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Daily fantasy football expert picks for the divisional round of the playoffs

Marcus Mariota might not throw a touchdown pass to himself this week, but he should be busy trying to keep up with Tom Brady and the Patriots. Getty Images

The divisional round of the postseason is here, and NFL daily fantasy contests are starting to fill up. Our experts have scouted out the players they're locking into their DFS lineups first. From the star performers to the top values, here are a few expert picks to help you build your own lineup for this week's DFS football contests.


Star performers

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Whether it's because they're good at slowing opposing rushing games or a byproduct of other factors, no team faced more passing attempts this season than Tennessee (605 in total). The Titans also were a bottom-10 pass defense, in terms of passing touchdowns allowed. And top cornerback Logan Ryan is banged up going into the game on Saturday night. Oh, by the way, it's Brady, the NFL's most accomplished postseason quarterback of all time. Expect a mammoth night from the future Pro Football Hall of Famer. -- Field Yates

Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

It was a disappointing regular season, for sure, but consider the matchup and what Mariota figures to be asked of to keep the game close. Brady is going to score points. Mariota will need to keep pace, perhaps abandoning Derrick Henry and the run game. No, Mariota isn't likely to throw himself another TD pass, but he will be throwing against a leaky defense and perhaps running a bit, as well. -- Eric Karabell

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

In a playoff setting, I'll roll with Gronk, given his unique matchup ability in middle of the field throws versus the Titans' defense. Taking away that Week 17 blowout win over the Jets, Gronk caught 23 of 32 targets for 382 yards and one touchdown in his previous three games. Plus, I love the matchup against a Tennessee defense that gave up the 10th-most tight end yards this season, while allowing eight different tight ends to produce over 50 yards in a game. -- Matt Bowen

Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints

Minnesota's rush defense is nowhere near as strong as is generally thought, as this platoon ranked next to last in the league in my good blocking rate (GBR) metric that measures how often an offense gives its ball carriers quality run blocking. New Orleans ended the season ranked sixth in GBR and first in good blocking yards per attempt (GBYPA), so they should be able to move the ball very effectively against Minnesota. That makes Ingram a potential bargain at this salary price. -- KC Joyner

Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Remember the last time Bell got his hands on the ball fewer than 19 times in a game? Can't blame you if you don't; it was way back in Week 1. That usage level gives Bell a floor that far surpasses that of any other RB on this slate. Only Ezekiel Elliott had more 20-carry games than Bell this season -- not bad for a player who ranked in the top 10 in the entire NFL in receptions this year. Yes, the matchup with the Jaguars is less than ideal, but when these teams met in Week 5, things went about as bad as they could for the Steelers -- and there was Bell still with 19.3 fantasy points. I'll build my lineup this week around that floor and happily take my chances. -- Stephania Bell

Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots

The strength of the Tennessee defense has been against the run, making it likely that Brady & Co. will attempt a good number of throws, as has been the case in many Titans games this season. Cooks might have had an inconsistent year, but the likelihood of double-digit targets makes him a relative value for this price, as the Titans' secondary should have trouble keeping the speedy wideout in check. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

Top values

Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

There seems to be a school of thought that the Eagles patiently utilized Ajayi upon acquiring him in a trade from Miami in part to rely heavily on him when the squad needed him most. Now would be a good time. While Ajayi still must compete for carries with LeGarrette Blount, Ajayi is coming off of a three-game stretch (he did not play in Week 17) with 41 total carries. The hope for Ajayi is a bit more involvement in the passing game, though it's worth noting he had 11 targets in his past four games played. Perhaps a few targets augment 16 or more carries in this game to help drive his value. -- Field Yates

Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia's slot guy has a nice matchup, as opposed to Alshon Jeffery, for example, and Agholor did score eight touchdowns this season. Sure, there are concerns about Nick Foles, but it's tough and a bit unfair to presume he's as bad as he looked over the past five quarters. Foles can run an offense, and while he might not throw much downfield, that actually aids Agholor, who is nicely priced. -- Eric Karabell

Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans

In the wild-card win over Kansas City, Davis saw a total of seven targets and caught four passes for 35 yards. With the ability to separate from the coverage on deep out cuts and the body control to produce after the catch, I'll play the value here with the rookie wide receiver. Yes, the Titans want to control the tempo in this game with the ground attack. I get it. But to keep pace with Brady and the Patriots' high-scoring offense, Tennessee will have to take some shots in the passing game. And I like the matchup for Davis versus a New England defense that ranked 29th in fantasy scoring this season versus wide receivers while also allowing an average of 251.3 yards passing per game (No. 30 in the NFL). -- Matt Bowen

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings

The Saints' rushing defense has been atrocious this season, as New Orleans ranks 25th in GBR allowed, 29th in yards per carry before first defensive contact and 25th in my good blocking productivity (GBP) metric that measures a platoon's overall rush game prowess. The Vikings' offense is not adept at run blocking, ranking 20th in GBR, but the likely run-heavy approach both teams are apt to use in this game should afford McKinnon plenty of carries to justify his salary -- and then some. -- KC Joyner

James White, RB, New England Patriots

With White angling toward a return to action this weekend from an ankle injury, I'm taking full advantage of his diminished price tag in this favorable matchup. Over the past three seasons, White ranks fifth among running backs in receptions, a skill set I will gladly take advantage of against a Titans' defense that allowed the fourth-most RB receptions in the regular season. It would only take White roughly six catches at his career rate to return value at this price point, and that's without any rush attempts or a touchdown. His ceiling? Need I remind you of the Super Bowl? -- Stephania Bell

Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings

He had 20-plus rushing attempts in each of his final three regular-season games. He is coming off a week's rest. And now he should get another hefty workload against a New Orleans defense that is stronger against the pass than the run. Most notably, Murray had an NFL-leading 12 goal-line carries after Dalvin Cook was lost for the season. With the prospect of Murray getting all of those opportunities on Sunday, it makes him a good value for the price. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft