Divisional Round DFS value plays: Cam Akers' shocking return can help you build

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Quarterback

No one should be shocked that the quarterbacks are appealing plays in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Good passers usually equal deep postseason runs. Josh Allen is coming off a near-flawless week and predictably possesses the highest salary on the slate at $43. With the Bills at Chiefs game looking like a high-flying affair, no one would fault you for wanting to jam him in there.

There are a couple of appealing options a bit deeper down the salary range, however, if that is your preference.

Patrick Mahomes $34

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While $34 isn’t exactly hanging out on the shelves of the Dollar Tree, Mahomes is a value based on the fact that he’s the fourth-highest salary of the weekend. The Bills/Chiefs game has the highest projected total of the Divisional Round (54.5 points) and Kansas City is at home. He is going to be an attractive play at just $34 coming off a five-touchdown performance.

Matthew Stafford $29

Stafford enjoyed an excellent outing against the Cardinals but was boosted a bit by a rushing touchdown. He stands out from Ryan Tannehill and Jimmy Garoppolo in the sub-$30 range as a guy who has a realistic ceiling. The Bucs secondary can still be attacked and this is a strong game environment.

Running back

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Running back might be the toughest position at the top of the salary range this week. Derrick Henry is the highest-ranked player by far at $38. In fact, he’s the only back above $30. However, he’s a risky play with his injury questions and a long layoff. Saving a bit of salary at this position might be wise considering the quality options on the higher end at QB, WR and TE.

Eli Mitchell $25

If you’re not counting Deebo Samuel as a running back, Mitchell was the only running back to touch the ball against the Cowboys last week. He did so 28 times and scored a four-yard touchdown on the opening drive. A mere $5 salary increase from the Wild Card round wasn’t enough.

Devin Singletary $24

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Much like Mitchell, Singletary didn’t get enough of a salary bump ($3) for the role his first playoff game cemented. He touched the ball 19 times in the Bills’ stomping of the Patriots with Zack Moss registering just one carry. Singletary’s two scores came inside the red zone and he should be in that position frequently in this potentially high-scoring game against the Chiefs.

Cam Akers $19

Akers out-touched Sony Michel 18 to 13 and pushed for 95 total yards. That’s just insane fresh off his rehab this season. He looked like he had juice and surprisingly fresh legs. A sub-$20 salary would be a steal if Akers leads the backfield again.

Giovani Bernard $17, Ke’Shawn Vaughn $16

Leonard Fournette might be activated off IR for this game but as of the middle of this week, that’s no lock. Vaughn drew praise from Bruce Arians after the Wild Card round and continues to offer solid early-down ability. Bernard also looked extremely fresh coming off his own injury absence and handled seven targets. He could even handle some passing-down work with Lombardi Lenny active. If Fournette is out one of these guys might be the most rostered back in this value range.

Wide receiver

We are spoiled at wide receiver this week. We have some of the game’s absolute best available to us in the Divisional Round.

To be clear, you should absolutely find your way to at least one and perhaps two $27-plus receivers this week. But that’s going to be a tight squeeze with the quality options at tight end and quarterback. Luckily, there are some fliers available for the WR3 or FLEX spot this week.

A.J. Brown $26

This is just way too low in the salary rankings. As mentioned above, it’s a stacked week for elite wide receivers but Brown is the seventh-ranked in the Divisional Round. We know he has the slate-breaking ability when he’s healthy and while we’re all focused on Derrick Henry’s status coming off a bye week, that extra time should do Brown well. I’d also bucket Tyreek Hill at $23 with this same analysis.

Odell Beckham $22

Beckham isn’t going to ever come close to the volume totals of his running mate, Cooper Kupp, but that’s fine. The best thing we can say from last week is that his targets were actually designed within the routine function of the offense. That’s going to boost the efficiency overall and keep Stafford looking his way. This is a great game environment for Beckham to push for seven to eight targets.

Brandon Aiyuk $18

Aiyuk was the leading receiver last week (66 yards) but because Dallas laid a hideous egg, the 49ers just weren’t forced to come out of their shell. The Packers aren’t going to operate in such an embarrassing fashion. Aiyuk has led his team in yards for three straight games now and if he does so again, he’ll be much more fantasy viable with the 49ers actually having to open up their offense.

Gabriel Davis $16

Davis found the end zone and was the No. 2 receiver in routes run behind Stefon Diggs last week. He looks to have firmly established himself in that role. Davis’ scoring-area prowess is a desirable trait in this game with such a high projected total.

Allen Lazard $16

Yes, Randall Cobb is back but how much can we reasonably expect the vet to handle in this situation? Lazard should remain the top slot receiver and was a big factor for Green Bay down the stretch. We can expect this offense to actually take advantage of the holes in San Francisco’s secondary, something Dallas just couldn’t get around to doing last week.

Isaiah McKenzie $12

Did Isaiah McKenzie usurp Cole Beasley last week? The former ran 12 routes to the latter’s nine. There’s just no doubt that McKenzie gives the Bills more juice than the pure zone-beating Beasley. The Chiefs have struggled against interior receivers while truly clamping outside threats.

Tight end

Once again, tight end is great this week with Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski and George Kittle available. Even though Kittle’s targets haven’t been there of late, zero humans would be shocked if he went wild with a more wide-open passing script likely to occur for the 49ers in Green Bay. Even Dawson Knox is an awesome play at $20. He’s probably the lowest I’d go this week but if you’d like to drop a bit further down, here are a couple of options for you.

Tyler Higbee $17

We saw Higbee finally reach a ceiling in Week 18 but that was the outlier performance of the season. He still ran the most routes on the team last week (tied with Kupp). He’s worth a flier if you’re trying to get a discount.

Anthony Firkser $13

The Bengals have been weak against tight ends all season, allowing the fifth-most yards and fourth-most catches to the position. Firkser is a desperation play but did lead the tight end room with 4-56 and a touchdown in Week 18.

Defense

There does not feel like a pristine play in the high-end of the DFS defense range this week. And typically, I always end up scrolling down to the bottom anyway. You’ll find a good play down there this week.

Green Bay Packers $11

Jimmy Garoppolo is always good for a strange interception. He found his way there in the second half of last week’s game. All you’re looking for out of a DFS defense is a few sacks and a turnover. The Packers’ defense had their moments in 2021 and is getting healthier as we speak. As long as they can avoid getting run all over, they can offer a nice floor/ceiling combo.

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