Daily Fantasy Football: Sannes' Situations to Monitor in the Wild Card Round

When the NFL initially announced it was shifting one of the six Wild Card Weekend games to a Monday, I was annoyed.

Last year was the first time we had gotten six games in the opening weekend of the playoffs. We got two different three-game slates, which is a hard pairing to top. To have that taken away after just one year felt cruel.

Now that we're here, though, and I get to see all the different combinations of slates we can get, I'm finally down to party.

Not only can you play the two-game slate Saturday, three-game slate Sunday, and single-game slate Monday, but you can group the individual days together however you see fit. The contest offerings for the full six-game slate on FanDuel are actually pretty sweet, you can get a four-gamer with Sunday through Monday, and we'll probably have Saturday through Sunday slates in the lobby by the weekend.

It's hard to hate on that.

With that in mind, today we're going to go through all six games and outline key injuries and role changes that should influence how we view the players within them for DFS. That way, you can leverage that knowledge into filling out some sweet, sweet lineups regardless of which slate you are playing. The primary focus will be the single-day slates, but the salaries there and for the full six-gamer are the same.

Raiders at Bengals

This is not a good situation for the Las Vegas Raiders. Not only did they play late into the night on Sunday, but they're now forced to fly across the country and play the first game of the weekend. That's not a lot of rest for a defense that just dueled with Justin Herbert for what felt like 30,000 snaps.

That influences how we view both sides of this game.

We have seen the spread tighten throughout the week, and it's currently sitting at the Cincinnati Bengals -4.5. My model thinks the Bengals should be favored by 6.2, but that tightening is noteworthy.

Despite this movement, it's hard not to be high on the Bengals. My model projects them to be the most efficient offense of the Saturday-only slate by a decent margin, and they rank third across the six-game slate. Part of that is the offense, but it's also because the Raiders rank 25th in schedule-adjusted pass defense, according to numberFire's metrics.

As a result, this is my favorite offense on the two-game slate. Lucky for us, we know where to go within it.

The primary allure will be the pass-catchers. Tee Higgins generated a stir by being limited in practice Wednesday, but getting confirmation on Thursday that he would play should up our confidence in him. That's a big boon given that Higgins' salary is just $6,900. He has had comparable target shares to Ja'Marr Chase in games they've played together since Higgins returned from his shoulder injury. Here, a "deep" target is at least 16 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

Since Higgins' Return Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
Ja'Marr Chase 24.4% 40.5% 26.0%
Tee Higgins 23.5% 29.7% 20.0%
Tyler Boyd 15.6% 17.6% 10.0%
CJ Uzomah 12.8% 4.1% 14.0%

Obviously, Chase is well worth his $8,200 salary, and I'd rank him above Stefon Diggs in that upper register. But Higgins is a tremendous way to save salary here.

The other option we've got here is simply playing both Higgins and Chase together. Joe Burrow is either the 1A or 1B at quarterback, and we know that if Burrow blows up, he's going to drag at least one of these two with him. If you don't want to choose, you do have that as an out.

Personally, my preference would be to pair Burrow with just one of the pass-catchers and then Joe Mixon. The cannibalization factor is lower, then, and Mixon's workload justifies his $8,500 salary.

Mixon has played full snaps in 15 games this year. In those, he's averaging 98.9 yards from scrimmage per game and handling 42.7% of the team's red-zone chances. That doesn't make him a priority on the six-game slate because Sunday is littered with good running backs, but Mixon is the second-ranked back on Saturday behind Devin Singletary after you account for salary.

The alternative to jamming in both Mixon and Singletary would be rolling out Josh Jacobs on the other side. Jacobs' role in eight games with his snaps up is very similar to Mixon's with 96.9 yards from scrimmage per game. He also has had a red-zone share of at least 42.9% in 3 straight games, so if they put up points, Jacobs is likely to be involved. The reason to rank him lower than Mixon is due to overall offensive expectations, and those keep Jacobs a tier below Singletary and Mixon.

How you view the Raiders' pass-catchers depends on your confidence level in Darren Waller's health. Although Waller played a full helping of snaps in Week 18, he racked up just 22 yards. He still seemed to be working off some of the rust.

If you assume that Waller is healthier this time around, he'll be hard to pass up at just $6,300. In games he has played since their bye, Waller leads with a 22.7% target share.

With Waller Since Bye Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
Darren Waller 22.7% 20.7% 21.4%
Hunter Renfrow 20.5% 13.8% 25.0%
Zay Jones 13.6% 31.0% 14.3%
Josh Jacobs 12.5% 0.0% 14.3%

Included in that span is the Week 11 matchup between these teams when Waller turned 8 targets into 116 yards. Quality tight ends have shredded the Bengals all year long. If you are comfortable with Waller's health, he's a priority on this slate despite the Raiders' offensive struggles.

The other takeaway from that chart is that we should downgrade Hunter Renfrow now that Waller is back. Renfrow has already been held to 5 or fewer targets and 40 or fewer yards in 3 of the last 4 games and now is no longer the focal point of the offense. Receiver is rough on Saturday, so we can't cross Renfrow off, but it certainly puts him below the Bengals' guys and the Buffalo Bills'.

If you need value, you can check out Zay Jones. Jones maintained his increased role even with Waller back in Week 18, netting eight-plus targets for the fourth straight game. Even if we look at just the games with Waller since the bye, Jones has multiple deep targets in all but one. As always with basement-level value plays, you'd like to avoid having to use Jones. But if you need the wiggle room, he's a fully viable option.

Patriots at Bills

This will be the third time in about 40 days that the Bills and New England Patriots have squared off. That plus frigid temperatures keep Josh Allen from being definitively above Burrow for the slate. But it's hard to put him outside of Burrow's tier no matter how many factors are working against him due to his rushing.

With the Bills needing to scramble to make the playoffs, they've leaned heavily on Allen's legs. He has averaged 9.4 rushes for 68.2 yards per game over the past 5, including 64 yards on the ground in the second matchup with the Patriots. He has basically morphed into Lamar Jackson with higher passing volume.

As a result, if salaries were equal, you'd put Allen above Burrow. However, there's a $1,000 gap between the two, and that goes a long way. This means the two are right by each other, and they're several tiers above both Derek Carr and Mac Jones.

If you do go with Allen at quarterback, you certainly don't need to pair him with a pass-catcher. Stefon Diggs comes at a lofty salary, and it's hard to know what Gabriel Davis' role will look like after he struggled massively last week, and Emmanuel Sanders is likely back following a two-game absence. The best stack pairing with Allen may actually just be Devin Singletary.

In Singletary's 5 games as lead back, he has averaged 97.0 yards from scrimmage while handling 34.1% of the red-zone opportunities. Singletary has 110-plus yards from scrimmage in back-to-back games, and his red-zone share has been 39% or higher in both. Getting that for $6,900 is a steal. He's one of the top priorities on the slate whether you're stacking him with Allen or not.

The Davis-versus-Manny discussion is a key one to have. If you think Sanders comes back to a reserve role, Davis will be a standout. In four games with Sanders out or limited, Davis' workload has been legit.

With Davis' Role Expanded Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
Stefon Diggs 28.7% 33.3% 30.8%
Gabriel Davis 21.3% 38.9% 34.6%
Cole Beasley 20.0% 5.6% 11.5%
Dawson Knox 14.0% 16.7% 11.5%

That's wild usage for $5,200.

The problem -- as mentioned -- is that Davis underwhelmed mightily last week. He turned 14 targets into 39 yards, and a lot of those non-catches went in and out of his hands. If the Bills wanted an excuse to scale back his snaps, he gave it to them.

