DraftKings NFL Lineup Advice: Wild Card Saturday Slate (1/9)
Wild Card weekend is upon us, and two games of the tripleheader are featured among my favorites stacks. The first is a stack of players with mid-tier salaries, and the second is my favorite stack with a couple of add-on options tossed in for good measure.
Favorite Mid-Tier Stack
Out of Saturday’s three games, the Buccaneers at Washington sits squarely in the middle of projected point totals, with one of 45. The game also features the largest spread, with the visiting Bucs favored by 8.5 points, according to the BettingPros consensus line. The large spread could serve to drive gamers away from Gibson and toward receiving back J.D. McKissic, adding to the former’s GPP appeal if the game is closer than the odds suggest. As Gibson’s inclusion in this space suggests, I think the game will be closer, which bodes well for Gibson’s involvement from start to finish.
To that point, in his return from injury in Week 16 in a seven-point loss to the Panthers, Gibson rushed 10 times for 61 yards and hauled in three of four targets for eight yards. Last week, in Washington’s six-point victory, Gibson rushed 19 times for 75 yards and added a six-yard reception. In his last five healthy games from start to finish, Gibson has reached at least 65 yards from scrimmage. His per-game averages in those five games (Week 10 through Week 12, Week 16, and Week 17): 15.6 carries, 78.0 rushing yards, 3.6 targets, 2.8 receptions, and 13.0 receiving yards. He also scored six touchdowns. Those averages are standout numbers on a slate where question marks abound at running back.
The opposing pass-catching duo of McLaurin and Brown are the featured players in this stack, though. Regardless of who the quarterback carousel has landed on for Washington this year — and last year, too — McLaurin has balled out. Returning from injury last week, he tallied a 7-40-1 line on eight targets. His per-game averages of 5.8 receptions and 74.5 receiving yards, per Pro-Football-Reference, are quite good. Additionally, moving beyond the box score, McLaurin has an unreal 100% route participation percentage this year, per PlayerProfiler.
As for Brown, he’s coming off of a blowup performance in which he turned 14 targets into an 11-138-2 line. This isn’t simply a product of point chasing, however. In theory, Brown could once again be extra busy when considering the matchup and his usage. Washington’s defense is tied for the fifth-highest pressure percentage, according to Pro-Football-Reference. Their ability to get after the passer could lead to Tom Brady utilizing the short passing attack more frequently, which plays into the hands — figuratively and literally — of Brown. According to Sports Info Solutions, Brown’s average depth of target of 8.3 yards downfield is shorter than the marks of Mike Evans (12.2 yards), Rob Gronkowski (10.6 yards), and Chris Godwin (9.6).
Josh Allen (QB – BUF): $7,500 vs. Colts
Stefon Diggs (WR – BUF): $7,700 vs. Colts
Dawson Knox (TE – BUF): $3,200 vs. Colts
Add-on: John Brown (WR – BUF): $4,700 vs. Colts
Add-on: Nyheim Hines (RB – IND): $4,700 at Bills
Buffalo’s offense was a juggernaut this year, and the Bills ranked second in offensive scoring with 31.3 points per game. Allen and the passing attack led their offense, but their 11th-most pass attempts (596) doesn’t tell the full story. Some of the teams that ranked ahead of them were often playing catch-up, so adding more context tells an even more interesting tale about Buffalo’s passing tendencies.
According to Sharp Football Stats, when the margin of score is between Buffalo trailing by seven and leading by seven, Buffalo’s 62% pass rate is the fourth-highest mark. Digging deeper, they’re not taking their foot off of the gas when leading, either. No team is passing at a higher percentage when leading by between seven and 14 points than Buffalo’s 61% pass rate.
Allen has posted huge numbers, and his rushing ability adds to his fantasy appeal. His top option, Diggs, led the NFL in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535). This stack speaks for itself, as they’re likely to be chalky used individually and used together. However, adding more pieces to the stack will result in a unique combination.
Brown is a field-stretching option who had an average depth of target of 12.6 yards downfield. He showed no rust in his return from a month-and-a-half long absence, as he reeled in all four of his targets for 72 yards and a touchdown last week. His ability to make big plays should play well against the Colts. Their 9% average explosive pass rate allowed this year is tied for the eighth-highest mark, according to Sharp Football Stats.
Slot wideout Cole Beasley was Allen’s favorite security blanket this year, and he had an average depth of target of 7.9 yards downfield. Beasley is nursing an injury and has been labeled week to week by head coach Sean McDermott, which puts his playing status in jeopardy this week. Opening the week with a non-participation label in practice likely doesn’t bode well for his availability. After Isaiah McKenzie’s huge game last week, during which he flashed the shifty qualities that make him a viable fill-in option in the slot, I suspect gamers will point chase a bit and over-roster him. Instead, I posit pivoting to Knox.
The second-year tight end has been targeted four or more times in five straight games and six of his last seven contests. He’s reeled in three touchdown receptions, too, and his modest average target depth of 7.5 yards downfield isn’t a far cry from Beasley’s. It’s possible the pass-catching tight end, and not McKenzie, ends up as Allen’s preferred intermediary target and security blanket.
Coming back the other way is pass-catching back Hines. Backfield mate Jonathan Taylor has put on a hell of a show to close out his rookie season, and he saved the best for the regular-season finale with 253 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. The Bills have given up some big rushing performances this year, and their full-season totals coupled with Taylor’s emergence down the stretch should serve to make him a popular option on the three-game slate. However, the full-season totals hide the fact that the Bills have been mostly stout since their Week 11 bye. They coughed up 140 rushing yards in a blowout win against the Broncos in Week 15 and 145 rushing yards in a blowout win against the Patriots in Week 16, but they’ve held their other four opponents since the bye under 90 rushing yards each.
If the Bills continue to play good run defense and their offense continues to hang points in bunches, the Colts could spend much of the day playing catch up. In that event, Hines will have a great opportunity to post big fantasy value at his modest salary. For the year, he has per-game averages of 3.9 receptions and 30.1 receiving yards. He’s also chipped in on the ground, with 23.8 rushing yards per game.
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