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FFL: Offseason | NFL: Divisional

Tight games this weekend, with one upset projected

Fri Jan 15 1:49pm ET
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Jones reacts after running for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)


Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald sacks Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson during the second half of an NFL football game in Seattle, in this Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, file photo. Donald was selected Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, to The Associated Press All-Pro Team. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, File)


Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks to throw during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, in this Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, file photo. Rogers was selected Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, for The Associated Press NFL All-Pro Team. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)


Aaron, meet Aaron. And Aaron.

Aaron Donald, the unanimous All-Pro defensive tackle who owns a couple of Defensive Player of the Year awards, certainly hopes to meet fellow All-Pro Aaron Rodgers on Saturday - in the Packers' backfield. Donald hopes to put the star quarterback on the ground a few times, too.

Same for when Green Bay running back Aaron Jones comes in the vicinity of the Los Angeles Rams' dynamic D-lineman.

For the Rams to have a strong chance of advancing to the NFC championship game, they need Donald and the top-rated defense he anchors to, well, sink the Pack.

''He's a special, special player,'' Rodgers says. ''Obviously a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Impact player every single year, a guy that you have to game-plan for, have to be aware of where he's at at all times, and just one of those special talents that we haven't seen a whole lot of in this game in the history of the game. A lot of credit to him, the way he takes care of himself, his motor and he's somebody that you gotta be worried about.''

Naturally, the Rams should be worried about Rodgers and a four-pronged offense featuring the versatile Jones, All-Pro receiver Davante Adams in the midst of a career season, and breakout tight end Robert Tonyan. The LA offense also hasn't been special. Jared Goff will start at quarterback with John Wolford inactive one week after incurring a neck injury against Seattle.

Los Angeles is a 7 1-2-point underdog at Green Bay. With about 6,500 fans in attendance, the home-field advantage will be less than it is normally, but frigid Lambeau for a team from SoCal? It will be close, but ...

PACKERS, 23-19

KNOCKOUT POOL: For those with all options open, go with KANSAS CITY. But don't expect a rout.

Baltimore (plus 3 1-2) at Buffalo, Saturday

John Harbaugh has a pretty amazing NFL record: eight road playoff victories. He snapped a tie with Hall of Famer Tom Landry and Tom Coughlin when the Ravens won at Tennessee.

This is a much bigger challenge. Buffalo has won seven straight, has a far better defense than the Titans, and a more dangerous passing attack. The Bills' win against Indianapolis was tight, but also had to be a huge confidence boost for a franchise that last advanced in the playoffs in 1995.

Of course, the performance by Lamar Jackson in his first postseason win after two defeats, and Baltimore's defense shutting down 2,000-yard rusher Derrick Henry, bodes well for the Ravens.

Just not quite well enough.

BUFFALO, 26-24

Cleveland (plus 10) at Kansas City, Sunday

Another team with a swell of confidence has to be the Browns. That they mauled the self-destructing Steelers should be taken into account, but that offense was impressive, and the defense was a takeaway machine.

One trouble for Cleveland is that the D showed some real vulnerability after building the big lead at Pittsburgh. Sure, the Browns were able to get conservative, but don't try that against Patrick Mahomes and the reigning champions.

KC has been idle since the regular-season finale, when several important regulars were rested. So rustiness is a consideration. Losing probably isn't, but this spread is too wide.

BEST BET: CHIEFS, 30-24

Tampa Bay (plus 3 1-2) at New Orleans, Sunday

Old-timers day at the Superdome. Tom Brady and Drew Brees are a collective 85 years old. They also are headed to Canton five years after they retire - if they ever do - and will take lots of records with them.

The Saints won both meetings between these NFC South rivals during the regular season. The team that swept the regular-season series has won 14 of the previous 22 matchups. And New Orleans was the previous team in such a situation, achieving the sweep by beating Carolina 31-26 in the wild-card round after sweeping the Panthers in the 2017 regular season.

We don't have to pick an upset, but we're not going against TB12.

UPSET SPECIAL: BUCCANEERS, 24-23

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Player Notes
Ronald Jones II Jan 15 1:20pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that running back Ronald Jones II (calf, finger) was feeling better on Friday, but he will be a game-time decision against the Saints in the Divisional Round on Sunday. Leonard Fournette will start the game. Jones was limited in practice on Thursday after not playing in the wild-card win over Washington. It sounds like Jones has a chance to see some action against New Orleans, but he won't start and will be an extremely risky fantasy selection in the Divisional Round. Fournette saw the lion's share of backfield work last weekend and had a season-high 19 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown on the ground, adding four catches for 39 yards. He'll have a much tougher go of it this weekend, though, against a Saints Defense that allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to RBs in 2020.

From RotoBaller

Dawson Knox Jan 15 1:00pm ET

Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox has picked it up during the second half of the season. Since Week 12, Knox has hauled in four touchdowns, including one against the Indianapolis Colts last week. Sadly, the Bills have so many weapons on offense that Knox doesn't see a significant amount of targets. It's tough to believe he'll be able to do much damage against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. He'll be a low-cost option, but doesn't have much upside heading into this matchup.

