FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Wild Card Sunday (Ravens at Bengals)
With Lamar Jackson missing practice so far this week and also tweeting that his knee "remains unstable," he will almost certainly remain out on Sunday, severely hurting the Ravens' chances of keeping this one close. The spread has continued to rise in favor of the Bengals, and as of this writing, they're now 9.5-point home favorites, tied for the second-biggest favorites of Wild Card Weekend. This matchup also has the lowest over/under of the six games (40.5).
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.
Assuming Lamar Jackson is indeed ruled out, we're going to want to focus primarily on Cincinnati's star players for our MVP slot.
Joe Burrow ($16,000) tops our projections by a wide margin, which shouldn't come as a big surprise after Burrow finished as fantasy's QB4 this season. Not only did he reach 20 FanDuel points in 9 of 16 games, but he cracked 30 points three times. The Bengals rank second in pass rate over expectation -- an encouraging sign that Burrow could still air it out in a blowout -- and this isn't an imposing matchup against the Ravens' middle-of-the-pack pass defense.
The bad news? Burrow hasn't exactly lit it up against Baltimore this year, scoring just 18.3 and 11.6 FanDuel points. He also figures to be one of the highest-rostered players at MVP, which lessens his appeal in tournaments. Neither of these things should push us off Burrow entirely, of course, but they're worth keeping in mind when building lineups.
One possible pivot is Joe Mixon ($12,500), who comes in with the second-best median projection. Since returning in Week 14, Mixon has averaged 24.0 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets) over the last four games, helping him score double-digit FanDuel points in three of them.
However, he's seen his snap-rate dip to 58.9% over this span -- down from 72.9% over the first nine games -- and he could have a tough time getting going against a defense that's fifth in schedule-adjusted rush defense, per our metrics. Additionally, outside of a 53.1-point explosion in Week 9, Mixon really hasn't had any other spike weeks, falling short of 20 FanDuel points in every other game. He's in the MVP conversation in what should be a positive game script, but he isn't my top choice.
Instead, my preference is turning to Ja'Marr Chase ($16,500) or Tee Higgins ($12,000). In the nine games both Chase and Higgins have been fully healthy, Chase has averaged 10.1 targets per game with a 26.9% target share and 37.0% air yards share, and Higgins has averaged 8.0 targets with a 21.3% target share and 31.3% air yards share.
Both players have had their share of spike weeks and could still go off if Burrow has a mediocre day. In Week 18 against Baltimore, Higgins failed to make much noise, but Chase caught 8-of-13 targets for 86 yards and a touchdown (18.6 points). While Chase is the more likely player to lead in scoring, Higgins ought to see the lower roster percentage at MVP.
Huntley has practiced on a limited basis and seems to be trending toward getting the start at quarterback. Although Huntley has some rushing upside, averaging 9.6 carries and 27.4 rushing yards across five games he's played all or most of this year, he's done little as a passer, resulting in him failing to reach even 17 FanDuel points in any of them. He's hard to get excited about, but he probably won't draw a ton of attention at MVP, either, and it isn't often that we can slot in a contrarian quarterback.
While Andrews is coming off a disappointing regular season, he caught 9-of-9 targets for 100 receiving yards in his last game with Huntley, his best fantasy output since Week 6. A lack of passing volume from Huntley could limit Andrews' upside, but a negative game script could force the Ravens to throw more. In Huntley's five games, Andrews has been far and away the top option with a 29.1% target share and 31.9% air yards share.
Of our remaining Bengals, it's actually kicker Evan McPherson ($9,000) and the Cincinnati D/ST ($9,000) who carry the next highest projections. That may seem odd at first, but low-scoring games tend to favor kickers, and the defense should enjoy a favorable game script against a backup quarterback. Despite logging limited pass attempts, Huntley has thrown a pick in three of his five games this season.
In healthy weeks when they've played over half the snaps, Hurst has seen a 15.3% target share in 10 games while Boyd has a 14.4% clip in 15 games. Boyd sees more downfield targets, giving him slightly more yardage upside, but generally speaking, both probably need a touchdown to hit double-digit FanDuel points. Hurst's salary really helps open things up, though.
Perine is a tougher sell at $10,000, but he's still playing meaningful snaps with Mixon back, earning a 41.9% snap rate over his last four. While it's only resulted in 10.8 adjusted opportunities per game, it's enough to put him on the radar as a fringe option.
Game script could work against Dobbins, and he doesn't get much work as a receiver, but he's averaged 15.3 adjusted opportunities over the past four games since his return, and he's managed to turn that into 100.0 scrimmage yards per game.
Tucker could also see fewer chances if the Ravens go down early, but he wrapped up the regular season as fantasy's top kicker, so we shouldn't write him off. No one attempted more field goals than Tucker this year, and he also attempted the most at 50 or more yards.
Things really drop off after that, but Demarcus Robinson ($7,500) and the Baltimore D/ST ($8,500) can be considered in the value range. Outside of Mark Andrews, Robinson is the only Ravens pass-catcher projected for over five targets, but he's scored double-digit FanDuel points just once this season. As significant underdogs, Baltimore's defense will be up against it, though the Bengals' pass-heavy offense does open the door to sacks and turnovers.
Gus Edwards ($8,000), Isaiah Likely ($6,500), and Sammy Watkins ($6,500) qualify as dart throws with murky outlooks. Edwards is trying to return from a concussion, and if he's active, he would be the favorite to earn touches backing up Dobbins. Likely and Watkins project as the third and fourth options in the Ravens' passing game, but it's anyone's guess how many targets they'll actually see on Sunday.