Continuing the same approach we took during the regular season; I am using this space to highlight my favorite discounted options in DFS.
We are throwing out the arbitrary pricing thresholds to diagnose our defined “value” since the slates are so short, but we still primarily focus on the options that are outside of the top tier plays. So you will not find Lamar Jackson, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, or A.J. Brown here.
There will also be some contrarian plays. Players that necessarily do not have a great objective matchup or layout since we will have to take some swings here.
I do not have enough space to talk about every player in my complete player pool this weekend, so make sure you check out the Wild Card Round Worksheet to see my full thoughts on every player this week. Also make sure to cross-reference those thoughts with weekly rankings in the Sharp Football rankings hub.
Ben Roethlisberger ($7,500/$6,100)
Which Big Ben will we get Sunday night?
The last time we saw Roethlisberger on the field in Week 16, he was continuing to struggle. To start the game, Roethlisberger was 11-of-20 for 98 yards (4.9 Y/A) in the first half, which was more of what we had seen over the previous month. Then Big Ben and the offense caught fire in the second half, with Roethlisberger completing 23-of-29 passes for 243 yards (8.4 Y/A) and three touchdowns.
While there is a question on which Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh offense shows up Sunday night, the matchup is favorable. The Browns are 24th in passing points allowed per game (16.7) and have allowed 17 or more fantasy points to five of the past six starters they have faced, which includes Mike Glennon and Sam Darnold. Tack on the losses of Olivier Vernon, Denzel Ward, and Kevin Johnson, and the Steelers signal-caller should have a runway to a strong performance.
Drew Brees ($5,700 DraftKings)
Brees did not have an amazing season by any stretch, but checking in as the QB4 in pricing on a six-team slate offers a good amount of potential.
Brees threw for just 245.2 yards per game this season, his fewest since 2005. Missing multiple games for the second straight season, Brees also averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt, matching 2014 as his lowest mark since 2010. On a positive end, Brees still posted a 6.2% touchdown rate, which was ninth among all quarterbacks.
Since returning from multiple rib injuries three weeks ago, Brees has thrown three touchdown passes in two of those three games while passing for 311 yards and 12.0 Y/A in the other.
When these teams played in Week 8, Brees threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns, notching 19.6 fantasy points without Michael Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders active.
The Chicago pass defense sagged as the season progressed. Through eight games, Chicago was allowing 6.6 Y/A and 12.4 passing points per game to opposing passers. Over their final eight games, those numbers spiked to 7.9 Y/A and 18.8 passing points per game.
J.K. Dobbins ($6,800/$6,600)
With Sunday having Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Nick Chubb, and the resurgent David Montgomery available, Dobbins could slip through the cracks a bit on Sunday.
Dobbins has led the Baltimore backfield in snaps played in each of his final nine games this season. Dobbins has scored a touchdown in six straight games, one short of the franchise record set by Willis McGahee in 2007.
Dobbins had fewer than 15 touches in every game but two this season and has rushed for more than 77 yards just twice. There is still some volatility with Dobbins still sharing work with Gus Edwards, who is averaging 10.8 touches per game over his past six, and Lamar Jackson’s added rushing component in the offense. Edwards himself (at $5,700/$4,400) is a deep play as well.
One of those games was in Week 11 when these teams met in Week 11, with Dobbins tallying a season-high 17 touches.
The other good news is the Titans enter the postseason 23rd in explosive rushing yardage allowed (57.6 per game), the lowest rate of any playoff team in the NFL. 54.9% of Dobbins’s yardage on the ground came via explosive gains, which trailed only Nick Chubb (60.9%) among running backs with over 100 carries on the season.
Marquise Brown ($6,300/$5,400)
Brown hits the postseason with six straight games reaching double-digit PPR points. He has seen 6.8 targets per game over that span (32.2% of the team share) while scoring a touchdown in five of those six games. Brown has been elevated through those scores, with 37.6% of his points scored over that stretch coming directly through touchdowns. For context, Adam Thielen led all top-50 scoring wideouts with 33.1% of his points scored coming via touchdowns.
Brown caught just 1-of-2 targets for a three-yard touchdown when these teams played in Week 11, but the Titans were 31st in points allowed per game to opposing lead wideouts (19.6).
Chase Claypool ($6,100/$5,200)
I believe all of the Steelers wideouts are good plays this weekend with Diontae Johnson as the safest option, but Claypool has the best combination of upside and pricing.
Claypool said his snaps were cut as the season wore on to prevent him from hitting the rookie wall, but then was not only active, but fed 11 targets in a Week 17 game. Those 11 targets were a game-high since Week 9 while he had his second 100-yard game of the season and scored his first touchdown since Week 11.
When it comes to big plays, Claypool is still that upside option in this passing game, averaging a team-high 13.8-yard depth of target and 14.1 yards per reception. The Browns are 30th in points allowed per target on throws over 15 yards downfield and allowed Pittsburgh passers to connect on 7-of-15 of those passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns in their two meetings this season.
Corey Davis ($6,800/$4,800)
Davis is a much better option on DraftKings at this cost, but he is not completely out of the picture for FanDuel because of the upside he has shown. Davis set career-highs this season per game with 4.6 receptions and 70.3 yards while also setting career marks in efficiency with a 70.7% catch rate and 15.1 yards per catch.
For fantasy, that came with some volatility playing in a low-volume passing game across from a true alpha wideout. Davis posted some strong weeks, with three games as a top-10 scorer this season. But he also had another five weeks outside of the top-40 at the position. Over his past five games, Davis has been all over the place, scoring 35.2, 4.4, 21.0, 0, and 8.9 PPR points.
Davis had some of his best moments against teams that limit opposing WR1 options. In five games played against teams in the top-10 versus WR1 options, Davis has three 100-yard games, including a 5-113-0 game on seven targets versus the Ravens. Of course, not fully escaping volatility, Davis also has two complete zeroes in those other two games against those defenses.
Anthony Miller ($3,300 DraftKings)
Darnell Mooney is also dealing with an ankle issue that has him out for Sunday. With that, Miller will need to have an extended role — one he could have anyways with game script projecting to work against Chicago.
Miller has seven catches for 52 yards over the past four weeks, but did see a season-high 11 targets when these teams met back in Week 8, catching 8-of-11 targets for 73 yards. As a near punt-option, Miller is a deep dart for salary relief if needed.
Jared Cook ($5,900/$4,600)
As usual with Cook, we know what we are getting. Cook is a low-volume asset, seeing 4.0 targets per game and having three or fewer receptions in 12 games, but he is a touchdown asset, leading the Saints with 10 end zone targets and seven touchdown receptions. Cook now has 16 touchdown catches in 30 games played with the Saints after 27 touchdowns in 152 games played to start his career.
In his lone game against the Bears with the Saints, Cook had a 5-51-1 line on seven targets with neither Thomas nor Sanders on the field. Opposing teams targeted their tight ends 25.1% of the time against the Bears, which was second in the league behind only the Saints.
Jonnu Smith ($3,200 DraftKings)
If going to the bottom of pricing at DraftKings and still getting some upside, Smith comes with a wide range of outcomes that has largely run cold the back half of the 2020 season.
Through four games this season, Smith looked like he was going to be the next major tight end breakout. Smith caught 18-of-27 targets for 221 yards and five touchdowns to kick off the start of the season and then caught 23-of-38 targets for 227 yards and three touchdowns over his final 11 games played. Smith has cleared 32 yards in just one of those games with two or fewer receptions in eight of those games, but did find the end zone against the Ravens in each of the past two games.