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NFL DFS First Look: Wild Card Weekend DraftKings & FanDuel Picks

Matt Gajewski

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The NFL season continues with the NFL Playoffs Wild Card Weekend and a full slate of NFL DFS action provided by DraftKings and FanDuel. This piece will examine the NFL DFS slate early in the week to find potential NFL DFS picks that will return the most value. Based on the salaries released by both DraftKings and FanDuel, we will go over some of the best Wild Card Weekend NFL DFS picks, but keep an eye on the news as the week progresses. A value play early in the week could turn into a bust chalk play due to injury or COVID-related illness and ruin your lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel. The best way to stay plugged in for all the news and notes throughout the week is by catching all the Awesemo NFL DFS Strategy and Picks shows on the Awesemo YouTube Channel.

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Las Vegas Raiders vs Cincinnati Bengals (Saturday)

Easily the better game on the Saturday slate, Cincinnati is a 6-point favorite over Las Vegas in a game with a 49.5-point implied team total. This gives the Bengals a slate-leading 27.75 implied team total. Joe Burrow immediately sticks out as a strong stacking option here after eclipsing 300 yards passing in four of his final five games this year. That includes a 525- and 446-yard performance in each of his final two. Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are the strongest stacking options with Tyler Boyd functioning as a GPP WR3. None of these players are particularly expensive. Joe Mixon is the most expensive back on the slate, but he is one of three backs seeing most of the work. As a heavy favorite Mixon also makes sense.

Derek Carr has played relatively well this year, but he lacks a ceiling compared to Burrow. He has not reached 300 yards passing in six straight games. Josh Jacobs has received a monstrous workload of late with at least 20 touches in three straight. The return of Jalen Richard dings his pass catching role and playing as a massive underdog also does not help. Darren Waller‘s return also hurts Hunter Renfrow. Waller saw nine targets in Week 18 and immediately looks like the chalk tight end. Renfrow is overpriced with the return of Waller and salary is not prohibitive enough to consider players like Zay Jones outside of large field tournaments.

New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills (Saturday)

New England enters the Wildcard Round as a 4-point underdog to Buffalo in a game with a 43-point total. Buffalo’s 23.5-point implied team total ranks second on the slate, while New England’s 19.5 ranks last. Mac Jones is still a non-mobile game manager with two outings above 300 yards. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson form a running back by committee, with Brandon Bolden occasionally seeing pass catching work. Jakobi Meyers is the clear WR1 with at least eight targets in four straight games. From there, Nelson Agholor is the WR2 after returning from a concussion. He opens enough salary to target multiple studs, but that does not seem necessary on a slate this soft. Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, and Kendrick Bourne are all GPP options only.

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Alongside Burrow, Josh Allen is the other clear quarterback to consider. Allen benefits from a pass heavy offense and solid mobility for the position. He has at least 60 yards rushing in four of his last five games. Devin Singletary is also an excellent play as a home favorite feature back. The FAU product has at least 18 touches in four straight games, including a solid role in the pass game. Stefon Diggs has not replicated his historic 2020 season, but he is still the clear top stacking option with Allen. Cole Beasley will man the slot, with Gabriel Davis or Emmanuel Sanders rounding out the receiver room, depending on health. Dawson Knox remains somewhat touchdown dependent, but the pivots off Waller are slim. He makes sense as a contrarian stacking option here.

Philadelphia Eagles vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday)

Drawing a poor on-paper matchup, the Eagles are 8.5-point underdogs to the Buccaneers in a game with a 49-point total. The Eagles rested their starters in Week 18, which should help a banged-up Jalen Hurts. Hurts maximizes his talent when the Eagles are losing which looks likely here. At a cheap price, his mobility makes him a solid cash game option. Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, and Boston Scott are all expected to play, making the running back room a nightmare. In the passing game, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert account for a 23% and 18.7% target share in a low volume passing attack. With such a low total, the Eagles are best reserved for GPPs, outside of a naked-Hurts (maybe).