Because this isn't a certainty, we can still use Davis in lineups. His salary hints at a low floor, so we can take on some risk. It just dramatically impacts our confidence in him, putting him in the same tier as Zay Jones as a value receiver.

As for Diggs, the key drawback is his proximity to Chase. Both have great roles, but Chase is in a better matchup and facing a less familiar opponent. Diggs obviously grades out well in a vacuum, and you could get to both, but Chase is the bigger priority between the two.

The focal point on the Patriots' side is Damien Harris. He's over-salaried at $7,500, but there's always a chance his role expands.

We'll see this often in the playoffs: a team expands the role of the running back they value most with the season on the line. That may not happen here as Rhamondre Stevenson is far from a scrub. But if the Patriots were to up Harris' role in a spot where they'll likely want to run the ball a bunch, Harris could go from being over-salaried to a value. We should account for that possibility within our lineups.

All things considered, Harris is still fourth among backs on this slate, sitting behind Singletary, Mixon, and Jacobs after accounting for salary. But he's at least in Jacobs' tier and fully worth flex consideration with receiver being such a thin position.

Among the pass-catchers, Jakobi Meyers is the standout. They've played 15 games with Nelson Agholor, and Meyers has been Jones' focal point.

15 Games With Agholor Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
Jakobi Meyers 24.0% 28.0% 16.7%
Hunter Henry 13.9% 13.0% 27.3%
Nelson Agholor 13.7% 28.0% 10.6%
Kendrick Bourne 13.1% 9.3% 7.6%

The downsides of Meyers are that the team clearly wants to run the ball, and they're unlikely to light it up from an efficiency perspective. That keeps him from standing out on the full six-game slate. But for the Saturday-only offering, he's among the five best options at receiver after accounting for salary.

Eagles at Buccaneers

The key of this game isn't the teams on the field; it's the conditions.

For Sunday's matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles, the forecast currently calls for 18-mile-per-hour winds and rain. We can live with rain by itself. That wind is a concern, though.

If these conditions hold, we'd have to downgrade the passing attack of each side. For the Eagles, that's not overly significant as they don't pass much to begin with, but Tom Brady, Mike Evans, and Rob Gronkowski would all otherwise be standouts. Keep an eye on the forecast, but if things don't improve, we should downgrade everything in the passing game a healthy amount (without crossing them off entirely).

The running backs, though, are a different story. Leonard Fournette is arguably the top play across any position of the entire weekend after you account for salary. (UPDATE: Fournette is reportedly a game-time call, according to head coach Bruce Arians. Arians did note, though, that if Fournette is active, he will carry most of the load. This adds uncertainty to Fournette's projection and makes him a bit shakier, but having Eli Mitchell in the same salary range allows you to plug Fournette in Saturday through Monday lineups and have flexibility should he not be active.)

Fournette is back at practice this week and expected to be activated from injured reserve. In the 10 games before his injury with his snaps up, Fournette was averaging 102.9 yards from scrimmage per game while netting 36.0% of the red-zone usage. Assuming we don't get any pessimistic reports about his workload before the weekend, Fournette needs to be a focal point.

Miles Sanders could also be a key here, depending on his status. Sanders has missed the past two games due to a hand injury, but he was practicing without a brace on Thursday.

Sanders will likely be playing alongside Jordan Howard, and that does impact his projected usage. However, in two games that Sanders has finished alongside Howard, Sanders has averaged 17.0 carries, 1.5 targets, and 120.0 yards from scrimmage per game. He has been dependent on efficiency, but that's possible behind such a stout offensive line.

The Bucs' rush defense is still a force, but it has been less daunting this year than in years past. That plus Sanders' $5,900 salary allow us to give him a swing when we're looking to save salary.

We could also snag a bit of value from the Bucs' passing game, even with the weather likely being a buzzkill. That'd be via Breshad Perriman.

With Cyril Grayson Jr. leaving early last week and likely out for this game, Perriman should have a decent role. He ran a healthy number of routes last week after Grayson's departure.

