Wild Card – DFS Stud & Value Plays

Wild Card – DFS Stud & Value Plays

Wild Card weekend is the first of two four game playoff slates in the daily fantasy football season. Things might be wrapping up for the year, but we have an incredible opportunity to identify the players worth rostering in these matchups with the benefit of a full season of usage data to evaluate.

Here are my favorite plays at each position in the Wild Card round:


STUD – Alex Smith (vs. Tennessee)

Smith is coming off of a week of rest thanks to Patrick Mahomes II getting the chance to make his debut in Week 17 against the Denver Broncos. The matchup is phenomenal for Smith – Tennessee is 24th in DVOA against the pass, and allowing opponents to throw 37.81 times per game on average. Smith is a real threat to eclipse 300 yards passing thanks to his 8.0 yards per attempt average in 2017.

VALUE – Marcus Mariota (@ Kansas City)

Same game, different offense! Mariota had a really underwhelming regular season, but he draws the league’s 23rd DVOA pass defense in this playoff matchup. Mariota’s price is amongst the lowest for all the starting quarterbacks this week, and I think its worth paying up to him from Tyrod Taylor, who draws the tough road matchup against the league’s best passing defense in Jacksonville on Sunday. If you want to save money at the quarterback position in salary cap games, Mariota is the best option.

Running Back

STUD – Todd Gurley II (vs. Atlanta)

The best player in football in 2017 is the highest priced player on the slate, which could very easily drive a lot of players away from him in this game. It would be a mistake – the Falcons are 20th in DVOA against the rush, and 21st in DVOA against running backs in the passing game. Gurley’s role in Sean McVay’s offense has been special all year – a twenty touch floor and 120+ all purpose yards are my expectation.

VALUE – Christian McCaffrey (@ New Orleans)

McCaffrey isn’t really priced in the true “value” range this week, but I’m featuring him here anyway because I think his tight range of outcomes makes him a good value this weekend. He never saw less than 5 targets a game in 2017 – his expected range against the Saints is 4.5 to 9.6 targets. At a 71% catch rate, CMC’s floor gets a great boost from his 3.2 to 6.8 expected receptions. The matchup isn’t all that horrible, either: the Saints finished 2017 23rd in DVOA against the rush and 12th against all backs in the passing game.

Wide Receiver

STUD – Michael Thomas (vs. Carolina)

When Drew Brees throws the football down the field, Michael Thomas is usually on the receiving end. He finished the year with a 28.2% target share in the Saints offense as a result. I like him for 9-10 targets on Sunday against a Carolina defense that was 25th in DVOA against the WR1 in 2017. Thomas is probably the safest investment at the position on Sunday.

VALUE – Rishard Matthews (@ Kansas City)

Rishard Matthews always flies under the radar in fantasy, and the same is true here in the playoffs. He’s priced extremely attractively against a Kansas City defense that is 31st in DVOA against WR1’s and 14th in DVOA against WR2’s. Matthews and rookie WR Corey Davis both averaged around 6 targets per game this season, but Matthews was far more efficient with his looks from Mariota this season. I think he’s in line for a surprisingly strong game – one Tennessee seriously has a chance to win if they can protect the football.

Tight End

STUD – Travis Kelce (vs. Tennessee)

When looking at the pricing for tight ends this weekend, the stud tier is merely a tier of one: Travis Kelce. Rostering Kelce could automatically make your lineup build very different than your opponents this weekend, because it will (unfortunately) push you into considering more value picks at the other positions than you might be comfortable with. The Titans were 24th in DVOA against the position in 2017, and Kelce enjoyed a 23.1% target share from Smith in 2017, the largest in the offense. He’ll be hard to fit in, but he’ll likely be a very strong play.

VALUE – Charles Clay (@ Jacksonville)

The best case scenario for Buffalo on Sunday appears to be one where LeSean McCoy plays on a limited basis, which is good news for Charles Clay. Clay averaged the most targets per game from Buffalo quarterbacks in 2017 – 5.69. Jacksonville is tough against the pass, but their weakest performance came against the tight end position – they were 20th in DVOA against them in 2017. Clay has the highest touchdown probability out of all of Tyrod Taylor’s options for that reason alone.

Best of the Rest

QB – Jared Goff, Drew Brees
RB – Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry (if Murray is out), Marcus Murphy (if McCoy is out)
WR – Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, Robert Woods, Ted Ginn Jr., Sammy Watkins, Albert Wilson
TE – Delanie Walker, Austin Hooper
K – Harrison Butker, Josh Lambo, Will Lutz
DST – Jaguars, Saints, Rams