This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
The first round of the playoffs kick off this weekend with four game that include three home favorites and only one (somewhat) big spread. We don't have a plethora of superstars to choose from, and most fantasy builds will be more about which higher-priced players you don't have rather than do.
Devin Singletary, BUF at HOU ($6,000): Facing the worst defensive team on the four-game slate should be enough to make people consider Singletary, who seems to have finally won over the coaching staff enough to be the main option out of the backfield. The Texans were absolutely decimated by Derrick Henry ($8,200) last week, and they've now allowed at least one running back touchdown in seven straight games, including four with multiple scores. While he doesn't have the cumulative stats of Henry, who led the league in rushing yards (1,540) and rushing touchdowns (16) this season, nor the huge volume of Dalvin Cook ($7,800), Singletary's matchup is significantly better, as the Patriots and Saints allowed the fewest and sixth-fewest fantasy points to running backs, respectively, in the regular season.
James White, NE vs. TEN ($5,700): Only the Colts and Texans have allowed more running back catches than the Titans, who also allowed the third-most targets to the position. That obviously sets up well for White, who was second on the team in targets this season and could continue to be heavily used because of Julian Edelman's ongoing knee injury. Sony Michel ($4,600) will keep getting most of the carries and faces a defense that allowed at least one rushing touchdown in each of their last six games, though as a plodding runner with minimal receiving work, his floor isn't high and his ceiling is totally touchdown dependent. Otherwise, Philadelphia's Boston Scott ($5,800) could be better option if Miles Sanders ($6,200) is unable to play, though Jordan Howard ($4,900) is lurking for touches and we won't know about Sanders' availability until the other three games are over or locked.
Alvin Kamara, NO vs. MIN ($7,00): Kamara is the third-most expensive running back on the slate, trailing just Henry and Cook, and of the three he has the best matchup against a Vikings defense that allowed the 14th-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. There are obviously some volume concerns when it comes to Kamara because he definitely loses touches to Latavius Murray ($5,000), but with Henry and Cook facing elite run defenses, the Saints' lead back has the advantage there. One negative is that Kamara could see reduced touches if the Saints get up big (they are 8.5-point favorites, after all) because Murray seems more likely to get those opportunities, and if that concern is strong enough for you then Cook, who is likely to stay on the field even if the Vikings fall behind, could be the call. Then again, the Titans' best method for staying in the game with the Patriots is to give Henry as many touches as possible.
Michael Thomas, NO vs. MIN ($9,300): Thomas is the best receiver in the NFL and now faces a Vikings defense that allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to wideouts this season, including the second-most receptions and ninth-most receiving yards. He is considerably more expensive than the next tier, which is basically DeAndre Hopkins ($7,700), A.J. Brown ($7,400) and Tyler Lockett ($7,200), none of whom have the floor or matchup of Thomas. In fact, Hopkins will face off against a Bills defense that allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, while Brown faces the defense that allowed the fewest. For those who make one or few lineups, trusting Hopkins and Brown seems ill-sighted compared to Thomas, with Lockett a possible alternative because he has a strong matchup against an Eagles defense that allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the position, though his target volume isn't close to Thomas' or Hopkins'.
John Brown, BUF at HOU ($6,000): The Texans' pass defense has been quite weak this season, and they come in having allowed one wide receiver touchdown in five of the past seven games, including each of the last three. That's actually an improvement from earlier this season when they allowed multiple wideout scores in Weeks 5 through 8. Brown has been the Bills' best receiver this season, even with the late push from Cole Beasley ($5,600), and while the Bills don't throw the ball a ton, Brown is often an option when they do. Paying up slightly for DK Metcalf ($6,100) is a possibility against the same Eagles defense that Lockett will face, and there will surely be people who consider Adam Thielen ($6,200) a bit underpriced despite his very low production since returning from injury. If anything, Thielen and Stefon Diggs ($6,600) could be solid lower-owned wideouts despite the Vikings likely needing to throw to keep up with the Saints' high-powered offense. Then again, the Patriots' Julian Edelman ($6,500) would be the easy play in the price range if he was fully healthy, with all indications saying he's not.
