DeVonta Smith Is Your Week 18 DFS Darling
NFL Week 18 - Week 18 is here, and it brings the biggest DFS slate of the season with it. Thirteen games will be decided on this slate, but Week 18 is always a tricky proposition. Consider carefully what type of games you want to play and how much money you want to put on the line, remembering that teams might sit players halfway through a game or barely play them at all. This article will be updated throughout the week as we learn more about who likely starts and sits this weekend.
Josh Allen $8400 vs. New England Patriots
The Bills need a win on Sunday to retain the No. 2 seed which will allow them an easier path than if they lose and slip to the No. 3 seed. It has been a difficult and emotional week for the Bills, but it shouldn't surprise if they get back to business as normal this week against a Patriots side that is in desperate need of a win. Excluding last years weather affected game against the Patriots, Allen has been good against the Patriots, throwing for nine touchdowns in the last three games where the wind wasn't an issue. The Patriots have allowed opposing quarterbacks to score 19 or more points in their last two games.
Usage Suggestions: Allen is one of the few quarterbacks who feel very safe for cash games this week.
Joe Burrow $7300 vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Bengals badly need a win here to avoid all kinds of coin-toss chaos and with the Ravens, likely in line to face the Bengals in the Wildcard round, it's possible that Baltimore rests some banged-up starters. The Bengals have had an emotionally tough week, but they're back in their building and can turn a corner ready for the playoffs. The Ravens defense has allowed just three top-ten fantasy finishes to opposing quarterbacks, but it's unlikely to count for much against a more motivated Bengals team.
Usage Suggestions: Burrow is a fine choice for either cash games or tournaments and can be stacked with either Tee Higgins or Ja'Maar Chase. Keep in mind that Chase looks to be very chalky this week.
Kirk Cousins $6500 @ Chicago Bears
The Bears are seemingly throwing in the towel, electing to start Nathan Peterman this weekend in the hope they could sneak into the first overall pick of this year's draft, leaving Kirk Cousins with a great matchup against a Bears defense that has allowed three of the last quarterbacks they have faced to finish inside the top six that week. The Bears defense ranks 29th in DVOA over the last four weeks and struggles in most areas of the game. Before Week 17's 7.9 points, Cousins had averaged 27.2 over the previous three games and Cousins was the QB5 when these teams met in Week 5.
Usage Suggestions: Kirk is cheap enough in a solid enough matchup that he can be played in cash games and tournaments. With such a good matchup, you can stack Cousins in a variety of ways and nearly all look good.
Geno Smith $6000 vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Seahawks fate' is out of their hands, needing both a win and a Packers loss to make the playoffs, so they have to come out firing here. The Rams defense has improved slightly over the last few weeks but still ranks 18th against the pass in DVOA over the last four games. Smith's performance has tailed off a little of late, but here we can count on motivation as much as anything.
Usage Suggestions: Like many things in Week 18, this doesn't feel overly safe and may be best for tournaments. Smith can be stacked with both DK Metcalf and Noah Fant, who have nice matchups.
Christian McCaffrey $9300 vs. Arizona Cardinals
The 49ers can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win and an Eagles loss, and with both games starting at the same time, they should be motivated to score points and put this game to bed. The Cardinals are 32nd in DVOA on passes to running backs, allowing an average of 7.4 passes to them per game, which is an area we know Christian McCaffrey can punish, having eight or more targets in three of his last five games. McCaffrey has averaged 25.8 PPR points per game over his last five appearances, and when these two teams met in Mexico City, McCaffrey had 17.7 points before the game got out of Arizona's reach.
Usage Suggestions: At this price tag McCaffrey is unlikely to be heavily rostered, but we know his upside is slate-breaking. For tournaments, that's the kind of player we want exposure for.
Dalvin Cook $7300 @ Chicago Bears
The Vikings' motivation is middling, with no chance at the No. 1 seed, but a slim chance at the No. 2. The matchup, though, is friendly, with Chicago's defense ranking 32nd against the run in the last four weeks, and when Dalvin Cook played the Bears in Week 5, he scored 26.1 PPR points, one of eight performances over 18 PPR points that the Bears have allowed this year.
Usage Suggestions: With questions about the Vikings' motivation, Cook is better reserved for tournaments only.
Kenneth Walker $6400 vs. Los Angeles Rams
We're honing in on the teams with motivation this week, and as mentioned above, the Seahawks must win against the Rams. No doubt the Rams would like to spoil the party, but they have been very Jekyll-and-Hyde of late, so we shouldn't be afraid of them. Since Week 10, five different running backs have scored 15 or more PPR points against the Rams, and over the last four games only four teams have allowed more rushing yardage.
Usage Suggestions: Pairing Walker and Geno Smith together doesn't make a lot of sense as Walker often makes more plays on the ground. Instead, we can take an either/or approach to them for cash games and tournaments.
Jeff Wilson $5500 vs. New York Jets
The Dolphins must win on Sunday, and it seems unlikely they will have Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. The Dolphins might struggle against a Jets passing defense that ranks top-five against both WR1s and WR2s, and instead, aim to lean on their ground game. Wilson is the cheaper of the two Miami running backs but has had 28 touches in his last two appearances, and when healthy he is still the preferred option for the Dolphins.
Usage Suggestions: Timeshare backfields aren't ideal for cash games, but this is a tricky week at running back and you'll have to pay down somewhere if you want to get to the top wide receivers.
