DraftKings Plays - Wild Card Round
Getting caught-up in the excitement of the NFL Playoffs is understandable, yet it’s not advisable to put a typical weekly percentage of your DFS bankroll at risk. With a slate that features only four games, opportunities to differentiate a lineup are significantly diminished – and the luck factor is enhanced.
Essentially, playing DFS during the playoffs is more about enjoyment than systematic bankroll growth, and increasing the usual GPP-to-Cash games ratio is acceptable. That said, below you will find a lineup constructed with core cash games principals in mind – because, why not?
The players in the cash games lineup are chosen primarily with strong salary value, significant projected touch volume, and favorable matchups that occur in games with a high Vegas over/under. While not every selection will meet each threshold, the quest for a high statistical floor will be a common theme.
Cash Games Lineup
QB: Cam Newton ($7,600) vs Arizona Cardinals (38)
The highest-scoring passer in the last four weeks that he’s played, Newton offers both a high-floor and ceiling. During those games, he’s run 39 times for 246 yards and three scores. The Cardinals’ pass defense is bottom-third, and running quarterbacks have shredded them.
RB: Jeremy Hill ($6,200) at Indianapolis Colts (49)
When he’s gotten at least 17 touches, the Bengals are 7-1 and Hill averaged 140 combined yards and a touchdown per game. He ran for 7.1 yards per carry on 56 first-half touches during those wins, as Cincinnati built leads. He clearly represents the best chance they have.
RB: Justin Forsett ($6,100) at Pittsburgh Steelers (45)
In a dicey weather situation, Forsett will be a key cog in a quicker-hitting passing attack. Among running backs, he led the league in pass blocking snaps and had the ninth-most receptions. His Week 17 rushing resurgence should carry over against Pittsburgh’s middling run defense.
WR: Dez Bryant ($8,500) vs Detroit Lions (48)
Dallas would prefer to continue their ground-based attack, but against Detroit’s second-ranked run defense the sledding will be tough. Bryant is second only to Odell Beckham Jr. in receiver scoring over the last month, and has six touchdowns in his last three games.
WR: Golden Tate ($5,500) at Dallas Cowboys (48)
Detroit will skew pass-heavier with guard Larry Warford out (more on this below), and all of the runoff won’t flow to Calvin Johnson. Tate will primarily match up with Orlando Scandrick, but often moves around – with slot percentages that range from 83.7 to 31.8-percent.
WR: Markus Wheaton ($3,100) vs Baltimore Ravens (45)
He’s the punt play with a strong chance of returning value at his near-minimum price, and allows the rest of the lineup to fit. See GPP Notes below for further rationale on using him for cash games and Martavis Bryant in tournaments.
TE: Jason Witten ($4,500) vs Detroit Lions (48)
The second-highest scoring tight end in PPR leagues during the last three weeks, Witten hauled in 95-percent of his 18 targets over that time. His pass blocking snaps have dipped slightly as his targets have risen, and he’ll reprise his role as Tony Romo’s security blanket.
FLEX: Daniel Herron ($4,700) vs Cincinnati Bengals (49)
The Bengals allowed the fifth-most points to running backs and rank as 23rd in run defense (-22.3). Their linebackers can’t cover, and Herron is adept in the passing game. He’s clearly the lead horse Indy’s backfield, as their coaches finally realize Trent Richardson is a slug.
DEF: Carolina Panthers ($3,500) vs Arizona Cardinals (38)
Unless you want to cross your fingers with the Bengals to reap $1,600 in savings, this is the only choice. Playing at home against an impotent offense and an overmatched passer would be a great spot if Carolina’s defense were playing poorly – and the Panthers are peaking.
Total Salary: $47,700
The main quarterbacks I will be using in GPPs are Ben Roethlisberger, Romo, and Newton. Matthew Stafford is also worth using for a lineup or two, as there’s a significant chance that game script will have the Lions airing it out often.
Considering that Le’Veon Bell is sidelined, there will be a ton of balls in the air (weather permitting). Antonio Brown will obviously be the most-targeted – by both teams – making Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant more interesting than usual.
