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Fantasy Usage Model

2020-21 Divisional Round Player Projections

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: January 17, 2021, 12:57 pm ET

Doing player projections forces someone to make multiple micro-decisions on how each game will be played out and how each player will do within their matchup. For that reason, I really value the opinion of people around the industry who do the dirty work of building these out player by player. I've done player projections for season-long drafting for years, but I've rarely bothered with doing them on a weekly basis. That changes for the 2020-21 NFL Playoffs. If it goes well, I'll do more research to clean up my process during the offseason and could come back with weekly player projections next year. We'll see.

If you're using these to bet player props, I'd be extra careful betting overs for a few reasons. One, these are mean projections, not median projections. That minor difference can incorrectly skew towards betting overs. Secondly, it's very easy to overlook in-game injury risk. Unless otherwise noted in the comments below, I'm projecting players as if they're going to play 95-98% of their normal number of snaps. Lastly, the betting market loves to bet overs because they're more fun to sweat, but that also can inflate their lines. This doesn't mean we can never bet overs on player props. We just have to pick our spots.

Updated: Sunday morning. 


QB Projections

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Player PPR Att. Comp. PaYDs PaTDs INTs Carries RuYDs RuTDs
KC Patrick Mahomes 27.5 36.9 24.1 328 2.58 0.37 5.6 30 0.29
BUF Josh Allen 24.2 37.8 25.5 287 1.97 0.64 9.3 36 0.42
BAL Lamar Jackson 23.6 27.3 17.5 196 1.45 0.65 14.2 92 0.36
GB Aaron Rodgers 20.2 32.8 22.4 252 2.08 0.33 4.0 14 0.18
TB Tom Brady 18.1 40.5 25.9 292 1.84 0.81 1.7 0 0.13
NO Drew Brees 17.5 37.9 27.4 298 1.60 0.57 1.9 -1 0.09
CLE Baker Mayfield 16.8 34.2 22.9 256 1.47 0.55 3.5 11 0.11
LA Jared Goff 12.4 32.6 20.8 210 1.07 0.78 3.0 6 0.12
NO Taysom Hill 4.6 1.6 1.1 10 0.07 0.08 2.6 12 0.15

 

Playoff QBs: I'll do a study on this in the offseason, but it's pretty clear that quarterbacks are more willing to run in the playoffs with games obviously mattering more. Patrick Mahomes' average rushing yardage nearly doubles in the playoffs for example. It could be a slight edge to hit in the player prop market.

Saints QBs: The Saints have whopped the Bucs this season (Drew Brees and Michael Thomas played in both), so this matchup was worth studying. In Week 9, the Bucs oddly played a lot of Cover 3 zone defense, something Brees and Sean Payton can gash with their brains. That simply can't happen again, right? I'm expecting the Bucs to play more press coverage, something Brees has struggled against this season. Per Jenna Laine, Brees' completion percentage has dropped from 74.6% in zone to 57.6% in man. Of course, having a healthy Thomas should bring that second number back up into the 60s. If Tampa plays more man coverage, expect Carlton Davis (he's good) to match with Thomas, Jamel Dean to match with Emmanuel Sanders, and LB Devin White to match with Alvin Kamara. The coaching and personnel battles in this game will be fun to watch.

Bucs QBs: Tampa Bay is leading the NFL in EPA per play since their Week 12 bye. Since then, they've increased their play-action rate from 18% to 27%, including last week's season-high 33%. Tom Brady seems to be winning the Brady vs. Arians battle in how the offense should look. They'll be challenged by the Saints' No. 4 EPA defense -- New Orleans has the man defenders to match with Tampa's skill players -- but the Bucs are clicking at the right time. We'll see how much losing RG Alex Cappa matters this weekend.

Rams QBs: With John Wolford at best questionable with a stinger that required a brief trip to the hospital, I'm projecting Jared Goff to start, although I added more in-game injury risk to his projection than others. The other concern is how Goff's broken, tiny Californian fingers could be affected by the cold weather. Per Connor Allen, Goff has averaged 5.3 YPA and the Rams have averaged 10.5 points in their four games in sub-40 degree weather. Obviously, small sample warning.