In Week 18 Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets Routes
Rob Gronkowski 10 4 0 36
Mike Evans 7 1 2 34
Tyler Johnson 7 0 1 35
Breshad Perriman 6 2 1 28

Perriman has averaged more yards per route run (1.4) than Tyler Johnson (0.9), and that may get a boost with both Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin sidelined. Perriman's shaky, but we can at least consider him in the bargain bin.

49ers at Cowboys

This game has a lotta dudes we want to use even though they've had frustrating outputs at times. That starts with the San Francisco 49ers' skill guys.

On this team, we know things will be concentrated between four players: Deebo Samuel, Eli Mitchell, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk. But because of how those guys are used, we have to analyze them in a different way than we do with other teams.

Instead of leaning on target shares here, we have to put everything in a blender to decide how to rank them. That means focusing on yardage and red-zone usage rather than how many and which kinds of targets they're getting. Otherwise we'll fail to account for some of the key aspects to Samuel's appeal.

Our most relevant sample here is the five games they've played since Kittle returned when both Samuel and Mitchell have been active. In those games, Mitchell and Samuel have separated from the pack.

In This Split Carries Targets Yards RZ Share
Eli Mitchell 20.8 2.6 110.6 28.1%
Deebo Samuel 5.2 6.0 97.6 31.3%
Brandon Aiyuk 0.4 6.2 81.4 3.1%
George Kittle 0.2 5.2 41.8 12.5%

Because Mitchell's salary ($7,400) is a healthy amount lower than Samuel's ($8,700), Mitchell's the top target here. But in a potential shootout, Samuel is still well worth that tag.

As for Aiyuk, he's one of the top lower-salaried receivers across all six games this weekend. Not only is he at 81.4 yards per game in this stretch, but he has set new season-highs in receiving yardage in two straight. A $6,100 salary helps alleviate any potential red-zone issues he has had alongside Mitchell and Samuel.

That leaves Kittle as the biggest head-scratcher. He hasn't topped 30 yards in 3 straight games, helping drive his salary down to $6,500.

However, a big game is still firmly within his range of outcomes, even when the other weapons here are healthy. That keeps Kittle on the tournament radar. We just have to account for his underwhelming baseline when trying to decide exposures between him and Travis Kelce in the late game.

The Dallas Cowboys have their own usage issues, even with Michael Gallup sidelined. It just might not matter with this game holding plenty of shootout potential as one of just two indoor games across the weekend.

We want exposure to this game with a high total and a tight spread. Those two factors push Dak Prescott to near the top of the list across Wild Card Weekend, and he's my top guy of the Sunday-only slate, just ahead of Patrick Mahomes. That appeal helps us accept what are some fairly large frustrations with the usages at receiver.

We've got an eight-game sample on this team without Gallup. Even in that time, nobody has more than 20% of the targets.

Without Gallup Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
CeeDee Lamb 20.0% 29.8% 8.9%
Amari Cooper 19.6% 26.3% 17.8%
Dalton Schultz 17.7% 12.3% 13.3%
Ezekiel Elliott 11.9% 0.0% 13.3%
Cedrick Wilson 11.5% 17.5% 13.3%

If you're looking for floor, you're not going to get it here.

These guys can still blow up, though, and that upside is hard to ignore. CeeDee Lamb has topped 25 FanDuel points twice this year, and Amari Cooper has gotten to 22 twice. They had one ceiling game apiece with Gallup out, and Cedrick Wilson went for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns last week without Gallup. As frustrating as their floors can be, it's still wise to take swipes and hope we spike one of those ceiling games.

Dalton Schultz's outlook is more mixed. Although his shares on the chart are solid and he scored twice last week, he did lose some routes with Blake Jarwin back from injured reserve. That's enough to make Schultz less appealing than Kittle within this game, and he's likely below Waller and Zach Ertz on the six-game slate. We don't need to jump off entirely, but he does get a noteworthy downgrade to the point where he's not a "must" in our player pool even when multi-entering.

