In daily fantasy football, there are two main types of playing formats; head-to-head games (including 50/50 and double-up formats in which half of the entries win and half of the entries are very sad) and large field guaranteed prize pool tournaments (GPPs), where somewhere between 10-20% of the field is paid out.
In this article we will utilize the FanDuel Wild Card Weekend NFL contest period beginning with Saturday’s 4:35pm game and continuing through Sunday afternoon.
Editor’s Note: Rotoworld’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,750,000 Fantasy Football Contest for the Wildcard Weekend games. It’s only $25 to join and first prize is $175,000 and begins Saturday, January 3rd at 4:35pm ET. Here’s the link.
Wild Card Weekend Strategy and Advice
With just four games to choose players from this week, there will not be nearly as many bargain-bin plays as we are used to seeing on a normal slate of games. This makes things very tricky and there will be a lot of player overlap with the limited overall number of selections.
This week the analysis will focus on 1) safe plays, which are also likely going to be the most popular options at each position, 2) upside potential plays, or players that could reach lofty levels or whiff big time because they carry added risk of either a high price, tough matchup or both, and 3) lower priced plays that can enable us to get more top talent into our lineups.
With an overall in-game salary cap on FanDuel of $60,000, and a roster format including 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST, it will be tough to love every option on our team, especially when utilizing the regular season rosters as a benchmark. The key thing to remember is that everyone is going to feel that way.
Now for the fun part: let’s look at a few players at each position that should be able to “return value” on their FanDuel in-game salary.
These will be players that I will be using myself on various iterations of my FanDuel lineups this week.
Andrew Luck $9,700 vs CIN: Luck is by far the top quarterback option this week and as such carries the highest price tag on FanDuel. After rolling through the first couple months of the season, Luck has been a little shaky with just six touchdowns in his last four games. However one of those weeks was the Week 16 "benching" when the game was out of hand, while the other was the Colts utilizing Week 17 as a tune-up for their starters. Pro Football Focus has rated this year’s Cincinnati passing defense as one of the worst in the league. Without a reliable running game, the entire Colts Offense is going to funnel through Luck this week and he should put up some of the highest numbers among the eight starting quarterbacks available.
Ben Roethlisberger $8,500 vs BAL: This is shaping up to be a heavy volume weekend for Roethlisberger. While Le’Veon Bell has not officially been ruled out, the Steelers did sign Ben Tate on Tuesday. If Bell is indeed out, this leaves Tate (who is already on his third team of the season), little used Josh Harris and rookie Dri Archer. Yeah, I am liking the number of pass attempts for Ben to be in the 40s on Saturday night. Fortunately, he has several excellent receiving options and the Baltimore pass defense has not exactly been stalwart this season.
Joe Flacco $8,200 at PIT: At this price and with his recent game logs, it would make sense to predict that not many gamers will be rostering Flacco, even with the short four-game slate. If Roethlisberger and the Steelers passing attack is successful, there is a chance they could pile up the points, which would force the Ravens to the air to keep up. Flacco had games this season with 62 and 50 pass attempts, so there is a precedent already showing that the Ravens are not afraid to throw for volume. On the flip side, Flacco has just two games this season with more than 2 touchdown passes and just two games with more than 325 passing yards. One last key data point: the Steelers have had trouble with competent passing attacks and have allowed the 6th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on the year. This is definitely a risky pick, but if it all comes together, this could be your lucky winning ticket to glory.
Jeremy Hill $7,400 at IND: Over his last three games, Hill has averaged 23.3 carries for 131.7 yards and has scored three touchdowns. These are great numbers, and it looks like Hill should have a baseline of 14-16 FanDuel points in the matchup against the Colts when considering his recent history. The Bengals are going to look to control the clock in an effort to keep the ball out of Andrew Luck’s hands (and Andy Dalton’s too). Hill will likely be the most popular running back this weekend with good reason. This is one of those picks that we do not want to overthink.
Justin Forsett $7,000 at PIT: Until his mid-December swoon, Forsett had been reeling off double-digit fantasy point performances like clockwork. He was back to his solid production level in the Week 17 contest against the Cleveland Browns. On the season, Pittsburgh was a middle-of-the-road fantasy defense against opposing running backs. If daily fantasy sports gamers focus too much on Forsett’s recent game log, they are going to miss out for a reasonable priced running back who should get a lot of work this weekend.
