We have two different slates for Wild Card Weekend. I will break down each of them game-by-game and give you my Pay-To-Play, Stay Away, and Value Play for each position for each of the two split slates.
However, before we do that, allow me to give you my favorite plays on the combined slate (Sat-Mon) at each site, too! Note that player salaries may differ on the full slate with the individual day slates (though not by much).
Full Wild Card Slate
Here are my Full Wild Card Slate recommended lineups:
At DK: $5.5k for Derek Carr, $6.8k for Joe Mixon, $5.9k for Leonard Fournette, $9k for Cooper Kupp, $5k for Tyler Boyd, $4.2k for Zay Jones, $6.4k for Rob Gronkowski, $4.4k for Cedrick Wilson, and $2.7k for the Los Angeles Rams defense.
At FD: $6.8k for Carr, $8.5k for Mixon, $6.6k for Darrel Williams, $10k for Kupp, $5.3k for Z. Jones, $5.4k for Byron Pringle, $7.4k for Gronk. $5.4K for Cam Akers at FLEX, and $4.5k for the Buffalo Bills defense.
At Fanball (featuring SuperFlex): Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford at SF, Eli Mitchell, and Damien Harris at RB, Kupp, DeVonta Smith, and C.Wilson, Gronk at TE, and Darren Waller at FLEX.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals
Derek Carr is the best value option for the Saturday slate and arguably the overall slate, too. Cincy can score points, but they are also pretty rotten at stopping the pass, the run, the special teams, global warming, urban crime, etc. He isn’t the most physically gifted QB on this slate, but he will be my primary choice here. I have him at QB2, a hair ahead of the questionable Joe Burrow.
Speaking of Joe Burrow, he has been hotter than the inside of a McDonald’s pie. Unfortunately, he took a hit to his knee late in Week 17. We have every reason to believe that Burrow will play, but we have to at least consider that his knee could affect his play. On the Saturday-only slate, I will rank him at QB3 because of the knee injury and Vegas is much better against the pass than the run. That said, I see this game as high-scoring and expect both Carr and Burrow to throw for three TDs. If, by chance, Brandon Allen is forced to start, he instantly becomes the QB4 here, and all the Bengals skill players take a massive hit.
Josh Jacobs got a huge boost to his value when Kenyan Drake was lost for the season, based on assured usage and because Cincy isn’t very good on defense. He will get the nominal RB2 slot on Sat-only. Jalen Richard has resumed his role as a pass-catching backup, and Peyton Barber would step up if an injury was sustained. Jacobs is the only one of the three you should think about outside of Showdown.
The Bengals trolled the DFS community last week by having Samaje Perine listed as their RB1 all week and even having him come out as the team captain prior to the game. They then proceeded to not use him for one single touch. Apparently, they were saving him to serve as a backup this week instead. Needless to say, no DFS user will play him this week. The only way Perine will get any rub is if Joe Mixon ends up out once again this week. That said, there are zero reasons to believe that will happen. Mixon is the best play this entire weekend at RB. He is also reasonably priced. The only reason he would not be in your lineup is if you are throwing darts at being contrarian. Oh, yeah, those two other crumb bums who filled in for Perine last week … you can flat-out ignore them.
Hunter Renfrow has developed into a legitimate stud WR this season. His footwork (particularly in the red zone) is truly second to none. Plus, he receives so many targets each week that he is guaranteed to reach value in PPR formats. That said, I feel he may be over-owned here. The matchup is great, and I will definitely have exposure to him, but this may be a sneaky place for differentiation. If you want to take a leap of faith, use Zay Jones. Since the earlier meeting with Cincy, Jones has averaged 7.7 targets per game. At a considerable cost saving, I want a lot of exposure to Jones, too. Bryan Edwards and DeSean Jackson each have some value against the softest pass defense on the docket. I’ll put Renfrow at WR2, Jones at WR5, and the other two right around WR10.
The Raiders are deceptively solid against outside WRs. Ja’Marr Chase is still the WR1 on this slate by a solid distance, based solely on his skillset. Just know that he may underperform your expectations here. Tee Higgins (this slate’s WR4) may also struggle here for similar reasons. Fortunately for him, his price tag is less than Chase’s. You need to have some exposure to this pass offense, so I’d recommend using Tyler Boyd (my WR7 here) as a solid WR3. If Auden Tate returns this week (no guarantee), he could garner a Showdown spot.
Darren Waller is the top TE on Sat-Only and the TE2 overall. Cincy is bottom-six in every relevant category against opposing TEs. Foster Moreau can even be considered here as a FLEX play or a punt TE play.
As bad as Cincy has been against TEs, Vegas has been worse. Part of the reason their numbers against WRs look so good is that they can’t cover a tight end to save their lives. This puts C.J. Uzomah into value-land on Sat-Only. I’d even rank him as TE2 on this slate.
