With only four games on this Wild Card slate, we are going to arrange the NFL DFS Must Plays a little bit differently. Instead of assessing players by four categories of priority, I’m creating two categories with “Top Priorities” and “Next-in-Line” plays to consider for your fantasy squad. From here, there will be an “Additional Notes” segment to cover any other noteworthy items. Hopefully you’ll come away from this article with clarity on how to tackle this NFL DFS Wild Card slate.
For more help in assembling lineups this weekend, be sure to check out our complete NFL DFS coverage in the Daily Fantasy Football Focus section.
As a reminder, we are looking at the Saturday-Sunday slate with four games. Lineups will lock at 4:35pm ET on Saturday with the Colts and Texans getting things started.
Andrew Luck – QB – Indianapolis (at Houston)
Luck has been amazing against the Texans this season with 36 fantasy points in Week 4 and 25 FP in Week 14. There’s a good chance he could hover in that range yet again. Houston’s defense tends to funnel production to their air, ranking 28th against the pass and third against the run. That’s fine with Indianapolis, as they usually rely on a ton of passing attempts from Luck anyway. The Texans were able to shut down Blake Bortles and the Jaguars last week (join the club), but they were torched in previous games to end the season. Nick Foles posted 471 yards and four touchdowns. Sam Darnold was semi-efficient with 253-2. Andrew Luck went for 399-2 in Week 14. Baker Mayfield had 391-1 with Marcus Mariota tallying 303-2 in previous weeks. You probably get the point by now, Houston gives up a ton of production through the air, and that’s undoubtedly the strength of this Indy offense. Luck could certainly take advantage, and he probably has the best floor/ceiling potential of any quarterback on this slate.
Amari Cooper – WR – Dallas (vs Seattle)
This pick is largely influenced by Cooper’s FanDuel price of only $6,700. The Dallas WR was seemingly underpriced every week down the stretch, and that has apparently carried over to the playoffs. The Cowboys are facing a Seattle team that ranks middle-of-the-pack against the pass, and this isn’t necessarily a bad matchup for Cooper. Even though he finished the season on somewhat of a sour note (13-83 over last three), Amari is still seeing a healthy target-share with undeniable upside if things break in his favor. The Seahawks rank 25th in DVOA against opposing WR1’s this season, adding more rationale to Cooper’s DFS case.
Eric Ebron – TE – Indianapolis (at Houston)
The Luck-Ebron connection could be alive and well on Saturday. The Indianapolis tight end leads his position in touchdowns (14) while ranking fourth in targets (110) and sixth in receptions (66). In other words, Ebron does most of his damage in the red-zone, recording 11 of his scores from inside the 20 yard line. That ranks second in the NFL this season, only trailing Davante Adams’ 12 red-zone touchdowns. Taking all of that into consideration, Ebron is fairly priced as a mid-range tight end with scoring upside. Things look even better when taking a close look at the matchup. Houston has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. As mentioned earlier, the Texans usually funnel production to the air, which furthers the cause for utilizing Ebron in DFS.
T.Y. Hilton – WR – Indianapolis (at Houston)
Hilton was almost considered in the “top priority” section, but the cumbersome salary paired with health concerns (lingering ankle injury) caused a downgrade to the “next-in-line” section. There’s a good chance Hilton will get in on the aforementioned quality matchup against a suspect Houston pass defense. The question revolves around the extent of his usage. He has been putting forth decent stat-lines despite the ankle issue over the past few weeks, so I wouldn’t be overly concerned about his questionable status (unless we hear otherwise). Hilton dominated the Texans this season while going for 4-115 in Week 4 coupled with a sweet 9-199 line in Week 14. I’m expecting double-digit targets with a legitimate opportunity to exceed triple digit yardage and a score.
Chris Carson – RB – Seattle (at Dallas)
This isn’t a good matchup for Chris Carson, as the Cowboys rank top five in almost every run defense category. However, the Seattle RB is a volume-driven DFS play with an attainable mid-range salary. Elaborating on that statement, Carson has seen 20+ touches in each of his past four games, posting 19+ fantasy points in three of those. Running the ball has been a huge part of Seattle’s offensive gameplan this season, as they lead the league in rushing play percentage at 52.77% - next closest is Tennessee at 48.4%. Carson undoubtedly spearheads that strategy, and he had success against the Cowboys earlier this season with 124 total yards and a score on 34 carries (19.4 FP). Don’t expected much efficiency from Carson on Saturday night, but he should be able to find fantasy success with another expanded workload.
Baltimore Ravens – DEF (vs LA Chargers)
The Bears and Ravens represent the two best fantasy defenses of this slate, and Baltimore checks in with a cheaper price point on FanDuel. That makes the decision a little easier over there. It doesn’t hurt that the Ravens have stepped up as one of the best options at this position over the second half of the season. They racked up 20 fantasy points while facing Philip Rivers and the Chargers a few weeks ago. Now they’ll see them at home with an intense playoff atmosphere.
Taylor Gabriel – WR – Chicago (vs Philadelphia)
In a vacuum, Gabriel probably doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in an article titled Must Plays, but this recommendation is more about salary relief than anything else. In order to fit the true top priorities into a lineup, you’ll need to take a chance on some cheapies. As mentioned in the NFL GPP Plays column for this week, Gabriel ranks second on the team in targets, and there’s a decent chance Chicago opens up the playbook in this game. The matchup looks good against a Philadelphia team that ranks 30th in pass defense.
Quarterback is undoubtedly the strongest position of this slate. I’m firm on Andrew Luck as the top lift, but Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky, and Dak Prescott are legitimate cash game options (ranked in order of priority).
You may be surprised to see no Ezekiel Elliott in the above write-ups. That has more to do with salary constraints than anything else. In other words, if you can squeeze Elliott into your lineups, then by all means go for it. However, I’m leaning more towards stacking Luck-Hilton-Ebron, which makes it difficult to entertain Zeke’s hefty price point.