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Madden Stream Picks: Top DraftKings Fantasy Football DFS Targets, Values for December 31

Zach Thompson gives his top studs and value plays at each position for Thursday’s three-game Madden Stream DraftKings slate, which starts at 12:00 p.m. ET.

To close out 2020, the DraftKings Dream Stream has a three-game short slate of Madden sims ready to roll this Thursday. The action kicks off at 12:00 p.m. ET with the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans meeting in a Texas-sized matchup in virtual Houston. The 2:00 p.m. ET matchup is between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Indianapolis Colts, and the final matchup of the day will take place in virtual Phoenix where the Arizona Cardinals will host the Minnesota Vikings.

As usual, it’s important to remember that each roster is not impacted by COVID-19 opt-outs, injuries, suspensions or illness in these sims and that the highest-rated options have been placed at the top of the depth charts. The roster for each team includes all player movement that occurred prior to Week 1 of this season and uses the Madden 21 ratings from Week 1 of this season.

For more details, you can find the game settings, depth charts, abilities and X-factors for each team in Madden 21 along with the upcoming schedule on the Madden Stream info page. There were a few tweaks to the X-factors and Superstars in the latest December update, so be sure to check the depth charts of each team.

Check out the daily DraftKings Madden Stream contests lobby with paid contests for real cash prizes now available alongside free contests. Each simulation will be played out computer vs. computer via an online Madden Stream using Madden 21. In this format, you can enjoy watching the game stream on the DraftKings YouTube channel, the DK Live app (download here) or right here in this post.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: Madden Stream $6K Early Bird Special [$2K to 1st] and your FREE fantasy football lineups here: Madden Stream $500 FREE Contest


Quarterback

Stud

Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans vs. Dallas Cowboys, $7,100 — The Texans and Cowboys have actually not faced off yet in these Madden 21 sims, so this will be the first time Watson has faced Dallas’ defense. Watson is the only QB on this slate that is averaging over 20 DKFP, and he has found that success as a dual-threat contributor throughout his 29 sims. He has averaged 199 passing yards and 72 rushing yards per sim while totaling 39 passing touchdowns and 13 rushing touchdowns. He struggled with just 17.62 DKFP in his most recent sim but had over 19 DKFP in four straight before that and in seven of his previous eight with multiple touchdowns in all seven of those contests. His rushing production isn’t quite on the level of Lamar Jackson, but his passing has been a little bit better partly due to better WR play. Watson also brings a high ceiling with over 25 DKFP in four of his past nine games and the ability to go off with a monster performance if things go his way.

Other Options — Dak Prescott ($6,700), Kyler Murray ($6,400)

Value

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts vs. Las Vegas Raiders, $5,400 — Rivers produced 19.68 DKFP in his most recent meeting with the Raiders, throwing for 242 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts’ 23-17 win. In their earlier meeting, the Colts blew out the Raiders, 35-7, but Rivers didn’t throw as much in that contest. He has been inconsistent and doesn’t have nearly as high of a ceiling as the three rushing options in the stud category, but he has been the best of the three more affordable QBs by a wide margin and has a very nice matchup. In contrast, Derek Carr ($6,000) posted only 6.96 DKFP and 9.8 DKFP in his previous two meetings against the Colts, who have a pretty solid defensive unit discussed below.


Running Back

Stud

Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals, $8,900 — Cook is by far the most expensive play on this slate at any position, with very good reason. He has totaled an impressive 37 touchdowns in just 28 sims and averaged 25.7 DKFP. He has 10 touchdowns over his past five games with over 21 DKFP in every one of those contests and over 33 DKFP in three of those sims, highlighted by a 51.0 DKFP performance against the Giants. Cook was voted the NFC Madden Holiday Season MVP despite the fact that the Vikings failed to make the playoffs, and he remains a dominant option at the center of Minnesota’s offense. He’s in a great matchup on this slate against the Cardinals, who have given up big RB games throughout these Madden sims. Cook piled up 126 yards and a touchdown along with three catches for 24 yards on his way to 27.0 DKFP against Arizona in his first game against them, and he should be poised for another big game in this rematch.

Other Option — Ezekiel Elliott ($7,700), Kenyan Drake ($6,200)

Value

Duke Johnson, Houston Texans vs. Dallas Cowboys, $4,600 — Duke Johnson is the third-down back for the Texans in these Madden sims while David Johnson ($3,600) still gets work as the RB1 as well. Duke has been the better play lately, though, especially due to his solid PPR production, averaging 2.0 catches per contest in the 24 games since he stepped into the third-down role. Duke has scored 10 touchdowns during that span as well since the Texans run a lot of plays from pass-focused formations. While his ceiling isn’t with the elite players due to his timeshare, he has been a consistent contributor with at least 8.0 DKFP in five of his past eight games, highlighted by a four-catch, 13.2-DKFP game against the Giants.

