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Super Wildcard Prime Picks

First up, a quick note that we’re running a Picks contest for the Playoffs on runyourpool.com – £25 entry, most of that goes to the prize pool, currently 14 in there, so a nice post at the moment – more info at TDTips playoff comp

Week 17 Review

Week 17 delivered in a way that only week 17 can. Players nobody drafted in August became integral to the slate and the usual amount of playoff-bound stars were rested. Not to mention the usual Covid related shenanigans. We had a pretty strong week smashing it at quarterback with two of the top six in Tannehill (28.44), and Cousins (37.3). Andy Dalton and John Wolford didn’t do enough to be effective for us. Dalton was a real disappointment but if you were playing Wolford it was heavily caveated with the knowledge you did it to put the money elsewhere. 

At running back Melvin Gordon bounced back from his week 16 disappointment to hit 21 points and ratify the points I made. Alexander Mattison recovered from a concussion in time to play and hit 29.5 points in a Dalvin Cook like performance. Gus Edwards put up his lowest total since Week 12, only managing 8 points and I’ll have to swallow that as a bad play. The Raven’s dominance saw them get up so big Gus was held out in favour of third choice Ingram. I did mention on Twitter Sunday afternoon when Ingram was active that I would move away from Gus, so hopefully, you saw that. I’m always updating on Twitter as we get close to game time, so do check in on there from time to time. 

Other plays worth mentioning include a fantastic performance from Sterling Shepard, with 36.6 DK points to finish the week as WR4 on DK. Sadly our Cowboys picks fell in the bin with Andy Dalton’s performance, Dez Bryant didn’t have a single catch and James Washington had two worthless targets when the Steelers first-team receivers were given a full game worth of snaps in a surprising move. At tight end we hit the Hayden Hurst play at low ownership for his best performance since week 6. Unfortunately, Gesicki didn’t do quite enough to hit real value and Mark Andrews missed out on two end zone targets that would have changed his day dramatically. 

Overall for the regular season that leaves us…

Plays so far this season (based on price to points ratios):

Great plays: 109 (45%)

Good plays: 77 (31%)

Bad plays: 56 (24%)

Week 18 Picks

Welcome to Super Wildcard Weekend, everyone! Normally this slate would provide us with four games but thanks to the playoff expansion, we have a full six-game slate to play with. Having looked over the pricing and dug into the stats it looks like a great weekend. We have some of the very best talent involved and squeezing them in will take some work. For the first time in NFL history, there was no home-field advantage this season. Teams went 127-128-1. Will this change in the playoffs? It’s hard to say. The Bills plan on having fans in the stadium and others will too. Regardless though, it would be fair to expect that advantage counts for a lot less still. 

Tom Strachan

@BestBallUKNFL

Quarterbacks

Ben Roethlisberger – $6100 v Cleveland

Over/under 47.5

Steelers -6.0 favourites

This is about as high as I can say qualifies for my value picks, but I will say I won’t be afraid of paying up further this week. That said, if you’re looking to pay down somewhat you could do worse than Big Ben. At $6100 Roethlisberger represents the 5th most expensive quarterback, out of twelve starters. The matchup isn’t particularly frightening with Cleveland being one of the softer defences left. Myles Garrett may be a legit monster, but all season we’ve seen Roethlisberger get the ball out faster than any other QB in the league, nullifying the pass rush and only being sacked thirteen times all season. The Browns allow the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks of any playoff team (22.88). Most recently they allowed Mason Rudolph to put up 22.7 DK points on them in a must-win game. That defence was affected by several positive Covid-19 cases, but I’m not sure it matters. On the season Cleveland has just one interception. Big Ben should be a fine play here. 

Drew Brees – $5700 v Chicago

Over/under 47.0

Saints -9.5 favourites

Brees is potentially suiting up for the last time this week, but it would take an upset from the Bears for that to happen. Since his return in week 15, he’s been priced at $5900, so we’re getting a small drop here as he faces the 12th best defence in the league, against the position. I do see value in the play however as Brees is set to regain his superstar receiver, Michael Thomas. There’s always a danger that Taysom Hill vultures some of Brees points, but at $5700 in the safety of the Superdome, I feel confident Brees will hit 20 points. Brees has managed that in half of his starts this season, along with two of his last three games. According to PFF, the Saints boast the second-best explosive pass rate of any playoff team (16%). There’s enough good in there to like this play for tournaments.

Alex Smith – $5100 v Tampa

Over/under 44.5

Bucs -7.5 favourites

Smith’s fitness is a minor concern and he’s not the most fantasy friendly quarterback at the best of times, but if you’re looking for a saving then this is as low as you can go. The Buccaneers defence will scare some people off but they’ve not been great in certain areas, allowing the second-most completions per game (26.56), and the 18th most fantasy ppg to the position (20.25). Football Outsiders expect this game to have the highest rate of play of any this weekend and more plays mean more points. Smith might just be the lowest owned quarterback on the slate and if you can build lineups that make up for his lack of ceiling elsewhere, then it’s worth tournament consideration. 

