DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Wild Card Weekend
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The regular season is over, but the DFS action doesn't have to stop. This four-game slate has plenty of key decisions to make as we contend with several challenging defensive units. In fact, six of the top 13 overall defensive units by our schedule-adjusted metrics are in action during Wild Card weekend.
Deshaun Watson ($6,700): Home and road splits haven't been a factor for Deshaun Watson, but it's still good to know that he'll be at home as a very slight favorite in the game most likely to shoot out into a high-scoring affair when the Houston Texans face the Indianapolis Colts for the third time this season. Additionally, Watson -- who has been intercepted in only one game since Week 7 -- is coming off a regular season finale in which he ran a season-high 13 times for 66 yards and a touchdown. The last five games have seen Watson's pass volume uptick to nearly 35 attempts per game with a sharp 73 percent completion rate. However, Watson has been sacked 25 times during that span, five by the Colts, though Indianapolis has failed to record a sack over their last two games. Watson leads our projections as the top quarterback for Wild Card weekend.
Andrew Luck ($6,400): Houston has a stout run defense that ranks first by our schedule-adjusted metrics, so it stands to reason that Andrew Luck will be asked to do a lot of passing. In the first meeting, Luck set season-high clips across the board with 40 completions on 62 attempts for 464 yards and four touchdowns back in Week 4. Round 2 came during a Week 14 showdown in which Luck threw for 399 yards, his second-highest output on the year. Each of these secondaries rank just outside the bottom 10 pass defenses in the league while their rush defenses are among the 10 best. Our projections have Luck at 299.91 passing yards. If that were pushed to 300 yards, the three-point bonus would push Luck's projection to the top quarterback spot.
Mitchell Trubisky ($6,200): The Chicago Bears are the biggest favorites for Wild Card weekend and carry the third-highest implied team total. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles have allowed more than 330 passing yards in four of their last five games. Additionally, mobile quarterbacks have been very successful against Philly. Marcus Mariota, Cam Newton, Blake Bortles, and Deshaun Watson all ran for more than 40 yards and produced plenty in the passing game. As for Trubisky, he's played much better at home with 19 passing touchdowns in eight games while averaging 7.0 yards per rush attempt on 5.3 carries per contest.
Ezekiel Elliott ($9,000): Back in Week 3, on the road against the Seattle Seahawks, Ezekiel Elliott ran 16 times for 127 yards but caught just three of eight targets for 11 yards. He stepped out of bounds on a what would have been a long touchdown reception and lost a critical fumble. Even though Seattle is one of the better run defenses by our rankings, Elliott is clearly at his best in Jerry World. On the season, Zeke has exceed 20 carries on six occasions, only one of which was on the road. Four of his 20-carry outings resulted in 100-yard games, and three came with more than 70 receiving yards. Likely to be the highest-owned player on the slate, Elliott seems nearly impossible to fade in most situations.
Tarik Cohen ($5,400): Even though Tarik Cohen is coming off a season-low 28 percent snap rate, he found the end zone in Week 17 and should be a much bigger part of the game plan this week. Because when it comes to running backs catching the ball, Philadelphia has seen the third-most targets to the position, allowed the second-most receptions, and sits sixth in receiving yards allowed. Philly's last four games have seen Ezekiel Elliott register 79 receiving yards, Todd Gurley put up 76 receiving yards, and Houston's backfield combine for 54 receiving yards.
Darren Sproles ($4,100): A 35-year-old Darren Sproles has led the Eagles in backfield snaps each of the last two weeks. Over the five games since returning, Sproles has three touchdowns while averaging only seven touches per game, but he's been active lately. Assuming Philadelphia needs to take a pass-heavy approach on the road as 6.0-point underdogs, Sproles could be a featured option for the defending champs in what might be his final game. Those punting with the Eagles defense at only $2,200 should consider taking the double dip with Sproles as he'll be returning kicks on special teams.
