This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
Sunday's wild-card DFS slate features three games. Tampa Bay plays host to Philadelphia in the first game. The Bucs are 8.5-point favorites in a matchup where the total has fallen considerably. The game opened with a 49.5-point total, but weather and pace concerns have dropped it to 46. There's a strong possibility of rain with wind gusts up to 30 mph. Keep an eye on the forecast as kickoff approaches because it's possible the worst of the weather will be over beforehand.
The 49ers-Cowboys matchup is the second game and has the closest spread and highest total, which means it will be a popular target. The Cowboys are three-point favorites and the total is 51. With the exception of Deebo Samuel ($7,900), both teams are underpriced.
The final game sees the Chiefs as 13-point home favorites against the Steelers. It's largest spread in the history of the wild-card round. The Chiefs have the highest implied team total and a few favorable salaries. They'll be relatively popular as a result.
Patrick Mahomes ($7,300) has thrown multiple touchdown passes in five consecutive games, topping 20 fantasy points in each. The Chiefs just played the Steelers in Week 16 and comfortably handled them 36-10. Mahomes threw for three TDs without much trouble. Expect Sunday's matchup to play out similarly. I prefer Mahomes over Tom Brady ($7,200) if I'm spending all the way up at QB. The total in the Bucs-Eagles game has fallen considerably with rain and wind expected to hinder the passing games. Of course, Brady is used to bad weather, but I also expect the Eagles to slow the game to limit the number of plays and possessions. That would limit Brady's ceiling potential and, for me, that's a good enough reason to fade him.
Dak Prescott ($6,700) seems slightly underpriced. The Cowboys game has the highest total and the 49ers have struggled against the pass recently. Prescott bounced back from a few midseason hiccups to finish the year strong, throwing 12 TDs and no INTS in the final three games. Not only does Dak seem like a bargain but so do his pass-catchers. That, plus the high total and close spread, makes it an appealing target to stack.
Jalen Hurts ($6,100) has seen his salary drop to its lowest point of the season. His rushing upside makes him viable in any matchup, but Sunday's game against the Bucs seems like an especially tough spot. Hurts completed just 12 passes when the teams met in Week 6 but ran for two TDs on his way to 26 fantasy points. As mentioned, I expect the Eagles to play slow, and I have little faith in Hurts' passing ability. If he succeeds, it's likely because of his legs.
If I'm spending down at QB, I'd rather save the $800 and roster Jimmy Garoppolo ($5,300) over Hurts. Garoppolo has thrown for 300-plus yards in back-to-back games and was impressive leading the 49ers to a comeback win over the Rams last week. They're expected to play from behind against the Cowboys, which bodes well for the passing game. Rostering Garoppolo instead of Mahomes or Brady makes room for an extra elite player in lineups. I have no interest in Ben Roethlisberger ($5,200). He's shown almost no upside this season as he's lost the ability to throw the deep ball. I have major doubts the Steelers can compete for four quarters, and rostering Roethlisberger in this matchup just seems like an unnecessary risk.
Deebo Samuel ($7,900) is the most expensive player on the slate, which is somewhat surprising given that the 49ers are underdogs and the Chiefs are massive favorites. When you look at his recent numbers, the price is justified. He's actually less than $8K for the first time in six games even though he's topped 28 fantasy points in two of his last three. His dual-threat ability gives him so much upside. He has at least five carries in eight consecutive games and has rushed for seven touchdowns in that span.
Tyreek Hill ($7,300) has seen a significant drop in salary after injuring his heel in warmups last week and playing just 14 plays. Still, we're used to seeing him priced in the mid-$8K range, so the $7,300 tag is a bit jarring. Hill has busted quite often this season. He only had two catches for 19 yards when the Chiefs played the Steelers in Week 16. Regardless, his ceiling is as high as any player on the slate, and, assuming he's healthy, the bargain salary is tough to pass up. I prefer him over Mike Evans ($7,000) in the same range. Evans is expected to see shadow coverage from star cornerback Darius Slay, and it looks like bad weather in Tampa may temper the deep passing game. I'd rather take a chance on Diontae Johnson ($6,700) instead. He's drawn double-digit targets more often than not this season, and the Steelers figure to play from behind and passing for most of the game.
A matchup against the shaky 49ers secondary looks like a good spot for the Cowboys trio of CeeDee Lamb ($6,300), Amari Cooper ($5,900) and Cedric Wilson ($4,300). Each seems slightly underpriced too. Lamb has seen a significant drop in salary after a recent cold stretch. While it's definitely a bit concerning that he's drawn five or fewer targets in three consecutive weeks, he's the most explosive of the Cowboys pass-catchers, and the 49ers have no one that can really cover him. Cooper has seen a spike in target share lately. He's drawn at least seven in four of the last five games and has three TDs in that span. It's pretty clear that Dak has made more of an effort to get him the football. Wilson has really stepped up in the absence of Michael Gallup. He's caught 11 of 12 targets with three of them going for TDs in the last two weeks. All are viable options, which makes choosing who to roster the tough decision. Lamb has the highest ceiling while Cooper is probably the safest based on the recent volume he's seen. Wilson's range of outcomes is more volatile but he has considerable upside for a cheap salary. Take your pick.