Steelers at Chiefs

Truthfully, there's only one side of this game we need to focus on.

The positive of the Pittsburgh Steelers is that they concentrate their usage to just a couple of guys. But even with that, only 7 times has a Steelers skill player had more than 20 FanDuel points this year. Five of those were Najee Harris while Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool appeared once apiece. Usage is great, but if it doesn't come with production, then there's no real point.

On the Sunday-only slate, Harris grades out below Fournette and Mitchell straight up. After accounting for salary, I'd slot him behind Sanders, as well. If we open things up to the full six games, you can push at least Singletary and Mixon ahead of him, and Jacobs is at worst on his level. You can talk yourself into the Steelers' guys due to the usage, but the offensive ineptitude means you don't have to use any of them.

This would be true if Harris were to sit, too, thrusting Benny Snell Jr. into a larger role. Harris has had trouble posting big totals even while handling all the work. We don't know Snell will get that, and even if he does, we can't say for sure they'll move the ball enough for it to matter. Snell would be on the map due to his $4,900 salary, but there'd be incentive to fade him and hope the offense struggles.

The Kansas City Chiefs -- shockingly! -- are a different story. Not only should we be high on Mahomes, Kelce, and Tyreek Hill, but we may also want to eye Darrel Williams.

With Clyde Edwards-Helaire getting in a limited practice Wednesday, it looked like he'd be back this week. But he then missed Thursday's session, making it possible that Williams gets another game as the lead back.

We've already seen six full games for Williams without CEH. In those, Williams is averaging 97.3 yards from scrimmage while handling 31.9% of the red-zone work. His profile is almost a carbon copy of Singletary's. As such, if Edwards-Helaire can't go, Williams is easily a top-five back on the six-game slate and behind just Fournette on the Sunday-only offering.

If Williams isn't on the table, we can still get our exposure via Hill and Kelce, both of whom grade out well. The best split to look at here is the four full games those two have played together since the team's bye. They've shifted to less of a vertical approach in that time, and it has worked well. Plus, targets have still been concentrated to those two.

Since Bye With Kelce and Hill Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
Tyreek Hill 25.0% 47.1% 31.8%
Travis Kelce 25.0% 5.9% 31.8%
Byron Pringle 10.2% 5.9% 9.1%

Although the Chiefs aren't chucking it deep as much since the bye, when they do go downfield, Hill is the target. That makes him a priority on the Sunday-only slate and one of the top receivers of the week.

As for Kelce, his upside is back, but the consistency isn't. That's likely due to the lack of downfield work, forcing him to rely on yards after the catch to post big yardage. He can still do that -- he won that Los Angeles Chargers thriller almost single-handedly -- but it's tougher. That's why Hill is higher on the wishlist within this team. Still, Kelce is the top tight end for Sunday unless the weather clears up in Tampa Bay, and he's in the top three for the six-game slate, too.

Cardinals at Rams

The timing of this game is interesting if you're playing the full six-game slate. Part of that is because we'll get to lock likely not knowing the status of the Arizona Cardinals' running backs.

On Thursday -- the first official practice day for the Cardinals -- Kliff Kingsbury called both Chase Edmonds and James Conner game-time decisions.

Edmonds has since said that he will play and that he thinks Conner will play. But if either were to sit, the other would be an elite play.

We've got six games with Conner as the lone ranger and two with Edmonds while Conner was sidelined. Both had drool-worthy usage in those splits.

As Lead Back Carries Targets Yards RZ Share
James Conner 16.7 5.3 110.8 37.3%
Chase Edmonds 17.0 7.5 104.5 47.4%

So, if we know ahead of time that one is out while the other plays, we'll want to be heavy on them for the six-game slate.