 


RB Projections

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Player PPR Carries RuYDs RuTDs Tar Rec ReYDs ReTDs
NO Alvin Kamara 23.5 15.3 66 0.89 6.7 5.2 46 0.28
GB Aaron Jones 18.0 14.6 73 0.44 5.0 3.6 25 0.32
LA Cam Akers 15.9 16.1 70 0.65 3.0 2.1 22 0.10
CLE Nick Chubb 15.4 13.0 69 0.65 2.5 2.0 20 0.11
BUF Devin Singletary 15.1 10.3 43 0.47 5.1 3.8 26 0.26
TB Leonard Fournette 13.5 12.9 43 0.60 3.8 2.8 17 0.17
BAL J.K. Dobbins 12.9 11.0 68 0.57 1.7 1.3 8 0.09
CLE Kareem Hunt 11.2 7.1 31 0.33 3.9 2.9 23 0.17
KC Darrel Williams 10.2 8.8 37 0.39 2.7 1.8 12 0.19
KC Le'Veon Bell 8.8 7.7 30 0.36 1.9 1.5 13 0.13
BAL Gus Edwards 6.3 7.9 41 0.23 0.6 0.4 3 0.03
GB Jamaal Williams 6.1 6.6 25 0.22 1.3 1.0 8 0.08
NO Latavius Murray 5.1 2.4 9 0.15 2.0 1.5 13 0.08
LA Malcolm Brown 5.0 4.5 19 0.20 1.5 1.0 7 0.05
TB LeSean McCoy 3.4 2.8 7 0.13 1.3 1.0 6 0.06
BAL Patrick Ricard 3.4 0.7 3 0.02 2.0 1.4 10 0.11
TB Ke'Shawn Vaughn 1.2 0.9 3 0.04 0.4 0.3 2 0.02

 

Browns RBs: Nick Chubb plays less while trailing, and the Browns are 10-point underdogs. That makes his projection a fragile one, as he can smash his projection if Cleveland manages to keep this close. The Chiefs' Cover 2 defense invites teams to run against them, but I'm assuming they add another defender to the box against Chubb. It's just a matter of Kansas City's weak linebacker group being able to wrap up the NFL's hardest (or second hardest) running back to tackle. The Chiefs were 27th in rushing EPA defense. It's one of the most interesting positional matchups of the weekend.

Bucs RBs: With Ronald Jones not practicing on Wednesday, I'm now projecting him to miss Sunday's game. It looks like LeSean McCoy will return after missing the Wild Card game due to a non-COVID illness, but it's certainly Leonard Fournette's backfield. On tape, Fournette had his best game of the season against Washington. Fournette dominated snaps (62-of-73) last week and was the clear-cut alpha in Week 15 (19.5 expected PPR points) when RoJo was out and McCoy was in. I'm projecting Fournette to handle 75% or more of the backfield touches, albeit against one of the best run defenses in the NFL. ... Updated Friday: Ronald Jones is a game-time decision after going DNP --> limited --> limited in practice this week. I'd be surprised if he was at full health on Sunday after last week's setback, but it's also the playoffs. If he's active, Jones and Fournette likely split the work using a "hot hand" approach. Either way, I'm expecting a pass-heavy attack from Tampa. Fournette's projection above is with Jones out and McCoy in.

Bills RBs: With Zack Moss out, Devin Singletary should have the backfield almost entirely to himself. In the two competitive games that Moss missed earlier in the year, Singletary had 19.7 and 18.1 expected PPR points while T.J. Yeldon barely played. Singletary also was the only non-Moss running back to log a snap in the Wild Card game.

Chiefs RBs: This is pure speculation, but I'm projecting Clyde Edwards-Helaire as active and to lead the backfield in early-down snaps. Le'Veon Bell has been bad enough on tape and in the box score for me to project the Chiefs to get him off the field as much as possible. Once again, stay away from player props for now until we see practice reports. ... Updated Friday: Clyde Edwards-Helaire is officially a game-time decision after going limited --> DNP --> DNP in practice this week. This is as fragile of a projection as it gets. I'm projecting him to play, but to be in a committee. It wouldn't surprise me if he dominated touches. It also wouldn't surprise me if he's ruled out. I'll be going off whatever ESPN's Adam Schefter reports ahead of kick-off. ... Updated Sunday: Clyde Edwards-Helaire is out. I have a slight lean on Darrel Williams over Le'Veon Bell just because Bell has been so bad this season. It's a very fragile projection.

