👀 Workloads to Watch on Sunday

Just play the best plays...

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Just three more games left…until it’s best ball season…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Money:

  • Situations to Monitor on Sunday

  • Underdog Pick’Em Plays. All in on George Kittle

  • Ravens make a roster move. Lamar Jackson gets his friend back.

  • DFS Stacks: Lamar Jackson. Big Truss. Whoo whoo.

  • It’s 1/27. Take it away, Chris Allen…

I think we’d give these games the same level of attention had they been during the regular season.

Lamar Jackson against Patrick Mahomes would be a Sunday night primetime matchup hoarding most of the sports media airwaves and digital ink throughout the week. But the Detroit-49ers’ game is no different.

Even though the QBs aren’t as acclaimed, their surrounding talent (personnel and coaching) has us glued to our screens. During the regular season, San Francisco (86) and Detroit (85) ranked first and second in plays that gained 20 or more yards. If you miss a snap, you might miss a TD being scored!

Regardless, we’ve spent the week diving through the minutia. Because these games deserve it. From X factors to defensive coverage tendencies, there isn’t much more to debate - except for who will touch the ball more often. And I’ve got my eye on two situations in particular.

⚔ Mark Andrews vs Isaiah Likely

Mark Andrews will make his playoff debut on Sunday after coming off of IR. While healthy (Weeks 3-10), he was back where he belonged in every top-10 list amongst his peers:

  • Target Share: 4th (23.0%)

  • TPRR: 8th (21.6%)

  • Air Yard Share: 7th (19.8%)

  • YPRR: 6th (1.91)

While healthy, he led the Ravens in looks from Jackson at 59. Andrews generated the most first downs in obvious passing situations, had the most targets and TDs from inside the 10-yard line…he was Jackson’s security blanket. But Andrews being back seemingly hurts another playmaker in Baltimore’s offense.

Isaiah Likely has led the team in receiving yards (325) and TDs (5) while Andrews was on the mend. Only Zay Flowers had more red-zone targets. But the second-year TE kept working on his connection with his QB, and it paid off when they needed it. So, I’m not convinced Likely takes a back seat.

First off, the Chiefs’ perimeter corners can stifle most aerial attacks. Per TruMedia, they allowed the second-lowest competition percentage to outside receivers all season (51.2%). Plus, Jackson ranked in the Top 3 in passing success rate and EPA per play with 2 TE personnel packages on the field. While Baltimore hasn’t leaned on 12 personnel in recent weeks, this matchup favors using both options to keep the offensive moving.

😤 David Montgomery vs Jahmyr Gibbs

It’s no secret that the 49ers have an issue on run defense. During the regular season, they were a bottom-12 ranked unit in rushing EPA (25th) and success rate allowed (21st). And their deficiency lines up with Detroit’s preferred approach to offense.

The Lions have the eighth-highest rushing rate on early downs. And that’s been David Montgomery’s role. Chicago’s former RB1 has taken 52.1% of the totes on first and second down with almost the same success rate (51.8%). But if Aaron Jones gave us any ‘blueprint’ on how to best the 49ers’ defense, it’s with agility and the speed to cut through tackles.

Enter Jahmyr Gibbs.

Through two post-season games, the rookie has a higher broken tackle rate and rushing success rate while averaging more adjusted yards per attempt. Plus, with him on the field, he’s seen fewer stacked boxes, allowing him to work as a receiver with a 3.46 YPRR (Montgomery sits at 0.71 YPRR in the playoffs).

Montgomery might allow the Lions to generate first downs and control the game flow. But Gibbs can ensure they create the explosive plays necessary to keep this game close.

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UD Pick'em CC

Don’t feel like building a DFS roster but still want to get in on Conference Championship weekend action? Say no more.

Underdog’s Pick’em plays are a fun way to see how each player does while putting some money down on the outcome. Geoff breaks down how it works AND gives you the best targets for the weekend. What more could ya ask for?

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

I also put up extra pick’em plays every week in the FREE Underdog Pick’em Tracker on Fantasy Life. We are still up over +73 units on the season for all posted plays. 

Here are a few of my favorite pick’em targets for wild card week. 

🤘 George Kittle HIGHER than 60.5 receiving yards 

On top of just being an incredible athlete and after-the-catch receiver (who has gone over on this 60.5 total in 10 of 18 games this season), Kittle’s likely going to be getting a little more primary targeting given the injury issues Deebo Samuel (shoulder) has dealt with (Samuel is playing but his touches/snaps could still be limited). And, over the last couple of seasons, when Samuel HAS been out for the 49ers, it’s often led to Kittle going nuclear. 

In Weeks 7 and 8 (when Samuel was out), Kittle caught a combined 14 passes. Over the last five games that Samuel has missed (dating back to 2022), and Kittle has played, Kittle has averaged 92.4 receiving yards, per game. 

When you add in the matchup with the Lions into the mix (8.6 yards per attempt allowed over their last three games), even just a slight uptick in volume, targets, or usage for Kittle could make a huge difference this week. That, combined with our projections being bullish on the HIGHER in this spot, makes him a nice pick to start cards with this Sunday.

UD Pick'em CC

📈 David Montgomery HIGHER than 44.5 rushing yards 

If we like the 49ers to be passing and Kittle to potentially be breaking some big plays, that COULD mean the Lions are dominating the time of possession and potentially running the ball a little more as well. Either way, this Montgomery HIGHER makes sense from multiple angles. 