I believe that the Cincy defense will be used too much here as teams assume they will blister Vegas. They are a better option than Vegas, but I’d rather avoid both and just use one of the late-game options.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
Poor Mac Jones. Whatever happens here, he will find himself being put under the microscope compared to his predecessor, Tom Brady. This just isn’t fair. He is the worst play on Sat-only and arguably the worst play overall this weekend. Expecting more than 200-2 is a fool’s game.
Josh Allen gets the QB1 nod for Saturday. His matchup is not easy, but he is the most talented QB on this docket and is at home. Allen should score three total TDs, and his rushing numbers will be what catapults him to the top spot here. All of this said, I don’t love his price tag compared to both Burrow and Carr.
Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson both played last week. So, of course, Bill Belichick gave two TDs to Brandon Bolden instead of them. Harris did salvage his day with a score, but Stevenson missed nearly two full quarters with a head injury before returning to the game. With both Harris and Rhamondre looking good to go for this week, I trust them more than Bolden. Buffalo can be run on, Harris has scored FOUR rushing TDs against them already this year. If he was by himself this week, he would be the RB2 here. As is, he will be the RB3 and Stevenson the RB5. Bolden shouldn’t be used in main tourneys, but he makes a great Showdown play in case Belichick gets cute again.
Devin Singletary has established himself as the primary RB for Buffalo over the last month-plus. Since Week 12, he has thoroughly dominated the backfield touches for the team. New England can also be run against (and frankly it is easier than passing against them). I will list him as RB4 here. My biggest concern is Allen vulturing his TDs. Zack Moss just isn’t touching the ball enough to consider outside of Showdown dart throws. As for Matt Breida, he went from usurping the job to healthy scratch faster than a Randy Johnson fastball.
New England has a whole lot of mediocre WRs. I figured by now one of them would have separated from the pack. Midyear, it looked as if Kendrick Bourne would become that guy. Then, all of a sudden, Jakobi Meyers started hogging targets. Of course, the waters got muckier last week as Nelson Agholor returned from his head injury to lead New England in snaps. Buffalo has allowed far and away, the fewest total yards and TDs to opposing WRs, so it is best to ignore this quandary completely. If I had to take a flier on one of them, I’d probably choose Meyers, but there just isn’t any obvious cause to do so.
Buffalo has five WRs that could be considered this week. Unfortunately, New England is also elite against the pass. Emmanuel Sanders may take himself out of the competition due to his injury status. If Sanders is out once again, this opens the door for Gabriel Davis to continue his hot streak. I love Davis as a WR3 this week, and I have him as WR6 overall on this docket if Sanders is out. The WR3 on Sat-only is Stefon Diggs. His price combined with the matchup leads me to want to fade him. Still, he is one of four players to consider at your WR1 slot. Cole Beasley has stunk it up over the last two years against New England. He always is in WR3 consideration, but Davis seems to have passed him in the pecking order. Isaiah McKenzie went bonkers in Week 16 versus New England with Davis and Beasley out. He then went back into the background over the last two weeks. His big-play potential makes him a great bargain Showdown play, but that is about it.
Hunter Henry had a huge performance in Week 18, but he has done next to nothing against Buffalo this year. That should come as no surprise since no one has done anything against Buffalo with their TEs this year. I will fade both Henry and Jonnu Smith here.
As strong as Buffalo has been against TEs, New England is right there with them. In fact, you could argue that they are better than Buffalo against the position. This is why I will also be fading Dawson Knox. The best you can hope for here is a score since Knox does have at least one TD in seven different games this year, including Week 16 versus New England.
Both of these defenses could be a good Saturday-only choice. Buffalo will be highly owned, but they are by far the best overall play here. Just use them and put the onus on Mac Jones to get ‘er done against a top-flight D.
Here are my Saturday-only Slate recommended lineups:
At DK: $5.8k for Derek Carr, $7.1k for Joe Mixon, $6.6k for Josh Jacobs, $6.4k for Hunter Renfrow, $4.6k for Tyler Boyd, $3.9k for Gabriel Davis, $5.7k for Darren Waller, $5.8k for Devin Singletary at FLEX, and $3.2k for the Buffalo Bills defense.
At FD: $6.8k for Carr, $8.5k for Mixon, $7.2k for Jacobs, $7.3 for Renfrow, $6k for Boyd, $5.2k for Davis, $6.3k for Waller, $7.5k for Damien Harris at FLEX, and $4.5k for the Buffalo defense.
At Fanball (featuring SuperFlex): Carr, Joe Burrow at SF, Mixon at RB, Jacobs at RB, Singletary at FLEX, Ja’Marr Chase, Davis, and Renfrow at WR, and Waller at TE.
Saturday strategy – Derek Carr is the top play. I don’t mind Joe Burrow as long as he isn’t limited by his knee. Josh Allen is a bit of a risk, but his talent is there.
