FanDuel split the Wild Card Round into two slates, Saturday and Sunday. We’ll go position by position with a look at the tournament and cash strategies for each slate. Here we’ll look at the Saturday slate.
There’s only one player to consider for cash games and it’s Deshaun Watson ($8,500). For cash, we want rushing production and a high implied team total. Three quarterbacks fit the bill of rushing production, but only Watson has a high team total. Vegas has the Bills and Titans with 20.5 and 19.75 team totals respectively. Both teams are also on the road. The Texans, on the other hand, are at home and have an implied team total of 23.
Did we mention rushing production?
There are not many players with gaudy price tags on Saturday, so paying up for Watson is more manageable on this slate.
Deshaun Watson is likely to soak up a massive amount of ownership, so rostering anyone but him is the move in GPP’s.
Josh Allen ($8,200) is the preferred target, with no player bringing forth his level of upside. Despite generating only 461 (No. 21 among qualified quarterbacks) pass attempts, Allen had 4,258.5 (No. 14) yards of Pass Attempt Distance and attempted 72 (No. 8) Deep Balls.
As always, there’s serious rushing upside with Allen. He ended the 2019 regular season with 109 (No. 2) carries, 22 (No. 2) red zone carries and nine (No. 1) rushing touchdowns.
A multi-touchdown game on the ground likely breaks the entire slate, and that’s well within his range of outcomes. He’s done it three times in 28 career games.
There may be no easier lock that Devin Singletary ($6,500) in cash this week. Singletary was injured early in the season and it took him a while to return to a full-time role, but he became a true workhorse back upon his return. From Weeks 9-16, he had per-game averages of:
- 16.4 carries
- 3.6 targets
- 92.4 yards from scrimmage
The targets prevent him from being game-scripted out versus Houston, and the overall volume gives him a great floor. Singletary is a lock in cash and it’s fine to eat the chalk on him in tournaments.
The crux of this slate is determining what to do with New England. Are they washed? If they’re washed, can they still beat the Titans?
They’re 4-4 over the second half of the season and haven’t topped 24 points in a game versus a team with multiple wins in that stretch.
The Patriots offense may be dust, but their defense is still the best in the league. They’ve allowed the fewest points (14.1) and yards (275.9) this year. That makes fully fading the red hot Titans a viable tournament strategy. Pivoting from Derrick Henry ($9,500) to a much cheaper New England back leverages Tennessee’s recent success and leads us to a different roster construction.
James White ($6,200) is sixth in the NFL in red zone targets this year (19) and has added 13 carries inside the 20. Even on FanDuel, White is among the stronger running back plays because of his scoring equity on the team with the highest team total (24.25).
For those rostering Deshaun Watson in cash but not sinking all of their salary into Derrick Henry, DeAndre Hopkins is a must-play.
The glaring weakness is his seven (No. 25) red zone receptions. This is largely due to his 53.8-percent red zone catch rate, which ranks No. 46 among receivers with at least five red zone targets. If you assume Hopkins gets butterfingers once he sees the end zone, and that this catch rate is a product of anything other than randomness, maybe DFS just isn’t for you. Play him in cash and run him back with Josh Allen stacks in tournaments.
Another easy stack here. If playing Josh Allen at quarterback, John Brown ($6,800) is so highly correlated with him that we have to fit him into our lineups. Most of Allen’s deep pass volume has come through Brown. He’s one of three players in the top-20 for targets with an Average Target Distance over 14. Mike Evans and Kenny Golladay ar the other two.
Check out John Brown on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Weekly Rankings and Projections:
Brown is in rarefied company based on his volume, and Allen has done a phenomenal job feeding him the ball, evidence by a 7.0 (No. 13) Target Quality Rating.
Against a Houston defense that allows an NFL fourth-most 267.2 passing yards per game, how can we not go overweight on the Brown/Allen combo?
Tight end is a true wasteland on Saturday. Jordan Akins‘ ($4,700) 48 targets on the year, before the mostly noisy stats of Week 17, lead all Saturday tight ends and rank 28th. Over the past four games, Akins has been targeted 20 times and has been on the field for at least 60-percent of the teams’ snaps in each game. Because the position is so thin and his volume is trending in the right direction, paying down for him is the move. It’s unlikely that he’s a popular play, so feel free to ride with him in tournaments.
Dawson Knox ($5,500) has one top-10 week this season, but his 10 deep targets are No. 6 among qualified tight ends. Beyond that, his volume has been middling. He’ll need to bring in multiple deep balls to make a big difference in tournaments, but he’s a solid play in larger GPP’s.
The Patriots averaged 2.9 sacks per game this year, good for No. 8 in the league. Now they face Ryan Tannehill, who has an 83.3-percent (No. 16) Protection Rate and finished the year with a 9.8-percent sack rate. That rate was topped only by Dwayne Haskins.
If the expensive Titans players will be popular because of their late-season surge, then the New England defense should have reasonable ownership. In that case, this cash-viable defense becomes a fantastic leverage point on a slate without many of them.
If we want to play Derrick Henry, because he’s going to be popular, we have to find a unique way to stack him that correlates well and is low-owned. The Titans defense fits both of those bills.
Tom Brady might be dust, per his advanced metrics. If he is, the Tennessee defense may be in line for a big day at low-ownership.