Here’s a breakdown of the two NFL Wild Card Weekend Saturday Showdown slates that kick off on Saturday at 4:35 p.m. ET:
- Indianapolis Colts (9-7) at Houston Texans (11-5): 4:35 p.m. ET on ESPN/ABC
- Seattle Seahawks (10-6) at Dallas Cowboys (10-6): 8:15 p.m. ET on FOX
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Cash Game Strategy
Deshaun Watson has the highest projected floor on the slate in our DK Showdown Models and can fit in the Captain slot in a lineup that also includes Andrew Luck, Marlon Mack, Lamar Miller, Nyheim Hines and Alfred Blue in the FLEX spots.
This gives you the ideal construction of each team’s quarterbacks, top running backs and No. 2 back, which leaves you underexposed only to production from kickers and defenses, both of which are generally the lowest-floor, lowest-ceiling plays on the slate.
You can only fit three of Watson, Luck, Mack and Miller. The quarterbacks are the highest-projected players on the slate, so they’re in. And while Mack and Miller have nearly identical projections, Mack is $2,000 more expensive, making the road dog’s back the top choice for the fade.
A Watson-Luck-Miller core fits along with Chester Rogers, who has run a route on more than two-thirds of the Colts’ pass snaps over the past two weeks, and either Keke Coutee (hamstring, game-time-decision) or DeAndre Carter, depending on whether Coutee suits up. One of the latter two will occupy the slot for the Texans in what projects to be a high-volume role with the team now with Demaryius Thomas (Achilles) on Injured Reserve along with Will Fuller (ACL).
- Per our NFL Correlations Dashboard, Colts RB1 has a negative correlation with every position on the team except D/ST (0.38 correlation coefficient) and WR2 (0.18).
- Luck’s strongest correlation by far is with his TE1 (0.79).
- Colts RB2 (i.e. Hines) has positive correlations with Luck (0.41) as well as the team’s WR1 (0.30) and TE1 (0.64).
- Colts WR1 and TE1 have a positive correlation (0.36).
- The Texans (0.71) and Colts (0.48) both have positive QB-opposing QB correlations.
- DeAndre Hopkins has been positively correlated with every position on his team except RB1 (-0.17) and D/ST (-0.28).
- Texans TE1 has a positive correlation of at least 0.30 with QB (0.61), RB1 (0.33), RB2 (0.61), WR1 (0.33) and WR2 (0.54).
- The top four ceiling projections on the slate belong to Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton, Watson and Luck.
- Given that there are multiple high-priced studs on this slate, Eric Ebron and the rest of the Colts cheaper pass catchers are viable on DraftKings due to their potential volume relative to the savings they provide. For the same reasons, whichever one of Coutee or Carter ends up starting in the slot is a sneaky option as well.
- Watson-Luck: Because of both teams’ positive QB-opposing QB correlations and top-four rankings in Football Outsiders’ rushing DVOA.
- Watson-Miller-Hopkins: Home-favorite onslaught.
- Mack-Dontrelle Inman/Rogers-Colts D/ST: Contrarian, and leverages Colts RB1 correlations.
- Ryan Griffin had more catches (5) and yards (80) than Hopkins (4-36) in the last meeting between these two teams and ran more routes (28) than Jordan Akins (14) and Jordan Thomas (4) combined last week, per data from Pro Football Focus.
- Coutee has also shown enough volume upside (11-109 in Week 4, etc.) to conceivably outproduce Hopkins in a given game.
- With multiple wide receivers at less than 100% and a Texans defense that ranks 23rd in DVOA against tight ends, it’s possible that the Colts send No. 2 tight end Mo Alie-Cox out on more pass routes.
- Vyncint Smith ran more routes (37) than Carter (31) in Week 17 and averages a target depth of 23.9 yards. Coutee (5.1 average depth of target) and Carter (3.4) primarily serve as underneath route-runners, leaving Smith to play the Will Fuller role. Smith is my favorite guaranteed prize pool play of the weekend.
Cash Game Strategy
Ezekiel Elliott is by far the highest projected player on the slate and fits in the Captain slot with Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott and Chris Carson in the FLEX. This leaves $2,200 remaining, which can be used on a pairing of Ed Dickson and Dalton Schultz — the players who have been running the most combined pass routes among the potential pairings and would fit under the cap.
Only three of Elliott, Wilson, Prescott and Carson can fit under the cap. The top projected lineups end up fading Elliott because both quarterbacks are projected for significantly more than Carson as well as every other player on the slate.
An Elliott-Wilson-Prescott core can be completed with Dickson and David Moore, who is running a route on roughly 80% of Seattle’s pass snaps over the past two weeks and nearly finished the season with the team lead in air yards despite his disappearing act in the box score as of late.
- Since acquiring Amari Cooper, Dallas has negative correlations between RB1 and WR1 (-0.13), WR1 and TE1 (-0.67), a positive correlation between RB1 and WR2 (0.43), and no correlation between QB and RB1 (0.01).
- Seattle has a 0.90 QB-opposing QB correlation this season and Dallas’ is 0.79 since acquiring Cooper.
- Seattle has negative WR1-RB1 (-0.42) and WR1-RB2 (-0.27) correlations, but a positive WR1-WR2 correlation (0.13).
- Both Dallas (0.37) and Seattle (0.36) have positive RB1-D/ST correlations.
- There’s more than a six-point gap between the projected ceiling of Elliott and every player on DraftKings. He even bests the quarterbacks by at least two points in projected ceiling on FanDuel.
- Cooper, Doug Baldwin and Carson round out the top-six in projected ceiling. In a must-win game, Carson is as good of a bet as ever to approach his season-high of 32 carries and is my favorite pivot off of Zeke.
- Elliott-Carson: For if the game stays close.
- Wilson-Prescott: This leverages both teams’ above-average QB-opposing QB correlations.
- Elliott-Wilson-Baldwin-Tyler Lockett: For if Seattle falls behind (and only on DraftKings).
- Seattle doubled Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in Week 14 and could sell out to stop Cooper. While Blake Jarwin could attract more ownership after his monster game, Michael Gallup is not far behind Cooper for the team lead in air yards since Cooper was acquired. Gallup also figures to be singled up often on the outside against Tre Flowers, who allows 1.69 yards per route covered — most among Seattle’s starting corners and third-most among starting corners on the slate, per Pro Football Focus.
- If Seattle were to fall behind, Mike Davis would likely see a few more snaps at Carson’s expense.
- Dallas is the No. 29 red-zone offense and Seattle is the No. 4 red-zone defense, giving Brett Maher owners leverage on all Cowboys skill players.
- Dallas is somewhat of a tight-end funnel, ranking sixth in DVOA vs. No. 1 wide receivers and third vs. No. 2 wide receivers, but 19th vs. tight ends. This slightly increases the viability of Seattle’s Dickson/Nick Vannett route-splitting black hole at tight end. (Dickson ran on 45% of pass routes compared to Vannett’s 30% in Week 17.)
Let’s get this shmoney!
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Chris Raybon is a Senior Editor at the Action Network and a co-host of “I’ll Take That Bet” on ESPN+. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2010 — even the kneel downs. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRaybon and read about how he quit his accounting job and got paid to watch sports.
Pictured above: Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4)
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports