Targeting Games for Week 18 DFS Matchups

by Chase Vernon · Strategy

It’s always darkest, before the dawn. At least I like to think so. The second toughest slate – only behind Week 1 – is upon us. The DFS matchups for Week 18 are not easily predicted as there are vast directions each game could go. But, you likely already know the deal because everyone is dealing with the same predicament. 

With seven teams from each conference now making the playoffs, what used to be a throwaway week for fantasy, is now one we can play in hopes of some high-scoring contests. However, where we found values prior to 2020, are now areas with questions.

There are a handful of teams on the Sunday slate I expect to play their starters for three quarters:

  • Packers
  • Colts
  • Titans
  • Bengals
  • Buccaneers
  • Bills

There is also a larger group of teams who I expect to play their starters the entire game:

  • Texans
  • Ravens
  • Steelers
  • 49ers
  • Rams
  • Panthers
  • Seahawks
  • Cardinals
  • Dolphins
  • Patriots
  • Saints
  • Falcons
  • Jets

Of those teams, only eight teams play each other, comprising of four games. Of those four games, all but the Steelers-Ravens is in a dome. The game in Baltimore is predicted to be 31-degrees and raining so I won’t have many shares in it. Two of the remaining three are in the NFC West and have playoff implications for three of the four teams. The Saints-Falcons game makes for some interesting lineups but has much volatility. 

With everything lined up, I still want to see some shares of the Packers, Bills, Colts, and even the Football Team. However, when targeting games to find correlation, I truly believe it boils down to two games leading to a shootout. So let’s dive into the Week 18 DFS matchups.

Games to Target in Week 18 DFS Matchups

Seahawks @ Cardinals

Over/Under: 48
Weather: Dome

Fact to Know: Tyler Lockett is averaging 16.6 points against the Cardinals since 2018. If you remove 2019 when he was dealing with injuries, Lockett is averaging 20.2.

Players to Attack in Week 18 DFS Matchups

Russell Wilson $6,300

Tyler Lockett $6,400

Christian Kirk $6,000

Kyler Murray $7,400

Rashaad Penny $6,500

James Conner $6,300

D.K. Metcalf $6,900

Zach Ertz $5,300

Eno Benjamin $4,000

Took long enough, but it looks like Russell Wilson is finally getting his group back. In five of the past six games, he’s been able to get you multiple touchdowns while seeing at least 27 passing attempts in each one. The Cardinals have played well against quarterbacks on the season, and the last time they played, he looked abysmal. However, the Cardinals have allowed a 10-percent (No.27) Explosive Pass-Play Rate over the past four weeks, and it would likely be much higher if Dak Prescott didn’t miss a couple of open throws.

Tyler Lockett holds the key to success as he constantly dominates against the Cardinals.

Although he plays mostly out of the slot, whenever slot corner Byron Murphy lines up there, the Seahawks move Lockett to the outside. After a massive performance from D.K. Metcalf in Week 17, DraftKings pumped his price up $500 and I expect the field to follow. I’ll be off Metcalf outside of a couple of lineups in Week 18.

To finish off the stack on the Seahawks, I don’t mind running Rashaad Penny out with Wilson. I realize he doesn’t catch passes but with a 15-percent (No.32) Breakaway Run Rate allowed by the Cardinals, the opportunity to turn a possession into a quick score is enticing. Both teams rank top-12 in Pace of Play, so this could easily provide enough value while giving you leverage on the field.  

As for the Seahawks, Kyler Murray makes almost as much sense as Wilson. However, my issue with Murray is the pricing combined with his overall production. I want my quarterbacks hitting a multiple of 5X and Murray hasn’t done so since Week 2. Murray would likely need two rushing touchdowns to give you a high enough level of production and if James Conner plays, I don’t see it happening. If Conner is out, wheels up for Murray. 

So who should run back the Seahawks stack?

The Seahawks have struggled against deep slot receivers all season. It’s likely because Ugo Amadi mans the slot and his subpar athleticism hurts his range. Look for both Christian Kirk and Zach Ertz to take advantage of the matchups with Conner grabbing tons of volume. Mixing and matching all three will be ideal. Meanwhile, there is one player who could be the secret sauce if this game turns into a blowout. Eno Benjamin against the Seahawks who allow a 7.88 DOCE Score against pass-catching running backs.

Conner is already banged up and Chase Edmonds is ruled out. The Cardinals was to keep Conner healthy for the playoffs so if he even gets a bruise, Benjamin could see an increase in snaps. Keep an eye on the inactives as Jonathan Ward might be the only other one active, but Benjamin could be a dragon worth chasing.

49ers @ Rams

Over/Under: 44.5

Weather: DOME

Fact to Know: Matthew Stafford has hit at least 285 yards in seven of the last 10 contests. He is also only three touchdowns away from tying his career-high in what he currently has as 94 fewer attempts. 

