Wild Card weekend means another opportunity to play some fantasy football. That means draft-and-hold postseason fantasy football leagues, DFS, salary cap formats, playoff challenge contests, and one-and-done contests. Regardless of which format you’re in, we have you covered here at FTN. Like we do every week in the Report, let’s break down every game from all fantasy angles below.
Indianapolis @ Buffalo
Jonathan Taylor punctuated an impressive stretch run with 253 rushing yards in the season finale. The Bills are a certainly better than the Jaguars against the run, but this isn’t a terrible matchup for Taylor. Expect to see a ton of him in this contest. Don’t let the season-long data fool you. This is a tough one for Philip Rivers, though. Buffalo’s pass defense surged down the stretch, allowing just 214.8 net passing yards per game over the final five games of the season. Rivers finally seemed to connect with T.Y. Hilton down the stretch, as the pair connected for five touchdowns over the final six games of the season. But Hilton is going to have his work cut out for him with Tre'Davious White on the other side of the field. Over the final month of the season, White saw just 14 targets thrown into his coverage with six receptions allowed for just 73 yards.
Over the final five games of the regular season, the Colts surrendered an average of 21.8 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Only the Lions allowed more net passing yards (1,633). So yeah, Josh Allen is going to go off here. Expect a ton of Allen to Stefon Diggs. The two connected 127 times in the regular season. To make matters better, Indy will be without Rock Ya-Sin. With Diggs lining up on the right nearly 40% of the time, he’ll see plenty of Ya-Sin’s backup T.J. Carrie. The journeyman corner is allowing 14.3 yards per catch this season. Don’t expect much from Devin Singletary and Zack Moss in this one. Opposing backfields averaged just 3.48 yards per carry and scored the fewest fantasy points per game against the Colts over the last five weeks of the season.
LA Rams @ Seattle
Season-long stats can be misleading. Sure, the Seahawks allowed the most net passing yards per game in the regular season, but that doesn’t mean this is a good matchup for the Rams passing game. Over the last five weeks, the Seahawks have actually been the worst fantasy matchup for quarterbacks. Seattle allowed just 10.0 fantasy points per game to the position over that span. It’s tough to trust Jared Goff (if he’s able to suit up) and the LA pass catchers in this one. However, there may be an opportunity for fantasy production from Cam Akers. Running backs averaged 4.4 yards per carry against Seattle over the final five weeks of the season. Akers was taken off the injury report and figures to see a heavy workload. It’s been six weeks since the Seahawks have allowed a touchdown to a tight end. That stat is especially impressive considering the tight ends they’ve face over that span: Evan Engram, Logan Thomas and George Kittle. Seattle also faced Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee over that span.
Los Angeles wasn’t far behind the Seahawks against the pass down the stretch and ranks as the third-worst matchup for quarterbacks over the final five games of the season. During that stretch, which did include one game against Seattle, the Rams allowed a league-low 188.6 net passing yards per game. Russell Wilson opened the season on a torrid pace, with 28 passing scores over his first eight games. Since then, Wilson has thrown just 12 touchdowns and ranked a modest 13th among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. DK Metcalf has really struggled against the Rams this season with yardage totals of 28 and 59 in his two games against LA. The Rams are the sixth-worst fantasy matchup for running backs. 3.76 yards per carry. The matchup doesn’t bode especially well for Chris Carson.
Tampa Bay @ Washington
The Football Team finished the regular season as the third-worst fantasy football matchup for quarterbacks, and that trend didn’t shift down the stretch. Washington actually moved up to the second-toughest opponent for quarterbacks over the final five weeks of the season. Tom Brady put up massive numbers over his final three games of the regular season with 1,137 passing yards and 10 scores, but keep in mind that he did so with two games against Atlanta and one against Detroit. Washington is going to be a much bigger challenge. Brady looks like he could have Mike Evans back, as the Bucs wideout managed to get to limited Thursday. Washington allowed just 13.8 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields over the final five games of the season. Only three defenses allowed fewer fantasy points per game. That stat doesn’t paint the most flattering picture for Ronald Jones in this one.
