DFS: FanDuel Wild Card Weekend, Dare to Fade Hopkins and Elliott

The Wild Card weekend offers plenty of marquee players to build a lineup with. To build a competitive tournament DFS lineup, it may require fading some of the highest priced options. Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins and Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott are both likely to have good days, but are the most expensive at $8,800 each and have projected ownership of 80 to over 90 percent of the field. We look to build a solid lineup by fading both. This should provide an edge if either fails to have a truly exceptional day.

QB

Andrew Luck (IND, $8,000 on FanDuel) is facing the Texans for the third time this season. In his first two games, Luck combined for 863 yards and six passing TDs, with an average FanDuel score of 30.11. The Texans defense has struggled a bit as of late. This includes Week 16 when they allowed Eagles QB Nick Foles pass for 471 yards and four TDs for a 31.94 FanDuel performance.

RBs/Flex

RB Chris Carson (SEA, $7,500) vs. the league-leading rusher in RB Ezekiel Elliott (DAL, $,8,800) will be fun to watch. There is a strong argument to made that Carson is the better value of the two and may outperform Elliott. Carson (9) has more rushing TDs than Elliott (6), and the Cowboys defense has given up more rushing TDs (12) than the Seahawks (9). Carson’s longest run of the season was 61 yards, while Elliott’s was 41. In their week 3 matchup, Carson outscores Elliott 19,4 FanDuel points to 13.3.

Mike Tagliere addressed Carson’s potential in this game in his weekly column The Primer for FantasyPros. “The Seahawks averaged a ridiculous 33.4 rushing attempts per game, with 28.2 of them coming from their running backs, which is a league-high. Carson has tallied at least 16 touches in each of the last seven games, including 20 or more touches in each of the last four games. The important note here is that the Seahawks running backs have totaled at least 24 carries in each of their last 14 games. There were five teams who totaled more than 20 carries against the Cowboys this year.”

Here’s a chart of how those teams did on the ground courtesy of FantasyPros:

RB Melvin Gordon (LAC, $8.400) has averaged more FanDuel points a game this season (20.9) than any other Flex eligible player on the slate. He does come with considerable risk. The Ravens have the fourth-best run defense with only 82.9 yards allowed per game. When Gordon faced Baltimore in Week 16, he had just 12 carries for 41 yards and a TD, plus three receptions for 13 yards. The Chargers, however, appeared to be easing Gordon back after he missed a few games with a tight hamstring. Gordon limped off the field with a sore ankle late in the game last week against the Broncos but has practiced in full this week. Despite this risks, Gordon will likely see a very significant workload to slow the Ravens pass rush down and will see carries at the goal line.

RB Lamar Miller (HOU, $6,400) is not likely the player who will win a tournament, but as a starter who will probably touch the ball 15-20 times, he provides a solid floor at a low price to build around. The Colts have the seventh-best run defense, but still, have allowed an average of 101.6 yards a game. There is a good chance Miller will get close to a 100 yards on the ground, and he has a reasonable opportunity to score a TD for a high return on value.

WR T.Y. Hilton (IND, $7,000) is the natural stack with Luck, and he has killed the Texans. Despite missing half a game in one of the two matchups the teams have had this season, Hilton has 13 catches for 314 yards.

Hilton has a great matchup against CB Shareece Wright. Mike Woellert wrote about the matchup in his weekly WR vs. CB Matchup Analysis column at 4 for 4.

“It’s a glorious Wild Card weekend where we can take advantage of Shareece Wright. Hilton has been placing opposing corners in body bags over the last few weeks, and I don’t expect Wright to survive. In two games against the Texans, Hilton has gone for 13/314 and should be lining up against Wright for most of his routes. Wright has been responsible for five scores and is yielding 12.8 yards per reception, resulting in 1.98 fantasy points per target.”

WR Amari Cooper (DAL, $6,700) is $2,200 cheaper than WR DeAndre Hopkins (HOU, $8,800), but will still have a healthy amount of targets and has a good matchup against Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin.

“(Griffin) has allowed four touchdowns and over 600 yards in coverage, resulting in 13.9 yards per reception and 1.84 fantasy points per target,” wrote Woellert.”

If pricing were not an option, we would undoubtedly choose Hopkins over Cooper. However, with the savings, we can play three starting RBs. Cooper has had the propensity to shine in nationally televised games which include a 34 point FanDuel performance on Thanksgiving against the Redskins. We hope Cooper puts on a show in the playoffs.

WR Taylor Gabriel (CHI, $5,000) may be one of the sneaker plays of the weekend. Gabriel has a solid matchup against CB Rasoul Douglas.
“The Eagles have leaks in their secondary and Gabriel will use his speed to exploit that weakness, especially on Douglas,” wrote Woellert. “Douglas is giving up a near 63 percent catch rate and 13.8 yards per reception. He’s also been a frequent target for opposing QBs, as they are throwing in his direction on 18 percent of their throws. On 64 targets, Douglas is yielding 1.77 fantasy points per target.”

Tagliere also weighed in on the matchup.

“Douglas has been picked on quite a bit since Week 10 where he’s allowed 47-of-66 passing for 590 yards and three touchdowns. His 4.59-second 40-yard-dash is the biggest concern for the Eagles, as Gabriel has the burners to sneak past him and Trubisky has been the second-most aggressive quarterback in the NFL this year, throwing 16.8 percent of his passes over 20 yards down the field. Gabriel has seen just 10 targets over the last three games, so he’s not someone you want to attack in cash games, but he’s a perfect target for tournaments.”

TE

TE Eric Ebron (IND, $6,600) is a $1,000 cheaper than TE Zach Ertz (PHI, $7,600). Ebron and Ertz will likely both see plenty of targets, but Ebron is in a better matchup. The Texans have allowed a fifth-worst average of 12.00 FanDuel points a game, according to Pro Football Reference. The Cowboys are ranked 12th against TEs with 10.9 FanDuel average. Ertz had his best performance of the year against the Cowboys in Week 10 when he scored 33 FanDuel points. The Cowboys, however, adjusted in Week 14 and Ertz only scored 6.9 FanDuel points. Ebron has been 18 targeted 18 times in his two matchups against the Texans and has gone 9/105/2 on Houston.

Defense

The Colts ($3,700) are the cheapest defense on the slate. Indianapolis is unlikely to post a shutout, but there should be plenty of opportunities to score points. The Texans have allowed 29 sacks in the last five games, and the Colts had five sacks the last time these two teams played. With sacks comes the opportunity for turnovers and defensive scores. The Indianapolis defense has scored 10 or more FanDuel points in four of the last seven games, and never posted a negative this season.

Dan McLellan’s SAT-SUN Wild Card Lineup:

Listen In: Every Saturday at 1:00 eastern, I join an experienced group of NFL DFS players at wblzmedia.com. Together we build our own lineup. It’s a great example of hearing how the thought process that went into this article plays out in real-time. You can listen by loading this article at the time of the show.

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Dan McLellan’s Rankings:

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