NFL

FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Wild Card Sunday (Steelers at Chiefs)

The Pittsburgh Steelers got a big win last week and then rode their luck to make it into the postseason. Their prize is a road game at the Kansas City Chiefs, with kickoff set for 8:15 p.m. EST on Sunday night. These two played at Arrowhead in Week 16, and KC won, 36-10, in a game that was even more of a massacre than that score indicates.

On FanDuel Sportsbook, the Chiefs are 12.5-point favorites, and the total is at 46.5 points. That makes the implied score a 29.50-17.00 KC win.

For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the main slate. However, kickers are included in these contests, and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5-times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.

Our Brandon Gdula has done a deep dive on single-game strategy, and we have projections for the single-game slate if you select the game from the slate tab. It's worth checking out both of those things before you make your lineups.

MVP Candidates

You already know this, but Patrick Mahomes ($17,500 on FanDuel) is going to be the most popular MVP play. According to our projections, he should be as we have him pegged to score 21.6 FanDuel points -- a whopping 5.4 more than anyone else.

In all likelihood, he'll lead the slate in scoring, and he got to the Steelers for 22.32 FanDuel points back in Week 16. The only issue with using Mahomes at MVP is that you'll need to differentiate elsewhere to make your lineup unique. Although that's plenty doable, I just have a hard time swallowing chalk at MVP, so I'll mostly have Mahomes at flex.

Mahomes' top two weapons -- Tyreek Hill ($13,500) and Travis Kelce ($13,00) -- offer high ceilings and won't be as popular in the multiplier spot as their quarterback is. Kelce didn't play in the first meeting with Pittsburgh while Hill was held to 2.9 FanDuel points. Our model has Hill and Kelce projected for 15.2 and 13.5 FanDuel points, respectively.

Of the two, I prefer Hill, whose game-changing speed can break a single-game slate. Hill practied in a limited fashion on Thursday, so his heel issue doesn't seem to be a huge deal. While Hill has scored more than double-digit FanDuel points only once over his last six games, the one time was a 26.8-point eruption. That ceiling is what makes him such an enticing MVP option.

The masses will likely use a KC player as their multiplier, so going with a Pittsburgh piece at MVP is a way to be different. Their top options are Najee Harris ($14,500), Ben Roethlisberger ($14,000) and Diontae Johnson ($12.500).

You can make a case for all three depending on how you think the game will play out. If you expect Pittsburgh to keep it close, Harris -- and T.J. Watt wrecking the KC offense -- is likely their best route to doing so. If you think the Steelers get behind and have to go pass-heavy, Big Ben and Johnson make sense.

I'm going with Harris, and he's my favorite MVP play on the slate. Our model loves him, forecasting the Steelers' back to score 15.2 FanDuel points, the most on the slate outside of Mahomes. Harris has seen a huge workload all season long, and that's not going to change in the playoffs. Pittsburgh will probably try to control the clock with Harris and keep Mahomes on the sideline. Harris has at least three targets in every game he's played this season, so he'll be involved no matter how things game plays out.

Flex Breakdown

I'm going to have a lot of the aforementioned Johnson in a flex spot. Johnson gets peppered with looks as he has at least nine targets in eight of his last nine games. He's the logical run-back piece if you're loading up on KC and figures to be popular. Our algorithm has Johnson producing 12.5 FanDuel points.

As for Roethlisberger, it's not hard to fade him altogether. He hasn't scored more than 12.36 FanDuel points in four straight, and even when the Steelers got into a huge hole in the first matchup against the Chiefs, Big Ben totaled just 7.36 points. His only paths to a big day are touchdown luck and massive volume. We have him scoring 13.9 FanDuel points.

Chase Claypool ($11,000) and Pat Freiermuth ($8,500) need to be on our radar.

Freiermuth is easy to like at the salary. If you go with a 4-1 build -- playing for a Chiefs' onslaught -- and use him as your lone Steeler, you can pretty easily jam in the Chiefs' big three. The ceiling is not fun. Freiermuth has generated double-digit FanDuel points just twice over his last eight games, and he needed a tuddie to do so each time -- and still scored only 10.0 and 12.2 points. But he could benefit from added volume if Pittsburgh has to abandon the run.

Claypool is likely over-salaried as the Steelers' clear number-two receiver, but he is a pivot off Johnson. Although Claypool underwhelmed this year, some of it was bad touchdown luck as he scored just twice. He is another guy who could pop off if the Steelers have to go pass-heavy, and he'll likely be overlooked at his salary.

On the Kansas City side, we have to track the status of Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($11,500), who has sat the last two games and didn't practice on Thursday after practicing Wednesday. If he's able to play, CEH will likely split work with Darrel Williams ($12,000), and it'll be tough to get too excited about either. But if CEH sits, Williams becomes an excellent play.

Williams didn't do much in Week 18, but he went for 107 total yards and 2 scores two weeks ago, and he'd be in line for another big workload if Edwards-Helaire sits. (UPDATE: Edwards-Helaire has been ruled out.)

Demarcus Robinson ($7,500), Byron Pringle ($8,000) and Mecole Hardman ($8,500) are just dart throws with the Chiefs' passing game concentrated on Kelce and Hill. Our model has Pringle and Hardman projected for 5.3 and 5.2 points, respectively, while Robinson's projection is at a mere 2.4 points. We rate Pringle as the best point-per-dollar pick of the bunch, and he's played at least 59% of the snaps in seven of the last eight games.

The kickers are solid options. although the weather for a night game at Arrowhead is worth tracking. Harrison Butker ($9,500) and Chris Boswell ($9,000) rate out as the two best point-per-dollar plays among those salaried under $11,000. Our algorithm much prefers Butker, projecting him for 10.0 FanDuel points, compared to 7.4 for Boswell, whose team may be in a position where they have to forego field-goal tries later in the contest.