RotoViz has a wide variety of tools to help you project the fantasy playoffs.
- Blair Andrews used the RotoViz Screener to build a powerful algorithm for projecting total playoff points.
- Dave Caban detailed the Wild Card results from the Game Level Similarity Projections (GLSP).
- Curtis Patrick presented a strategy session on the FFPC Playoff Contest in which he deployed stats from the Matchup Analysis tab in the NFL Stat Explorer.
I’m biased, of course, but these are all must reads. Looking at potential playoff scoring from a variety of perspectives provides an advantage on other owners. To add another option, Mike Beers recently created a unique tool that allows us to peruse the week’s matchups with a different kind of detail.
The GPS Matchup Rater
One of my favorite new tools, the GPS Matchup Rater allows you to identify offensive players with favorable or unfavorable matchups based on the areas of the field in which they earn opportunity. It looks at an offensive player’s usage in certain areas of the field and compares that to the defense’s ability to limit yardage to those areas.
Let’s say we’re playing in a playoff challenge where we have difficult choices about who to fade in order to create a unique lineup. The Steelers and Seahawks are wild card favorites who have struggled on offense recently. The GPS Matchup Rater can help us investigate the quality of matchup for their star receivers.
The Rams have been a brutal opponent, and while the grid suggests Metcalf has the opportunity to break a big play to the deep left, his overall yardage matchup is 17% worse than average.
If anything this might understate how good the Rams have been recently. Using the Matchup Analysis tab from the NFL Stat Explorer, we see a five-game run of utter dominance.
Over the past five weeks, the Rams have allowed only 24.7 PPG to the WR position, making them the toughest defense in the league to score on over that time. They’ve limited opportunity (No. 29 in EP) and then forced teams to underperform (No. 28 in FPOE), including two brutal weeks for the Cardinals and DeAndre Hopkins. They also limited Metcalf to only 11.9 points in Week 16.
Reasons abound to avoid Metcalf. The Seahawks are only a mild favorite in what projects as a low-scoring game, and if they advance, he faces two more potentially difficult matchups in the Saints and Packers.
How to Play the Steelers
By contrast, the Browns have struggled to corral receivers, allowing 40 PPG to WRs over the last five, including big games from Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, and Chase Claypool. While GLSP strongly prefers Johnson, it’s interesting to note that Blair’s Screener projection bunches the three receivers together. Since Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster are likely to be much lower-owned, that makes them interesting options.
The GPS Matchup Rater likes both of them against the Browns, although not as much as Johnson.
I agree with Curtis that the secondary receivers in Pittsburgh make better plays if you’re picking a Browns upset and pairing their selection with Nick Chubb. Cleveland’s lead back has a difficult matchup against the Steelers, but an upset victory would potentially line him up with the softer run defenses in Kansas City and Buffalo.
On the other hand, the profiles for the trio over the last month have closely mirrored their season-long splits. All three offer warts to go along with serious upside.
Smith-Schuster’s target depth is extremely shallow, but his ability to win the reception battle and thrive in the red zone has offset the target advantage for Johnson and the vertical usage of Claypool.
Tricky Questions at the RB Position
With two teams added to the playoffs and two Flex positions added to the FFPC Playoff Contest, we need to select two flex options from teams who will not advance. This changes our consideration from a scenario in which we’d be selecting only our K and DEF from teams we expect to lose in the first round.
As a result, you might select Jonathan Taylor even though you expect the Bills to win in Week 18. We know RBs can go off for massive multi-week stretches, and we’ve just witnessed Taylor rush for 253 yards and two scores. While plenty of other star RBs face daunting matchups, an upset stretch from the Colts would likely witness Taylor running over soft run defenses in Buffalo and Kansas City. There’s even a hypothetical where Tennessee and Green Bay would follow.
It’s going to be difficult to finish in the prize range if your QB goes down in Week 18, but matching Josh Allen with Taylor at least creates the possibility.
Contrast Taylor’s route with that of another superstar. Derrick Henry doesn’t earn a strong projection in either the GLSP or the Screener, and the GPS Matchup Rater agrees. It’s especially illuminating when paired with an RB from his wild card opponent.
J.K. Dobbins begins with an amazing matchup in a game the Ravens are favored to win at Tennessee. He’s scored in six consecutive games and just ripped off a 160-yard performance, but he only has a single 15-touch game during that stretch. Many owners will avoid him for that reason, creating a possible way to diversify your lineup. A win against the Titans puts Dobbins in position to face the Chiefs and then the Bills. A win over Kansas City would probably require the Ravens to take a lead and exploit the run defense.
Another way to diversify is to move off of Henry and instead choose the Titans receiving star. His matchup is also negative, but isn’t nearly as bad as Henry’s.
An interesting element of Blair’s Screener projections is the way you can own the highest projected QB (Josh Allen), RB (Alvin Kamara), WR (Davante Adams), and TE (Travis Kelce) all in the same lineup. Given the ridiculously high ceilings for all of these players and the way they’re likely to keep your teams alive going deeper into the playoffs, I’m looking for other ways to differentiate.
Avoiding Henry offers such a play. The Screener projection likes A.J. Brown to outscore him for the entirety of the playoffs, and GLSP gives Brown a 5.2-point edge for Week 18. Any time three different tools raise questions about a superstar, it’s important to take notice. Even if we assume the Titans advance, their likely game with Kansas City includes many of the same elements of the Week 16 affair, where the Packers were able to take Henry out of the equation.
Dominate Wild Card Weekend, Cash in Your Playoff Contests, and Get Ready for 2021
In addition to using tools like the GPS Matchup Rater, the NFL Stat Explorer, Game Level Similarity Projections, and the RotoViz Screener to make those tough start/sit decisions and create winning DFS lineups, you’ll benefit from our dynasty prospect tools and the industry-leading best ball suite.
Subscribe through any of the tools, our other fantasy playoff articles, or click the link below. Good luck on Wild Card weekend!
|↑1||I would have loved that play if not for the virus issues in Cleveland.|
|↑2||We tend to think of these scores as fluky, but the Screener loves Smith-Schuster’s size profile for scoring TDs.|
|↑3||The problem with KC and Green Bay is that they limit RB scoring not by stopping the run but by making it no longer viable.|
|↑4||Sometimes you’ll still be wrong, of course. Superstars have that label for a reason.|