DFS bargains for Wild Card Weekend
After sorting through this week’s price sheets, I’ve found some valuable players for our Wild Card Round rosters. As I have done every week, I used my prediction models—which I’ve written about in the past—to find the players with the most value at each position on all three major DFS sites. I also accounted for injuries and matchups when I made my picks.
Most of the well-known fantasy studs and superstars have been excluded. Even though I think many of them have a lot of value this week, I don’t think it’s necessary to explain why.
Now, lets jump into some of my favorite value picks for this weekend’s games. I’ve included many of the players’ projected floor and ceiling scores (PPR). They give us clear indication of who has good GPP potential (high ceiling), and who should be used primarily in cash games (high floor). The prices listed below each player are the ones I consider to be good values.
AJ McCarron vs Pittsburgh
Of the limited field of quarterbacks playing this weekend, McCarron has the most value. On all three sites, he’s either the cheapest or the second-cheapest projected starter. Over his three starts this season, McCarron completed 54 of his 83 passing attempts for 552 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Not bad for a backup.
McCarron has the best matchup of all the quarterbacks playing this weekend. The Steelers defense has given up the third-most passing yards per game this season (291.3), and has the 24th-best pass coverage rating (-26.9). McCarron has already faced the Steelers once this season. In Week 14, he relieved an injured Andy Dalton, who left the game after fracturing his throwing thumb. Playing from behind, McCarron completed 22 of 29 aimed passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns.
We project this game to have the highest total score of all the matchups this weekend, and for the Bengals to win. McCarron’s floor is seven points, and his ceiling is 29. At his dirt-cheap prices, he’s a steal on all three sites.
Fitzgerald Toussaint at Cincinnati
DeAngelo Williams has officially been ruled out for Saturday’s game. Toussaint will lead the Steelers backfield, as Jordan Todman will be used as the change-of-pace back. Talent wise, Toussaint is average at best. He typically gets only what is blocked for him. Both his overall PFF positional grade (55.0) and run grade (54.0) are classified as “replaceable.”
His DFS value is primarily derived from the overall productivity of the Steelers offense, and his role in that offense. The Steelers have the third-highest rated offense (94.2) in the league this season. It also has the fourth-best rushing rating (24.8), and has scored the second most rushing touchdowns (15) this season.
Toussaint has a fair matchup this week. The Bengals have a middling run-defense rating (21.7), and gave up 84 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns to the Steelers in Week 14. So, despite his underwhelming pro talent, Toussaint holds nice value at his near-minimum prices. His floor is five points, and his ceiling is 23. Fire him up in your GPP lineups this weekend.
Giovani Bernard vs Pittsburgh
The Steelers have a top-tier run defense. They gave up the sixth-fewest rushing yards to opponents this season. In Week 14, they held Jeremy Hill to 2.29 yards per carry. It’s difficult to trust he’ll fare a whole lot better against them this weekend.
Bernard, on the other hand, performed well against the Steelers in Week 14. He averaged 6.67 yards per carry, and outgained Hill by 43 total yards. In fact, Bernard out produced Hill for the season. Both men played in all 16 games; Bernard totaled 1209 total yards, as Hill totaled only 873 yards. Also, Bernard’s overall PFF positional grade (78.3) surpasses Hill’s grade (71.7) by quite a bit.
The biggest difference between the two backs is touchdowns. Hill scored 12 total touchdowns this season, and Bernard scored only two. Nevertheless, Bernard still outscored Hill in overall fantasy points (PPR).
Hill is the more-expensive Bengals back this weekend, but Bernard is the safer and cheaper of the two. His floor is five points, and his ceiling is 19. I’m passing on Hill, and plugging Bernard into my GPP lineups this weekend.
Tyler Lockett at Minnesota
Lockett is an explosive playmaker with major upside. For the season, he has the second-highest PFF Wide Receiver rating (130.4) among players having at least 25% of total targets. He’s also a big playmaker as a punt returner. In last week’s game alone, he returned three punts for over 30 yards. He has a fair chance of taking one to the house during any given game.
Recently, Lockett has built a rapport with Russell Wilson. On a per-game basis from Week 14 to Week 16, Lockett averaged 4.7 receptions on 6.7 targets for 64 yards and a touchdown. In fact, in three of his final five games, Lockett put up at least 90 receiving yards or a touchdown. He’s now Wilson’s second-favorite target, behind Doug Baldwin.
I expect Lockett to have a big performance this week. Thirty-seven-year-old Terence Newman is projected to cover Lockett most often in this game. Lockett has a nice advantage (8) in that matchup, per the PFF Wide Receiver/Cornerback Chart. His floor is five points, and his ceiling is 24. He’s a nice high-upside value play this week.
James Jones at Washington
Jones has been the Packers most-productive wide receiver this season, as he leads the team in yards (890) and touchdowns (8). Like Lockett, he’s a big playmaker with huge upside. For example, he racked up 102 receiving yards on only four receptions last week. In fact, he has averaged an impressive 17.8 yards per reception this season.
Aaron Rodgers hinted that he’d have more of a gunslinger mentality this weekend. I’m taking that remark with a grain of salt. But, if it were true, Jones would be the biggest benefactor of that change. Especially considering the matchup, as Quinton Dunbar is projected to cover him the most often in this game. Jones has a big advantage in that matchup (15), per the PFF Wide Receiver/Cornerback Chart. His floor is four points, and his ceiling is 24. If you want a high-risk high-reward receiver in your lineup this weekend, Jones is the player for you.
Tyler Eifert vs Pittsburgh
This weekend’s most valuable tight end is Jordan Reed. However, he’s also the most expensive on all three sites. If you want to go against the grain, and grab the second most-valuable tight end, Eifert is your guy. His floor (four) and ceiling (26) are similar to Reed’s, but his cost is less.
In Week 17, Eifert got back into the groove of things, as he missed the two prior games due to a concussion. He caught all four of his targets for 51 yards and a touchdown. For the regular season, he led tight ends in touchdown receptions (13). It equated to exactly one touchdown per game played. I like his chances of finding the end zone in this matchup.
Dave Pratt, DPT, is PFF Fantasy’s injury expert. Follow him on Twitter @PFF_DavePratt