Welcome back to a special edition of the FanDuel Picks, Wild Card Week edition, your one-stop-shop for the best FanDuel player picks. My favorite time of the year to play FanDuel, the NFL playoffs provide a short slate of four games, making each and every yard and point crucial to earning the most money. Obviously differentiation is next to impossible, but using the Vegas lines can help guide us to see where the real value lies in this week’s daily fantasy plays. As opposed to our typical setup, I will suggest an entire playable lineup, with some alternative suggestions to help build your team in the best way possible. So, without further ado, to the Wild Card Week Picks!
- Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs ($7,800) – Allowing the eighth most passing yards per game and touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks this year, the Tennessee Titans face the very mobile and capable Alex Smith in their Wild Card matchup. Smith came out of the gates hot this year, looking like a true candidate and front runner for the MVP award. Unfortunately a midseason slump from the entire Chiefs team took him out of that discussion, but he seems to be finding his groove as of late, amassing over 17.4 FanDuel points in three of his last four games. The Titans boast one of the top run defenses in the NFL this year, allowing the fourth least yards per game and the least rushing touchdowns (just 5 this year). With Andy Reid already known to ditch the run game, Smith could be in line for a huge day both through the air and on the ground with his legs.
I am all in on fading the Saints running backs against a strong Panthers run defense, so I’d go with Drew Brees ($8,100) at home in the Superdome. For all the Alvin Kamara touchdown passes this week, Brees will also receive points, so don’t be afraid to zig when everyone else zags.
- Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams ($10,100) – Yeah, the price sucks. But you’d probably throw yourself off a bridge if he had another 40+ point FanDuel performance and you missed out. A lock to be the highest owned FanDuel player Wild Card Week, I just cannot advise against choosing Todd Gurley. Not only is the streak he on incredible (back to back 43.5+ FanDuel points performances, 27+ in each of his last three), but a positive game script (6.5 point favorite, 27.5 implied team total) make him uber appealing in a home matchup against a Falcons team that struggled to find its identity all season long. And while Atlanta plays the run fairly well, Gurley recently torched both Seattle and Philadelphia, so he is as matchup proof as they come. Oh and he racks up the receiving yards like a back end WR2 as well.
- Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons ($7,000) – The long flaw of the Los Angeles Rams (aside from inexperience), LA’s run defense grades as one of the, if not the, worst unit in the NFL, allowing the fifth most rushing yards per game, fourth most rushing touchdowns, and second worst yards per carry. And while the game script calls for Atlanta to pass as they play from behind, Atlanta would be wise to slow the game the game down a little on the road and utilize Devonta Freeman more. Freeman has scored over 15 FanDuel points in 3 of his last 4 games, and over 21 points in two of his last three, so the volume and usage is there for him to have a monster day. And if the game does go as projected, Freeman can be a monster in the pass game as well as evidenced by his 11 target, 9 reception, 85 yard (lead all Falcons in each category), 1 touchdown performance in a Week 17, playoff clinching game.
I wish I could afford Leonard Fournette ($8,100) with the rest of this team but he is too expensive. I will get him on a few FanDuel teams in a game against a Bills run defense allowing the most fantasy points to opposing running backs. The game profiles as a blowout, so I can see Jacksonville steadily riding Fournette’s legs in the second half as the Bills struggle moving the football.
- Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints ($8,300) – I know the Saints have evolved this year into a two-headed running attack. And I know it is not wise to not select at least one Saint RB in a short-slate FanDuel week. But let’s fade those guys, and go with their ace wideout, Michael Thomas. In their most recent matchup, Thomas burned the Panthers to the tune of 5/70/1 touchdown. And in Week 3 he was even better going 7/87/1 touchdown. The Panthers rank in the top three in total rushing touchdowns allowed and rushing yards allowed per game, and the book is out of how New Orleans attacks defenses. So, for the Saints to reach their 28 point projected total (a Wild Card weekend high) Thomas might be busier than usual, and his ownership could be quite low.
- Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers ($7,000) – Projected as a 6.5 point underdog and no semblance of a running game, the Carolina Panther should be dialing up the pass game all day long to keep pace with New Orleans high-octane offense this week in the Superdome. And while Marshon Lattimore should draw Devin Funchess, Funchess has proven to be Cam Newton‘s most crucial and reliable option in the pass game. When these teams met in Week 13, Funchess put up a respectable 4/60/1 touchdown line. Sure he was held to just 4/58 in their Week 3 game, but he still received 10 targets. With consistent volume for Funchess, he could be relied on much more in a game where Carolina will need to put up 27+ points to win.
- Rishard Matthews, WR, Tennessee Titans ($5,500) – I hate the Titans this week. Traveling to Arrowhead is painful enough. Then throw in the playoff atmosphere and a 9 point projected margin of defeat and the Tennessee Titans are looking at a real uphill battle this Saturday. However, Rishard Matthews could be a main benefactor if the game goes according to play. The Chiefs allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year, proving to be a weekly exploitable Achilles’ Heel. And while Matthews did struggle in a Week 17 playoff clinching game, that did occur against the best pass defense in the league (Jacksonville). And from Week 11 to Week 17, Matthews did have three 15+ point FanDuel games, three times scoring a touchdown and going over 70 yards. At his price, you can do much worse, and with his matchup he can vastly exceed expectations.
Tyreek Hill ($7,700) and his breakaway speed could really manhandle a Titans defense that struggle against opposing wideouts. One catch alone could make him worth his price. Mohamed Sanu ($5,800) could also receive an uptick in targets in a game in which the Falcons should be trailing while Julio Jones gets the double-team treatment.
- Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo Bills ($5,500) – With the Jaguars boasting the league’s best unit against opposing wide receivers, and LeSean McCoy banged up, the Buffalo Bills may have to dial up a different, creative gameplan, one involving a little more of the pass in a game where Vegas projects them as a 9 point underdog. Enter Charles Clay. Over his past three contests, Clay has 27 total targets, with 15 receptions and 169 receiving yards, twice going over the 60 yard mark. With a steady volume and potentially an uptick in usage due to the matchup and game flow, Clay profiles as the second best tight end play after superstars Travis Kelce.
This slate of tight ends makes me feel nauseous. I guess go chalk with Travis Kelce ($7,700), or hope Marcus Mariota targets his security blanket Delanie Walker ($5,800) all day long.
- Graham Gano, K, Carolina Panthers ($4,700) – With money dwindling, we turn to this highest scoring game of the week and choose the kicker that missed just one field goal this year. Graham Gano connected on 29/30 chances this year (96.7%) and finds himself in the friendly confines of the SuperDome against New Orleans. In a game with shootout potential, field goals could become important down the stretch, so look for Gano to find himself racking up the points in this contests.
I just cannot advise spending up on a kicker. Sure, Wil Lutz in the SuperDome in a shootout sounds appetizing, but for $5,200? Pass. Go Ryan Succop ($4,500), and hope the Titans and an abhorrent Andy Reid gameplan keep the game close and the Titans kicker involved.
- Buffalo Bills DST ($4,200) – We spent enough money above, so for the defensive choice we need to dig down deep. And when I say deep, I mean we literally cannot do any deeper. Do I love the Buffalo Bills DST this week? Not really. Do I even like them? I am sure I can convince myself, so let’s try. First, and most importantly, going down to the bottom of the barrel here allows us to take studs above like Gurley, Freeman and Michael Thomas in plus matchups. But also, do you reallllllllly trust Blake Bortles in a playoff game? Hell, do you trust the Jacksonville Jaguars to make all the right decisions on Sunday? I certainly do not. And while this unit scuffled down the stretch, the still averaged over 6 points per game over their final 6 contests and forced 5 turnovers over their last three. C’mon Blake, I know you’ve got some bad throws and turnovers left in you!
If you can afford it, the Jacksonville Jaguars DST ($5,600) should annihilate a Bills team with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback and a hobble McCoy. Even though I always strongly advise against taking expensive defenses, I almost played around with the idea of suggesting the Jags in a potential monster output game.
And that’s a wrap for Fanduel Wild Card Week analysis. Remember to always look at the matchups and Vegas totals, which are always telling, and do not be afraid to admit they know more than you, because they usually do. Until next time, good luck and don’t forget to tip me 10% of your earnings. Thanks in advance.