Running Backs

J.k Dobbins – $6600 @ Tennessee 

Over/under 55.0 (biggest on the slate)

Ravens -3.5 favourites

I had to wait for the fourth player on this list before I could squeeze one of my beloved Ravens in and it’s a great one to start with. The Titans have the third-worst run defence of any playoff team and allow an average of 4.57 yards per attempt. Expect a lot of rushing attempts in this matchup with the Ravens coming in on the back of 52 attempts against the Bengals for 404 yards. The Ravens have averaged 6.8 yards per play over their last five games and got hot at the right time. Central to that has been the decision to feed Dobbins and demote Mark Ingram to the bottom of the depth chart. Since week 11 Dobbins has rushed for an average of 82.5 yards per game and scored at least one touchdown in every game. Dobbins will lose some work to Gus Edwards but he’s shown he’s trusted in all situations and we want exposure to the game with the highest over/under of the weekend (55.0).

Ronald Jones – $5500 @ Washington

Over/under 44.5

Bucs -7.5 favourites

Jones returned to the starting lineup in week 17 with 12 attempts for 78 yards and a touchdown against a good Falcons run defence. His production was far better than Fournette’s who managed 13 yards on five attempts. It is worth noting however that Fournette was on the field for 45% of snaps. Adding to this the matchup isn’t entirely favourable. Washington rank 4th in the league against the position, allowing 14.25 points per game. Jones, however, has a strong chance to see a lot of touches and when talking about running backs we always want to consider the opportunity. In recent weeks Washington has allowed Boston Scott 15-65, Curtis Samuel 7-52 and Carlos Hyde 2-55. Whilst those aren’t mind-blowing stats, they are stats achieved by two backup running backs and a wide receiver.  In games where Jones has had ten or more attempts, he’s reached double-digit points in 80% of them. Purely from the perspective of the public favouring Tampa, I would expect Jones to pick up reasonable ownership. 

Cam Akers – $5100 @ Seattle

Over/under 42.0 (lowest on the slate)

Seahawks -3.0 favourites

Akers injury came at a time where he seemed to establish real momentum, thankfully against Arizona he didn’t suffer any dip in usage and saw 25 total touches, including 4-52 through the air. Since taking control of the backfield in week 12, Akers has seen at least 15 touches in every game he has played, averaging 14.8 DK points. This includes the week 15 game against the Jets where he left early through injury. Ageless wonder Andrew Whitworth has returned from IR in time for this matchup and that should help Akers case. The Seahawks rank 15th in the league against the position, whilst also ranking third-worst in targets allowed to the position. Whilst Darrell Henderson is on IR, Malcolm Brown will inevitably be involved having seen 32% of snaps in week 17, turning them into just 2.8 points. Brown shouldn’t worry us but games involving the Seahawks haven’t been great for fantasy value lately and if it wasn’t for Akers ability and involvement through the air, I’m not sure I’d be interested in this play. Generally speaking, I’ll be avoiding this game in what could easily be a low scoring affair… unless Pete Carroll lets Russ cook… 

J.D McKissic – $4900 v Tampa

Over/under 44.5

Bucs -7.5 favourites

Regular readers will probably have picked up that I have a soft spot for Antonio Gibson after drafting him as high as round 20 in early best ball drafts this offseason and I do like Gibson this week but Mckissic has a little more value on paper. McKissic led all running backs in targets with 106 this season and now he faces the defence that allows the most receptions per game to the position (6.31). In games Alex Smith has started, McKissic averages 17.06 DK points. This figure includes some time that Gibson missed, but it also shows how much the team likes to involve him and if Smith can play this week, I would expect 7+ receptions that help rack up points in this PPR format. 

Wide Receiver

Michael Thomas – $6400 v Chicago

Over/under 47.0

Saints -9.5 favourites

Before Michael Thomas was sent to IR he looked to be hitting form. Scoring 38.9 points across two games. Some reports state Thomas could have continued to play but the team felt it was best to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Caveats are part of the exceptionally cheap price you pay and there’s no doubt Thomas hasn’t been quite what he was, but what if we’re only just seeing a healthy Thomas and Brees play together for the first time since last season? The Bears are a tough matchup against receivers, ranking 8th best in the league but as usual, with season-long stats, you want to dig a little deeper for potential value. Whilst the Bears did hold Davante Adams below his usual standards in week 17, he still put up 16.6 points whilst MVS went for 17.1. In week 16 both Chark (16.2), and Shenault (15.8), managed to score well and in week 15 Justin Jefferson scored 21.4 Draftkings points. I would expect the savvy players to find these details and load up on Thomas, whilst more casual players leave him alone. 

