Thanks to the new-look expanded playoff format, we have six games coming up this weekend on the Super Wild Card Weekend. Whether you’re playing the six-game, all-weekend slate on DraftKings or taking a shot at the Millionaire contests on Saturday, Sunday or both, there should be plenty of fantasy football goodness from the gridiron on tap for this weekend.
The weekend kicks off with an AFC matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and the Buffalo Bills in upstate New York, as the Bills look to carry over their momentum from a scorching finish to the regular season. At 4:40 p.m. ET, we’ll head to the left coast for an NFC West grudge match between the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams. The final game on Saturday’s schedule is another NFC matchup, featuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visiting the Washington Football Team. Sunday’s triple-header starts with a great rematch between the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans in the AFC, followed by the Chicago Bears rolling into the Big Easy to take on the New Orleans Saints. The final matchup of the weekend could be the most interesting of all, since it will be the Cleveland Browns playing in the postseason for the first time in 18 years and, of course, they’ll be taking on their arch-rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Regardless of which slate you’re playing, you’ll need to find some solid value plays to round out your rosters. Each week, I dive into the bargain bin and give you my favorite cheap plays based on recent form, matchup and expected opportunity. Check out my best plays for the first week of the playoffs below.
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($6,000 and under)
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears, $5,700 – Brees and the Saints finished the season with a convincing 33-7 win over the Panthers despite not having Alvin Kamara ($8,500; reserve/COVID-19 list) or any of their other top RBs. Brees still led them to a win with 201 yards passing and 20.04 DKFP and, remember, he was also playing without star WR Michael Thomas ($6,400; ankle), who is still on IR but has a chance to return this week.
Brees has thrown for over 200 yards in each of his three games since returning from his own injuries and threw for three touchdowns in two of those games, with the lone exception being Kamara’s monster Christmas Day performance. Getting Thomas and maybe even Kamara back could give Brees even more of a boost, and his numbers for the season are actually pretty solid across the board. The 41-year-old threw 24 touchdowns and just six interceptions and produced over 18.0 DKFP in eight of his 11 complete games. When he faced the Bears in Week 8, he was an extremely efficient 31-of-41 for 280 yards and 19.6 DKFP. Especially since this could be his last run, I don’t see Brees having a down game, and I think he could easily return over 20.0 DKFP, which would make him an awesome value from this price point.
Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills, $5,500 – Another veteran who comes in with plenty of playoff experience is Rivers, although he’ll be riding into the postseason for the first time as a member of the Colts. Rivers showed he has plenty of gas left in the tank this season, throwing 24 touchdowns and averaging over 260 passing yards per game. The Colts running attack has been excellent over the past few weeks, but don’t forget that Rivers can still air it out when he needs to. If the Bills put up points early and the Colts are in “catch-up” mode, they could be forced to have Rivers throw more.
He is managing a turf toe injury, but is expected to play this week. Rivers could also be playing in his final season, depending on what the Colts decide to do this offseason. While I’m not sure he has the same ceiling as Brees, he does come into a better statistical matchup, since the Bills have been generous to opposing QBs this season. For example, even in their Week 17 rout, they allowed Tua to throw for 361 yards, even though most of that came after the game was decided. While this game should be much closer, I do expect Rivers to have to throw more than he has the past few weeks as a result of the likely game script.
($5,000 and under)
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills, $4,700 – If Rivers is passing the ball more, one player who is almost sure to get more targets and finish with good PPR production is Hines. The RB has been an excellent receiving back for the Colts since he started sharing time with standout rookie Jonathan Taylor ($7,900) after the injury to Marlon Mack (ankle). Hines averaged 3.9 catches per contest this season and had four catches or more in three of the final four games of the regular season. Hines scored seven total touchdowns with four coming through the air and with three on the ground.
Even while the Colts have been leaning on Taylor to carry the offense, they continue to find ways to get Hines on the field and involved in the game plan. He played only 12 snaps against the Jaguars in Week 17, but still drew seven targets in one of the most run-heavy scripts of the season. With a more balanced attack this week, or maybe even a slight trend toward the pass to keep up with the Bills, Hines could be poised for even more work. Not only has Hines hit for double-digit DKFP in five of his six most recent contests, but he also produced 28.5 DKFP against the Titans in Week 10 and 27.3 DKFP against the Jaguars in Week 1, showing that he has a high ceiling and the ability to make big plays.
Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, $4,400 – The Ravens are another team that rotates their RBs on a regular basis. While J.K. Dobbins ($6,600) is clearly the lead option, the Gus Bus still gets enough mileage that he makes sense as a value play. Edwards usually plays about 40% of the team’s offensive snaps, although that number did dip in Week 17 as Mark Ingram ($4,000) got some extra run. I don’t think Ingram will be as involved this week, meaning Edwards will likely resume his normal role in the timeshare.
Edwards doesn’t need a lot of touches to make an impact, as he showed with 60 yards on just 12 carries against the Bengals. He has over 13.0 DKFP in three of the past five weeks and could hit for a big total with a touchdown or two. He has gotten at least one red zone carry or target in every game since Week 8, averaging 2.4 red zone chances per contest.
Other Options: J.D. McKissic ($4,900), Carlos Hyde ($4,400), Devin Singletary ($4,300)
($5,000 and under)
John Brown, Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts, $4,700 – Brown came back from IR just in time for the regular-season finale and knocked the rust off with a solid game against the Dolphins. He caught all four of his targets for 72 yards and a touchdown for 17.2 DKFP. He only played 47% of snaps, but that number was right in line with the rest of the starters and was due to game script.
