News & Analysis

The 8 things we learned for fantasy football about the teams that won in the Wild Card Round

By Tyler Loechner
Jan 8, 2019

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Dec 31, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (25) gains yards during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

What did we learn about the winning teams this weekend, and what does it mean for them — from a fantasy football perspective — for the rest of playoffs and beyond?

None of this weekend’s games produced strong offensive showings, but some individual performances definitely stuck out. Here’s what we learned about the Colts, Chargers, Cowboys, and Eagles from a fantasy perspective.

Indianapolis Colts

  • Marlon Mack is good. He hammered the Texans for 148 rushing yards and a score on 24 attempts. He now has at least 24 rushing attempts in three of his last four games with 119 yards (or more) in each game. He also has at least one touchdown in five straight games (six total). Simply put, the Colts are unleashing Mack late in the season, and it’s working.
  • Dontrelle Inman’s late-season surge is going to continue in the playoffs. Inman now has a touchdown in three straight games after dropping a 4-53-1 line on the Texans. That’s not slate-breaking, but given his price, it’s great return on value. He also has at least one catch of 20 yards or more in three straight with four or more receptions in each game. He’s not flat-out dominating the stat sheet — and we don’t expect him to — but he’s been predictive and steady with red-zone work in an explosive offense.

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Melvin Gordon is most definitely still not close to 100%. Gordon’s workload improved over his previous three games (18 total touches vs. 13, 15, and 12 in his previous three games), but he exited early with an injury and was clearly hampered when he returned. Gordon now has fewer than 70 rushing yards in five straight games and fewer than 50 in three straight. Gordon is still a threat to score multiple touchdowns in any game, which keeps him in play for DFS, but he’s not a lock given up current health status.
  • Mike Williams is by far Los Angeles’ best chance at a big play, even with Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin. I’d go so far as to say Tyrell and Benjamin are unplayable in DFS outside of large-field GPPs. No Chargers receiver was great in the Wild Card round, but Williams did get deep a few times and finished the game with a team-high 42 yards. Tyrell, meanwhile, has fewer than 25 yards in six of his last seven games, while Benjamin has just one touchdown all year.

Dallas Cowboys

  • Dak Prescott can be fully trusted in DFS. Prescott was one of the cheaper quarterbacks of the Wild Card Round, and he was generally overlooked in DFS despite playing as a home favorite. He finished the week as the No. 1 quarterback on the slate after throwing for a score and rushing for another (he very nearly had two rushing scores). He now has a rushing touchdown in seven of his last 12 games. As the “big guns” re-enter the arena in the Divisional Round — Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, Tom Brady — don’t overlook Prescott.
  • Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott are the only Dallas skill-position players you should roster. Cooper (7-106-0) continued his home dominance, while Elliott (30 touches, 169 total yards, and a score) remained the most bankable player in football. These two players are the only rosterable Cowboys outside of Prescott.
    Cole Beasley has the occasional good game, Michael Gallup is always “close” to a big play but hasn’t been efficient by any stretch of the imagination, and Blake Jarwin’s big game was a complete anomaly. Those three players combined for 58 total yards in the Wild Card round, further proof that Dallas’ offense completely runs through its big trio. Your fantasy teams should follow suit.

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Golden Tate isn’t totally dead in Philly. Tate was one of my favorite GPP plays from the Wild Card round, and he came through (relative to salary and ownership) with a 5-46-1 line. Importantly, his eight targets tied a team high, and his average depth of target of 10.8 was effectively double what it had been with the Eagles prior to last week. The Eagles appear to be opening up their playbook to favor Tate more, and he’ll remain a good GPP play in the Superdome in the Divisional Round.
  • Dallas Goedert is eating into Zach Ertz’s floor. That feels weird to say about a guy who just set the record for most receptions by a tight end in NFL history, but Goedert caught two of three targets for 20 yards and a score. That’s not a huge stat line, but the touchdown was a designed play for Goedert, as was a sneaky screen play late in the game. After failing to catch more than one pass in back-to-back games from Weeks 6-13, Goedert now has multiple receptions every week since Week 14.
    Not coincidentally, Goedert’s rise and Ertz’s lowering floor coincide with Nick Foles’ return. Ertz is still a big part of Philadelphia’s offense – he’s not coming off the field in favor of Goedert — but there are now more mouths to feed, and that puts Ertz a clear rung below Travis Kelce in playoff DFS.

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