FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Wild Card Sunday (Giants at Vikings)
On paper, Sunday's Giants-Vikings matchup checks in as one of the more intriguing games of Wild Card Weekend. Minnesota is a mere 3.0-point home favorite, and the over/under is the highest of the six games (48.5). When these two teams faced one another in Week 16, the Vikings squeaked by the Giants 27-24.
For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to main slates. 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.
If we take a quick glance at numberFire's projections, five players immediately stand out as MVP options: Daniel Jones ($14,500), Kirk Cousins ($15,000), Saquon Barkley ($16,000), Justin Jefferson ($16,500), and Dalvin Cook ($13,500).
It's never a surprise to see the quarterbacks topping the projections, and this single-game slate is no exception. While Jones and Cousins haven't necessarily been the most consistent fantasy producers this season, both have flashed MVP-worthy upside at times. Quarterbacks tend to be chalky MVPs, but it's hard to see the roster percentages for these two getting out of hand.
For Jones, it's all about his legs. He finished the regular season as one of just five quarterbacks to exceed 700 rushing yards, averaging 44.3 yards per game and cashing in with seven rushing touchdowns. He cracked 20 FanDuel points five times and wrapped things up on a high note in Week 17, rushing for 91 yards and a pair of scores for a season-best 36.2 FanDuel points. Jones is a less prolific passer, but he'll be aided by an inviting matchup against numberFire's 28th-ranked schedule-adjusted pass defense, and he threw for 334 yards against the Vikings a few weeks back.
On the other side, Cousins does all his damage through the air. He exceeded 290 yards on six occasions this year and even surpassed 400 yards twice. Similar to Jones' fantasy output, Cousins hit 20 FanDuel points six times with a high-water mark of 34.4. The Giants are just 20th in adjusted pass defense, so Cousins should be able to put up some healthy numbers if this game shoots out.
Barkley is easy to like as an alternative to the signal-callers. In his 15 games playing over half the snaps, the Giants' featured back averaged a whopping 28.9 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets) with an 83.3% snap rate. While Minnesota is more of a neutral matchup against the run, they're susceptible to pass-catching backs like Barkley, ranking 27th in adjusted fantasy points per target allowed to running backs.
Wide receivers are typically less popular in the multiplier slot, but Jefferson isn't exactly your average wideout. I wouldn't be shocked if he's one of the slate's most heavily rostered MVPs. That being said, this shouldn't deter us from utilizing one of the NFL's best. Jefferson led the league in both receptions and receiving yards, averaging 7.5 receptions and 106.4 receiving yards per game. He saw double-digit targets 11 times this year and is projected for 10.9 this weekend -- easily the slate's highest mark.
Cook rounds out this top five, and he could be the one who draws the least MVP attention. He finished the regular season on a whimper, but much of that had to do with getting scripted out in a lopsided Week 17 loss and resting for most of Week 18.
Since seeing a bump in playing time from Week 6 onward, Cook averaged 24.9 adjusted opportunities and an 82.8% snap rate in nine full games unaffected by either a blowout or injury. He was also the clear top option near the goal line, hogging 72.2% of the red zone rushes in this sample. Although Cook had a quiet game against the Giants last month, New York is 30th in adjusted rush defense, so a bounce-back performance could be on tap.
T.J. Hockenson ($12,500) is the one other player projected for double-digit points, and since joining Minnesota at midseason, he's emerged as the second pass-catching option behind Justin Jefferson, averaging 9.4 targets per game with a 23.5% share in nine full games (excluding Week 18). While his salary is a tad high, he's a worthwhile flex play if you can find the room.
Adam Thielen ($10,500) and K.J. Osborn ($8,000) are the top remaining Vikings pass-catchers, with each logging roughly 15% target shares since Hockenson joined the team. Thielen and Osborn are projected for the same number of targets (5.4), making Osborn an appealing value at his much lower salary.
We've yet to touch on any of the Giants' wideouts, and that's because the team ranks 24th in pass rate over expectation, typically limiting their upside.
But Daniel Jones was forced to air it out 42 times when he faced Minnesota, so we shouldn't rule out one of Darius Slayton ($9,500), Isaiah Hodgins ($10,000), or Richie James ($7,500) emerging with a big fantasy score. All three players are projected for roughly six targets, and it's actually James who's led the group in targets (26.2%) across the last four games (excluding Week 18). The Vikings have allowed the second-most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers.
Giants tight end Daniel Bellinger ($6,000) is a fringe option in the passing game, but he played nearly every snap down the stretch, logging a 95.2% snap rate and 90.1% route rate over his last three healthy games. At such a modest salary, he could be worth a dart throw.
Kickers Graham Gano ($8,500) and Greg Joseph ($9,000) project as solid values but are arguably secondary choices in what could be a high-scoring affair. Playing in a dome won't hurt, though, and both are capable of double-digit FanDuel points if their respective offenses stall in enemy territory.
Lastly, neither defense is a priority, but the Minnesota D/ST ($9,000) has the higher projection of the two. The Vikings' defense scored 9.0 FanDuel points when these two teams last played.