Wild Card Sunday Showdown DFS Primer (Steelers at Chiefs)
The weekend of Wild Card games is capped with the most lopsided game of the opening week of the playoffs. I won’t blow smoke up your butt. I will use precisely one Steeler on my single-game rosters, meeting the minimum requirement for roster guidelines. Thus, I’m hammering the heavily favored Chiefs in lineup construction.
Game: Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs
Spread: KC -12.5 Points
Over/Under: 46.0 Points
Steelers Analysis: As the table indicates, not only am I only using the minimum one player from the Steelers, I'm also fading their top-dollar players. Najee Harris is dealing with an elbow injury, providing pause for me using him even if he suits up. If the Steelers get boat raced, what's the incentive for them to subject Harris to additional wear and tear in an embarrassing loss in his rookie season?
But what about Diontae Johnson? In Pittsburgh's final four games of the regular season, he recorded 51 scrimmage yards or fewer in each. Thus, I'm unwilling to pay his sizable salary for a mediocre ceiling with washed-up Ben Roethlisberger.
Speaking of Big Ben, he passed for under 200 yards in three of his last four games, failing to clear 250 yards in each and falling short of 250 passing yards in five of his previous six games. So calling Big Ben washed-up is a gross understatement.
As a result, my favorite options from the Steelers are the cheap intermediate and shallow options, Pat Freiermuth and Ray-Ray McCloud III. According to Pro Football Focus, from Week 14 through Week 18, McCloud had an average depth of target (aDot) of 6.4 yards, and Freiermuth's 5.5 aDot was even shallower. Their modest depth of target meshes perfectly with Big Ben's entirely shot arm.
However, if he has a few more YOLO balls left in his arsenal, Chase Claypool is a decent bet to cash in on them. As a result, the big-bodied second-year receiver is an attractive bargain pick at DraftKings. However, the longshot nature of Roethlisberger having anything left in the tank makes him an unattractive option at his salary on FanDuel.
Chiefs Analysis: The Chiefs are the draw in this game, and it starts at the top with Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has set the bar high, making his 2021 disappointing. However, that's relatively speaking, as he ranked fifth in passing yards per game (284.6) and tied for fourth in passing touchdowns (37). Further, he cut threw the Steelers like a hot knife through butter in Week 16, passing for 258 yards and three touchdowns on only 30 pass attempts. Mahomes is a no-doubt selection on this single-game slate.
Thankfully, since I'm spending down and advocating saving on the player(s) you use from the Steelers, there is ample cap space to use his one-two punch of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Hill was limited last week with a heel injury but returned to a full practice on Wednesday. According to Sports Info Solutions, the speedy wideout was tied for seventh in target share (24.8%) and third in Intended Air Yards (1,749) this season. Additionally, he was 10th in receiving yards per game (72.9), tied for ninth in touchdown receptions (nine) and sixth in receptions per game (6.5). Meanwhile, Kelce was rock-solid, averaging 5.8 receptions per game, 70.3 receiving yards per game, and scoring 10 touchdowns.
Usually, I would love to use a running back against the Steelers. According to Football Outsiders, the Steelers are 27th in rush defense Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). Unfortunately, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams are nursing injuries.* However, both are practicing, creating a probable backfield committee if both are active. If either is out, I'll reconsider, likely mixing the active back into my lineups.
*Editor's Note: Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be inactive for Sunday night's game*
Moreover, with each back tending to injuries, the Chiefs might crank up their already pass-heavy tendencies. According to Sharp Football Stats, when the offensive scoring margin was between trailing by six points and leading by six points, the Chiefs passed at the sixth-highest rate (60%). In addition, they passed at a whopping 66% rate in neutral game scripts from Week 10 through the end of the regular season.
Handicapping the options behind Hil and Kelce, Byron Pringle is my favorite tertiary pick. According to Pro Football Focus, from Week 14 through Week 18, Pringle was first on the Chiefs in routes (146), parlaying the playing time into 24 targets, 18 receptions, 216 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Mecole Hardman ran only 103 routes. Yes, his 257 yards exceeded Pringle's output. However, Hardman's production largely came in Week 18, producing 103 receiving yards with Hill limited to only 11 routes by his heel issue. Therefore, I'm leery of Hardman capitalizing on his breakout performance, with Hill back in the fold this week. Regardless, the speedy young receiver has a home-run ability that makes him a defensible selection.
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