Tyler Allgeier $5600 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Falcons may have nothing to play for, but neither do the Buccaneers who can't move into a better or worse seeding, regardless of outcomes this weekend. The Bucs say they'll play their starters but it wouldn't be surprising if that was only for a portion of the game and later on they were rested. Tyler Allgeier has had an impressive rookie campaign, rushing for the 16th most rushing yards, despite not getting ten touches till Week 4. The Bucs are eleventh against the run in DVOA, but if they sit starters there is a chance Allgeier can get there late this weekend.
Usage Suggestions: Because of the unpredictable nature of this game it makes more sense for tournaments.
Jonathan Williams $4300 vs. Dallas Cowboys
The running back room has gotten awfully empty to end the year in Washington with both Brian Robinson (knee) and Antonio Gibson (foot/knee) having been ruled out for this game. Jonathan Williams is in his sixth year in the league and has 533 career yards to date, so you would be forgiven for not being overly familiar with his name. Over the last two weeks, Williams has rushed the ball 12 times for 43 yards along with having five receptions. Williams isn't a great option, but he's incredibly cheap and will get a lot of opportunities, even if they do come against Cowboys starters.
Usage Suggestions: Williams's upside is limited and while he will allow you to get to other studs, I would prefer this play in cash games than tournaments where if he puts up a dud performance is more likely to harm your lineup as a chalky play.
DeVonta Smith $7500 vs. New York Giants
The Eagles have to beat their division rivals the Giants in order to tie up a first-round bye and the No. 1 seed. The Giants, meanwhile, have nothing to gain this week with no chance of improving their position as the sixth seed, and as much as they might like to ruin the Eagles' chances, it wouldn't be a surprise if they opted to rest some players ahead of the playoffs. Since the start of Week 13, DeVonta Smith is the WR3 in total points and has averaged 104 receiving yards per game and now ranks 10th in DYAR.
Usage Suggestions: Motivated players are the key to cash game lineups this week, and Smith certainly fits that category. He can also be used in tournaments, stacked with whichever quarterback is playing for the Eagles.
DK Metcalf $6700 vs. Los Angeles Rams
Over Metcalf's last three games against the Rams, he has 277 receiving yards and three touchdowns, and the Seahawks will need another big performance from him this week. The Rams rank 30th against WR1s, allowing an average of 80.3 yards per game. Metcalf had an awful Week 17, scoring 1.3 PPR points, but this matchup is friendly enough for him to bounce back when it matters most.
Usage Suggestions: Metcalf is playable in all formats and can be stacked with Geno Smith in tournaments. If you are looking for a bring-back, Tutu Atwell at $3400 stands out.
Jahan Dotson $4500 vs. Dallas Cowboys
The Commanders play the Cowboys in a game that the Cowboys must win to improve their chances of being the No. 1 or 2 seed. Unfortunately for the Commanders, they are now out of playoff contention, but they are unlikely to lay down and allow their divisional rivals to walk all over them whilst they miss out. The Cowboys rank 29th against WR2s, a role that Dotson has made his own this season.
Usage Suggestions: Dotson is cheap enough in a game with motivation that he can be played in cash games, but is a better play for tournaments hoping that the game shoots out.
Rashid Shaheed $4200 vs. Carolina Panthers
It remains to be seen how motivated the Saints are after being knocked out of playoff contention last weekend, but the same can also be said of the Panthers who suffered the same fate. Over the last four games Rashid Shaheed has averaged 13 PPR points and now goes up against a Panthers defense that has allowed the most receiving yards since Week 14 and ranks 21st against WR2s.
Usage Suggestions: Shaheed can be used in all formats and considered for contrarian stacks with Andy Dalton for those who like to live dangerously.
Michael Gallup $4100 @ Washington Commanders
As mentioned above, the Cowboys do have a level of motivation going into this game, and the Commanders defense is liable to giving up good games to WR2s, where they rank 23rd in DVOA, allowing the ninth-most yards per game. Gallup hasn't scored more than 13 PPR points in the last four games, but he has seen 19 targets in that time and stayed involved.
Usage Suggestions: At this price, Gallup can help us to get up to higher-ceiling plays in tournaments and cash games.
George Kittle $6000 vs. Arizona Cardinals
For one last time this year, we go back to the well in streaming tight ends against this Cardinals defense that cannot contain them. The Cardinals rank 29th in DVOA against tight ends and have allowed 10 touchdowns to the position this season, including two to George Kittle when these teams met in Week 11. Kittle is on fire at the moment and the 49ers have a chance at the No. 1 seed with a win here.
Usage Suggestions: Kittle is playable in all formats but might be susceptible to being rested later on in the game if the 49ers are ahead or can't reach the No. 1 seed because the Eagles are winning. That mindset should be considered when building lineups.
Mark Andrews $5400 @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens may elect to rest some starters with only a slim chance of improving their playoff seeding, but if we get word that they don't play to do that, Mark Andrews becomes interesting in a must-win game for the Bengals. When the Ravens played the Bengals in Week 5, Andrews scored 22.9 PPR points, and he is coming into this game on the back of his best game since Week 6.
Usage Suggestions: Andrews feels a little thin for cash games but fine for tournaments coming off one of his best performances in a couple of months.
Tyler Higbee $4400 @ Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks rank 28th in DVOA against tight ends and allow 7.9 passes per game to the position. Higbee has a target share of at least 20% in his last three games and should be in consideration against a Seahawks defense that has allowed 11 top-12 performances to tight ends this season.
Usage Suggestions: Higbee is better considered for tournaments, with nothing about this Rams team being stable enough for cash games.
Keep an eye on this article through the week as we learn more about who will play this weekend and who won't. If you have any questions you can ask them in the Discord, or on Twitter @NFL_Tstrack.
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