Greg Ward, PHI vs. SEA ($5,200): I mentioned during our Wild Card Weekend DFS Preview Podcast that I thought Ward was the cheapest wide receiver I wanted to consider in cash games, as every option below him just felt like a punt. That doesn't mean players under Ward salary-wise shouldn't be considered, but the target volume or the matchup makes guys like N'Keal Harry ($4,100), Tre'Quan Smith ($4,000), Mohamed Sanu ($3,900) or Corey Davis ($3,800) just too variant for cash games. Ward is likely to remain the Eagles' no. 1 wide receiver, a role that could be even more valuable if tight end Zach Ertz ($6,000) has to sit out again. The Seahawks defense has allowed at least one wide receiver touchdown in all but one of the past eight games (unfortunately, that was against the Eagles), but we're really looking at Ward for his targets and yards as opposed to needing him to find the end zone.
Drew Brees, NO vs. MIN ($6,600): The Vikings' pass defense has been better of late, allowing fewer than 250 passing yards in five of the past six games, a span that also saw them give up multiple touchdowns just once. That being said, Brees comes with at least three passing touchdowns six of his last seven games, including each of the last four, and he's quarterbacking the biggest favorite with the highest implied team total. Paying up slightly for Russell Wilson ($6,800) doesn't seem as optimal even with a good matchup, while paying down a little for Josh Allen ($6,500) seems to be putting a very strong emphasis on his matchup against a Texans defense that allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. The knock against Allen is that he didn't have a single 300-yard passing game this season, but his nine rushing touchdowns kept him as a strong fantasy play. If anything, he could be the lowest owned of the group given the strong reasons to play the other guys.
Carson Wentz, PHI vs. SEA ($6,200): With only eight quarterbacks on the slate, it's not like we have a lot of different options to choose from on the lower-end of the salary scale. Admittedly, Tom Brady ($5,800) being the cheapest of the eight was surprising enough that he could be owned even though he's been abysmal lately, but Wentz feels like a slightly safer bet after throwing at least 39 passes in eight straight games. It feels like every Eagles pass catcher is hurt, but that hasn't stopped them from moving the ball through the air. And finally, Kirk Cousins ($6,100) shouldn't be ignored in tournaments with the expectation he'll have to throw a bunch to keep up with the Saints.
Dallas Goedert, PHI vs. SEA ($5,200): Finally priced up after getting 22 targets in the past two games, Ertz is the clear top tight end on the slate if Ertz is ruled out. The biggest negative is that the Eagles play in the latest game on the slate, though he's still a fine play even if Ertz is cleared. Only the Cardinals allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Seahawks this season, and given the significant wide receiver injuries in Philadelphia, Goedert should be plenty busy. The Saints' Jared Cook ($4,900) seems like a reasonable pivot for tournaments, as he has five touchdowns in the last four games, but the negative for cash games is that he didn't get more than four targets in any game during that span, which is basically the opposite of Seattle's Jacob Hollister ($4,300), who had at least six in three of his last four but broke 35 receiving yards only once (and he had zero touchdowns).
Dawson Knox, BUF at HOU ($2,900): Knox isn't a volume receiver nor a big touchdown threat, but a sub-$3K price for a tight end against the Texans is a solid salary-saving option. At the very least, he co-led the team in targets inside the five and 10-yard lines, but really Knox is here because he's cheap.
Bills at HOU ($3,100): There's definitely a case to be made for the Patriots ($3,400) or Saints ($3,000), but the Buffalo defense will face off against a quarterback who has thrown more interceptions (12, tied for 11th-most in the NFL) than any other QB on the slate, and he's taken the second-most sacks (44, sixth-most in the NFL). Meanwhile, the Bills were eighth in interceptions and 12th in sacks while allowing the second-fewest points this season.