I am quite ambivalent about "Super Wild Card Weekend." I like it a lot when it comes to making daily fantasy (DFS) picks for the Wild Card Round, as it gives us an extra game or two.
But with both the Dolphins and Ravens playing without their starting quarterbacks, each of those two teams might get absolutely shellacked.
Now, yes, "any given Sunday"... but it's not looking good. The Bills and Bengals could absolutely put a beatdown on their divisional rivals this weekend. I hope not, but the smart money says not to bet against it.
Does that mean we will avoid those teams altogether for our picks this week?
Read below to find out!
Safe Quarterback Pick for Super Wild Card Weekend
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins (DK $7900, FD $9200)
Simple game flow theory says that the Bills will be ahead in this game and then simply milk the clock. However, a couple of factors negate that. While Buffalo is middle-of-the-NFL pack when it comes to run/pass percentage, the Bills are even more inclined to pass at home. Secondly, it makes a lot more sense to try and pass against Miami than it does to try and run on this team.
The Dolphins are fourth in DVOA with their run defense, but their pass defense is 25th. The 'Fins blitz at the league's second-highest rate, but are only 20th in adjusted sack rate. That plays right into what Buffalo likes to do. The higher blitz rate will leave Miami's secondary in far too many man-on-man situations. You can almost hear Buffalo's wideouts smacking their lips now.
But it gets even better for Allen. As we know Allen can run, making things even more difficult for the Miami D, which allowed the second-most rushing yards to quarterbacks during the regular season. And history doesn't bode well for Miami here either. Allen has had two very strong fantasy games already this season against Miami. He's scored between 30 and 40 DKFPs in each of those two games. 'Nuff said.
High-Leverage Quarterback Pick for Super Wild Card Weekend
Daniel Jones, New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (DK $5600, FD $7400)
If you like San Francisco rookie Brock Purdy better, go with him, as I almost chose him for this slot. I went back and forth between Jones and Purdy, but decided Jones' playoff experience gives him the slightest edge. Plus, despite his reputation for turnovers, Jones has become very good about NOT turning the ball over (see above tweet).
Jones (surprisingly?) ended the regular season as a top-10 QB in fantasy points per game this season. He gets a Vikings secondary that allowed the second-most passing yards and the fifth-most fantasy points to QBs in the regular season. Back in Week 16, Jones lit up Minnesota for 300-plus passing yards.
I got a feeling he does this again.
Safe Running Back Pick for Super Wild Card Weekend
Travis Etienne Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Los Angeles Chargers (DK $6300, FD $7100)
That's right. I might play Christian McCaffrey or Austin Ekeler in GPPs, but I am not playing either of them in cash. And that leads me to Etienne, who will be a popular pick.
The Chargers allowed the seventh-most FanDuel points per game to running backs (23.6) as well as the second-most rushing yards during the regular season. Only the Texans allowed more yards on the ground. Some might be worried about James Hasty, but Etienne has logged at least 71 percent of all snaps in Weeks 12 through 16 (recall that in Week 17 he was pulled early).
And the Chargers' defense has been atrocious on the road this season. Just three teams (CHI, GB, and DET) allowed more yards per play on the road this season. I got a feeling that the Jags run all over the Chargers on Saturday, similar to how they did earlier this season.
High-Leverage Running Back Pick for Super Wild Card Weekend
J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (DK $5700, FD $6600)
This pick could flop big time. The Ravens could go down a couple of scores and never recover as Dobbins becomes a complete non-factor due to a negative game script. That being said, Dobbins could be a sneaky play.
For one, I'm not worried about the other Baltimore RBs taking away carries from Dobbins. Since he returned from surgery in Week 12 thru Week 17 (he sat out Week 18), Dobbins has 57 carries. I think the Ravens try to establish the run and wouldn't be surprised to see him get 15 to 18 carries.
Dobbins is averaging 5.7 yards per carry this season. If he gets 15 to 18 carries that puts him in the 100-yard territory and he might be the Raven most likely to score this week as well.
