FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Wild Card Round (Saturday)

The 2021-22 NFL playoffs are upon us after the first 18-game regular season. Thankfully, our weekly FanDuel NFL primer doesn't end with the regular season, extending into the playoffs to aid your roster building.

However, this shouldn't be your only stop for informing your FanDuel lineup decisions. We suggest you check out the numberFire daily fantasy tools. One of my personal favorite tools is our weekly projections, which help highlight players I might be overlooking or confirm my lofty expectations. Additionally, the heat map offers a quick glance at the slate's highest implied totals and game spreads. Finally, the team power rankings are a great source for determining matchup advantages.

Now, let's look at Saturday's two-game wild card slate on FanDuel.


Josh Allen ($8,800 on FanDuel): Allen is the top quarterback on FanDue's two-game Saturday slate despite a challenging matchup. The high winds in the first meeting between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots derailed his performance in Week 13. Thankfully, the wind isn't a concern, but the temperature is expected to drop below zero. Perhaps the cold will cause some hiccups. Nevertheless, it's unlikely the temperature will completely wreck Buffalo's passing attack.

Moreover, Allen's elite rushing ability provides him an escape hatch for delivering value. He has rushed for more than 60 yards in four of his last five games. Finally, Allen shredded the Patriots in the second meeting, passing for 314 yards and 3 touchdowns, adding 64 rushing yards on 12 attempts.

Allen's ceiling is undeniably high, and our projections project him to lead all players in scoring on FanDuel's Saturday main slate.

Joe Burrow ($7,800): Burrow is projected to be the second-highest scorer on Saturday's main slate, and he possesses a high ceiling, as well, albeit without the rushing upside. Additionally, Burrow's matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders is markedly easier than Allen's against the Pats. According to our power rankings, the Patriots are the third-best pass defense, and the Raiders are the eighth-worst pass defense -- the worst among all playoff teams.

Head coach Zac Taylor has demonstrated a willingness to crank up the passing or rushing volume depending upon the matchup. In Week 11, when the Bengals played the Raiders in Las Vegas, he leaned heavily on the running attack. So, it's possible he'll return to the formula that netted the Bengals a 32-13 win.

However, it's only one game, and the Raiders have been much better against the run (our third-ranked rush defense in the power rankings) than the pass, and Burrow was a man on fire before resting in Week 18. The second-year quarterback spun it for 525 yards and 4 touchdowns in Week 16, following it up with an impressive encore, chucking it for 446 yards and 4 touchdowns.

As a result, Burrow is popping in our projections. I noted above he's the second-highest projected scorer on the slate. However, I withheld that Burrow has the highest value score -- a measure of points per one-thousand dollars of salary -- among quarterbacks.

So, Allen is my favorite cash game quarterback with a ceiling worth using in GPPs, but Burrow is nipping at his heels, making him an excellent GPP selection, too.

Running Backs

Joe Mixon ($8,500): Mixon is my second-favorite running back on this slate, salary considered. For most of the year, he shared passing-game work with Samaje Perine while commanding the lion's share of the rushing work. Mixon's workload resulted in a per-game average of 94.9 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference. In addition, he destroyed the Raiders in Week 11, rushing for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns on 30 attempts.

However, I'm burying the lede. My infatuation with Mixon is accentuated by a late-season emergence in the passing game. According to Pro Football Focus, in Week 15 through Week 17, he ran 70 routes versus only 29 for Perine. Further, Mixon netted 15 targets, hauling in 14 for 112 yards and a touchdown. Mixon was especially active in his last two games, corraling 13 of 14 targets for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Therefore, Mixon's a game-script-proof bell-cow now. Regardless, the game script should be good for him, as the Bengals are 5.5-point favorites, the biggest on the slate. Mixon's a great pick in all game types.

Josh Jacobs ($7,200): Jacobs is opposing Mixon, meaning he'll likely be saddled with a negative game script. Fortunately, unlike earlier this year or in previous years, a negative game script doesn't sound the death knell for Jacobs' outlook. On the contrary, it might actually be a blessing for Jacobs, given the matchup.

The Bengals are the 12th-best rush defense in our power rankings. However, according to Pro Football Reference, the Bengals allowed the fifth-most receptions (108) to running backs in 2021.

Still, if the Raiders pull the upset, you can expect a heavy dose of Jacobs on the ground. According to Sharp Football Stats, from Week 10 through the end of the regular season, when the game was in a neutral game script (an offensive scoring margin from trailing by six points to leading by six points), the Raiders ran at an above-average rate (46 percent versus 45 percent for the league average).

