In this weekly column, we will identify the best plays, values, and tournament options for your NFL DFS lineups. We’ll also offer the best “fades” at each position, indicating which players to avoid when building your lineups.
This article focuses on the 3-game slate Saturday and PlayPicks will also provide a breakdown of the 3-game slate on Sunday.
Keep in mind that some of the plays offered are better for “Cash” games, i.e. 50/50, H2H, and Double-Up formats that require a more conservative approach. Some plays are recommended for GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) tournaments where it’s necessary to take more risk in the hopes of separating from a large field. Those GPP plays can also be ideal for Best Ball formats where players with higher upside are valuable.
For those interested in the DFS Single-Game Slate contests, here’s a quick recap:
In the “Showdown” mode on DraftKings, there are five utility spots and a “Captain” slot, who receives 1.5x multiplier for all DK points accrued. Pricing differs for players when selected in the Captain spot versus the FLEX spots, with all players required to fit under a $50k salary cap. All options are in play from QBs, RBs and WRs, to kickers and D/ST from each team.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kickoff since things can change quickly in the NFL. Please note any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if he doesn’t respond well in warm-ups.
NFL DFS SATURDAY WILDCARD BEST CONTESTS
DraftKings: Wild Card Millionaire (Sat): $25 entry, $2.5M guaranteed – $1,000,000 to 1st!
DraftKings: Play-Action (Sat): $3 entry, $750k guaranteed – $75,000 to 1st!
FanDuel: Saturday Million: $4.44 entry, $1.5M guaranteed – $300,000 to 1st!
FanDuel: Saturday Rush: $9 entry, $200k guaranteed – $40,000 to 1st!
Top NFL DFS Plays for Saturday Wildcard Slate
Best Play: Josh Allen ($7.5k DraftKings, $9.0k FanDuel)
The gulf is enormous between Allen and any other QB on this slate. The Rams and Seahawks are likely to play another low-scoring slugfest, Washington’s fearsome defensive line could give Tom Brady and the Bucs problems, and Tampa’s defense is unlikely to yield much production to Alex Smith. That leaves Allen and his adversary, Philip Rivers, who faces a revitalized Bills secondary. While we hope Rivers produces enough to keep Allen throwing in the second half, the Bills have shown an incredible ability to light it up early with 24.3 PPG in the first half over the past 3 weeks. Allen is on fire with a 118.9 passer rating and 17 total TDs over his last 5 starts and the Colts are yielding the third-most passing YPG (301.3) over the last 3 weeks of the season.
At DraftKings, it’s a bit more difficult to fit a high-priced QB into a GPP lineup. If Jared Goff (thumb) can’t play, Wolford could be an appealing value due to his ability to compile rushing stats. The 6-foot-1 QB ran for 1,204 yards and 16 TDs over his last 2 years at Wake Forest and translated that ability in his first NFL start with 63 yards against the Cardinals in Week 17. Seattle has faced the second-most rush attempts (81) from QBs thanks to their aggressive pass-rushing style. The Seahawks have been better against the pass recently, but still rank 20th in DVOA pass defense and Sean McVay should set Wolford up for easy completions.
There is no reason to believe in Wilson in a matchup against the league’s top pass defense after he managed just 159 passing YPG over his last 3 outings to end a rough second half to the year. No reason, aside from his otherworldly talent and uncanny ability to evade pressure and make plays with his legs. He’s logging 5.2 carries per game and has 23 TD passes over 15 career playoff games. With Wilson, you’re getting a proven veteran with a clutch streak who can prevail in the toughest of matchups.
Tom Brady is one of the greatest QBs of all time and he enters the playoffs on a big hot streak. However, he’s struggled throughout his career against defenses that can generate a pass rush with four and Washington is one of the best in the league at doing just that. The WFT ranks third in adjusted sack rate (7.9%) and 2nd in DVOA pass defense. Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio have done a remarkable job with a secondary that finished 27th in DVOA pass defense last year and the WFT is allowing the third-fewest FPPG to QBs as a result. Washington is only projected to score 17.5 points, so this doesn’t profile as the best game to target.
Best Play: Cam Akers ($5.1k DraftKings, $6.1k FanDuel)
The Rams rookie is cheap on both DFS sites since he’s listed as questionable due to an ankle sprain. Yet Akers played on 69% of offensive snaps in Week 17 and turned 25 touches into 86 yards. He’s handled 23 red zone carries over his last 4 appearances and Seattle’s allowed 50% of TDs from the opposition to come on the ground over the last 3 weeks. The Rams will get stud LT Andrew Whitworth (knee) back for this playoff game and should lean on Akers to establish the run with Darrell Henderson (ankle) on I.R.
Jones is affordable on DraftKings because Leonard Fournette has been the Bucs preferred option in passing situations. Yet Tampa is unlikely to trail early or at all against a low-scoring Washington squad that averages just 8.1 PPG in the first half. Jones returned from the COVID/Reserve List to burn Atlanta’s top 10 run defense for 78 yards and a TD at a 6.5 YPC clip. And 57% of the TDs Washington’s allowed over their last 3 games have come on the ground.