DeAndre Hopkins ($8,700): Since Week 10, DeAndre Hopkins has led the league in Weighted Opportunity Rating (WOPR), per airyards.com. And according to Sharp Football Stats, the Colts pass defense ranks 30th in success rate -- near league bottom -- but is top-five in explosive passing, allowing the seventh-fewest pass plays of 20 yards or more. Hopkins caught only four of 10 targets against Indy in Week 14 but torched them on the road in Week 4 for 169 yards. Teammate Keke Coutee also went over the century mark in that contest, yet only five wide receivers have exceed 70 yards against the Colts in the 13 games since. Even if Hopkins doesn't break a big play, he's easily our highest projected wide receiver and the only one we have seeing double-digit targets.
Dontrelle Inman ($4,300): Believe it or not, Dontrelle Inman put up more than 800 yards and was targeted nearly 100 times back in 2016. But Inman -- who turns 30 years old at the end of the month -- was traded the following season and has been mostly off the radar since. Over the last two weeks, however, the former CFL champ has caught nine of 11 targets and ranks second on the Colts with 119 air yards and 123 receiving yards. Both T.Y. Hilton (ankle) and Inman (shoulder, finger) are banged up but will see plenty of opportunities as Houston's elite run defense will funnel nearly all the action to a pass defense that ranks 31st in explosive passing against.
Michael Gallup ($3,600): Since Amari Cooper's first game with the Cowboys back in Week 9, rookie Michael Gallup has a nearly identical share of the team's air yards and owns a team-high average depth of target (aDOT) of 13.7. And even though Gallup has recorded 50 or more receiving yards in consecutive games, DFS managers are going to see a total whiff (0 targets) in the game log from back in Week 15. The opposing Seahawks have allowed the second-most pass plays of 20 yards or more, but they are still the 11th-best pass defense by our metrics. All receivers in this price range have low floors; few have the big-play potential of Gallup.
Eric Ebron ($5,200): The Texans have issues against tight ends -- like major issues. In fact, Eric Ebron scored on them in both contests during the regular season, totaling nine receptions on 18 targets for 105 yards. During the season, Houston saw the third-most targets to the tight end position, and the Texans were one of only nine defensive units to concede more than 1,000 receiving yards to tight ends. Ebron -- who became a new father Thursday night -- scored a total of 12 times during his four years with the Detroit Lions but has found the end zone 14 times this season in what has been another master stroke by Colts general manager Chris Ballard.
Blake Jarwin ($3,300): Even though Blake Jarwin has exceeded a 60 percent snap rate just once all season, he's coming off a huge Week 17 outing in which he secured seven of eight targets for 119 and scored three -- yes, three -- touchdowns. That type of performance won't be repeated this week against the Seahawks, but Jarwin is a player Dallas has been getting more involved, targeting him seven times in both Week 14 and Week 15. As for Seattle, they've limited the likes of Jared Cook, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, George Kittle, and Travis Kelce to under 55 yards. Jarwin is a budget play for cash games as another ceiling game for tournaments seems unlikely.
Chicago D/ST ($3,400): In addition to leading the league in takeaways by a margin of five, the Chicago Bears will face a banged-up Nick Foles (ribs), who has thrown an interception in all three of his late-season starts while taking a total of four sacks. Furthermore, the Eagles have what is easily the lowest implied team total among the eight teams that will be competing during Wild Card weekend. Over their last five games, the Bears have gotten to the quarterback for three or more sacks on four occasions. Chicago's game-changing defense is worth paying up for in this spot.
Baltimore D/ST ($3,000): Facing a must-win scenario at home in Week 17, the Baltimore Ravens' pass defense -- the league's top unit by our metrics -- was roasted by rookie Baker Mayfield for 376 yards and three touchdowns; giving Baker the rookie touchdown passing record in only 13 starts. However, Baltimore also intercepted him three times to give them a total of seven picks over the last four games. That includes a Week 16 contest against these same Los Angeles Chargers, who carry the second-lowest implied total of the weeknd. Philip Rivers was sacked four times and intercepted twice in that game. Rather than stacking the Ravens' defense with a running back, another rookie quarterback, Lamar Jackson ($5,800) makes a lot of sense given the 17 rush attempts he's averaging per game.
Eric McClung is not a FanDuel employee. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.