This NFL season, we are pleased to have partnered with DraftKings as a content provider, covering their exciting new NFT-powered fantasy football game, DK Reignmakers! Each week in this space, we will be breaking down the upcoming Reignmakers NFL slate. Be sure to check out our Fair Value Card Estimates and Contest EV tool as you build your lineups.
- Lamar Jackson (knee) took to Twitter yesterday to pass along an update on his recovery from a PCL sprain. Lamar noted that there is “still inflammation surrounding my knee and my knee remains unstable.” Jackson also said he wished he could be out there with his team, but that he can’t currently give 100%. Tyler Huntley (shoulder/wrist) seems like the likely starter at QB, though he has been dealing with injury issues of his own and is listed questionable to play.
- ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported this afternoon that Mike Williams had suffered a fracture in his back in last week’s meaningless loss to the Broncos, an injury that is expected to sideline Williams for two-to-three weeks. With Williams out this weekend, expect Josh Palmer to take on a more prominent role in the receiving game.
- As has been the case in each of the last of the last six weeks, Trevor Lawrence (toe) is listed questionable to play on the team’s final injury report. It would be a shock if he were not able to play this weekend.
- Raheem Mostert (thumb) will miss this weekend’s game against the Bills after missing practice throughout the week. When Mostert was inactive in Week 12, Jeff Wilson Jr.’s usage stayed fairly flat while the team worked in Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin. With the stakes higher in the playoffs, it will be interesting to see whether that remains the case, or whether the team leans on Wilson a bit more.
- Teddy Bridgewater (knee/finger) is listed questionable to play and it sounds like he’ll most likely be available in a backup capacity behind Skylar Thompson once again this weekend. The Dolphins are the largest underdogs on the slate at +13.5 against the Bills.
Wild Card Round Highlights
- DraftKings updated its list of SuperStar players on Monday. There will be six SuperStar players heading into the playoffs: Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Jefferson, Austin Ekeler and Christian McCaffrey.
- The Eagles and Chiefs will be unavailable this week with both teams on bye.
- Lamar Jackson (knee) is trending in the wrong direction ahead of the Ravens matchup vs. the Bengals.
- Skylar Thompson is the early favorite to start at QB for Miami, with Teddy Bridgewater (finger) uncertain to play and Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) out.
Seahawks at 49ers, Saturday, 4:30 PM ET
Outside of the quarterback position, the 49ers offense is getting healthy at the right time entering the opening round of the playoffs, as the team welcomed back both Deebo Samuel (ankle) and Eli Mitchell (knee) to an already loaded skill group last week. Unfortunately, this now makes San Francisco a difficult team to forecast for fantasy purposes heading into the postseason. For instance, the last time we saw Mitchell on the field, he was serving as a committee partner to McCaffrey — with Mitchell actually out-carrying CMC in two of three games the players were both active for. The 49ers kept McCaffrey’s workload light last week, but that may have been related to a knee injury that caused CMC to miss practice last Wednesday and Thursday. How much work can we expect Mitchell to pull away from CMC moving forward? That will be one of the important questions to answer over the coming weeks.
I think you also have to downgrade George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk a bit with Samuel now back in the lineup. Kittle’s late-season breakout largely overlapped with Samuel’s absence, while Aiyuk’s two highest target share outputs of the season came in games Samuel missed. As 9.5-point favorites, the 49ers are likely to advance out of the Wild Card Round, and that makes me more confident about taking shots here, knowing I’m likely to get multi-week utility. But there is definitely some risk in buying into this offense right now given the uncertain hierarchy.
It took an overtime win vs. the Rams and a Lions upset of the Packers at Lambeau, but the Seahawks have made it to the playoffs, where they will face a 49ers team that has already beaten them twice this season. Seattle’s offense has really struggled in those two games, scoring only 20 total points in the two games combined, and Seattle’s slate-low 16.5-point implied total hints toward more of the same this weekend. I don’t see the need to roster anyone from the Seattle side on Saturday, but if Seattle does jump out to a lead, I’ll want to scoop up DK Metcalf and Kenneth Walker III at their reduced price points ahead of the Divisional Round.
Best Buy: Deebo Samuel ($2.80, $16.69, $169.69, $1,169.69, $6,500)
Chargers at Jaguars, Saturday, 8:15 PM ET
In their playoff-clinching win vs. the Titans last week, the Jaguars were held to only 48 snaps on offense — one snap above their season-low of 47 and well below the team season’s average of 63.1. As a result, Jacksonville’s Week 18 box score leaves a lot to be desired, as the team racked up only 203 passing yards and 19 rushing yards in their 20-16 win. Expect things to be different this week vs. the Chargers in a game with a 47-point total, the second-highest of the week.
