NFL DFS – Main Slate Optimizer Groups & Stack Rankings + Game Notes – Week 18

This article focuses on building lineups with a quality foundation by utilizing the powerful Groups and Rules/Limits tools within the industry’s optimization tools. All of the concepts and pairings included below can be applied to hand-building as well. The goal is to create lineups that have high-scoring correlation and take advantage of combined outcomes within stacks while limiting the likelihood of building inefficient or negatively correlated entries for a full slate of NFL DFS lineups.

This video was made in a former life and features a detailed demonstration of how to apply these concepts in one leading optimizer tool: Fantasy Cruncher – How-To Video

All references to Sims were done via friends of the site: acemind.io

Don’t miss the new Above/Below feature article for a few of our top picks, coming Sunday morning


 

Week 18 DraftKings & FanDuel NFL DFS Stack Rankings

The following stack rankings were created by pairing each team quarterback with his top three scoring options, whether they are three wide receivers, two wide receivers and a tight end, a wide receiver, tight end, and running back, or any viable combination. In some cases, an expensive running back, such as Tony Pollard, can push the overall price point of his team stack in the value rankings.

TEAMOPPFD$FDpRankFDvalRankDK$DkpRankDKvalRank
DALWAS$31,00012$27,40014
PHINYG$30,20021$28,70029
MIABUF$33,60037#N/A#N/A#N/A
BUFMIA$30,90045#N/A#N/A#N/A
DETMIN$31,700511$27,900319
GBCHI$28,20064$23,30052
CHIGB$29,70076$24,40068
JACTEN$27,20083$23,60043
TBCAR$30,200916$27,500721
SEAARI$27,400109$23,700812
LVDEN$27,6001110$24,700918
NOATL$27,3001212$24,5001120
MINDET$27,3001315$21,900107
ATLNO$25,4001413$20,500126
NYGPHI$25,4001514$20,9001413
ARISEA$25,8001618$21,4001715
TENJAC$25,6001719$20,7001511
LACKC$24,200188$20,4001610
CINCLE$28,5001924$23,6001323
DENLV$25,2002023$21,7001822
SFLAR$23,6002117$18,8002217
CARTB$24,7002220$20,0001914
NYJNE$25,5002327$21,3002126
WASDAL$24,9002425$18,8002016
NENYJ$24,1002526$18,5002324
KCLAC$20,9002622$13,700251
CLECIN$20,0002721$13,900265
LARSF$22,9002828$18,6002425

Week 18 DraftKings & FanDuel NFL DFS Stacks & Optimizer Groups

Overview

Rules and limits are powerful tools for lineup creation for NFL DFS where our primary focus is creating highly correlated lineups via stacking players from the same game. Lineups will typically be coordinated around the quarterback selection, which informs at least one pass-catcher choice, establishes a budget, eliminates a defense, and sets the tone for the lineup. We will typically look to correlate a quarterback and at least one of his pass-catchers in every lineup, with most of those including a skill player from the opposing team who will have a chance to support the stack in a high-scoring game that drives offense on both sides to create additional correlated scoring potential. Stacking multiple pass-catchers in the same lineup is a sound approach as well, though there are typically overall ceilings on how much volume is available at any given position. We do not typically include running backs who are not pass-catchers as priorities in NFL DFS groups, they typically stand alone with the selection of the quarterback-based stack informing remaining salary which then informs the running back selections. High-volume backs and pass catchers out of the backfield can be included in the groups utilized below, but it is frequently not necessary to do so with the very best players, they arrive in lineups without help.

The following rules and limits are typically applied in an optimizer’s Advanced Options menu. Notes are included to elucidate the reasons behind each rule and to explain what it does during the lineup creation process. These settings can typically be saved for re-use, which is highly recommended. Saving the Week 1 groups that will be created below is also a very good idea to save time with updates instead of recreation each week. These groups are created manually, but most optimizers include automated group creators that can help accelerate the curation process.

DraftKings + FanDuel Settings & Advanced Options

Unique Players Per Lineup– This setting forces the optimizer to utilize at least X new players who were not in Lineup 1 when it creates Lineup 2, and so on. It is recommended to utilize at least two, and more can be applied depending on the degree of differentiation desired within lineups.

Team Salary– a minimum or maximum salary spend can be applied here as needed, though this is not a part of the recommended process in this space as leaving salary on the table is an easy path toward creating unique lineups while not necessarily making a negative expected value play.

FLEX position– allows restrictions on what positions can be rostered at the FLEX spot. The only position to consider in this case is tight end, but that is something to be restricted at the individual level via Groups, rather than at the global level.

Global Exposure Settingallows caps on the maximum percentage of lineups a player can appear in within a given pool of lineup construction. This is a powerful tool for shaping lineups but if settings are too low attempts to build a full set will fall short due to a lack of available players, one of the most common errors in optimizer building. Most optimizers include the ability to calculate ownership caps continuously or at the end of the pool creation process. If caps are calculated continuously, a player with a 25% cap who is utilized in Lineup 1 will not be available for use again until Lineup 5 , we recommend turning OFF continuous calculation.

Randomness – provides a random multiplier to each player’s projected point total based on the set values. This is a valuable tool that helps differentiate lineups instead of simply creating them in order of highest median projected scores. Using some randomness for lineup generation is strongly recommended but the degree to which it is applied is down to personal preference, but 15-25% is fine to get started. We suggest heavier randomness to more event-based players like wide receivers while tracking volume-based positions like running backs more toward their median or ceiling projections.

DraftKings + FanDuel Team Stack Rules

This set of rules will force optimizers to build lineups with certain combinations. We are looking to stack at least one skill player, almost always a pass-catcher, with his quarterback while also playing a skill player from the opposing team in the lineup. The theory behind this build is that a high-scoring stack will require some response from the opposing team to deliver a ceiling score in most situations. When that is not the case, the team that is winning will simply slow down and run out the clock. Most optimizers utilize a “complete the sentence” approach for rule creation with selections from drop-down menus following a very straightforward logic. Exceptions to these rules can be added for specific teams and players on most optimizer products.

  • QB with at least one WR/TE from Same Team (note: It is fine to set this to two or to utilize two versions of this rule, one with WR/TE and one with RB/WR/TE, but we refine this via Groups)
  • QB with at least one RB/WR/TE from the Opposing Team (we typically prefer the pass-catchers but high-volume running backs can be effective here)
  • QB with at most zero DST from the Same Team (this is a personal preference; high-scoring teams and quarterbacks tend to leave their defenses on the field, exposing them to simple point-scoring negatives)

Limits & Custom Rules and Requirements

Limit rules can be applied to restrict certain combinations from coming together. This is powerful for limiting multiple running backs from the same team or getting overweight to a certain stack within a lineup.

  • Limit QB/RB/WR/TE from Same Team to three
  • Limit RB/WR/TE from the Same Team to one unless paired with QB from the Same Team OR the Opposing Team
  • Limit RB from Same Team to one (we also do this with WR in a separate rule that adds an “unless paired with QB or opposing QB” but it’s a personal preference for NFL DFS, we typically do not want two pass-catchers from the same team without their quarterback)

We will maintain the list of rules and limits throughout the season, with occasional tweaks, if needed. Each week sees yet another fresh crop of value plays as situations change and injuries create opportunities around the league. These changing roles and emergent value plays are accounted for in the process of creating these groups from week to week. After a large pool of lineups is created utilizing these groups, it is still of critical importance to filter them for factors including ceiling projections and leverage potential. These groups should help ensure that a highly correlated premium set of options that rotates through a variety of combinations is utilized to create the full lineup pool.

Sunday Updates

Any changes and recommended boosts to specific players will be provided in an early morning update each Sunday.


NFL DFS Week 18 Features & FREE Projections

 


Construction Concept

Team groups are built by utilizing the quarterback as the KEY player in group settings. The quarterback decision in each lineup is the driving factor in which stack is utilized in that lineup and which corresponding plays are then made to work within the structure and requirements. Built to specification, each team will have two groups, a team group, and an opponent group, both of which utilize the same quarterback as the key player. Each game will have a total of four groups. This is the best approach to truly capture the requirement of playing individual “run-back” plays from the opposing team. A more basic approach would be to include all of the skill players from a game in each quarterback’s group and rely on rules and limits to restrict any potential overflow. It is highly recommended to save the Week 1 groups as a foundation that will be updated for the rest of the season. The recommended groups will include skill players who have an active role in their offense and provide significant correlation with their quarterback’s scoring, often bell-cow running backs who do not specialize in the passing game will not be included in groups as they are projected highly and appear on their own in basically correct distributions, while also not always providing the strongest positive correlation plays. Stacking quarterbacks with pass-catchers and allowing running backs to fall into the lanes then created by settings, available salary, and randomness should create a well-distributed set of quality lineups. These groups are updated weekly to account for changes in utilization, schemes, injuries, target shares, and more.

