The playoffs are finally here, which leaves ample opportunity to squeeze in everything from fantasy football to tournament pools and betting props. Fortunately, the Rotoworld crew has everything you need leave the Divisional Round (and the postseason) with a win. This is an add-on of the previous betting pieces the team has cranked out through the week, including Renee Miller’s Early Lines, Rich Hribar’s Divisional Round Fantasy Rankings, Raymond Summerlin’s Divisional Round Betting Preview, and Evan Silva’s award-winning Divisional Round Matchups Column.
As for me, I am here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy players and bettors heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I also tweet last-minute lineup and betting thoughts at @notJDaigle.
Key Injuries: Melvin Gordon suffered a knee sprain in Sunday’s Wild Card win over the Ravens, but he was never in danger of missing the Divisional Round. His explosiveness may still be limited since he’s twisted his ankle and sprained both knees over the last six weeks. Hunter Henry (knee) practiced in full from Tuesday on but was still slapped with the questionable tag on the team’s final injury report. He’s a leap-of-faith option who’s likely to play only 15-20 snaps at tight end.
Betting/DFS Outlook: It would make sense for Gordon to be limited and held back by injury, but the matchup couldn’t be any better for him. The Patriots’ defense, for example, quietly allowed 6.5 YPC from 11 personnel over the last month. The only issue is that Gordon has averaged a rough 3.2 YPC since Week 13 (when he was first injured). He was toting the ball for 5.2 YPC prior. Despite New England’s standout home splits, including averaging 32.9 PPG at Gillette compared to a much lower 21.6 PPG on the road, this total (48, the lowest on the board) spells a close game that should see the Chargers utilize the run in order to keep it tight no matter the final outcome.
Pick: Chargers +4
Eagles at Saints (-8) — Total 51.5 points
Key injuries: Saints starting left tackle Terron Armstead (pec), left guard Andrus Peat (hand), right guard Larry Warford (knee), and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk (shoulder) were all full participants in practice on Friday. Armstead in particular was the only offensive lineman to play 100-plus passing snaps and not be credited with a blown-block (per Sports Info Solutions), increasing Drew Brees’ chances of having a clean pocket against Philly’s daunting pass rush on Sunday.
Philadelphia's top edge rusher DE Michael Bennett (foot, questionable) has essentially played through injuries over the past month and should be available for this one. CB Sidney Jones (hamstring) and Mike Wallace (ankle) remain question marks, too, though both would likely be limited if they suit up.
Betting/DFS Outlook: The last time we saw the Saints at full strength back in Week 16, Ted Ginn usurped Tre’Quan Smith and ran 20 routes on 27 snaps (40.9%). Even Keith Kirkwood worked ahead of the rookie, running 28 routes to Smith’s 16. Needless to say, New Orleans showed their three-wide hand and even their offensive intent that day in allowing Ginn to rack up a team-high 126 air yards despite being designated to return from injured reserve only 24 hours prior. If the Eagles and Nick Foles can continue their efficient production and buoy New Orleans’ league-high 8.2 YPA allowed to opposing quarterbacks, Brees (and in turn, Ginn) would likely be forced to keep his foot on the throttle throughout the afternoon. That bodes well for all involved, including bettors getting a piece of the Over.
Picks: Saints -8, Over 51.5
Last Week: 3-2-1