Fantasy football doesn’t end just because the regular season is over. Wild-card weekend — now with six games on Saturday and Sunday– gives us the opportunity to flex our finely-tuned fantasy muscles with DFS contests. Making lineup picks from a slate featuring most of the NFL’s top teams isn’t easy, as very few matchups are “favorable” and value sleepers seem few and far between, but below we do our best to craft a winning tournament lineup for DraftKings contests.
Our picks might seem a bit more cash-game oriented at first, but it’s important to remember that in the playoffs, teams often rely more than usual on their most trustworthy and consistent players. That doesn’t mean there won’t be random touchdowns (there are always random touchdowns), but it could mean even more touches than usual for a key RB or WR. We’re keeping that in mind while doing our best to exploit what few favorable matchups there are.
Wild Card DraftKings Picks: NFL DFS cash lineup
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Browns ($6,100). Big Ben wasn’t asked to do much against the Browns in a 38-7 Steelers victory in Week 6, and he didn’t play last week when the teams met for a second time. Backup Mason Rudolph threw for 315 yards and two scores, though, and that type of outing seems more than reasonable for the rested Roethlisberger. Cleveland finished the season slightly below average against fantasy QBs, but their final stats were helped by three bad-weather games and a favorable stretch over the final three weeks (Colts McCoy, Sam Darnold, Rudolph). This is still a favorable matchup, and getting Roethlisberger as the sixth highest-priced QB is good value.
RB Jonathan Taylor, Colts @ Bills ($7,900). Over the final six games of the season, Taylor averaged 19.8 carries and 123.5 rushing yards with eight total TDs. To be fair, he faced five horrible run defenses (Packers, Texans twice, Raiders, and Jaguars) in that span, but he managed 74 yards and two TDs against Pittsburgh, too, so he can put up numbers against anyone. It might be smarter to fade Taylor and pivot to Nyheim Hines on the thought that Indianapolis will fall behind early and be forced to throw more, but we’ll stick with the Indy back more likely to score. Buffalo struggles against the run (4.6 yards per carry, 119.6 yards per game), so the Colts should try to pound Taylor early and often, and he’s done enough as a receiver to give us hope he can produce even if Indianapolis falls behind in the first half.
RB J.D. McKissic, Washington vs. Buccaneers ($4,900). It’s tough to feel great about a running back who had just six carries for 15 yards in the final two games of the regular season, but this pick is all about McKissic’s pass-catching prowess. Over the final five games, he caught 34-of-42 targets for 251 yards and two scores. Antonio Gibson missed almost all of three of those games, but McKissic still shined the past two weeks, catching 13 passes for 107 yards and a score. In DraftKings full-point PPR scoring, McKissic has a good amount of upside, especially if you think Washington will be in catch-up mode most of the second half against the high-powered Buccaneers.
WR Stefon Diggs, Bills vs. Colts ($7,700). Diggs is one of those guys you almost have to have in your lineup. He’ll be highly owned, but he provides a safe floor and sky-high ceiling. If he just posts something close to his season averages (7.9 catches, 95.9 yards, 0.5 TDs per game), he will pay off his price, and if he goes off like he did in Week 16 against New England (9-145-3), it will be tough to cash without him. Because of his oblique injury and Buffalo’s multitude of other options, you could try to fade him, but we’ll take the gauranteed production, especially since we’re already fading Derrick Henry.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers vs. Browns ($5,500). Smith-Schuster has caught at least six passes in five of his past six games and nine of his past 11. In that 11-game stretch, he averaged 6.7 catches, 9.1 targets, and 57.9 yards with six total TDs. He’s not really a “high-ceiling” receiver at this point, as he failed to top 96 yards in any game and hasn’t scored multiple TDs since Week 1, but he has a fairly high floor, especially in DraftKings full-point PPR format. His mid-tier pricing against a Browns defense allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game makes him a solid option.
WR Darnell Mooney, Bears @ Saints ($3,900). Mooney is dealing with an ankle injury, so we’ll have to watch his status throughout the week, but if he plays, he’s another solid-floor option in DraftKings full-point PPR scoring. Mooney is coming off his best game of the season where he caught 11-of-13 targets for 93 yards and a score. Prior to that, he hadn’t broken 69 yards in any game, so he’s not exactly a great candidate to really go off, but it’s clear the Bears trust him, so that’s a plus. They will likely be forced to throw more in the second half against the Saints, so Mooney could rack up cheap catches and yards at a bargain price.
TE Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers @ Washington ($4,000). There are plenty of solid TEs to choose from this week, many who will catch more passes or have better matchups than Gronkowski, but when the chips are down in the playoffs, we expect Tom Brady to look for his old reliable in the red zone. Gronk caught seven TDs this year, including two in Week 16 against Detroit, and with Mike Evans (knee) iffy for this game, Tampa will need a big-bodied receiver to target near the goal line. Gronk gives us multi-TD upside that we don’t really have with some of our other receivers/backs, and we’ll hope he comes through at a decent price.
FLEX JK Dobbins, Ravens @ Titans ($6,600). Dobbins was a beast down the stretch for Baltimore, averaging 82.5 yards on just 12.8 carries over the final six games. More noteworthy is that he scored in every contest, including two TDs in Week 17. Tennessee allows the fifth-most fantasy points per game to RBs, so Dobbins could be a chalky pick, but he has the upside to really go off.
D/ST Seattle Seahawks vs. Rams ($2,700). Speaking of chalk picks, the Seahawks are almost too obvious against either a banged-up Jared Goff (thumb) or John Wolford, but sometimes you have to take the low-hanging fruit. We’ll hope the Bucs D/ST ($3,400) is even more chalky in its highly favorable matchup against Washington, but we still prefer the surging Seahawks. They’ve had at least three sacks in nine of the past 10 games and allowed just 16 offensive points per game over their past eight contests. Consider them a steal at just $2,700.