JuJu Smith-Schuster – $5500 v Cleveland

Over/under 47.5

Steelers -6.0 favourites

It must be said that I like all three of Johnson, JuJu and Claypool in this matchup. In situations like this with three good receivers, it’s common for ownership to float towards the top and bottom priced options. JuJu sitting in the middle may be the sweet spot for us. Early in the season, there was some talk in the fantasy world of JuJu being a bust but despite five single-digit games across the season, he’s been a decent performer. Entering the offseason as a free agent, a big playoff performance could help his future. In week 17, despite having Mason Rudolph as his quarterback, JuJu put up 18.5 against Cleveland. The previous week, fellow slot receiver, Jamison Crowder, scored 29.32 points against the Browns. Even if we take off his passing touchdown it’s a great number. Of playoff-bound teams, only the Titans have a worse defence against the position than Cleveland. Speaking of the Titans…

Marquise Brown – $5400 @ Tennessee

Over/under 55.0 (biggest on the slate)

Ravens -3.5 favourites

This Ravens fan is enjoying the resurgence in Marquise Brown’s season… whilst also feeling somewhat relieved. As I mentioned before the Titans have the worst defence against the position of teams left chasing the Lombardi. They give up the 2nd most receptions per game (16.75), the 3rd most yards per game (196.0), and the 3rd most touchdowns per game (1.38). For a passing game like the Ravens, which relies on efficiency and picking its moments, this is a good spot. Marquise Brown is steadily putting a little more ‘Hollywood’ back in his name lately. Over the last six weeks, he’s the WR9 in fantasy and averages 15.9 Draftkings points. Whilst his body type hardly makes him the prototypical red-zone receiver, his friendship with Lamar earns him a level of trust. Through two seasons, which included an injury-riddled 2019, Brown has 26 red-zone targets resulting in 18 catches and 10 touchdowns. The Titans have allowed the second-most passing touchdowns in the red zone this year (11). The Ravens may never be the pass-first offence that Hollywood dreams of, but the team wants him involved and they’re finding ways to make it happen. Brown is one of the best value plays of the week in my opinion. 

John Brown – $4700 v Indianapolis

Over/under 50.5

Bills -6.5 favourites

It’s been a difficult year for Smokey Brown, battling injuries after two relatively injury-free seasons had started to shift the injury-prone talk away from him. When he has played we’ve mostly seen the same reliable performances we saw last season. In his nine games, we’ve seen five that would comfortably return value for salary. Against Miami and their talented cornerbacks, Brown went 4-72-1, on just four targets. The Colts allow the 7th most receiving yards per game (175.69), and the 9th most yards per target (13.51). The Bills roll into the game with their passing game on fire and I don’t see any reason for that to stop. People will point to Diggs and Beasley as good plays, and I’m completely fine with either, but as the lowest priced I like Brown in this spot. 

Tight End

Jared Cook – $4600 v Chicago

Over/under 47.0

Saints -9.5 favourites

Cook finished the fantasy season as the TE19 in PPR, which in a year where tight end disappointed all over, felt like a big disappointment. Cook’s most disappointing stretch coincided with Taysom Hill’s quarterback starts and thankfully since Drew Brees returned, Cook has averaged closer to ten points per game. The Bears rank 30th against the position on defence, giving up 7.94 targets per game and allowing the third-most fantasy points per game (9.38). Against Chicago in week eight, Cook had his best performance of the season going 5-51-1, returning 16.1 DK points. Flashier names may pick up more ownership, but Cook might warrant inclusion as part of Saints stacks. 

Trey Burton – $2800 @ Buffalo

Over/under 50.5

Bills -6.5 favourites

Burton’s fantasy appeal has dropped off somewhat with no usable returns since week 12, so there’s reason to proceed with caution but also a matchup that provides opportunity. No team in the NFL allows more receptions to the tight end position, with Buffalo allowing 5.75 per game. The Bills also allow the 2nd most yardage per game to tight ends (62.06). With a crowded position group ownership will probably stay away from the Colts tight ends, but I do like taking a punt here on Burton who leads the group with five touchdowns. If things play out the way most people expect it to, the Colts will be trailing and have to throw a lot. Those are the kind of opportunities we want to chase for punt plays. 

Quick Hits

Ryan Tannehill set career bests this year in TD passes and QBR rating. 

Lamar Jackson faces the worst ranking defence against the QB position, of all playoff teams. 

Baker Mayfield faces the second-best ranking defence against the QB position, of all playoff teams. 

Philip Rivers suits up potentially for the last time. He has thrown for over 300 yards just twice this season.

Russell Wilson has gone over 20 DK points just once since week 11. This was against the Jets in Wk14. 

Mitch Trubisky will face New Orleans for the third time in his career. In the previous two matchups, he has averaged a 55.8% completion rate. 

Derek Henry has rushed for 328 yards and one touchdown in his previous two meetings combined, versus the Ravens. This game will be the first time Henry gets to take on the Baltimore DL when they’re at full health. 

Alvin Kamara led the league in running back receptions (83). 

Kareem Hunt has lined up as a receiver on just 35 snaps this year. Despite off-season quotes about him being used there more often. 

Stefon Diggs led the league in receptions and yardage at wide receiver. On Saturday he will get to play in front of Bills fans for the very first time. 

D.K Metcalf has a career average of 3.5 receptions when facing the Rams. Averaging 52.25 yards and .25 of a touchdown per game. 

Miles Boykin has touchdowns in three of his last five games with the Ravens finally deciding to try and involve him more. 

Logan Thomas finished the year as the TE3 in fantasy. He faces the 23rd best defence against the position. 

Mark Andrews is averaging seven targets per game over his last five games. In Wk11 he went 5-96-1 against the Titans. 


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