Other Options — Jalen Richard ($4,300), Marlon Mack ($4,200)


Wide Receiver

Stud

Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans, $6,500 — Even though Brandin Cooks ($6,400) had an impressive Holiday Season and will likely be a popular option given his recent big games, I think Cooper is the better play in this sim since he has a much better matchup against the struggling Texans’ secondary. Houston has given up big passing games and plenty of points throughout these sims, and Cooper will look to create big plays against them in this contest. He has a 93 overall rating in these Madden sims and also brings the “Max Security” X-factor which makes him more successful on possession routes. He had at least four catches and at least 60 yards in all four of his games during the Madden Holiday Season, producing an average of 14.1 DKFP per sim even though he didn’t get into the end zone. He does have 18 touchdowns in his 29 sims, so he is overdue for a trip to the end zone that could give him a monster total against Houston.

Other Options — Brandin Cooks ($6,400), Tyrell Williams ($5,800)

Value

Tajae Sharpe, Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals, $4,700 — Even though in real life Sharpe is on the Chiefs’ practice squad now, he is still the WR2 for the Vikings in these sims and has actually been consistently productive for them. Sharpe had at least four catches and at least 9.9 DKFP in each of his three Madden Holiday Season games and is averaging 3.3 catches for 48.1 yards and 9.8 DKFP per sim in his 28 Madden 21 contests. He had his second game with over 100 yards recently in a matchup with the Lions and also scored a touchdown to post 24.5 DKFP in that contest. Sharpe had that kind of upside against the Cardinals and also has been relatively consistent with over 8.0 DKFP in seven of his past nine sims.

Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts vs. Las Vegas Raiders, $4,000 — Campbell has had success operating out of the slot for the Colts in Madden 21 and comes loaded with big-play potential due to his 94 speed rating. Campbell has at least three catches in seven straight sims, averaging 9.5 DKFP over that span. He had three catches for 25 yards and 5.5 DKFP in his previous meeting with the Raiders but comes with the potential for much more if he breaks loose for a big play.

Other Options — Henry Ruggs III ($5,100), Larry Fitzgerald ($4,200)


Tight End

Stud

Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts, $5,200 — Waller had put up over a dozen DFKP in five straight sims before slowing down in his most recent contest against the Chiefs. He found the end zone six times during that span and averaged 19.72 DKFP during that run. He had four catches for 74 yards and 11.4 DKFP in his most recent game against the Colts after posting three catches for 54 yards and 8.4 DKFP in their first meeting. Even if the Raiders’ offense struggles to score, Waller can still get enough production to be the top TE on the slate, and if they do score he’s almost sure to be involved.

Other Option — Blake Jarwin ($4,400)

Value

Darren Fells, Houston Texans vs. Dallas Cowboys, $4,200 — The Texans went 1-2 in their three games in the Madden Holiday Season, and Fells was a big part of their one win, catching seven passes for 79 yards, a touchdown and 20.9 DKFP against the Jaguars in his most recent sim. Fells has multiple catches in all 29 sims that the Texans have played in Madden 21 and he has averaged 4.1 catches for 43.5 yards per sim. He doesn’t score a ton of touchdowns or put up monster yards, but his consistent PPR production makes him worth a look at just over $4K in this matchup against Dallas’s defense.

Other Option — Maxx Williams ($3,900)


DST

Stud

Vikings DST at Arizona Cardinals, $3,000 — Since we’re still using Week 1 rankings for these sims, Kyler Murray ($6,400) isn’t nearly as dynamic as he has been during this season. He has also turned the ball over 13 times in his 29 sims, including once in his first game against Minnesota. The Vikings’ DST posted a bagel against the Packers in their most recent game, but they had an impressive 16.0 DKFP in the sim before that when they stomped the Lions. They had 6.0 DKFP in their first matchup with Arizona and are a solid play in this rematch.

Value

Colts DST vs. Las Vegas Raiders, $2,700 — The Colts’ defense is in a great matchup against the Raiders and has been pretty consistent in these sims, averaging 4.6 DKFP per sim. They have stacked up 53 sacks in their 28 sims while forcing 10 turnovers with two safeties and four defensive touchdowns. Indy had 18.0 DKFP in their first meeting with Vegas, totaling six sacks and returning a fumble for a touchdown. In their second meeting with the Raiders, the Colts had three sacks and 4.0 DKFP. They should be able to again get pressure on Carr, which leads to mistakes and big-play potential for the DST.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) 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 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.