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DraftKings Fantasy Football Tournament Picks: NFL Week 18 2022 Top High-Upside DFS Contrarian Targets

Geoff Ulrich shares his top high-upside targets, stacks and contrarian options for this week’s main fantasy football slate on DraftKings.

Welcome to the weekly tournament plays article for this week’s main DraftKings fantasy football slate. I’m going to focus purely on upside plays, stacks and strategies to help tackle the largest tournaments on the slate. GPPs are not won by using all of the most popular players on the slate, and finding some relatively lower-owned diamonds in the rough will be the goal of this article.


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Stacks

Game Stack: Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

Justin Herbert ($6,800) — Austin Ekeler ($8,900) — Keenan Allen ($6,900)

There’s not much at stake this week between the Chargers and Broncos, but Los Angeles has stated it is playing its starters and can secure the fifth seed in the AFC with a win.

That’s good news for fantasy purposes as Justin Herbert will be going up against a Broncos defense that has regressed badly against the pass over its last two games. Denver’s secondary has now been burned for five passing touchdowns over the last two weeks and allowed a 124.0 passer rating and 84% completion rate to Baker Mayfield in Week 16. Herbert has been terrific the second half of the year and completed over 75% of his passes in three of his last four games as well. He’s been a victim of game flow of late from a fantasy perspective but could find himself in a good fantasy environment with Denver’s offense showing some life last week under new head coach Jerry Rosburg.

From a stacking perspective, it’s likely we’ll see another strong game from Austin Ekeler. The Broncos have been abused by pass-catching RBs all season and recently allowed another two touchdown game to Jerick McKinnon last week, bringing his total to four against them. Ekeler caught ten receptions in Week 6 and the Broncos have allowed the sixth-most receptions and an 89% completion rate to the RB position this season.

The Chargers receiving options are a tricky dilemma but ultimately you have to like this spot for Keenan Allen, who could break through for some positive touchdown regression this week. The Chargers’ slot receiver has been targeted 57 times over the Chargers’ last five games and has averaged 67.0 yards and 0.75 touchdowns per game against Denver over his last four meetings against them. Denver’s slot coverage is the weakest link in their talented secondary and Allen’s targeting is likely to take another bump up this week if we get a close back-and-forth divisional game.

The Chargers are expensive in DFS but have handled this matchup well in the past and posted 34 points against Denver late last season in a romping win. With Russell Wilson ($5,400) looking to end the year strong — and Denver having both of its starting receivers — look for a potentially higher-scoring game to develop and Los Angeles stacks to be a great lower-owned upside play in GPPs this week.


Quarterback: Sam Howell, Washington Commanders vs Dallas Cowboys ($4,900)

The Commanders will be starting Sam Howell at quarterback this week and while he comes with the obvious risk of being a rookie starter in his first NFL game, there is lots of intriguing upside in play as well. Howell was a three-year starter in college whose rushing totals took a significant step up in his final year when he ran for 828 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 12 games. The rushing upside could be significant this week, especially against a Dallas team who will have no professional game tape on Howell and has given up some decent rushing yardage to opposing quarterbacks at times this season.

While Howell wasn’t the most accurate thrower in college he does have a live arm and we should also expect more shots downfield than we got with Carson Wentz, who was targeting top WR Terry McLaurin ($6,200) at just a 16% rate. Howell’s got upside with both his leg and arm, so even an inefficient day could lead to a couple of big fantasy plays and give us a 4-5x return on value. At under $5,000, Howell’s in play for those looking to start cheap at quarterback this week.


Running Back

Top End: Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks ($6,200)

In a week where it will be tougher to decipher actual usage and playing time for some players, Cam Akers looks like an RB we can build around and feel good about. Given the Rams roster, Akers is almost guaranteed to be locked in for another high-volume role in Week 18. He’ll be going up against one of the worst rush defenses in the league in Seattle, who has allowed the third most fantasy points to opposing RBs this year, and also just lost its best linebacker in Jordyn Brooks last week (ACL).

