The second-highest total of the weekend has seen a half-point taken off the opening touchdown spread. This was despite a majority of cash and tickets being on the Bills, which indicates market-makers anticipate a closer game than most bettors. PFF Greenline sides with the early market movement, as we find .2% value on the Colts' +6.5 spread.
Both defenses sit in the top 10 of our opponent-adjusted grades, which isn’t usually the matchup we would target from a game-stack perspective. The Colts sit right outside of the top 10 in expected points added per pass play, with the Bills at third overall. PFF Greenlinehad an initial lean under on the opening 52-point total, but that has disappeared after dropping a full point.
There should be little interest in a heavy Colts stack on the opening game of the wild-card slate. Buffalo should draw more interest, producing the highest success rate on pass attempts over the past five weeks. The Bills have by far the highest pass ratio in neutral situations in the NFL. An added game theory element could be that DFS players don’t want to lock in a high percentage of roster spots on the first game of the weekend, which could cause this stack to be lower owned than it should be.
Josh Allen (DK $7,500, FD $9,000)
Stefon Diggs (DK $7,700, FD $8,700)
T.Y. Hilton (DK $5,100, FD $6,200)
Remaining Roster Average DK $4,950, FD $6,017
The lowest-total matchup of the weekend will be bypassed by the majority of DFS players. This is for good reason, as we saw a combined 29 points the last time these two teams faced off. Their two matchups this year both failed to go over, and most people expect a repeat performance in the wild-card round.
Rams head coach Sean McVay is remaining tight-lipped about his team's starting quarterback Saturday. It may not matter a ton from a win probability standpoint, but it does influence the decision-making process in DFS. It also makes it tough to recommend a Rams quarterback at this point in the week.
Los Angeles' defense is the best in the NFL, and the unit highlighted just last week its ability to all but completely win games. Russell Wilson has dropped off considerably from his early-season efficiency and hasn’t put up fantasy-relevant performances in any prior matchups against this Rams defense.
The 42.5 total appears to be way too low for how effective these offenses have been at times this season. The backup quarterback angle and the Wilson falling off a clip angle have propelled this number down. The teams' first matchup sat at 55, followed by a 47.5 print the next game. PFF Greenline does find some value on the over, which makes this a possible sneaky game stack option this weekend.
Russell Wilson (DK $6,700, FD $7,400)
D.K. Metcalf (DK $6,700, FD $6,900)
Cam Akers (DK $5,100, FD $6,100)
Remaining Roster Average DK $5,250, FD $6,600
Washington has been the team to back based on the spread movement, but our cash and ticket percentages both side heavily with the Buccaneers. PFF Greenline finds quite a bit of value on Washington, which signals this game could play closer than the current spread.
This game features our sixth- and third-ranked defensive units, which makes most assume the outcome will be decided by defense. Tampa Bay has a significant advantage when comparing offenses, so that will most likely be the actual differentiator in this contest. It is tough to trust anyone from a DFS perspective, with this being game an obvious fade, according to our game-stack model.
The highest total and shortest spread of the weekend make this the best game-stack option on the slate. It should also be the highest-owned game, as both offenses have been nearly unstoppable in their most recent games. The spread briefly opened at +4.5 before almost immediately dropping a full point. We did see +3 before Ravens backers stepped in to push it back to +3.5.
The total has ticked up a half-point at some books, with a slight lean toward the over on the cash percentage. PFF Greenline finds value in this direction, which is even further confirmation that this is the best opportunity for blowup fantasy performances this weekend.
Lamar Jackson (DK $7,800, FD $9,300)
Mark Andrews (DK $5,200, FD $7,000)
Derrick Henry (DK $9,200, FD $10,200)
Remaining Roster Average DK $4,633, FD $5,583
This could easily be the chalkiest game stack of the weekend, as Henry should be the highest-owned player on the slate. The expectation is that Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews also sit atop their respective positions in ownership, but the game stack should circumvent some of the ownership concerns.
DFS players still do not game stack enough, so it provides a correlated way to make your lineup more unique. This stack probably still requires an under-the-radar play or two, but it offers the highest probability to blow up of any other game stack this weekend.
Ryan Tannehill (DK $6,600, FD $8,200)
A.J. Brown (DK $7,100, FD $8,400)
Corey Davis (DK $4,800, FD $6,400)
Mark Andrews (DK $5,200, FD $7,000)
Remaining Roster Average DK $5,260, FD $6,000
The Titans’ pass-catchers offer an intriguing pivot off the high-owned alternative stack in this matchup. We saw just last week that Tannehill’s rushing ability could vulture some of the goalline work away from Derrick Henry. Corey Davis’ usage makes him one of the most mispriced options this weekend. Double-stacking with Davis and Brown provides an even more unique build to just using one or the other with Tannehill.
This game should rightfully be overlooked from a game-stack perspective, as most bettors are projecting a blowout in the biggest mismatch of the wild-card round. New Orleans immediately moved out from a -9.5 spread and tested -10.5 before settling a half-point lower. The Saints are seeing a majority of the cash and ticket percentages on both the spread and moneyline, with no one feeling inclined to back Mitchell Trubisky in the playoffs.
The Bears’ offense is in the bottom-half of our opponent-adjusted grades, with the Saints sitting 10 places ahead. PFF Greenline surprisingly leans toward the over on the third-highest total of the weekend. The cash and ticket percentages are in disagreement, which means the majority of bigger bettors appear to be favoring the over. This is counter to the latest line movement on this market, which indicates we have seen too big of a correction to this number. Given the lean to the over, this looks like an under-the-radar game-stack opportunity.
Drew Brees and Michael Thomas are at their lowest salary levels we have ever seen in DFS. All signs point to Thomas returning to the field, which could set up well for a vintage playoff connection with Brees. This stack should be lower-owned than their probability of leading the positions in fantasy scoring. The only real concern is blowout risk, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see Sean Payton continue to pour on points even with this game well out of reach.
Darnell Mooney should be the preferred target in the run-it-back stack, as his emergence last week caused him to pop up in our blowup model. His ankle is causing questions, though, and that should help keep his ownership at a modest level. Given his upside, and Allen Robinson II‘s matchup against Marshon Lattimore, Mooney could once again see the majority of the Bears' target share.
Drew Brees (DK $5,700, FD $7,800)
Michael Thomas (DK $6,400, FD $6,800)
Darnell Mooney (DK $3,900, FD $5,400)
Remaining Roster Average DK $5,667, FD $6,667
The spread in the final matchup of the wild-card round continues to slide toward the home favorite. COVID-19 concerns have caused panic from Browns backers, with no one fully understanding how this situation will play out. PFF Greenline does lean counter to the cash and ticket percentages, which are heavily on the Steelers in both the spread and moneyline.
The total has bumped up a half-point from the open, as PFF Greenline no longer finds value on either side of this market. Some things point to this being a worthwhile game stack, but the timing and COVID-19 issues make this a spot I will be avoiding for DFS.
Bet the Browns on the spread and hope that DFS players target this game too much based on it being the final matchup of the slate.
STEFON DIGGS ($7,700)
Stefon Diggs sits in his own DFS tier for the wild-card round. Only Allen Robinson II can come close to touching his usage, but he doesn’t have anything close to Buffalo's quarterback play. The Bills also pass at by far the highest rate in the NFL, which creates opportunities for Diggs that most receivers don't see.
There is a mild injury concern with Diggs, who is dealing with an oblique injury that has held him out of practice. There is little chance that he misses this game, but the same cannot be said for Cole Beasley. The Bills’ receiving unit hasn’t been fully intact in quite some time, but Diggs should see even more of the target share if Beasley misses time.
John Brown will be back, but both he and Gabriel Davis have operated mainly as the downfield threats. If Beasley isn’t able to go, Diggs should soak up an even higher target share underneath, with Isaiah McKenzie expected to slot into Beasley’s role if the injury situation breaks poorly.
Seeing Allen pepper Diggs with targets will once again be the expectation if this injury situation plays out. Either way, Diggs is clearly the best option at the wide receiver position, and he looks more like a free square play than a fade based on his projected ownership.
ALLEN ROBINSON II ($6,600)
Robinson is coming off his second-lowest target total and his fewest receptions of the season. Jaire Alexander completely shut down the Bears’ top receiver, and Mitchell Trubiskytargeted Darnell Mooney 13 times. The question from a DFS perspective is: What happens this weekend in a matchup against Marshon Lattimore?
Lattimore hasn’t graded close to his career-highs, but he still has the ability to lock down an opposing team’s top wide receiver. After Robinson’s dud performance last week, the expectation is that most DFS players either move off the Bears’ passing game entirely or target Mooney. This should lead to low ownership on Robinson, who is the only receiver playing this weekend that can match Diggs' target volume this season.
In a contest where a couple of under the radar plays are needed, Robinson looks like one of the most appealing options to bounce back at a reduced salary and ownership level.
MICHAEL THOMAS ($6,400)
Thomas is back at practice this week and looks on pace to play Sunday. It’s been tough to project him this season, as he has been in and out of the lineup all year. But there are few connections more consistent from a target perspective than Drew Brees to Michael Thomas.