Wheaton ($3,100) plays more snaps, sees roughly the same low target volume, and runs far shorter routes. He’s hauled in 92.3-percent of 13 targets over the last month, in large part due to a 7.8 average depth of target (8.0 aDOT over the last two weeks). Essentially priced at the minimum and with a likely target hike, he profiles as a sneaky high-floor cash game punt.
Bryant ($4,100) is the home run hitting rookie whose eight touchdowns in 10 games will result in higher DFS usage. With a 17.4 aDOT over the last month (25.0 in last two games), he’s caught 60-percent of his 15 targets. His longer-developing downfield routes will be hit-and-miss against a strong Ravens pass rush – making him a GPP option.
Megatron vaporized Brandon Carr last year – with nine catches on 12 targets, for 201 yards and a touchdown – on his way to a 329-yard day. There’s no reason to think he can’t again light up a Duraflame log like Carr, but we can expect the Cowboys to give Johnson plenty of attention. This will free up Tate and dirt-cheap options like Theo Riddick and Eric Ebron.
Dallas will be without their second-best pass rusher in Henry Melton, and the absence of Warford for Detroit contributed to them nearly abandoning the run entirely in Green Bay last week. Once PFF’s 16th-graded guard exited, and despite it being a tight ballgame, the Lions threw 26 passes and ran eight times – three of which were quarterback scrambles.
Plus matchups for wideouts include:
T.Y. Hilton ($7,800) vs Terence Newman – Hilton’s a GPP option, as uncertainty still surrounds his hamstring. However if he is healthy, he could stick the final fork in the veteran. To Newman’s credit, the 102nd-best cover corner over the last month (-7.9) has been defying the odds for years.
Mohamed Sanu ($4,200) vs Darius Butler – This is entirely dependent on A.J. Green being inactive, and Sanu did nothing as the top wideout against Indy in Week 7. Yet he posted nearly 20 PPR points per game while Green was hurt, and Butler stinks (-2.2 coverage grade; 60th).
Cole Beasley ($3,700) vs Don Carey or Cassius Vaughn – His ceiling is low, but in full-point PPR, Beasley is a decent dart-throw. He’s averaged 5.2 targets, 3.8 catches, and has three scores over the last five games. Vaughn may have lost his job, but Carey isn’t good either.
He wasn’t in the cash lineup due to salary constraints, but Greg Olsen should be in every lineup in which he’ll fit. His price tag really isn’t egregious due to a quiet last two weeks – but the matchup is excellent and there’s no reason he won’t more than pay off his salary.
With A.J. Green potentially sitting out, Jermaine Gresham becomes a little more interesting – which isn’t saying much because he’s Jermaine Gresham. Playing through injury, he scored in each of the last three weeks and even had an 11-target Week 16. The Colts give up the third-most points to tight ends and Gresham becomes a top red zone target if Green sits out.
Cam Newton (19.66) – Cam got the lineup off to a hot start, even if game flow resulted in just 16 pass attempts.
C.J. Anderson (30.70) – Rest up C.J. – Denver and degenerates alike want to keep riding you to paydirt.
Matt Asiata (12.80) – He averaged 4.8 yards on 19 carries, and more than paid off his salary – but still felt disappointing.
Randall Cobb (23.60) – Love those (too rare) occasions when a plan comes together perfectly.
Roddy White (20.40) – Tied for both the fifth-most Week 17 targets and the fifth-most targets over the last six weeks he played.
Marques Colston (13.10) – Got lucky on his 36-yard touchdown with two minutes left.
Mychal Rivera (4.60) – Garbage (time) men have no place in cash lineups. Deserved to whiff on this call.
Alfred Morris (8.20) – Game script-dependent players have no place in cash lineups. Glad this whiff wasn’t a killer.
Baltimore Ravens (12.00) – Baltimore’s sleepy offense allowed the Browns to stay balanced, or else this would’ve been even better.
Total Points Scored – 145.06
Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman