The NFL regular season is over but DraftKings is still running huge GPP contests on Wild-Card weekend, including the $2.25M Fantasy Football Millionaire with a $1,000,000 prize for first place. If you are a regular reader of this article, you should already understand the importance of entering unique lineups in top-heavy, large-field tournaments such as this week’s Milly Maker. On a four-game slate, where competing rosters will overlap much more than usual, the urgency to separate your lineups from those of your opponents becomes amplified.
The most important thing you can do before building lineups this week is to tighten up your player pool by scripting each game. As an example, let’s say you feel strongly about Buffalo pulling an upset in Houston. What would that look like in a box score? Carlos Hyde’s baseline projection and affordable salary make him an OK point-per-dollar value on the surface. But if you don’t think the Texans will be playing with a lead, Hyde is unlikely to see enough touches, or carry enough touchdown equity, to reach his ceiling. If the game goes according to your script, avoiding Hyde completely will help your lineups jump in front of the ~20% that include him.
With this concept in mind, our format will change for the playoff slates. The focus will be on predicting the outcome of each game and building a player pool that is fully in sync with those predictions.
Soft blue highlighting indicates a recommened core player to take a strong overweight stance on.
Bills @ Texans
Deshaun Watson is an average quarterback when forced to operate under pressure and the Bills pass rush, which ranks top-12 in adjusted sack rate, represents a mismatch for Houston’s 22nd-ranked offensive line. On the other side of the ball, J.J. Watt’s return from a two-month layoff won’t be enough to fluster Josh Allen, who should have enough time for downfield plays to develop against a Texans defense that has struggled at every level since beating New England in Week 13.
Josh Allen ($6,500) - At just $100 less than mega-chalky Drew Brees, Allen should go lightly owned relative to the field at quarterback. He faces a defense with a struggling pass rush and awful secondary. Houston has allowed 25% more fantasy points to enemy quarterbacks than league average over the past five weeks.
Devin Singletary ($6,000) - If we’re working under the assumption Buffalo’s defense will dictate the flow of the game, Singletary has the upside for 25 total touches. His lack of red-zone involvement is troubling but at a fair salary, Singletary can deliver 20+ DraftKings points on yardage and receptions alone. Keep an eye on his ownership projection, however. Steve Buzzard currently has him at the second-highest-owned running back, which is suspect for a player who only exceeded a 3x multiple of his current salary twice all season.
Duke Johnson Jr ($4,400) - The Bills rush defense stiffened up during the second half of the season, which spells trouble for the plodding Carlos Hyde. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien is stubborn enough to try Hyde at least 15 times regardless, but if the plan fails and Buffalo is ahead on the scoreboard, he’ll have no choice but to turn to the more versatile Johnson.
John Brown ($6,000) - Brown offers a rare blend of dependability and high upside at the wide receiver position. His speed should be too much in coverage for cornerback Jonathan Joseph. Joseph is 35 years old and coming off a hamstring injury in Week 17. Expect Brown to slip behind him for at least one long gain to go along with his typical 7-10 targets.
Cole Beasley ($5,600) - Beasley has quietly posted at least 15 DraftKings points (and as many as 26) in four of his previous five games. As overmatched as Joseph might be defending Brown, Beasley has the best one-on-one matchup of any Buffalo receiver in the slot against Tampa Bay cast-off Vernon Hargreaves III. How bad do you have to be at playing cornerback to be cut by the Buccaneers mid-season? Beasley is a mid-priced, high-floor glue guy fo tournament lineups.
DeAndre Hopkins ($7,700) - Hopkins can’t be ignored despite the projected negative game script. He’s simply too good. But especially if the Bills pass rush is getting to Deshaun Watson, it’s difficult to envision Hopkins reaching the high-end of his range of outcomes while shadowed by stud cornerback Tre’Davious White. Hopkins caught five passes for 63 yards and a touchdown against the Bills last season -- although only two catches for 27 yards and the score came against White, who hasn’t allowed a touchdown in coverage all season.
Will Fuller V ($4,900) - If Fuller is on the field (which doesn’t seem likely as of this writing), he is a requirement in your multi-entry tournament plans. Regardless of the game script, Fuller can 3x his current salary on a single play and has plenty of upside for more.
Kenny Stills ($4,600) - Assuming Fuller sits, Stills makes sense as a run-back option in Buffalo stacks, but he’s also dealing with an injury and has yet to flash much of a ceiling as a member of the Texans. Increase your exposure if Bills cornerback Levi Wallace is declared out.
Isaiah McKenzie ($3,500) - McKenzie is a thin play but seeing enough snaps to use as a low-exposure lineup differentiator. He has enough speed and agility to break a long touchdown.
Dawson Knox ($2,900) - The athletic Knox is an excellent leverage play on the Bills wide receivers. Houston has allowed 56% more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than league average over the last five weeks.
Buffalo Bills ($3,100) - Houston allows over three sacks per game, giving the Bills a solid floor in this matchup. Watson completes only 46% of his passes when pressured, which raises the potential for turnovers.