Welcome to Wildcard Weekend 2022 everyone! Without a doubt one of my favourite weekends of football every year. Whilst a lot of us may be mourning the seasons of our favourite teams, now is not the time to switch off from DFS. Not many bad teams make it into the playoffs, apart from Pittsburgh, but before we break down the plays I’m liking this weekend, let’s cast our minds back to Week 18.
A tricky slate where we aimed for some dart throws really didn’t work out as well as I’d like. Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, Case Keenum and Pat Freiermuth were the only players to return three times salary value. A lot of players simply underperformed including, Tyler Huntley, Marquez Callaway and Michael Carter, whilst plenty of our plays had middling success. For those, we can include D’Onta Foreman, Gabe Davis and Darren Waller. For the season that leaves us here:
Great plays (3x$) – 120 (47%)
Good plays (2x$) – 67 (27%)
Bad plays (<2x$) – 66 (26%)
I’m breaking down this slate with the six-game slate in mind. That’s the main slate that I will be playing but there are opportunities to be had no matter how you attack this set of games. Be conscious of how you build your teams and if a player in the first game or two busts, be ready to swap out your chalkier pieces that remain in favour of more dart throws. Without doing this you’ll be in an uphill struggle to hit the money lines. I’ll update throughout the weekend as well as adding some more theory on Saturday morning, but for now I’ll say don’t be afraid to heavily target a couple of games and fade others entirely. If you’ve enjoyed the column please do drop us a like or RT on Twitter, that really helps more people see the post.
Patrick Mahomes $7400 vs Pittsburgh Steelers
This iteration of the Chiefs is by no means the same lethal force that has strolled through the league at times over the last few years, but they’re in the mix now and Mahomes has been in consistent form for fantasy at the very least. Over his last three games, Mahomes has scored 26.2, 20.9 and 22.3, with the last score occurring in the regular season game where the Chiefs embarrassed the Steelers. I’m sure the Steelers will try to put up a better fight than last time, but at home in front of the Kansas City crowd, Mahomes seems like a lock for 20+ points. In his last five games, Mahomes has averaged 26.2 rushing yards and Pittsburgh just allowed Tyler Huntley to rush for 72 at 6 yards per carry. The Steelers lead the league with 55 sacks and if they start getting after Mahomes we should see a nice floor in his scrambling.
Tom Brady $7300 vs Philadelphia Eagles
It really is rather ridiculous that Tom Brady is rolling into another playoff campaign, but like most people, I’m over the dislike of him now and thank him for the services to my fantasy teams this year. The Eagles have been reasonably tough against opposing quarterbacks, allowing the 10th fewest points average on the season, but Tom Brady is no ordinary quarterback and PFF rated him 92.0 during the regular season. Their highest-rated quarterback. Brady put up 297 and two touchdowns when these teams met way back in week six. That game was in Philadelphia and I’m expecting Brady to surpass those numbers this weekend.
Matthew Stafford $6300 vs Arizona Cardinals
Stafford jumps out to me as the clear value on the slate. On paper, Arizona looks solid against the position, ranking eighth-best across the season, but over the last five games of the regular season that number jumps to 26th best. They’re flagging. Over the last three games, they’ve allowed an average of 20.48 fantasy points to the QB’s and in a must-win scenario, in the Rams house, Matthew Stafford should be able to get us home.
Jalen Hurts $6100 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When these two teams met in week six, Jalen Hurts totted up 26.0 DraftKings points. Only 115 of those came through the air but Hurts added two rushing touchdowns on the ground. The Buccs are a decent matchup on defence for rushing attacks but when they clamp down on this area of the game they force teams to turn pass-happy, with 65.9% of attempts against them being passing attempts. They also allow the second-most passing attempts in the league (40.3). One way or another, Jalen Hurts will attempt to put up numbers, if not through the air then on the ground where he averages 52.2 yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game.
Proceed with caution
Joe Burrow $6800 vs Las Vegas Raiders
Talk about riding into the playoffs on a hot streak. Joe Burrow flamed the Ravens and Chiefs in back to back weeks before enjoying a week of rest as Brandon Allen took hits from the Cleveland Browns in week 18. In those two games, Burrow put up 971 passing yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. Marone. Both of those games were in front of the Bengals home crowd and now the Raiders will travel cross country and have to figure out a way to stop Burrow. The Raiders allow an average of 246.3 passing yards per game and have given up the 12th fewest points to QB’s in the last five games. Joe Burrow scored his second-lowest points total of the season when the teams met in Week 11, and I feel like the Bengals might be more geared up for another big Joe Mixon day. Throw in Reily Reiff being set to miss out against a ferocious D line and its a tough sell. Burrow is a fine play, but he’s not a lock for me. I expect him to be rostered at a higher level than I’d feel comfortable with.