Pay to Play:
Joe Burrow, Bengals vs. LV ($7,300 DK, $7,800 FD)
No QB has been hotter down the stretch than Burrow. If his knee was 100 percent, he might be the play of the slate. That said, he is dinged up, and Vegas is actually fairly strong at covering outside WRs. This is why I prefer to stack him with Tyler Boyd or C.J. Uzomah.
Josh Allen, Bills vs. NEP ($7,900 DK, $8,800 FD) New England is tough against the pass, and Allen has struggled at home versus the Patriots in his career. His legs should keep him slightly relevant this week, but the price just feels too high with both Carr and Burrow available.
Derek Carr, Raiders @ CIN ($5,800 DK, $6,800 FD)
Cincy has given up the fifth-most passing yards and the third-most completions. They also have allowed 26 passing scores this year. This sets them up as the weakest pass defense on this slate. Carr has thrown for multiple TDs only twice since Week 9, but he gets healthy here in a shootout.
Saturday strategy – The four highest-priced RBs: Joe Mixon, Josh Jacobs, Devin Singletary, Damien Harris are all great plays. I’d be scared to use any of the backups other than Rhamondre Stevenson or maybe Brandon Bolden.
Pay to Play:
Joe Mixon, Bengals vs. LV ($7,100 DK, $8,500 FD)
Even as the highest-priced RB for the entire weekend, Mixon has a discount price compared to regular season top choices. Vegas allowed the third-most total RB scores this year, including two to Mixon earlier this season. I’ll take a repeat of the 30-123-2 he unloaded on them Week 11.
Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots @ BUF ($5,100 DK, $5,200 FD)
I don’t hate Stevenson as a play here, I am just concerned about any ill-effects from last week’s injury. Plus, Bill Belichick could go rogue and use Brandon Bolden again taking value away from Rhamondre. Plus, if Buffalo gets ahead and New England is forced to pass to keep up, Stevenson won’t see the field.
Devin Singletary, Bills vs. NE ($5,800 DK, $6,900 FD)
Singletary has dominated the carries for Buffalo in recent weeks. He also has been the Bills’ primary pass-catcher out of the backfield. That is a huge step up from earlier this year where he was struggling to stay on the field. New England is middle-of-the-pack against the run and downright bad against pass-catching backs. As long as Josh Allen doesn’t step on Singletary’s TD chances, I like him as a sneaky RB2/FLEX play.
Saturday strategy –There are three possible WR1 choices: Ja’Marr Chase, Hunter Renfrow, and Tee Higgins (just keep an eye on Higgins as he popped up with a new foot issue on Wednesday). Renfrow is the safest of them, but with less money spent elsewhere, you can target any of them. If you don’t use either of the Bengals up top, then definitely use Tyler Boyd at WR2. The only other options I like there are Jakobi Meyers and the other Bills. Speaking of which, Gabriel Davis is my favorite WR3. Although, I also like Zay Jones and Nelson Agholor.
Pay to Play:
Hunter Renfrow, Raiders @ CIN ($6,400 DK, $7,300 FD)
It is kind of absurd that Renfrow’s price remains so low. He now has five TDs in his last five games, and his target share remains through the roof. It is easy for him to score when he can make opposing defenders look like pretzels in the red zone. This game should be a bit of a shootout, so I want as many pieces of both offenses as possible.
Stefon Diggs, Bills vs. NE ($7,500 DK, $8,000 FD) Diggs has always performed okay against tough defenses, but this matchup might test him the most. He dominated the COVID-absent Patriots in 2020, but this season he posted only 8-86-1 total over two meetings. This feels like a 5-60-1 game. That is great for your WR2 or WR3, but not so much for your WR1.
Gabriel Davis, Bills vs. NE ($3,900 DK, $5,200 FD)
On a slate with minimal WR value, you need to find a guy who gets a bunch of targets. I’m not happy with the lack of catches and yards the last couple of weeks but he did have 14 targets in Week 18. He also had four scores from Weeks 13-15. New England will give up at least one passing TD this week, I think Davis might have the best chances. Of course, his value will be highest if Emmanuel Sanders remains out.
Saturday strategy – On the short slate, only two TEs are great plays Darren Waller and C.J. Uzomah. Everything else feels like a trap.
Pay to Play:
Darren Waller, Bengals vs. LV ($5,700 DK, $6,300 FD)
The top-priced TE is priced like a WR2. Can you really ask for anything more? Oh, yeah, he is facing one of the worst teams in football against the position. Waller will light up this defense for his best game since early this year.
Dawson Knox, Bills vs. NE ($5,100 DK, $6,000 FD)
New England is hard to score against with TEs. So, of course, both sites decide to price Knox just a pittance below Waller. Knox scored one of the four TE touchdowns that New England allowed this year. He also finished with a total of 4-29 in those two games. There are non-listed backup TEs that I would rather play on this slate.