Likewise, things don’t look particularly good for Antonio Gibson. Over the final month of the season, Tampa allowed just one rushing score to running backs. Gibson scored 11 rushing touchdowns in the regular season, but it’s going to be rough sledding Saturday night. But things aren’t quite as bad for Logan Thomas. The Bucs were very friendly to opposing tight ends in the regular season. Only the Bears, Jags and Jets allowed more touchdowns to the position. Of course, the biggest factor for the Football Team passing game is Alex Smith. The veteran is questionable, but likely to play. That said, Taylor Heinicke did take first-team reps at Thursday’s practice. If Heinicke gets the start or there’s some sort of rotation, it’ll be tough to get behind using any piece of the Washington passing game.
Baltimore @ Tennessee
No quarterback scored more fantasy points than Lamar Jackson over the final month of the season. He was very much his 2019 self and sets up extremely well against a Titans defense that allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks in 2020. It was just Jackson who surged down the stretch. Rookie J.K. Dobbins assumed the lead duties in Week 11 and has rattle off six straight games with a score. He’s a strong bet to find paydirt this week considering the fact that running backs found pay dirt six times on the ground against the Titans over the final five weeks of the season.
Ryan Tannehill is going to have his work cut out for him. Baltimore allowed just 230.8 net passing yards per game over the final five weeks of the season. Only five teams allowed fewer fantasy points per game to the position over that span. A.J. Brown didn’t have a massive day against the Ravens in Week 11, but he did find the end zone in that contest. He also matchups up very well against a Baltimore secondary that has been hobbled down the stretch with injuries. Both Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith have been limited in practice this week. Of course, we save the best for last as Derrick Henry is the top running back on the board this week. He put up 133 rushing yards and the game-winning score against the Ravens back in Week 11.
Chicago @ New Orleans
David Montgomery was a revelation down the stretch, leading all running backs in fantasy scoring over the final six weeks of the season. Of course, the Saints enter the week as the worst fantasy matchup for running backs. But it should be noted that New Orleans has allowed six rushing scores to the position over their last four games, including one to Rodney Smith last week. Don’t completely write off Montgomery in this one. I’m not sure we can say the same thing for Mitchell Trubisky. He’s going to have an uphill battle against a New Orleans defense that allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season. A few seasons ago, we likely would have downgraded Allen Robinson against Marshon Lattimore. But it’s hard not to like this spot for Robinson after Lattimore allowed a whopping seven receiving scores in the regular season. Anthony Miller is also intriguing here out of the slot against P.J. Williams. He enters the week allowing a massive 0.55 fantasy points per route covered. That’s nearly double the league average of 0.28 for the regular season. The only thing that could hold back Robinson and Miller in this one is Trubisky.
Alvin Kamara’s not-so-cryptic tweet suggests he’s going to be on the field for this one. The Bears are the No. 25 matchup for running backs on the season, but it doesn’t really matter for Kamara. He’s an elite play regardless of the matchup. It also looks likely that Michael Thomas will be back after spending the last three weeks on IR. Thomas figures to see plenty of Jalyon Johnson in this one. The rookie got off to an impressive start to his NFL career, but he seemed to hit a bit of a rookie wall down the stretch with three touchdowns allowed over his final three games of the season. Johnson is dealing with a shoulder injury, but he’s trending toward playing in this one. Chicago has allowed four scores to tight ends over their last five games. Jared Cook is far from the sexiest option, but his red zone usage makes him intriguing enough to use as a pivot this week.
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh
On the season, the Steelers are the second-worst fantasy matchup for quarterbacks. While Pittsburgh did come back to the pack a bit down the stretch, they were still the ninth-worst fantasy matchup for quarterbacks over the last five weeks of the season with opposing signal callers averaging just 15.9 fantasy points per game in those contests. Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry aren’t the most trustworthy options this week. Nick Chubb needed just 14 carries to go over 100 yards last week against Pittsburgh, but the Steelers will be playing much closer to full strength here. Pittsburgh allowed just 85.3 rushing yards per game to opposing backfields in the regular season.
Cleveland enters the week shorthanded due to COVID-19. Head coach Kevin Stefanski won’t be on the sideline, and it looks like the Browns could still be without Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson in their secondary. Ben Roethlisberger and company should have no problem feasting through the air in this one. Roethlisberger targeted Diontae Johnson 140 times in the regular season, so expect a big workload for the second-year man, especially if JuJu Smith-Schuster isn’t able to suite up here. Only four teams allowed fewer fantasy points per game to running backs than the Browns (14.2) over the final five weeks of the season. Given the Browns pass-funnel defense, this isn’t the week to go all in on James Conner.