DraftKings NFL: Tournament Strategy for Wild Card Sunday

DraftKings NFL: Tournament Strategy for Wild Card Sunday

This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.

The Games

TimeOver/UnderRoad TeamRoad ITHome TeamHome IT
Jan 10th 1:05 PM54.5Ravens28.75Titans25.75
Jan 10th 4:40 PM47Bears18.5Saints28.5
Jan 10th 8:15 PM47.5Browns20.75Steelers26.75

Weather and Injuries

RotoWire NFL Weather Page (no significant wind or precipitation projected for Sunday)

1:05 ET - WR Willie Snead (Q - ankle)

4:40 ET - WR Darnell Mooney (Q - ankle)

4:40 ET - LB Roquan Smith (Q - elbow) & CB Jaylon Johnson (Q - shoulder)

4:40 ET - RB Alvin Kamara (reserve/COVID-19)

8:15 ET - WR Denzel Ward (reserve/COVID-19)

     

Quarterback

Lamar Jackson ($7,800) has his own price tier after a strong finish to the regular season. In fact, the last time he scored fewer than 22 DK points was the Week 11 overtime loss to Tennessee. The Titans have really struggled on defense since that game, while Jackson had 15 total touchdowns in five wins the past five weeks (against soft competition, admittedly).

Ryan Tannehill ($6,600) outplayed and outscored Jackson in the aforementioned Week 11 contest, and the difference in 2020 fantasy production between the two QBs is much smaller than the salary gap on DK. Granted, Tannehill will have to deal with the Baltimore defense while Jackson takes aim at a Tennessee unit that hasn't looked right for a couple months now.

Ben Roethlisberger ($6,100) is the other QB on this slate with a decent matchup, as the Browns defense has been mediocre even when it's been healthy, and we still aren't quite sure if the Browns will have top corner Denzel Ward (reserve/COVID-19 list) available by Sunday night. We do know DE Olivier Vernon (Achilles) is done for the season, leaving Myles Garrett as the only credible edge rusher to alleviate the pressure on a subpar secondary.

Elsewhere, Baker Mayfield ($5,400) and Mitchell Trubisky ($5,300) may have played well in December, but both have struggled in tougher matchups and aren't likely to put up big numbers on the road against top-five defenses. Drew Brees ($5,700) is more palatable, as he's typically been good in the Superdome even against tougher opponents. Of course, Brees could lose some snaps to Taysom Hill ($5,000), especially in the red zone.

Top Plays: Lamar Jackson, Ryan Tannehill, Ben Roethlisberger

Secondary Plays: Drew Brees

Stay Aways: Mitchell Trubisky, Baker Mayfield

  

Running Back

Derrick Henry ($9,200) gets a tough matchup on paper, but he ran for 195 yards against the Ravens in the playoffs last year and then hit them for 133 and a walk-off touchdown in the Week 11 contest. The Ravens do a lot of things well; tackling just isn't one of them.

Alvin Kamara ($8,500) is the other premium RB on this slate, hoping to return from the COVID-19 list after a Week 17 absence. For our purposes, let's assume he plays, but let's also remember that Latavius Murray ($4,500) will be the top value play on the slate (by a mile) if Kamara is out again.

Glancing down the price ladder we see David Montgomery ($6,900) and Nick Chubb ($6,700), both of whom finished the regular season in impressive fashion but now find themselves playing as significant underdogs against top defenses in the wild-card round. Montgomery at least has a healthy O-line and a three-down role, while Chubb already has one blocker (LG Joel Bitonio) ruled out and two others (RG Wyatt Teller, RT Jack Conklin) listed as questionable.

The Tennessee and Cleveland defenses are the weak links Sunday's slate, potentially benefiting J.K. Dobbins ($6,600) and James Conner ($5,000), respectively. The Ravens could give Dobbins more snaps now that its playoff time, but Gus Edwards ($4,400) still figures to get some carries, and the team seem to like Justice Hill on third downs.

Conner played 62 and 64 percent of snaps the final two weeks of the regular season, seeing nearly as many targets (13) as carries (14). His struggles on the ground have contributed to Pittsburgh's pass-heavy approach on offense, and it's been a while since Conner had a big game. Of course, all that contributes to a low price, with Conner easily being the cheapest of the six lead backs on Sunday's slate.

