Heroes and Zeroes - Wild Card Fantasy Football Picks

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Let's get straight to the point: you don't care that the NFL regular season is over because you're a fantasy football junkie and you need your fix. Who am I to deny you more fantasy goodness? There are several variations of playoff leagues, including best available, one-and-done, and salary cap style. Regardless of how you play, here are a variety of picks that could suit your needs.

If you're here for DFS advice, you've also come to the right place. While I won't get too detailed into prices and game types, I will recommend some viable tournament plays that could help you cash out, in a week where the choices are slim.

Now, let's get to my fantasy "heroes" and "zeroes" at each position for NFL Wild Card Weekend. For a full set of rankings, look no further than our very own RotoBaller consensus weekly rankings.

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Wild Card Weekend Lineup Heroes

QUARTERBACK

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints - It's odd to say, but Drew Brees hasn't played like a top-five fantasy QB all season. We all know the numbers by now: 23 TD, his fewest-ever as a Saint, only one game over two TD, and only three 300+ yard games. However... that one three-TD game came against the Panthers in Week 3. Of course, he only tossed one TD against them later in the year, but he also didn't turn the ball over in either game. Let's face it, unless you think Alex Smith will put up better numbers, Brees is the default QB1 for Wild Card weekend. He's got the most weapons, but also faces a Panthers defense that got worse toward the end of the season. Carolina allowed 282 pass yards per game after their Week 11 bye, including 326 and 311 in their final two games. Brees has by far the highest floor of any quarterback going in the Wild Card round. He's also somehow only the third-most expensive QB out of eight playing in DK. Don't get cute at this position and stick with the sure thing.

RUNNING BACKS

Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs - Let's start with the obvious play. For the somewhat reasonable price of $8100, you can own Hunt on DraftKings this week. He's no Todd Gurley, but there isn't any other RB that should see more touches than Hunt and you can save about 2K by opting for Hunt instead. After going MIA for a while, Hunt finished strong with 362 rushing yards and four total touchdowns in Weeks 14-16. Tennessee has the fourth-ranked rush defense in the league, so this might seem like a counterintuitive play, but they allowed the most receiving yards to running backs of all teams. Hunt is the do-it-all back for KC, so even if he struggles on the ground, he'll make his way in the passing game.

Marcus Murphy, Buffalo Bills - LeSean McCoy is still a big question mark for this weekend, but if you watched him leave the game in agonizing pain with tears on the sideline, you know it's not likely he'll play. When his coach simply says there's "a chance" he will play, he isn't playing. Murphy hasn't played much at all in his NFL tenure, other than as a return man. He served well in limited time last week, rushing seven times for 41 yards. It remains to be seen what he can do in an RB1 capacity, but it's worth the risk to find out. Mike Tolbert presents a decent floor because he will catch some passes and get any potential goal-line work, but Murphy is the one to roll out in tournaments. He doesn't stand out physically, nor does he have a great matchup, but this is all about opportunity.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Demarcus Robinson, Kansas City Chiefs - My original pick was Albert Wilson here, but he's questionable with a knee injury. If he doesn't play, try Robinson if you're doing a Stars and Scrubs lineup. This is strictly a punt play, but keep in mind that he could step in as WR2 for KC in a game that they are expected to win. P.S. - I don't really love any other receivers this week that aren't totally obvious, so in pretty much every other scenario, you're better off just going with Michael Thomas and either Julio Jones or Tyreek Hill and calling it a day.

TIGHT END

Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans - Travis Kelce will be the chalk play this week, but Walker can be had for significantly cheaper and may produce nearly as well. It's not as if the Chiefs are weak against tight ends--they actually allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to the position in 2017--but Walker should be the primary target for his young quarterback when things start crumbling around him. Walker was Marcus Mariota's favorite target by far this season, leading the team with 116 targets. The next closest was Erick Decker with 86. The veteran isn't the most exciting pick to make, but in cash games he is the one to go with.

Josh Hill, New Orleans Saints - If you're going to pass on the top three tight ends, you might as well go straight to the value plays. Hill is a mere $2500, but he's actually the TE1 on his team, which can't be said for the likes of Logan Thomas, Eric Saubert, and the 20 other tight ends with the same salary. Hill is totally and completely TD-dependent, but try to name a tight end after the top three that isn't...

 

Wild Card Weekend Lineup Zeroes

QUARTERBACKS

Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars - You thought I was going to go with the QB on the other side of this matchup, didn't you? While I don't recommend starting Tyrod Taylor against the best defense in the league by any stretch of the imagination, I also can foresee a scenario in which Taylor outscores Bortles. In this case, it's all about game script. If the Bills are without leading rusher LeSean McCoy, they'll have little choice but to air it out more than they want. This is especially true if the Jags jump ahead early. Jacksonville is listed as an 8.5 point favorite so far, but if Shady is ruled out altogether, that could increase further. Simply put, a double-digit Jaguar lead means less passing for Bortles and more for Taylor. For a team that leads with its superior defense and running game, it's unlikely they'll give Bortles free reign to throw unless absolutely necessary. Avoiding turnovers has been key to their success, mainly because they ran the ball more than any other team in the league (525 rush attempts, 1st in NFL) and threw the ball the least (51.1% pass percentage, 32nd in NFL). Now, on top of all that, add in the fact that the Bills finished 29th in rush defense, yet have a pair of decent cornerbacks to support a pass defense that allowed a 14:18 TD:INT ratio to opposing QBs, and it's easy to see why Bortles should be the very last QB you choose this week.

RUNNING BACKS

Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons - Despite a tough road matchup in L.A., we know the Rams defense has been susceptible to the run. Coleman may get close to 10 carries in a close contest, but that's about his ceiling, which promises to deliver no more than 50 yards on the ground. There were only three occasions where Coleman and Freeman shared duties this season in which Coleman went over 50 rush yards. Coleman will see some targets, but the Rams were just 18th in receiving yardage allowed to running backs. He's a volume-dependent player that should be bypassed in favor of Devonta Freeman, particularly around the red zone, where Freeman carried it 10 more times (33-23) and was targeted twice as much (8-4) this season, despite missing two games.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans - The player pool might be thin this week, but why Corey Davis is getting any love at all, even as a sleeper, is beyond me. By all accounts, it's been a disappointing rookie campaign for the fifth overall pick. Not a single touchdown and only two games with more than four receptions or 50 yards over the course of 11 games. The Chiefs' secondary may not be strong, but it'll take more than that to suddenly turn Davis into a viable fantasy player.

Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars - First of all, if you hate the QB you can't love his receivers. It's also time to remind everyone that Cole has not been a fantasy asset all season. The one week where he exploded for 186 yards and a touchdown, nobody was playing him! He had a nice follow-up with 108 yards against the 49ers, but quickly came back down to Earth. In Week 17, with some fantasy championships on the line, he caught four passes for 33 yards. Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns are both back in action, so Cole will be the third or fourth target at best on a team that is not going to be airing it out. Leave him off your roster, unless it's a dynasty league bench for next season.

TIGHT END

Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams - I'm not sure if Everett hit the rookie wall, because he never got up and running in the first place, but he looked downright lost in Week 17. He was running incorrect routes, dropping easy passes, and failed to make a difference despite seeing his highest target total of the year with six. Everett is talented, but far from seasoned and should be avoided in a playoff atmosphere, regardless of his cheap price tag.

 

More Wild Card Weekend Lineup Prep