Players to Attack in the Week 18 DFS Matchup

Matthew Stafford $6,700

Cooper Kupp $9,700

Deebo Samuel $,8,500

George Kittle $6,700

Trey Lance $5,500

Odell Beckham $5,800

Van Jefferson $5,100

Elijah Mitchell $6,000

Matthew Stafford has been flat-out bad for fantasy against defenses we expected him to blow up against. And whether it be due to game script or his play being terrible, he hasn’t hit that ceiling in quite some time. In a tone-setting game where Cooper Kupp is attempting to break a record, I expect Stafford to step up and give us a vintage performance. 

The 49ers can’t stay healthy in the secondary and are benching backup players like Josh Norman mid-game. Although teams haven’t scored multiple passing touchdowns on the 49ers since Week 1, the efficiency allowed has been unreal. Meanwhile, teams aren’t moving the balls against them on the ground at all. Outside of a Travis Homer with his long run, no running back has eclipsed 60 yards rushing since Week 9. 

If the Rams want to win, they will have to do it in the air. 

The issue is the Rams haven’t been able to beat the 49ers in five straight games. The 49ers have blown out the Rams twice, won by eight once, and won by a field goal in the other two. This game should be competitive and I expect Kyle Shanahan to fully utilize his studs to get there. 

If you read my pieces regularly, I constantly discuss the areas in which the Rams get beat. It vibes perfectly with how the 49ers operate; hence the 30.3 points put up by Deebo Samuel and the 16 points put up by George Kittle in Week 10. If Jimmy Garoppolo starts, I could see a repeat performance—just with more than 19 attempts. With Trey Lance, I would keep my focus on Samuel with a couple shares of Kittle and leave all other options behind. 

Other Sneaky Game Stacks

Aaron Rodgers $7,800

Davante Adams $9,400

D’Andre Swift $5,900

Yes, I’m going back to the D’Andre Swift well again! For Week 17 I took Wilson with Metcalf and rolled it back with Swift in anticipation he would be utilized in the receiving game. Well, Swift was out there and ran a whopping 25 routes. However, instead of giving it to their best playmaker, Tim Boyle decided to target Tom Kennedy, Trinity Benson, Khadarel Hodge, and Jamaal Williams. They all saw the same number of targets or more than Swift. 

Frustrating when you have one of the best pass-catching running backs against one of the worst teams at defending the running back, as mentioned above.

I expect Rodgers to get in three quarters of play, so they don’t have two straight weeks off, which could be enough time to shine. Meanwhile, if the Lions can keep it somewhat close, Swift should stay in the game. Over the past five weeks, the Packers have allowed the highest explosive run rate by almost double the second highest. 

Swift’s 5.6-percent (No.17) Breakaway Run Rate should shine in Week 18 as he challenges to be one of the highest-scoring running backs for the Week 18 DFS matchups. His 4.04 (No.2) Yards Created per Touch will be something to keep an eye on in his second game back from injury with Jared Goff back under center.  

Antonio Gibson $5,800

Washington Defense $3,100

The Giants offense has been historically bad. Opposing defenses are putting up more fantasy points than the Giants are scoring as a whole. In Week 18 they face a hungry Washington Football Team who wants to finish the year off right.

The Football Team has faced one of the more difficult schedules against DSTs and could see an end-of-the-season boost in sacks and turnovers. The primary issue with the Giants is they completely stopped throwing, but I don’t expect it to be an issue for Week 18. 

Feel confident stacking the defense with Antonio Gibson, as he should see the majority of the touches and get work in the receiving game as well. I would feel more hesitant if he was still on the injury report, but he doesn’t have a designation heading into this Week 18 DFS matchup.

Couple of DFS Dart Throws

Dyami Brown $3,000

Dyami Brown has seen an increase in routes over the past two weeks. Part of the increase was due to injuries, but in the last game of the season the Football Team should push the younger players to see more time. 

Over the past two games, Brown has run 16 routes, received three targets, catching all three for 78 yards. The Giants have a low explosive passing play rate but how many teams have really had to target receivers downfield against them? 

Equanimeous St. Brown $3,000

Classic Jalen Guyton Situation: running the routes and not seeing the targets. In Week 16, Marquez Valdes-Scantling was out, leading to Equanimeous St. Brown running 29 routes and seeing no targets. If the Packers do play their starters for only one half, St. Brown should see plenty of snaps in the second half. However, why choose St. Brown over JuWann Winfree?

Typically, I wouldn’t want one half from any player. However, St. Brown could see a handful of snaps in the first half as well and I want the player who will see the targets downfield. He gets utilized both in screens and downfield so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jordan Love hit him on a double move or two downfield. If St. Brown gets you a 20-yard touchdown reception at his price, he pays off.