Safe Wide Receiver Pick for Super Wild Card Weekend
Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings vs. New York Giants (DK $8400, FD $9000)
And this is where I'm spending up this week. Jefferson was far from great last week, but I will gladly double down on him this week.
For one, the last time he faced the G-Men, he scorched them for 12 catches for 133 yards and a score. And second? He's Justin freakin' Jefferson!
High-Leverage Wide Receiver Pick for Super Wild Card Weekend
Darius Slayton, New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (DK $4100, FD $5800)
Before I even looked, I thought I might go with Isaiah Hodgins here, but then when I realized how cheaply both sites priced Slayton, I decided to pivot to him. When Slayton faced the Vikings in Week 16, he caught a reasonable four of six targets for 79 yards.
The Giants will try to run the ball to keep the Minnesota offense off the field, but the books have this game with the highest over/under of the Wild Card Round matchups. One way or another, I think New York gets caught in a shootout. And that's not bad news for New York receivers. The Vikings are giving up more than 198 yards to WRs per game, the most in the NFL.
Slayton should see at least six targets again. And if so, I think he approaches the century mark and might even haul in a score or two.
Safe Tight End Pick for Super Wild Card Weekend
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks (DK $6100, FD $7700)
I'm a little queasy about the price, but how can you not play Kittle this week? He clicks all the boxes – talent, coming in hot, and a great matchup!
You know he's talented and you can read the tweet above. And in case you didn't know, Seattle is the most generous of all the playoff teams when it comes to giving up fantasy points to TEs. In fact, they were second-most generous in the regular season of all teams, trailing Arizona by just 0.15 total points.
Travis Kelce is off this week. Play Kittle.
High-Leverage Tight End Pick for Super Wild Card Weekend
Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins (DK $4000, FD $5600)
It's no secret that Knox is a boom-or-bust play nearly every week. Well, I like him to boom this week. He scored last week against New England and the Patriots have a much stingier pass defense than the Dolphins. Miami has allowed the third-most fantasy points to TEs entering this game.
So not only is Knox coming in hot and has a great matchup, but he might even be better than you think. True or False: Knox has three touchdowns in his last four weeks.
The answer is "False." He doesn't have three touchdowns in his last four games, he actually has four, having scored in each of his last four outings. That includes the last time the Bills played Miami when he had six catches for 98 yards. At this price, I love the bargain!
Safe Defense/Special Teams (DST) Pick for Super Wild Card Weekend
Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins (DK $3300, FD $5000)
If Tua Tagovailoa was in the conversation, I would be less confident about this pick. But even if he had played, I still feel like Buffalo is the easy pick this week. Buffalo finished the regular season second in scoring defense, just behind fellow No. 2 seed San Francisco. Yes, the Bills were only 14th in sacks, but 40 sacks in 16 games aren't bad. (And don't forget they played one less game than every team other than Cincinnati.)
More importantly, Buffalo is ninth in pass defense DVOA. The Bills have recorded 17 interceptions, tied for third in the league. Something tells me Miami will be playing from behind in this game, which will force Skylar Thompson to try and win it, thereby creating even more mistake opportunities. This game could become a joke, but one that really isn't funny if you're a Dolphins fan.
High-Leverage Defense/Special Teams (DST) Pick for Super Wild Card Weekend
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (DK $2500, FD $3600)
Few teams are hotter right now than the Bengals. And by picking the Ravens you are asking to get burned. But there's always a surprising upset in the Wild Card Round and before we heard that Lamar Jackson was out, I was kind of thinking this might be it.
But the Ravens have been losing lately because of their issues at quarterback. Their defense has actually been pretty gosh darn good. The Ravens rank sixth in the NFL in adjusted sack rate this season, while the Bengals are 28th in adjusted sacks allowed.
The Ravens will be extremely low-owned but are the seventh-best fantasy DST this year. And only four of those DSTs above them are playing this weekend. That makes the Ravens a top-5 fantasy option this weekend based on the slate.
Baltimore won't be the top option, but the Ravens might be far better than you think.
— 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.