From RotoBaller

Cole Beasley Jan 15 12:50pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (knee) was limited during Thursday's practice, but will suit up against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. The veteran slot receiver has found a perfect home in Buffalo. He hauled in seven receptions for 57 yards in the win over the Indianapolis Colts last week. Slot receivers have been fairly decent against the Ravens secondary this season. Beasley makes for an intriguing fantasy option for this weekend's slate.

From RotoBaller

Gabriel Davis Jan 15 12:50pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis has surprisingly pushed his way into a significant role in this offense. Davis didn't make much of an impact during the first half of the season, but has been a solid contributor since then. He hauled in four receptions for 85 yards in the playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Obviously, Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley are ahead of him on the depth chart. However, the Bills continue to find ways to get Davis involved. He could make for a low-cost DFS option against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend.

From RotoBaller

John Brown Jan 15 12:50pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown was a ghost against the Indianapolis Colts last week. He failed to haul in any of his four targets in the win over Indy. At this point, Gabriel Davis is looking like he surpassed Brown on the depth chart. Brown looked solid during their regular season finale, but the Bills have too many options on offense. It's unlikely that Brown does anything significant against the Baltimore Ravens secondary this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Devin Singletary Jan 15 12:40pm ET

Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary has seen limited fantasy value throughout most of the regular season because of the timeshare in the backfield. However, running back Zack Moss (leg) won't be suiting up for the playoff matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. Singletary will get an increased workload, but the Ravens aren't exactly an easy team to run against right now. Sometimes in the regular season, Singletary saw touches in the mid-teens and still didn't have much value. Expect that to be a similar result versus the Ravens this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Stefon Diggs Jan 15 12:40pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (oblique) has been putting up video-game numbers for the majority of the season. He hauled in six receptions for 128 yards and one touchdown in the win over the Indianapolis Colts last week in the wild-card round. Diggs was a little banged up heading into this week but has been removed from the injury report. It sounds like he'll be healthy enough to suit up against the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round. This is obviously a tough matchup, but Diggs continues to exceed expectations, so he'll remain an elite fantasy option for this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Josh Allen Jan 15 12:30pm ET

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen looked seemingly unstoppable versus the Indianapolis Colts last week. He threw for 324 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 54 yards and another score. Allen has put himself into the MVP conversation and should remain a strong fantasy option against the Baltimore Ravens. The young dual-threat quarterback has shown no signs of slowing down, so continue believing in him.

From RotoBaller

Kansas City Chiefs Jan 15 11:50am ET

The Kansas City Chiefs Defense finished the 2020 regular season ranked 21st against the run, allowing 122.1 rushing yards per game. The Browns, led by running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, averaged 148.4 yards per game. Chubb had his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season and another Pro Bowl selection, averaging a career-high 5.6 yards per carry and a team-high 12 rushing scores. Hunt had 2,150 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, adding 833 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 25 games with the Chiefs before moving to Cleveland. The two-headed Browns rushing monster can get it done on the ground and through the air, so the Chiefs defense will have their work cut out for them. Despite the threat, Kansas City's D will be one of the more popular DFS targets in the Divisional Round.

From RotoBaller

Baker Mayfield Jan 15 11:40am ET

The Cleveland Browns activated offensive guard Joel Bitonio from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday. Bitonio should be active for the team's Divisional Round game against the Chiefs on Sunday after he sat out of the wild-card upset win over the division-rival Steelers last weekend. A Pro Bowler each of the last three seasons, Bitonio's return to Cleveland's strong offensive line is a huge upgrade for running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and quarterback Baker Mayfield as they try to pull off the unthinkable and upset the defending Super Bowl-champion Chiefs. Bitonio's return will be even more important if offensive tackle Jack Conklin cannot play after aggravating an injury last week against Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old Bitonio has been with the Browns since 2014 and will be playing in his first career postseason game this Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Buffalo Bills Jan 15 11:40am ET

The Buffalo Bills Defense is confident that they can contain Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in the Divisional Round matchup on Saturday night. Buffalo held Jackson to only 40 rushing yards on 11 carries last year. "We're pretty confident in being able to contain him," said linebacker Matt Milano. The Bills defense held opponents to just under 19 points a game in the final five games of the season, too, so they're coming in confident. Jackson threw for just 145 yards in his meeting against the Bills in 2019, but three of his 16 completions went for touchdowns through the air. Buffalo's defense has stiffened late in the season, but they'll face a very tough task this weekend, and fantasy managers should temper expectations in DFS.

From RotoBaller

Raheem Morris Jan 15 11:30am ET

The Atlanta Falcons have made an offer to Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to become their next head coach, according to sources. Smith has been the offensive coordinator for the Titans for the last two seasons. Tennessee ranked No. 3 in the league in total yards per game (396.4) and No. 2 overall in rushing yards per game (168.1) in 2020, and they were also fourth in scoring with 30.7 points per game. Smith has held a number of positions with the Titans since 2011, including tight ends coach, offensive line assistant, offensive quality control coach and defensive quality control coach. The Falcons have also interviewed Raheem Morris, Eric Bienemy, Joe Brady, Nathaniel Hackett and Todd Bowles for their head-coaching vacancy.

