FanDuel Wild Card Slate Breakdown
FanDuel has broken up Wild Card weekend into two main slates, Saturday Main and Sunday Main, with smaller prize pools for the Saturday-Sunday slate. The following will focus on the main slates and there are some slight salary differences between the main slate and the two-day slate. For those used to playing full slates there are some adjustments to consider:
- Short slates are not all about value - With so few players in the pool, there will inevitably be a ton of overlap in lineups which naturally leads to a high variance slate. For this reason, it makes sense to focus on GPPs. (Putting your tournament lineups in small 50/50s, however, can be a nice way to hedge if you are not playing any cash games.) Rather than building a lineup with the best point-per-dollar plays, owners should consider game flow scenarios and build lineups that follow a logical narrative relative to those scripts.
- Consider non-traditional lineup builds - On short slates, there are some lineup construction strategies to consider that would never make sense on a full slate. Some examples are playing more than one running back from the same team in a lineup, rostering one or two players against your defense, and leaving salary on the table. It’s going to be tough to find contrarian stand-alone players—look for other ways to be unique.
- There is leverage to be had at the “onesies” - Full slates will rarely have any quarterback, tight end, or defense in more than 15%–20% of lineups in large-field GPPs. On slates such as this one, players at those positions could exceed 50% ownership in even the largest fields. This presents a rare opportunity to be contrarian at positions where ownership is usually quite flat.
- Stick to a (relatively) small player pool - It’s tempting to try to cover all of your bases when the player pool is so small but that will only dilute your good reads. Narrow in on a small core with your favorite off-the-board plays and be way overweight on those players. Coupled with strong correlation plays, this is how to build a profitable portfolio on a short slate.
- Don’t forget about late swaps - If your lineups are slanted towards game stacks, especially for the earlier games, it’s imperative to see where you stand when the final game starts. If you only have one player left and someone ahead of you has the same player, the only way to win is to swap, even if it’s to a player with a lower projection.
- Being underweight on a player does not mean having zero exposure, especially on slates this small.
Here are some general notes to consider for this slate:
- The Patriots and Saints are the only teams projected for more than 24 points and New Orleans is the only team favored by more than a touchdown.
- The Texans are the only defense on the slate ranked outside the top 20 in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to quarterbacks. Houston and Tennesse are the only defenses ranked in the bottom two in schedule-adjusted points allowed to running backs.
This game has the lowest over-under of the weekend but these two passing games figure to be the most popular of the four options on the Saturday slate. Josh Allen ($8,200) will get the benefit of facing Houston’s porous secondary while Deshaun Watson’s ($8,500) ability to succeed against the Bills' top-five quarterback defense could come down to the health of Will Fuller ($5,500). Even if Fuller does play, DeAndre Hopkins ($8,700) will be the highest-owned receiver on Saturday, if not the highest-owned player of the weekend. Hopkins will likely be shadowed by Tre’Davious White, who has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per target among starting cornerbacks in action this week. The Bills could be without Levi Wallace which could make Kenny Stills ($5,800) a top contrarian target if Fuller is out or limited.
After Hopkins, the other top-three wide receiver values on this slate are John Brown ($6,800) and Cole Beasley ($6,400). Houston doesn’t have a cornerback who finished in the top half of the league in fantasy points per target allowed and Brown and Beasly combined for over half of the Bills' targets from Weeks 12–16 (Buffalo rested starters in Week 17)—in that span, only three players saw a higher target share than Beasley. On a slate with no reliable tight ends, it’s touchdown or bust but Dawson Knox ($5,500) gets the benefit of facing a Houston defense ranked 29th in aFPA to tight ends.
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