Fantasy football: DFS best buys for wild-card weekend

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88 shares, 149 points

For the fantasy football player, success in daily fantasy formats comes down to your ability to find value, to identify players who are faced with great matchups, and to maximize the relationships among the players in your roster (otherwise known as correlation). In other words, what are this week’s best buys on the fantasy football schedule?

Each week, I’ll go through each offensive position and give you a few players I’m considering for my head-to-head lineups, as well as some of the better team defenses for you to select in order to round out those fantasy rosters. These are usually players who are getting as much volume as possible, while also coming in at value prices. I’ll also include some players I’m considering for my tournament pool play. And while things may change from when I write this until game time, I’ll do whatever I can to keep people updated on my various social media channels all the way up until kickoff.

With all of that in mind, here are my favorite plays for the six games of wild-card weekend.


Patrick Mahomes ($7,400 DraftKings, $8,700 FanDuel), Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mahomes and the Chiefs offense ended the season on quite a roll as he tallied multiple TD passes in five straight games to finish the regular season. The Chiefs’ implied team total of 29 points and the narrow target tree (with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce at the top) leads to very easy stacking and double-stacking possibilities. Mahomes had no problem figuring out the Steelers defense on the day after Christmas, throwing for 258 yards and three touchdowns. Considering that result came without Kelce and with Hill only seeing two targets, Mahomes is set up for a potential explosion here in the wild-card round.

Joe Burrow ($6,800 DraftKings, $7,800 FanDuel), Cincinnati Bengals vs. Las Vegas Raiders: Burrow and the Bengals offense have been absolutely flying. As a result, they get a home game against a Las Vegas defense which allows 2.3 points per drive and the fourth-most air yards per passing attempt in the league (highest among playoff teams). The puzzle pieces fit together with both the defensive matchup and the offensive style of the Bengals to attack teams down the field through the air. In Burrow’s last three home games, he has tallied 1,319 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, and no interceptions.

Dak Prescott ($6,400 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel), Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers: Dallas is fully healthy and fully operational for their first-round matchup against the 49ers. With Prescott firing on all cylinders (12 TD passes and no interceptions over his last three games), the 49ers’ passing defense is in for a workout this week. Dallas ranks second in pace of play this season and is the fastest remaining team. The 49ers defense, while respectable, has played four games where they allowed 23-plus points since Week 12. There are a lot of moving parts on the Dallas offense which will funnel some traffic away from Cowboys double-stacks this week, but less traffic makes it much better for us in tournaments — if we can hit the right combination of pass-catchers.

Running backs

Joe Mixon ($6,800 DraftKings, $8,500 FanDuel), Cincinnati Bengals vs. Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders were the league’s worst red zone defense this season, allowing a touchdown on 81.4% of red zone trips — the only team where that number over 70%. The Raiders allow a touchdown on 4.2% of RB carries, worst among playoff teams and 30th overall. Enter Mixon. Coming off a week of rest, Mixon should be more than ready to go. He is a threat for 20-plus touches, including work in the passing game as he’s had seven games of four-plus catches this season. The Bengals’ vaunted passing attack distracts from the fact that they aspire to be a hard-nosed, establish-the-run type of team. Mixon checks off all five boxes this week and he’ll have all the opportunities when Cincinnati gets inside the 5-yard line against a defense that has been ill-equipped to stop teams anytime they get close.

Leonard Fournette ($5,900 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel), Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Fournette returns from IR and should jump right back into his full and usual workload against Philadelphia. The Eagles defense has been solid this season, but is much more susceptible against opposing running backs, especially those (like Fournette) who are used extensively in the passing game. Fournette’s price tag is way too cheap compared to his workload, his past game usage, and his ample opportunities inside the five.

Devin Singletary ($5,700 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel), Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots: Singletary has had a fantastic final month of the season, scoring six of his eight touchdowns over the last four weeks. Logging over 20 touches in three of those four games and getting the 100-yard bonus multiple times over that span, Singletary has become a very viable source of fantasy points on an explosive Buffalo offense that had never previously committed to a lead running back. The Patriots are one of just two playoff teams allowing over 100 RB rushing yards per game and they allow the fifth-most RB yards per carry after first contact.

Sony Michel ($5,400 DraftKings, $6,700 FanDuel), Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals: At first glance, the Cardinals defense against running backs looks very stout. However, when we dig a little bit deeper, we notice that they’ve been a “bend but not break” defense, allowing the fifth-most yards per carry — both overall and before first contact. Since Darrell Henderson Jr.’s injury, Michel has taken over as the Rams’ primary back, seeing 21.5 carries and 90.0 rushing yards since Week 13. The old narrative with Michel was that he didn’t contribute in the passing game. That has now been proven to be merely a result of his role on the Patriots in previous seasons as he has seen four-plus targets in three straight weeks. These prices are simply too cheap for a home-favored running back in the last kickoff on the slate, which allows maximum flexibility for late swap opportunities.

Wide receivers

Cooper Kupp ($9,000 DraftKings, $10,000 FanDuel), Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals: I could write pages full of stats and facts and figures telling you exactly why Kupp is a good play in the wild-card round, but I feel like you already know. Kupp led the league in, well, everything this season — in spite of being the one target in the Rams offense that every opposing defensive coordinator worked (in vain) to stop. In Week 14 at Arizona, Kupp logged a 50% target share, his highest rate of the season. That included five red zone targets and two end zone looks. In Week 4 against Arizona, he saw 31.7% of the Rams attempts — his highest target share in any Rams loss this season. All of this is to say that the Rams will once again feed Kupp the ball early, often, and in the highest-leverage and fantasy-upside situations. Fade him at your own risk.

Christian Kirk ($5,100 DraftKings, $6,100 FanDuel), Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams: Kirk has been outstanding since DeAndre Hopkins suffered an injury that ended his regular season five weeks ago. There is a chance that Hopkins returns this week, which would theoretically reduce the target share that Kirk will see. However, in games where Kirk and Hopkins both played, Kirk actually averaged 31.6% more points per target with Hopkins on the field as opposed to off. That’s why the sheer volume of targets could be overshadowed by the quality of targets he’ll see as defenses try to stop Hopkins. Either way, the risk is low at his current price.

Zay Jones ($4,200 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel), Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals: Jones presents a fantastic value this week after five straight games with five-plus catches. The Raiders will be playing up in pace against Cincinnati and, from Weeks 13-17, Bengals games produced an average of 52.8 real-life points (which would exceed the expected over/under of 49 for this game). Assuming that the Raiders play from behind — a fair assumption, being that they’re underdog by almost a touchdown — means potentially even more Derek Carr passing attempts, elevating both Jones’ floor and his ceiling.

Cedrick Wilson ($4,400 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel), Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers: Wilson has quite admirably stepped into the role vacated by Michael Gallup‘s injury with 11 catches and 12 targets on 44 routes run, producing three touchdowns over the last two games. The Cowboys are the fourth-most pass-heavy red zone offense in the NFL. San Francisco has allowed the most yards per deep-pass attempt among playoff teams (and fourth-most overall). Last week against Philadelphia, four of Wilson’s six targets were deep downfield looks.

Tight ends

Rob Gronkowski ($6,400 DraftKings, $7,400 FanDuel), Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Touchdowns haven’t been hard to come by against the Eagles, who have been the fourth-worst red zone defense in the league (and second-worst among playoff teams) allowing 10.1% of TE targets to result in a touchdown. Gronkowski has seen eight-plus targets in seven of his last eight games and has managed a “deep catch” in four straight contests. Tom Brady throws the ball to the players that he trusts and, with the season-ending injury to Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown‘s departure, Brady is left to lean heavily on Mike Evans and Gronkowski, both between the 20s and when the Buccaneers get in close.

Zach Ertz ($4,700 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel), Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams: The Rams allow the most yards per short pass among playoff teams, something that fits well with Ertz’s current route tree. Ertz has seen an end zone target in three straight games and a red zone target in five straight games, with multiple red zone targets in three of those five outings. Since Hopkins has been out, Ertz has emerged as a super high-volume target for Kyler Murray in the Cardinals offense. That’s something that may remain, even with Hopkins potentially back in his first game returning from injury.

Dallas Goedert ($4,500 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel), Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Goedert appears to be the best TE value on the week for both floor and ceiling possibilities. In his last four games, Goedert has totaled 26 targets on 87 routes for a higher target share (29.9%) than Jaylen Waddle, DK Metcalf, George Kittle, and Brandin Cooks, just to name a few.

Disclaimer: Al Zeidenfeld (Username: Al_Smizzle) plays on his personal account in games for which he offers advice. He may also deploy different players/strategies than what he advises.

Source: ESPN

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