The best weekend of football is upon us, but as the teams and games get better, DFS lineup building gets harder. You’re left with nothing but expensive players to choose from and, typically, tougher matchups.
It’s difficult to find too many “perfect” spots with only eight teams to choose from — but there are a handful of spots worth loading upon this weekend.
Here’s the list of players you can lock into your Divisional Round DFS lineups.
Note: There’s always a case to be made for playing any player in tournaments. This list of “locks” is cash game focused, but I typically like these players across all contest types.
On a short slate, it’s tough to get away from the player who will touch the ball on every play for the team projected to score the most points. Alex Smith completed 72.7 percent of his passes for 264 yards and two scores against this Titans defense before Kansas City’s offense fell apart last weekend. Brady is a good bet to exceed those numbers.
Keenum is the fourth-most-expensive option on DraftKings and the No. 5 quarterback on FanDuel, but he’s arguably the second-safest option behind Brady. The Vikings are projected to be the No. 2 scoring team this weekend, and while the Saints have some young studs on defense, overall, they were just a middle-of-the-pack team against quarterbacks. They were also exposed for 349 passing yards and two touchdowns (plus a dropped touchdown) against the Panthers last weekend.
Fournette was a huge Wild Card weekend disappointment, but he’s still a lock for 20-plus touches against a Steelers unit that gave up six straight big games to running backs over the final six games of the year, including 26-152-3 to Baltimore, 17-79-2 to New England, 26-163-0 to Houston — among others. Fournette ripped the Steelers for 28-181-2 in Week 5.
Henry, the presumed starter even if DeMarco Murray returns, is a lock on FanDuel as the No. 9 priced running back (he’s less of a lock at No. 3 on DraftKings). The Patriots gave up over 100 rushing yards to opposing backfields in six of their final nine games to close the year. Game flow is the only concern.
Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings
With 20-plus touches in three straight games, and three touchdowns in that span, Murray is a strong volume play without a high price tag. The Vikings aren’t huge favorites (4 points as of this writing), but the Vikings are projected to be the second-highest scoring team of the weekend, giving Murray high touchdown potential.
After seeing double-digit targets just twice Weeks 1-8, Jones has notched 10-plus looks in seven of his past 10 games. He has three straight games with at least 80 yards and/or a touchdown, and he gets the best matchup of the weekend against the Eagles, who gave up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts this year.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
Thielen tagged the Saints for 9-157-0 back in Week 1, and New Orleans has struggled to cover slot men all year. In addition to Thielen’s big Week 1, Jamison Crowder (7-72-0), Mohamed Sanu (6-83-1), Cooper Kupp (8-116-0), and Adam Humphries (7-102-0) found success against the Saints — all since Week 11. Christian McCaffrey (6-101-1) torched them in the Wild Card round too. Thielen is a must-start.
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville’s entire offense — and particularly its passing game — was a trainwreck in the Wild Card round. But Westbrook still drew eight targets and gained 48 yards — representing over 55 percent of all Jacksonville passing yards in the game. He’s averaging over seven targets per game since entering the lineup in Week 11, and he has just one game with fewer than six targets.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
The Titans were up-and-down against tight ends this year, but they did give up big games to Seattle (10-125-1), Indianapolis (7-50-1), Baltimore (10-70-0), Houston (8-95-1), and San Francisco (7-115-1). They were also getting torched by Travis Kelce last weekend before he exited the game late in the first half. Gronkowski finished the year on a tear, catching 28 of 39 passes for 464 yards and three scores over his final four games before being placed in bubble wrap in Week 17. A fresh Gronkowski will feast this weekend.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
With at least five targets in all but one game this year, Walker’s volume is already secure. Throw in the fact the Titans figure to be airing it out often in the second half, Walker’s final stat like should jump off the page. He’s the third-most-expensive tight end this weekend and provides excellent salary relief next to Gronkowski and Zach Ertz. Walker doesn’t have the upside of Gronkowski and Ertz, but his floor is similar.