Joey Ricotta | January 4th, 2020
The end of the football regular season always brings me a mixture of emotions. On one hand, I’m sad and depressed that the season is already over. On the other hand, the playoffs are underway and we are now getting closer to the best and most anticipated football games of the season. As YOU are anticipating, let’s stop rambling and get to the picks for this potentially wild, Wild Card Round.
People love to look at what’s directly in front of them. They want the freshest, the newest, the most trendy thing at the time. Knowing this, my gut tells me, the majority of DFS players will be targeting a lot of players from the first couple of games on Saturday. They’ll want to get some juice on the game. Having an investment in the game will give them more interest in actually watching it. With all of that said, I think a good strategy, will be to target players from the Sunday games, with the hope that they will go overlooked. Because it’s only a four-game slate, you’ll need to get different in tournaments, along with having a mixture from each game.
Carson Wentz ($6,200 DK, $7,900 FD)
Wentz has been on a nice little run, averaging 22.78 DK points over the last five weeks of the regular season. During that stretch, he’s tossed for over 300 yards in three games and has ten touchdowns to only one interception. With their running game being somewhat of an uncertainty, Wentz has been chucking the ball a lot. He’s thrown the ball 40+ times in each of the last seven games. The Seattle Seahawks have allowed 263.9 passing yards per game, which ranks 27th in the NFL (sixth-worst).
Kirk Cousins ($6,100 DK, $7,600 FD)
Despite finishing with a 10-6 record and capturing the second Wild Card spot in the NFC, the Vikings limped their way into the playoffs, going 2-3 over their last five games. Cousins and many other starters rested in the meaningless final game of the regular season, but he struggled before that. So, why am I mentioning him? Well, this is a spot I think taking a little risk makes sense. I think the New Orleans Saints will be able to take care of the Vikings on their home turf inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Superdome is a fast track and is generally a high scoring atmosphere. Once we get into the latter part of the season, teams playing in domes that don’t have to deal with the cold winter weather conditions like other teams. If this game plays out the way I expect it to, the Vikings will be playing from behind and that will set up a lot of second-half passing work for Kirk Cousins. Let’s go ahead and pick on the garbage time points here, and maybe even get lucky with a back and forth shootout.
Derrick Henry ($8,200 DK, $9,500 FD)
Look, I’m done avoiding this guy. As much as I normally love to fade him due to his lack of PPR upside and lack of usage in the passing game, he just bulldozes his way to over 100 yards and multiple rushing touchdowns almost weekly. Henry crushed the Week 17 slate, rushing for 211 yards and three touchdowns, in a must-win game for the Tennessee Titans to help them nab a Wild Card spot. The New England Patriots are extremely stout against the run, ranking sixth in DVOA (-14%). At home the Pats have been even better, allowing only the second-fewest rushing yards per game (77.2). Because of this, the ownership should be slightly lower on Henry, making him a solid target in tournaments. After 32 carries in Week 17, I don’t see a reason why the Titans wouldn’t attempt to pound the rock with Henry.
Travis Homer ($5,300 DK, $6,100 FD)
Don’t be a homer! Sure, the more popular name and the more enticing target would be Marshawn Lynch in this situation, but Homer is the one I’ll be going heavier on. Lynch is a great storyline and I’m sure he’ll get some touches, including the goal-line work. But on every down situations, the Seahawks have shown they are willing to use Homer quite a bit. The last two games, he’s been targeted a total of 13 times and touched the ball 15 times in the season finale. The Eagles are a very good run-stuffing unit, but if Homer is going to be used the same way he has been leading up to this week, I’ll have some interest, especially because he doesn’t strike me as a pure north and south runner that the Eagles can home in on.
Sony Michel ($4,600 DK, $7,200 FD)
As we saw last year, Michel is starting to get more work down the stretch. In three playoff games last year, Michel carried the ball 71 times for 336 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry. He also scored SIX touchdowns. Over the last three games, Michel has averaged just over 19 carries per game for a total of 259 rushing yards. Guess what the average yards per carry is over that stretch. 4.7. Looks like Michel is in postseason form and he gets the majority of the red-zone carries.
Michael Thomas ($9,300 DK, $8,900 FD)
It’s Michael freaking Thomas….period. He didn’t do much last week, but the Saints cruised to a 42-10 win and he had already broken the single-season receptions record the week prior. The thought of not using him on this small of a slate scares the living piss out of me. If he goes off and you don’t have him in your lineup, not only is it predictable, but it serves you right. Hindsight is 20/20, Michael Thomas is 24/7. Lock him in. If you’re mass multi entering, there’s merit in getting less exposure.
Greg Ward ($5,200 DK, $5,600 FD)
The TEs are always a focal point for the Eagles and that shouldn’t change this week. However, Ward is the main man as far as wide receivers are concerned. The former practice squad standout has been making the most of his increased opportunities. There’s still room for improvement as well, as he’s only caught one touchdown on 30 targets over the last four weeks. Ward makes for a good pivot away from the other Eagles weapons, which we will get to shortly.
Kenny Stills ($4,600 DK, $5,800 FD)
Keep an eye on Will Fuller‘s status. Fuller is dealing with a groin injury, and if he sits, Stills will garner some ownership. He’s at a cheap price tag and will get less attention from the Bills’ secondary than DeAndre Hopkins. If Fuller does in fact play, he might be used as a decoy. Stills could go under the radar in a sneaky big game spot. Either way, I think Stills is a solid tournament option.
Jonnu Smith ($3,800 DK, $6,300) – Mainly DraftKings
Smith is site-dependent. The Pats aren’t a good matchup, but as we’ve seen in the past, Bill Belichick is perfectly fine with taking away the opponent’s number one receiving option. The Titans’ number one receiving weapon is A.J. Brown. Smith isn’t a high volume guy, but he does get some red-zone targets. I don’t mind spending down and taking a flier.
On DraftKings, it makes sense to use one of these two in Cash Games, if that’s indeed what you prefer to play. In tournaments, however, the plays are just too popular for me. I’ll be looking to spend down on a riskier option like the aforementioned Smith. On FanDuel, the price increase isn’t unfathomably high. The upside and high floor situations the two of them will be presented with, create an opportunity to eat the chalk and spend up a little, given the fact that they won’t break the bank doing so. If Ertz plays, he’s a solid option. If he sits, Goedert will become extremely chalky. I like Goedert regardless, but more so in tournaments, if Ertz suits up. That will help keep his ownership down, and the Eagles run a lot of two TE sets, which allow both to be involved.
Houston Texans ($2,600 DK, $4,400 FD)
The Texans will host the Buffalo Bills in one of the two dome games taking place this weekend. That not normally a recipe for success, but Josh Allen has shown the ability to turn the ball over at times.
Tennessee Titans ($2,400 DK, $4,000 FD)
The Pats aren’t the Pats of old. We know what they’re capable of from a game management perspective, but they aren’t overly exciting and don’t put up a lot of high scoring games. Usually, we target turnovers, but this is a spot we can look to provide some safety.
Another Target: Seattle Seahawks (@ PHI)
Don’t be afraid to play anyone that you expect to get a decent amount of playing time. Take weather conditions, ownership and upside into consideration. This isn’t the type of slate where we can rule out the guys who haven’t produced all season. We don’t have the number of games and players to choose from to make up for any misses. Nail the touchdowns and you probably win the slate. Good luck and enjoy the games.
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