C.J. Uzomah, Bengals vs. LV ($3,500 DK, $5,200 FD)
Vegas has allowed the third-most TE scores this season at 10. They also are allowing an average of 5.3-60 to the position. Meanwhile, Uzomah is third among Cincy skill position players in targets since Week 12.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have been one of the league’s worst against the pass all season thanks to numerous defensive backfield injuries. They also have been subpar against rushing QBs. This sets up nicely for Jalen Hurts, who gets my QB4 ranking on Sun-only. Hurts doesn’t have a ton of passing weapons to throw at the Bucs exposed secondary, but his legs should keep him well above value. I like Hurts to finish with two or three total scores and a fair amount of rushing yards to go with just under 200 through the air.
The Eagles are rotten against the run and pretty solid against opposing WRs (especially whoever Darius Slay shadows). Still, this is Tom Brady. He got it done in a tough matchup last week without two of his top three WRs from earlier this year. The big advantage that Brady has here is that Philly is putrid against opposing TEs. Tom has his favorite target in Rob Gronkowski and also Cameron Brate to humiliate Philly. Those two could combine for four TDs this week. Anything that goes to the supplemental pieces is cake. So, even in what appears to be a tricky spot, Brady is the QB1 here.
Ronald Jones is doubtful (and I am certain that he is not playing) but fortunately, Leonard Fournette is ready to resume RB1 duties. Playoff Lenny dominated last season, and I have every reason to believe he will once again. This is an easy start to the 2021 playoffs for him. With no other great RB matchup on this slate, a healthy Fournette gets the RB1 designation. With Fournette back Ke’Shawn Vaughn reverts back to a depth piece. I’ll leave him as an injury play on Showdown lineups. Giovani Bernard may return for this game. He could steal a few targets from Lenny, but not enough to concern me. Even if he suits up, I won’t use him in his first game back. I assume that Le’Veon Bell will be a healthy scratch.
The Eagles have been playing musical chairs with their RBs all season. Now it appears that they may have all hands on deck this week. Both change-of-pace back Boston Scott and goal-line back Jordan Howard missed last week on the COVID list. Also, Miles Sanders may return from his hand injury. If Sanders is back, he could be a volume FLEX play for you, at best. The matchup is awful. He would be no better than RB6 here. I’d almost prefer he misses this game. If so, you could use Scott or Howard as punt-FLEX plays. Scott probably has the best chance at success here since Tampa is hospitable to pass-catching backs. Kenneth Gainwell led the team in Week 18 with everyone out. With everyone back this week, he can be ignored outside of Showdown play, and then, only if Sanders is out.
Mike Evans will likely face the shadow of Slay. He is always reliable for a TD, but he also struggles against premier corners. He is no better than WR5 here. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes well below that mark. Tyler Johnson got the bump up to WR2 when Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown left the building. He has the talent to be useful, but he hasn’t been given any real opportunity. In an okay matchup, he can be considered as a WR3 option. I just don’t think that Brady will throw enough passes to any of his WRs this week. The Bucs will also likely be without Cyril Grayson once again. This means that Breshad Perriman and Scotty Miller will man the WR3/4 slots for Tampa Bay. Perriman has had success in previous seasons with lesser QBs. He is actually a better punt WR3 option than Johnson. Miller had some success last season as a fill-in. I could see using him in Showdown slates, but that is about it.
DeVonta Smith is the Philadelphia WR room. Of course, I’m kidding, but he does have nearly 44 percent of the WR targets on the team. Tampa is hideous against the pass and has been particularly bad against opposing WR1s. Smith will actually challenge Evans for WR5 this week. Making him a great WR2 for you. Jalen Reagor was drafted one pick before Justin Jefferson. Let that sink in for a bit as you wonder why Philly hasn’t fired their GM yet. This is a great matchup for WRs, but I still want nothing to do with this festering ball of dog snot. I’d rather take a flier on Quez Watkins or Greg Ward. That said, neither deserve more than a punt-WR3 designation.
The Eagles have been a whipping boy for opposing TEs all season. This week they have to face Rob Gronkowski. This isn’t going to end well for them. Gronk will score multiple TDs this week. My only question is does he score three or more, or does he share one with Cameron Brate? Gronk is the TE1 on this slate, and Brate is the TE7. I like both to score.
Philly has an elite TE of their own in Dallas Goedert. Most weeks, he would be a top-three option. This week, he will be lucky to finish as TE4. The matchup is pretty solid for him, so he could be that guy that you run it back with if you use a game stack of double-TE.
Neither of these defenses belongs anywhere near your lineup this week.
San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys
Jimmy Garoppolo is a decent QB. He just doesn’t get the respect he deserves. I truly believe that most of the San Fran faithful would have rather had their team miss the playoffs this year if it meant that the team played Trey Lance more. Dallas has an opportunistic defense, but they also give up many big plays. Garoppolo will likely finish as either the QB4 or QB5 here, but I still like him as a value option.
