Wild Card weekend DraftKings plays
Each week I’ll comb through the options at each position to bring you my picks for the players with the best combination of safety and upside over a wide price range. These are guys you’ll use in cash games for the most part, but there’s nothing wrong with slotting a couple into your tournament lineups as well for stability.
Wild Card weekend is tough thanks to the great defenses featured in all four games. We simply don’t have great positional matchups in most cases. To make matters worse, weather is likely to be a factor in at least one game (Seattle at Minnesota). There’s little to feel safe about, but these are the guys I can justify using in any format.
Russell Wilson $7000: I think Wilson is the safest play at any position. He’s been unstoppable for weeks, and he’s faced some tough opponents, including Arizona and these Vikings. In Week 13, Wilson threw for three touchdowns and ran for his lone rushing touchdown in Minnesota. The Seahawks are an experienced playoff team, the entire offense will be healthy, and while the weather is sub-optimal, they made it here by passing and I don’t expect that to stop because of the cold.
A.J. McCarron $5200: McCarron will be popular for sure given his price and one of two decent quarterback matchups on the slate. I don’t have him as a high upside option this week; I feel like 280/2 is a likely ceiling, but I think his floor isn’t too much below that. With a strong supporting cast around him on both sides of the ball, I think we can use him confidently in any format.
Alfred Blue $4200: I can’t believe it’s come to this, but there is literally uncertainty and negative aspects surrounding every running back this weekend. Given that, I’m inclined to save at the position. I’m also not concerned too much about being intentionally contrarian here…ownership will be distributed naturally pretty evenly in my opinion. The case for Blue is volume. He’s seen 20, 15, and 21 carries over the last three weeks, notching two 100-plus yard rushing games in that span. The Chiefs are very good against the run, but it’s worth noting that all but one of the seven rushing touchdowns they’ve allowed this year have come on the road.
Jeremy Hill $5000: Hill is another volume play; having seen 16, 19 and 19 carries over the past three games, he’s clearly the workhorse back for the Bengals. Depending on how you see the game playing out, you’ll want to choose between McCarron and Hill. I think they use a balanced game plan, so as not to put the whole responsibility on McCarron’s shoulders, and Hill should be the guy they turn to to keep Ben Roethlisberger off the field. Like the Chiefs, the tough Steelers run defense has given up three of their four rushing touchdowns on the road, though none have been to the Bengals’ backs so far.
A.J. Green $7500: A.J. Green is a good play regardless of how you feel about McCarron. Considering fantasy points per dollar, I prefer him to Antonio Brown ($9600). Green has torched the Steelers twice this year for a total of 250 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while Brown has gone for 134/1 vs. the Bengals, games in which Ben Roethlisberger has struggled this season (1 TD, 4 INT facing Cincinnati). Green has maintained value after Andy Dalton got hurt, garnering 24 targets from McCarron and scoring three touchdowns with him.
Martavis Bryant $5600: I’m not as high on the Steelers as some people, but I’ll be getting shares of Bryant. Not only because of the additional motivation he seems to have gotten from his coach’s and quarterback’s critical words this week, but because he’s been an efficient part of this offense (ranks 17th in fantasy points per opportunity (0.46) among wide receivers) all season long. He has as much upside as anyone in Pittsburgh and despite his 10 drops, has the big play/end zone ability that I think the Steelers need. The reasons for Bryant’s recent struggles are partly due to injuries, and if the statements are to be believed, effort. He says he’s ready to meet the challenge put forth by Roethlisberger but if he doesn’t make good on his opportunities early, this could be another wasted day for Bryant, so use him mainly in your tournament lineups.
Doug Baldwin $6700: I like all the Seahawks receivers this weekend, and there is definitely value to be had with Tyler Lockett ($4,400) and especially Jermaine Kearse ($3,300), but Baldwin is the preferred option if you can afford him. Tied with Brandon Marshall and Allen Robinson for the most touchdowns in the league with 14, Baldwin is coming off his worst game against Arizona. Prior to that he had a string of perhaps the most dominant wide receiver games of the entire season, crushing his DraftKings value for five weeks straight, including the Minnesota game. I like him to get back on track immediately this Sunday.
Jordan Reed $6300: I’m not high on Kirk Cousins, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think Reed will pay off his hefty price tag. In fact, Reed finished the season as the most efficient tight end, with 0.64 fantasy points per opportunity and was overall the second-best PPR tight end. He leads the team in targets, receptions and touchdowns by a fairly wide margin. Considering how close he and Rob Gronkowski ended up in most statistical categories, Reed is truly a bargain at his price. With a meager run game at best, Cousins will look to his tight end often in this game and I’m looking for over 100 receiving yards and 1-2 touchdowns from Reed easily.
Tyler Eifert $5000: If you need to save a bit, or really believe in the Packers defense, it’s not a huge step down in production to Eifert. After missing most of McCarron’s games (he was hurt in the same Week 14 game as Andy Dalton), Eifert bounced right back with a touchdown and caught all four passes thrown his way. All season long, Eifert has proven himself a reliable end zone target and I like McCarron to focus in on him almost as much as Green. Pittsburgh has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, though Eifert hasn’t taken advantage … yet.
Houston Texans $3900: The Texans don’t rank as highly as they should in season long rankings thanks to a slow start but they finished the season strong, albeit against the weaker offenses of Jacksonville and Tennessee. The advantage of using them this weekend is in the potential low score of this game. The Chiefs don’t turn the ball over a lot but Alex Smith is the sixth most sacked quarterback and the Texans ranked fifth in sacks for the regular season. While all the road teams are favored (or pick ‘em), I still prefer a home defense in the playoffs.
Washington Redskins $3300: Again a home option, with similar justifications. The Packers have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing defenses of any team playing this weekend. Aaron Rodgers, while I think he has a good game here, has been sacked the fifth-most in the league. The Redskins’ defense has been above average in both takeaways and sacks. The risk of a high scoring game is real, but look for Washington to ask more of its defense if they want to win this game.