The concerns are obvious, as both matchup and game script could hinder Thomas’ upside this weekend. The Bears have the seventh-best opponent-adjusted coverage grade despite their defense ranking 11th. Thomas' individual matchup isn’t overly concerning, but expecting him to quickly return to last year’s form is a leap of faith at this time.
Game script could also hamper his upside, as Alvin Kamara is expected to be available for the Saints. The spread has continued to move toward the Saints, who now sit as the biggest favorite on the weekend. Chicago has been more susceptible through the air than on the ground, which makes it plausible that the Saints get out to a comfortable lead through an efficient passing attack. If this doesn’t occur, Thomas is going to have a difficult time exceeding his salary expectation.
T.Y. HILTON ($5,100)
Hilton continues to be one of the best mid-priced wide receiver options for DFS. His 40.3% air-yard share over the past six weeks is the sixth-highest among wide receivers. There is no one in this salary range who can match the target volume or air yards that Hilton has been seeing.
He will have the most difficult matchup among the Colts' wide receivers, as he should see Josh Norman on at least 40% of his routes. This isn’t an appealing individual matchup, but the Bills' coverage unit overall has been beatable, ranking 19th in our opponent-adjusted grades.
Indianapolis will need to start off throwing the ball effectively and continue to do so throughout the game if it wants to keep pace with Buffalo. Our predictive models think they are successful in covering the 6.5-point spread, which points to quite a few opportunities for Hilton in the passing game.
It’s difficult to fade Hilton based solely on ownership, with no great pivot plays around him. The best play appears to be plugging him into your lineup with the goal of differentiating at other roster spots.
COREY DAVIS ($4,800)
In Week 17, Davis had as quiet of an 11-target game as any wideout this season. It was the first time he saw over 150 total air yards this season, which accounted for a 50% team share. He has matched A.J. Brown in almost all of the volume-based metrics but is $2,300 cheaper. He does have the slightly more difficult individual matchup, as Marcus Peters edges out Anthony Averett in our coverage grades.
Peters has the propensity to gamble in coverage, though, which could lead to a blown coverage Sunday. In the highest-total game of the weekend, Davis looks like a must-play at this mispriced level.
MARK ANDREWS ($5,200)
If you thought the tight end position was a disaster during the regular season, you are in for a rude awakening in the wild-card round. Mark Andrews is the top option, as he has seen 30% of the Ravens' targets since his return in Week 14. The problem is that Baltimore has by far the fewest passing attempts and the seventh-fewest total air yards over that time frame.
Game script appears to be a toss-up, with the Ravens capable of relying heavily on their run game throughout this matchup. Andrews is going to have a difficult time paying off his salary if he doesn’t find the endzone, which means his cost could be better utilized at other positions.
JIMMY GRAHAM ($3,300)
Graham has been trending in the wrong direction in terms of routes run per dropback. His 28.9% route rate last week was his lowest of the season, and he hasn’t been over 50% since Week 9. He is heavily touchdown-dependent, as he saw only one air yard on his two targets last week.
Cole Kmet looks like the preferred option among Bears tight ends, which should cause Graham to see next to no ownership. He still doesn’t appear to be a viable play based on his expected usage.
JONNU SMITH ($3,200)
If you are looking for a near-full-time player at the tight end position — at a reduced salary — Smith is the clear top option. He has seen sporadic targets throughout the course of the season but continues to be a reliable red-zone option for Ryan Tannehill. His matchup against Chuck Clark is concerning, but our chart still gives him a 5% advantage. One red-zone look is really all Smith needs to pay off his salary; his big-play potential is unmatched at the tight end position in this salary range.
ANTONIO BROWN ($6,500)
Brown finally had the blowup performance most had been waiting for, as his 90.6 receiving grade in Week 17 was by far his highest this season. It was his highest route run per dropback of the season and the first time he was on the field for over 90% of dropbacks.
Mike Evans’ knee injury played a crucial role in this usage, but word is that he has been able to practice late this week. If he isn’t able to go, we could once again see Brown enjoy all the targets he can handle. If Evans is active, it should force Brown’s ownership down to a playable level.
The one concern is game script, as the Bucs are 8.5-point road favorites over Washington. PFF Greenline actually leans toward Washington, which would benefit Brown and the Buccaneers' passing attack if this game stays close.
DARNELL MOONEY ($5,400)
Mooney took over the Allen Robinson II role in this offense last week, with Robinson ineffective in his matchup against Jaire Alexander. This probably shouldn’t be the expectation for Mooney, who saw more than 10 targets for the first time this year. His ankle injury is also concerning, and he could be a game-time decision Sunday. This complicates the decision-making process for the six-game slate, but Mooney should be one of the best mid-priced receiver options if he is able to play.