Heading into the second round of the NFL playoffs, fantasy football managers have been offered a chance for a reset with the second interaction of The Gaunlet playoff contest from Underdog Fantasy. With a couple of days of drafting now in the books, let’s take a look at some fantasy football sleepers for Underdog Fantasy’s Divisional Round contest.
To understand how to identify sleepers, it is important to grasp the concept of the tournament. The Underdog Gauntlet contest is a six-team, 10-round draft with a half-PPR scoring system. The lineup requirements are 1QB, 1RB, 2 WR/TE, 1 Flex, and five bench spots.
Initially, you compete to top your six-team group in the Divisional Round. Then you compete to top a 12-team group in the Conference Championship Round. If you make it that far, you then compete with 314 other teams for the big prizes. Therefore, fantasy managers need to draft with an aim to succeed in each individual week of the NFL playoffs.
Daniel Jones & Trevor Lawrence, QB
The QB position is a tricky one because, ideally, you want to make sure you have an option that will go all the way. However, the likes of Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, and Joe Burrow go inside the top five picks. Brock Purdy and Dak Prescott come at a slight value, but it is Trevor Lawrence and Daniel Jones that cost the least.
The problem is that both Lawrence and Jones are more than a touchdown underdog this week. The upside is that both games are expected to be reasonably high scoring, with projected totals of 53 in the Jaguars-Chiefs game and 48 in the Giants-Eagles game. Both could be solid contributors in the Divisional Round, meaning that even if they don’t progress, they can still hopefully provide a meaningful contribution in Round 1.
From a game strategy point of view, pairing Jones or Lawrence with their opponents, Hurts or Mahomes, respectively, gives you some insurance. Mahomes and Hurts are expected to be competing in the Super Bowl, but if either the Eagles or Chiefs are beaten, at least you still have a QB for the Conference Championship Round.
Both Jones and Lawrence have upside, as we saw last weekend. Jones finished as the QB3 in Wild Card Weekend with 27.84 fantasy points. Meanwhile, despite throwing four interceptions, Lawrence finished as the QB5 in Wild Card Weekend, scoring 22.32 fantasy points. They can easily have success again this week against the Eagles’ and Chiefs’ defenses that have had struggles at times this year.
Elijah Mitchell & Isiah Pacheco | RB
It is hard to ferret out too much fantasy value at the RB position. Other than spending late-round selections on handcuff options that could take over in the event of injury, you are largely looking to try and find players that could be threats to end up in the end zone in any given week.
That is why both Elijah Mitchell and Isiah Pacheco are fantasy sleepers in the Divisional Round. Neither is seen as the main option in their respective backfield, but both are a threat to score. Mitchell touched the ball 11 times last week, including numerous times in the red zone. He ended up finding the end zone on a reception, leaving him tied for the RB11 in Wild Card Weekend.
Mitchell was not his usual efficient self, finishing with just two rushing yards on nine carries. However, the fact he finished as the RB11 for the week demonstrates just how he can return value at a relatively low price.
The situation is the same for Pacheco. He scored five rushing touchdowns this season, including one in each of the final two weeks. Pacheco finished with 10 or more fantasy points in six of the final eight weeks and did not finish below 8.2 fantasy points in that stretch. All the attention is on Jerick McKinnon, but Pacheco is not someone we should forget.
Michael Gallup & Jauan Jennings | WR/TE
There is an opportunity at WR to look for big play opportunities but also hedge your bets a little. Michael Gallup’s price has jumped a little after a performance that saw him with 46 receiving yards and a touchdown on five receptions last week. However, he did not grab the limelight in the same way that someone like Isaiah Hodgins did.
Gallup should have a good chance to have another solid performance this week. He finished as the WR12 in Wild Card Weekend and should draw the weaker of the two CB matchups from the Cowboys this week. Even if he does end up seeing Charvarius Ward, we saw DK Metcalf have success in that matchup last week.
If you want to go a little deeper here with your sleeper selection, then Jauan Jennings is a shot to take. We saw the San Francisco 49ers take shots to Jennings down the field last week. His average depth of target in the Wild Card Game was 17.8 yards, as he finished with 21 yards per reception on his two receptions.
If you spend two late-round selections on Gallup and Jennings, you give yourself an upside shot for the Divisional Round while also ensuring you should have at least one option on the field in the Conference Championships.