That's the issue with the game time, though. It's unlikely we have that info. The Cardinals have labeled roughly half their roster as game-time calls at one time or another, and they tend to keep things pretty tight-lipped until the morning of the game. By that point, all other games on the slate will have locked.

One workaround here is using Sony Michel in the flex as a placeholder. Michel's salary is $6,700 while Edmonds' is $6,400. That way, if Conner sits, you can just jump down to Edmonds and ride with him. You'd also have Odell Beckham and Christian Kirk as options if you didn't want to stick with Michel. But either way, that backfield will be one to monitor, and we'll want as much info as we can get before the six-game slate locks on Saturday.

Regardless of the running backs, though, I'll want to be in on Kyler Murray. Murray is a slight underdog quarterback playing indoors against the league's 18th-ranked pass defense. If he runs a bit more in a high-leverage game (as we've seen the Bills do with Allen of late), that's just icing on the cake.

We also know how to stack Murray. That's with Kirk and Zach Ertz.

We're up to a four-game sample since DeAndre Hopkins' injury. Ertz has become somewhat of a target hog in that time.

Past 4 Games Overall Targets Deep Targets RZ Targets
Zach Ertz 26.4% 28.6% 25.0%
Christian Kirk 20.3% 28.6% 14.3%
AJ Green 16.0% 21.4% 17.9%
Antoine Wesley 12.9% 17.9% 21.4%

Ertz has maxed out at 11.9 FanDuel points, but that's due to touchdown variance. He has topped 74 receiving yards twice, a mark that's tough for most tight ends to hit. After accounting for salary, Ertz is arguably the top tight end on the six-game slate.

Kirk gets downgraded a bit as he'll likely see a lot of Jalen Ramsey in the slot. Kirk lined up across from Ramsey on 43.3% of his routes back in Week 4 (Ramsey missed the rematch due to COVID-19). That pushes him behind Ertz and does slightly increase the appeal of A.J. Green, but Kirk is still a solid mid-range receiving option.

Using guys like Ertz and Kirk (or potentially Edmonds) makes it easier to get up to Cooper Kupp. Kupp averaged 14 targets in the two games against the Cardinals during the regular season, though Tyler Higbee was sidelined for one of those. If we broaden things out to look at their games with Higbee since the bye, Kupp's appeal is still obvious.

Since Bye With HigbeeOverall TargetsDeep TargetsRZ Targets
Cooper Kupp26.1%25.0%29.6%
Odell Beckham19.4%28.1%29.6%
Tyler Higbee18.9%9.4%14.8%
Van Jefferson17.2%31.3%11.1%

Kupp hasn't had less than 90 receiving yards in a game since October 3rd. Especially if he's going to go overlooked on the final game of the slate, Kupp needs to be a priority here.

As for Beckham and Van Jefferson, they're merely rotational options. Neither has had good yardage upside since the bye, and their floors haven't been great, either. Both grade out behind Kirk within this game, and I'd be higher on Aiyuk for the six-game slate, as well.

With Michel, it all depends on how much you think the Rams jack up Cam Akers' role. If they keep it the same as last week, Michel is under-salaried. Michel still played 79.7% of the snaps and had 21 carries and 4 targets. That's way better than you'd expect at $6,700.

The problem is that Michel struggled in that volume, netting just 49 yards from scrimmage. Akers struggled, too, leading to their leaning more on Michel down the stretch. But it's a tougher projection than it would have been had Michel beasted out.

For the six-game slate, we've got guys like Singletary, Fournette, and Mitchell who have similar upside without the risks. We can still be in on Michel if we want, but we don't have to force it.

On the single-game slate, Michel does at least have some appeal for the MVP slot. Akers' presence will put a big dent in his overall usage -- much less at MVP -- and if he keeps his same role in a Rams win, he could top the leaderboard. In other words, there's no definitive way to handle Michel, but that thought process should shift heavily depending on which slate we're playing.