Team Groups for DraftKings & FanDuel – Week 18

The goal is to create a large pool of well-built lineups that can be utilized in any large-field GPP contest. Our approach is to build far more lineups than needed and utilize a sorting table or sim process to filter to the best set of lineups for entries. The lineups created in these crunches should provide a broad distribution that includes some of the lower-owned high-upside skill players from each stack. Applying boosts is critical in pushing and pulling ownership to individual players within their team’s stacked lineups if they are appearing too much or too little.

The groups below are designed so that each quarterback will have two groups to create, one with his skill players and another with the opposing team. A more basic approach would be to add them all to one large group with an “at least three” and let rules and limits set things, but there is a more granular level of control in creating them separately.

Utilizing two groups also allows us to place running backs into the “run-back” position in certain teams while not including them in the primary stack for their team. This is useful when there is a situation with an extremely highly projected running back who does not necessarily fit into his team’s passing game. These players are threaded throughout the following construction recommendations.

Note for the Rotogrinders optimizer, we recommend trimming the automatically created groups that can be accessed under Team Groups, Opponent Groups, and Max Position Groups to match these groups for lineup building. We typically utilize the Stacks tab to enforce constructions as well, but a key requirement is missed in the automated groups. The Max Position groups need the manual addition of the running backs and tight ends to the group that is created with the wide receivers with a setting of max 1 and the team’s quarterback selected as a key player with the designation of using that group when the quarterback is NOT in the lineup. This is done to eliminate the possibility of three skill players from the same team appearing at running back, tight end, and wide receiver together without their quarterback involved. A simple limit of three players per team will keep things to just a quarterback with two skill players in stacks after that. Update: if one were to reset their saved settings on RG’s optimizer new options will reveal themselves, including thankfully a toggle to take care of this from the main build rules page. There is also a non-QB group with a max-1 setting that works better for this purpose because the toggle on the main page will limit stacks to just a 1-1 combination, seemingly as a bug.

Note for all optimizers the rules can be utilized to force bring-back plays in some sets of crunches and turned off for others as a global function instead of changing each group to “exactly one” bring-back play, wherever applicable, but it will apply to all teams.


note: playoff scenario information per NFL.com


Arizona Cardinals

Key Player: Kyler Murray

Setting: at least one

Team Group: James Conner, Trey McBride, Michael Wilson, Greg Dortch, Rondale Moore, Elijah Higgins (large field), Zach Pascal (Q; very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Kenneth Walker III, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Noah Fant

Lineup Notes: Arizona has nothing to play for but no good reason to rest regulars, they should be in play as value-based options with Kyler Murray showing potential sneaky value at quarterback. The most straightforward path for Seattle to make the playoffs is with a victory, which must also combine with a Packers loss or tie. Both teams are playing in the late window, so Seattle should be expected to be firing on all cylinders, such as that is, for the entire game. Seattle is 10th by fantasy points on FanDuel and 8th on DraftKings in our stack rankings while landing 9th and 12th respectively by points-per-dollar value, there is a bit of DFS potential involved in this game. The Cardinals have enough to believe they can hang in offensively for long enough to support scoring for the Seahawks who have only infrequently uncorked their offensive potential this season. Kenneth Walker III is RB2/2 on FanDuel and RB1/3 on DraftKings this week, he is a potentially critical component of the slate on both sites which makes him one of the most popular individual plays around the industry in Week 18. Walker blows away the ranking for James Conner, who is merely a somewhat playable option from the other side of this contest. At the quarterback position, however, the Cardinals take the lead with Kyler Murray outpacing Smith as QB6/7 on FanDuel and QB5/4 on DraftKings to Smith’s QB10/10 and 8/15. Murray has produced strong fantasy scores in more than half of his limited schedule of games this season, he is an underrated option in this spot. The Cardinals receiving group is not bereft of potential, but the stronger options on the other side badly outpace them. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both rank inside the top 15 by fantasy points and the top 25 by value and Jaxon Smith-Njigba is not far behind at WR32/23 and WR27/28. Michael Wilson, Greg Dortch, and Rondale Moore are playable mid-level options who are priced appropriately to their potential on this slate, they are neither overly good nor overly bad options with Wilson looking like the top man. Of course, Arizona tight end Trey McBride may be the top overall pass catcher in this game on either side, he ranks as TE2/4 on FanDuel and TE2/13 on DraftKings in Week 18. Noah Fant is the lead option in a multi-way tight end group for Seattle, he slightly outpaces the others by fantasy points and lands as TE5 by points-per-dollar value on the DraftKings slate.

 


Atlanta Falcons

Key Player: Taylor Heinicke (Q)

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Bijan Robinson, Drake London, Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, Van Jefferson, KhaDarel Hodge (large field), Mack Hollins (large field), MyCole Pruitt (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Alvin Kamara (Q), Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, Juwan Johnson (Q), Taysom Hill, AT Perry (Q)

Lineup Notes: It seems to almost defy belief that the Falcons are still in the playoff hunt given their omnipresence on the negative side of fantasy football results throughout the season but if they manage to beat the Saints in Week 18 while getting help from a Tampa Bay loss, they will be in the tournament. The Saints can also make the playoffs with a win and the same Tampa Bay loss, and they have a more complicated angle open in the event of a Tampa Bay victory. If both the Saints and Buccaneers win but the Seahawks and Packers lose, the Saints will qualify for the postseason. As usual, the skill players from Atlanta are more appealing and the Saints look deceptively OK. Bijan Robinson is RB11/11 on FanDuel and RB11/15 on DraftKings, the Falcons’ second head at running back, Tyler Allgeier is RB38/40 and 35/35 with his potential to sap touches and touchdowns. Alvin Kamara is RB16/14 and RB13/27 across sites, he continues to see significant touches from week to week but he has been more limited throughout 2023 than in seasons past. Kamara is appropriately priced, there is not enough of a discount to prioritize the running back despite his potential in both the rushing and passing attacks but it would not surprise to see him among slate leading scorers. Derek Carr is QB12/11 and QB10/17, he is a mid-level option on either site but he is not a high priority. Taylor Heinicke barely registers on FanDuel but he is very cheap at $4,900 on DraftKings, where he ranks 15th by points but 7th by points-per-dollar value. Drake London and Chris Olave are an interesting pair of receivers from the top of the board on either side. Olave beats out his counterpart by fantasy points on both sites as WR13/18 on FanDuel and WR11/33 on DraftKings while London is WR23/20 on the blue site and WR19/11 across town where his points-per-dollar number shines for just $5,000. Rashid Shaheed is a viable big play dart throw, while other options including Van Jefferson, AT Perry, KhaDarel Hodge, and more, are thin plays at the position. This game offers between four and seven playable tight ends, depending on one’s willingness to stretch the definition. Jimmy Graham is TE52/52 and TE44/44 across sites but he had a multi-week run of touchdown scoring at very cheap prices and limited volume, he is the lowest-end option on the board. Kyle Pitts leads the group as TE9/8 on FanDuel and TE10/6 on DraftKings, he shares the position with Jonnu Smith who is TE20/21 and TE19/17. Juwan Johnson lands above Taysom Hill as TE12/12 and TE11/9 compared to TE19/23 and TE18/28 for Hill, but there is plenty of sneaky ceiling in Hill’s gadgety nature. Foster Moreau and MyCole Pruitt are touchdown-dependent value darts at best. Sunday update: Alvin Kamara is out, Kendre Miller is active.

