This article is part of our DFS NFL series.
We had perhaps a surprising wild-card weekend, with the Jaguars delivering a remarkable second-half comeback, the Dolphins hanging tough with the Bills, a closely fought battle between the Giants and Vikings and the Ravens playing Cincinnati tough. We'll cap things with another potentially exciting matchup between the Cowboys and Buccaneers. The combination of home-field advantage and the roster getting healthier leaves Tampa Bay as a 2.5-point favorite. The total is 45.5, leaving the Buccaneers with a 24-point implied total and the Cowboys 21.5.
Dak Prescott ($10,400 DK, $16,000 FD) is the higher-priced quarterback on each site and is the highest-priced player overall on FD. He had a disastrous close to the season and has at least one interception across his last seven games. From a broader perspective, his yards per attempt and adjusted yards per attempt were at their lowest marks since 2017. Adding in the fact that the Cowboys' preferred method of attack being on the ground (8th-lowest pass rate over expectation), and the upside looks pretty muted for Prescott. The Tampa Bay secondary is also likely to be healthier, and was still league-average with a unit that was rarely at full strength during the regular season.
Speaking of career-low yards per attempt and adjusted yards per attempt, Tom Brady ($10,000 DK, $15,000 FD) finally started to look his age this season. He topped 20 DK points only four times during the regular season. His personal history of success in the postseason is a reason to believe he can return a solid fantasy performance, but there isn't much in his statistical profile to suggest the same. The matchup could also turn out to be a positive for Brady, as the Cowboys have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks in the last five weeks.
We have split backfields for both teams, but the duo in Dallas is the more expensive on both sites. Tony Pollard ($8,000 DK, $12,500 FD) comes at the highest price point of all options, primarily based on his ability to make big plays. Put another way, Pollard has nine carries of 20 or more yards this season on 193 attempts. For comparison, Ezekiel Elliott ($7,800 DK, $12,000 FD) has five such gains on 231 attempts. Pollard also has a significant advantage as a pass catcher, averaging 3.4 targets per game as opposed to Elliott's 1.5. Finally, Pollard has three 100+ rushing-yard performances this season while Elliott has none. All told, Pollard has a huge advantage on DraftKings, and I wouldn't hesitate to find the extra $200 to play him over Elliott. The one advantage Elliott has is his workload near the goal line. He has 19 rushes inside the five-yard line and 12 rushing touchdowns, while Pollard has only seven rushes inside the five – though he has turned that into nine touchdowns. Given the scoring of the format, there's at least some case to be made for playing Elliott on FanDuel. The Buccaneers have been a tough time against the run this season, but Pollard's ability to hit for big plays keeps him in consideration.
The same exercise can occur for Tampa Bay's offense when comparing Leonard Fournette ($7,200 DK, $10,500 FD) and Rachaad White ($5,400 DK, $10,000 FD). Before we jump into any analysis, it's worth noting the huge discount of White's price on DK. The season-long numbers suggest Fournette has the upper hand in both targets and red zone opportunities, though that's changed in the second half of the season. Since the team's bye in Week 11, White has 69 carries, 33 targets and zero runs inside the five-yard line across seven games, while Fournette has 54 carries, 33 targets and one carry inside the five across six games in the same span (he also barely played in Week 18 when he had zero carries). It may be safe to assume that Fournette gets some work due to the trust he's built inside the organization, but White's price on DK can't be ignored. The Cowboys are strong against the run, having allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season. They've maintained similar form in the last five games.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
We'll begin in Dallas again. CeeDee Lamb ($10,600 DK, $14,000 FD) is the highest-priced player on DK and the most expensive non-quarterback on FD. He's earned that with a 30.1 percent target rate (seventh-highest in the league) and 26 deep targets (ninth-highest in the league). Though uncommon, Dalton Schultz ($6,400 DK, $9,500 FD) is the next most expensive Dallas pass catcher. It's unclear exactly why, but Schultz has at least nine targets in three of his last five games after doing so just once in his first 10 contests. He fills an important void in the Dallas offense, which has lacked a consistent second wide receiver for nearly the entire season. Michael Gallup ($5,000 DK, $8,000 FD) has filled that role at various points, but he's topped 40 receiving yards in only two of his last nine games. He's struggled to find consistent opportunity or work with high efficiency, so there's not much reason remaining to play him on paper. Noah Brown ($2,400 DK, $6,500 FD) had a brief hot stretch spanning Weeks 14 and 15, but he has one or fewer catches in five of his last nine games. T.Y. Hilton ($3,000 DK, $7,500 FD) joined Dallas in Week 16 and has 10 targets in three games in that span. He has two catches of 20 yards or more, and is a decent value compared to the rest of the Dallas pass catchers after Lamb. Tampa Bay has been a favorable matchup throughout the season.
Things are a bit easier in Tampa Bay. Mike Evans ($9,600 DK, $13,000 FD) and Chris Godwin ($9,200 DK, $11,500 FD) have accounted for 37.1 percent of the team's targets despite the dup missing two games apiece. Evans is perceived as having had a down season, but his yards per route run and yards per target have remained stable this season compared to his marks in 2020 and 2021. The primary reason for his downturn in production from a fantasy points per game perspective is related to his six touchdowns as opposed 14 and 13, respectively, in the previous two seasons. Godwin has a very consistent role in the Tampa Bay offense having recorded at least eight receptions in five of his last seven games. However, he's topped 65 yards just three times in that span. Evans is a boom-bust option built for tournament contests, while Godwin is more a cash game play. Similarly, Evans is more suited to FD while Godwin is more suited to DK. Russell Gage ($5,200 DK, $8,000 FD) seems to have usurped Julio Jones ($4,400 DK, $7,000 FD) for the third receiver role, though it's unclear if that's expected to change now that we have reached the postseason. Gage has at least six targets in three of his last four games, and he's topped 10 DK points in each of those games. He's a decent play if he can maintain his role. There's no reason to play Jones on paper, but he could be an under-the-radar play if he takes back his role as the third receiver. Cade Otton ($1,800 DK, $7,000 FD) has at least five targets in four of his last six games. The opportunity has been there, but he has failed to top 28 receiving yards in that span. The Cowboys are also a positive matchup, so there's no reason to shy away from any Tampa Bay pass catcher.
Ryan Succop ($4,000 DK, $8,500 FD) has made multiple field goals just once in his last eight games. That has translated to six or fewer fantasy points seven times in that span. That's not necessarily predictive, but it's an indication that he's had a lack of opportunity. Brett Maher ($3,800 DK, $8,500 FD) has had extreme swings in his production, making multiple field goals in five of his last nine games. He has zero in the other four.
As usual, there's more to the selection of defenses than may be expected. Tampa Bay ($3,400 DK, $9,000 FD) is a strong option from the perspective of being the favored team and also Prescott's aforementioned propensity to throw interceptions. The downside to the Buccaneers is that Dallas wants to run the ball, which limits opportunities to force turnovers and sacks – the primary way to generate points as a defense. Meanwhile, Dallas ($4,800 DK, $9,000 FD) is priced way up and has allowed very efficient performances to Gardner Minshew, Sam Howell and Trevor Lawrence in recent weeks. Tampa wants to throw more than Dallas, though it's unclear if the Cowboys' unit is currently capable of taking advantage.