Saints RBs: Latavius Murray (quad) and Taysom Hill (knee) did not practice on Wednesday. Murray's status is "up in the air". Alvin Kamara will dominate backfield touches either way. For now, I'll keep Murray and Hill projected as active. ... Updated Friday: Murray is questionable after going DNP --> DNP --> limited in practice. Even if active, he's unlikely to play much or be effective. I'd cross him off the list from DFS purposes. That means Kamara will be highly involved on the ground in addition to his usage as a receiver. Kamara is becoming a DFS priority.

 


WR Projections

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Player PPR Tar Rec ReYDs ReTDs
KC Tyreek Hill 21.4 10.3 6.6 97 0.77
BUF Stefon Diggs 19.7 10.1 7.7 91 0.49
GB Davante Adams 19.4 10.4 7.1 83 0.66
TB Chris Godwin 17.8 9.2 6.9 88 0.34
NO Michael Thomas 17.4 9.9 7.2 77 0.42
LA Robert Woods 16.4 10.0 6.7 68 0.33
CLE Jarvis Landry 16.3 9.2 6.4 76 0.38
TB Mike Evans 15.2 8.8 5.1 71 0.49
BAL Marquise Brown 14.1 8.5 4.9 65 0.45
BUF Cole Beasley 14.3 7.4 5.6 65 0.37
BUF John Brown 13.2 7.4 4.7 63 0.37
CLE Rashard Higgins 13.1 6.7 4.7 67 0.29
TB Antonio Brown 12.3 7.5 4.9 57 0.27
LA Cooper Kupp 12.2 7.4 5.3 55 0.24
NO Emmanuel Sanders 10.3 5.5 4.1 48 0.23
GB Allen Lazard 10.3 5.4 3.7 49 0.28
KC Demarcus Robinson 9.4 4.9 3.7 39 0.29
KC Mecole Hardman 8.9 4.6 3.0 41 0.27
BUF Gabriel Davis 7.0 3.9 2.2 36 0.20
GB Marquez Valdes-Scantling 7.0 4.0 2.0 38 0.21
LA Josh Reynolds 6.8 4.4 2.7 32 0.15
BAL Willie Snead 6.3 3.4 2.3 30 0.15
NO Deonte Harris 4.9 2.8 2.2 20 0.12
KC Byron Pringle 4.8 2.3 1.7 21 0.16
BAL Miles Boykin 4.8 2.8 1.6 23 0.15
NO Lil'Jordan Humphrey 4.7 2.8 1.8 22 0.12
CLE Donovan Peoples-Jones 3.9 2.1 1.5 21 0.06
LA Van Jefferson 3.2 2.2 1.3 15 0.07
TB Scotty Miller 2.8 1.7 0.9 14 0.08
NO Marquez Callaway 2.1 1.2 0.9 9 0.05
CLE KhaDarel Hodge 2.0 1.1 0.7 11 0.05
TB Tyler Johnson 1.7 1.3 0.2 12 0.04
BAL Dez Bryant 1.7 1.1 0.7 6 0.06
BUF Isaiah McKenzie 1.5 0.8 0.6 6 0.04
GB Tavon Austin 0.6 0.3 0.2 2 0.02
GB Equanimeous St. Brown 0.6 0.3 0.2 2 0.02
BAL Devin Duvernay 0.5 0.3 0.2 2 0.02

 

Bills WRs: Buffalo's receiver rotation was as expected in the Wild Card game. Stefon Diggs and John Brown were full-time players, Cole Beasley ran a route 33-of-49 dropbacks, and Gabriel Davis ran 24 routes with OC Brian Daboll utilizing four-receiver sets. Buffalo will face a lot of man coverage against the Ravens with CB Marcus Peters on Diggs, slot CB Marlon Humphrey on Beasley, and veteran CB Jimmy Smith on Brown. Baltimore was 7th in passing EPA defense and limit total play volume with their run-first approach on the other side of the ball.

Bucs WRs: Mike Evans out-played my Wild Card projections (I blame the Twitter doctors), but now we know that Evans will grind through the rest of the playoffs without much restriction aside from extra in-game injury risk. A slight concern for Evans' projection this weekend is CB Marshon Lattimore, who has held Evans to yardage totals of 64, 2, 69, and 0 across their last four matchups. I'm typically on team Evans over Chris Godwin, but their individual matchups and Evans' re-injury risk have Godwin's projected higher. Godwin also benefits from Gronk's increased pass-protection usage (read below). The only concern for Godwin is his in-game ejection odds with slot CB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson on him. That dude somehow gets everyone heated.