So, Mixon isn't the only game-script-proof back in this game. Nonetheless, I'm only interested in Jacobs in GPPs, as I prefer to allocate my cap space elsewhere in cash games. Additionally, I like the next running back that's a few hundred dollars cheaper more outright, making him the better value.

Devin Singletary ($6,900): Singletary is my favorite running back on FanDuel's Saturday main slate, salary considered. He makes it three-for-three for do-it-all backs featured in this space. "Motor" didn't open the year as a feature back, but he ascended to that role late in the year.

According to our snap counts, Singletary has had an offensive snap share of 77.27 percent in his last five games. During that stretch, he's exceeded 75 scrimmage yards in each game, catching 14 passes on 17 targets, while scoring 6 touchdowns, including a four-game streak reaching pay dirt to conclude the regular season.

With the Bills favored by four points, the game script should be good for the third-year back. However, if the game script goes south for the Bills, that's not a concern. In Buffalo's last five games, Singletary has run 151 routes versus only 20 for Zack Moss. As a result, I love Singletary in all game types.

Brandon Bolden ($5,000): Bolden rounds out the running back selections as a GPP consideration. He's New England's pass-catching back. If the rubber match resembles the second matchup, he might be busy, with the Patriots chasing the Bills. In the two AFC East clashes, Mac Jones attempted only 35 passes, directing 6 to Bolden -- tied for second on the team.

Bolden has appeal beyond a negative game script scenario, too. The Patriots have attempted 77 passes in the red zone, throwing 9 to Bolden, who also rushed 8 times in scoring territory. In all, Bolden's scored three red zone touchdowns, providing him a secondary path to value.

Wide Receivers

Stefon Diggs ($8,000): Diggs is the unquestioned alpha in Buffalo's passing attack. The team has mixed and matched receivers to some extent behind Diggs, but the star receiver has delivered the goods. According to Sports Info Solutions, Diggs was 10th in target share (23.9 percent) and 2nd in intended air yards (1,790).

Thankfully, Diggs' elite underlying stats led to meaningful box score numbers. Diggs averaged 6.1 receptions and 72.1 receiving yards per game, scoring 10 touchdowns.

Still, you might be thinking, but what about Bill Belichick notoriously taking away the opposition's best offensive player? Have no fear because that hasn't come to fruition for Diggs.

Save for the wind game in Week 13, Diggs has had his way with the Patriots in three other games for the Bills, ripping them for 92 scoreless yards on 6 receptions, barbecuing them for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns on 3 receptions, and, most recently, carving them up for 85 yards and a touchdown on 7 receptions.

Diggs is projected as the second-highest scoring receiver with a matching value score at the position.

Tee Higgins ($6,900) and Tyler Boyd ($6,000): I'm lumping the analysis of Higgins and Boyd together. Ja'Marr Chase is notoriously absent from this piece. He's undoubtedly a matchup-proof monster who can catapult FanDue teams to the top of a contest. Nevertheless, the matchup is better for Higgins and Boyd, and both are steals at their respective salaries.

According to Sharp Football Stats, the Raiders allowed the sixth-lowest average explosive pass rate (seven percent). Meanwhile, according to Pro Football Focus, Chase's average depth of target of 13.6 yards downfield was deeper than Higgins' mark of 12.2 yards and Boyd's mark of 8.0 yards. Thus, Higgins and Boyd are theoretically better matchup-based selections, with the added benefit of providing salary relief.

In addition, Higgins was a stud in his own right, sporting a 20.4 percent target share and ranking 18th in intended air yards (1,410).

Finally, Higgins and Boyd joined Chase by making noise in the red zone. Chase led the Bengals in targets (15), receptions (10), and receiving touchdowns (5) in the red zone. However, Higgins had 13 targets, 7 receptions, and 4 touchdowns, and Boyd efficiently reeled in 3 touchdowns on 7 targets.

As a result, Higgins has the top value score among receivers, and Boyd has the fifth-highest value score.

Zay Jones ($5,300): Jones is another name popping from a value perspective. He has the fourth-highest value score, according to numberFire's projections. The former second-round pick has made a surprising emergence late in the year in the Raiders' passing attack.

