Daily Fantasy Football Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - Wildcard Round 2018
The playoffs are here! After an absolutely wild week 17 we return to some semblance of sanity... or do we? We've got some big spreads for week 1, a potentially up-in-the-air running back situation for the 2 worst teams in the playoffs, and the worst run of quarterbacks I can remember for the first round of the playoffs. Should make for an exciting time, at least!
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So, quarterback is a downright mess this week. With a 4 game slate you always run up against the possibility of poor QB play, but the story we like to tell ourselves is that that won't be the case in the playoffs.
Alex Smith FD 7800 DK 6300
Proj Points FD - 18.74 DK - 19.31
Many people will be on Cam this week, but I might lean toward Smith. He's outscored every QB on this slate in terms of raw fantasy points per game, for starters. Smith is a more accurate passer and is actually pretty effective on the ground, even if his carry volume won't be as high as Cam's. He'll bring his full compliment of offensive weapons in Kelce, Hill, and Hunt, and it was a very welcome sign to see Hunt get 9 targets in the Chargers game. I also like him against Tennessee because of the disparity in how well they defend against the pass and the run. They've been a top 5 defense all year against the run, and ranked as the 7th worst passing defense in the league by year's end. The Chiefs will know this, of course, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them use Hunt more in the passing game than strictly as a ball-carrier. I am not sure which way the rest of the industry will lean, but early on, I might be leaning toward Smith for my 50/50s and double-ups this week.
Cam Newton FD 8300 DK 6500
Proj Points FD - 18.59 DK - 19.19
Cam has distinguished himself as one of the very worst passers that people think is actually good, but I honestly think the fact that teams must fear him taking off on the ground makes him an effective real life QB. For our DFS purposes, that means we basically need him to do damage on the ground in order for him to be a value. Given that he's a heavy favorite to get 10+ carries in any given game, AND that he's the goal line back, I still think he's a reasonable option. Just know that there is always a chance he disappears completely. New Orleans is basically a dead-even league average defense, but in the playoffs that will make them one of the better match-ups. You should see a lot of Cam ownership this week.
You're really considering playing some of these other guys? Drew Brees and Matt Ryan are big names, sure, but are you aware that they've averaged 17 and 15 fantasy points per game, respectively? Throw in some bad match-ups and you simply can't do it.
After them, Tyrod is bad and draws the Jags, Goff is way overpriced, Mariota is bad (but does have a good match-up), and Bortles is wildly erratic.
If I had to recommend some off-beat big tourney plays I would say Brees simply because I have to believe the upside is in there somewhere, but I could also be Bortles being a popular play. He put up some nice weeks when Fournette was banged up, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Jags just try to lock this one down on the ground.
A LOT of question marks at this position right now, so let's get them out of the way first.
LeSean McCoy is currently doubtful for this weekend's game, but there are mutterings that he might give it a go. If he does, the whole Bills running game is entirely unplayable. But what about if he misses? I think we're still screwed. I have legit no clue how the Bills could deign to score a single point against the Jags defense, and you really don't want to be invested in a bunch of back-up running backs when a team is trying to chase their playoff lives.
Derrick Henry touched the ball 29 times in Tennessee's week 17 win, but like clockwork, there are still questions about DeMarco Murray's availability. Now we SHOULD know this leading up until game time, but I wouldn't be shocked if they string us along until then. With a gun to my head I'd guess (as of this Tuesday writing) that Murray will miss, in which case our projection system thinks Henry is a great way to pay down at RB so you can spend up elsewhere.
But there is still a lot of question around the big $ running backs. Let's sift through them.
Kareem Hunt FD 8200 DK 8100
Proj Points FD - 23.66 DK - 25.33
Leonard Fournette FD 8100 DK 7400
Proj Points FD - 20.42 DK - 21.95
I feel like I'm going to be forced to decide between these guys this week, and I'm not looking forward to making the final call. It's relatively easy on DraftKings where Fournette is $700 cheaper, but on FD? It's a little tricky. We've seen the insane upside of Hunt recently - the guy is a candidate to touch the ball 30+ times per game, including as many as 9 targets per game. Tennessee is a tough defensive match-up, but you have to believe that the Chiefs will do their best to get Hunt going early.
As for Fournette, he was one of the original usage machines this season before getting dinged up as the season progressed. One has to believe that the plan is to run him left, right, and center in a game where the Jags are favored by 9 and the Bills have zero offensive weapons. The Bills have also just been downright terrible against the run this season. If I had to decide as of now, I think I'd want to go with Fournette on both sites -- but just know that a lot of people will go in a different direction.
