🔥 Divisional Round Drama

Loved yesterday's action. Let's do it again!

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Remember when folks said Lamar should’ve been a receiver? I remember…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by BetMGM:

  • Highlights from Part I of the Divisional Round

  • Morning Download: Players to watch in Chiefs-Bills

  • Bets from the Group Chat: A SGP for Bucs-Lions

  • Coach Harbaugh shows off his dance moves

  • Pick’em: All-in on Rachaad White

  • It’s 1/21. Take it away, Chris Allen…

What a day.

Even with just two games, every moment down to the final snap was worth watching. The player’s on-field performance demanded our attention. Sure, the scoreboard in M&T Bank Stadium shows a blowout. Yes, Brock Purdy engineered a game-winning drive.

But CJ Stroud’s regular and post-season stats emphasized the idea he could turn a deficit into a win. And Jordan Love, back-foot throws and all, has set up Green Bay for a bright future. However, we’ll deal with those teams later this year. With more highlight-worthy moments coming for the winners, let’s see why we’ll be watching them play next week.

 👑 The Ravens Are La-Marvelous

Baltimore started slow, and Houston kept it close. But then, Lamar Jackson reminded us why he’s the likely MVP of the league.

And I’m sure the Lamar detractors will be quick to look at his rushing stats. Admittedly, dropping a bill on the Texans’ defense as a runner (with two scores serving as exclamation points on both drives) would be worth putting under the magnifying glass. Jackson is the second rusher and the ONLY QB to breach 100 yards against DeMeco Ryans. But his passing stats should be front and center in the conversation about the Ravens’ case to be the eventual SB champs:

  • Adj. Yards per Attempt: 8.4 (Weeks 1-17), 8.7 (against HOU)

  • EPA per Play: 0.09, 0.38

  • Passing Success Rate: 48.6%, 52.0%

  • Completion Percentage Over Expected: +3.5%, +11.4%

We thought OC Todd Monken could be the alchemist to blend together Jackson’s passing skills and deadly prowess once he tucks the ball. And the vision was on full display last night. So much so that Jackson can add yet another accolade to his resume.

😮‍💨 San Francisco Survives

After two back-breaking INTs from Jordan Love and a missed FG from GB’s rookie kicker, the 49ers are headed back to the NFC Championship game.

Well, that may be underselling San Fran’s side of things.

Christian McCaffrey (17-98-2; 12-30-0) and George Kittle (7-81-1) delivered All-Pro results. But Deebo Samuel got knocked out of the contest early. And Brock Purdy struggled to adjust to not having Samuel on the field and the rain affecting his grip. However, having a good scheme in place took some of the pressure off Purdy; his teammates stepping up sealed the deal.

LB Dre Greenlaw put the final nail in the Packers’ coffin, but big conversions outside of CMC and Kittle kept the game within reach. Jauan Jennings led the squad in receiving first downs. Chris Conley’s lone catch for 17 yards moved the ball deep into GB territory, ultimately setting up the score to give them the lead. And, of course, Brandon Aiyuk came through in the clutch.

The box score will show poor accuracy numbers for Purdy and a less-than-efficient day at the office for Aiyuk. It happens. All that matters now is they get a chance to rest, get healthy, and fight for a spot in the Super Bowl.

🛠️ Everything you need for the Divisional Round Sunday slate

Read on for more info in the Morning Download on injuries, upside plays, and narratives to target in the betting space.

For everything else you need for Sunday—including our Inactives page, which will update shortly after 11:30 am ET with all of the relevant status updates—you can get to your destination with a mere click of a button.

See our suite of tools to get you ready for today’s slate below:

Rankings
Inactives
Game Hub
Free Bets
Projections
Start Sit
Utilization Report
UD Picks
Morning Download

Two games down. Two games to go. The Divisional Round of the postseason wraps up on Sunday, and after that, there are just three NFL games left this season 😢.

If you were locked in on the games on Saturday, it’s possible that you missed some of the news for Sunday’s slate. Matt LaMarca gets you caught up on everything you need to know.