 


Buffalo Bills

Key Player: Josh Allen

Setting: at most two (this allows for “naked” Allen stacks, change to “at least one” to force combinations)

Team Group: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Dalton Kincaid, Khalil Shakir, Dawson Knox, Trent Sherfield (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one (despite decent defenses in play, this game can easily support an “exactly one” or even an “at least one” setting here)

Opposing Group: Tyreek Hill, De’Von Achane, Cedrick Wilson Jr., Durham Smythe, Braxton Berrios

Lineup Notes: This game is only available on FanDuel, it is the Sunday Night game in the 8pm ET window and it will be playable as a Showdown slate on DraftKings. The winner of this game takes the AFC East crown, both teams should be expected to go all out for the win. If Miami loses, they will drop to the sixth seed but they are not in danger of falling out of the playoffs. The Bills will secure a playoff spot with a victory and AFC East title, or if they fail to win or at least tie, they can still backdoor their way into the tournament with a Jaguars loss or tie, the Steelers removed a path by winning their game on Saturday. The Bills are not locked into a playoff spot and, technically, have a bit more to play for than Miami. Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa rank among the top quarterback options on the blue site. Allen is QB3/8 and Tagovailoa is QB8/9 and both signal callers have premium options at the wide receiver position. The Bills should be at full strength, but the Dolphins will be without both Jaylen Waddle, their 1A receiver, and Raheem Mostert, their 1 or 1A running back, depending on the week. Tyreek Hill is available, he and Tagovailoa can keep this competitive on their own and he ranks as WR2/3 on FanDuel this week. Not far behind is Stefon Diggs at WR7/7 while Gabe Davis joins the party at WR26/32. Cedrick WIlson Jr. shows a bit of value, he is WR31 by FanDuel points but WR17 by points-per-dollar value filling in for Waddle. The remaining receivers are simply dart throws in this matchup. The tight end advantage lies with Buffalo, but Dalton Kincaid is just TE13/15 on this slate. Despite all of the potential passing, there are good options on the ground in this contest as well, James Cook is RB9/13 and De’Von Achane climbed up the board to RB1 by fantasy points after Mostert was ruled out overnight. This is a potential late-night hammer on an NFL Sunday on the blue site, it should be considered among the more appealing games of the day. Miami is stack 3/7 on FanDuel and Buffalo is stack 4/5. Sunday Update: Leonard Fournette is active for the Bills for the second time this season, he has a low-end projection but some touchdown upside.

 


Carolina Panthers

Key Player: Bryce Young

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Adam Thielen, Chuba Hubbard, DJ Chark Jr., Ihmir Smith-Marsestte, Terrace Marshall Jr., Tommy Tremble

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Mike Evans, Rachaad White, Chris Godwin, Cade Otton, Trey Palmer (Q)

Lineup Notes: This game matters for one team, if you have been paying attention since around Week 3 you will know that it is NOT the Panthers. Tampa Bay clinches the NFC South crown with a win or a tie with a Saints loss or tie, and they make the playoffs with a tie plus a Seahawks loss and a Packers loss or tie. Baker Mayfield is questionable on the injury report but he was confirmed to be starting on Friday and nothing has changed, he lands as one of the top quarterbacks this week. Mayfield is QB9/6 on FanDuel and QB7/12 on the DraftKings slate. The opposing team has one of the worst quarterbacks in football starting, he does not rank well this week after popping up for potential value and predictably disappointing terribly in last week’s game. Bryce Young is QB25/26 and QB23/21. Rachaad White has been a go-to option for us for weeks now but he slips slightly with an increased price and a somewhat reduced projection comparative to industry averages. While we still very much like the upside, ceiling, receiving potential, and PPR bonus scoring, White falls in at just RB15/20 on FanDuel, he is RB9/25 on DraftKings with the PPR format supporting additional scoring. Chuba Hubbard is a limited option from a scoring perspective but he is inexpensive at $6,200/$5,500, he lands as RB21/10 on FanDuel and RB18/6 on DraftKings. Tampa Bay receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are both highly playable options in and out of stacks. Evans is WR10/26 on FanDuel and WR9/46 on DraftKings, his points-per-dollar value on the latter site is not strong but he has a clear path to a ceiling score. Godwin is WR20/30 and WR14/41, and the team has a few dart throw options including Trey Palmer. On the Carolina side, Adam Thielen still has potential and ranks as the team’s top receiver, but he is just WR19/19 and WR15/34 this week and his reliance on Bryce Young is extremely limiting. The same is true for the lower-projected receivers further down the depth chart but DJ Chark Jr. is flashing a touch of points-per-dollar value at WR42/15 on DraftKings from his middling projection. Cade Otton is a playable tight end but he does not warrant over-exposure, the Carolina tight ends are dart throws at best.

 


Chicago Bears

Key Player: Justin Fields

Setting: at most two (this allows for “naked” Fields stacks)

Team Group: DJ Moore, Cole Kmet (Q), Tyler Scott, Robert Tonyan, Khalil Herbert (Q), Roschon Johnson

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Aaron Jones, Jayden Reed (Q), Christian Watson (Q), Romeo Doubs, Luke Musgrave (Q), Dontayvion Wicks (Q), Tucker Kraft, Malik Heath

Lineup Notes: The Bears are interesting this week in what amounts to a mere spoiler role when it comes to the postseason. Chicago is long since eliminated and they are in contention for the top draft pick, but they have a big rivalry with the Packers that must be serviced in a win-and-in situation for their opponent, Chicago starters should be expected to play hard from beginning to end. This is a win-and-in situation for Green Bay, if they handle their business against the rival Bears they make the playoffs. The Packers can still get in via five different increasingly more convoluted paths if they lose, but the best approach is to smash the scoring button and win on their own. Jordan Love and Justin Fields both project as strong DFS options, Fields can run on his own given his production in the rushing game and his scoring potential, but the Bears have playable stacking and bring-back options. Love should be played in stacks with whoever takes the field from his list of strong pass-catching options, most of whom are questionable. Of the wide receivers, only Romeo Doubs comes without a Q-tag this week, he ranks as WR36/44 and WR32/60. Jayden Reed lands as the top Packers receiver at WR16/22 and WR18/31 while Christian Watson may play and would slot in at WR17/16 and WR16/4, his value is very strong on DraftKings if he plays. The top wide receiver from either team, naturally, is DJ Moore, who ranks as WR6/8 and WR5/9 for just $8,000/$7,000 respectively. Receivers from down the depth chart will gain value if there are missing bodies from the Green Bay side, Malik Heath is worth watching from the cheap tier; the remaining Bears options are more limited. Cole Kmet leads the way at the tight end position, the big Bear ranks as TE8/11 and TE7/14 from FanDuel to DraftKings, while both Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft look at least playable in stacks from the Green Bay side.

 


Cincinnati Bengals

Key Player: Jake Browning

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, Trenton Irwin, Tanner Hudson, Andrei Iosivas, Drew Sample (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Pierre Strong Jr., Harrison Bryant, David Bell, Cedric Tillman, Jordan Akins, Austin Watkins Jr.

Lineup Notes: Tee Higgins is doubtful, he is not included in the current projection set. The Bengals have nothing but pride to play for, while the Browns will be resting the bulk of their starters for most of this game after securing the 5 seed. Pierre Strong Jr. is expected to see carries for Cleveland, he ranks as a strong option for points-per-dollar value on both sites while not carrying an incredibly high projection. The pass catchers rate poorly for the most part, though Ja’Marr Chase will only ever fall so far down the board, he ranks as WR15/31 on FanDuel and WR10/44 on DraftKings by points then points-per-dollar value. No other receiver in this game ranks as a strong option, they are merely dart throws with limited points-per-dollar value. For the Bengals, Tyler Boyd lands as WR47/49 and 38/42 from FanDuel to DraftKings, things get worse from there across the wide receiver group but there is a bit of value-based opportunity at tight end on the Cleveland side with Harrison Bryant showing a bit of value while David Njoku rests.

 


Cleveland Browns

Key Player: Jeff Driskel

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Pierre Strong Jr., Harrison Bryant, David Bell, Cedric Tillman, Jordan Akins, Austin Watkins Jr.

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, Trenton Irwin, Tanner Hudson, Andrei Iosivas

Lineup Notes: The Browns are sitting most of their key players, Jeff Driskel is starting at quarterback, Amari Cooper is out, and David Njoku, Jerome Ford, and Kareem Hunt are not expected to play. The Bengals have nothing but pride to play for, while the Browns will be resting the bulk of their starters for most of this game after securing the 5 seed. Pierre Strong Jr. is expected to see carries for Cleveland, he ranks as a strong option for points-per-dollar value on both sites while not carrying an incredibly high projection. The pass catchers rate poorly for the most part, though Ja’Marr Chase will only ever fall so far down the board, he ranks as WR15/31 on FanDuel and WR10/44 on DraftKings by points then points-per-dollar value. No other receiver in this game ranks as a strong option, they are merely dart throws with limited points-per-dollar value. For the Bengals, Tyler Boyd lands as WR47/49 and 38/42 from FanDuel to DraftKings, things get worse from there across the wide receiver group but there is a bit of value-based opportunity at tight end on the Cleveland side with Harrison Bryant showing a bit of value while David Njoku rests.