Top Plays: Alvin Kamara or Latavius Murray, James Conner

Secondary Plays: Derrick Henry, J.K. Dobbins, David Montgomery, Gus Edwards

Stay Aways: Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Benny Snell

    

Wide Receiver

The first thing that stands out is Michael Thomas priced at only $6,300. It makes sense given his lack of production, but we also need to consider that he played just two and half games with Brees at quarterback this year. Even coming back from another high-ankle issue, Thomas is a threat for double-digit targets and triple-digit yards.His expected return also makes Emmanuel Sanders ($5,000) and Marquez Callaway ($3,100) likely to slide back to complementary roles, after seeing 18 and eight targets, respectively, the past two weeks. 

On the Chicago side, Allen Robinson ($6,500) figures to see plenty of volume, albeit in a tough matchup. Darnell Mooney ($3,900) caught 11 passes last week, but he injured his ankle along the way and didn't practice at all this week. The rookie is listed as questionable, and he'll presumably be less than 100 percent if he's active. Javon Wims ($3,000) replaced Mooney in the fourth quarter last week, while Anthony Miller ($3,200) continued in his slot role.

Despite featuring two run-first offenses, the Baltimore-Tennessee game has plenty to offer at wide receiver, as the Titans directing a huge share of their efficient passing attack through A.J. Brown ($7,000) and Corey Davis ($4,800), while the Ravens rely on Marquise Brown ($5,400). AJB is easily the best player of that bunch, but he's also a few price tiers higher. The Brown-Davis stack is more affordable, especially if you already have Jackson at QB. There are a bunch of different ways to stack the Titans-Ravens game.

Last but not least, we have the rematch of last week's AFC North battle, with Diontae Johnson ($6,200), Jarvis Landry ($5,800), JuJu Smith-Schuster ($5,500) and Chase Claypool ($5,200) ensuring the game has no shortage of WR talent. Rashard Higgins ($4,100) is the other guy who figures to play more than half the snaps, while Donovan Peoples-Jones ($3,200) has made some big plays as the No. 3 receiver. 

Peoples-Jones is listed as questionable with a concussion, but he's expected to play, and he could get a few more snaps than usual with WR KhaDarel Hodge on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Granted, we're probably talking about two or three targets against an excellent defense, and the Browns look pretty weak right now between injuries and COVID cases.

Top Plays: Michael Thomas, Marquise Brown, Corey Davis

Secondary Plays: A.J. Brown, Allen Robinson, Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins

Stay Aways: Emmanuel Sanders, Miles Boykin, Darnell Mooney

    

Tight End

Mark Andrews ($5,200) is the main attraction, though he's mostly put up mediocre receiving lines since the early part of the season. He did score 20.6 DK points Week 11 against Tennessee, and the Ravens still direct a huge share of their passing game through Andrews and Hollywood Brown.

Jonnu Smith ($3,200) has been even more of a disappointment than Andrews the past few months, but he did show signs of life with 12 targets between Weeks 15 and 16. The low salary keeps him in play, especially as part of a Tannehill lineup.

I'll usually match my TE with my QB on a three-game slate like this, so Jared Cook ($4,600) makes sense for a Brees lineup, or Eric Ebron ($3,700) for a Roethlisberger lineup. Apart from that, Harrison Bryant ($2,600) and Cole Kmet ($3,000) are the cheapest TEs projected for more than a couple targets.

Top Plays: Mark Andrews, Jonnu Smith

Secondary Plays: Jared Cook, Eric Ebron, Cole Kmet, Harrison Bryant

Stay Aways: Austin Hooper, Jimmy Graham, Anthony Firkser

   

Defense 

Top Plays: Saints ($3,800), Steelers ($3,600)

Secondary Plays: Titans ($2,200)

Stay Aways: Ravens ($3,300), Bears ($2,800), Browns ($2,500)

  

Favorite Stacks

QB Jackson + WR M. Brown + WR Davis + TE Andrews

QB Tannehill + WR A. Brown + WR M. Brown + TE J. Smith

QB Brees + WR Thomas + WR Robinson + TE Cook

QB Roethlisberger + WR Claypool + WR Landry + WR Smith-Schuster

       

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Jerry Donabedian plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: jd0505, DraftKings: jd0505.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Donabedian
Jerry was a 2018 finalist for the FSWA's Player Notes Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year awards. A Baltimore native, Jerry roots for the Ravens and watches "The Wire" in his spare time.
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