Dak Prescott is getting hot at the right time. He has 12 TDs over his last three games. San Fran is middle-of-the-pack against the pass, but they have been bested by the top options at the position. Dak definitely qualifies as a top option. I don’t see any way that he doesn’t finish as a top-three scorer among QBs this week.
Dallas has allowed the fourth-fewest RB scores this season. Meanwhile, San Francisco could line up anyone in their backfield and be successful. Eli Mitchell has been the most recent success story for them. He has absorbed 44 touches in his two games since returning from the IR with his knee injury, and he has accrued over 200 yards during that span. Unless he suffers a setback this week, I still like Mitchell to post 100 yards from scrimmage and maybe score a short TD. That is if Deebo Samuel doesn’t vulture him. Jeff Wilson has disappeared with the return of Mitchell. He can be ignored outright. If you need a sneaky play here, consider Kyle Juszczyk. He is minimal salary on both sites and is always a threat to score. In fact, he is a must-start in Showdown contests.
Tony Pollard missed Week 18 with the fallout from his foot injury. He actually played through the pain for each of the prior five weeks. We can only assume that the team decided it was best to let him rest in a non-essential game. It is also possible that it just flared up worse and that he is trending the wrong way. Keep an eye on him up to game time as he could be a decent FLEX play. If he plays, consider him RB6 or RB7. Ezekiel Elliott has played more with Pollard dinged up. His numbers will obviously be better if Pollard doesn’t play, but I expect him to finish as the RB4 or RB5 either way. Corey Clement will act as a change of pace back if Pollard misses this game. He can be ignored here.
Deebo Samuel is the best running back, wide receiver, and possibly quarterback on the Niners roster. He is also the overall top (non-Gronk) option on this slate. You can afford him. Play him as your WR1. Brandon Aiyuk is a decent WR2 play this week, but only if you don’t use Samuel. He has been a steady performer since Week 8. Last week, Los Angeles decided it was a good idea to refuse to cover Jauan Jennings. That didn’t work too well for them. San Francisco has enough weapons to force opponents to devote no more than one person to him. This means that he will continue to be a red-zone threat. I love him as a cheap WR3 option here.
We knew going into the season that Dallas would have three different stars at WR to throw to each week. What we didn’t know is that the third one would be Cedrick Wilson. It seems as if every time one of the starters missed a game, Wilson went off. Now that Michael Gallup is out for the year, Wilson will be an every-down threat the rest of the way. His price makes him the easiest WR3 to choose on any site. Oh yeah, Dallas also has a couple of other WRs named Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. I hear they are pretty good. Lamb hasn’t scored since Week 10. He also has been posting mediocre lines that whole time. His price is too high to justify using here. Cooper is slightly cheaper, but at least he has scored in four of his last five games. He is the WR4 on the slate and a solid WR2 play. Noah Brown and Malik Turner are simply depth pieces. They could be thrown into a Showdown lineup but shouldn’t be used on the main slates.
George Kittle is a stud. This week he faces a Dallas defense that has put up solid numbers against the position except when they have faced stud TEs. On a loaded slate, he is the TE3. That said, his price is cheaper than both Gronk and Travis Kelce’s. In my mind, it makes him a sneaky pivot, one that will not have huge ownership.
Speaking of sneaky pivots, Dalton Schultz is the TE5 on this slate. San Fran does not allow many yards to the position, but Schultz has been doing his best 2019 Tyler Higbee impersonation down the stretch. He will be supremely under-owned this week making him a gorgeous double-TE pairing. Blake Jarwin returned last week, but he didn’t play much. He did let a TD pass fall through his hands, but that was against the TE-coverage-adverse Eagles. I’m not going to waste any time with him here.
I don’t want to use the San Fran defense here, but Dallas could be in play. I expect them to give up a few points, but I also expect a few sacks and maybe a pick-6.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Ben Roethlisberger is a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. Unfortunately, it looks like his career may end this Sunday at Arrowhead. KC has allowed a ton of yardage and several TDs (especially on the ground – something Ben is not likely to do) to the position this year. That said, most of those yards and TDs came early in the season before their defense started to click. Big Ben is the QB6 here, and you are really praying he accumulates 300-2 as a ceiling on 80-some-odd pass attempts of five yards or less.
This game could be a bit of a challenge for Patrick Mahomes. Pittsburgh has a decent pass defense and Tyreek Hill may be limited by his heel injury. Still, If Hill is 100 percent, then Mahomes will finish as a top-three QB this week. It is easier to beat Pittsburgh with WRs than TEs, so Travis Kelce could be the trap play here.