🚫 Kadarius Toney Ruled Out

Toney scored a touchdown in last year’s Super Bowl win for Kansas City, but it’s hard to describe his tenure as anything but a bust. Toney will miss his second straight postseason contest, leaving an already thin group of pass-catchers even thinner vs. the Bills.

Rashee Rice has emerged as the Chiefs’ clear No. 1 receiver, and he’s coming off a phenomenal performance last week vs. the Dolphins. He had a 90% route participation and a 31% target share, both of which were his second-highest marks of the year. He should be busy once again on Sunday.

After that, things get a bit dicier. Justin Watson was second among Chiefs’ receivers in route participation, but he saw just two targets. Marquez Valdes-Scantling also saw two targets, while Mecole Hardman saw three.

Hardman is the most intriguing if you’re looking for a DFS punt play. He had 22% of the team’s air yards and a 20.0 ADOT, so he’s the most capable of producing a big play.

Morning Download

💥 Smash Spot For James Cook?

The Chiefs D has been vastly improved this season, but they remain vulnerable against the run. They’re just 28th in rush defense EPA, and they’re 23rd in yards per carry against.

The Bills have leaned on the running game since Joe Brady took over as offensive coordinator, and they could be in an even more advantageous spot than expected vs. the Chiefs. Kansas City elevated two defensive tackles from the practice squad, which does not bode well for their interior defense. Derrick Nnadi has already been ruled out, while fellow defensive tackle Charles Omenihu is questionable. Both players were on the field for more than 50% of the snaps vs. the Dolphins, so their absences would be a big deal.

Cook has averaged 4.7 yards per carry this season – and 5.0 for his career – so he’s capable of taking advantage of a good matchup. This is a spot where he could go off.

🚂 All Aboard the Mayfield Express

Baker Mayfield has been excellent when healthy this season, and he appears to be fully healthy at the moment. He was a full participant at practice all week, setting him up for a big performance vs. the Lions.

The Lions’ secondary has been one of the worst in football over the second half of the year, and they were thoroughly carved up by Matthew Stafford and the Rams last week. They ended up squeaking out a small win, but the Rams outgained them by nearly 100 yards.

Mayfield is coming off an outstanding performance vs. the Eagles, and he could do it again on Sunday. He’s a prime option in DFS, and stacking up the Buccaneers is viable as well. I even think there’s a chance they win this game outright, which I discussed with Matthew Freedman and Geoff Ulrich on Saturday.

It has been quite the comeback story for Mayfield this season. Don’t be surprised if he keeps it going for another week.

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Check out who the Fantasy Life team likes in today's games below!

Bets from the Group Chat

Welcome to Bets from the Group Chat for the Divisional Round. This is where Geoff elicits as much information as he can from my Fantasy Life colleagues about their leans for this week. It’s a selfish endeavor as he’ll probably be using some of their plays to offset his losers.

After going 2-1 on individual plays again last week, we are now at 31-13-1 on the individual props and bets posted in this section for the year (pretty good!). 

As always, we have three separate plays from three different sources for our group parlay below. Good luck!

🤝 Group Chat (Same Game) Parlay

Just like last week, we’re riding with three picks from the same game (Lions/Bucs). Most of these plays are already logged in our FREE bet tracker on Fantasy Life as well.

Each of these legs can be found in the Same-Game Parlay tab of the Lions/Bucs game on BetMGM.

As Stan Lee once said. ‘Nuff said.

Just to add a little color, the Lions have allowed 379.5 passing yards against, per game, over their last four starts. That’s bad.

2️⃣ LaMarca likes: Buccaneers +6.5

  • Play to: 6.0

I’ll let LaMarca explain why:

“This line seems way too high to me. I think anything better than Buccaneers +4.0 is playable. Tampa's offense is underrated, while the Lions D is a mess. Tampa Bay can also stop the run, and the Lions run the ball at a higher clip than you might think.”

This is the riskiest leg since we are playing an alternate line. However, in the eight games that Mayfield has gone over 250 yards passing, White has had 25+ yards receiving in six of them. 

The second-year back has also gone for 25+ receiving yards in a game eight times now over his last 13 starts.

