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NFL DFS: Best DraftKings and FanDuel Predictions and Picks for Week 18

Zack Moss may not be the first to come to mind when you think of a "safe" running backs for DFS, but this is Week 18 and he's got a fantastic matchup.

I got quite a few things I could share with you to start the NFL Week 18 best bets and daily fantasy (DFS) picks. Being the last week of the regular season alone I could mention quite a few things. Yet most of those are going to end up on the cutting room floor.

But let's start with something I just don't get. Why does FanDuel offer a 16-game slate this weekend and DraftKings does not?

It would make perhaps a little more sense if, for example, DraftKings' 15-game slate excluded the SNF game in order to give their algorithm's a little more time to figure out appropriate pricing for the latest game in the week. But that's not what they are doing. They are cutting out the early Saturday game!

Doesn't make sense to me. What is the thought process there? They already have pricing for the Saturday slate. Why not just include that early game? It's almost like they might be worried everyone is going to take Kansas City Chief players. But they get the same amount of rake whether everyone loads up Kansas City or not.

Week 18 Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

Speaking of Kansas City, that brings us to our best bet of the week, which honestly might not be the "best bet" of the week, but is simply a fun one to make. Patrick Mahomes and Justin Jefferson are closing in on records. And records were made to be broken.

So we'll start this final week of the regular season with a fun little round-robin parlay that I found earlier in the week on DraftKings.

Best Bet Week 18: (+650 each) Justin Jefferson 194+ Receiving Yards and Patrick Mahomes 430+ Passing Yards (+5525)

No need to go crazy with this bet. I didn't even bet a quarter unit on it. But it's a fun one to bet on and if it happens you'll have the stub (or screen print) to show you had it.

Let's start with Jefferson, who leads the league in receiving yards with 1,771 yards nearly 100 yards more than the next closest WR, Tyreek Hill. The good news for me at least is I feel very confident about Jefferson hitting the bet I made during the preseason for him to lead the league in receiving yards. He needs 194 yards, which is a lot, but Jefferson is one of the most talented WRs in the league and frankly put, that number is certainly within his grasp.

For one, Jefferson has exceeded that mark already this year when he put up 223 yards against Detroit earlier this season. But he also came very close with 193 and 184 against Buffalo and Green Bay, respectively. The latter is allowing more than 146 receiving yards to WRs per game, which is even less than the Bears, Jefferson's opponent on Sunday, is allowing. But here is where I will point out that Jefferson always destroys the Bears. Whether you look at it cumulatively or per game, Jefferson has had more success against the Bears than any other team. This could definitely happen.

That being said, it is definitely the harder of the two legs to hit and if there is any value in that leg, it's very minimal. However, the Mahomes piece actually has value. At +650, do I think this bet has even a 16 percent chance of hitting? I do, and I would actually put the odds at around 20 percent.

Like Chicago and Jefferson, Mahomes has had quite a few big games against the Raiders, having thrown for 2,838 yards against them over his career, the second-highest total vs. any team. Last season, when he went to Vegas he threw for 408, just as he did two years previously when he threw finished with 478. Does it take any stretch of the imagination to picture him tossing for 430 passing yards in a must-win game if KC wants a bye? Obviously not. Call it a gut feeling, but I think Andy Reid allows Mahomes to get there.

Onto the DFS picks, which I should mention are with the FanDuel 16-game slate in mind. I have included DraftKings pricing from alternate slates, but know that any Kansas City options below are not available on DK's main slate. 

Safe Quarterback Week 18 Pick

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders (Sat.) (DK $8400, FD $9500

So let's start with this. It might not matter if KC wins or not, but the Chiefs don't have that luxury of knowing and have to play this out as if they need to win in order to secure the top seed. Therefore, all KC studs will be all hands on deck, including captain Mahomes.

And given that the Raiders are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to QBs, expect Mahomes to keep his MVP campaign humming. He threw for four touchdowns (all to Travis Kelce) against them earlier this season at Arrowhead. Will he throw for 430-plus yards? Perhaps. But he doesn't have to break the single-season passing record to have a huge fantasy day and that's exactly what is coming.

High-Leverage Quarterback Week 18 Pick

Joe Flacco, New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (DK $4800, FD $6200)

I know, Joe Flacco is not elite. And yes, this might be the last time I can ever make this mild understatement again, as the odds of Flacco starting a game next year are next to nil.

But hear me out on this one.

For starters, Miami is allowing the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Also, if we look at Flacco's games earlier this season, they're surprisingly solid. He tossed five touchdowns in his three starts earlier way back in Weeks 1-3 to go along with at least 285 passing yards in each. If he can do that this weekend, at barely over $6K on FanDuel, that's an absolute bargain.

