Safety is the name of the game in cash games, but FantasyDraft also pays out at least 25 percent of the field in every single contest, including tournaments, as well. This should motivate users to lean towards safe options in all formats on a site that puts #PlayersFirst. Without the top-heavy nature of tournaments, single entrants do not have to go with a “YOLO (you only live once)” mindset in tournaments, but can play for a solid cash instead. That makes life a whole lot easier.
Here are the “safe bets,” or players who can be inserted into lineups without fear of a dud, heading into the Wildcard Round:
Russell Wilson, Seahawks, $13,200 – Although both Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger are enticing options, Russell Wilson presents the best value of the three for cash games. According to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric, the Lions ranked as the 32nd passing defense this season. Despite a mediocre performance against the 49ers in Week 17, Wilson topped 20 fantasy points in two of his final three games and threw for at least three TDs in each of those contests. Vegas only implies one team (Steelers) will score more points than the Seahawks and recent data suggests they are right. Last week, Aaron Rodgers threw for exactly 300 yards and four TDs against the Lions and Dak Prescott threw for 212 yards and three TDs in Week 16 even with a watered down playbook. While most are focusing on the top two most expensive QBs, Wilson presents an incredibly safe alternative.
Lamar Miller, Texans, $11,400 – Instead of writing about the obvious (Le’Veon Bell who clearly is an elite play), it seemed more beneficial to write about the other potential options instead. The top RB worth pairing with Bell is none other than Lamar Miller who has now had a few weeks to rest his ailing ankle. Miller was quoted as saying “Missing the first two games (of my career), it was kind of tough. It was different for me, but I’m happy I’m back and I’m looking forward to helping this team.” It sounds like Miller is a full-go and just in time for a date with the Raiders’ 18th ranked rushing defense according to DVOA. Even though Miller’s season underwhelmed from a fantasy perspective, he still managed to average 4.0 yards per carry (YPC) and still possesses elite skills as a receiver out of the backfield. This is noteworthy against a Raiders defense that has allowed the 10th most fantasy points to opposing backs and ranks 23rd in DVOA against opposing RBs in the passing game. Most of the teams remaining rely on workhorse backs but Miller is among the most versatile.
Zach Zenner, Lions, $8,800 – Zach Zenner has burst onto the fantasy scene over the course of the last two weeks and showed no signs of slowing down last week against a pretty solid Packers rushing defense. After dropping 23.20 fantasy points on just 14 touches (propelled by two TDs) in Week 16, Zenner dropped 21.00 more fantasy points against the Packers at near minimum price once again on Sunday Night Football. Not only is Zenner totally dominating the rushing attempts in the Lions backfield but he was also targeted a healthy five times in Week 17 as well. To show just how confident the Lions are in this kid, Dwayne Washington was deemed active against the Packers and played a total of zero offensive snaps. In fact, no other back besides Zenner played a snap so this backfield is quite literally 100-percent his at this point. Against a Seahawks defense who has been surprising susceptible against the run this year (allowed 11th most rushing TDs), Zenner is still a bargain for someone seeing the sheer volume that he is set to see by default.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks, $13,200 – As noted in the Wilson tidbit, the Seahawks passing offense is in a great spot against one of the bottom tier secondaries in the league. The most imposing member of the Lions secondary is Darius Slay Jr. who has lined up on the outside of the formation (either right or left side) 97-percent of the time this season. On the other hand, Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks’ top receiver, has lined up in the slot a whopping 73-percent of the time so far this year. Essentially, Baldwin will avoid the difficult matchup and instead have the opportunity to beat nickel corner Asa Jackson like a drum as he has literally graded as one of the six worst cornerbacks in the entire NFL. If looking for a mid-tier WR to pair with the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. (who also seemed too obvious to mention), do not hesitate to turn to Baldwin.
Jarvis Landry, Dolphins, $10,100 – Apparently the chemistry with Matt Moore is just fine for Jarvis Landry as he ended the season with a bang: he caught 9-12 targets for 76 yards and a TD en route to 22.60 fantasy points. Okay so Moore has actually been starting for three straight games and this was actually the second time Landry topped 20 fantasy points during that span. Furthermore, the Steelers ranked absolutely dead last in DVOA against opposing number one WRs this year. The individual matchup against William Gay is not ideal, as all three of the Steelers corners actually grade well on paper, and Gay grades the best of the bunch. Still, for a guy who has been targeted 18 times over the course of the past two games, Landry’s price remains extremely reasonable. Actually, it has barely moved since last week’s monster performance and now the matchup is actually better on paper. If looking for a ton of bang for your buck, Landry fits the bill.
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks, $10,000 – By now, you can probably tell I have serious interest in the Seahawks passing game and Jimmy Graham completes the safety trifecta. After allowing the fourth most fantasy points to the TE position in 2015, they allowed the fifth most fantasy points in 2016 on the heels of 870 receiving yards and 10 receiving TDs allowed. Over the course of the two seasons, this defense has allowed 22 TDs to the position and DVOA had them pegged as the 29th ranked defense against the position this year. Thomas Rawls looked absolutely awful last week and it remains to be seen whether he can rebound so this could potentially be the Russell Wilson show all day. If there is one single player in the offense who has a gigantic talent advantage on those potentially guarding him, it is the 6’7”, 265 lbs Graham. None of the Lions’ linebackers have graded inside the top 45 at the position in terms of their coverage ability (per Pro Football Focus) so look for big game from the fairly priced Graham.