The Player Models are the lifeblood of our NFL product. They house our projections for each player, but that’s just the beginning of what you’ll find inside. After all, a projection is just part of the equation: salary, ceiling and projected ownership all factor into which players stand out as the best plays each week.
Let’s dive into our models and look at a few players with the highest ceilings and values for the NFL Wild Card Weekend. We’ll look at the six-game Saturday through Monday slate for the Model.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the week after this article is posted. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.
NFL DFS Quarterback Picks
Top Ceiling: Josh Allen vs. Miami Dolphins – $7,900 on DraftKings, $9,200 on FanDuel
Josh Allen currently projects for the highest ceiling on the week in what looks to be an ideal matchup against the Miami Dolphins, who rank 15th in DVOA (per Football Outsiders).
Allen has had a stellar season, with the elite quarterback averaging 267 passing yards per game, with a 63% completion percentage, and 35 touchdowns. The Bills are a massive 13-point home favorite in a matchup with a 43.5-point total. Not only is Allen hyper-effective through the air, but he also poses as a dangerous dual-threat option, averaging 7.8 rushing attempts per game and 6.15 yards per carry. This season, the Bills have been one of the more pass-friendly offenses in the league, using a pass-to-run play-calling ratio of 59%/41 (per RotoViz), calling a play on average at lighting-fast 26.2 seconds.
Look for Allen and the Bills’ receiving corps, namely Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Dawson Knox, and Isaiah McKenzie, to easily move the ball against a banged-up Dolphins defense. In a commanding 35-23 win over the New England Patriots in the regular-season finale, Allen threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns, also rushing for 16 yards. The dual-purpose skillset of Allen makes him a prime candidate to reach an 85th-percentile outcome.
Looking at the Trends tool, when Allen appears in matchups above a 43.5-point total, he averages 26.44 actual DraftKings points, with a +2.94 Plus/Minus and a 58.9% consistency rating. Spending up for a massive floor might be a benefit in roster construction this week.
Top Value: Trevor Lawrence vs. Los Angeles Chargers – $5,700 on DraftKings, $7,700 on FanDuel
In a breakout season, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence projects as a top value option on DraftKings, squaring off against the Los Angeles Chargers, a defense ranked 16th in DVOA.
Lawrence leads the Jaguars in a Wild Card Round matchup with a 47.5-point total, one of the highest on the slate, and showing as a current road underdog, Jacksonville will depend on the second-year starter’s arm to keep this game interesting.
According to PFF, the Chargers rank 28th in overall defense, which looks to be an absolute prime matchup. With a pass-friendly ratio (60%/40% pass-to-run), Lawrence’s discounted price tag makes him a fantasy-relevant option, especially for a quarterback that is averaging 241.9 passing yards per game and has crossed the 300-passing yard mark in four games this season. In a Saturday night win over the Tennessee Titans to claim the AFC South, Lawrence threw for 212 yards and one touchdown.
Look for plenty of stacking options, with Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram in the Jaguars’ receiving corps and Chargers’ skill players in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler all as viable bring-backs, with plenty of salary available for higher-priced skill position players
NFL DFS Running Back Picks
Saquon Barkley at Minnesota Vikings – $7,900 on DraftKings, $8,800 on FanDuel
Saquon Barkley projects for the highest ceiling among running backs this week, facing a Minnesota Vikings defense that looks to have trouble defending the run, ranking 19th in rush DVOA.
Barkley is an integral part of the Giants’ offense, with 59% of the workload in the backfield, also averaging 18.4 rushing attempts per game and 4.45 yards per carry. Barkley also sees 4.8 targets per game and 5.9 yards per reception, creating additional upside in PPR formats. Facing a weaker defense on paper and in a matchup with the Giants posting as a three-point road underdog, looked for quarterback Daniel Jones and the Giants to lean heavily on the elite running back.
Fully rested after sitting out the Week 18 finale, Barkley, in a Week 17 38-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts, rushed for 58 yards on 12 attempts and was targeted nine times, catching two passes. Barkley can certainly reach an 85th-percentile outcome given his volume in the Giants’ offense and versatile playmaking ability and not to mention touchdown upside and the 100-yard rushing bonus.
With THE BLITZ, San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey projects for the highest ceiling in a matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. Priced $1,000 more than Barkley, McCaffrey faces a Seahawks defense ranked 25th in rush DVOA, which given the matchup, may be worth the spend-up.
McCaffrey, like Barkley, is an integral part of the 49ers’ success on offense, averaging 14.5 carries per game, 4.69 yards per attempt, and 5.9 targets per game, for 8.9 yards per reception. Also, like Barkley, McCaffrey is constantly in the conversation for the 100-yard rushing bonus and has tremendous touchdown upside, recording at least one touchdown in six games since joining the 49ers in Week 7.