Derek Carr – Carr only managed 15.3 points in a high octane shoot out with the Chargers in his own stadium and has just one game of 20 or more points since week 7. The Bengals aren’t a tough matchup against fantasy QB’s but at $5500 there are better options. Consider Carr an extreme tournament option or large field multi-entry lineup if you plan to game stack this game with Mixon coming back.
Josh Allen – I love Josh Allen but the book is out that he doesn’t perform well in cold weather games. Since week 3 Allen hasn’t thrown for over 250 yards in a home game and didn’t look particularly impressive against either the Jets or Falcons. The Patriots defence is the 2nd best against fantasy QB’s in points allowed and as the most expensive QB on the slate it feels like a trap with the weather predicted to be nasty.
Mac Jones – The cheapest starter on the slate but it’s tough for Mac to put up fantasy numbers in the setup he has. In two combined games against the Patriots Jones combined for 7.6 DK points and 164 yards with two interceptions. In Mac Jones’s last three games he’s averaged 14.0 points and now will face the Bills defence who allow the leagues fewest points to the position. It’s the kind of play that might win you a million dollars, but more than likely will leave you far away from the cash line.
Mike Evans $6900 vs Philadelphia Eagles
At points this season it was hard to play Mike Evans due to the number of excellent options Brady had to throw to. Now with injuries and Antonio Brown related reasons, Mike Evans finds himself firmly at the top of the receiver core and has combined for 41.6 points in his last two games. The Eagles have done a good job against receivers all season, ranking second best for the year and fourth-best over the last five weeks. I am however choosing to believe in Tom Brady’s ability and the sheer volume Evans could see. I also like both Breshad Perriman ($4700) and Scotty Miller ($3800). Perriman has earned Brady’s trust it seems with nine targets in his last two games and back to back performances of over 40 yards. Miller meanwhile has had designed touches made for him and now seems to be finally over the toe issues that have hampered his season. I would expect both to be lower rostered than Tyler Johnson who seems to be getting low-value targets but still has a passionate fanbase amongst the fantasy community.
Diontae Johnson $6700 @ Kansas City
This time a year ago and some people were doubting Johnson’s ability to be a true wide receiver one on a team, because of drops. Now Johnson is the undisputed WR1 on a Pittsburgh team that has stumbled their way into the playoffs and has a chance to play with very little pressure as the Big Ben Farewell Tour continues for another week. Kansas’s defence has improved a lot since the early stages of the season where columns were written asking if the team could even make the playoffs, but they still lack the ability to stop the pass, allowing the fourth-most points to receivers over the last five games of the season and the twelfth-most yards per game in passing (247.3). Johnson has seen 34 targets over his last three games and whilst Roethlisberger’s noodle arm struggles to turn those into high-value field-stretching throws, they help accumulate points in our points per receptions format. At $4800 Chase Claypool is looking rather interesting and don’t be surprised to see him highly rostered. If I’m playing either of these players it’s correlated with Tyreek Hill. Much like Johnson, he sees high volume, with 22 targets in his last three games.
Amari Cooper $5900 vs San Francisco 49ers
The year two breakout didn’t happen quite as planned for CeeDee Lamb, but there’s no denying how talented a player he is. Over the last five games, Lamb is behind both Cooper and Schultz in targets and he hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 10. Meanwhile, Cooper has quietly gone about leading the team in targets and putting up reliable performances. Whilst I like both Lamb and Cooper this weekend I lean slightly towards Cooper, particularly as he’s cheaper. The Niners defence has allowed receivers to do damage in recent weeks, ranking bottom five against fantasy receivers but have held the running games in check. If I’m attacking this game it’s through the air and if I can’t interest you in Cooper, how about Cedrick Wilson ($4400) who has stepped up with Michael Gallup injured and scored a combined 50.6 DK points in two games.
A.J Green $4900 @ L.A Rams
It’s just A.J Green’s luck that he finally got away from the Bengals and now they’re finally back to the playoffs. Green though has had himself a nice season regardless, and when you compare to the fortunes of other 2021 free-agent receivers, he actually looks like a great piece of business. Despite previous injury issues Green has remained healthy all season and proven his worth with the team losing DeAndre Hopkins for large periods. In two games against the Rams Green has combined for 37.9 DK points, seeing 16 reception. The Rams boast a good defence against receivers, allowing the 12th fewest points across the season, and the strength is clearly Jalen Ramsey who plays a vast majority of his snaps in the slot, an area where Christian Kirk ($5300) plays 78.3% of his snaps. If Kirk sees a lot of Ramsey as we expect then the game should really open up for the likes of A.J Green and Zach Ertz. Antoine Wesley came back down to Earth against the Seahawks scoring just 3.7 points after combining for 29.9 in his previous two and remains a boom bust dart throw.
Bengal’s pass catchers – for reasons mentioned in the Joe Burrow section. If I had to play one it would be Tyler Boyd ($5000) who would match up better on paper against the Raiders coverage.
Bills pass catchers – weather/matchup related.
