FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Wild Card Round (Sunday Slate)
Sunday's FanDuel wild card slate kicks off at 1:05 pm ET, giving us another three-game offering to dissect this weekend.
As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's daily fantasy tools at your disposal. In particular, our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values, while the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals and every team's strengths and weaknesses.
Now, let's run through some of this week's top plays of the slate.
Lamar Jackson ($9,300 on FanDuel): Much like Josh Allen on Saturday's slate, Lamar Jackson sits alone at the top among Sunday's signal-callers. After underwhelming for much of the season, Jackson switched into gear from December onward, posting more than 25 FanDuel points in four of the last five weeks, including two games with 30-plus points. With Jackson looking more like the one-man wrecking crew we saw in 2019, and the Titans coming in as the third-best schedule-adjusted offense in our metrics, this matchup has a fantastic, slate-high 54.5 total. Jackson is projected for the most FanDuel points on Sunday.
Ryan Tannehill ($8,200): The Titans face a tough Ravens defense, but that shouldn't deter us from rostering Ryan Tannehill. This game has a high total for a reason, and the last time these two teams faced off, Tennessee won 30-24, almost hitting this week's total exactly. We also shouldn't discount just how efficient Tannehill has been this season. He's produced 0.31 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, which puts him behind only Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen -- that's it. And while it isn't a consistent part of his game, Tannehill occasionally surprises with some rushing upside, tallying seven rushing touchdowns this season, five of which have come in the last three games.
Ben Roethlisberger ($7,500): Ben Roethlisberger has been right around league average in Passing NEP per drop back this season, but he's still managed a handful of spike weeks through sheer volume. No team averages more pass attempts per game than the Steelers, and Roethlisberger has cracked 25 FanDuel points in three of eight games where he's exceeded 40 pass attempts. While there's no guarantee Big Ben reaches that threshold on Sunday since Pittsburgh could roll against a Cleveland team struggling with COVID-19 issues, the Steelers haven't always scaled back their passing attack in blowouts. The matchup also checks out, as the Browns rank 29th in adjusted pass defense. Big Ben is projected for 38 pass attempts and is the top point-per-dollar quarterback value behind Lamar Jackson.
Derrick Henry ($10,200): Baltimore may rank fourth in adjusted rush defense, per our metrics, but that didn't stop Derrick Henry from churning out 19.7 FanDuel points in their last meeting. At this point, we know what we're getting when we roster Henry. He's exceeded 30 FanDuel points four times this season but has also been held to single digits on four occasions. It's a wide range of outcomes, but that ceiling means you're definitely going to want exposure in tournaments.
Alvin Kamara ($9,000): As of this writing, it's unclear whether Alvin Kamara will be back this weekend (although Kamara himself suggests he will be), but he's the top point-per-dollar running back in numberFire's model. Of course, the last time we saw Kamara, he racked up a historic six rushing touchdowns in Week 16. In Kamara's 11 games with Drew Brees, he's averaged 29.0 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets), which exceeds Henry's season-long workload (27.5), and he put up 20.8 FanDuel points against Chicago earlier this season. If Kamara is ultimately ruled out, Latavius Murray ($5,400) shoots to the front of the line as a clear-cut value play.
David Montgomery ($8,400): David Montgomery is right up there with Henry and Kamara in terms of volume, as he's averaged 28.3 adjusted opportunities in the six games since the Bears went back to Mitchell Trubisky in Week 12. This isn't a great spot against New Orleans, though, which ranks ninth in adjusted rush defense and has allowed the fewest FanDuel points per game to running backs. That said, it's hard to argue with that workload on a short slate, and he gets enough passing-game work to stay relevant if the Bears fall into a negative game script.
J.K. Dobbins ($6,800): It's pretty much touchdown-or-bust when it comes to J.K. Dobbins, but you could do worse than taking the top back on a team with a 28.75 implied team total. Despite averaging just 14.2 adjusted opportunities over the last six games -- which includes just four total targets -- he's scored seven touchdowns over this span. Six of those scores have come in the red zone, and while he does compete for touches in that area with Gus Edwards ($5,700) and Lamar Jackson, he leads the team in red-zone carries (22) over both Edwards (13) and Jackson (11) during this stretch.
