Sunday’s two games have the makings for two of the most exciting games in Wild Card history. Maybe an odd thought to many, after they see the first game that’s slated will be the 3-seeded Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the 6-seeded Buffalo Bills. Which, if you haven’t been following football the last 17 weeks, I understand that everything about that sentence should be wrong. Yet, believe me when I say, that’s the truth.
So now, I imagine, you’re thinking to yourself “What about the Jaguars and Bills is so exciting you’re starting an article like that?”
I’d answer that the Bills fan base is so rowdy and travel so well there will be almost an even split of Jaguars and Bills fans. That will keep the Bills motivated as if it was a home game. The Bills are ending a streak of not making the postseason since 1999 and that will add extra motivation. The Jaguars, who look like a different team under Doug Marrone and with the addition of Tom Coughlin, who acts like the Godfather there, have the best defense in the game. But their offense still has plenty of holes, which is where Buffalo could make this a game. This will be a lower-scoring battle that will highlight both defenses.
The Panthers have lost two games to the Saints this year. Now, they’re traveling back to the Superdome to seek their revenge. During both games the Panthers were without star tight end, Greg Olsen, and the Saints were without rookie-phenom Marcus Lattimore. With both of those players healthy, along with the majority of both team’s starters, this game has divisional bloodbath written all over it.
So now I’ll use my two decades worth of football knowledge to decipher the best FanDuel lineup for the “Sunday Only” slots. Be prepared to disagree with me and finish this article with a thousand questions. In the playoffs, when only a limited amount of players are available you need to be creative. Unless you want to play a lot of mediocre players with no upsides.
QB – Drew Brees – New Orleans (vs Carolina) – $8,300 FanDuel
The Panthers have done their best to stop Drew Brees in each of the first two games between these two rivals this season. However, the outcome in both of those games was not what the Panthers had hoped for. So now, do you continue to play the Saints like you would have every time in the past decade, by doing your best to eliminate Brees, or change your motive and focus on the two-headed monster coming out of the backfield? I believe Ron Rivera will do the latter, allowing Brees to throw all over the Panthers secondary.
RB – Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville (vs Buffalo) – $8,400 FanDuel
The Bills defense is a joke, yet their passing defense is surprisingly stout. The Bills defense has allowed just 14 passing touchdowns all year — less than a touchdown a game. On the other hand, their rushing defense has allowed a league-high 22 rushing touchdowns and ranks 29th in rushing yards allowed. This bodes very well for the highly-touted rookie running back Leonard Fournette. If the Jaguars can get off to just a 10-0 lead at any point in the first half, I would be shocked to see the Bills make a comeback. That will mean a lot of touches for Fournette as they run the clock down in the entire second half.
RB – Christian McCaffrey – Carolina (@ New Orleans) – $7,200 FanDuel
This is one of the hardest choices you’ll be making during the “Sunday Only” lineups. If you think Leonard Fournette will make a mockery of the Bills defense then who are you trying to get as a RB2? Should you spend all your money and get Alvin Kamara, who notched three touchdowns against Carolina in 2017? Mark Ingram, one touchdown against Carolina in 2017? LeSean McCoy, still nursing a hurt ankle? Or the guy that I’m selecting — another rookie — Christian McCaffrey, who got a touchdown against New Orleans earlier in this season and will be the only hope for the Panthers to go on the road and win. Olsen will be drawing safeties and linebackers away which will open up opportunities for CMC.
Christian McCaffrey has nearly a 23% target market share over the past 5 games and faces an Atlanta team that has faced 60 targets to running backs since Week 10, second-most.#FantasyFootball Start or Sit: Week 17 ➡️ https://t.co/qIhlW0bTSS pic.twitter.com/oJp2Vp7VJD
— numberFire (@numberFire) December 31, 2017
WR – Michael Thomas – New Orleans (vs Carolina) – $8,900 FanDuel
If I’m believing the Panthers are truly going to shut down Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, then I’m going all-in on the Saints passing attack. In that case, If I’m starting Drew Brees, I’ll be pairing his favorite target with him as well. Michael Thomas surpassed 1,000 yards for the second consecutive year, his only two seasons in the NFL. Still looking brilliant, even in this new-schemed Saints offense. Brees will win this game with his arm, just like the good old days. Thus, it’ll be Thomas leading all wide receivers in yards and catches on Sunday.
WR – Allen Hurns – Jacksonville (vs Buffalo) – $5,600 FanDuel
Jacksonville lost their best target, Allen Robinson, early in 2017. However, the motto in the NFL is ‘Next Man Up’, which is exactly what the receiving crew for Jacksonville told each other. Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns stepped up early, yet when the injury bug nipped both of them, Kennan Cole and Jaydon Mickens stepped right up. Now it seems like the Jaguars have a plethora of capable receivers, including the rookie Dede Westbrook. Sifting through all these talented players, I like Hurns and Blake Bortles to re-kindle their connection they’ve showed in previous games and seasons. When the playoffs come around and all eyes are on you, you tend to resort back to muscle memory and that’s where Hurns comes into play.
WR – Brandon Coleman – New Orleans (vs Carolina) – $5,000 FanDuel
Here comes another tough call. We can bring every other position down and have enough cap space for my WR3 to be someone a little better, with a little higher upside than Coleman. Although this may be true, you’d position 2-8 other players in worse scenarios to bring up one position. So I’m taking my shot in the dark on Brandon Coleman. In their first meeting, Coleman found the end zone, and in their second meeting he caught two passes for a balmy 28 yards. You’ll need a wild card player on Wild Card weekend like Brandon Coleman. Or maybe Brenton Bersin, who I originally had in this lineup but couldn’t pull that trigger.
TE – Charles Clay – Buffalo (@ Jacksonville) – $5,900 FanDuel
Sure, I would prefer Greg Olsen here. To do that I’d have either gone double Panthers running backs, or heavy Blake Bortles and Jaguars receivers. Neither sounds too appetizing. So, I kicked Olsen to the curb and really looked at my other options. Marcedes Lewis for the Jaguars was a quick thought, but he has no numbers to back him up. I could throw another Saints wild card and pick either of their tight ends. Or I could go with a guy who is his teams best pass catcher at a very cheap price. It’ll be tough for the Bills to score, but if they get anywhere near the red zone, I expect Charles Clay to be only guy targeted.
K – Josh Lambo – Jacksonville (vs Buffalo) – $4,800 FanDuel
I do want Lutz here, but with the final lineup being what it is, I come to my kicker which is always the last position I pick. I’ll be picking the best kicker at home.
D/ST – Sacksonville (vs Buffalo) – $5,700 FanDuel
Don’t get cute here. Start every roster you do with The Jaguars defense. If you are a Bills-lover and won’t dare put that defense anywhere near your FanDuel team — which I respect — then I’d suggest New Orleans defense. However, start Sacksonville at every available chance.