Even though we can forgive the poor box score production to a degree, Travis Etienne Jr.’s usage last week was still concerning. In a must-win game, Etienne saw only seven carries and handled only 50% of the team’s rushing share. Etienne’s rushing utilization has been trending down over the past three weeks as the team has worked JaMycal Hasty into the game plan. Etienne did appear to get banged up briefly in Week 18, but he missed only a couple of snaps before returning to the field.
In the passing game, Christian Kirk posted his first 30% target share since Week 10, but this will remain a receiving group that is hard to predict on a week-to-week basis. The Jaguars have had a different pass catcher lead the team in target share in each of the past four games (Kirk, Marvin Jones Jr., Evan Engram and Zay Jones).
The Chargers’ defense ranks bottom five in terms of rushing yards allowed to opponents this season, while they’ve had one of the tougher pass defenses. With Jacksonville’s receivers already difficult to forecast, I’d prefer to pair Etienne with a Justin Herbert stack if building lineups around this game.
Last week, Chargers coach Brandon Staley faced criticism for keeping his starters in the game vs. the Broncos during Week 18 despite the game having little impact on the team’s playoff positioning. This decision resulted in Mike Williams leaving the game due to a back injury. Williams missed the Chargers’ opening practice of the week on Tuesday with the injury, but Staley said on Monday that he expected Williams to return to practice later in the week. Diagnostic testing revealed no fractures, and I am considering Williams questionable to play until we see him back on the practice field.
I do like Keenan Allen quite a bit here with Williams potentially being out or limited this weekend. Allen has flown under the radar, but his usage has been extremely steady, with target shares north of 23% in five of the last six games. Plus, the Chargers have a decent chance to advance to the next round as two-point favorites vs. the Jaguars.
Ekeler was one of three position players to retain SuperStar status in the playoffs (Jefferson and McCaffrey being the others), and he struggled when these teams faced each other in Week 3, totaling only five rushing yards on four carries while adding 48 scoreless yards through the air. If I’m using my SuperStar spot at running back, I’d prefer to go with McCaffrey, and there are several solid non-SuperStar options that project similarly to Ekeler, most notably Dalvin Cook.
Best Buy: Keenan Allen ($4.99, $39.98, $289, $2,100, N/A)
Dolphins at Bills, Sunday, 1:00 PM ET
The Dolphins (+10.5) are currently the largest underdogs of Wild Card Weekend, and their problems start at the quarterback position. Tagovailoa remains out. Bridgewater was active last week but only available in a backup capacity. In Week 18, that meant rookie Skylar Thompson got the start under center, and he turned in a modest 152-0-0 effort through the air while the team scored only 11 points vs. the Jets. Based on the early-week chatter, it seems as though Thompson is the most likely QB to start this weekend, and if that’s the case, Miami would be a full fade for me this week.
If Bridgewater does start, it would actually be decent news for Tyreek Hill, who has posted receiving lines of 10-160-0 and 12-177-0 in the two complete games Bridgewater has played. In those games, Jaylen Waddle has posted receiving lines of 2-39-0 and 6-129-0.
At running back, Jeff Wilson Jr. has now out-carried Raheem Mostert in three straight games, and he would be my preferred choice if I were interested in the Miami backfield if both backs are active. That is not a guarantee, as Mostert left last week’s game with a fractured thumb, and his status for the Wild Card Round is unclear. Either way, since the Dolphins are double-digit underdogs this week, I’d prefer to fade this spot.
Defensively, Miami has been uneven this year, ranking No. 4 in terms of fewest rushing yards allowed to opponents but No. 27 in terms of limiting passing production. That sets up well for the Bills, who have no problem airing it out regardless of the game script. In the teams’ first two meetings this year, Josh Allen has thrown for 400 and 304 passing yards with six total touchdowns against no interceptions. Allen has also led the Bills in rushing through the team’s two meetings this year. Allen is my top individual play on the entire slate, although there is another QB-WR stack I prefer this week to Allen-Stefon Diggs (keep reading!) for strategic reasons.
I’m not crazy about Devin Singletary or James Cook this week, but because I expect Buffalo to advance to the next round, I don’t mind looking for some cheap buys out of the Bills’ backfield. Unfortunately, the two backs have played to a near 50-50 split over the past two games, which muddies the waters a bit. If placing a single bet, I’d lean on Singletary, as the proven veteran option that Buffalo has trusted in previous playoff runs.
Best Buy: Josh Allen ($11.55, $64.99, $690, $4,500, $16,675)
Giants at Vikings, Sunday, 4:30 PM ET
The Vikings feel like one of the shakier 13-win teams we’ve seen due to their negative point differential on the season, but they are listed as three-point favorites at home vs. the Giants this Sunday. And in a game with the week’s highest total (48.5), Minnesota’s key players should be popular targets on this week’s slate.