The 26-year-old receiver caught five or more passes in six of his last seven games, reaching at least 50 yards in four of those seven. From Week 12 through the end of the regular season, Jones was tied for first on the Raiders in routes (238), and second in targets (53), receptions (38), and receiving yards (369). Additionally, he didn't turn into a pumpkin in Week 18 with the return of a stud tight end I'm discussing below. Instead, Jones tied for the team lead in routes (37) and targets (five).

I expect the Bengals to handle their business at home, playing ahead for most of Saturday's game. So, if the game goes according to my expectations, Jones has a chance to be busy throughout Saturday afternoon. He's a rock-solid value pick in all game types.

Gabriel Davis ($5,200): Davis is a GPP-geared pick, especially if Emmanuel Sanders returns this week, clouding a crowded receiver room further. Still, even if Sanders returns, Davis might stave him off.

From Week 15 through Week 18, Davis was third on the Bills in routes (163) despite missing Week 16 on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. During that stretch, he was also second on the team in targets (31) and receiving yards (207), tying for the team lead with 3 touchdown receptions.

Davis has been an integral part of Buffalo's offense in the red zone all year. The second-year receiver was third on the Bills in targets (18) and tied for second in touchdown receptions (6) inside the 20-yard line. Thus, even if Davis slips into a committee with Sanders opposite of Diggs on the perimeter, he has a means of backdooring fantasy value with a touchdown.

Finally, there's correlation value attached to stacking Davis with Allen, enhancing your team's scoring upside if you stack the duo.

Tight Ends

Darren Waller ($6,300): I teased Waller in Jones' write-up above, and here he is. He's the top tight end on the slate. Unfortunately, there's a risk to using him, as this will be only his second game back from a knee injury.

Still, his usage in his Week 18 return was encouraging. Waller was tied for the team lead in routes (37) and targets (9). Sadly, he was inefficient, reeling in just a pair of receptions for 22 scoreless yards. Regardless, I'm willing to chase the volume against a team he torched earlier this year. Not much went right for the Raiders when they were drilled by the Bengals in Week 11, but Waller efficiently caught 7-of-8 targets for 116 yards.

Finally, Cinci wasn't great shakes defending tight ends this year. They yielded the seventh-most FanDuel points per game to tight ends in 2021. Therefore, it's understandable our model likes Waller, projecting him as the runaway top scorer with by far the best value score at tight end.

Foster Moreau ($4,700): The tight end position beyond Waller is filled with question marks. So, I'm open to punting. And, if I punt the position, I don't see much value in saving only a few hundred dollars to use Dawson Knox (unless stacking him with Allen) or Hunter Henry. Instead, I want to spin all the way down to Moreau, rooting for the position to bust as a whole.

Moreover, the same favorable matchup Waller is treated to applies for Moreau, as well. He also didn't wholly disappear from the Raiders' offense in Waller's return last week, running 13 routes and catching both of his targets for 50 receiving yards. So, even in a tertiary role, Moreau might not faceplant.

Finally, if he does stink and the rest of the position busts, at least you'll benefit from saving salary cap space.


Buffalo D/ST ($4,500): The Bills are home favorites and a top-flight defense, facing a rookie quarterback in his playoff debut. According to Pro Football Reference, the Bills were tied for 11th in sacks (42), tied for 3rd in turnovers forced (30), and 1st in quarterback pressure rate (30.8 percent).

As for the quarterback matchup, Jones was markedly worse on the road than at home. In eight road tilts, the rookie passed for only 6 touchdowns with 194.9 yards per game while also tossing 6 interceptions, losing 2 fumbles, and taking 13 sacks to boot. He also couldn't ask for a more difficult matchup, facing our top-ranked pass defense.

Typically, I avoid paying the top salary on a defense. However, the lack of high-end talent on this two-game slate awards the leeway to spend the requisite salary to use the Bills.

Cincinnati D/ST ($4,300): The Bengals are the other home favorite, and our projection model likes them more than the Bills' defense. Cinci is projected to lead the position in scoring, and their value score is the second-highest.

The Bengals tied for 17th in turnovers forced (21) and tied for 11th with the Bills for sacks (42). The matchup is good for Cincinnati, too. Pro Football Focus graded the Raiders as the 11th-worst pass-blocking team.

In addition, last week's 35-point outburst by the Raiders was uncharacteristic of their 2021 campaign. Since their Week 8 bye, the Raiders scored more than 23 points only two times. They also fell short of 350 total yards in their last six games, committing multiple turnovers in four of those contests.

Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.