In today’s article, we’ll be breaking down the top DFS plays of the Wildcard Round of the Playoffs on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Before digging too deep into the specific players on this slate, I did want to mention two important notes:
- On a typical full-game slate, we’d want to feel comfortable with every player we’re rostering. Ideally, even our punt-plays would be strong values with good upside. On a shorter slate like this (four games, eight teams) it’s okay to roster a relatively “gross” name if you feel they give you a stronger lineup overall – allowing you to pay up elsewhere.
- It’s impossible to stress too much the importance of late-swap on these smaller slates. If you have any tournament lineups that, after a bad game or two, seem unlikely to cash, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by adding exposure to some “riskier” lower-owned players in the later games.
Notes: All numbers in parentheses refer to a player’s salary rank on each site.
(DK: QB2, FD: QB1)
At home, with the highest implied point total of the slate (4.0 points higher than the next-closest team), Brees is the obvious first option when looking at the quarterback position. Minnesota has been a much different defense on the road this season, where they’ve ranked bottom-10 in fantasy points per game allowed (17.5) and opposing passer rating (94.2). And Brees, of course, has always been a much different quarterback at home – over the last two seasons he averages a league-high 27.6 DraftKings fantasy points at home, but just 16.5 on the road.
It’s hard to imagine Brees busting, but if he does it’s probably because the bulk of the team’s touchdowns came on the ground in a run-heavy blowout. Brees must be stacked with Michael Thomas, while Alvin Kamara may also be added if you can afford it. I expect to have 50% exposure to Brees stacked with Thomas, and then 50% exposure to Kamara stacked with either of the next two quarterbacks we’ll discuss:
- Josh Allen has been one of fantasy football’s most matchup-sensitive quarterbacks. He averages 25.8 fantasy points per game against bottom-12 defenses (by fantasy points per game allowed) but just 15.0 in all other games. For perspective, only five times in NFL history did a quarterback average more than 25.8 fantasy points per game in a single season. Well, good news – Houston is giving up 21.7 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, which ranks tied for second-most. Allen has also been terrific on the road this year, averaging 22.4 fantasy points per game, behind only Lamar Jackson.
- In eight seasons, Russell Wilson has ranked top-four in fantasy points per dropback six times, top-six seven times. We know Wilson is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL, but volume is always a concern. In a must-win game, with no Chris Carson or Rashaad Penny, and up against one of the league’s top-three pass funnel defenses (64% opposing pass percentage), Wilson should finally be let off the leash. However, that’s been said before (including Week 12), only to watch Pete Carroll call ineffective run play after ineffective run play. Even so, Wilson has one of the highest ceilings in fantasy, and though boom-or-bust, he always warrants consideration in large-field tournaments.
- Tennessee’s offense is one of the most difficult to analyze. Ryan Tannehill leads all quarterbacks in PFF grade (92.5) and passer rating (117.5), while ranking behind only Lamar Jackson in fantasy points per start (22.5) and fantasy points per dropback (0.70). Derrick Henry averages 26.0 fantasy points per game since Week 9, second-most. A.J. Brown averages 21.3 fantasy points per game since Week 12, also second-most. However, on paper, their respective matchups couldn’t be worse – New England ranks best in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks, running backs, and WR1s. I’m leaning toward fading Tennessee against what appears to be a historically great defense. However, they do appear to be falling back down to earth in recent weeks, and offense is typically stickier than defense in these situations.
- In spite of the league’s worst — or at least most banged-up — receiving corps, Carson Wentz averages 21.1 DraftKings fantasy points per game over his last six games, with lows of just 17.1 and 22.0 over this span. I prefer the other names already discussed, but I don’t necessarily dislike Wentz, unlike the other names to follow. … For reasons outlined in our weekly slate guide, I think Deshaun Watson struggles against Buffalo’s defense. … Tom Brady has the matchup in his favor, but he’s been an abomination in recent weeks, hitting 300 yards, recording a passer rating in the triple digits, or reaching 18.5 fantasy points just once over his last 10 games. … Minnesota probably leans more pass-heavy than typical this week, but that won’t be enough to make Kirk Cousins a worthy play against a tough defense that matches up perfectly against Minnesota’s greatest strengths.