 


Dallas Cowboys

Key Player: Dak Prescott

Setting: at least one

Team Group: CeeDee Lamb, Jake Ferguson, Brandin Cooks, Tony Pollard, Michael Gallup, KaVontae Turpin (large field), Jalen Tolbert (large field), Peyton Hendershot (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Brian Robinson Jr., Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson, Logan Thomas

Lineup Notes: The Cowboys are our top-ranked stack for scoring on both sites, Dak Prescott is the top-ranked quarterback by fantasy points, and CeeDee Lamb is the top-ranked wide receiver, and one of the top overall players, by fantasy points. The Cowboys are all-in for this game, they win the NFC East and lock up the two seed with a victory to cap their very strong and somewhat underappreciated season. Dallas has been excellent for real football and fantasy scoring most weeks this season and they have a cakewalk matchup against a division-rival Washington team that should put up a bit of scoring to keep things moving. The Cowboys have an opportunity to stack up a very big number against a pass defense that ranks 31st at 7.4 yards allowed per attempt and 32nd with 2.2 passing touchdowns allowed per game over the first 17 weeks of the season. Prescott is QB1/1 on FanDuel and QB1/2 on DraftKings, on the other side Sam Howell holds up as a playable option in the mid-range on a big slate, he is QB13/15 on FanDuel and 11/10 on DraftKings but the Cowboys have most of the upside in this one. Howell has been lousy in real life throughout most of the year but he has continually had to throw the ball for heavy volume which leads to yardage and deceptive fantasy scoring, the Commanders are better for skill player options and bring-backs against Cowboys stacks than they are as a stack of their own. Tony Pollard has had one of the more disappointing healthy fantasy seasons in recent memory, he checks into Week 18 as just RB12/17 on the blue site and RB10/10 on DraftKings, all of the other running backs in this game are dart throw options at best, they will mostly serve to spoil potential passing game touchdowns for the players we truly want to roster. CeeDee Lamb is WR1/2 on FanDuel and WR1/6 on DraftKings, he is a fantastic option all around the industry this week. Lamb has been one of the leading scorers in fantasy football all season and nothing changes with plenty to play for in an easy matchup this week, there is slate-leading potential for the wide receiver again this Sunday. Terry McLaurin is WR18/27 and WR17/18, he is a better option on DraftKings but is playable on both sites, the same is true for teammate Jahan Dotson. Brandin Cooks is WR25/25 on FanDuel and 23/24 on DraftKings, the Cowboys’ nominal second target is an underpriced and under-rostered asset in most weeks, we will be sure to have a strong share of him in Cowboys stacks, and as a standalone option in Week 18. Curtis Samuel, Michael Gallup, KaVontae Turpin, and Jalen Tolbert, as well as Dyami Brown and even Byron Pringle in a more extreme sense, are playable darts for big-play upside with limited volume at cheap prices. Jake Ferguson is TE4/6 on FanDuel and TE5/12 on DraftKings, we are not slowing our season-long enthusiasm for the player at this point. Logan Thomas is a moderately playable option for a fair price at the position from the Washington side, he is mostly touchdown-dependent.

 


Denver Broncos

Key Player: Jarrett Stidham

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Javonte Williams, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Jaleel McLaughlin, Samaje Perine, Marvin Mims Jr., Adam Trautman (large field), Lil’Jordan Humphrey (large field), Brandon Johnson (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Davante Adams, Zamir White, Jakobi Meyers, Tre Tucker, Austin Hooper

Lineup Notes: The biggest competition related to this game is the game itself competing with the Jets/Pats game for least relevant to anyone or anything. Denver and Las Vegas are both well out of playoff contention, Jarret Stidham is running the show after taking over for Rusell Wilson last week in Denver while Aidan O’Connell leads the Raiders. Zamir White is showing points-per-dollar value once again with Josh Jacobs ending the season on the sidelines. White is RB13/8 on FanDuel and RB16/12 on DraftKings. None of the Denver 2running backs hits the board very hard, Javonte Williams is RB26/21 and RB21/16 while Jaleel McLaughlin could see a few additional touches and has explosive upside but limited volume. Davante Adams is WR8/9 on FanDuel and WR6/30 on DraftKings but he relies on O’Connell to deliver the ball which has had a limiting impact on his fantasy production in several weeks this season. Jakobi Meyers ranks in the 20s on both sites, Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton are playable but similarly limited by quarterback talent on both sites from the Denver side.

 


Detroit Lions

Key Player: Jared Goff

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Sam LaPorta, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Donovan Peoples-Jones (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Justin Jefferson, Ty Chandler, Jordan Addison, Johnny Mundt, KJ Osborn

Lineup Notes: Either or both of the Lions’ running backs can be included in the group, they both see significant carry volume but neither is heavily targeted in the passing game. This game matters on both sides, the Vikings are clinging to minimal hopes, they need a win before any help factors even matter in their chase for the playoffs. The Lions are playing before their potential helpers, if both the Cowboys and Eagles lose and the Lions win they will vault into the second seed. This game should be a reasonable source of fantasy scoring from regular starters from beginning to end. Jahmyr Gibbs ranks as RB8/22 on FanDuel and RB7/11 on DraftKings, meanwhile, David Montgomery and Ty Chandler come up merely as playable options. Detroit tight end Sam LaPorta is the leading tight end by projected fantasy points on both sites, he ranks as TE1/7 on FanDuel and TE1/15 on DraftKings. Johnny Mundt is a strong points-per-dollar option at the position from the other side, the tight end lands as TE11/3 on FanDuel and TE13/2 on DraftKings. Two ultra-premium wide receivers will do battle atop this game, Justin Jefferson lands as WR3/6 on FanDuel and WR2/10 on DraftKings, while Amon-Ra St. Brown is WR5/12 on the blue site and WR4/32 on DraftKings. Jordan Addison is a playable also-ran but he is correctly, or even highly, priced for the projection. Josh Reynolds has only a middling projection but he lands as WR5 by points-per-d0llar value at just $3,300 on DraftKings this week.

 


Green Bay Packers

Key Player: Jordan Love

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Jayden Reed (Q), Christian Watson (Q), Romeo Doubs, Luke Musgrave (Q), Dontayvion Wicks (Q), Tucker Kraft (large field), Malik Heath (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: DJ Moore, Cole Kmet (Q), Tyler Scott, Robert Tonyan, Khalil Herbert (Q), Roschon Johnson

Lineup Notes: Most of the receivers are questionable, AJ Dillon is out. The Packers look like a strong option for fantasy, despite listing essentially everyone as questionable for this game. This is a win-and-in situation for Green Bay, if they handle their business against the rival Bears they make the playoffs. The Packers can still get in via five different increasingly more convoluted paths if they lose, but the best approach is to smash the scoring button and win on their own. Jordan Love and Justin Fields both project as strong DFS options, Fields can run on his own given his production in the rushing game and his individual scoring potential, but the Bears have playable stacking and bring-back options. Love should be played in stacks with whoever takes the field from his list of strong pass-catching options, most of whom are questionable. Of the wide receivers, only Romeo Doubs comes without a Q-tag this week, he ranks as WR36/44 and WR32/60. Jayden Reed lands as the top Packers receiver at WR16/22 and WR18/31 while Christian Watson may play and would slot in at WR17/16 and WR16/4, his value is very strong on DraftKings if he plays. The top wide receiver from either team, naturally, is DJ Moore, who ranks as WR6/8 and WR5/9 for just $8,000/$7,000 respectively. Receivers from down the depth chart will gain value if there are missing bodies from the Green Bay side, Malik Heath is worth watching from the cheap tier; the remaining Bears options are more limited. Cole Kmet leads the way at the tight end position, the big Bear ranks as TE8/11 and TE7/14 from FanDuel to DraftKings, while both Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft look at least playable in stacks from the Green Bay side.

