Let's examine DFS value plays for the six-game wild-card round, so you can pay up for the stars you want to fit into your Yahoo lineup.
Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady are on this slate. It’s quite easy to land on one of the NFL's premier fantasy passers in the wild-card round. Even Dak Prescott at $32 against a pass-funnel 49ers defense looks like a pristine play.
If you’re looking to drop down a bit in value, there are some middle-tier candidates. It’s pretty hard to justify the two starters coming in at $22 this week in Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo. Even if the game environments are good for those two players, there just isn’t much of a tangible fantasy ceiling thanks to the pace and rushing volume of their offenses.
Jalen Hurts $31
Hurts led all quarterbacks with 784 rushing yards and 10 scores. The Eagles offense was quite different back then but Hurts did put up 26 points against the Bucs back on October 14th. We’re feeling confident about his potential in this likely trailing game script after Hurts logged a full practice this week.
Matthew Stafford $26
The Rams starter put up 9.6 yards per attempt and three touchdowns when last he faced the Cardinals. It was the last high-end QB1 outing Stafford offered this season. Even if he had his rocky moments to end the season, Stafford has a high ceiling this week. There’s a lot of point potential for both teams in this third-time NFC West matchup.
Running back feels like the best place to pass up the high-end salaries and hunt for value.
Of the five guys coming in with at least a $24 salary, three of them have major question marks. Najee Harris is coming in off a Week 18 injury as is James Conner. The latter is a legitimate game-time decision. Leonard Fournette is looking to make his return from IR after not playing since December 19th. We’re also being generous not saying Ezekiel Elliott is a question mark as he cleared 60 yards rushing just once in his last 10 games (Week 18).
With Joe Mixon the only clean play and also the highest salaried player at the position ($34), looking down the line seems to be quite appealing.
Devin Singletary $21
The Bills running back was the second-highest scoring back in fantasy football from Weeks 13 to 18. It’s wild but Singletary really responded to getting the workhorse treatment from the Bills. He feels dramatically under-ranked in DFS this week.
Eli Mitchell $20
Mitchell registered the highest rushing share (when active) of any back this year. You can throw all the Kyle Shanahan committee concerns in the trash. When Mitchell is out there, he’s the guy. He’s a premium value at $20.
Sony Michel $19
For all the worries about Cam Akers being activated late in the season, Michel still registered 22 touches in the season finale. The fact he wasn’t explosive with those looks only depresses his salary to a point he’s a strong value at $19. The Cardinals have inhabited the bottom of the league for most of the season in explosive rushing plays allowed (that includes when J.J. Watt was playing early in 2021).
Darrel Williams $17
With Clyde Edwards-Helaire taking a medical step backward on Thursday, Williams looks like the favorite for the RB1 gig on Sunday. Williams has practiced this week and when he last got a full workload in place of CEH, he snagged 17 touches and scored twice in Week 17. The Steelers run defense has been a huge issue for most of the year.
We are flush with high-end wide receiver options on this slate.
Cooper Kupp, Deebo Samuel, Stefon Diggs, Ja’Marr Chase and Mike Evans are all top-10 receivers and properly highly valued on the slate. Every human on planet earth should be 100 percent on board with them as plays this week … especially Evans who projects well for 10-plus targets with the state of the Bucs wideout room.
As per usual with wide receivers, just because you move a little bit down the line doesn’t mean the fantasy appeal goes away. You’re still going to find plenty of great options once you get past the $22 range.
Diontae Johnson $21
Johnson has just two games with fewer than nine targets since we flipped the calendar to November. As per usual, he’s completely disrespected here. Johnson doesn’t have an outrageous ceiling but he’s as safe as anyone and could easily push for 80 yards and/or a score while the Steelers chase the Chiefs.
Brandon Aiyuk $18
Aiyuk was the WR14 in fantasy from Weeks 8 to 18. He’s still at a salary that makes him look like a risky play but he’s been quite steady since the weird doghouse days. Get over it already. The Cowboys and 49ers matchup has the highest projected total of the slate.
Cedrick Wilson $16
Wilson steps into the slot receiver role when Michael Gallup misses time. He drew six targets and scored twice in said position in Week 18. Prescott has looked to get the ball out quickly when facing high-pressure fronts this season. Few pass rushers have played better than Nick Bosa this season.
Zay Jones $15
Jones has target totals of nine, eight, 10 and eight in the last four games. The air yards have been there during this stretch, as well. Carr seems to trust him and would project for similar volume in a game where the Raiders could be chasing points.
Byron Pringle $13
Gabriel Davis feels like he will be a popular play at the $13 range after drawing 14 targets last week. However, with Emmanuel Sanders not carrying an injury designation, that could take the shine off Davis. Pringle makes for an interesting pivot as he’s run as the WR2 for over a month now. He drew eight targets last week.
The high-end of the tight end pool this week is awesome. Some of the best players at this position will hit the field this week. If you want to save at other spots and go with a star here, no one should fault you.
There are a pair of value plays if you’re looking to get into the higher salaries at receiver and quarterback.
Dalton Schultz $18
I just mentioned the best players at the position … despite his constant disrespect in the DFS salary game, Schultz is one of those players. He finished as the TE3 this year behind only Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce and drew 104 targets. That ranked sixth at the position. You love the thought of playing a tight end at sub $20 in a game with the highest over/under of the weekend.
Zach Ertz $14
Ertz has an absurd 43 targets over his last four games. With DeAndre Hopkins on IR and not coming back for this game, Ertz should continue his high-end role in the offense. He hasn’t scored in his last six games but the floor is there.
There does not feel like a pristine play in the high-end of the DFS defense range this week. And typically, I always end up scrolling down to the bottom anyway. You’ll find a good play down there this week.
Las Vegas Raiders $10
It feels counter-intuitive to pick the underdog defense in a game with a 5.5-point spread but here we are. With Joe Burrow sporting the fifth-highest sack rate among quarterbacks, the Raiders have a matchup advantage. Maxx Crosby put on a show in the Week 18 finale and leads the NFL in pressures, per PFF. Even if the Bengals find success in this game, the Raiders could collect sacks and perhaps a turnover or two. That’s all we care about.