DraftKings Wild Card Cost Efficiency Breakdown

A look into the shrewd DraftKings Wild Card Weekend plays in terms of cost efficiency. Who provides the most bang for your buck?

The playoffs are upon us, and as you can expect, your strategy needs a shift from the norm. Just like last week, I recommend heavy GPP play and strong relaxation on cash games. Working with such a small slate really dilutes your chalky stud’s ability to push you up the cash game ladder, so take advantage of the inverse and throw several unique lineups into some high-stakes tournaments.

Still, on any week and in any format, value rules the roost. Here’s a rundown of my top cash and tournament options for Wild Card Weekend.

QUARTERBACK

The Cash Play

With QB prices depressed, much of your league will be tuned toward the top-end options, and Ben Roethlisberger stands atop the list. Helming the league’s most voluminous passing game – he’s thrown 36+ passes in eight of his last nine starts – Roethlisberger is the safest bet to throw 40 balls this weekend. And the absence of DeAngelo Williams, coupled with the team’s embarrassing RB depth chart, all but cements that.

The Tourney Play

Nobody wants the guy anymore, but this seems like Aaron Rodgers stage. His efficiency numbers have been down and his count numbers unacceptable, but he’s set up beautifully to rebound against a why-are-they-here Washington defense. That secondary has fluctuated from mediocre to dreadful all year, and one of these eight teams has allowed more TD passes over the last four weeks, so Rodgers has an attractive path to a multi-TD game. And his salary and ownership will be at all-time lows.

RUNNING BACK

The Cash Plays

By reports fully healthy and ready to roll, Marshawn Lynch is primed to return to his role as the league’s elite interior banger. No one on the depth chart stepped up in his absence to lay claim to a role going forward, and it’s hard to see Lynch on the field for less than 75% of Seattle’s snaps. The matchup is stout, but keep in mind you’re also buying the best ticket to one of the week’s strongest potential game flows. With Adrian Peterson on the other side of it and DeAngelo Williams out, Lynch is the strongest cash play by a mile.

If you suspect a strong Packers night, as I do, you’ll want to get in on their run game. It’s been a roller coaster all year, but Eddie Lacy is finally priced right where we want him. $4,500 is too cheap for a workhorse back facing Washington, and while Lacy isn’t quite that, he has posted four strong workhorse-type games over the last two months.

The Tourney Plays

Kansas City has all but sworn off throwing the ball in the red zone (just seven attempts over the past four weeks). That means their backs, specifically short-yardage option Spencer Ware, are always firmly in play for GPPs. Ware is a bit overpriced for his floor – he does split touches with a more talented Charcandrick West – but a game favoring Kansas City would suggest plenty of rushes and red zone trips to go around. If he can find the end zone twice against Houston, Ware would only need 25-35 scrimmage yards to reach GPP value. And he finished the season with a TD flourish, scoring six times over his final eight games.

It’s a toss-up between Pierre Thomas and Chris Thompson to serve as third-down caddy for passing-challenged starter Alfred Morris. But either would make for an intriguing GPP play. Matt Jones’ availability doesn’t look good, so one or both have a nice pathway to the field. And if Washington is as underequipped to handle the Packers as they seem, receiving backs will see tons of work.

WIDE RECEIVER

The Cash Plays

You want to roster Antonio Brown, and you don’t care about the matchup. In the midst of the most productive stretch we’ve ever seen from a receiver, Brown projects to high target counts in any type of game – positive or negative script, with or without Ben Roethlisberger, you name it. If the Steelers are to post their customary offensive numbers without an NFL-caliber RB on the field, they’ll need to smother Brown with targets. And for the ultra-efficient Brown, high targets are a lock to translate into production.

He’s made you cry all season, but Randall Cobb is finally certified as “cheap.” And he couldn’t ask for a better matchup. The Washington secondary has vacillated all year between mediocre and atrocious, and the slot has been their most troublesome aspect of late. Full-time slot man Will Blackmon has been roasted for three TDs on a 77.8% catch rate and a sky-high 10.6 yards per target. Cobb doesn’t have a playable floor this week, but no one in his price range has quite the ceiling.

And since I so want in on this matchup – one in which a fast-paced Steelers script should nudge the Bengals upward as well – I’m buying in very cheaply on Marvin Jones. One of the league’s top under-the-radar playmakers, Jones produced four catches of 40+ yards among his 65 catches. And he topped this week’s cash game marker (11.1 points) twice during A.J. McCarron’s late-season run.

The Tourney Plays

I also want all of the Martavis Bryant, and not just in tournament play. There’s really no ceiling to the Steelers’ volume potential this week, and Bryant has worked his way into their snap-to-snap plans, drawing 9+ targets in four of the last eight games. And maybe I’m stuck chasing a narrative, but I do expect an improved effort following Ben Roethlisberger’s public challenge. Great playmakers have a way of maximizing their impact at the end of Roethlisberger’s throws, after all.

If I’m digging deeper, I’m looking at Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse. Doug Baldwin figures to spend a good chunk of time against Xavier Rhodes, who spent most of 2015 successfully shadowing top wideouts. Lockett and Kearse would benefit mightily if Baldwin, a solid target but no real mismatch, struggles to find openings. And the Seahawks passing game doesn’t hinge entirely on game flow – they’ve thrown the ball a solid amount while protecting leads lately.

TIGHT END

The Cash Plays

Jordan Reed ate your and the NFL’s collective lunches this year, and there’s no better combination of floor and ceiling in Round One. It’s encouraging that Reed has been able to score from right on the goal line or from downfield; he’s not a specialty receiver by any means. He costs this week, but he’s worth it – he’s topped this 18.9-point marker five times this year, including averaging 31.4 from Weeks 14-16.

Heath Miller is typically a low-floor option, and he’s rarely good for much beyond certain matchups. This is one of them. The Steelers have used Miller to mercilessly target the Bengals LB corps; he drew 23 targets (catching 20) in their two 2015 meetings. Antonio Brown won’t be silenced or brushed aside, but there seems to be plenty of volume on the docket for the one-dimensional Steelers. Miller is as great a value play at $3,300 than anyone.

The Tourney Play

If I’m digging deep, I’m looking at Seattle’s Cooper Helfet. Already comfortably ahead of Luke Willson in the team’s passing game, Helfet now absorbs the entire TE position with Willson ruled out. He produced several big plays in 2014 and has caught four balls in each of the last two games. He’s the best-looking guy I see at the minimum, where just 3-4 catches would land tourney value.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

The Cash Play

This Kansas City defense is an absolute force, racking up 12+ points in eight of its last 10, and it’s hard not to salivate over a matchup with Brian Hoyer. I can’t get a great feel for the flow of this game, but I also can’t imagine Hoyer escaping this unit unscathed. The return of Justin Houston cements

The Tourney Play

DraftKings may have priced the Packers into a higher ownership tier than any bottom-salaried unit in history, but I’m on board. This is an underrated defense that’s notched 20 sacks and nine takeaways over its last seven and draws Kirk Cousins. Shaky QBs naturally point toward successful opposing defenses, so if Cousins fails to open up the deep ball game, he’s got tough sledding in a likely pass-happy game.