 


Jacksonville Jaguars

Key Player: Trevor Lawrence

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Travis Etienne Jr., Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk (Q), Evan Engram, Zay Jones (Q), Brenton Strange (large field), Parker Washington (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Derrick Henry, DeAndre Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Chris Moore, Chig Okonkwo

Lineup Notes: This game matters for Jacksonville, they will win the AFC South with a victory, so they should be expected to play full bore for the entire game. This is a good spot for the Jaguars, Tennessee has been a vulnerable pass-funnel defense for most of the season, which should play up well for Trevor Lawrence and the pass catchers, while Travis Etienne Jr. runs into a stout rush defense. With the challenge, Etienne ranks as RB9 by fantasy points this week. Derrick Henry looks like his typical self around the middle of the board, he projects as RB14 by fantasy points and 15 by value. Lawrence is QB7/5 on FanDuel and QB6/16 on DraftKings. Ryan Tannehill is expected to take the reins again for the Titans, he lands as QB21/20 and QB19/14. Calvin Ridley and DeAndre Hopkins are another strong pair of wide receivers who should be high-end throughout their entire game. Ridley leads the way as WR11/10 on FanDuel and WR8/16 on DraftKings, while Hopkins is WR14/15 and WR13/17. It is Christian Kirk, however, who sneaks in as the top overall points-per-dollar receiver on both sites, he is WR24/1 on the blue site and WR21/1 on DraftKings for $4,000 and $3,000 respectively, if he manages to take the field he is a potentially tremendous value play on both sites. Zay Jones dips with Kirk’s return or rises somewhat from his current ranking if Kirk sits, the remaining wide receivers are dart throw options with Treylon Burks looking like an interesting value dart at $3,400 on DraftKings. Evan Engram is TE5/10 on FanDuel and TE4/19 on DraftKings this week, he is easily the most playable option at the position from this game and he looks like a decent selection slate-wide with what should be an enhanced opportunity for a touchdown and some receiving yards. Chig Okonkwo has mid-level value on both sites.

 


Kansas City Chiefs

Key Player: Blaine Gabbert

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: La’Mical Perine, Noah Gray, Justin Watson, Richie James Jr., Mecole Hardman Jr., Justyn Ross, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Blake Bell (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Austin Ekeler, Gerald Everett, Joshua Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Alex Erickson, Stone Smartt

Lineup Notes: Patrick Mahomes is not expected to play, Blaine Gabbert should start in his place. Rashee Rice and Kadarius Toney are out. Travis Kelce is not expected to play. Isiah Pacheco is questionable and unlikely to play. The Chiefs are locked into the AFC West title and have declared Week 18 to be a rest week for their regulars. The team is not currently listing Kelce or Pacheco out, but they should not be expected to play. The nature of the wide receiver depth chart should be revealed ahead of game-time tomorrow, one wonders if Justin Watson and Justyn Ross qualify as regulars who will rest in the minds of coaching. The Chiefs are a limited option but they do offer cheap individuals, perhaps the most interesting of whom is tight end Noah Gray who should see lead reps with Kelce out. Gray currently ranks as TE6/1 on FanDuel and TE9/1 on DraftKings while opposing tight end Gerald Everett is showing similar potential as TE7/5 and TE6/3. On both sides, the wide receivers will be limited on talent, current performance, and quarterback pairings with Blaine Gabbert and Easton Stick throwing the ball, Watson is the top-ranked wide receiver in this game at WR42/33 and WR50/21 and he might not play. Joshua Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Justyn Ross, and others are potentially playable but information will be important in making decisions for this game come Sunday morning. Neither quarterback looks great outside of points-per-dollar potential, where Stick ranks 14th on DraftKings by points but 6th by value on the site, on FanDuel he is just QB16/12. Gabbert does not even have that much going for him, he is QB23/21 and QB21/20 and he looks mostly unplayable. The skill players should be considered mostly as standalone options, further reducing their overall value. Sunday Update: Clyde Edwards-Helaire will reportedly see work in the rushing game this week, he has been updated in projections. Travis Kelce will play only long enough to gain 16 yards for another 1,000-yard season.

 


Las Vegas Raiders

Key Player: Aidan O’Connell

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Zamir White, Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, Tre Tucker, Ameer Abdullah (large field), Austin Hooper, Hunter Renfrow (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Javonte Williams, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Jaleel McLaughlin, Samaje Perine, Marvin Mims Jr.

Lineup Notes: Josh Jacobs is out. The Las Vegas side of this one is slightly more appealing with two premium wide receivers and a value-based running back once again. The biggest competition related to this game is the game itself competing with the Jets/Pats game for the least relevance to anyone or anything. Denver and Las Vegas are both well out of playoff contention, Jarret Stidham is running the show after taking over for Rusell Wilson last week in Denver while Aidan O’Connell leads the Raiders. Zamir White is showing points-per-dollar value once again with Josh Jacobs ending the season on the sidelines. White is RB13/8 on FanDuel and RB16/12 on DraftKings. None of the Denver running backs hits the board very hard, Javonte Williams is RB26/21 and RB21/16 while Jaleel McLaughlin could see a few additional touches and has explosive upside but limited volume. Davante Adams is WR8/9 on FanDuel and WR6/30 on DraftKings but he relies on O’Connell to deliver the ball which has had a limiting impact on his fantasy production in several weeks this season. Jakobi Meyers ranks in the 20s on both sites, Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton are playable but similarly limited by quarterback talent on both sites from the Denver side.

 


Los Angeles Chargers

Key Player: Easton Stick

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Austin Ekeler, Gerald Everett, Joshua Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Alex Erickson, Stone Smartt (Q), Keelan Doss (large field), Jalen Guyton (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: La’Mical Perine, Noah Gray, Justin Watson, Richie James Jr., Mecole Hardman Jr., Justyn Ross, Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Lineup Notes: Keenan Allen is out again. The Chargers have nothing to play for and the Chiefs are locked into the AFC West title and have declared Week 18 to be a rest week for their regulars, this is a limited game with just a 35.5-point total in Vegas and very low-end options at the skill positions on both sides. Austin Ekeler is easily the most playable option on the Chargers, despite his lousy year he lands as RB7/2 on FanDuel and RB3/4 on DraftKings. The Chiefs are not currently listing Kelce or Pacheco out, but they should not be expected to play. The nature of the wide receiver depth chart should be revealed ahead of game-time tomorrow, one wonders if Justin Watson and Justyn Ross qualify as regulars who will rest in the minds of coaching. The Chiefs are a limited option but they do offer cheap individuals, perhaps the most interesting of whom is tight end Noah Gray who should see lead reps with Kelce out. Gray currently ranks as TE6/1 on FanDuel and TE9/1 on DraftKings while opposing tight end Gerald Everett is showing similar potential as TE7/5 and TE6/3. On both sides, the wide receivers will be limited on talent, current performance, and quarterback pairings with Blaine Gabbert and Easton Stick throwing the ball, Watson is the top-ranked wide receiver in this game at WR42/33 and WR50/21 and he might not play. Joshua Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Justyn Ross, and others are potentially playable but information will be important in making decisions for this game come Sunday morning. Neither quarterback looks great outside of points-per-dollar potential, where Stick ranks 14th on DraftKings by points but 6th by value on the site, on FanDuel he is just QB16/12. Gabbert does not even have that much going for him, he is QB23/21 and QB21/20 and he looks mostly unplayable. The skill players should be considered mostly as standalone options, further reducing their overall value.

 


Los Angeles Rams

Key Player: Carson Wentz

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Puka Nacua (most likely not playing much), Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, Davis Allen, Austin Trammell, Tyler Johnson, Demarcus Robinson (not expected to play much)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Jordan Mason, Ronnie Bell, Elijah Mitchell (limited action), Chris Conley, Danny Gray, Charlier Woerner

Lineup Notes: This game is chaotic with both teams essentially locked into playoff position and expected to rest the majority of key players for most of the game. Matthew Stafford is not expected to play, Kyren Williams and Cooper Kupp are both listed as doubtful as well. Carson Wentz is expected to start for Los Angeles, he ranks as QB24/22 on FanDuel and QB22/18 on DraftKings this week and he will not have Cooper Kupp or Kyren Williams to help him with scoring. Wentz will also almost certainly have a limited-action Puka Nacua and Demarcus Robinson, which further inhibits the playability of these teams. Nacua is expected to dress and take the field but his overall action is in question and his projection has been limited, the same is true of Robinson. Sam Darnold will start for the 49ers, he is without Christian McCaffrey and we are projecting extremely limited work for the likes of Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk. With all of the potential absences and the chaotic nature of this game a few darts can be drawn for value and upside plays but there is not an easy approach to determining who they may be. Jordan Mason seems likely to lead the 49ers in carries, but Elijah Mitchell should see a few before checking out, any of the big 3 from the 49ers could score before they exit the game, and the same is true of Nacua and Robinson. Tutu Atwell could be sneaky, he has had a strong season but his role was badly diminished when Kupp came back and Robinson re-emerged, Atwell climbs back up the board to rank as WR33/14 and WR25/2 this week. From the San Francisco side, Ronnie Bell is WR21/4 for $4,800 on FanDuel and WR26/3 for $3,200 on DraftKings.

