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Madden Stream Picks: Top DraftKings Fantasy Football DFS Targets, Values for January 14

Zach Thompson gives his top studs and value plays at each position for Thursday’s three-game Madden Stream DraftKings slate, which starts at 6:00 p.m. ET.

If you’re looking for some Thursday Night Football to help you get ready for the four NFL Divisional Round playoff games coming up this weekend, check out the DraftKings Dream Stream with six games on Thursday’s schedule. The featured three-game classic slate kicks off at 6:00 p.m. ET with Deshaun Watson ($7,800) leading the Texans into virtual SoFi Stadium to take on the Los Angeles Rams. At 8:00 p.m. ET, we get a rematch of one of the most memorable Madden 2020 sims as the Atlanta Falcons take on the Cleveland Browns. Veterans of the Madden sims will remember when Julio Jones ($6,800) and Odell Beckham Jr. ($6,000) had massive games in this matchup and both finished with over 40 DKFP in a classic duel. The final game of the night on “Madden After Dark” features the New England Patriots heading to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings.

As usual, it’s important to note 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 $5K Thursday Night Special [$1K to 1st] and your FREE fantasy football lineups here: Madden Stream $500 FREE Contest



Quarterback

Stud

Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans vs. Los Angeles Rams, $7,800 — While he may not be happy in Houston, Watson is still a winning option in simland, and you’ll be happy if you build your lineup around him at QB. The dual-threat QB is averaging 23.3 DKFP per sim and has run for 14 scores in addition to his 45 passing touchdowns in 33 sims. He had over 100 yards rushing in his first matchup against the Rams in Madden 21 and finished with 29.56 DKFP. He hasn’t hit that ceiling since four sims ago, but even in his lower output games he usually ends up right around 20 DKFP. Since there are multiple ways he can go off, he also has a very high ceiling with over 29 DKFP in eight of his Madden 21 contests (24%). Even though Houston’s record hasn’t been great, Watson has put up very good numbers, just like in real life.

Other Option — Matt Ryan ($6,600)

Value

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns vs. Atlanta Falcons, $5,500 — Mayfield represents solid value as the third-most productive QB on this slate but the fifth-most expensive. He also gets a good matchup against the Falcons, who have given up big passing games at times in these sims. Mayfield has shown the “bust” of his boom-or-bust lately, which is why he is affordable. He has been held under 200 yards in four straight sims with just two touchdowns and an average of only 8.6 DKFP per sim. Those matchups have all been on the road, though, and most of them against tough defenses. He does have more upside than he showed in those contests and can reach around 20 DKFP if he throws multiple scores. He had over 17 DKFP in three of four and six of eight before his recent struggles, so I think he’ll be able to turn things back around. If you want to stock up on top RBs or WRs, you could keep it cheap at QB with Mayfield, allowing you plenty of salary flexibility across the rest of your roster.

Other Option — Cam Newton ($6,400)


Running Back

Stud

Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. New England Patriots, $9,100 — Cook has been one of the best RBs in Madden 21, both in terms of upside and consistency. The star RB has averaged over 25 DKFP per sim which is by far the most of any player at any position on this slate. That average is more than 2.0 DKFP higher than Watson’s average and more than 6.0 DKFP higher than the average of any other RB, WR or TE in play. He has found the end zone an amazing 42 times in 32 sims, averaging 97.9 rushing yards and 32.3 receiving yards on 3.8 receptions per sim. He has at least 24 DKFP in three straight games after running past the Cowboys for 39.1 DKFP in his most recent contest. When he faced the Patriots twice earlier in Madden 21, he produced 35.3 DKFP in a 21-18 win and followed that with 32.2 DKFP in a 17-14 win in the rematch. He’s a big-play threat and can also consistently gain yardage throughout the game giving him both a high ceiling and low risk. He usually gets a very heavy workload since Kirk Cousins ($5,200) has struggled, and he should again be very involved and likely worth paying up for in this matchup with New England.

Other Option — Todd Gurley II ($7,200), Nick Chubb ($5,700)

Value

James White, New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings, $4,800 — On the other side of that matchup, the Patriots blend White and Sony Michel ($5,100) into their backfield rotation with White handling third-down responsibilities as a blocker and receiver out of the backfield. He gets involved enough to return value on a regular basis and has at least three catches in three of his past four games. He had 9.1 DKFP and 12.9 DKFP in his two earlier games against the Vikings with at least four catches in each game. He has a high ceiling if he finds the end zone, which he has done nine times in 35 sims, but he also can return value if he gets that much work in the passing game. He has actually been slightly more involved in road games like this one, and he has averaged 8.9 DKFP in his 19 road contests.