Top Value: Leonard Fournette vs. Dallas Cowboys – $5,300 on DraftKings, $6,400 on FanDuel
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette projects as a top value in a matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, who rank fifth in rushing DVOA, which looks to be a more challenging matchup.
Fournette has split the rushing workload this season for the Buccaneers, with rookie Rachaad White, seeing 51% of the workload averaging 11.8 rushing attempts per game and 3.53 yards per carry, despite White being listed as the starter toward the end of the season. In addition to the workload in the backfield, the veteran Fournette also averages 5.2 targets per game and 7.2 yards per reception as part of the pass-skewed Buccaneers offense led by Tom Brady, which further adds to his fantasy relevance, competing with the infamous Buccaneers receiving corps in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones.
A non-factor in the Week 18 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Fournette rushed for 28 yards on 10 attempts, also catching four passes for 19 yards in a 30-24 Week 17 win over the Carolina Panthers.
Despite the split workload with White, look for Fournette to be a viable fantasy option at running back this week, given his rushing workload and involvement in the passing game, especially in a matchup with a 45.5-point total.
NFL DFS Wide Receiver Picks
Top Ceiling: Justin Jefferson vs. New York Giants – $8,400 on DraftKings, $9,000 on FanDuel
Justin Jefferson again projects for the highest ceiling among wide receivers for Wild Card Weekend, facing a weak New York Giants defense ranked 29th in pass DVOA.
One of the elite receiving options, Jefferson is responsible for a 30% target share and is the preferred option for Kirk Cousins, averaging 10.8 targets per game and 14.1 yards per reception. Further, look for Jefferson to be a prime candidate for the 100-yard receiving bonus, reaching the mark in 10 of the Vikings’ 17 games this season, and also recording a touchdown in seven games. Facing the Giants in a thrilling 27-24 win on Christmas Eve, Jefferson was targeted 16 times, catching 12 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown, and should likely produce similar numbers as the Vikings make their playoff run.
Aside from the volume, Jefferson is the dangerous target in the red zone, seeing 28 red zone targets so far this season, per AddMoreFunds, only behind Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Jefferson’s volume and touchdown upside consistently make him a prime candidate to have the slate-breaking ability and reach an 85th-percentile outcome.
Top Value: Zay Jones vs. Los Angeles Chargers – $4,300 on DraftKings, $6,300 on FanDuel
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones projects as a top value option this week in a matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers, who rank 10th in pass DVOA.
This season, Jones is second on the Jaguars’ receiving corps, responsible for 23% of the target share, averaging 7.6 targets per game and 10 yards per reception.
Since Week 8, Jones has seen at least four targets per game, reaching the 100-receiving yard mark in two games. While the touchdown upside may not be there, Jones makes up for it in volume, adding to his fantasy relevance. In the Saturday Night Week 18 win over the Tennessee Titans, Jones was targeted six times, catching four passes for 21 yards.
If the passing volume should continue for Jones, his digestible salary on DraftKings makes him an easy pick to open up pathways to higher-priced skill position players. He can even serve as a cheap bring-back in Justin Herbert-led Chargers stacks.
NFL DFS Tight End Picks
Top Ceiling: Mark Andrews at Cincinnati Bengals – $5,200 on DraftKings, $6,800 on FanDuel
Without Travis Kelce on the main slate, Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews projects for the highest ceiling, facing a Cincinnati Bengals defense ranked 12th in pass DVOA.
Andrews leads the Ravens’ receiving corps in target share, responsible for 28% of the passing volume, averaging 7.5 targets per game and 11.6 yards per reception. While the touchdown upside may not be there for Andrews this season, he certainly has the passing volume, seeing at least five targets in every game since Week 8. In a 16-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 18, Andrews was targeted nine times, catching nine passes for 100 yards. With an affordable price on DraftKings, look for Andrews to be a consistent option to generate points for lineups, despite the more difficult matchup against their division rivals.
Top Value: Hayden Hurst vs. Baltimore Ravens – $3,100 on DraftKings, $5,100 on FanDuel
Hayden Hurst projects as a top value at tight end given his discounted salary on DraftKings. The veteran tight end, in his first year with the Cincinnati Bengals, has a modest 14% target share, which is third in the Bengals’ receiving corps, averaging 5.2 targets per game and eight yards per reception.
Making his return to action in the Week 18 27-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens, Hurst was targeted five times, catching four passes for 14 yards. Should the consistent volume continue from quarterback Joe Burrow, look for Hurst to warrant a second look at the tight end position.