This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
Once again this week, this piece will focus on the approach for the four-game DFS contest that encompasses the entire divisional round playoffs, though some of the analysis might be useful if you're playing the other available contests.
Here's a quick rundown of the Implied Totals based on the point spread and over/under total for each of the Main Slate matchups:
Patrick Mahomes, KC vs. IND ($7,000) - Although he's the most expensive quarterback on the board again this week, Mahomes has deserved an elevated price all season while posting numbers that should bring him an MVP award (5,097 yards, 50:12 TD:INT). The Colts are an underrated defense (7.4 YPA, 21:15 Passing TD:INT), but having a healthy Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce alone is enough for Mahomes to pick apart a good secondary, and another week where Damien Williams might be the lead back (even if Spencer Ware returns) provides an additional pass-catching option out of the backfield. The other appealing angle with Mahomes this week is that the Colts' offense should put plenty of points on the board and keep this matchup close, pushing Mahomes' attempts into the mid-30s or higher.
Nick Foles, PHI at NO ($5,400) - Foles has the easiest matchup on the board, facing a Saints defense that allowed a slate-high 8.1 YPA in the regular season. With the Saints eight-point favorites heading into the weekend, a pass-heavy game script is likely to unfold, and to make things even more favorable for Foles, the Saints are very good against the run (3.6 YPC). Pricing this week is generally pretty soft, which should keep ownership rates on Foles reasonable since Tom Brady, Jared Goff and Phillip Rivers are priced within $300 of him, while Dak Prescott ($5,200) is the only quarterback cheaper.
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL at LAR ($8,200) - The Rams allowed a league-high 5.1 YPC this season, which might force them to sell out to contain Zeke on the ground. As noted in this space last week, his role as a pass-catcher has increased to 34 catches in his last five games and 81 through 16 games this season. This price is the lowest we've seen on Zeke since Week 13 against the Saints, and it's $800 less than he cost at home against Seattle last week. Given the uncertain health of Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, Elliott should be one of the most highly owned players on the board again.
Alvin Kamara, NO vs PHI ($7,300) - Kamara enters Sunday's matchup following a two-week break, since the Saints rested him Week 17 prior to their wild card round bye. In his last four games, Kamara has pulled in 24 passes for 190 yards, scoring at least 15 DraftKings points in each of those games, as he was given double-digit carries in all but one of those contests. In the Saints' first meeting with the Eagles, he turned 14 touches into 17.8 points, and even with a healthier secondary this time around, Kamara will likely be a matchup nightmare for the Eagles in coverage.
Melvin Gordon, LAC at NE ($6,200) - Even if he's not quite 100 percent, Gordon was given 18 touches last week in a tough spot against the Ravens, and while he didn't make value at $7,900 with just 11.3 DraftKings points (43 total yards, TD) he should find more room to run against the Patriots (4.9 YPC). I trust Gordon enough to use him in cash. The spread in this game is the closest over the four games on the slate (the Chargers are four-point underdogs), and Gordon stays involved in the passing game as a receiver out of the backfield even if the Chargers are trailing.
Todd Gurley, LAR vs. DAL ($8,000) - If he's deemed completely healthy, Gurley is an automatic cash-game play at this price, but it sounds like there is a good chance that he will share the backfield workload with C.J. Anderson on Saturday, and the final word on Gurley's availability might not come down until the inactives list is revealed 90 minutes before the 8:15 p.m. EST kickoff. If it still sounds like Gurley will have significant limitations heading into Saturday, I'll likely steer away from him in cash-game lineups since Elliott is only $200 more expensive. In the unlikely event that Gurley is ruled out, C.J. Anderson ($4,800) becomes a very affordable cash-game staple given his heavy usage and massive yardage totals in Gurley's absence down the stretch. With Gurley active, Anderson is still in the mix as a sub-$5K tournament consideration.
Marlon Mack, IND at KC ($5,800) - A huge game last week in a tougher matchup on paper likely will prop up Mack's ownership rate in tournaments since he's in an easier spot this week against the Chiefs (5.0 YPC). Mack can be reduced in the gameplan when the Colts are playing catch-up, which is a position they could fall into against the Chiefs' high-powered offense, but with the line being just five points, it's more likely that this game is close throughout, and that Mack ends up with 20-plus carries again after reaching that mark in three of his last four games.
