FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Wild Card Round (Saturday Slate)
The NFL playoffs get going on Saturday at 1:05 pm ET, giving us a three-game FanDuel wild card slate to sink our teeth into.
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 the top plays of Saturday's slate.
Josh Allen ($9,000 on FanDuel): The obvious choice at quarterback has to be Josh Allen, who's projected for the most FanDuel points across all positions by a wide margin in numberFire's model. The Bills are 6.5-point favorites over the Colts in a game with easily the highest total on the board (51.0). Allen finished the regular season on a tear, scoring 30-plus FanDuel points in three of the last five games, and he was well on his way to notching a fourth last week after he tossed three touchdowns in one half against Miami before sitting out the rest of the game. For the season, Allen finished with a fantastic 0.33 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, tied for second overall with Patrick Mahomes behind only Aaron Rodgers.
Tom Brady ($8,000): Following Allen, Tom Brady and Russell Wilson ($7,400) have the next best projections at the position. While Wilson technically projects as the better value at his salary, it's hard to get super excited about his ceiling. With the Seahawks scaling back his pass attempts down the stretch, he's hit 20 FanDuel points just twice in the last eight games (high of 23.14), and he's in what could be a low-scoring game against the Rams, who have the best overall schedule-adjusted defense by our numbers.
On the other hand, while Brady has shown an inconsistent floor due to his lack of rushing ability, the ceiling has been there, cracking 29 FanDuel points five times this season, including twice in the past two weeks. Washington has the fourth-best adjusted pass defense in our metrics, so getting there won't be a walk in the park, but he could be working with good field position due to Washington's lackluster offense. The Football Team struggled to beat a half-trying Eagles squad last week, and with Alex Smith playing through a calf injury, coach Ron Rivera said they're considering rotating Smith and Taylor Heinicke at quarterback on Saturday -- not exactly an ideal situation.
Jonathan Taylor ($8,800): There's some blowout risk against a Buffalo team firing on all cylinders, but Jonathan Taylor projects for the most FanDuel points at running back. Over his last six games, he's averaged 25.2 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets), and it's easy to like the results, tallying 13.4, 21.0, 29.5, 17.5, 19.4, and 37.9 FanDuel points. In those six games, he's led the team with 22 red-zone carries, compared to 12 for Nyheim Hines. Buffalo ranks 23rd in adjusted run defense, so Taylor should get his chances if the Colts can stay within striking distance.
Ronald Jones ($6,700): Ronald Jones' workload changes dramatically when Leonard Fournette is out, going from 28.5 adjusted opportunities without Fournette (four games) to just 16.2 when they both play (10 games), per Jim Sannes. Chances are Fournette will be active against Washington, but he was a healthy scratch in Week 14, so it shouldn't be ruled out with LeSean McCoy available this weekend. Still, even if Fournette plays, Jones can be considered as a touchdown-dependent play on the small slate. Tampa Bay has the second-highest implied team total (26.00) and is favored by 7.5 points over Washington, so a positive game script should provide some scoring chances.
Cam Akers ($6,100): We have Chris Carson ($7,000) and Antonio Gibson ($6,200) available in secure roles, but they have brutal matchups against the league's top-two schedule-adjusted rush defenses, potentially capping their respective ceilings. Not only does Cam Akers have a less imposing matchup against Seattle, but he comes in with one of the best workloads on the slate, averaging 27.0 adjusted opportunities in four games as the Rams' lead back. A modest 42.5 total suggests an ugly game environment between LA and Seattle, which isn't ideal, but Akers projects as the top running back value in numberFire's model.