 


Miami Dolphins

Key Player: Tua Tagovailoa

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Tyreek Hill, De’Von Achane, Cedrick Wilson Jr., Durham Smythe, Braxton Berrios, River Cracraft (very large field), Robbie Chosen (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: James Cook, Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Dalton Kincaid, Khalil Shakir, Dawson Knox, Trent Sherfield (large field)

Lineup Notes: This game is only available on FanDuel. Jaylen Waddle and Raheem Mostert are not expected to play. This game is only available on FanDuel, it is the Sunday Night game in the 8 pm ET window and it will be playable as a Showdown slate on DraftKings. The winner of this game takes the AFC East crown, both teams should be expected to go all out for the win. If Miami loses, they will drop to the sixth seed but they are not in danger of falling out of the playoffs. The Bills will secure a playoff spot with a victory and AFC East title, or if they fail to win or at least tie, they can still backdoor their way into the tournament with a Jaguars loss or tie, the Steelers removed a path by winning their game on Saturday. The Bills are not locked into a playoff spot and, technically, have a bit more to play for than Miami. Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa rank among the top quarterback options on the blue site. Allen is QB3/8, Tagovailoa is QB8/9, and both signal callers have premium options at the wide receiver position. The Bills should be at full strength, but the Dolphins will be without both Jaylen Waddle, their 1A receiver, and Raheem Mostert, their 1 or 1A running back, depending on the week. Tyreek Hill is available, he and Tagovailoa can keep this competitive on their own and he ranks as WR2/3 on FanDuel this week. Not far behind is Stefon Diggs at WR7/7 while Gabe Davis joins the party at WR26/32. Cedrick WIlson Jr. shows a bit of value, he is WR31 by FanDuel points but WR17 by points-per-dollar value filling in for Waddle. The remaining receivers are simply dart throws in this matchup. The tight end advantage lies with Buffalo, but Dalton Kincaid is just TE13/15 on this slate. Despite all of the potential passing, there are good options on the ground in this contest as well, James Cook is RB9/13 and De’Von Achane climbed up the board to RB2 by fantasy points after Mostert was ruled out overnight. This is a potential late-night hammer on an NFL Sunday on the blue site, it should be considered among the more appealing games of the day. Miami is stack 3/7 on FanDuel and Buffalo is stack 4/5.

 


Minnesota Vikings

Key Player: Nick Mullens

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Justin Jefferson, Ty Chandler, Jordan Addison, Johnny Mundt, KJ Osborn, Brandon Powell (very large field), Josh Oliver (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Sam LaPorta, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Donovan Peoples-Jones (large field)

Lineup Notes: This game matters on both sides, the Vikings are clinging to minimal hopes, they need a win before any help factors even matter in their chase for the playoffs. The Lions are playing before their potential helpers, if both the Cowboys and Eagles lose and the Lions win they will vault into the second seed. This game should be a reasonable source of fantasy scoring from regular starters from beginning to end. Jahmyr Gibbs ranks as RB8/22 on FanDuel and RB7/11 on DraftKings, meanwhile, David Montgomery and Ty Chandler come up merely as playable options. Detroit tight end Sam LaPorta is the leading tight end by projected fantasy points on both sites, he ranks as TE1/7 on FanDuel and TE1/15 on DraftKings. Johnny Mundt is a strong points-per-dollar option at the position from the other side, the tight end lands as TE11/3 on FanDuel and TE13/2 on DraftKings. Two ultra-premium wide receivers will do battle atop this game, Justin Jefferson lands as WR3/6 on FanDuel and WR2/10 on DraftKings, while Amon-Ra St. Brown is WR5/12 on the blue site and WR4/32 on DraftKings. Jordan Addison is a playable also-ran but he is correctly, or even highly, priced for the projection. Josh Reynolds has only a middling projection but he lands as WR5 by points-per-d0llar value at just $3,300 on DraftKings this week.

 


New England Patriots

Key Player: Bailey Zappe

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Ezekiel Elliott, DeMario Douglas, DeVante Parker (Q), Mike Gesicki, Tyquan Thornton (Q), Jalen Reagor (large field), Pharaoh Brown (Q; very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Breece Hall, Garrett Wilson, Tyler Conklin, Xavier Gipson, Jason Brownlee

Lineup Notes: This game is atrocious and neither team has anything to play for other than the earning or spoiling of what is almost certainly Bill Belichick’s last shot at a win with his longtime team. Trevor Siemian is expected to start again for New York, while Bailey Zappe runs the show for the Patriots once again. The skill players on both sides have limited appeal outside of stacks, any of Ezekiel Elliott, Garrett Wilson, or Breece Hall can strike gold on their own without dragging teammates into the mix. Hall is RB5/12 on FanDuel and RB6/19 on DraftKings, Elliott is RB6/5 and RB12/5, but Wilson lands as just WR27/34 and WR22/45. Demario Douglas is a limited option from the top of the Patriots’ receiver depth chart, none of the tight ends in this game rank in the top 20 in either category on either site.

 


New Orleans Saints

Key Player: Derek Carr

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Alvin Kamara (Q), Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, Juwan Johnson (Q), Tayson Hill, AT Perry (Q), Foster Moreau (large field), Jimmy Graham (very very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Bijan Robinson, Drake London, Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, Van Jefferson, Tyler Allegier

Lineup Notes: It seems to almost defy belief that the Falcons are still in the playoff hunt given their omnipresence on the negative side of fantasy football results throughout the season but if they manage to beat the Saints in Week 18 while getting help from a Tampa Bay loss, they will be in the tournament. The Saints can also make the playoffs with a win and the same Tampa Bay loss, and they have a more complicated angle open in the event of a Tampa Bay victory. If both the Saints and Buccaneers win but the Seahawks and Packers lose, the Saints will qualify for the postseason. As usual, the skill players from Atlanta are more appealing and the Saints look deceptively OK. Bijan Robinson is RB11/11 on FanDuel and RB11/15 on DraftKings, the Falcons’ second head at running back, Tyler Allgeier is RB38/40 and 35/35 with his potential to sap touches and touchdowns. Alvin Kamara is RB16/14 and RB13/27 across sites, he continues to see significant touches from week to week but he has been more limited throughout 2023 than in seasons past. Kamara is appropriately priced, there is not enough of a discount to prioritize the running back despite his potential in both the rushing and passing attacks but it would not surprise to see him among slate leading scorers. Derek Carr is QB12/11 and QB10/17, he is a mid-level option on either site but he is not a high priority. Taylor Heinicke barely registers on FanDuel but he is very cheap at $4,900 on DraftKings, where he ranks 15th by points but 7th by points-per-dollar value. Drake London and Chris Olave are an interesting pair of receivers from the top of the board on either side. Olave beats out his counterpart by fantasy points on both sites as WR13/18 on FanDuel and WR11/33 on DraftKings while London is WR23/20 on the blue site and WR19/11 across town where his points-per-dollar number shines for just $5,000. Rashid Shaheed is a viable big play dart throw, while other options including Van Jefferson, AT Perry, KhaDarel Hodge, and more, are thin plays at the position. This game offers between four and seven playable tight ends, depending on one’s willingness to stretch the definition. Jimmy Graham is TE52/52 and TE44/44 across sites but he had a multi-week run of touchdown scoring at very cheap prices and limited volume, he is the lowest-end option on the board. Kyle Pitts leads the group as TE9/8 on FanDuel and TE10/6 on DraftKings, he shares the position with Jonnu Smith who is TE20/21 and TE19/17. Juwan Johnson lands above Taysom Hill as TE12/12 and TE11/9 compared to TE19/23 and TE18/28 for Hill, but there is plenty of sneaky ceiling in Hill’s gadgety nature. Foster Moreau and MyCole Pruitt are touchdown-dependent value darts at best.