Najee Harris is still dealing with some lingering issues from his elbow injury sustained last week. He did return to the game and played through the pain, so his output will be based on pain management this week. Only one team allowed fewer RB touchdowns this year than KC. The one way they have been beaten is by pass-catching backs. Harris is certainly capable of doing damage through the air. If we knew for sure that he would get a full complement of touches, I would make him the RB3 on this slate based on volume alone. That said, we do not know if he will be limited and the matchup is less than optimal. This leaves him as the likely RB4/5 instead. Benny Snell is his backup. If Harris is forced to miss this game, Snell becomes an instant volume play at RB. If Harris plays, Benny becomes only Showdown eligible.
Darrel Williams has actually outproduced Clyde Edwards-Helaire this season. CEH has missed a few games this year with a couple of different injuries, so this is the main reason for the statistical discrepancy. Williams hurt his toe last week, but all signs point to him playing here. CEH is recovering from a shoulder injury, and he should also play, but his status is less certain. If both of them play, neither is better than RB5. If one of them plays they could finish as high as RB3. If neither of them plays, Derrick Gore and Jerick McKinnon could both be in play as a punt FLEX. Otherwise, you can ignore McKinnon and Gore.
Diontae Johnson is my WR2 this week based on volume alone. He gets peppered with passes (usually very short passes), because Big Ben can only throw the ball so far. Chase Claypool is still technically the WR2 for Pittsburgh. That said, he hasn’t done much in the last month. His price is cheap enough to consider at WR3, but I prefer Cedrick Wilson there. Ray-Ray McCloud has actually outproduced Claypool recently. That makes their pricing difference laughable. I feel much better about McCloud here with the cost savings. McCloud also seems to have passed James Washington on the depth charts. Washington had two zero-point showings before missing last week with COVID. If he returns this week, I’ll lose some faith in Claypool and McCloud. Even still, Washington will only be viable in Showdown contests. We also just got word that JuJu Smith-Schuster is back practicing with the Steelers. I doubt he plays this week and even if he does, I doubt he plays enough to be relevant. That said, as a Chiefs fan, I’m kind of hoping that JuJu does play a bit and at least shows that he is healed enough to potentially be a free-agent target for them.
The million-dollar question for KC is, “Will Tyreek Hill be 100 percent this week?” He did play a few snaps last week, and practice reps this week suggest that he will be good to go. This will keep Hill in the WR1 conversation despite a potentially sticky matchup. More importantly, if Hill plays, he will open up the offense for the rest of the KC talent. Mecole Hardman has slid to third on the WR depth chart for KC, but he stands to gain the most if Hill is out. Either way, I like him as a WR3 option here. Byron Pringle has jumped ahead of Hardman in their normal lineup. He is also a great WR3 option this week as Hill and Travis Kelce soak up the heaviest coverage. Demarcus Robinson saw more action last week with Hill limited, but he has been mostly invisible all season. He and Josh Gordon can be left for the Showdown lineups.
Benching Travis Kelce would never be done in a non-DFS environment. This week, I would seriously consider it in the DFS world. The price is higher than Rob Gronkowski’s, despite a much worse matchup. He is always a threat to go off, so don’t completely ignore him. Just know that he may receive even more double-coverage than usual if Tyreek is viewed as limited by the defense.
You could make the argument that Pat Freiermuth was this year’s top rookie TE over Kyle Pitts. A lot of his usage has been because Roethlisberger just can’t throw the deep ball anymore. Kansas City is so-so against the position, but they haven’t faced many higher-end tight ends. He is the TE6 on this slate, but much like Dalton Schultz, I like his potential as the other half of a double- or triple-TE lineup. Zach Gentry has also seen an uptick in targets lately, but with so many better options on this docket, he can be ignored.
Kansas City’s defense will be the top-owned team, and rightfully so. I will have a lot of exposure to them. Pittsburgh could have some value, especially if Tyreek is out or limited. This potential play is aided by the fact that Mahomes can take some unnecessary risks at times.
Here are my Sunday-only Slate recommended lineups:
At DK: $7.2k for Tom Brady, $5.7k for Eli Mitchell, $5.6k for Leonard Fournette, $7.9k for Deebo Samuel, $5.4k for DeVonta Smith, $4.3k for Cedrick Wilson, $6.4k for Rob Gronkowski, $4.4k for Dallas Goedert at FLEX, and $3.1k for the Dallas Cowboys defense.
At FD: $8.4k for Brady, $7.4k for Mitchell, $7.3k for Fournette, $8k for Tyreek Hill, $6k for Wilson, $5.2k for Jauan Jennings, $7.4k for Gronk. $5.9k for Goedert at FLEX, and $4.1k for the Dallas Cowboys defense.
At Fanball (featuring SuperFlex): Brady, Dak Prescott at SF, Mitchell at RB, Fournette at RB, Samuel at WR, Diontae Johnson at WR, Wilson at WR, Gronk at TE, Goedert at FLEX.
Sunday strategy – Tom Brady is the GOAT. He is also the best play on the entire Sun-only Slate. That said, QB is loaded this week. There isn’t a bad play on the board. Just know that based on price, Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo are the only two that are solid plays on both DK and FD.