Damien Williams, KC vs. IND ($5,100) - In some ways, I almost prefer that Spencer Ware is active to reduce interest in Williams. If Ware plays, it would not surprise me if the carry load is split between the two backs, with Williams getting the primary passing-down opportunities. The offenses left on the slate bring a lot to the table, and opting into situations where roles are foggy isn't necessary this week, but Williams averaged 5.1 YPC in his limited chances with the Chiefs this season (he was never above 3.9 YPC in Miami), while averaging 4.5 catches per game over his last four contests.
Sony Michel, NE vs. LAC ($4,700) - Michel fell short of a 1,000 yards on the ground in his rookie campaign, but he would have reached that milestone if he'd play all 16 games. There's little doubt about his talent, as he averaged 4.5 YPC thanks to an 83.7 percent positive run percentage, but Michel is rarely used as a pass-catcher thanks to the other personnel at Tom Brady's disposal with James White and Rex Burkhead both healthy. Michel has 20-point upside if he approaches 20 carries this week, and the Patriots might like their matchup in the trenches with the running game more than they like their chances against the Chargers' tough secondary the air. I like Michel slightly more than Mark Ingram ($5,200), even though Ingram makes sense as a lower-owned tournament play, and pairing Michel with James White ($4,900) is a viable combo for those building an Edelman-Gronk fade.
I know he was a huge disappointment last week, but Nyheim Hines at $3,300 is a viable punt option in the flex against Kansas City.
Michael Thomas, NO vs. PHI ($7,900) - This week's price on Thomas is his lowest price since Week 9. The Eagles didn't leak big plays to the entire group of Bears pass-catchers last week, but they didn't have an answer for Allen Robinson, and a similar problem seems likely with Thomas on tap in their second playoff matchup. The Saints surprisingly ran Thomas out for a lot of snaps in their meaningless Week 17 game against the Panthers, but he picked up a week of rest with the opening-round bye. The week-to-week output has more variance than you might expect for a player who pulls in such a high percentage of his targets, but Thomas averaged 24.2 DraftKings points per game this season at home, and the Eagles' current form is encouraging enough to look past the blowout that took place in their Week 11 meeting in New Orleans in November.
Tyreek Hill, KC vs. IND ($7,400) - Hill doesn't need much volume to make value thanks to his big-play ability (he's averaged more than 10 yards per target in each of the last two seasons), though perhaps a similar argument could be made with T.Y. Hilton ($6,700) for $700 less. Both players might be in line for huge games, but I prefer to spend up for Hill in cash games with Hilton still hobbled by an ankle injury that has limited his ability to practice in recent weeks.
Julian Edelman, NE vs. LAC ($6,300) - At this price, Edelman has one game on the ledger where he would have fallen short of finishing 2x value. The Patriots' offense might be less pass-happy without Josh Gordon and with the current state of Rob Gronkowski, but Edelman continues to be the heavily-targeted pass-catcher of choice for Tom Brady each week, with the Week 17 blowout win over the Jets marking the second time this season that he was targeted fewer than seven times. Desmond King might be the corner tasked with matching up with Edelman most frequently, which isn't an easy spot, but the price is low and the target volume should be high enough for Edelman to approach 2.5-3x value with relative ease.
Robert Woods, LAR vs. DAL ($5,900) - Prior to going quiet against San Francisco in Week 17, Woods reeled off a stretch of 14 consecutive games with at least 12 DraftKings points. He's the slightly safer floor option of the Rams' top two receivers, and yet again, his price is very close to that of teammate Brandin Cooks. Woods and Cooks figure to move around, running some of their routes from the outside, and some from the slot, which should keep both players from seeing exclusive coverage from top Dallas corner Byron Jones. Woods is averaging 7.5 targets per game at home this season (17.4 DraftKings points), and he should be another underpriced option to round out receiver trios this week in cash games with an easy path to 2-2.5x value.
My prefered cash-game builds for this week likely will feature one of the top three receivers (Thomas, Hill or T.Y. Hilton), Edelman and Woods, but a Keenan Allen, Edelman and Woods trio might also get it done with the added flexibility it affords to pay up for top-end running backs. Alshon Jeffery ($5,800) is also in play for those pushing more budget to other positions.