🤝 Putting it all together: +525, BetMGM SGP

  • Baker Mayfield over 254.5 passing yards 

  • Buccaneers +6.5 

  • Rachaad White 25+ rec yards

Bets from the GC
  • 50+ rec yards (+175) 

  • 75+ rec yards + anytime TD (+500)

  • 50+ rec yards and anytime TD (+650) 

Shakir feels like he could be a pivotal player in this game. Gabriel Davis is out, and Stefon Diggs is banged up and has missed some practice time this week. 

Shakir’s averaged 51.5 receiving yards over his last 11 games, and that includes multiple starts where he caught less than 2 passes. While the Chiefs do have a great secondary, KC did allow the 13th-most fantasy points per game to opposing slot receivers this season, and Shakir took 57% of his snaps from the slot. 

For betting purposes, given that Shakir has averaged over 50 yards per game over his last 11 starts, the +175 odds (36.4% implied probability) at 50+ yards is very attractive. I like taking him through 75+ yards (+500, 16.6% implied probability), too, as he’s gone for 75+ yards three times in his last 11 starts.

Watercooler

👍 49ers WR1 to get more tests done after Saturday night scare. Let’s hope for the best.

✍️ Two shots at paydirt mean two shots at a payday. TD bets for Sunday.

🧒 This year's QB draft class brings on a whole new trend for the league. More passing, yay!

💖 Buffalo residents help the team. Bills Mafia helps the volunteers. One of the best fanbases.

🔎 Sit back, sip your coffee and relax…while we find the best prop betting values for you.

👎 Chiefs’ WR announced out for today’s game. But does it really matter? (No.)

🕺 Coach Harbaugh celebrates with the team after the win. Look at those moves!

Pick'em Plays

If you’re new to pick’em, every week, Geoff puts out an article and tries (key word is “tries”) to put together a winning five-way pick'em ticket using Underdog’s selection of Higher/Lower offerings.

⬆️ Rachaad White HIGHER than 22.5 receiving yards 

Detroit has also allowed plenty of solid receiving backs, like White, to have big receiving days against them already. Alvin Kamara and Austin Ekeler both put up 40+ rec yards against the Lions, and little-known Ronnie Rivers averaged 11.66 yards per catch last week (3 rec, 35 yards). 

While White only saw one target last week, a lot of his usage from the Eagles game (18 carries, 72 yards; 1 rec, 5 yards) was game-flow induced. The Lions (7-2 straight-up at home and with the eighth-best offense in EPA per play metrics) don’t seem likely to allow the Buccaneers to run away with this game. 

Considering White also plays nearly every snap for the Buccaneers when they’re in up-tempo situations (93% snap count on 2-minute snaps this year), his targeting this week seems likely to spike to his usual norms or potentially far past it. 

While White’s HIGHER, on its own, is showing good value (via our projections), pairing it with a Baker Mayfield HIGHER (passing yards) also makes sense this week, as long as you don’t mind taking a slightly lower payout. 

Pick'em Plays

⬇️ Mecole Hardman LOWER than 3.5 targets

Hardman getting over 3.0 targets seems like a huge ask in this game. The Chiefs WR room is still very crowded, and even with Kadarius Toney and Justyn Ross out last week, Hardman still only played 34% of the snaps and saw just 3.0 targets. 

The former first-round draft pick saw less field than Justin Watson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Rashee Rice against the Dolphins and also shared snaps with Richie James Jr. (2 targets). If we look closer at Hardman’s utilization stats (20.0 aDOT and 22% air yards share), we can also see he wasn’t relied on by the Chiefs to do much more than be an occasional deep threat.  

Even if he lands one of those deep shots against the Bills, we’re playing the under on Hardman’s targets, not yards, so it doesn’t hurt us much, if at all. If anything, Hardman landing a deep TD might help this pick, as the Chiefs will be passing less if they are ahead. 

We have Hardman’s target projection for the Divisional round set right at 2.0, making the LOWER on any total 3.0 or bigger very attractive.

Combining White’s HIGHER and Hardman’s LOWER will net you a 3x payout, and you can click here to tail the pick’em entry!

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