Welcome to wildcard weekend of the NFL playoff season. Whether you've been playing NFL DFS all along or just turned to FanDuel recently to keep your fantasy season going, this week will be a different experience. With four games on the schedule, your options are limited. Most of these teams are heading into the playoffs with injury questions, which opens up the possibility of value plays for us. My personal opinion is that you'll want a solid core of top-medium tier players in every lineup, and rotate in the various value plays. When it's win or go home, teams are likely to rely on their most consistent producers and so should you.
For the playoffs, I'll pick what I think is the best bargain play at each position and discuss the alternatives. I try to keep these guys in the below $5500 range, except at QB. Happy New Year and enjoy the games this weekend! Good luck to you all.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $1.75 Million Fantasy Football league for Wild Card Weekend's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $175,000. Starts Saturday, January 3rd at 4:35pm ET. Here's the link.
Ryan Lindley ($6700): Lindley is the only value option this weekend (all other QB are $7800 and up), and I expect him to be a pretty popular play. That's not just because I'm spending this week in Phoenix, AZ either. Fans here are pretty realistic about the odds of their Cardinals beating Carolina on the road, but the first half of the SF game last week is keeping some Cinderella magic alive in their hearts. In that game, Lindley threw for 316 yards and 2 TD (both to Michael Floyd). He also had three picks. SF leads the league in interceptions (23), however, and Carolina is below average (14) in that department. I've written before about the inability of the Panthers defense, which admittedly has improved over the past few weeks, to take advantage of mistakes. If I could find a stat on defense dropped interceptions, I feel like Carolina would be near the top (based on the Mark Sanchez game alone haha), but I can only find dropped ints credited to the QB. That said, the Panthers are only here because of their defense, and it will be crucial for Lindley to not make mistakes. With an unseasoned RB beside him, though, the Cardinals won't have the luxury of a super run dominant game plan. Lindley threw 44 and 39 times in his two starts. I expect that to come down a bit in this game, but I also see his efficiency improving. Yes, it's a minute sample, but it's all we have. With health, price, and/or matchup issues plaguing the other QB too this weekend, I think Lindley meets value at this price.
Dan Herron ($5400): Herron will also be a very popular play in all formats. He is expected to run as the lead back again for the Colts against a Bengals defense that allowed the 5th most fantasy points to RB this year. Being the lead back in Indianapolis is not the same as it is elsewhere. Herron has a season high of 12 carries for 80 yards. He's added about three receptions for 30 yards every week to his rushing yardage, which has been low despite averaging 4.5 ypc. I already mentioned that the matchup is quite kind for Herron, but it's worth noting that the Bengals D is 3rd in the league in interceptions and Andrew Luck threw 16 of them this year, good for 6th most. The Colts would be smart to attack with the run game and if Herron is successful early, he could be in for a big day.
Other options: The aforementioned RB for Arizona, second year guy Kerwynn Williams ($5200) is also worth considering. He has been impressive when he gets the work, averaging 4.6 ypc, though not yet scoring. He should see the bulk of the carries, while not being involved in the passing game at all. He'll probably need to score to meet value. Reggie Bush is dirt cheap given our early season expectations, but even in an average matchup with Dallas this week, I'm not going to be using him. He had the good game vs Chicago, scoring and matching a season high six receptions, then went back to below average in the finale. He's averaging just 3.9 ypc and is seemingly an afterthought in the Detroit offense with Joique Bell playing well. DeAngelo Williams is expected to play this weekend vs Arizona's 4th best run defense, ensuring that I'll be avoiding both him and Jonathan Stewart. Taking a flier on a Theo Riddick, Zurlon Tipton, or Joseph Randle is not in my plans for wild card DFS. As I said above, teams are going to go with their best and so should you.
Martavis Bryant ($5600): Yes, he's over my self-imposed spending limit, but he's too good of a play to miss on for a hundred bucks. Martavis Bryant has been in this column since he was first activated. He stands out for his efficiency in the pass game, scoring 8 TDs on 26 receptions (48 targets). According to PFF, that's 0.64 fantasy points per opportunity. Bryant is 6'4" and fast and Baltimore's secondary had no answer for him in the end zone the last time they played as Bryant scored 2 TDs on three receptions for 44 yards. The Ravens give up the 5th most points to WR, and PFF rates them in the bottom half of the league in pass coverage. I also love Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger this week, but Bryant is the cheap way to get exposure to what I think will be the highest scoring offense.
Other options: Donte Moncrief ($5200) is always there, tempting you to use him, only to disappoint. The memory of the two big games vs Pittsburgh (7/113/1 on 12 targets) and Washington (3/134/2 on 4 targets) keeps us interested, while most weeks the 1-5 targets he typically sees result in an average of about 16 ypg and zero TDs. While anything is possible in football, there isn't strong evidence to suggest that Luck will be looking heavily to the rookie this weekend, and I already made a case against investing too heavily in the Colts passing game above. Philly Brown ($4900) and Jericho Cotchery ($5200) can't be trusted either. Kelvin Benjamin is the only Panthers WR I'm interested in. It's strange to say, but Cole Beasley ($5600) saw nine targets last week, hauling in 6/57. Nine was his season high, but he's been steadily seeing around five targets a week. Detroit's defense isn't one I'm keen to attack, but as they key in on Dez Bryant, it could open up some underneath stuff to Beasley. Using him goes against my main point above, which is stick with the first team players, so I'd use him sparingly if at all.
Heath Miller ($5000): Miller finished the season as the 11th best PPR TE, unowned in most season long fantasy leagues and rarely seen in DFS lineups. The Ravens are middle of the pack when it comes to points allowed to TE. Miller has seen anywhere between 1-14 targets this season, but typically gets 5-7 per game. He's caught 72% of the passes thrown his way with 3 TDs.
Other options: I think Miller is the second best TE option this week behind Greg Olsen ($6400). Both Colts guys Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener are more expensive than Miller and are likely to split targets. Jermaine Gresham ($5300) gets the week's best matchup for TE against Indianapolis (allows 3rd most fantasy points to TE), but he's been held out of practice with a sore back. If you know he's starting and he seems healthy by Saturday, by all means, roll with him some as he has caught a TD in each of the last three games and is clearly on Andy Dalton's radar. If there's any question though, I'd stay away.
Dallas Cowboys ($5000): It's kind of a surprise, but I'm drawn to the Cowboys over and over this week. They edge out the Bengals ($4500) by a slim margin by virtue of being at home, but I'll likely own these two defenses in all my lineups. The Cowboys face Matthew Stafford, who was the 15th best QB in seasonal leagues this year. He did it on volume alone, as his efficiency (pts per drop back, per PFF) was just 0.40...lower than all three Tennessee Titans QB. That's gross. Dallas is 7th in interceptions, and 2nd in the league in total takeaways this year. The Bengals won't be a popular pick this weekend as the fierce love of Andrew Luck will prevent people from betting against him. Even their minimum price screams "Not Worth Using". I already talked them up a little bit, but I didn't get to say that Indianapolis has the 3rd most giveaways in the league, or that Luck has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in his last three games (160, 109, 187). We're not seeing the same Luck as we did the beginning of the season, and none of those three defenses were as stifling as the Bengals can be. I expect Luck to struggle here, and the Bengals are a sneaky cheap play I'll be using in GPP lineups often.