The Lions would be wise in this spot to run the ball as much as possible, and thereby avoid the 49ers pass rush. Jared Goff – like many non-mobile QBs – struggles when he doesn’t have a clean pocket, and the 49ers secondary is the top unit in the league with 22 INTs. Further, while San Francisco’s pass defense rates out as one of the best (6th in EPA per dropback), they’re not as good against the rush (24th in EPA per rush), giving the Lions another reason to feature Montgomery.

Finally, given that Aaron Jones had plenty of success against the 49ers last week, it stands that Montgomery – who has averaged 70.67 yards per game on the road this season – can replicate some of that success. I like him as a HIGHER play – alongside Kittle – for this game.

Combining Kittle and Montgomery gives you a 3x payout that you can tail here. Interested in increasing your payout to 20x? Geoff has you covered…

Watercooler

The one video on the internet you need to watch with injury updates and game breakdowns. It has betting tips too!  

👑 Ravens get a big boost off the injured reserve. The return of the king.

🔮 Javonte Williams will have a bounce-back season in ‘24? I’m listening…

💪 49ers WR1 said he’s ready to go on Sunday. What a beast.

👀 Seeing who the sharps are betting on is like peaking at the smart kid’s homework. Let’s see who they like.

😁 Coach Saban learning how to boogie board in the ocean. Looks like retirement is going well!

🦷 Lions report their QB3 is questionable for Sunday. Wait. Their QB3?!?

🤞 Purdy may have one of his WRs at less than 100%. But the data shows he can still meet expectations.

🤕 Chiefs down at least one starter ahead of their conference final. It's time for more Mahomes magic.

Stacks CC

Finding the right player stacks can be the key to building a profitable roster in DFS. If you want to get the jump on this weekend, James McCool from Paydirt DFS has the data to guide you for the Conference finals.

🧐 Contrarian option: Baltimore Ravens

📝 Facts:

  • With a team total of 24, the Ravens are expected to score less than their season average (28.7 points), which comes at the hand of the Chiefs stellar pass defense (5.4 yards per attempt, 3,001 total pass yards allowed).

  • Lamar Jackson had arguably his best overall season as a QB this year, finishing with 0.65 fantasy points per dropback (2nd highest) along with an aDOT of 8.7 to go along with an 18% designed rush rate and 11% scramble rate leading to 921 rushing yards (postseason included).

  • The Ravens get a nice boost with Mark Andrews returning to play after his injury in week 11. Prior to injury, he had five top-10 finishes at TE and three top-3 finishes on the back of a 21% targets per route run and 29% market share of the endzone targets.

🤑 Stack info (DraftKings)

Stacks info
CC Stacks

💰 Salary and projections:

  • Combo 1 (Jackson/Flowers/Andrews): With a salary of $18,500, this lineup offers a Median score of 38.78. It's a moderate investment for a lineup with Lamar Jackson at QB, which suggests a dependable level of performance from these players.

    • Top 5 Finish: With a 34.0% probability, this combo has a reasonable chance to end up in the top tier, reflecting the potential of the Jackson to Andrews connection.

    • 2x%: The chance to double the investment stands at 52.0%, which is quite promising and indicates this lineup could perform well.

  • Combo 2 (Jackson/Flowers/Agholor): Slightly cheaper at $17,300, the Median score dips a bit to 36.8, implying a small trade-off in expected output for the savings in salary.

    • Top 5 Finish: Drops to a 27.0% probability, which is less than Combo 1 but still noteworthy, especially for the reduced salary.

    • 2x%: Possesses a 56.0% chance to double up, which is interestingly higher than Combo 1, suggesting that while the top-end performance might be less likely, the overall value could be higher.

  • Combo 3 (Jackson/Agholor/Andrews): The least expensive option at $16,500, the Median score further decreases to 33.4, which is expected with the lower investment.

    • Top 5 Finish: The probability falls to 14.0%, indicating this lineup is less likely to hit the top performance brackets.

    • 2x%: With a chance of 47.0% to double the investment, it shows that even the most affordable combo has a respectable shot at providing value.

1️⃣ Combo 1: Strikes a balance between cost and potential, with solid scores across the board. It's suitable for those who prefer a steady hand with Jackson and Andrews as the core.

2️⃣ Combo 2: Offers an intriguing value proposition. It has a slightly lower expected Median but a higher 2x% potential, which may appeal to those who are looking for a strong value play.

3️⃣ Combo 3: While it's the budget option with the lowest Median, its 2x% chance suggests it could still be a viable selection, especially if you're saving salary for other high-impact players in your lineup.

A special treat for the conference championship, here are all the main stacks to use and their metrics. You can always find this whole table, as well as more info, over at Paydirtdfs.

CC Stacks

I want to make a note here that the Ravens do not have the highest expectation. That belongs to SF, but the ownership matters. We should expect the 49ers stacks to have nearly twice as much ownership of Baltimore stacks, and in large-field DFS contests that kind of thing is really important and even more so on a small slate of two games.

When you consider the blowout possibility for SF, it makes a lot of sense to put extra emphasis on the BAL/KC game and look for a shootout between two elite QBs.

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