against Houston, they held the Texans to nine points while racking up five sacks and recovering a fumble.
Other Options – 49ers D/ST ($3,400)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is sontzu) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.