Brown seems to be all the way back and ready to provide a great complementary option across from Stefon Diggs ($7,700). Remember that Brown and QB Josh Allen ($7,500) have shown a strong connection and big-play propensity over the past few seasons. While the injuries have definitely depressed Brown’s overall production this year, he has still been heavily targeted when on the field. He had 19 targets in his two previous games back in Week 9 and Week 10, and could be in for a big game if the volume is back and he hits for a big play.
Cam Sims, Washington Football Team vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $3,900 – Sims is another WR who has nice upside due to his target volume in the Washington offense. Sims caught all five of his targets last week for 43 yards and 9.3 DKFP. That was actually the second-straight week he has posted exactly 9.3 DKFP, and he has at least that many points in five of his past nine contests.
Sims almost added a 43-yard touchdown in Week 16, which would have made that total significantly better. Even with Terry McLaurin ($6,300) expected to play, Sims should get enough work against the Bucs to produce solid returns. Even though he’s under $4K, he’s far from a punt play since he is regularly involved.
Editor’s Note: Bears WR Darnell Mooney (ankle) is questionable for Sunday’s game vs. the Saints.
Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints, $3,900 – Mooney had a great rookie season for the Bears and established himself as the clear second-option in the passing game behind Allen Robinson ($6,600), who will be a free agent after this season. Mooney actually out-targeted Robinson 13-to-5 in Week 17’s must-win game and pulled in a career-high 11 catches for 93 yards and 20.3 DKFP. He has been a frequent target for Mitchell Trubisky ($5,300) in the red zone and he’s found the end zone in two of his past four contests.
The big question with Mooney is his health. He sustained an ankle injury that looked significant on Sunday, but the Bears are being dodgy early in the week about his status. If he is able to get some practice in later in the week and play against the Saints, he has a very high ceiling against the Saints, who he had five catches, 69 yards, a touchdown and 17.9 DKFP against earlier this season.
Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills, $3,500 — For a while in the middle of the season, Pittman looked like he was well on his way to surpassing T.Y. Hilton ($5,100) as the Colts’ top WR and was putting together a great breakout campaign. Unfortunately for him, Hilton had a resurgent end of the year and Pittman ended up battling a concussion. He hasn’t had 50 yards, double-digit DFKP or a touchdown since Week 11, but he did look sharp in Weeks 10 and 11 with 22.2 DKFP and 15.6 DKFP, respectively.
Pittman did get eight targets over the past two weeks and converted five into catches for 66 yards. If the Bills try to lock up Hilton with Tre’Davious White, Rivers may have to go back to Pittman more, especially if the Colts have to air it out late to try and make up points.
Other Options: Corey Davis ($4,800), Josh Reynolds ($3,600), David Moore ($3,000)
($4,000 and under)
Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns, $3,700 – Ebron has been in the COVID-19 protocols after being considered a high-risk contact, but he could still return in time for Sunday night’s game if he continues to test negative. If he’s able to play, he gets a great matchup against the Browns, who allowed the fifth-most DKFP to TEs this season. Ebron was quiet in his first matchup with them in Week 6, but he has been much more involved recently in the Steelers’ offense, averaging seven targets in his past five contests. He had a key touchdown in Pittsburgh’s Week 16 comeback against the Colts and finished with 15.7 DKFP. If he stays that involved against Cleveland, he should be one of the top TEs on the slate.
Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints, $3,000 – While Jimmy Graham ($3,300) is the more recognizable name and will be returning to where he started his NFL career, it’s Kmet that has been Mitchell Trubisky’s top option at TE since he returned to the lineup. Kmet had eight targets in Week 17 and caught seven for 41 yards. He’s had at least six targets in four of his past five games and is definitely a threat in the red zone, as well. He has played at least 85% of the offensive snaps for the Bears in each of their past four games and is definitely the Bears’ TE that has more potential for fantasy impact this week.
($2,800 and under)
Seahawks D/ST, Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams, $2,700 – It’s unclear if the Seahawks are facing Jared Goff ($6,000) or John Wolford ($4,900), but either way, the D/ST should be a very nice fantasy option. The Seattle defense started the season as a total mess, but began to turn things around after offseason acquisition Jamal Adams got back from injury. The Seahawks had at least three sacks in each of their final four games of the regular season and had five takeaways over those four games, as well. They held the Rams to nine points in Week 16 and finished with 9.0 DKFP in that matchup. Even in their loss to the Rams earlier in the season, they had 5.0 DKFP with three sacks and a takeaway. Seattle at home is always a tough matchup, and with the current state of both offenses, this could be a low-scoring, hard-hitting contest.
Washington Football Team D/ST, Washington Football Team vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $2,400 — The downside here is pretty obvious. Facing Tom Brady ($6,900) in the playoffs with the Bucs’ offense now rolling is not a great matchup for any defense. However, the Washington defense definitely has the talent to make this matchup tough for Tampa Tom. The Football Team’s defense has nine takeaways in its past four games, dating back to a 23.0 DKFP performance against the 49ers. It has allowed no more than 20 points in any game since Week 10 and has produced at least 9.0 DKFP in five of their seven games since that point. While Chase Young and the rest of this young unit may not be able to totally shut down Brady, they have the ability to get pressure and create some negative plays. Whether their offense gives them enough of a chance to advance in the playoffs remains to be seen, but I’m a believer in this defense.
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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.
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