The Bucs run defense is an absolute stone wall and Washington (+8.5) is likely to be playing from behind anyways, so game script sets up beautifully for McKissic to see more work as their preferred option in passing situations. He leads all RBs in targets (110) and is second in receptions (58) at the position. McKissic has even run 75 routes from the slot this year and the Bucs pass defense is more vulnerable over the middle of the field. Tampa has given up the most receptions (101) to RBs this year. Alex Smith averages just 6.3 YPA this season with a 66.7% completion rate and he won’t hesitate to check it down to McKissic or TE Logan Thomas.
Taylor handled an insane workload over the final months of the season to help the Colts sneak into the playoffs and now his shoulder is nicked up. That injury likely won’t be as much of a factor as game flow, with the Bills averaging 16.6 PPG and the Colts coughing up 13.9 PPG in the first half this season. Buffalo’s defense has improved dramatically and just held the run-heavy Dolphins to 70 rushing yards last week. If the Colts aren’t successful running between the tackles early, we could see more of Nyheim Hines than Taylor.
Diggs see a massive target share (29.2%) on a team that ranks 3rd in DVOA pass offense. Brian Daboll is hitting his stride as a play-caller and the Bills have been the hottest team in the NFL over the past month with Diggs averaging 9.4 receptions and 118 receiving YPG in that span. Since he’s dealing with an oblique injury and the Bills have become increasingly deep at WR, it might make sense to fade Diggs in GPP formats while hedging with some combination of Isaiah McKenzie, John Brown, or Gabriel Davis. McKenzie ($3.3k, $4.9k) would be an appealing value if Cole Beasley (knee) sits. But there is no more reliable Cash play than Diggs, who should move around the formation to avoid Colts top CB Xavier Rhodes.
In the last 3 weeks of the season, Pascal became the Colts most reliable receiver in terms of playing time and usage. He saw 92%, 95%, and 84% snap rates in those contests and secured all 3 red zone TDs for scores. Pascal averages a healthy 8.9 yards per target and 14.3 yards per reception. He’ll run most of his routes out of the slot against Taron Johnson, who sees 8.6 targets per game since Buffalo’s perimeter CBs are so good. Pascal could pay off down the stretch when the Colts will likely be in comeback mode.
It’s not a huge coincidence that AB has gone off during Tom Brady’s surge to end the season. They have a long-standing relationship and Brady went out of his way to shovel a few late passes to Brown in Week 17 so he could earn his bonus. Brown has caught 20-of-27 targets over the last 3 weeks and 4-of-5 red zone targets in that span. Washington’s corners are big and physical, but AB is shiftier than Mike Evans or Chris Godwin.
The Rams are one of few teams capable of containing Lockett and his dangerous route tree. They held the speedster to 8 catches for 110 scoreless yards in 2 meetings this season. The Rams give up a league-low 8.8 yards per completion and CB Troy Hill allows the second-fewest yards per catch (8.7) this season. The Rams give up just 186.7 passing YPG on the road and have pressured Russell Wilson routinely with 16 sacks over their last 3 meetings. It will be hard to set up deep balls and crossing routes to Lockett with Aaron Donald wrecking the pocket.
As mentioned above, the Bucs defensive strategy leaves them exposed to RBs and TEs running shorter routes. Alex Smith has a tendency to feed those positions on more conservative throws and Thomas has caught 18-of-22 targets over his last 3 games with Smith under center. He leads all TEs in route participation and snap share, so there isn’t much to think about when deploying Thomas on this small slate.
Knox has become a reliable option in a TE corps that has become less crowded with Tyler Kroft on the COVID/Reserve List this past week. Knox has run at least 20 routes while playing on at least 65% of offensive snaps in each of the Bills last 5 games, and Josh Allen has been on fire during that span. Knox is 9th among TEs in yards per reception (12.1) and generates a healthy 2.26 yards of space per route.
Gronk has come to define “Touchdown or Bust” at this stage in his career. He only caught 8 balls over the Bucs last 4 games and 3 of those catches were in the end zone. With a 19.5% red zone target share, Gronk is still worth a look in GPP formats, especially if Mike Evans (knee) and his 21.8% red zone target share aren’t out there against Washington. The WFT has been slightly more vulnerable against TEs than receivers with 7 TDs allowed to the position.
Fade: Notes on the TE Position
The rest of the TEs on this slate are involved in undesirable time shares. While the Bills have given up a league-high 92 receptions to TEs, it’s tough to trust Trey Burton, Jack Doyle, or Mo Alie-Cox while all of them are active for the Colts. The Seahawks are in a similar situation with Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister, and Greg Olsen vying for snaps. Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee are sharing work for the Rams and neither TE has the speed to break away from Seattle’s stingy LB corps.