Akers’ comeback story has been fun to watch for fantasy purposes and he’s now averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in three straight games and posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing days as well. Expect the Rams to give the Seahawks — who has all the pressure on them this week to win — all they can handle, with Akers being the primary catalyst on offense for them once again.

Value: Chase Edmonds, Denver Broncos vs Los Angeles Chargers ($4,500)

Edmonds has seen his share of the touches rise over the last two weeks for Denver. The former Cardinal and Dolphin played nearly the exact number of snaps as Latavius Murray last week and was vastly more efficient with his touches, averaging 4.85 yards per carry and also hauling in three catches for 39 yards. The Broncos still have Edmonds under contract for next year and will be without Marlon Mack (IR) for this game so you may even see them push Edmonds to take more of a lead role in the finale.

The Chargers are also a plus matchup for the Broncos backfield as they’ve allowed four receiving touchdowns to RBs this year and the eighth-most fantasy points to the position as well. Edmonds is a sneaky value who should be on your radar regardless of whether you are stacking this game or not.


Wide Receiver

Top End: Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers ($6,200)

It’s Week 18 so we do have to concern ourselves with narratives and for Chris Olave that means being aware that he is only 155 yards away from breaking the Saints’ single-season rookie receiving record. Olave has had a terrific year on a very lackluster Saints offense and comes into this game ranked ninth in total air yards and fifth in the league in deep targets — all despite being nowhere near the top 10 in overall targets on the year.

He’ll also be taking on a Panthers secondary that got burned for an absurd 370 yards and 3 touchdowns by the Buccaneers WRs last weekend. Olave sets up as a fantastic boom or bust option this week and a player whose true upside could similarily break the slate like Mike Evans last week.

Top Value: Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts ($4,800)

The Texans Brandin Cooks has seen solid usage of late and comes in averaging seven targets over his last three games. Despite having no reason to play for the win this week, the Texans do look like they’ll be playing all of their starters and will be up against a Colts team who has allowed 7.4 yards per pass attempt over their last four games (sixth-worst in the league) and an absurd amount of big plays to opposing WRs over that span.

Last week we saw a banged-up Colts secondary get slaughtered by Richie James Jr. and Isaiah Hodgins from the slot for 11 catches and two touchdowns. Cooks is still an inside-outside WR who has taken over 40% of his snaps from the slot this year. The veteran sets up as a solid value in GPPs for the final week.


Tight End: Albert Okwuegbunam, Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers ($2,900)

The Broncos new coaching staff discovered that Albert Okwuegbunam was still in fact a part of the team last week, and also promptly discovered that he’s still a pretty talented receiver. The second-year TE saw six targets in his return to the lineup in Week 17 — the second-highest on the team — and converted his only red zone target in a touchdown.

As discussed above, the Broncos defense has made their offense more attractive in DFS of late as they’ve been allowing a lot of big plays and putting their team behind early in games. With the Chargers’ potent offense on the other side, the Broncos should be pushed into a more pass-heavy game script again this week which will likely give Okwuegbunam another chance to shine. He makes for a nice minimum-priced punt at TE and a solid addition to any Chargers/Broncos stack.


Defense/Special Teams

Buffalo Bills ($3,800) vs New England Patriots

Sports can be a great place for people and athletes to heal and find an escape when tragedy strikes. The Bills DST will be playing with heavy hearts this week with a member of their squad Damar Hamlin currently fighting for his life in critical care in Cincinnati. This week will mark the first time his teammates get to take the field and honor his presence and they’ll have a solid matchup against a Patriots offense that has averaged under 5.0 yards per play in their last three games.

New England has also allowed the 14th most sacks against this year and generally just makes for a great opponent for an elite crew in Buffalo who rank out fourth in defensive DVOA and are sixth in turnovers created on the season. With everyone paying up for the 49ers this week at D/ST, using what is likely to be a lower-owned Bills unit (who are also $300 cheaper) has its merits at a highly volatile position.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.