Rams WRs: I knocked Robert Woods' and Cooper Kupp's efficiency a little with concerns over Jared Goff's thumb in the cold weather. Despite this, they both project well because of the Rams' increased passing volume projection. The Rams had a 4.8 point differential average in the regular season and currently sit as 7-point dogs here. The Rams' pass/run splits should tilt towards more passing due to game script. Kupp's individual matchup against slot CB Kevin King is easier than Woods' against CB Jaire Alexander, but Woods is the better player, averaged more expected PPR points in the regular season, and gets schemed touches (sweeps, screens, carries) that an elite coverage corner can't defend. Woods should be fine on plus volume. Updated Friday: Cooper Kupp didn't practice all week. I knocked down his projections as if he'd be ineffective or miss some time if active.

Saints WRs: Deonte Harris popped up out of nowhere in the Wild Card game, but I'm viewing that as more of an outlier than something to really project moving forward. I like Michael Thomas' chances of earning more targets after another week removed from injury. To me, he passed the eye test last game. Against the Bucs, Thomas will catch some CB Carlton Davis in coverage. Not an ideal matchup, but not one to completely run from either. Davis has been playing with a groin injury, too.

Packers WRs: The Rams play with seven pass defenders in almost exclusively two-high looks. Their goal is to take away the explosive pass play, which hurts Marquez Valdes-Scantling's projection the most. From a pure matchup perspective, Allen Lazard's is the easiest underneath from the slot. That's where the Rams Defense is okay with giving up passing yardage. Of course, the matchup of the weekend is Davante Adams versus CB Jalen Ramsey, arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. I knocked Adams' projection a bit -- look what Ramsey did versus Metcalf (4.0 YPT) and versus Hopkins (4.0 YPT) this year -- but Adams still projects well because he's a stud himself, has a massive red zone target share, and could not see Ramsey in coverage every single snap.

Chiefs WRs (Updated Friday): Sammy Watkins (calf) is out. In games Watkins has missed not including Week 17, here are the expected PPR points for the pass-catchers: Travis Kelce (18.0), Tyreek Hill (16.8), Demarcus Robinson (7.1), Mecole Hardman (5.7), Byron Pringle (2.6). 

 


TE Projections

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Player PPR Tar Rec ReYDs ReTDs
KC Travis Kelce 22.8 10.7 7.6 104 0.80
BAL Mark Andrews 13.7 7.7 5.0 60 0.44
CLE Austin Hooper 11.9 7.7 5.0 48 0.35
GB Robert Tonyan 11.6 5.4 4.1 48 0.45
LA Tyler Higbee 8.9 5.2 3.6 43 0.17
NO Jared Cook 8.7 5.1 3.2 42 0.22
TB Rob Gronkowski 7.7 4.6 2.6 35 0.27
TB Cameron Brate 5.8 3.3 2.1 26 0.17
BUF Dawson Knox 5.7 3.5 1.9 22 0.26
LA Gerald Everett 4.8 3.3 2.1 21 0.11
NO Adam Trautman 3.6 2.0 1.5 16 0.08
CLE David Njoku 1.9 1.1 0.7 8 0.08
CLE Harrison Bryant 1.6 1.1 0.7 7 0.05
GB Marcedes Lewis 1.0 0.7 0.4 4 0.04
BAL Eric Tomlinson 0.9 0.6 0.4 3 0.03
KC Nick Keizer 0.7 0.4 0.2 3 0.03
KC Deon Yelder 0.7 0.4 0.2 3 0.03
BUF Lee Smith 0.6 0.4 0.3 2 0.02

 

Bucs TEs: Rob Gronkowski ran fewer routes (18) than Cameron Brate (22) last week because Gronk was asked to chip in as a pass protector against Chase Young and Montez Sweat. I'm projecting this to sort of continue against Marcus Davenport and company, knocking Gronk's receiving projection down a tick compared to pre-playoff expectations.

 

Follow me on Twitter (@HaydenWinks) if you have questions.