Other Option — Kareem Hunt ($4,600), Duke Johnson ($4,400)


Wide Receiver

Stud

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans vs. Los Angeles Rams, $7,100 — This won’t be an easy matchup for Cooks, but the Texans should still be able to scheme him into space by moving him around the formation since the virtual version of the Rams don’t usually shadow the opposing WR1 with their top CB Jalen Ramsey. Cooks has been on fire lately and comes in with over 20 DKFP in five of his past seven sims including each of his three most recent contests. He has eight touchdowns in those seven games including a two-touchdown, 37.8-DKFP performance against the Colts during the Madden Holiday Season. Cooks had three catches in his earlier matchup in Madden 21 against his former team but he turned them into 92 yards, a touchdown and 18.2 DKFP. He comes loaded with big-play potential if Watson can get the ball into his hands. Lately, that has been precisely what has happened with Cooks averaging 4.9 catches per game over that seven-sim stretch of success.

Other Options — Julio Jones ($6,800), Odell Beckham Jr. ($6,000)

Value

Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams at Houston Texans, $5,300 — With Cooks now playing in Houston, Woods has been a consistent producer in Madden 21 and has at least three catches in 27 of his 31 sims (87%). He has at least 7.0 DKFP in 10 straight games, averaging 12.4 DKFP over that span. He gets a great matchup against the Texans’ secondary and could go off for a monster game. However, even if he doesn’t go huge, he is almost always a solid buy at this price point.

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns, $3,600 — Even with Julio Jones ($6,800) and Calvin Ridley ($5,600) healthy, Gage has been a good play in these sims and comes with a high ceiling out of the slot for Atlanta. He had one of his best games in Madden 21 in his previous meeting with the Browns, catching eight passes for 127 yards, a touchdown and 29.7 DKFP. He hasn’t gone off like that on a regular basis, but he does bring that ceiling to this favorable matchup. He also has multiple catches in three straight and 10 of his past 12 sims, so he isn’t likely to totally bust either.

Other Options — N’Keal Harry ($4,600), Will Fuller V ($4,400), Damiere Byrd ($3,000)


Tight End

Stud

Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns, $4,100 — The Browns have struggled to defend slot receivers like Gage, and they have also been a great matchup for TEs like Hurst. In the first meeting of these two teams, Hurst hauled in six catches and finished with 9.6 DKFP. Hurst almost always has multiple catches and has only been held to a single catch one time in his 36 sims. He doesn’t typically break loose for big plays but does have seven touchdowns to go with his average of 4.2 catches for 46.8 yards per sim.

Other Option — Darren Fells ($4,300)

Value

Devin Asiasi, New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings, $3,500 — The Patriots’ playbook in Madden has a great TE route tree, based on the success of Gronk during New England’s dynasty. That playbook made Ben Watson a legend in Madden 2020, and it has helped Asiasi be a great value despite the rookie’s lack of involvement in the real world. Asiasi has at least three catches and over 30 yards in five straight sims and he also had three catches in each of his previous matchups with the Vikings. He should get a few catches once again in this matchup, which is all he needs to be one of the best options under $4K for the flex spot or as a bargain TE.

Other Option — Austin Hooper ($3,800)


DST

Stud

Patriots DST at Minnesota Vikings, $3,100 — The return of all the COVID-19 opt-outs have made the Patriots’ defense a solid unit in Madden 21. The Pats have forced 36 turnovers in 35 sims with 60 sacks and eight defensive touchdowns. They posted double-digit DKFP in four of their past six sims and bring solid upside even though they will have to deal with Cook in this matchup. The Vikings don’t usually put up a ton of points and prefer to play lower-scoring games, making the Patriots DST a low-risk option as well.

Value

Texans DST vs. Los Angeles Rams, $2,800 — The Texans sacked Jared Goff ($6,200) six times and finished with 9.0 DKFP in their previous game against the Rams, and they bring nice upside due to J.J. Watt and his fellow pass-rushers. In their 33 sims, they have 69 sacks and have forced 18 turnovers. They only have one defensive touchdown, but their pass rush is good enough to make them a solid play even though they do sometimes give up big plays due to their leaky secondary.

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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.