Studs (3x plus return): 18
Average Joes (2.1 – 2.9x return): 22
Scrubs (2x or lower return): 16
I would not be doing my DFS duty to you readers if I did not tip up Matthew Stafford ($6,300) this week. If you are playing the full six-game slate like me, waiting for the final game of the slate could see you have colossal leverage points over the rest of the field. People are often impatient and will likely have 90% of their lineup wrapped up by Sunday, so going for the SNF and MNF games could be super advantageous. This is especially the case when you see Stafford’s matchup here in Arizona, who rank as a bottom six-unit between Week 15 – 17 (20.7 ppg allowed overall and 8.2 ppg in the red zone).
Are you telling me Jimmy G and this San Fransicso offense cannot keep up with the highest-scoring offense in the league? I beg to differ. I may get crucified for this in some corners, but Jimmy Garoppolo ($5,300) is the best QB play on the Wildcard Weekend slate. Not only are all his elite weapons in Samuel, Kittle, Mitchell and Aiyuk all in fine form, but they are putting in the performances to back up those claims. Look at last week’s must-win game over LA. And at this price, when his average this season is 3.2x his price this week, you have to consider Jimmy.
Studs (3x plus return): 20
Average Joes (2.1 – 2.9x return): 25
Scrubs (2x or lower return): 20
Regarding the backs who have the best matchup for the Wildcard Weekend, it is the New England running backs. With Buffalo giving up a whopping 26.7 DK points through Weeks 15-17 of the regular season, 10.4 of which came in the red zone (3rd most in the league), we can see an opportunity to exploit here, which could be hard to find this week. The issue comes to who to trust in this backfield. New England has favoured a two-headed backfield heading into the postseason, with Damien Harris ($6,400) and Rhamondre Stevenson ($4,700) seeing significant work, each seeing double-digit carry averages this season. So why the drastic price difference? Well, Harris ranks top 12 on the season amongst his peers in the red zone this season, with over three touches per game. To be fair to Stevenson, he has averaged over two touches per game in the same area. However, inflated games in blowouts show this to be a deceiving number, with Stevenson seeing 5+ touches on multiple games in these secnarios.
So, if Harris can overcome this hamstring issue, which he has been a limited participant because of this week, he is the play in this spot. If not, Stevenson will become the chalk of the slate.
Despite the return of Cam Akers, I think we have a few more weeks of Sony Michel ($5,400) bellcow-mode here in the playoffs, starting this week against Arizona. Even with Akers back getting touches last week, we saw Michel still get 20+ touches in a close game, showing McVay and Co’s trust in the veteran back. Michel feels a bit touchdown-dependent in this spot, but I think this is somewhere we can get to here.
Then there is the unknown of Leonard Fournette ($5,900), a player who is coming off of Injured Reserve ahead of Tampa Bay’s playoff campaign. Fournette has shown his explosiveness and capability to break a slate earlier on this season, against Indianapolis, for example. So with that in mind, he has to be a consideration in your lineup building, especially in a matchup against Philidelphia in which you would expect Tampa Bay to control.
Studs (3x plus return): 28
Average Joes (2.1 – 2.9x return): 24
Scrubs (2x or lower return): 25
Due to my liking of Stafford this week, I will be playing plenty of Los Angeles stacks on this slate. All of Cooper Kupp ($9,000), Odell ($5,100) and Van Jefferson ($4,700) had moderate success at a minimum earlier in the season against this secondary of Arizona’s, a bottom-three unit heading into the postseason against WRs. This week, Odell is the play for me, going up against Antonio Hamilton, a terrible corner we highlighted last week as a matchup to target.
Ja’Marr Chase ($7,400) is one of the pay-up spots that looks good this week to kick off Wildcard Weekend. The record-setting rookie wideout will be looking to impress in this maiden appearance in the postseason again, lining up against Desmond Trufant, who we all know likes to blow a coverage in the postseason! We have all seen Chase’s slate-breaking ability this season, so I would not be shocked to see him break another one to get the postseason underway in an advantageous matchup.
If you are after a bring-back for Chase in this early spot, Zay Jones ($4,200) is a player who can achieve value here. The loss of Henry Ruggs has seen Jones step up to that WR2 role here in Las Vegas, with the last five weeks seeing Jones have at least seven targets per game and a 12 DK point average to close the season. The big question is how does the returning Darren Waller eat into Jones’ targets? Well, the WR2 still saw eight targets on the day, but we need him to get downfield more in this spot, and that could occur with Waller occupying the middle of the field. With Jones matched up against Eli Apple, a corner who is not exactly at the peak of his powers on the outside, giving up 10.8 DK points per game and one of the lowest coverage ratings in the playoffs, 6, Jones has a chance here.
Gabriel Davis ($4,600) is also a great cheap option in this spot, with Allen’s accuracy in targetting him in short-yardage situations in the red zone.
Studs (3x plus return): 13
Average Joes (2.1 – 2.9x return): 7
Scrubs (2x or lower return): 10
At tight end, Zach Ertz ($4,700) seems too cheap at the price point presented. His double-digit target average over the last four weeks represents that and the same total of points for each of those. If only the Arizona tight end could start finding the end zone again! This is something that Ertz has not achieved since Week Eleven, but a steady 2.5x minimum return on our investment in pure production is a great sign for our lineups.
With Darren Waller ($5,700) logging 37 routes run from 62 snaps (out of a possible 80) in Week 18, as well as having no injury designation ahead of Saturday’s game, the elite tight end becomes an intriguing option this week. We all know how Carr loves Waller as a passing option in this offense, and Waller’s nine targets last week shows that this love has not gone away whatsoever. Add to this Cincinnati’s season-long and recent issues against Waller’s position (bottom-four in ppg allowed overall and in the red zone against TEs), and we have ourselves a potential slate breaker.
Studs (3x plus return): 9
Average Joes (2.1 – 2.9x return): 15
Scrubs (2x or lower return): 14
Defenses this week seems a fairly simple choice of picking between New England ($2,600) or Los Angeles ($2,700). These are two teams who I am predicting will make it past the Wildcard round, so, therefore, will need to make plays to do so. With the 50 sacks that Los Angeles has racked up throughout the regular season, we know they can churn out double-digit point returns easily, and New England has the talent and schemes to disrupt Allen on their day.