We are splitting the daily fantasy football (DFS) articles up a little this week, so we start with a special Week 18 Saturday DFS picks.
The first thing I like to do before figuring out my lineups is what teams are playing for. We'll get into the individuals in a moment, but here's what you need to know:
- Denver as a team will not benefit from winning
- Kansas City can improve its seed with a win. A loss also could impact their seeding, but either way, they will have home-field advantage in the first round
- Dallas is in the same situation as Kansas City
- Philadelphia is pretty much locked into the No. 7 seed. The Eagles can move up if the 49ers lose and the Saints win on Sunday, but they have zero control over that.
With that in mind, I will be leaning more towards Chiefs and Cowboys. However, there are certain individual situations in which we should pay close attention. For example, Drew Lock still has one year left on his contract with Denver (and Teddy Bridgewater is set to become a free agent), but he could be auditioning for his next potential team. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia backfield is probably going to belong to Miles Sanders next year, but the battle for whom will be behind him will be fierce.
We are doing things a little different for this special Week 18 DFS Saturday slate, but here are my picks at each position.
Quarterback Week 18 Saturday Pick
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (DK $7500, FD $8500)
Even in my GPPs, I'm probably going to play it safe here and take the guy at the top. The former MVP has eight touchdown passes over the last three weeks. And yeah, he's pretty good.
The arguments to fade Mahomes start with the fact that he had one of his lowest outputs earlier in the season against Denver. Poppycock I say. That is one of the reasons I think Mahomes will actually have a huge day — he'll be motivated to show he can beat Denver. Don't overthink this.
Other QB Options/Thoughts: I'd stay away from Drew Lock, but he does make for an interesting pivot in GPPs as Kansas City has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to QBs this season. But I'd still go with Dak Prescott first after Mahomes as he completes his Comeback Player of the Year campaign. Hurts is an interesting pivot, but m guess is that Philadelphia limits his play so he's ready to go in next week's wild-card game.
Running Back Week 18 Saturday Pick
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (DK $6700, FD $7600)
To be honest, Elliott is a somewhat weak cash play. He hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game since Week 5. However, Tony Pollard is currently questionable and therefore Elliott should see more carries than any other RB playing Saturday. And it's not like Zeke has been horrible. He has three touchdowns in his last three games. Furthermore, Philadelphia has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to RBs this season.
Other RB Options/Thoughts: Boston Scott, Miles Sanders, and Jordan Howard are either out or are currently in COVID-19 protocols. I don't foresee any of them playing Saturday, so I really like Kenneth Gainwell. Despite just 56 carries, he has five TDs this season. And I love the way he moves through the holes the Eagles OL makes:
But Gainwell might be heavily owned. Same for Javonte Williams. Melvin Gordon meanwhile should see lower ownership rates than any of the three previously mentioned. However, this is the last game of his current contract. Whether it is with Denver or someone else, the more ammunition he can give his agent, the better. Don't be surprised to see Gordon go off.
Wide Receiver Week 18 Saturday Pick
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (DK $8000, FD $8200)
Hill is the most expensive WR option on the Saturday slate, but I'll take the salary hit. For one, if I'm going with Patrick Mahomes, I'm happy to complete the stack with Hill. Unlike some of the other options on Saturday, he is the clear No. 1 option in the passing game. He has 156 targets so far this season. Travis Kelce (who has played on one less game than Hill) is second on the team, but 27 targets behind. And if we confine it to the Kansas City WRs, Hill has more than doubled up any of his position mates (Mecole Hardman has 72 targets). I touched on Hardman earlier this season, but I have to agree with this tweet:
Hill is definitely a set-it-and-forget-it option for the Saturday slate.
Other WR Options/Thoughts: Not a lot of statistical support for this, but I like DeVonta Smith as a GPP pivot. He is averaging half a dozen targets over the last three weeks and should see similar numbers this week. Purely a gut call, but I think he also gets to half a dozen TDs on the season with one on Saturday.
Byron Pringle has out-targeted the aforementioned Hardman in the second half of the season and it might explain why he has five touchdowns to Hardman's two. Pringle, who has seen 15 targets the last three weeks, makes for a sneaky play on Saturday.
Tight End Week 18 Saturday Pick
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (DK $7000, FD $800)
Kelce is the obvious cash play if you have the salary for it. After a five-week TD drought from Weeks 10 to 14, Kelce now has three in three his last three games and might have had more had he not missed Week 16 because he was on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Targets (20 in the last three games) are not an issue. Sometimes the obvious call is the right one.
Other TE Options/Thoughts: Philadelphia is giving up the second-most fantasy points to TEs this season, so Dalton Schultz will be a popular choice. I like him too. However, I'd rather spend up for Kelce in my cash entries or pivot to less popular options in my GPPs.
I expect Noah Fant to be a popular option, but one of my favorite salary-saving options this week is Albert Okwuegbonam. A-OK as I call him has quietly seen at least two targets each of the last six weeks. Don't be surprised if at least one this week is while Denver is in the red zone.
Week 18 Defense/Special Teams (DST) Saturday Pick
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (DK $2900, FD $4400)
Of the four DSTs playing on Saturday, the Cowboys have the highest FPPG by more than three points per game on both sites. A league-leading 25 INTs is a leading cause for that. Yet they are not even the most expensive of the four options. The other three options could outscore Dallas, but I have the Cowboys as both the highest floor and highest ceiling of them all. You would be hard-pressed to convince me otherwise.
Other DST Options/Thoughts: You don't like Dallas? Fine, play the chalky Kansas City DST. If you really need to save money, I guess you could go with the Broncos who have allowed the seventh-fewest passing yards. But I'd try to save salary elsewhere.
Good luck with your Saturday DFS picks!
— 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.