FanDuel Wild Card Slate Breakdown with Cash and GPP Picks
On a short slate, owners should strongly consider cutting back heavily on their overall money in play compared to the regular season and allocate a larger portion of their games to large-field tournaments. With so few options in the player pool, there will be massive overlap in lineups, leading to much more variance in short-term results.
The key to this slate is going to be where owners decide to pay up. The most expensive player on the slate happens to be the top overall value and there are two elite pass-catchers with the top matchup at their position. Rostering the top player from each skill position is possible but it will require at least a couple of true punt plays.
Cam Newton ($8,300) projects as the top value at his position even though the Panthers are 7.5-point road underdogs facing a tough New Orleans secondary. In order for Cam to hit value, he’ll need a huge day on the ground—Newton exceeded 200 passing yards just once over the final six games of the season and ended the year with his worst passing performance of the season.
Alex Smith ($7,800) offers the same cash odds and comparable GPP odds for $500 less with 5% projected lower ownership in a more favorable situation. Kansas City is favored by 9 points at home and projected to score over 26 points. With Matt Nagy calling plays over the final month of the season, Smith ranked third among all passers in adjusted yards per pass attempt. Teams have opted to throw 56.8% of the time in the red zone against the Titans this year, the sixth-highest rate that any defense has faced.
On the other side of the ball, Marcus Mariota ($7,200) projects as a top-three value with the best on-paper play against a Chiefs defense ranked 23rd in quarterback aFPA. The concern with Mariota is the Titans' unwillingness to pass—Tennessee had the 10th-highest rush rate in neutral game script this season and the sixth-highest over the final six weeks of the season. While the intuitive narrative is that Mariota will have to throw more in a negative game script, the more likely scenario is that Tennessee runs to slow the game down and try to keep it close between two teams that rank in the bottom seven in the league in offensive pace.
Drew Brees ($8,100) rounds out the top-four value plays at his position against one of the worst secondaries down the stretch. Over the final six weeks of the season, only two defenses allowed more fantasy points per pass attempt than the Panthers and just two defenses faced a higher passing rate in the red zone over the course of the season. Brees is especially intriguing as a stack with either of his running backs since the Saints have the highest projected point total of the week (27.75).
Because of Jared Goff’s ($8,500) efficiency to close the season—he led all passers in fantasy points per pass attempt over the final six weeks—he should be considered in a large player portfolio as the Rams are just one of two teams projected to score over 27 points. As the most expensive player at his position, he registers as the worst value since his price tag likely hinders the overall floor of a lineup.
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