For each of the featured playoff games, this column will provide free analysis for the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. This will include team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks for today. There are loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown picks to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Wild Card Sunday Night Football slate featuring the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers.
DraftKings & FanDuel NFL DFS Picks Wild Card Sunday Night Football
Pittsburgh is coming into this game mostly healthy with no notable skill position players on the injury report. Kansas City is in similar shape with just running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) out and Darrel Williams (toe) questionable.
Ben Roethlisberger last topped 13 fantasy points in Week 14. During the four games since reaching that milestone he has surpassed 160 passing yards only once despite averaging nearly 37 passing attempts per game in this stretch. The downfield accuracy and distance has just not been there this season. The short-passing game has lost its effectiveness with defenses knowing what is coming their way. Roethlisberger turns 40 this off season and tonight will likely be the swan song for his career.
Najee Harris has dominated the Steelers backfield touches, though playing behind such a porous offensive line with a quarterback that is constantly under siege has limited his effectiveness over the last half of the season. While he is not on the injury report, he is still dealing with a recently hyperextended elbow which of course will be at risk for reaggravation. Last week Harris played less that two-thirds of the snaps in the Steelers overtime victory against Baltimore. Benny Snell picked up the slack with 12 carries for a meager 22 yards compared to the 11 totes for 28 paltry yards for Harris. The rookie did convert all four of his targets for another 27 yards, but it was wideout Chase Claypool who led the team with 33 rushing yards on three opportunities.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (shoulder) has been designated for return from the injured reserve. However, at best he might be a replacement level player who will cut into the snap count of Ray-Ray McCloud and James Washington. We last saw Smith-Schuster in Week 5 and even then it was already clear that Dionte Johnson was the lead receiver for Pittsburgh. Johnson was third in the league with 169 targets, fifth with 107 receptions and just outside of the top ten with 72.6 yards per game. McCloud and Claypool are the secondary options and while both are viable, it is going to take a lucky touchdown for either to be a factor tonight. Smith-Schuster is at the minimum $200 on DraftKings and if he is active, he will be popular – however expecting anything more than two or three targets is folly.
Pat Freiermuth has put together an excellent rookie campaign and looks to be a strong torchbearer continuing the long line of stellar Steeler tight ends. Zach Gentry has benefited with the Eric Ebron injury as well as with Roethlisberger’s limited range and he should be good for a couple of targets tonight as a discount dandy.
While Blitzburgh did lead the league in sacks, Kansas City has allowed just four over their last four games. Each team averaged right around 1.5 turnovers/takeaways per game so it is going to be a long row to hoe for this unit to provide any fantasy payoff.
Patrick Mahomes did seem to disappoint from a fantasy perspective for the latter third of the season, however he did have five straight multi-touchdown games. The yardage was lacking with only one game over 270, though he did average just over 35 pass attempts per game in this stretch. Even with his skill position players banged up, Mahomes still will be in the mix for the fantasy point multiplier tonight across the various DFS sites.
Darrel Williams is dealing with a toe injury, though he is expected to play and this is going to be a pain management situation. Pittsburgh has been in the bottom-five all season by most defensive rushing metrics and we know Williams is the preferred option for coach Andy Reid with his ability to contribute in all facets of the game. Youngster Derrick Gore should still see a handful of touches and with Kansas City heavy favorites, there is a chance he could get some mop-up duty. Veteran Jerick McKinnon has been besieged by injuries for the last several seasons, but he would likely be the next man up if Williams further aggravates his toe issue.
Tyreek Hill is dealing with a heel injury and did receive a midweek downgrade on the injury report. While he is expected to play, he may only see the field on the important plays and likely will be the first player put in bubble wrap if Kansas City can take command of this game. Last weekend it was Mecole Hardman who was the main beneficiary of Hill’s in-game absence seeing 11 targets which was only two less than his total opportunities over the five prior games.
Byron Pringle continues to be steady and he has four or more targets in six of his last eight games and 19 in the last three. Demarcus Robinson continues to run wind sprints up and down the field, but all it takes is one rainbow pass from Mahomes for him to become a slate-breaker.
Travis Kelce has had a rough go down the stretch missing a game with COVID and then suffering a hip injury last week. When all is said and done, the 32-year old tight end was still able to answer the bell this season with 134 targets, 92 receptions, 1,125 yards and nine touchdowns. Most of the receivers in the league would be thrilled to have that type of production, let alone the tight ends.
For all his foibles and weak offensive line, Roethlisberger has been sacked just eight times in the last four games. Yes, he will likely throw and interception or two if the Steelers fall behind, but with the controlled passing game, he will have to hang one over the flat for a pick-six for the Kansas City defense to be a difference maker tonight.
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Wild Card Sunday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy
The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value, but for those taking the MME approach, remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. This also works conversely with pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with their quarterback.
Wild Card Sunday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings
Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Travis Kelce: Seemingly the most healthy of the Kansas City skill players.
- Darrel Williams: Should be in line for a big game as long as his toe cooperates.
- Patrick Mahomes: Will the yardage be there tonight, otherwise we are counting on a minimum of three touchdowns at this salary.
- Dionte Johnson: Double digit targets are in store once again.
- Najee Harris: The big question is how the hyperextended elbow may be impacting his receiving ability.
- Byron Pringle: Take the discount and the health over Hill. Also returns kickoffs.
- Ben Roethlisberger: $500 more than Hill on FanDuel, $2,200 discount on DraftKings.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster: Even if gamers flock to him on DraftKings at the $200 minimum salary, the salary cap flexibility outweighs the potential of him only seeing a couple targets.
- Tyreek Hill: We have no idea how healthy he really is tonight, $11,000 on DraftKings and $13,500 is a lofty salary level for the downside. Fortune favors the bold, but does the risk favor our bankroll?
- Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry: Playing for a touchdown, the savings with Gentry give him a boost with tonight’s top heavy player pool.
Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Mecole Hardman: Chance of success is inversely correlated with Hill’s health.
- Chase Claypool: Dynamic playmaker who never seems to get the opportunities this year with his mental lapses curtailing the volume.
- Ray-Ray McCloud: May feel the pinch depending on how much Smith-Schuster is on the field. Also returns punts and kickoffs.
- Harrison Butker: 11 of 13 from beyond 50 yards the last two seasons, tends to get more extra point opportunities than field goal attempts.
- Chris Boswell: 8 of 9 from 50 yards or more this year with a 90% or better conversion rate over his last three seasons.
Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks
- Jerick McKinnon and Derrick Gore: If something happens with Williams it will be the Jerick and Derrick Show.
- Pittsburgh D/ST: Should be good for a couple sacks, but understand the scoring system when it comes to points allowed.
- Kansas City D/ST: Return potential is high, sacks and turnover volume is not.
- James Washington: Afterthought if Smith-Schuster returns.
- Benny Snell: Just enough potential to earn his own line.
- Josh Gordon, Blake Bell, Noah Gray, Marcus Kemp and Michael Burton: If they beat us we can accept those consequences.
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