Stefon Diggs ($8,700) and John Brown ($5,700): Buffalo's offense figures to be the most popular one to stack on Saturday, with Stefon Diggs projecting as the best overall play at wideout and John Brown checking in as a top value. After sitting out Week 17, Cole Beasley missed practice again on Wednesday and could remain sidelined this weekend, further narrowing Josh Allen's focus toward Diggs and Brown. No one is even in the same stratosphere as Diggs according numberFire's model -- despite being the highest-salaried wideout by $900, he projects as the top point-per-dollar value. As for Brown, health has been an issue for him this season, but in the seven games in which he's seen at least 70% of the snaps, he's averaged 6.6 targets per game with a solid 19% target share and 26% air yards share. If Beasley is inactive, Gabriel Davis ($5,000) can serve as a punt option, too.
Chris Godwin ($7,800) and Antonio Brown ($6,500): It sounds like Mike Evans ($7,600) actually has a shot of playing after a painful-looking knee injury in Week 17, but unless he gets a full practice in this week, there's always the chance he plays limited snaps or is deployed as a decoy, making him a risky play. With Evans out for most of last week's game, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown reaped the benefits, as Godwin caught 5-of-7 targets for 133 yards and 2 scores and Brown hauled in 11-of-14 for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns. Based on Brown's volume last week, his lower salary, and Evans' uncertain status, Brown is arguably the top play of this Bucs group even if Evans plays.
DK Metcalf ($6,900): With the "Let Russ Cook" movement seemingly coming to a halt in the season's second half, we haven't seen as many big performances from DK Metcalf lately. But he's still getting consistent targets in this offense, and the modest results have dropped his salary below $7K for the first time since mid-October. Metcalf has a tough matchup against Jalen Ramsey and the Rams, who rank second in adjusted pass defense and have held him to single-digit FanDuel points in both meetings this season. Even so, he's tied for the second-most projected FanDuel points at wide receiver, and we know what kind of upside he brings. This could be a chance to buy low at potentially lower popularity.
T.Y. Hilton ($6,200): When stacking Buffalo, T.Y. Hilton is the most logical bring-back option from Indianapolis. Over the last five games, Hilton has averaged 7.6 targets per game with a 25.0% target share and 46% air yards share. The Bills are a middle-of-the-road matchup -- they're 14th in adjusted pass defense -- but Philip Rivers and the Colts should be forced to throw in a negative game script.
Logan Thomas ($6,400): In terms of volume, it's pretty much Logan Thomas and then everyone else. In fact, Thomas finished this season third among all tight ends in both total targets (110) and targets per game (6.9) behind Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. Much of that came late, with Thomas seeing 9, 7, 16, 12, and 6 targets from Washington quarterbacks over the last five games. A low implied team total doesn't bode well for his chances of a touchdown, but he still brings the safest floor at the position.
Rob Gronkowski ($6,000): On the other side of that game, Rob Gronkowski doesn't see consistent volume, but he's our best bet to score. Gronkowski is second behind Mike Evans in red-zone targets for Tampa Bay, and Evans' Week 17 knee injury could lead to more scoring opportunities for Gronk. Beyond Thomas and Gronkowski, we're pretty much dealing with dart throws, but with no elite tight ends on the slate, you could always punt with Dawson Knox ($4,900) and hope he hauls in a touchdown -- Buffalo has a slate-high 28.75 implied total.
Tampa Bay D/ST ($4,300): Whether it's a hobbled Alex Smith at quarterback or a combination of him and an inexperienced Taylor Heinicke, it's easy to like Tampa Bay's defense against Washington. The Football Team's offense ranks 28th in adjusted offense this season, while the Bucs are 4th in adjusted defense and have the second-highest pressure rate. Tampa Bay is the biggest favorite on the board and is projected for the most points among defenses.
Seattle D/ST ($3,600): As the slate's second-largest favorite, the Buffalo D/ST ($4,100) has the potential to put up a strong score against Indianapolis, particularly if you're expecting a blowout. But if you're looking for more savings, Seattle's defense projects as the top value. Similar to Washington's quarterback situation, the Rams will either be rolling with an injured Jared Goff (thumb) or a player making his second career start in John Wolford. Los Angeles has a middling 19.50-point implied team total.