Pay to Play:
Tom Brady, Buccaneers vs. PHI ($7,200 DK, $8,400 FD)
As is always the case, Brady has a floor of three passing TDs. Those three TDs will go to the Bucs’ tight ends. If he throws for a fourth or fifth touchdown, too, I wouldn’t be surprised, just know that he will throw for at least the three touchdowns to the tight ends.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs vs. PIT ($7,300 DK, $8,700 FD) I don’t really dislike Mahomes this week. I just realize that he is the priciest QB on the board and is facing a decent defense. Plus, his top WR may not be 100 percent, and his second favorite weapon is locking horns with one of the toughest TE defenses in the league. Mahomes will still probably post 300-3. Just accept that this is his ceiling rather than his floor this week.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Niners @ DAL ($5,300 DK, $6,800 FD) Garoppolo will need to use all of his weapons to stay with Dallas offense this week. Fortunately, he has enough weapons to do just that. Dallas is great at taking the ball away, they are also great at being burned by stud WRs and TEs. I know that Jimmy G. will throw a pick or two. If you can deal with those picks, you will be happy when he finishes with a floor of 250-2.
Sunday strategy: It is playoff time. That means it is Playoff Lenny time. Leonard Fournette is the top option on this slate despite just returning from his injury. I don’t mind Ezekiel Elliott as a pivot at RB1. Eli Mitchell is my RB2. I could see using Darrel Williams at RB2 if (and only if) Clyde Edwards-Helaire remains out. If Miles Sanders or Najee Harris is out, then Boston Scott and Benny Snell could have some volume-based value in so-so matchups. I’m probably taking my FLEX from the TE position on this slate, so don’t worry about hunting for a third option.
Pay to Play:
Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers vs. PHI ($5,600 DK, $7,300 FD)
How high would Fournette’s price be if he wasn’t coming off of an injury? After spending all season throwing nearly five figures at guys like Jonathan Taylor, imagine being able to have one of the top RBs on this slate for under $7.5k. Philly has allowed 305 total yards and three total RB scores over their last two games. With Ronald Jones almost certainly out, Fournette should have little trouble topping 125 total yards (with five or more receptions) and scoring at least once.
Najee Harris, Steelers @ KC ($6,600 DK, $8,000 FD)
Harris is facing a KC defense that has allowed the second-fewest total RB scores this past season. The only saving grace for Najee is that KC does give up a fair amount of receptions and receiving yards to the position. That said, I’m afraid the game script will end up hurting Harris’ carry count, negating some of that added receiving value. Plus, we need to be wary of whether his elbow injury won’t affect his workload. At this price, those risks are unaffordable. If Najee does suffer a setback this week, Benny Snell could see some value based on volume alone.
Darrel Williams, Chiefs vs. PIT ($5,200 DK, $6,600 FD)
This is a testament to the fact that there is no real value RB on this board. Williams could be a value, but then only if A) He plays, and B) Clyde Edwards-Helaire does not play. Williams has looked very good when he has played by himself and Pittsburgh has allowed the second-most total yards to opposing RBs this year. Even in a split, Williams is the preferred play. Just know that his stats won’t be as plentiful.
Sunday strategy – With little money spent at RB, I don’t see any way that you don’t play Deebo Samuel at WR1. If you do pivot, I’d recommend Tyreek Hill or Diontae Johnson. WR2 should come down to Amari Cooper, DeVonta Smith, or Brandon Aiyuk (if you don’t play Deebo). WR3 is much harder. Cedrick Wilson is the best choice (assuming you don’t use Cooper). Otherwise, I have no issue with using one of the Chiefs, Quez Watkins, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, or one of the reserve Buccaneers.
Pay to Play:
Deebo Samuel, Niners @ DAL ($7,900 DK, $8,700 FD)
The weather obviously won’t be an issue in what could be a sneaky high-scoring affair between these two teams. Dallas’ secondary likes to jump routes and pick off passes. This leaves them prone to allowing big plays. Deebo can turn any touch into a big play and gets touches any which way possible. This week, he will score a rushing and receiving TD to go with 125 total yards. Maybe San Fran will give him another passing attempt, too.
Mike Evans, Buccaneers vs. PHI ($7,000 DK, $8,200 FD) Wait, didn’t you name Tom Brady as your Pay-To-Play QB? Why aren’t you naming his only legit WR as a great start this week, too? Two words, “Darius Slay.” Slay is a stud cornerback who regularly shuts down an opposing top WR. Meanwhile, Evans has struggled at times with shutdown corners. Evans’ size and red-zone rapport with Brady keep his TD potential in play, just don’t expect a big output in terms of receptions and yards. Plus, we know that at least three of Brady’s scores will go to the TE room. This means Evans will be feeding on the scraps this week.
