The Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs is nearly upon us, and we can only hope it will contain as much drama as the Wild Card round did. The Reignmakers Core strategy rundown for this week’s games returns and will continue to deliver through the Superbowl. Matt Price and I took a quick look at the three games on Make It Reign, our weekly pack opening and strategy show, and welcomed Scott Smith back on the show to open a UFC Reignmakers pack and preview this week’s UFC matchups.
For the Divisional Round, four players remain as designated “SuperStars,” and only one SuperStar card is allowed in each contest lineup:
Core SuperStar Strategy
Divisional Round SuperStar Strategy
There are only four SuperStar players left standing with the elimination of the Vikings and Chargers removing Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, and Justin Jefferson from play. Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts play on Saturday, while Josh Allen and Christian McCaffrey play on Sunday.
For my money, Patrick Mahomes is the call just slightly over Jalen Hurts for the Saturday slate. Vegas projects a 53-point total between the Jaguars and Chiefs, the Chiefs are nine-point favorites at home, and the Jaguars rank 27th in aFPA to QBs. Mahomes is actually 4for4’s Saturday QB2 projected for 22.8 points while Hurts projects as the QB1 with 24.4 points, but I like to lean toward the higher projected game total when two players are projected so close to one another.
For Sunday’s slate, Josh Allen is more of a slam dunk as the Superstar choice. The Bills host the Bengals for a game projected at 49 points with the Bills at -2, and 4for4 projects Josh Allen to score the most fantasy points of any player in the Divisional round. Both teams are likely to lean heavily on their passing attacks, and it’s hard to envision a scenario where either team takes their foot off of the gas pedal with the offensive potency both teams face from their opposition.
Divisional Round Tournament Strategy
RMF Classic – CORE – $30K Fiat Frenzy [$5K to 1st] – Saturday Slate
The Fiat Frenzy contest is once again split into two separate slates, and we’ll focus on the Saturday slate first. This contest draws from four teams across two games: [email protected] at 4:30 pm EST and [email protected] at 8:15 pm EST. The payout structure awards $5,000 to first place and payouts down to $5 for 3,041st place and as of Wednesday, there are 3,536 entries in the Saturday contest.
Top Options at Each Position
QB: Patrick Mahomes, KC
The last time we saw Mahomes on the field in Week 18 vs the Raiders, he threw for just 202 yards and a single touchdown. Of course, the Chiefs had built a 24-3 lead by halftime, and Kansas City found so much rushing success that Mahomes attempted only 11 passes in the second half. Now he faces a Jacksonville defense that has allowed the sixth-most aFPA to QBs, playing in Kansas City in a game with 53 projected total points that favors the Chiefs by 9 points. The Chiefs have passed on 67.4% of their plays with the highest EPA per passing play in the league, while the Kansas City defense has allowed an even higher aFPA to QBs than Jacksonville. A shootout is the most likely outcome here, so sign me up for the top gunslinger in play.
RB: Miles Sanders, PHI
Sanders finished the regular season as the RB10 in PPR scoring formats, and the Eagles return from their playoff bye to face a Giants defense that allowed a higher aFPA to RBs than all but 8 other teams. Philadelphia had the seventh-best EPA per passing play in the regular season but ran the ball at the sixth-highest rate, which makes sense given their top-ranked EPA per rushing play. Of course, Jalen Hurts is a big part of the rushing attack, but having just been finally removed from the injury report, it’s difficult to see the Eagles pushing his rushing attempts into the double digits. Miles Sanders’ 155 total yards and two TDs on 17 attempts in Week 14 shows his potential ceiling, and that game was against this very same Giants defense.
WR: A.J. Brown, PHI
Brown commands a higher share of his team’s air yards at 40.7% than any WR remaining in the playoffs, his 2.89 yards per route run also leads the remaining field, and Jalen Hurts had a 121.1 passer rating when targeting him this season. He’s a sizeable part of why the Eagles have such a high EPA per passing play, and he’s projected by 4for4 as Saturday’s WR1. Philadelphia is favored by 7.5 points in their matchup with Jacksonville, and oddsmakers project this game at 48.5 total points, which makes for a cozy game environment. Brown certainly looked comfortable in the Eagles’ two regular-season matchups with the Giants, in which Brown had a combined 165 receiving yards and a TD.