 


New York Giants

Key Player: Tyrod Taylor

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Saquon Barkley, Darren Waller, Darius Slayton, Wan’Dale Robinson, Jalin Hyatt, Isiah Hodgins

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: AJ Brown, D’Andre Swift (Q), Dallas Goedert, Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus (large field), Quez Watkins (large field)

Lineup Notes: The Giants will look to play spoilers against their division rivals but this should be a complete pushover for the Eagles, who have lost a few questionable contests this season on the back of a very weak defense that betrays their excellent offense on a near-weekly basis. Philadelphia ranks second by fantasy points and first by points-per-dollar on FanDuel and they land as stack two by points but nine by value on DraftKings. The Eagles are chasing the team they are dueling with in the standings for the top overall stack projection, the Cowboys are the top-ranked stack by raw fantasy points but it is close. Philadelphia needs to win or tie this game and they need Dallas to lose or tie to hop to the two-seed and win the NFC East, but they have already clinched a playoff berth. It is most likely that the Philadelphia starters will play and go all out throughout the entire game, but if they are out to a big lead they may take their foot off of the gas pedal slightly. Regardless, this is one of the top overall teams of the day. Jalen Hurts has incredible scoring upside at the quarterback position, he set the record for quarterback rushing touchdowns in a season two weeks ago and has multi-score potential in that area. Hurts is also a premium passer with excellent weapons at his disposal, it is very easy to support his ranking as QB2/3 on FanDuel and QB2/8 on DraftKings this week. AJ Brown is WR4/5 on FanDuel and WR3/27 on DraftKings, DeVonta Smith is out but that pushes cheap options like Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus, and Quez Watkins up the board, which is to say nothing of the inherent value of tight end Dallas Goedert who ranks as TE3/2 on FanDuel and TE3/4 on DraftKings. The Giants have a playable tight end of their own, with Darren Waller slotting in as TE10/9 and TE8/16, despite not doing much of anything throughout this injury-marred season. Saquon Barkley is the most playable of the options from the Giants with strong points and value markings on both sites, but he is neck-and-neck with D’Andre Swift from the other side of this contest. Either of the running backs is a strong option but Barkley has easily more touchdown potential on this slate if nothing else, his biggest weakness is the atrocious offensive line in front of him. The Giants pass catchers are mostly dart-throw level options but they are better options with Tyrod Taylor than they have been with any quarterback this season.

 


New York Jets

Key Player: Trevor Siemian

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Breece Hall, Garrett Wilson, Tyler Conklin, Xavier Gipson, Jason Brownlee, Kenny Yeboah (large field), Allen Lazard (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Ezekiel Elliott, DeMario Douglas, DeVante Parker (Q), Mike Gesicki, Tyquan Thornton (Q)

Lineup Notes: This game is atrocious and neither team has anything to play for other than the earning or spoiling of what is almost certainly Bill Belichick’s last shot at a win with his longtime team. Trevor Siemian is expected to start again for New York, while Bailey Zappe runs the show for the Patriots once again. The skill players on both sides have limited appeal outside of stacks, any of Ezekiel Elliott, Garrett Wilson, or Breece Hall can strike gold on their own without dragging teammates into the mix. Hall is RB5/12 on FanDuel and RB6/19 on DraftKings, Elliott is RB6/5 and RB12/5, but Wilson lands as just WR27/34 and WR22/45. Demario Douglas is a limited option from the top of the Patriots’ receiver depth chart, none of the tight ends in this game rank in the top 20 in either category on either site.

 


Philadelphia Eagles

Key Player: Jalen Hurts

Setting: at least one (this can be used at “at most two” to allow for “naked” Hurts lineups)

Team Group: AJ Brown, D’Andre Swift (Q), Dallas Goedert, Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus (large field), Quez Watkins (large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Saquon Barkley, Darren Waller, Darius Slayton, Wan’Dale Robinson, Jalin Hyatt, Isiah Hodgins

Lineup Notes: This game against the Giants should be a complete pushover for the Eagles, who have lost a few questionable contests this season on the back of a very weak defense that betrays their excellent offense on a near-weekly basis. Philadelphia ranks second by fantasy points and first by points-per-dollar on FanDuel and they land as stack two by points but nine by value on DraftKings. The Eagles are chasing the team they are dueling with in the standings for the top overall stack projection, the Cowboys are the top-ranked stack by raw fantasy points but it is close. Philadelphia needs to win or tie this game and they need Dallas to lose or tie to hop to the two-seed and win the NFC East, but they have already clinched a playoff berth. It is most likely that the Philadelphia starters will play and go all out throughout the entire game, but if they are out to a big lead they may take their foot off of the gas pedal slightly. Regardless, this is one of the top overall teams of the day. Jalen Hurts has incredible scoring upside at the quarterback position, he set the record for quarterback rushing touchdowns in a season two weeks ago and has multi-score potential in that area. Hurts is also a premium passer with excellent weapons at his disposal, it is very easy to support his ranking as QB2/3 on FanDuel and QB2/8 on DraftKings this week. AJ Brown is WR4/5 on FanDuel and WR3/27 on DraftKings, DeVonta Smith is out but that pushes cheap options like Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus, and Quez Watkins up the board, which is to say nothing of the inherent value of tight end Dallas Goedert who ranks as TE3/2 on FanDuel and TE3/4 on DraftKings. The Giants have a playable tight end of their own, with Darren Waller slotting in as TE10/9 and TE8/16, despite not doing much of anything throughout this injury-marred season. Saquon Barkley is the most playable of the options from the Giants with strong points and value markings on both sites, but he is neck-and-neck with D’Andre Swift from the other side of this contest. Either of the running backs is a strong option but Barkley has easily more touchdown potential on this slate if nothing else, his biggest weakness is the atrocious offensive line in front of him. The Giants pass catchers are mostly dart-throw level options but they are better options with Tyrod Taylor than they have been with any quarterback this season.

 


Seattle Seahawks

Key Player: Geno Smith

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Kenneth Walker III, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Noah Fant, Jake Bobo (large field), Dareke Young (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: James Conner, Trey McBride, Michael Wilson, Greg Dortch, Rondale Moore

Lineup Notes: The most straightforward path for Seattle to make the playoffs is with a victory, which must also combine with a Packers loss or tie. Both teams are playing in the late window, so Seattle should be expected to be firing on all cylinders, such as that is, for the entire game. Seattle is 10th by fantasy points on FanDuel and 8th on DraftKings in our stack rankings while landing 9th and 12th respectively by points-per-dollar value, there is a bit of DFS potential involved in this game. The Cardinals have enough to believe they can hang in offensively for long enough to support scoring for the Seahawks who have only infrequently uncorked their offensive potential this season. Kenneth Walker III is RB2/2 on FanDuel and RB1/3 on DraftKings this week, he is a potentially critical component of the slate on both sites which makes him one of the most popular individual plays around the industry in Week 18. Walker blows away the ranking for James Conner, who is merely a somewhat playable option from the other side of this contest. At the quarterback position, however, the Cardinals take the lead with Kyler Murray outpacing Smith as QB6/7 on FanDuel and QB5/4 on DraftKings to Smith’s QB10/10 and 8/15. Murray has produced strong fantasy scores in more than half of his limited schedule of games this season, he is an underrated option in this spot. The Cardinals receiving group is not bereft of potential, but the stronger options on the other side badly outpace them. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both rank inside the top 15 by fantasy points and the top 25 by value and Jaxon Smith-Njigba is not far behind at WR32/23 and WR27/28. Michael Wilson, Greg Dortch, and Rondale Moore are playable mid-level options who are priced appropriately to their potential on this slate, they are neither overly good nor overly bad options with Wilson looking like the top man. Of course, Arizona tight end Trey McBride may be the top overall pass catcher in this game on either side, he ranks as TE2/4 on FanDuel and TE2/13 on DraftKings in Week 18. Noah Fant is the lead option in a multi-way tight end group for Seattle, he slightly outpaces the others by fantasy points and lands as TE5 by points-per-dollar value on the DraftKings slate.

 


San Francisco 49ers

Key Player: Sam Darnold

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Jordan Mason, Ronnie Bell, Elijah Mitchell, Chris Conley, Danny Gray, Charlie Woerner, Kyle Juszczyk

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Puka Nacua (most likely not playing much), Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, Davis Allen, Austin Trammell, Tyler Johnson, Demarcus Robinson (not expected to play much)

Lineup Notes: This game is chaotic with both teams essentially locked into playoff position and expected to rest the majority of key players for most of the game. Matthew Stafford is not expected to play, Kyren Williams and Cooper Kupp are both listed as doubtful as well. Carson Wentz is expected to start for Los Angeles, he ranks as QB24/22 on FanDuel and QB22/18 on DraftKings this week and he will not have Cooper Kupp or Kyren Williams to help him with scoring. Wentz will also almost certainly have a limited-action Puka Nacua and Demarcus Robinson, which further inhibits the playability of these teams. Nacua is expected to dress and take the field but his overall action is in question and his projection has been limited, the same is true of Robinson. Sam Darnold will start for the 49ers, he is without Christian McCaffrey and we are projecting extremely limited work for the likes of Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk. With all of the potential absences and the chaotic nature of this game a few darts can be drawn for value and upside plays but there is not an easy approach to determining who they may be. Jordan Mason seems likely to lead the 49ers in carries, but Elijah Mitchell should see a few before checking out, any of the big 3 from the 49ers could score before they exit the game, and the same is true of Nacua and Robinson. Tutu Atwell could be sneaky, he has had a strong season but his role was badly diminished when Kupp came back and Robinson re-emerged, Atwell climbs back up the board to rank as WR33/14 and WR25/2 this week. From the San Francisco side, Ronnie Bell is WR21/4 for $4,800 on FanDuel and WR26/3 for $3,200 on DraftKings. Sunday Update: Ray-Ray McCloud is active, he has been added to projections.