From RotoBaller

Sam Darnold Jan 15 11:20am ET

The New York Jets hired former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as their next head coach on Thursday night, according to league sources. The two sides have reached an agreement on a five-year deal. 49ers passing-game coordinator Mike LaFleur is expected to be the first member of Saleh's staff and serve as the offensive coordinator. Saleh has been a highly sought-after head-coach candidate the last two seasons and also interviewed with the Falcons, Lions, Jaguars, Eagles and Chargers for their head-coach vacancies. He was the guiding force behind the Niners transformation on D in the last four seasons. San Fran finished second in yards allowed per game en route to a Super Bowl appearance after the 2019 regular season. Saleh inherits a Jets team that went 2-14 in 2020 and a defense that allowed 28.6 points per game, the third-most in franchise history. The Jets hold the No. 2 and 23 picks in this year's draft and must decide if quarterback Sam Darnold is their future under center.

From RotoBaller

Matt Rhule Jan 15 11:10am ET

The Carolina Panthers officially reached an agreement on a five-year deal with former Seattle Seahawks vice president Scott Fitterer on Thursday night to become their next general manager. Fitterer was a late addition to the interview process but made a quick impression on the Carolina decision-makers. He was one of 15 candidates to interview for the position when the team fired veteran Marty Hurney on Dec. 21. The other finalists for the job included Tennessee's Monti Ossenfort, San Francisco's Adam Peters and Kansas City's Ryan Poles. Fitterer had been with Seattle since 2001 and worked alongside Seattle GM John Schneider since 2010. He'll be paired with second-year head coach Matt Rhule with the team coming off a 5-11 season with the eighth overall pick in the upcoming draft. Locating a franchise quarterback will be priority No. 1.

From RotoBaller

Cleveland Browns Jan 15 7:10am ET

The Cleveland Browns Defense was instrumental in the team's upset playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round as they scored a touchdown and forced five turnovers. They are likely to struggle to repeat that performance in a tough matchup against an explosive Kansas City Chiefs offense in the Divisional Round. Kansas City's offense only had 16 giveaways during the regular season and is led by All-World quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Cleveland will be bolstered by the return of top cornerback Denzel Ward and starting slot corner Kevin Johnson but they are still in a tough spot as 10-point road dogs against the Chiefs. The Browns defense is not a unit to target in daily fantasy contests this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Austin Hooper Jan 15 7:00am ET

Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper found the end zone in his team's playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week and it could have been a bigger game for him but he dropped a second touchdown in the end zone. Hooper sets up as an excellent DFS play against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Kansas City struggled to defend the tight end position during the regular season, allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game. Hooper has emerged as a main piece of the Cleveland passing attack over the final portion of the season and should be heavily involved in a game where Cleveland is installed as 10-point road underdogs. If you can't find the necessary space to fit top tight end Travis Kelce into those daily fantasy lineups, Hooper is an excellent, money-saving pivot.

From RotoBaller

Jarvis Landry Jan 15 6:50am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry made several clutch catches and scored a touchdown for his team in their Wild-Card round win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Landry will look to keep it going in the Divisional Round against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Kansas City represents a tough matchup for Landry as they allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position during the regular season. That being said, Landry should still get several chances to do damage in a game where the Browns project to throw frequently. Treat him as a solid WR2 for DFS contests, especially in cash games.

From RotoBaller

Kareem Hunt Jan 15 6:40am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt scored a pair of rushing touchdowns to help power his team to an upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL playoffs. He will look for an encore against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Kansas City struggled to stop the run during the regular season, ranking 31st in run-defense DVOA. The Chiefs are set as 10-point home favorites, so Hunt could be called upon in the passing game, especially if Cleveland falls behind. Treat Hunt as a quality second running back in playoff DFS contests this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Nick Chubb Jan 15 6:30am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb draws a favorable matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. Chubb came up big against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week and will look to continue that success this Sunday. The Chiefs struggled to contain the run during the regular season, ranking 31st in run-defense DVOA and allowing the 11th-most fantasy points per game to the running back position. The only concern here is that the Browns are 10-point underdogs and Chubb faces negative game script, but Cleveland's offense has proven to be proficient enough that they could keep this game closer than Vegas expects. If that happens, expect Chubb to play a major role in helping Cleveland keep up with the explosive Chiefs on the scoreboard. Chubb is an excellent anchor running back for DFS lineups this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Baker Mayfield Jan 15 6:20am ET

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield engineered an upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening round of the playoffs last weekend. He now travels to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. Mayfield played very well against a tough Pittsburgh defense last week and should find it easier to move the ball against a less fearsome Kansas City defense on Sunday. The Chiefs allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks during the regular season and ranked 16th in pass-defense DVOA. The Browns are 10-point road underdogs so they could be forced to throw more often than usual. Mayfield is an excellent value option in DFS contests this weekend.

From RotoBaller