FanDuel Market Watch: Wild Card Weekend (Fantasy Football)
The regular season is over, folks. Welcome to the first FanDuel Market Watch of the NFL postseason (oh yeah, and of 2019 as well). Eight great franchises will do battle on Wild Card Weekend in an attempt to get one step closer to Super Bowl glory, and of course, countless fans will be prepping their lineups at the same time. So let’s not waste another moment. Here are eight players who have seen considerable value fluctuations as playoff time arrives.
Lamar Jackson (BAL): $7,700 vs. LAC (+$500)
Jackson’s NFL career is off to an impressive start. With a 6-1 record and a divisional title wrapped up, the Ravens’ quarterback of the future has provided his team with an incredible spark. The franchise has completely re-vamped its offense, and become one of the most productive rushing attacks the league has ever seen. In Week 17, the Ravens rushed for 296 yards as a team, and Jackson accounted for 90 of them on his own. The former Heisman trophy winner also scored two touchdowns on the ground, but he could have had four were it not for a goal-line fumble and a holding penalty that cost him a 33-yard scoring scamper.
Jackson is still developing as an NFL passer, as his 179 scoreless yards through the air will attest, but he will improve with experience. In the meantime, he’s one of the most dynamic running quarterbacks in recent NFL history with 556 yards over his first seven NFL starts. The Chargers are a difficult matchup for quarterbacks, but Jackson passed for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown against them in Week 16. If he can improve on the 39 rushing yards he produced in that contest, he could be very valuable on FanDuel on Wild Card Weekend.
Russell Wilson (SEA): $7,800 @ DAL (-$500)
Wilson’s name doesn’t get mentioned much in MVP debates and discussions, but make no mistake about it, this was one of the former Super Bowl champion’s finest seasons. The veteran tossed a career-high 35 touchdown passes, produced a career-best 110.9 quarterback rating, and shook off an 0-2 start to lead a Seahawks franchise that looked poised for a rebuild to 10 wins and a playoff berth. The man called “Danger-Russ” did all of this in spite of accumulating only 67 rushing attempts, the fewest of his career. It was a remarkable year for one of the game’s truly elite quarterbacks.
On Wild Card Weekend, Wilson faces off with a Cowboys team that provided the ‘Hawks with their first win of the season, way back in Week 3. While he had a decent day (only 192 passing yards, but a pair of touchdown passes), this is a very different Dallas squad this time around. Indeed, America’s Team only allowed 16.4 FanDuel points per contest to opposing quarterbacks in 2018 (ninth-fewest) in 2018, and only surrendered 22 passing touchdowns on the season as well. That number is significant because Wilson’s touchdown passes have propped up his fantasy value considerably. As I mentioned before, he’s not running much and has actually thrown for fewer than 200 yards in three of his last five games. By no means should you avoid him altogether, but he isn’t a slam dunk start either.
Jordan Howard (CHI): $7,600 vs. PHI (+$1,600)
I think it’s time we started talking a little more about Howard. After losing a considerable amount of backfield work to Tarik Cohen in the middle of the season, Howard came roaring back over the last month with 399 rushing yards and four touchdowns in December. During this span, the third-year back produced two 100 rushing yards days, and received 16 or more carries in four of five contests.
Coming off his best performance of the season against the Vikings in Week 17 (21 carries, 109 rushing yards, two touchdowns), Howard has clearly re-established himself as an offensive focal point, particularly with all of the injuries to the Bears’ wideouts. The Eagles are a rather middle-of-the-pack matchup for runners, but I like Howard’s chances of another robust workload. However, with this significant value adjustment, he’s now the third-most expensive runner on the slate, behind only Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon. If you’re looking for a value play, Howard may not be the runner to target on Wild Card Weekend.
Alfred Blue (HOU): $4,900 vs IND (-$400)
Blue very quietly racked up 150 carries as Lamar Miller‘s backup in 2018, but he’s seen his workload diminish in recent weeks. After seeing 13-plus carries in six of nine games during the middle of the season, Blue has handled nine or fewer totes in each of his last four, despite of the fact that Miller was sidelined for the better part of two of those contests. In fact, with Miller back in the lineup in Week 17, Blue saw a season-low three carries.
