Daily Fantasy Football Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - Wild Card Round 2017
The playoffs are here! No more terrible quarterbacks, no more random back-up running backs, just good, clean... damnit. Just when you think you've left the Brock Osweiler's, Matt Moore's, and Matt McGloin's of the world behind for good, you get to pick through them in the very first round of the playoffs. But it's not all doom and gloom - there actually is a reasonable amount of value to be had even if one game is nearly a total skip.
A note on formatting for this week. Instead of writing specific value plays (which would basically just be a copy of our optimal lineup), we're going to give a more in depth game by game breakdown, akin to our Friday podcasts. Let's get to work!
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Houston Texans at the Oakland Raiders
Houston favored at -3.5 with O/U of 37
Well this might be the worst playoff game in the history of the entire universe. That’s not overstating things even in the slightest. The Raiders took an epic tumble in the last two weeks of the season. They lost MVP candidate Derek Carr to a broken leg and went from a team with an outside chance of home field advantage throughout the playoffs to playing a road Wild Card game in Houston with Connor Cook as the starting signal caller. From a gut punch perspective, that one really takes your breath away.
Houston has issues of their own, though they can’t blame injury (totally) for their lack of quarterback play. Instead it’s just a bad Brock Osweiler contract. Osweiler brings in the second worst quarterback rating among qualified starters (thanks Ryan Fitzpatrick) to a game in which he wouldn’t even be playing if not for the Tom Savage concussion.
This would be a nearly unwatchable regular season affair except that we now get it as a stand alone Wild Card playoff game. NFL Baby!
But there are a couple of interesting plays from a DFS perspective. Lamar Miller should return and there’s a solid chance he sees a heavy workload in this game. The Texans held him out as a precaution last week knowing the Week 17 game was meaningless and after Le’Veon Bell he might have the most projected running back volume of the weekend. He topped 19 or more carries in four of his last five games and you can expect the Texans to lean heavily on him.
Meanwhile, C.J. Fiedorowicz returned from the concussion last week and makes for a cheaper TE option on both sites. And DeAndre Hopkins did hit double digit targets for the second time in three weeks even with Brock taking the snaps.
The Raiders’ side of things is much less enticing with Cook taking the snaps. He’s thrown exactly 21 professional passes though I guess you’re somewhat encouraged with the 67% completion percentage against the Broncos last week. But it’s a significant downgrade to the entire Raider team, especially the receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree whose prices haven’t ticked down for the decrease in QB play. Latavius Murray can’t be considered safe either with the whole offense looking much worse.
I do like the Texans’ side of the ball for some value, but this one’s going to be tough to watch.
Detroit Lions at the Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks favored at -8 with an O/U of 43
Is there anything to trust about the Seahawks running game? Thomas Rawls has been unbelievably ineffective this season, averaging 3.2 yards per carry in a relevant sample size (over 100 touches). He only mustered 14 yards on 8 carries last week against a dreadful 49ers’ D in a game the Seahawks wanted to win. With Alex Collins looking fine I think we could see more of a committee approach against the Lions who are below average against the run.
Russell Wilson is a guy to take a hard look at it cash games though. Detroit ranks dead lasting DVOA against the pass this season and Wilson’s threw for 8 TDs in the last three weeks of the season. He also averaged 20 yards per game on the ground in the last five with a crazy 80 yard running day against the Bucs in Week 12. It’s likely between Wilson and Aaron Rodgers for cash games on this short slate.
After seeing 19 targets in Week 16, Doug Baldwin came back down to Earth with only four against San Fran. Expect him to see more in the 8-9 range this week against the weaker Lions’ secondary. Jimmy Graham and Jermaine Kearse deserve consideration as well with both just missing touchdown catches last week.
Detroit is interesting mostly because the sites have significantly downgraded their pricing because of the matchup against Seattle. That leaves Matthew Stafford and Golden Tate looking like intriguing options even with the Seattle D staring them down. The latter’s basically been a double digit target per game guy over the second half of the season and lining up in the slot might have him avoid Richard Sherman. Zach Zenner saw a ton of looks against the Packers, but it’s hard to imagine him mustering that type of usage as such big underdogs against a significantly better Seahawks run D (2nd in DVOA).