Analyzing the mid-range, Brandon Aiyuk ($5,200) stands out. His salary is the lowest it's been in eight weeks, and he has at least 94 receiving yards in back-to-back games. He's playing more snaps and running more routes than any 49ers WR, and the matchup against the Cowboys should bode well for the passing game. Chase Claypool ($4,700) seems to be out of the doghouse after drawing at least six targets in each of the last three games. He's also coming off his first touchdown since Week 5 while his salary continues to fall. The likely game script against the Chiefs sets up favorably for Steelers WRs.
Looking cheaper, Tyler Johnson ($4,000) will continue in the slot role for the Bucs as they're without Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Cyril Grayson. Johnson has caught nine of 13 targets the last two weeks. Mecole Hardman ($4,100) and Byron Pringle ($3,900) stepped up last week with Tyreek Hill injured. Hardman is Hill's direct replacement but with Hill healthy, expect Pringle to continue as the No. 2 WR. Ray-Ray McCloud ($3,600) continues to see big volume as he's drawn at least eight targets in three straight games. Even though he hasn't done much with them, the price tag is still cheap for that type of usage.
- Top Targets: Deebo Samuel ($7,900); Tyreek Hill ($7,300); CeeDee Lamb ($6,300); Amari Cooper ($5,900); Brandon Aiyuk ($5,200)
This slate is loaded with tight ends and there are good arguments fot rostering all of them. Travis Kelce ($6,700) is his cheapest all season, probably because he has less than 35 receiving yards in four of his last five games. He does have four TDs in his last three, however. He's likely to be the fourth or fifth most popular tight end, which is a compelling reason to roster him considering his ceiling. Rob Gronkowski ($6,400) probably has the best matchup of the group. The Eagles allowed more yards and touchdowns to tight ends than any team in the league. Gronkowski should also see a bump in target share in the absence of Godwin and Brown. George Kittle ($5,800) has seen his salary fall to its lowest point since week 10. His price had reached the mid-$7K range after a pair of ceiling games, so he feels like a bargain now with the 49ers playing in the most attractive game environment. He's expected to be more popular than Kelce and Gronkowski based on the cheaper salary.
In the mid-range, Dalton Schultz ($5,000) has four TDs in his last four games. His target share has been somewhat inconsistent, but he's drawn at least eight in three of his last four and Dak likes to look for him inside the red zone. Dallas Goedert ($4,400) is expected to be the most popular TE on the slate. He's caught at least six passes in three of his last four games and had 100-plus receiving yards in two of those. The other reason behind his popularity is the drop in salary. He'd been priced higher than $5K recently and there really isn't any justification for the discount. Based on the opportunity cost above, I wouldn't go any lower than Pat Freiermuth ($4,200). He continues to see a lot of volume, but it's almost exclusively on short passes, meaning he probably has to score in order to be optimal.
Continuing the theme of soft pricing, Najee Harris ($6,600) has a salary lower than $7K for the first time since Week 5. He was limited with an elbow injury last week but saw 31 touches the week before. He's healthy now but the matchup against the Chiefs is worrying as the Steelers are 13-point underdogs, which isn't promising for rushing attempts. He'll likely have to get there catching passes. Ezekiel Elliott ($6,100) is cheaper than we've all season. He hasn't looked great, though. His 87 rushing yards last week were the most he'd had since Week 5. His value is tied to touchdown equity, which he has quite a bit of playing for the potent Cowboys offense in a favorable matchup. Elijah Mitchell ($5,700) continues to see a ton of volume. He's had at least 20 rushing attempts in his last five games His matchup against the Cowboys isn't particular good but 20-plus touches is appealing for a cheapish salary. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire ruled out, Darrel Williams ($5,200) should be good value in a favorable spot against the Steelers, who've been shredded on the ground in recent weeks. His salary is much too cheap for a lead back with receiving upside who also happens to play for a great offense. I usually avoid RBs against the Bucs and their elite run defense but Miles Sanders ($5,000) is cheap enough if you want to take a chance. He's rushed for 100-plus yards in two of his last three games. Ke'Shawn Vaughn ($4,500) is a decent option if you want to pay all the way down. Vaughn is expected to be the Bucs starting running back with Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones ruled out.
The three home defenses look like the best options. The Chiefs ($3,300) are expected to be the most popular. Ben Roethlisberger is likely to attempt 40-plus passes and that would provide plenty of opportunities for sacks and turnovers. The Cowboys ($3,100) led the league in interceptions this season and Jimmy Garappolo has thrown multiple picks in back-to-back games. The Buccaneers ($3,400) have a matchup against Jalen Hurts in what could be tough whether for the QBs. If the Eagles get behind and Hurts is forced to throw, his inaccuracy should present the defense with interception opportunities.
- Top Targets: Chiefs ($3,300); Cowboys ($3,100)