DeMarco Murray $9,000 vs DET: Yes, Murray is probably the best running back this week, but at this price he is going to force us to choose between pairing him with a top quarterback or a top wide receiver. The rosters I have constructed with Murray and two other premium plays have been pretty thin at the other positions. Because Murray is the mostly likely running back to get to 20 FanDuel points this weekend, you will want him on some rosters. Just know that building a top notch team around him is going to be tricky, and with Ndamukong Suh’s suspension being overturned, it makes this a difficult matchup.
Joique Bell $6,600 at DAL: The Cowboys have been susceptible to power backs this season, and we have seen Bell have several good games over the last six weeks of the season. The main issue here is that Reggie Bush has been eating into his carries and limiting his opportunities. On the other hand, Bush has more in-game injuries that just about any other player going this weekend, so he could easily spend most of his day on the sidelines.
Dan Herron $5,400 vs CIN: Herron should be good for 10-15 overall touches against a defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. If he can get a score or go for a couple long gains, Herron will be a steal at this price. Of course, it has been a month since he had more than 9.1 FanDuel points in a game.
Antonio Brown $9,200 vs BAL: With Le’Veon Bell likely out this week, Pittsburgh is going to be pinning their playoff hopes on Antonio Brown. This is not a bad thing, however, as Brown is the most likely player to reach his lofty upside this weekend with the extra opportunities. In four of his last nine games, he has posted 25+ FanDuel points. This is another pick that you don’t want to spend too much time deliberating on.
Torrey Smith $7,100 at PIT: As referenced in the Joe Flacco writeup, the Steelers have had a terrible time this season against teams with competent passing attacks, and have been in the bottom third of the league against wide receivers from a fantasy standpoint this season. In eight of his last nine starts, Smith has posted double digit FanDuel points. Make sure to get him on a few of your rosters this week.
Cole Beasley $5,600 vs DET: Some recommendations are going to have to be a little off the board to provide differentiation from your opponents, and some will need to be on the cheap side. Here is a selection that checks both of those boxes. Beasley has been sneaky-effective over his last half dozen games averaging 10 FanDuel points on 3.5 receptions per game, 46.2 yards per game and four touchdowns. If he can sneak one in against the Lions this week, he will have you leaping off the couch and dancing with delight!
Martavis Bryant $5,600 vs BAL: With all the likely attention that the Ravens are going to have to focus on stopping Antonio Brown this weekend, the other Pittsburgh receiving options are going to be left in single coverage. In his 10 games this season, the rookie from Clemson has scored eight times. With this upside, Bryant is another player that I don’t mind utilizing as a salary cap relief option.
Golden Tate $6,800 at DAL: This play is more of a reach, as Golden Tate had his biggest games when Calvin Johnson was out or limited by injury. If you think that the Cowboys are going to be occupied with stopping Megatron, doesn’t it make sense that Tate should see a fair amount of single coverage this weekend? If Matthew Stafford goes through is progressions, there is a good chance Tate could have something along the lines of 5-6 catches, 60-70 yards and a touchdown, which would be great production for this price point.
Greg Olsen $6,400 vs ARI: Greg Olsen, come on down! Yes, Olsen is the highest priced tight end this week, however, in this matchup he has a good chance of producing like a WR2 for a mid-tier price. We have seen Arizona be burned all season by opposing tight ends (fifth in the league for points allowed) and Olsen is going to be a key target for Cam Newton this weekend in a high pressure game.
Jason Witten $5,400 vs DET: Witten has been a steady veteran presence both for the Cowboys and as a FanDuel contributor. They key to this week is how many plays will Witten be called upon as a blocking option. Detroit has an excellent defense and may need to utilize Witten as an honorary sixth offensive lineman this week, both in the running and passing game.
With all of the kickers similarly priced this weekend, I am liking Adam Vinatieri $4,900 vs CIN where I have the extra cap space, and if I need to find some wiggle room then I can live with Mike Nugent $4,600 at IND, who is also kicking in the cozy confines of Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend.
Defense / Special Teams (D/ST)
The top matchup of the weekend would be the Carolina Panthers $5,300 vs ARI hosting the Cardinals and third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley. The Indianapolis Colts $4,800 vs CIN are a team I am willing to use, along with a lot of other gamers, in the hopes that Andy Dalton has a meltdown in this matchup without his key target A.J. Green.