 


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Player: Baker Mayfield (Q)

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Mike Evans, Rachaad White, Chris Godwin, Trey Palmer, Cade Otton, David Moore (large field), Chase Edmonds (large field), Rakim Jarrett (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Adam Thielen, Chuba Hubbard, DJ Chark Jr., Ihmir Smith-Marsestte, Terrace Marshall Jr., Tommy Tremble

Lineup Notes: This game matters for one team, if you have been paying attention since around Week 3 you will know that it is NOT the Panthers. Tampa Bay clinches the NFC South crown with a win or a tie with a Saints loss or tie, and they make the playoffs with a tie plus a Seahawks loss and a Packers loss or tie. Baker Mayfield is questionable on the injury report but he was confirmed to be starting on Friday and nothing has changed, he lands as one of the top quarterbacks this week. Mayfield is QB9/6 on FanDuel and QB7/12 on the DraftKings slate. The opposing team has one of the worst quarterbacks in football starting, he does not rank well this week after popping up for potential value and predictably disappointing terribly in last week’s game. Bryce Young is QB25/26 and QB23/21. Rachaad White has been a go-to option for us for weeks now but he slips slightly with an increased price and a somewhat reduced projection compared to industry averages. While we still very much like the upside, ceiling, receiving potential, and PPR bonus scoring, White falls in at just RB15/20 on FanDuel, he is RB9/25 on DraftKings with the PPR format supporting additional scoring. Chuba Hubbard is a limited option from a scoring perspective but he is inexpensive at $6,200/$5,500, he lands as RB21/10 on FanDuel and RB18/6 on DraftKings. Tampa Bay receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are both highly playable options in and out of stacks. Evans is WR10/26 on FanDuel and WR9/46 on DraftKings, his points-per-dollar value on the latter site is not strong but he has a clear path to a ceiling score. Godwin is WR20/30 and WR14/41, and the team has a few dart throw options including Trey Palmer. On the Carolina side, Adam Thielen still has potential and ranks as the team’s top receiver, but he is just WR19/19 and WR15/34 this week and his reliance on Bryce Young is extremely limiting. The same is true for the lower-projected receivers further down the depth chart but DJ Chark Jr. is flashing a touch of points-per-dollar value at WR42/15 on DraftKings from his middling projection. Cade Otton is a playable tight end but he does not warrant over-exposure, the Carolina tight ends are dart throws at best.

 


Tennessee Titans

Key Player: Ryan Tannehill

Setting: exactly one

Team Group: Derrick Henry, DeAndre Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Chig Okonkwo, Chris Moore, Tyjae Spears

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: Travis Etienne Jr., Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk (Q), Evan Engram, Zay Jones (Q)

Lineup Notes: This game matters for Jacksonville, they will win the AFC South with a victory, so they should be expected to play full bore for the entire game. This is a good spot for the Jaguars, Tennessee has been a vulnerable pass-funnel defense for most of the season, which should play up well for Trevor Lawrence and the pass catchers, while Travis Etienne Jr. runs into a stout rush defense. With the challenge, Etienne ranks as RB9 by fantasy points this week. Derrick Henry looks like his typical self around the middle of the board, he projects as RB14 by fantasy points and 15 by value. Lawrence is QB7/5 on FanDuel and QB6/16 on DraftKings. Ryan Tannehill is expected to take the reins again for the Titans, he lands as QB21/20 and QB19/14. Calvin Ridley and DeAndre Hopkins are another strong pair of wide receivers who should be high-end throughout their entire game. Ridley leads the way as WR11/10 on FanDuel and WR8/16 on DraftKings, while Hopkins is WR14/15 and WR13/17. It is Christian Kirk, however, who sneaks in as the top overall points-per-dollar receiver on both sites, he is WR24/1 on the blue site and WR21/1 on DraftKings for $4,000 and $3,000 respectively, if he manages to take the field he is a potentially tremendous value play on both sites. Zay Jones dips with Kirk’s return or rises somewhat from his current ranking if Kirk sits, the remaining wide receivers are dart throw options with Treylon Burks looking like an interesting value dart at $3,400 on DraftKings. Evan Engram is TE5/10 on FanDuel and TE4/19 on DraftKings this week, he is easily the most playable option at the position from this game and he looks like a decent selection slate-wide with what should be an enhanced opportunity for a touchdown and some receiving yards. Chig Okonkwo has mid-level value on both sites.

 


Washington Commanders

Key Player: Sam Howell

Setting: at least one

Team Group: Brian Robinson Jr., Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson, Logan Thomas, Dyami Brown (large field), Jamison Crowder (large field), Byron Pringle (very large field)

Opposing Setting: at most one

Opposing Group: CeeDee Lamb, Jake Ferguson, Brandin Cooks, Tony Pollard, Michael Gallup, KaVontae Turpin (large field), Jalen Tolbert (large field), Peyton Hendershot (very large field)

Lineup Notes: The Cowboys are our top-ranked stack for scoring on both sites, Dak Prescott is the top-ranked quarterback by fantasy points, and CeeDee Lamb is the top-ranked wide receiver, and one of the top overall players, by fantasy points. The Cowboys are all-in for this game, they win the NFC East and lock up the two seed with a victory to cap their very strong and somewhat underappreciated season. Dallas has been excellent for real football and fantasy scoring most weeks this season and they have a cakewalk matchup against a division-rival Washington team that should put up a bit of scoring to keep things moving. The Cowboys have an opportunity to stack up a very big number against a pass defense that ranks 31st at 7.4 yards allowed per attempt and 32nd with 2.2 passing touchdowns allowed per game over the first 17 weeks of the season. Prescott is QB1/1 on FanDuel and QB1/2 on DraftKings, on the other side Sam Howell holds up as a playable option in the mid-range on a big slate, he is QB13/15 on FanDuel and 11/10 on DraftKings but the Cowboys have most of the upside in this one. Howell has been lousy in real life throughout most of the year but he has continually had to throw the ball for heavy volume which leads to yardage and deceptive fantasy scoring, the Commanders are better for skill player options and bring-backs against Cowboys stacks than they are as a stack of their own. Tony Pollard has had one of the more disappointing healthy fantasy seasons in recent memory, he checks into Week 18 as just RB12/17 on the blue site and RB10/10 on DraftKings, all of the other running backs in this game are dart throw options at best, they will mostly serve to spoil potential passing game touchdowns for the players we truly want to roster. CeeDee Lamb is WR1/2 on FanDuel and WR1/6 on DraftKings, he is a fantastic option all around the industry this week. Lamb has been one of the leading scorers in fantasy football all season and nothing changes with plenty to play for in an easy matchup this week, there is slate-leading potential for the wide receiver again this Sunday. Terry McLaurin is WR18/27 and WR17/18, he is a better option on DraftKings but is playable on both sites, the same is true for teammate Jahan Dotson. Brandin Cooks is WR25/25 on FanDuel and 23/24 on DraftKings, the Cowboys’ nominal second target is an underpriced and under-rostered asset in most weeks, we will be sure to have a strong share of him in Cowboys stacks, and as a standalone option in Week 18. Curtis Samuel, Michael Gallup, KaVontae Turpin, and Jalen Tolbert, as well as Dyami Brown and even Byron Pringle in a more extreme sense, are playable darts for big-play upside with limited volume at cheap prices. Jake Ferguson is TE4/6 on FanDuel and TE5/12 on DraftKings, we are not slowing our season-long enthusiasm for the player at this point. Logan Thomas is a moderately playable option for a fair price at the position from the Washington side, he is mostly touchdown-dependent.


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