With the NFL’s elite eight set, fantasy blue bloods, and football fans everywhere, strap in for four games next weekend that will bring us one step closer to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The margin for error continues to shrink on the field, as it does for those playing postseason DFS. To those of you still fighting the good fantasy fight this late in the year, you are my people.
Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens (Sat)
Isaiah Likely, TE
The divisional weekend will commence in Baltimore on Saturday afternoon, the well rested, and awfully impressive, Baltimore Ravens will welcome arguably the biggest surprise of the year in the Houston Texans.
Isaiah Likely has stepped in nicely since Mark Andrews went down in week 11. Since ascending to the top of the depth chart, Likely has played from the slot at a rate of 54.1%, and from the inline spot at 39.2% (PFF). This will draw a blend of Texans defenders, including slot corner Desmond King II and linebackers Blake Cashman and Christian Harris.
Likely holds the deeper aDoT than both linebackers, and all three Houston players allow receptions at a rate north of 70.0% on targets they defend, with King II coming in at 88.6% (PFF). Likely has scored five touchdowns in his last five games, attach this to a “likely” high reception rate and you have a potential DFS difference maker.
Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers (Sat)
George Kittle, TE
After the week off, the NFC West champion 49ers begin their quest for a super bowl title on Saturday, expect them to lean on George Kittle coming out of the inline spot.
Kittle will likely draw matchups with two Packers linebackers, Quay Walker on box coverage looks and De’Vondre Campbell, who handles both box and slot coverage (PFF). With Kittle being targeted on average 9.9 yards down the field this season (PFF), he will have opportunities to beat Walker and Campbell outside of their normal depth. Both linebackers hold aDoTs under 6 yards (PFF), and Kittle lives off receptions between 10 and 20 yards, tallying 479 yards and four of his six receiving touchdowns on such routes this season (PFF).
Both Walker and Campbell allow receptions on over 80.0% of targets they defend and collectively have granted five touchdowns (PFF). The 49er tight end should have no issues getting open this week and led all NFL tight ends with 15.7 yards per catch on the year.
Deebo Samuel, WR
While Deebo Samuel has not eclipsed 50 receiving yards in his last three games, Saturday’s match-up may present an opportunity to right the ship solely in the open field (PFF).
Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk were the two most targeted receivers for the 49ers this season by a wide margin. Of the two, Samuel takes more snaps from the slot. This will set up more plays across from Packers corner Keisean Nixon, who allowed 323 YAC, the tenth most of all NFL corners on the year (PFF). Samuel logged 522 YAC on 87 targets this year. To put that in perspective, Bengals star receiver Ja’Marr Chase collected 553 YAC on 141 targets (PFF).
Samuel’s strength is Nixon’s weakness, and the Swiss army knife-like San Francisco receiver is always a threat to ice his fantasy cake with a handoff near the goal line.
Jayden Reed, WR
Let’s chalk last week up as a severe outlier on the negative end of distribution, with Jayden Reed turning in his worst game since Week 5 and lowest fantasy output all season.
Like last week, Reed will earn the best matchup in coverage against the 49ers in the slot up against Isaiah Oliver. We need to assume the Packers will try to get Reed involved in the game plan this week after his vanishing act wild card weekend. Oliver allows receptions at an astronomical rate of 90.2% on the targets he defends (PFF). As long as the targets are there, Reed should be converting them to catches.
Jordan Love tends to get Reed the ball about 10 yards downfield, and Oliver defends his targets at a depth of 4.2 yards (PFF). On routes from zero to nine yards, Reed has scored four of his eight receiving touchdowns (PFF). Expect him to set up shop in this area against a corner in Oliver, who has conceded three touchdowns this season and a passer rating of 104.2 (PFF).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Detroit Lions (Sun)
Chris Godwin, WR
In the early window on Sunday, we find two teams that no one wants to see go home. One chases the ghost of Tom Brady, and the other just delivered their fans its first playoff win in three decades.
The season-long alignment numbers would suggest Chris Godwin and Cameron Sutton will be going at it in this game. Godwin took 627 wide snaps this year, 431 of them coming split out to Baker Mayfield’s right (PFF). Sutton played 624 wide coverage snaps on the left side of the Tampa Bay Defense (PFF). Godwin’s aDoT of 10.4 is shallower than Sutton’s at 14.2, which could lead to opportunities for Godwin to catch the ball in space. Godwin leads the Buccaneers with 399 YAC, and Cameron Sutton leads the Lions in YAC allowed at 270 (PFF).
To top it off, Cameron Sutton has allowed six touchdowns this season, the 9th most conceded at the corner position (PFF). In a predictable matchup, Baker Mayfield may bet on his guy winning in the red zone and lean on him underneath to sustain drives.
Subscribe to our newsletter on Substack to get full access to 5th Down Fantasy’s award-winning fantasy football player rankings and our weekly playbook email packed with everything you need to win big on Sunday. Your subscription will also help keep 5thDownFantasy.com the best FREE fantasy football advice website on the planet. Learn more.