It’s playoff time and these are my DraftKings NFL Sleeper Picks for the Wild Card Weekend slate. As always, be sure to be watching all the news outlets up until kickoff and if you need any advice, feel free to ask me on Twitter. @Hunta512.
RB: Jordan Howard: (4,600)
I think pivoting from Tarik Cohen (26-30% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs) to Howard (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs) is one of the better strategies for this Wild Card slate. In their last four games, Howard has garnered 19.25 touches per contest, over Cohen’s 9.25, and the main factor for this? The Bears have won each of these games on the defensive end, leading to Howard draining the clock. Ever since their embarrassing loss to The Giants (27-30), this Bears’ defense has lived up to its #1 overall DVOA ranking, only allowing 10.5 PPG. They have simply been a dominant unit and even though the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles and their hero QB, Nick Foles, are on the other side, I think Kahill Mack, and this defense, do their job and lead The Bears to their first playoff win since 2010. Vegas certainly agrees, listing The Bears as the largest favorite of this Wild Card Weekend (-6.5) and giving The Eagles the lowest implied team total of the slate. (17.5 points)
Howard has gained 4.5 YPA in his last four games and has scored four rushing TDs in his last three. He also has seen a team high 16 red zone touches since Week 13. This is a huge 33.3% of The Bears red zone opportunities and eight more chances than Cohen. Prior to this, in the first 12 games of the season, these numbers were much closer, with Howard seeing 27, and Cohen 21. Clearly, HC Matt Nagy and this Bears’ coaching staff want Howard to lead this backfield right now, and as a home favorite, behind this elite defense, Howard should see right around 20 carries again. I am expecting at least 50 yards rushing and a TD from him, even if The Eagles have been a tough run defense. (9th in rush DVOA) Take advantage of Howard in this nice spot and pair him with The Chicago DST this weekend.
TE: Blake Jarwin: (3,300)
I hate writing about Jarwin, coming off an absurd Week 17 performance (39.9 DK points vs The Giants), but the truth is, I was following his upswing before this explosion. Yes, I was a week late, mentioning him in my Week 16 Sleeper Picks, but Jarwin’s role has been growing, ever since Geoff Swaim went to IR. They have slowly eased him into a bigger role, after Swaim got hurt in Week 11, but in three of these last four games, Jarwin has seen at least seven targets. That is a decent 15.7% target share and he has ran 29.5 routes per game during this time. This past Sunday wasn’t a product of him playing garbage time in a meaningless game (51% of the snaps) and he should continue to see targets this Saturday night vs The Seahawks.
This Seattle defense ranks well vs TEs (10th this season), but they have allowed 195 yards and 16.25 YPC to the position in their past three games. Obviously, we can’t expect anything even close to his slate breaking score vs The Giants, but I think Jarwin could go over double digit DK points in this playoff game. Eric Ebron and Zach Ertz are the obvious top plays, but if you want to go cheap at TE, which should be naturally contrarian, I think Jarwin is the best option. (13-16% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
RB: Nyheim Hines: (3,500)
To play two of Ezekiel Elliot, Deandre Hopkins, and T.Y. Hilton in the same lineup, you are going to need some punt plays to make it work. In The Colts’ last five games, Hines has still played 38.8% of the snaps with a healthy Marlon Mack around, and is seeing a decent 6.0 targets per game. He has topped 10 DK points in three of these last five and should do so, with this Colts being a slight underdog (HOU -1), in this Wild Card matchup vs The Texans, that has the highest O/U game total of this weekend’s four. (48 points)
By default, as The Colts’ primary passing back, Hines has been much better when Indy is an underdog this season. (11.9 DK PPG, which is a 3.75 +/-) Also, Houston is the top ranked rush defense in The NFL, but is 18th against the pass. The Colts should be throwing it at a higher rate and Vegas has Hines at an O/U of 3.4 receptions in this game, which is a rather solid prop, for a player of his price. He should have a decent PPR day and if Hines somehow finds the end zone, he could be the key to winning a GPP. (9-12% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
QB: Russell Wilson (Wilson is scoring 19.4 DK PPG in his L6 and Dallas ranks in the middle of the pack against the pass, at 16th in pass DVOA. He is one of the best players in The NFL when it comes to clutch situations and I could easily see Wilson having a big day, and ending The Cowboys’ season in front of their home crowd) and Dak Prescott. (on the other side, Prescott has three games over 25 DK points since Amari Cooper came to town. Seattle ranks 25th in DVOA vs WR #1s, making Prescott to Cooper an intriguing GPP stack)
RB: Melvin Gordon (been beat up and The Ravens are 4th in DVOA, but this is the playoffs, and Gordon was having a stellar season before getting hurt in Week 12. If he ends up being used more, with Austin Ekeler dealing with a groin injury, Gordon could salvage 20+ DK points), Chris Carson (three 100+ yard games in a row and has scored a TD in each of his last four. He has gone over 13 DK points in each of his past seven and has exceeded 20 DK points in his last three. Outside of Howard, Carson is my favorite GPP play at RB), Gus Edwards, and Daren Sproles. (similar to with Hines, The Eagles should struggle on the ground vs The Bears, forcing them to become a very pass heavy offense, which should lead to higher volume for Sproles. He is scoring 11.4 DK PPG in his first four games of the season)
WR: Amari Cooper, Doug Baldwin (they didn’t need much from him in Week 17, but in the two prior, Baldwin scored 26.2 DK PPG. He is my preferred option to stack with Wilson), Mike Williams, Dontrelle Inman (has nine catches, 123 yards, and two TDs over the last two weeks, and Houston is the best pass defense to attack this weekend, with them allowing the 6th most FPPG to WRs since Week 12), Keke Coutee (Indy is 20th in pass DVOA and if Coutee is active, he could instantly jump into a big role. In the four games Koutee has played over 50% of the snaps, he is averaging 15.25 DK PPG), and Nelson Agholor. (playing 90% of the snaps and scoring a whopping 23.3 DK PPG these last two weeks, which were also must wins. Foles clearly has a connection with Agholor, and at a cheap price, he seems like the most logical play in this passing game)
TE: Hunter Henry. (if Henry is active for the first time this year, he is expected to be on a pitch count, but the details of those limitations have not yet been revealed. Henry is a great talent and if he could play somewhere from 30-50% of the snaps, he would be a great value, vs this Ravens’ defense, that has one soft spot, and that’s against TEs, where they rank 22nd vs the position)
D: Seahawks, Colts, and Chargers.