The (hopefully) overpriced guys
I'll start with an easy one - I'm just not playing Alvin Kamara this week. I know he's shown some flashes of brilliance this season, but given my other RB options this week I just can't prioritize a guy who splits carries with another person and is a candidate to lose goal line touches.
So that leaves Gurley. $10,000 on FanDuel is a wildly high price, but our lineup optimizer is still flirting with the idea of running him out there. And I get it! He's basically been a RB1 and a WR1 in games the Rams are actually trying to win, scoring 44 fantasy points in each of his last two games.
Is that really where we want to be fading this week? A guy who had 22 carries and 10 receptions in the last game his team used him? Gulp. But $10,000 is just a fortune when we won't have much punt flexibility. Not looking forward to rooting against this guy if things hold like they currently are.
Julio Jones FD 8500 DK 8000
Proj Points FD - 17.08 DK - 20.61
Mohamed Sanu FD 5800 DK 5600
Proj Points FD - 10.95 DK - 13.59
Our current lineups are showing both ATL wide receivers, and it's easy to see why. With the bad QB play and good defenses this week, it's hard to find value. With 11 targets in each of Atlanta's last 2 must-win games, it sure looks like Julio is close to being back to where he's been in the past. If he is a favorite to get 11 targets a game like he has the last two games, these prices are simply too cheap. As for Sanu, it takes a little more squinting, but it's awfully tempting to run some cheap WRs so you can pay up for Jones AND an expensive running back or two. $5,800 is pretty damned cheap for a guy who garnered 18 targets in his last two games, and given that he's been an excellent outlet in short yardage situations, I wouldn't be surprised to see him have high ownership in cash games this week.
Cooper Kupp FD 6600 DK 5800
Proj Points FD - 10.82 DK - 13.16
Robert Woods FD 7400 DK 6600
Proj Points FD - 11.76 DK - 14.3
I find it a little trickier to project the Rams' target share this week simply because they've had injury problems at the position, and Gurley absolutely went HAM in their last 2 games. I'm projecting something of a rock-paper-scissors approach by the Rams' offense this week. The Falcons simply have to be gameplanning to see Gurley on every play, and the Rams simply have to know that. I think they are a smart enough team to shift some of the opportunity to their very capable possession receivers, each of whom has had some flashes of excellence this season. The Falcons were ranked 9th against the run this year, so this scenario doesn't seem implausible. I do prefer both of these guys to Sammy Watkins for 50/50s and double-ups, though.
It's kind of nuts to only list receivers from 2 teams here, but let's just look quickly at some of these other options, shall we?
Jacksonville: Marqise Lee could be coming back for this game, in which case he's a pretty interesting option that completely ruins any chance at projecting the opportunity of any of their other guys. Even if he misses, you're left with a WR core that's recently re-added Allen Hurns in a week where they shouldn't have to pass at all. Not for me.
Carolina: Maybe Funchess? But no.
Tennessee: I actually like Eric Decker - he's cheap as hell and has 5, 10, and 6 targets in each of his last 3 games. He opens up a lot of money with his sub $5,000 salary. The rest of the Tennessee guys? No.
Kansas City: Do you want to play $7,700 for a guy who has averaged fewer than 7 targets per game in his last 3? Then Tyreek Hill is your man. Not for me.
New Orleans: We've been huge believers in Michael Thomas, but it's only a tournament play. NO wants to run the ball, and while Thomas has upside, it's hard to imagine playing him over Julio Jones.
Travis Kelce FD 7700 DK 7100
Proj Points FD - 15.34 DK - 18.73
Another great reason to want to find some savings at WR! Kelce is by far the best fantasy tight end on the slate, averaging more than 4 more fantasy points per game than the next best wide receiver. You're paying up for it, sure, but he's the only thing remotely resembling safety out of the tight end position on this slate.
Charles Clay FD 5500 DK 4000
Proj Points FD - 9.96 DK - 12.52
I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of Charles Clay ownership this week just because he's sort of the obvious option if you don't want to pay all the way up for Kelce. He's averaged 9 targets in each of the last 3 games, and Buffalo's receiving corp is so bad that it's hard to imagine that Taylor and the Bills don't look his way often in this one. But what's that really worth against a Jacksonville team that allowed 10% fewer passing yards than the next best passing defense in the league? I'm honestly not sure. It's one of those times where I'll just plug in the inputs into our algorithm and trust what it spits out. Right now it has Kelce in 90% of the top 10 overall lineps, but that at least means Clay is playable here.
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