Miami Dolphins at the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh favored at -10 with an O/U of 47
It's the game with the highest total this week, but it isn't without its issues. The most glaring issue here is the spread - -10 is a fairly nasty margin, and it tells you that Vegas doesn't think Matt Moore and company have much chance to march into Pittsburgh and get the job done here. As of this writing (on Tuesday) there's still an outside chance Tannehill returns, but does that really move the needle for fantasy values? I'm not so sure. Let's take a look at a few key guys from this game, though.
The first is pretty clearly Le'Veon Bell. Bell was a cash game staple throughout the season, almost independent of match-up and price. At $10,300 he's certainly testing the upper bounds of what you'd like to pay for him on FanDuel, but there's thankfully enough value elsewhere to support putting him in at running back. And in case you haven't noticed by now, running back is really bad this week. You also aren't supposed to be able to get match-ups this good in the playoffs. The Dolphins have allowed the worst yards per carry to opposing running backs (4.8), and all bets are off as far as how Bell could eviscerate them here.
As for the Steelers passing game, that gets a little bit dicey for me here. I hate the potential for a blowout, which takes Antonio Brown off the table. They haven't had a reliable tight end all season thanks to so much of the offense being tied to Bell, and we haven't really seen a reliable WR2 bubble up to the surface either. There's a case to be made for Ben Roethlisberger here, but it seems crazy to play him over Aaron Rodgers. All in all, Bell looks like the one major takeaway from Pittsburgh.
And then there's the Dolphins. Ajayi has been on again, off again, and do you really want to play him as a 10 point underdog? Matt Moore just isn't a thing outside of your long-shot big tournament line-ups, so that leaves us with the Miami receivers, but there's actually a little bit of value here. Kenny Stills' targets are on the rise, he's cheap, and he's punched in a touchdown in each of the last 4 weeks. But can you really trust it? More interesting to me is Jarvis Landry. He's put up fringe WR2 value in the past, and Moore threw to him 12 times for 76 yards and a touchdown against New England. He's cheap enough that he enables big money plays elsewhere, and I could see him being a good cash game play.
New York Giants at the Green Bay Packers
Green Bay favored at -4.5 with O/U of 45
The G-men head back to Green Bay for another playoff game, hoping to double up on their trip to Green Bay during their Superbowl winning 2007 run. Vegas doesn't see it as out of the question, as this game has the tightest spread of any of the real games this weekend (no, OAK vs. HOU doesn't count).
Aaron Rodgers capped off his run as the season's most consistent daily fantasy football quarterback with his second straight 300+ yard 4 TD 0 INT performance, and he's just $8,600 going into this week. Looking up and down the list of the other QBs going this week makes me think that this might be the highest double-up ownership we see on a quarterback all season, and it's really tough to imagine not taking him here. The Giants are a top ten team against the pass this season, but in the playoffs, you can't typically get too greedy. Rodgers' main squeeze should continue to be Jordy Nelson, but it was troubling to see him account for just 6 targets and 66 yards worth of Green Bay's excellent production last week. Still, he caught all the balls thrown his way, and should be a reasonable option this week if you can afford him. Davante Adams had a very strong week 17 fantasy performance, but he's much more of a boom or bust red zone guy than a cash game staple for me. The running situation in Green Bay is an absolute mess, with Aaron Ripkowski and Ty Montgomery splitting carries to no convincing effect. I could see either being a reasonable big tournament option, though, and Ripkowski gets extra points for being cheap.
The Giants' side of the ball is a little bleak, with one exception - Odell Beckham Jr. Am I supposed to put two periods at the end of that sentence, or does the period from "Jr." suffice? The world may never know. Too bad there's no way to quickly search for things like this anywhere. Anyway, Beckham had been rather quiet before flashing his once transcendent upside against the Eagles, garnering 20 targets and turning them into 11 grabs and 150 receiving yards. He didn't do much against Washington, but the Giants weren't playing for anything, so that's to be expected. I think he's a very reasonable option in all formats. After him, yeesh. Manning has been horrendous from a fantasy perspective, and the Giants really haven't supported a fantasy running back all season. If you think you can guess right on Paul Perkins or Rashad Jennings, be my guest, but I wouldn't look to those guys for anything but big tournament separation.
Playoff football, baby!
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- CHIEFS-PACKERS: (AP Foto/Mike Roemer)