Joe Mixon $6800 vs Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are average at best against the run allowing an average of 114.3 yards per game and Draftkings Opponent rankings place them as the 30th best team against RB’s. No running back in this round of the playoffs dominates opportunity share like Mixon, who boasts a 74.9% total. In the off-season, Cincinnati said they viewed him as a three-down back and they’ve been good to their word. In the Week 11 meeting of these two teams, Mixon scored 27.3 points, turning 30 attempts into 123 yards and two touchdowns. Las Vegas has been sneaky good against receivers, an obvious strength of the Bengals and their top 3 rating against them has gone somewhat under the radar. Despite Joe Burrow running hot in the passing game, I like Mixon’s chances here and he’ll provide a good pivot off the inevitable Chase/Higgins chalk.
Leonard Fournette $5900 vs Philadelphia Eagles
$5900? In this economy?? You’re damn right and it is well and truly time for “Playoff Lenny 2!” The Eagles play well against the pass as we discussed in the Mike Evans section, and if you’re not buying into my argument for Evans then you should be interested in Fournette. With Ronald Jones banged up Lenny should see a return of his dominant workload against an Eagles defence that ranked bottom five against the rush. Philly also ranks bottom five in running back receiving points, an area where Fournette has been great this year. Of playoff running backs only Najee Harris’s 70 receptions come to Fournette’s 77. Those 77 receptions have come at an average of 5.5 per game. The last time Fournette faced the Eagles he put up 30.7 points. All being well with his fitness there is no reason to fade him.
Damien Harris $6400 @ Buffalo Bills
Damien Harris was one of my real off-season wins in best ball and dynasty. Even with Stevenson eating into his production occasionally Harris has managed to win out and own the RB1 role within this offence. The weather looks how you’d expect in Buffalo for this time of year, cold! Mac Jones has been poor against the Bills (albeit the away game featured awful weather), but Harris has been excellent, combining for 51.4 points and 214 rushing yards. The Bills defence is excellent against both quarterbacks and receivers, but bottom four against running backs. In Harris’s last three games he’s racked up 66.3 DK points, and I have every confidence in him for this matchup.
Darrell Williams $5500 vs Pittsburgh Steelers
With Clyde Edwards-Helaire missing out due to injury, Williams will once again see a large workload. We’ve seen Jerrick McKinnon and Derrick Gore both mix in but the backfield is undeniably Williams when it matters. Williams has put up double-digit points in every game where he has seen ten or more rushing attempts. The Steelers are a poor defence against the run and allow the third-most rushing yards per game (142.7) the third most yards per carry (4.84) and only the Texans gave up more fantasy points to running backs over the final five games.
Miles Sanders $5100 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Whilst the Buccs have been a matchup to avoid for running backs going back almost two years now, teams have started to find success in running as long as you avoid smashing straight into Vita Vea. Genius stuff, right? That coupled with Lavonte David’s absence has led the Buccs to drop dramatically in DVOA against the run, down to 22nd over the last few games. The last time these two teams met the Eagles tried to stay away from the run before finally accepting their identity in the second half. Miles Sanders then proceeded to go 9-56 averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Whilst Sanders has disappointed this year in failing to score a single touchdown, he’s managed to accumulate yardage and catches to keep him relevant at times, including a combined 39.8 DK points in his last two games. $5100 is very cheap for a team’s first choice running back and the weather forecast is predicting rain and possible storms in Tampa, the game could swing in favour of Sanders should that happen.
Najee Harris $6600 – Kansas City allow the fifth-highest rushing yards per carry average of 4.70, but I’m not interested in Harris in a slate where I’ll need every cent to jam in great receivers and tight ends. Instead, I would look to pay down in at least one of the two RB slots. Harris by all means could return value, but I don’t believe he can break this slate wide open and other players do.
Darren Waller $5700 @ Cincinnati Bengals
Darren Waller failed to live up to expectations against the Chargers but now he faces another team weak against the position with Cincinnati owning the worst record against tight ends over the last five games. As the fourth-highest priced TE I like the value here. If the Bengals can force the Raiders into a pass-heavy script then Waller should see a lot of opportunities.
Rob Gronkowski $6400 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We can’t base too much on last week’s performance as it is well publicised that Brady and Gronk were well aware of the milestones Gronk needed to hit certain financial incentives. However, if we zoom out slightly it has been back to back games for Gronk seeing ten targets, catching seven balls in both games and going over 100 yards in each. The last time Gronkowski scored a touchdown was Week 13 against Atlanta and I’m expecting that to change as he comes up against an Eagles side who give us the second-best matchup for tight ends this year.
Dalton Schultz $5000 – With Blake Jarwin returning Schultz’s workload lessened somewhat. Schultz’s route participation dropped down to the lowest it’s been since week 3. The Niners boast a top-five record against tight ends in fantasy points and there’s very little for me to get excited about here.