WR/TE: Christian Kirk, JAX
Kirk is a strong bring-back option in the projected 53-point matchup between the Jaguars and Chiefs. He had a whopping 14 targets in last week’s Wildcard victory against the Chargers that he turned into a WR6 PPR finish for the week. The Jaguars passed on 70.8% of their plays last week, a notable divergence from their regular-season passing rate of 61.3%. Game script forced their hand, and if this game is to meet or exceed its projection, Jacksonville will likely have to continue to lean on the passing game. Kirk’s 28.7% share of Jacksonville’s air yards ranked 15th in the regular season, while his 22 red zone targets ranked 9th.
FLEX: Travis Kelce, KC
Kelce was 2022’s TE1 by a large margin, and his 152 targets were significantly ahead of T.J. Hockenson’s second-most 129 targets. His target total actually ranked 6th among all wide receivers. That’s fairly necessary to consider rostering him in a Reignmakers lineup that doesn’t require a tight end, but his outlook looks even brighter in light of Jacksonville ranking 30th in aFPA to TEs. For a Chief’s team with a wide distribution of team targets, Kelce offers the most stable target floor, while his red zone usage gives him slate-breaking ability. No player was targeted more often when at or inside their opponent’s 20-yard line, and Kelce’s 18 targets at or within 10 yards also led every player at every position.
RMF Classic – CORE – $30K Fiat Frenzy [$5K to 1st] – Sunday Slate
Moving on to the Sunday slate, drawing from four teams across two games: [email protected] at 3:00 pm EST and [email protected] at 6:30 pm EST. The payout structure awards $5,000 to first place and payouts down to $5 for 3,041st place, and as of Wednesday, there are 2,571 entries in the Sunday contest.
Top Options at Each Position
QB: Josh Allen, BUF
As I mentioned earlier when looking at SuperStar choices, Josh Allen is the obvious choice for Sunday’s games. 4for4 projects him as the week’s QB1 across all 8 teams with the highest rushing yardage projection at the position. Allen finished as the QB2, 21.9 fantasy points behind Mahomes, but Allen played in one fewer game with the cancellation of Week 17’s matchup against the Bengals. Oddsmakers project a 48.5-point total for Buffalo’s matchup with Cincinnati, and the Bills’ six-point advantage equates to a 27.5-point team total. Buffalo has passed on 65.5% of their offensive plays, which ranked sixth in the regular season behind third-ranked Cincinnati at 67%. All signs point toward a high-scoring affair that’s worth targeting.
RB: Tony Pollard, DAL
Pollard is a slight contrarian play here off of Christian McCaffrey, who projects as the highest-owned RB on the slate. None of Sunday’s RBs face an easy defensive matchup, and Pollard is no exception against a 49ers defense that’s allowed the fourth-lowest aFPA to RBs. Dallas’ playcalling tendencies are what keep Pollard in play, as they ranked ninth in rushing percentage this season, and they ran on 44.8% of their plays last week, the third-most behind the Ravens and 49ers. Pollard’s 15.6 PPR points per game ranked 6th for the season, and his non-SuperStar status is what allows a stack of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs.
WR: Stefon Diggs, BUF
Diggs’ ears are burning with his mention just above, but it’s Bengals cornerbacks he’ll be burning on Sunday. Diggs is 4for4’s second-ranked WR this week, and 2022’s PPR WR4 shows no signs of slowing down for the playoffs. Gabe Davis’ touchdown led to a higher point total than Diggs last week, but I wouldn’t expect that to repeat in the Divisional round. Diggs had 23 red zone targets this season to Davis’ 14, and his 106.5 air yards per game was seventh among all wide receivers.
WR/TE: Ja’Marr Chase, CIN
Chase is 4for4’s WR1 for this week, on the other side of the CIN @ BUF matchup projected for 48.5 total points. His WR11 regular-season finish is jaw-dropping considering that he played in just 12 games. The Bengals passed on 74.6% of their plays last week against Baltimore, and through 19 games Chase has commanded a 29.4% target share (ranking 6th) and a 39.4% end zone target share (also 6th).
FLEX: Deebo Samuel, SF
Deebo is back, and it’s a glorious thing to watch. Samuel opened up the 49ers’ post-season with 28.5 PPR fantasy points, good for a #2 finish for the week. He was targeted 9 times, which he sculpted into 6 receptions for 133 yards and a TD, and even threw in 32 rushing yards for good measure. Now he faces a Cowboys defense that’s given up the 4th-highest aFPA to WRs, while the 49ers are favored by 3.5 points at home in a game with a projected point total of 46. He’s 4for4’s 5th-ranked WR this week, and he should continue to be a big part of San Francisco’s game plan.