The Buccaneers limp into the playoffs without Chris Godwin or Antonio Brown, but Tom Brady has not skipped a beat. Narrowly trailing the Chiefs in implied team total, Brady stacks always project well. Now with a narrow distribution of targets, Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski make even more sense. Behind them, Cyril Grayson and Tyler Johnson are the best dart throws as ancillary options in the pass game. Fortunately, the Buccaneers tentatively expect Leonard Fournette to return from his multi-game absence here. Fournette quietly has one of the best offensive roles in one of the best offensive environments to end the season. At a laughable price, the only thing holding back Fournette is the risk of re-injury.

San Francisco 49ers vs Dallas Cowboys (Sunday)

After an overtime victory over the Los Angeles Rams, the 49ers now face the Dallas Cowboys as 3-point underdogs in a game with a 50.5-point total. With the highest total on the board, this game has the most game-stacking appeal. Jimmy Garoppolo played poorly in his return from injury, but it appears that injury will affect him throughout the potential playoff run. Garoppolo is risky, but he still quarterbacks an elite offense at a cheap price. Deebo Samuel continues to alternate between receiver and running back with only one double digit target game since Week 7. George Kittle certainly benefits from Garoppolo’s return, evidenced by his seven targets in Week 18. Brandon Aiyuk also saw seven targets and continues to play an elevated role with Samuel moving all over the formation. Each of these players could make sense depending on roster construction in potential game stacks. Elijah Mitchell allegedly continues to deal with a knee injury, he has 42 carries in two games since returning from injury. His pass catching role is somewhat suspect, but Mitchell is an interesting contrarian back in a tough matchup.

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Dak Prescott closed the season strong after battling injury through most of the year. With elite stacking options in CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, Prescott stacks will always make sense. With Michael Gallup going down, Cedrick Wilson will step up as the WR3. There is not much need to punt here with both Cooper and Lamb being cheap. At tight end, Dalton Schultz also remains an interesting contrarian option after logging a 16.6% target share this year. At running back, Dallas tentatively expects the return of Tony Pollard, which renders this backfield a pure timeshare. Ezekiel Elliott will also play and Pollard’s potential return damages the floor of Elliott. At this moment, the Dallas passing attack looks more attractive than the run game.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday)

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs pace the slate with a 29.75-point implied team total as 13-point favorites over the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game with a 46.5-point total. Mahomes has not provided the same ceiling as Allen, Burrow, or Brady, but taking a lower owned Mahomes always makes sense. Tyreek Hill injured his heel in pre-game warmups and limped his way all over the field. Who knows what his role looks like after he was allegedly healthy enough to play limited snaps? Travis Kelce is a potential beneficiary here for a tight end position that is relatively strong in the Wildcard Round. Behind Hill and Kelce, there is no clear WR3 with Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, and Josh Gordon all rotating in and out of the lineup. At running back, Kansas City tentatively expects to return Clyde Edwards-Helaire, which should help this backfield after Darrel Williams went down with injury. Either way, Edwards-Helaire could still split time with Derrick Gore.

Pittsburgh limped into the playoffs after the Raiders and Chargers failed understand the mutual benefit to a tie. Now Ben Roethlisberger gets one last chance to disappoint with extremely low efficiency on high volume. Najee Harris went down in Week 18, but fortunately he found a way to return in the fourth quarter. He brings a low touchdown expectation, but a high floor from the check downs the Roethlisberger likes to throw. Diontae Johnson leads the receiver group with a high target share, but low ADOT. He generally needs double digit targets and the PPR bonuses to hit value. Chase Claypool and Ray-Ray McCloud will be more volatile options as secondary options. Pat Freiermuth has also taken on a solid role in the pass game without Eric Ebron, but he still has not eclipsed 60 yards receiving in any individual game. This makes him touchdown dependent, like most other tight ends in this range.


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If you’re interested in other DFS NFL for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS ownership projections, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, NFL DFS rankings, and NFL DFS stacks. Take a look at our inactive players, depth charts and NFL starting line-ups. We also have FanDuel Single-Game slate tools and NFL single-game ownership projections. View our DraftKings NFL DFS rankings and our FanDuel NFL DFS ownership rankings.

Matt Gajewski graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Economics. Matt has worked in the fantasy industry for the past four years, focusing on DFS and Sports Betting. Matt specializes in NFL, College Football, College Basketball, XFL, and MMA. With GPP victories across the major sports, Matt also qualified for the DraftKings 2020 Sports Betting Championship and won a seat to the College Basketball Tourney Mania final.

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