Mike Williams, LAC at NE ($4,700) - The return of Hunter Henry adds one more useful weapon to the arsenal for Philip Rivers, but Henry likely will be a limited snap count, and Williams is still a threat to get heavily targeted in the red zone. Due to Keenan Allen's large target share, Williams is very TD dependent to exceed value, but he's an easy path to exposure to the Chargers' passing game this week in a matchup where the offense is projected for just over 21 points.
Nelson Agholor, PHI at NO ($4,300) - He was quiet with the opportunities, but Agholor had another six targets last week against the Bears, giving him 19 over the Eagles' last three games. Even though it was Golden Tate on the receiving end of the eventual game-winning TD in Chicago, Agholor has taken over as the third option in the passing game behind Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery in recent weeks.
Michael Gallup, DAL at LAR ($4,000) - The Cowboys' passing game will be low-owned on this slate, with most of the interest focused on Amari Cooper. As a cheap third receiver, Gallup is in play for tournaments, as he's been targeted six or more times in five of the team's last seven games. Gallup is showing the ability to beat corners downfield, opening up big-play potential. Moreover, he should draw more favorable matchups than Cooper, who figures to see the bulk of his snaps running against Aqib Talib.
Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, NE vs. LAC ($3,900) - Dorsett had an increased role in the Patriots' passing game early in the season while Julian Edelman was suspended and before Josh Gordon was acquired from the Browns. He played his highest snap share since Week 5 in the regular season finale, getting on the field for 39 snaps and turning five targets into five catches for 34 yards and a touchdown. Dorsett has the top-end speed necessary to slip behind defenders and make the occasional big play over the top, and his 6.9 YPT this season is not indicative of his skillset. With 95 career catches, Dorsett has turned 16 of those receptions into gains of 20-plus yards. A similar thought process could be applied to Hogan, since his target ceiling increases in Gordon's absence. Hogan plays a larger share of the snaps than Dorsett, and might be the safer of the two secondary options in the New England passing game if such a distinction exists. A Brady-Hogan-Dorsett stack would be a highly unusual trio to own in tournaments, since it fades Edelman and Gronk.
Tre'Quan Smith, NO vs. PHI ($4,200) - Smith erupted for 157 yards and a touchdown on 10 catches in Week 11 when the Saints hosted the Eagles, but he's failed to match his target total from that game (13) in the five games he's played since (11). The target floor is surprisingly low (three games with one target in his last five), but he has a crazy-high ceiling since the Saints don't have a clear-cut third option in the passing game after Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Smith's snap counts increased in the absence of Ted Ginn ($4,400), but Ginn's return in Week 16 should make him the primary deep threat for the Saints this week, which makes Smith a high-risk, high-reward option for big-field GPPs.
Zach Ertz, PHI at NO, ($5,700) - The discount from Travis Kelce ($7,000) to Ertz might be a necessary one to take for cash builds, even with plenty of underpriced plays to mix in elsewhere. If you have the extra $1,300, Kelce is the better play, but I don't think finding that difference will be easy if you're prioritizing Zeke, Kamara and Mahomes at the top of your roster. One other path to consider if you're looking to spread around exposure to more offense, Eric Ebron ($5,500) is a pivot who might fit well if you're leaning toward Alshon Jeffery for a receiver spot and are passing up T.Y. Hilton.
Gerald Everett, LAR vs. DAL ($2,700) - With three heavily targeted options near the top of the price list, plus Gronk, paying down at tight end should be a contrarian maneuver on this slate. Everett posted a donut in Week 17, despite outsnapping Tyler Higbee against San Francisco. Everett pulled in 14 catches for 103 yards on 20 targets from Weeks 14-16, and it's worth noting that three of those looks came inside the red zone. During the regular season, the Cowboys allowed tight ends to rack up 93 catches for 965 yards and seven touchdowns
Rams vs. DAL ($3,000) - It's unusual for me to prioritize a defense, and if it doesn't work under the budget, I'm not going to lose sleep over it, but the Cowboys have allowed a slate-high 56 sacks this season, which gives the Rams a very nice floor as home favorites this week. They're $300 cheaper than the Saints, but I would prefer them straight up at the same price. Otherwise, I'm leaning toward the Patriots ($2,600) or Chargers ($2,400) ahead of Dallas, Philadelphia and Indianapolis, but the margins are slim.