Cedrick Wilson, Cowboys vs. SF ($4,300 DK, $6,000 FD) Wilson is my top WR3 play this week. He has stepped in all season when one or more of the Cowboys’ WRs have been out. Now he has the WR3 role all to himself. San Fran is in the bottom 10 in both receptions and receiving yards among wide receivers. The timing is perfect for another big game for Wilson, who has three TDs in the last two weeks.
Sunday strategy – This slate screams double-TE or even triple-TE. I may even break out the dreaded quadruple-TE on FanBall once again here. Rob Gronkowski is poised to break the slate. You need both lineups without him to hedge against the chalk and lineups with him to eat the chalk when he goes off. When you do pivot off of him, any of the other five starters would be fine. Ironically the top TE price-wise, Travis Kelce, is the least safe play among them. Personally, I will be doing a lot of lineup stacks of Tom Brady and Gronk while running it back with Dallas Goedert.
Pay to Play:
Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers vs. PHI ($6,400 DK, $7,400 FD) If you are a fan of making TD prop bets on sports gambling websites, mash the button on Gronk anytime multiple TD scoring until the button falls off. With a short-handed receiving corps, Gronk will catch at least two TDs and quite likely three (assuming he doesn’t share with Cameron Brate and perhaps even O.J. Howard). Philly has no clue what to do with the TE position (which is a surprise since they are known for having very good TEs on offense). They have been made to look like jobbers all season long, and it isn’t going to improve here. The only reason to not start Gronk at TE is if you are trying to achieve variance. In that case, just choose any of the others. Once you’ve done that, click back on Gronk and put him in your FLEX spot.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. PIT ($6,700 DK, $7,500 FD)
Kelce is never a true “stay away.” In this case, he is just the most expensive guy, and he has a less than stellar matchup. I still think he will catch a TD and probably post a reasonable line. Just know that if Tyreek Hill is at all limited this week, Pittsburgh will double-team Kelce on every play rather than just most plays.
Dallas Goedert, Eagles @ TB ($4,400 DK, $5,900 FD)
Someone has to score for Philly to keep this game close. Tampa has struggled all season with their pass coverage and, by all accounts, DeVonta Smith is primed for a huge game. Of course, Philly needs more than just Smith to be competitive. You cannot run the ball against Tampa, so I firmly expect that the Philly running game will become the Philly “dump the ball off to Boston Scott and Goedert” game. We could see double-digit receptions for the talented TE. I’m not sure how many yards those will account for, but the PPR points will flow.
Monday Night Game
*Note these players are available in the full-slate tournaments and Sun-Mon tourneys. Since their prices are different for Showdown contests, I will only list their salaries for full-slate tourneys.
Kyler Murray is a solid full-slate play, but there are several QBs below him price-wise I prefer. So, I won’t have much exposure to him.
One of the QBs priced below Murray that I love is Matthew Stafford. Arizona has been brutal against the pass recently, making Stafford one of the safest floor plays.
A healthy James Conner would only be a C-grade start this week against a decent run defense. Unfortunately, he isn’t 100 percent. He also is overpriced by a lot on FD. I’d almost rather see him miss this game. If he does, then we can roll out Eno Benjamin as a great full-slate bargain RB.
Cam Akers returned in Week 18 but didn’t do a lot. I guess that would be asking for the world for him coming back from such a major injury so quickly. This week his price is low enough that you can definitely take a fli
er on him at FLEX. Sony Michel still led the way on the ground for Los Angeles last week. His numbers weren’t great. That is in line with how he performed in the two prior games against Arizona – mediocre. I have to assume his volume will dwindle more this week, which really hurts his value here.
Christian Kirk was a surprising afterthought last week. This week he will have to deal with Jalen Ramsey. This isn’t a great sign. Normally, I would consider using him as a WR2. This week I’ll pass on him. A.J. Green and Antoine Wesley make much better WR3 options here. Wesley’s value could take a hit if Rondale Moore returns for this game to steal snaps. That said, I’m not overly worried about that happening. Greg Dortch should be left for Showdown consideration.
Cooper Kupp is the top WR play on the full slate. He should be your WR1 and price should not matter. With money savings at QB and RB, fitting Kupp on your roster is easy. If you don’t use Kupp at WR1, you need to have one of Van Jefferson or Odell Beckham at WR2/WR3. They both have a great chance to score here. I have even fumbled with the idea of punting WR3 with Ben Skowronek. Truth be told, I probably won’t use him in the tourneys, but may consider him in Showdown.
Zach Ertz is one of the best of the midpriced TE options on the full slate. I am using multiple TEs this week, so he could easily fill my FLEX role if I use him.
Tyler Higbee is overpriced on FD this week. Plus, I feel people will chase his two scores from Week 18. Don’t be that guy. This isn’t a solid matchup as Arizona is very strong against the position.
The Rams defense DK price may lure you into playing them. You could do worse. Their FD price is a shade high though. The Cards also have a decent price tag but I don’t trust them to be able to stop the Rams offense.