DraftKings NFL GPP Lineup Advice: Championship Round
It’s NFL Championship Round week, and with it comes the close of anything resembling a semi-normal NFL daily football slate. It’s possible DraftKings offers some odd Pro Bowl and Super Bowl combined slate, but using an exhibition game as part of a slate makes it quirky and even more unpredictable.
Getting back to this week’s slate, the Patriots are well represented by a trio of studs below. They’re joined by a rookie wideout opposing them, last week’s hero for the Vikings, and a likely low-owned player suggestion from the Eagles.
Tom Brady (QB – NE): $7,700 vs. Jaguars
Dion Lewis (RB – NE): $8,1000 vs. Jaguars
Rob Gronkowski (TE – NE): $7,900 vs. Jaguars
Dede Westbrook (WR – JAX): $3,900 @ Patriots
Brady’s inclusion among the picks is obviously contingent on no setbacks with the unlucky and fluky hand injury he suffered in practice this week. The Jaguars’ pass defense was the best in the regular season by all accounts, but they surrendered 469 yards passing, and five touchdown passes to Ben Roethlisberger in last week’s Divisional Round shootout at Heinz Field. A one-game sample size shouldn’t be overreacted to, but a lot of Pittsburgh’s success through the air resulted from heavily utilizing their tight ends and Le’Veon Bell.
Vance McDonald carved them up for 112 yards on 10 receptions, Jesse James added one grab for 12 yards, and Bell caught nine passes for 88 yards and a score. Gronk is a wee bit better than Pittsburgh’s tight end duo, and New England’s backfield poses multiple pass-catching threats, including the highlighted Lewis.
Let me reiterate, it’s unwise to overreact to a one-game sample size. However, Jacksonville being exploitable through the air with tight ends and backs wasn’t a one-off occurrence. Football Outsiders (FO) ranked the Jaguars 20th defending tight ends and 15th defending running backs in the passing game.
James White and possibly Rex Burkhead could get some looks out of the backfield, but Lewis is the team’s feature back and a damn good receiver himself. In as dreamy of a matchup for backs as receivers against the Titans last week, Lewis out-targeted (10 to seven), out-caught (nine receptions to four receptions) and bested White in receiving yards (79 to 29). White did catch a touchdown pass, and Lewis didn’t, but Lewis bolsters his overall value as a back with his excellence as a runner.
Burkhead’s potential return could threaten Lewis’ goal-line work, but Lewis saw ample touches in the red zone during the regular season when both were healthy. New England is a 7.5-point favorite at home, per Pinnacle, so the game’s spread favors Lewis salting away clock down the stretch, too. Additionally, Jacksonville is much more giving on the ground than through the air ranking 26th in run defense at FO.
Brady’s and Gronk’s excellence doesn’t need any explanation, and the duo is a part of the highest implied team over/under total of the week by far at 27 points (Minnesota’s implied team over/under total of 20.75 is next closest). If things go according to the projected spread, Blake Bortles will be forced to air it out more than he’s accustomed to.
Westbrook has been rather quiet in the postseason with six receptions for 56 yards through two games. The rookie does lead Jacksonville’s receivers in offensive snaps played in the postseason, though, according to Pro-Football-Reference, and he demonstrated solid rapport with Bortles down the stretch of the regular season. Also, as unimpressive as Westbrook’s postseason numbers are, he did lead the team in targets (eight), receptions (five), and receiving yards (48) in the Wild Card Round game against the Bills.
The matchup is a plus for all of Jacksonville’s receivers. The Patriots coughed up the fifth most DraftKings points per game to receivers. FO ranked them 26th defending No. 1 receivers, 20th defending No. 2 receivers, and 21st defending “other” receivers.
The Patriots also proved they are quite susceptible to the deep ball. New England was tied for the 14th most 20-plus yard passes and tied for the ninth-most 40-plus yard passes allowed in the regular season, according to NFL.com. Westbrook isn’t the only receiver I like from Jacksonville, but he’s my favorite of the bunch.
Stefon Diggs (WR – MIN): $6,900 @ Eagles
Corey Clement (RB – PHI): $3,100 vs. Vikings
Diggs made one of the most memorable postseason receptions in the history of the game, ripping the hearts out of the Saints and sending his club to the NFC Championship Game. Diggs ripped off 137 yards receiving on 10 targets last week and scored the game-winning touchdown.
Going back to the regular season, Diggs has caught a touchdown pass in four straight games, and he’s totaled 60 yards receiving or more in four of his last five games. He’s also caught at least five passes in five straight contests.
Diggs should continue to see a steady diet of targets this week, and according to the Pro Football Focus matchup tool and their player grades, Diggs has a more favorable matchup in coverage than Adam Thielen in three-receiver, two-back, and two-tight end sets. The Eagles’ defense is very good, but they are more beatable through the air.
FO ranked Philadelphia third defending the rush and seventh defending the pass in the regular season. Wideouts posted some good numbers against the Eagles, and Philadelphia yielded the ninth most DraftKings points per game to receivers. Diggs is my favorite piece of Minnesota’s offense.
On a two-game slate, it’s tough to find players who will completely go overlooked. They mostly don’t exist — unless they have no viable case for being rostered. Clement has a case for usage and should be low-ish owned, though.
The Eagles have deployed a committee backfield all year, and that hasn’t changed in the postseason. Last week, Jay Ajayi led their backs with 29 offensive snaps, LeGarrette Blount checked in second with 20, but Clement managed to carve out 16 snaps as well. Clement made the most of his snaps with six touches (one carry and five receptions), and he tallied a red-zone touch.
Is he a safe play? No. However, there’s some upside, and his salary of just $100 above the minimum for a running back is enticing.