The Texans have become increasingly pass-heavy over the last month, as Deshaun Watson has attempted 35 or more passes in three of his last four starts. Meanwhile, Blue is clearly relegated to strict backup duty. Making matters worse is that fact that the Texans are set to face off with a Colts defense that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 2018. All of this is a recipe for a must-avoid situation in FanDuel, and makes Blue’s value decline understandable.
Mike Williams (LAC): $6,800 @ BAL (+$1,100)
People were tough on Williams after the seventh overall pick in 2017 failed to make much of an impact in 10 contests as a rookie, but in his sophomore season, he showed the world why the Chargers had such confidence in him. Williams managed to stay on the field for all 16 games, snaring 43 receptions for 664 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns, and he accomplished all of this while playing fewer snaps than Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams.
There’s no doubt that the future is bright for the former Clemson standout and with four total touchdowns in his last three contests, his value has climbed considerably, including an enormous $1,100 adjustment this week. With that said, there is plenty of reason to proceed with caution. The Ravens allow only 24.9 FanDuel points per contest to opposing receivers (tied for sixth-fewest), and when the two teams faced off in Week 16, Williams was held to only one reception for seven yards. It was the only time he’s been held to fewer than three receptions over his last six contests. As the seventh-most expensive wideout on the slate, this isn’t a particularly inviting situation. Williams is a potential stud in the making, but at this cost and in this matchup, there is a ton of risk.
David Moore (SEA): $4,800 @ DAL (-$500)
Moore produced some solid performances for the Seahawks in 2018, but the 23-year-old’s impact was minimal in the month of December. With Doug Baldwin finally getting healthy, and Tyler Locket firmly in the midst of a breakout campaign, Moore has only secured four receptions for 32 scoreless yards over his last five games. In the aftermath of a six-game stretch in which he exceeded 47 receiving yards four times, he’s been completely uninvolved in recent weeks.
The Cowboys are a prohibitive matchup for opposing wideouts, permitting only 24.9 FanDuel points per contest to the position (tied for sixth-fewest with the aformentioned Ravens), so even with a greater workload, this wouldn’t be an ideal spot for Moore. The former seventh-round pick has flashed enough ability to show the ‘Hawks what he’s capable of, but for now, he’s not a viable option on FanDuel.
Blake Jarwin (DAL): $5,800 vs. SEA (+$1,300)
That will do, Blake Jarwin. That will do. In the season finale against the New York Giants, the Cowboys’ tight end produced the best game of his career (by far), with seven catches for 119 receiving yards, and three touchdown receptions. It was the first time he’d ever exceeded four catches or 56 receiving yards, and the end zone trips were the very first of his career. Dallas has desperately needed production from the tight end position in the aftermath of Jason Witten’s retirement and after a year of waiting, they may have found a successor. As such, Jarwin has seen a hefty $1,300 value bump on FanDuel this week.
As exciting as his performance was, it may be time to pump the brakes ever so slightly on the enthusiasm. Ridiculous games like the one he just produced are outliers and while I expect Jarwin to receive every opportunity to be the Dallas’ TE1 going forward, a return to more realistic production is almost certainly in order. The Seahawks allow the tenth-fewest FanDuel points per contest (8.1) to opposing tight ends, and Jarwin isn’t going to sneak up on them after his performance last weekend. At his current value, you’re paying for his upside, but he’s still a solid play if you don’t want to shell out for someone like this man….
Zach Ertz (PHI): $7,600 @ CHI (-$200)
One of the NFL’s few truly elite tight ends, Ertz has endured the position’s only value decline of the week, which is somewhat surprising. It’s rather a moot point of course, as at $7,600, he’s far and away the most expensive player at the position on the slate, and his drop has much more to do with the Bears’ elite defense than the player himself. After all, we’re talking about one of the NFL’s elite stop units, and a squad that allowed the eighth-fewest (tied) FanDuel Points per game to opposing tight ends (7.9) in 2018.
Still, we’re talking about Zach Ertz here. This is a man whose 156 targets led the position, and whose 1,163 receiving yards ranked third. “Matchup-proof” is often a term that applies to players capable of his production, but a little skepticism is healthy here. Ertz has had underwhelming performances in three of his last four games, there are more affordable options on the slate (like Eric Ebron against the Texans), and your mileage may vary on how much you trust him against the Bears.