Safe Running Back Week 18 Pick

Zack Moss, Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans (DK $5200, FD $6800)

There is no question that if you are looking for a 20-point play, there are much better options out there. However, Moss unbelievably has one of the highest floors of any RB this week, especially underneath $7K on FanDuel this week.

For starters, Houston has been absolutely horrendous against RBs this season, allowing an average of more than 31 PPR points per game to the position. My guess is that Moss easily hits double figures this week.

High-Leverage Running Back Week 18 Pick

D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (SNF) (DK $5700, FD $7100)

Everyone is counting out the Lions. Not me. I think the Lions actually win this game and they use every weapon they have to do so.

And that includes Swift, who the Lions have been involving more and more each week. Swift has seen his snap share steadily rise over the course of the season. Swift could still see more carries go to teammate Jamaal Williams, but Green Bay is allowing more than 23 PPR fantasy points per game to RBs this season. That's a decent ceiling for Swift and I would not be surprised to see him hit that mark.

Safe Wide Receiver Week 18 Pick

Christian Kirk, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans (Sat.) (DK $6200, FD $7500)

I've been saying all year that the Titans' secondary is not that good. It took a while, but with the Titans now the league's most generous defense when it comes to WR fantasy points, I will bask in the sweet validation.

Kirk is 15th in the league with 78 receptions, 11th in the league with seven TDs, and has already eclipsed 1,000 yards on the season. Jacksonville also is in a must-win situation and is highly motivated. I know Kirk did not have a big game last week, but with most seasonal fantasy leagues now over, wanna bet Kirk comes through on Saturday night?

High-Leverage Wide Receiver Week 18 Pick

Zach Pascal, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants (DK $3000, FD $4700)

Follow along. I expect the Eagles to have this game firmly in hand by halftime. Therefore, my guess is that head coach Nick Siriani pulls most of his starters, including A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. That leaves us with Pascal seeing plenty of action in the second half, especially because I suspect the Eagles will want to see what they have in him.

This pick is admittedly a huge gamble. But the Giants' secondary is average and head coach Brain Daboll has already said that many of his starters will see very limited action, if any. I've got some expensive pieces I want to play this weekend, so I need a cheap option to stay under the salary constraints. At the minimum on DK, Pascal fits the bill.

Safe Tight End Week 18 Pick

Travis Kelce, Kansas City at Las Vegas Raiders (DK $7900, FD $8200)

I know, shocker. 

Moving on...

High-Leverage Tight End Week 18 Pick

Tyler Higbee, Los Angels Rams at Seattle Seahawks (DK $4400, FD $5600)

And sometimes you just play the matchup game. Seattle is DFL (dead forking last) when it comes to preventing TEs from scoring fantasy points this season, allowing an average of 17.46 PPR points a week. But they've been even worse lately, giving up 19.40, 19.10, and 29.10 points to the position in each of the last three games.

Higbee meanwhile has averaged more than 12 FDFPs over the last three weeks. With so many sexier options at the position this week, I'll gladly take this low-cost (13th-most expensive on FD), high-leverage play.

Safe Defense/Special Teams (DST) Week 18 Pick

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders (DK $3900, FD $4700)

The Cowboys are just one of two teams that are averaging double-digit FDFPs. Despite that, they are only the fourth-costliest option this week on FanDuel. Furthermore, they are playing the Commanders, who are expected to give rookie Sam Howell his first start at quarterback, not to mention will be without Brian Robinson Jr. or Antonio Gibson in the backfield.

Dallas has 15 interceptions; only five teams have more this season. The Cowboys have 51 sacks; just two more teams have more. Dallas has 22 forced fumbles and 17 fumble recoveries; no team has more this season. See where I'm going here? Dallas is the easy play.

High-Leverage Defense/Special Teams (DST) Week 18 Pick

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos (DK $3600, FD $4100)

I could have chosen at least half a dozen teams here, but I chose the Chargers because I want to talk about them. They are my "sleeper pick" to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. They have been playing really good ball lately and are peaking at the right time. Herbert not only has his top two options at WR healthy, but he also has tight end Donald Parham Jr., a threat in the red zone, back in the mix as well. Moreover, Joey Bosa will be back for the playoffs, making this a very dangerous defense.

And for all their defensive woes this season, the Chargers are still in the top 10 for the fewest points allowed per game and are allowing the second-fewest passing yards per game. And we know how bad Denver can be. Love this sneaky pick!

Other Cheap(er) Options I'm Considering In My GPP Entries:

QB: Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder, Davis Mills

RB: Khalil Herbert, Jaylen Warren, Eno Benjamin

WR: Tyquan Thornton, T.Y. Hilton, Jahan Dotson

TE: Cade Otton, Donald Parham Jr.

— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.