Jefferson has posted his two lowest target shares of the season over the past two weeks, but I don’t have any long-term concerns, especially since Minnesota pulled their starters partway through last week’s contest. I am a little bit more concerned about T.J. Hockenson, though, after the team welcomed back Week 1 starter Irv Smith Jr. in Week 18. While the same Week 18 caveats apply here, Hockenson and Smith played to a near even playing time split, with Hockenson out-snapping Smith 33-32. It is worth mentioning that Hockenson had one of his best performances of the season when these two teams met in Week 16 with a 13-109-2 receiving line.
The Vikings have notoriously had one of the leakiest pass defenses in the league throughout the year, and while passing is not necessarily the Giants’ strength (averaging only 186 passing yards per game in 2022), Daniel Jones did have a strong performance vs. Minnesota when the teams last met, producing a 334-1-1 line through the air in Week 16. Saquon Barkley also had a strong performance in that game with 133 scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown. Since Barkley is no longer classified as a SuperStar, it’s possible to create game stacks around Jones-Barkley-Jefferson, and I think that is a viable building block on this slate.
Best Buy: Saquon Barkley ($6.95, $38.50, $296.69, $999, $10,800)
Ravens at Bengals, Sunday, 8:15 PM ET
The biggest story in the Sunday night game will be the status of Lamar Jackson, who has missed the last five games with a knee injury. Jackson still has not returned to practice, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Saturday that “no one truly knows” whether Jackson will be able to suit up in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, and subsequent updates have not been optimistic. Baltimore also held backup Tyler Hunter (shoulder) out in Week 18, although Huntley was able to practice in a limited capacity throughout the week leading up to the regular season finale. The Ravens had essentially nothing to play for last week, and it’s possible that Huntley may have been active had the stakes been higher. If Jackson is unable to go, my guess would be we see Huntley under center for the Ravens rather than Week 18 starter Anthony Brown.
Mark Andrews and J.K. Dobbins were healthy scratches last week, and both should be available vs. the Bengals. No longer classified as a SuperStar, Jackson would be fairly interesting in Reignmakers should he get a clean bill of health. Otherwise, I think we can safely pass on this offense for now.
On the other side, the Bengals are one of the teams I want to load up on this week. Following the most recent SuperStar update, neither Joe Burrow nor Ja’Marr Chase is currently designated as a SuperStar, meaning you can pair Burrow-Chase stacks in lineups with Jefferson, Ekeler or McCaffrey (the three non-QB SuperStars remaining). This is my favorite way to construct lineups in the Wild Card Round, and it’s a pairing that I believe will have multi-week value. Beyond that strategic note, all the usual suspects (Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd) are in play, and they perhaps are even more valuable this week than on a typical regular season week due to the team’s likelihood of advancing to the Divisional Round (the Bengals are 6.5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook).
Best Buy: Ja’Marr Chase ($12.95, $57, $595, $3,199.99, $8,500)
Cowboys at Buccaneers, Monday, 8:15 PM ET
We can’t take much away from Tampa Bay’s Week 18 performance in a game that was mostly meaningless to them, but what we do know is that this team is going to throw the ball, a lot. The Bucs finished the 2022 regular season averaging 44.2 pass attempts per game, which ranked first in the league. And not only did they rank first in the league this year, but you also have to go back to 2012 to find a team that averaged more pass attempts per game than this year’s Bucs! That year, the Detroit Lions averaged 46.3 pass attempts per game, and Calvin Johnson set the single-season receiving record (1,964 yards).
Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, Dallas fields a top-10 defense in terms of limiting passing yardage, and when these teams met in Week 1, Tom Brady was limited to a modest 212-1-1 passing line. Dallas has been laxer against the run, but Leonard Fournette has been ceding rushing attempts to Rachaad White down the stretch, making it a tricky spot for fantasy. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bucs lean on Fournette over the rookie in the playoffs, but we’re taking a bit of a leap of faith here.
In Week 18, the Cowboys played poorly vs. the Commanders, with their starters on the field for most of the game, resulting in a disappointing 26-6 loss. Despite the poor performance, the Cowboys are still listed as 2.5-point road favorites vs. the Bucs in the opening round of the playoffs with a respectable 45.5-point total. These two teams met in Week 1, with Tampa Bay winning 19-3 in a game Dak Prescott left with an injury, but a lot has changed since then.
With CeeDee Lamb no longer classified as a SuperStar, a Dallas stack of Prescott-Lamb is one of my favorite building blocks after Burrow-Chase, partially because I have less confidence in Dallas advancing than Cincinnati. Dalton Schultz has established himself as the No. 2 receiving option in the passing game, having exceeded a 20% target share in four of the past six games, and he’s an interesting differentiation option here.
Tony Pollard (thigh) returned from a one-game absence last week, but his 43% snap share was his lowest mark since Week 13. It’s possible that Dallas limited Pollard in a game with few implications for the Cowboys, but I would still like to see him get through the practice week without being limited before feeling confident about his prospects this week.
Best Buy: Leonard Fournette ($2.99, $14.49, $127.77, $384.99, $1,999)
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