A.J. Brown ($8,400) and Corey Davis ($6,400): The great thing about stacking the Tennessee-Baltimore game is we have a good idea of who will be targeted on both sides. In the dozen games where both A.J. Brown and Corey Davis have been active together, Brown has a 27% target share and 35% air yards share, while Davis has clips of 24% and 36%, respectively, meaning this duo accounts for more than half of Tannehill's passes and nearly three-quarters of the team's air yards. As noted earlier, this isn't an easy matchup by any means, but Brown and Davis posted 14.2 and 13.8 FanDuel points, respectively, in their first game versus Baltimore.
Diontae Johnson ($7,000): Excluding last week's game without Roethlisberger, from Week 9 onward, Diontae Johnson has averaged a team-high 12.0 targets per game with a 28% target share and 26% air yards share. That volume has led Johnson to hit double-digit FanDuel points in seven of nine games during this stretch, with 17 or more four times. He's the top pass-catcher to roster on Pittsburgh's offense. JuJu Smith-Schuster ($6,500) and Chase Claypool ($6,100) have averaged 8.8 and 8.0 targets per game, respectively, over this span, so they're clearly in play, too. Claypool gets more air yards (31% to 14%) and has the lower salary of the two.
Michael Thomas ($6,800): Michael Thomas returned to practice this week, so he should be good to go for Sunday. At this salary, he projects as the best point-per-dollar wideout by a sizable margin. Amazingly, this will be just Thomas' fourth game with Drew Brees this season, and those first three games include a Thomas injury (Week 1), blowout (Week 9), and Brees injury (Week 10), making it hard to truly evaluate Thomas' usage in those contests. Still, Thomas was fantasy's top wideout in 2019, so it's easy to take a shot at his sub-$7K salary -- especially on a team with a 28.50 implied team total.
Marquise Brown ($6,300): Following mostly underwhelming results early in the season, Marquise Brown has come alive down the stretch, with double-digit FanDuel points in six straight games. Things started to turn around for Brown when Mark Andrews hit the reserve/COVID-19 list, but since Andrews returned in Week 14, Brown has still maintained a 29% target share and 30% air yards share over the last four games. Lamar Jackson has cracked 30 pass attempts just twice all year, so Brown remains reliant on touchdowns to put up fantasy points, but the game environment is the best of the slate.
Mark Andrews ($7,000): Mark Andrews is the only tight end with a salary above $6K, but he's also the only one projected for double-digit FanDuel points, making him easily the top choice at the position. The run-heavy nature of Baltimore's offense gives Andrews a lower floor than we'd like at this salary, but since returning from COVID, he's averaged 7.0 targets with a 34% target share and 36% air yards share. He's also Lamar Jackson's favorite target in the red zone this season, with Andrews' 16 red-zone targets tied for the 13th-most in the league.
Jonnu Smith ($5,200): Beyond Andrews, not a whole lot separates the five starting tight ends who follow, so you might as well aim for the one with the lowest salary in the game with the highest total. Smith sees inconsistent volume from week to week, as shown by his last four healthy outings (2, 5, 7, and 2 targets), so the floor is pretty much zero, but what keeps us interested is his red-zone usage. Smith leads the team with 17 red-zone targets, which has helped him to eight touchdowns this season. Entering Week 17, Baltimore actually ranked just 22nd in Target Success Rate allowed to tight ends, so perhaps Smith can cash in on what should be a high-scoring shootout.
New Orleans D/ST ($4,600): Sunday's top projected defense belongs to New Orleans, who are 9.5-point favorites over Chicago. While a return to Mitchell Trubisky helped the Bears squeak into the playoffs, he performed just a tick above league average in Passing NEP per drop back over the final six games, and Chicago's three-game win streak came against three non-playoff teams with lackluster defenses (Texans, Vikings, and Jaguars). The only playoff team Chicago faced over that span was Green Bay, who blew them out both times, and they also lost to the lowly Lions. The Saints will easily be the toughest defense Trubisky has faced over this stretch as New Orleans ranks fifth overall and third against the pass in our metrics.
Cleveland D/ST ($4,000): The Pittsburgh D/ST ($4,800) has to be considered against a Cleveland team suffering an ill-timed Covid outbreak, but if you're looking for some value, there could be merit to flipping over to the Browns' side. That's because we know Roethlisberger is going to throw early and often, which could help Cleveland generate sacks and turnovers. In truth, Big Ben has done a good job of avoiding sacks, with just 13 on the year, but we've seen him occasionally struggle with turnovers, like in Weeks 14 and 15 against the Bills and Bengals.