News & Analysis

Wild Card weekend DFS locks of the week

By Tyler Loechner
Jan 3, 2018

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PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 08: Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts after rushing for a 2 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The NFL regular season has come to an end, but the DFS season keeps on keeping on with the playoffs, starting with this weekend’s four-game Wild Card slate featuring six-of-eight teams that weren’t in the playoffs last year.

Here’s the list of players you can lock into your Wild Card weekend DFS lineups.

Note: There’s always a case to be made for playing any player in tournaments. This list of “locks” is cash game focused, but I typically like these players across all contest types.

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Goff is the most expensive quarterback on both FanDuel and DraftKings despite the presence of Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan. That seemed impossible a year ago, but it’s actually the way it should be for this weekend.

Goff has arguably the best matchup of all quarterbacks this weekend up against the Falcons, who gave up the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. For his part, Goff has multiple touchdowns in five straight games and in seven of his past eight.

As a 6.5-point home favorite in the game with the highest projected over-under of the weekend, Goff is a DFS lock this week.

Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

The Titans are one of the nine teams that gave up at least 4,000 passing yards to opposing quarterbacks this season. Smith has at least 30 passing attempts in 12 straight games — the longest such streak (by far) of any quarterback playing this weekend.

The Chiefs are also 8-point home favorites, which is always a scenario you want to attack in DFS when selecting quarterbacks.

Running backs

Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

Fournette, an 8-point home favorite, is underpriced on both major sites. The matchup against the Bills is as good as it gets (literally). The Bills gave up a league-high 18 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs, the second-most rushing yards to enemy backs (1,796 yards), and the most fantasy points per game overall.

As the fourth-most-expensive option on FanDuel ($8,100) and the fifth-most-expensive option on DraftKings ($7,400), you don’t have to pay a king’s ransom for this pristine matchup.

Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

Gurley’s price can be prohibitive, but that’s the only potential concern here. Everything else is all systems go for Gurley. The Falcons are actually above average against running backs on the ground, but they were torched through the air in 2017, just like they were in 2016.

Atlanta ceded a league-high 107 receptions to opposing backs this year. Gurley ranked fifth among running backs with 64 receptions and second with 788 receiving yards.

And as big home favorites, it’s unlikely Gurley gets completely shut down on the ground.

Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons*
*If Devonta Freeman doesn’t play

Freeman wasn’t practicing to begin the week. There’s still a long way to go, but if Freeman ultimately misses the game, Coleman becomes a must-play at his cheap price with the expected volume. The Rams have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year.

Wide receivers

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

Thomas has the best individual WR-CB matchup this weekend against James Bradberry. Bradberry is our worst-graded starting corner this weekend (44.7). Thomas, meanwhile, is our top-graded starting wideout this weekend (90.6).

Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

Kupp draws Atlanta slot man Brian Poole, who has given up 1.75 yards per route covered this year — tops among all starting corners this weekend. Poole has also ceded 0.36 fantasy points per route run, tied for second-most among this weekend’s corners.

Kupp has scored 0.43 fantasy points per route run, fifth-most among this weekend’s wideouts, and his 2.07 yards per route run also rank fifth-most.

Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars

Cole’s price decreased this week despite the fact he still saw eight targets last week. It’s also surprising to see his price dip considering there are only eight teams in play this weekend, not 32.

Cole ranks first in yards (426) and third in fantasy points (74) over the past month. He also has at least eight targets in three straight games. He’s the 13th-most-expensive wideout on FanDuel, but we project him to score the ninth-most points at the position. (He’s ninth-most-expensive on DraftKings, and we also expect him to score the ninth-most points there.)

Cole provides salary relief without sacrificing volume.

Tight ends

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Of all tight ends this weekend, Kelce is easily the safest. He has double-digit DraftKings points in all but one game since Week 7, and he has the top individual TE matchup on the slate.

There are some other big names at tight end on this slate, but they all have tough matchups (and/or serious volume concerns). Kelce is expensive, but if you want guaranteed production at every position in your DFS lineup this weekend, there’s no avoiding Kelce.

Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills

I like Clay’s volume at his cheap price ($4,000 on DraftKings, and $5,500 on FanDuel). Over the past three weeks, Clay has seen at least eight targets per game and has topped 60 yards in two of three contests. That’s not otherworldly, obviously, but he doesn’t need to do a ton to return value.

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