Fantasy managers have arrived at a drastically different landscape. Sit ’em options aren’t the best investment of energy since the player pool is limited in playoff fantasy and DFS formats, so we will consider all the start ’em options for Wild Card Weekend in the NFL.
NFL Wild Card Weekend Start or Sit Fantasy Quarterbacks | Start ’em
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (at Tennessee Titans)
The Titans do not get a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Tennessee’s defense ranks second-to-last in pressure rate and has allowed 36 passing touchdowns. Expect Lamar to find success in his passing game on Sunday. If the running game gets established, play action will be available. The more time for routes to develop will stretch the field and create potentially explosive plays.
Any schematic recipe from the Titans that sells out on the run (and it wouldn’t be shocking if that were the case), and I vote that Jackson will swim rather than sink in this context.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (vs. Indianapolis Colts)
Allen has put on a clinic this season. He has 45 combined touchdowns on the year, and his team just put up 56 points against the #1 defense in a game they only kind of cared about. The Colts are giving up the third-most passing yards to opposing QBs the last four weeks. Don’t get cute; start the bonafide stud.
Allen could be matchup-proof at this stage in his development anyway. Expect Allen to toss the rock all over Orchard Park, New York. #CantWait
Other quarterbacks to consider starting for Wild Card Weekend
- Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts (at Buffalo Bills)
- Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. Chicago Bears)
NFL Wild Card Weekend Start or Sit Fantasy Running Backs | Start ’em
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (at Buffalo Bills)
Taylor crushed it for 250 rushing yards last week facing playoff elimination. He finally has become the dominant running back we all anticipated when he was drafted by the Colts this season. This week, the Colts offensive line (3rd best in the NFL) has an opportunity to dominate the Bills defensive line (third-worst in the NFL), especially in the rushing game. Expect Taylor to pick up where he left off last week.
Taylor will be the Colts’ best remedy to control the clock and time of possession.
J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The Buccaneers defense is quite efficient against the run but has allowed the most receptions to opposing running backs this season. If Alex Smith starts, he will continue to play small ball offensively, and McKissic will get the lion’s share of passing targets. The Buccaneers missing do-it-all linebacker Devin White makes this matchup even more juicy.
J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens (at Tennessee Titans)
Dobbins is the cream that has risen to the top in the Ravens backfield. Tennessee’s rushing defense ranks in the bottom quartile of the NFL, so expect Dobbins to pick up where he left off last week (160 rushing yards and two TDs in Week 17). The Titans will have to pick their poison containing either Lamar Jackson or Dobbins. If the Titans’ game plan keys on Jackson, you could see a monster game from Dobbins.
Other running backs to consider starting for Wild Card Weekend
- Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (at Buffalo Bills)
- Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams (at Seattle Seahawks)
NFL Wild Card Weekend Start or Sit Fantasy Wide Receivers | Start ’em
Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills (vs. Indianapolis Colts)
Diggs is dealing with an oblique injury, but I expect him to play and play well. This is a no-brainer and worth the DFS price this week. Josh Allen to Diggs is my favorite DFS stack this Wild Card Weekend. Be certain Diggs is on your DFS roster.
Diggs’ connection with Allen is simply too strong to ignore regardless of price tag. The passing game will be why the Bills move into the next round. Though John Brown is a quality option as well, the Bills will find a way to get the ball to their most talented WR.
Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Washington Football Team)
Brady will be under pressure all day long (Chase Young wants him some Tampa Tom), and Brady will need to get the ball out quickly. Brown should be the benefactor of that and see a ton of volume Saturday night. The Buccaneers wide receiver has shown increased comfort in recent games. That budding familiarity may prove dividends with a game plan that’s dependent on him.
Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Cleveland Browns)
Johnson’s volume share is solid heading into the postseason. It is evident Ben Roethlisberger looks his way more often than not, targeting him 20 more times than any other Steelers receivers. The Browns secondary is vulnerable against the pass, especially against explosive passing plays.
The Browns’ coaching situation could affect communication on micro-changes within the game, and an explosive playmaker like Johnson is one who can capitalize.
Other wide receivers to consider starting for Wild Card Weekend
- Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts (at Buffalo Bills)
- John Brown, Buffalo Bills (vs. Indianapolis Colts)
Tight end start ’em options for Wild Card Weekend
Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens (at Tennessee Titans)
Andrews has come on strong as of late, averaging four catches in his last four games. The Titans defense is not stellar against the position, allowing over eight yards per target. I expect Andrews to find the end zone this weekend, possibly more than once. It’s safe to roll with any Ravens offensive player this week; the Titans defense simply can’t be trusted.
Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The former quarterback turned into Alex Smith’s favorite red zone target for the Washington offense. Thomas has 24 red zone targets this season and should be a huge part of the game plan this week against Tampa. The game script likely commands Smith to look to RBs and Thomas in quick pass situations. Again, the absence of Tampa Bay linebacker Devin White helps elevate Thomas’ potential.
Wild Card Weekend Fantasy Defenses
- New Orleans Saints (vs. Chicago Bears)
- Washington Football Team (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
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Anita Marks is a fantasy analyst at Pro Football Network. Marks is also a gambling analyst for ESPN and appears on Daily Wager, which airs from 6-7 PM ET on ESPN 2. Her radio show – Weekend Wager – airs on ESPN New York (98.7) FM every Friday at 10 PM ET. Follow her on Twitter: @AnitaMarks.