Week 18 DFS Value Plays
Well, we’ve reached the end, boys and girls. The final week of the regular season is upon us, and I can’t say it feels like it’s been 18 weeks. We’ve had some good plays over that span (and some not so good), but I hope that, more often than not, my picks hit for y’all. This week is going to be a little more difficult than usual, as teams with their playoff seeding locked up are likely to sit their stars, but I’ve done my best to go through and find some players from teams who still have a dog in the fight (or some backups on teams who don’t). With that, let’s get rolling into Week 18.
(All salaries are from DraftKings’ Classic 11-game slate for January 9, 2022.)
Jordan Love @ Detroit Lions ($5,500)
The Green Bay Packers locked up the number one seed and a first-round bye in Week 17, so it’s still up in the air as to how many of their starters will play in Week 18 against the Detroit Lions. Personally, I don’t know why they would start Aaron Rodgers and his bad toe except for the sheer bullishness a team has against a divisional rival. If Rodgers doesn’t start, look to Jordan Love. When he started for Rodgers earlier in the season, Love put up modest numbers, completing only 19/34 for 190 yards, one touchdown, and one interception against the Kansas City Chiefs. However, this matchup is quite a bit better than the Chiefs, as the Lions are 25th on the year against the quarterback and are playing without left cornerback Amani Oruwariye. This pick isn’t a lock, but the value at quarterback is thin this week, and Love may need to show what he can do with the uncertainty of Rodgers’ tenure.
Justin Fields @ Minnesota Vikings ($5,400)
Justin Fields is expected to return from his ankle injury this week, and it’s a great matchup for him to finish his rookie season on a high note. In Week 15’s matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, Fields completed 26/39 for 285 yards and a touchdown. That was also the week he injured his ankle, so his rushing upside was limited to 35 yards on seven attempts. If he is healed and ready to go this week, Fields should have more rushing upside this go-around. The Vikings are ranked 27th on the season against quarterbacks, giving up 18.35 fantasy points per game. As I said earlier, the value options aren’t enticing this week at quarterback, but if you’re looking to pay down, Fields gives you more upside than many other options in this tier.
Marquez Callaway @ Atlanta Falcons ($5,000)
As the playoff picture stands right now, the New Orleans Saints are the only NFC team in the playoff picture. You better believe that Sean Peyton is going to throw everything he has at the Atlanta Falcons. It’s not quite a “win and in” situation, as the San Francisco 49ers need to lose, but you can bet this game will still be a dogfight. Marquez Callaway is the clear number one receiver on the Saints offense, and he’s picked up steam over the past few weeks, seeing nine targets Week 15, five Week 16 (with Ian Book at quarterback), and ten targets in Week 17. He’s also the clear leader on the team in air yards share, with a whopping 69.7% going to him last week. The Falcons have allowed 36.98 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers over the past four weeks, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Callaway posts his best stat line of the season this week.
Cyril Grayson vs. Carolina Panthers ($4,400)
We’ve heard about the drama in Tampa Bay ad nauseum, so I won’t get into that, but regardless of the cause, Cyril Grayson has gotten the attention of the DFS community the past two weeks. Since coming up from the practice squad in the absence of Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and now, Antonio Brown, Grayson has put up double-digit fantasy points each week, finding the end zone last week. With Brown of the team and Godwin on IR, Grayson could build on these performances against the Carolina Panthers. Depending on where he lines up, Grayson could match up with C.J. Henderson, and we know how well that went against Gabriel Davis in Week 15. I love him to return his salary this week.
Antoine Wesley vs. Seattle Seahawks ($4,100)
When Deandre Hopkins was placed on injured reserve, the debate was whether it was going to be Rondale Moore or Christian Kirk who stepped up, but the correct answer was Antoine Wesley! Wesley has developed into Kyler Murray’s go-to red-zone option. Over the past two weeks, Wesley has scored three touchdowns, and I don’t think that streak comes to an end this week against the Seattle Seahawks. They have given up 40.05 fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position over the past four weeks, and three of those games were against the Texans, Bears, and Lions (we’ll cut them some slack on the Rams). With the Cardinals still in the mix for the NFC West title, I think Cliff Kingsbury’s air raid offense goes insane. Plug Wesley in your lineups.
Ray-Ray McCloud @ Baltimore Ravens ($3,800)
Ben Roethlisberger’s farewell game at Heinz Field Monday night was a bit of a snoozer due to Cleveland’s inefficient passing game and non-existent run game, but Ray-Ray McCloud was someone who caught my eye. He saw ten targets, second behind only Diontae Johnson, and ran 72.9% of the routes. His production was slowed by Big Ben’s low depth of target, but that could change this week against the Baltimore Ravens. I point this out in nearly every article, but their secondary is decimated by injuries, as evidenced by the 50.5 fantasy points they’ve given up to wide receivers the past four weeks. If Big Ben and McCloud can connect on just a few more of those targets, he could be a slate breaker this week.
D’Onta Foreman @ Houston Texans ($5,700)
Sure, he’s a little pricier than most of the running backs I include on my value lists, but D’Onta Foreman should absolutely destroy this week. Even though the Tennessee Titans hold the first-place seed, they are currently tied at 11-5 with the Kansas City Chiefs. If they even glance over their shoulder, the Chiefs could end up stealing that coveted first-round bye. Derrick Henry did return to practice this week, but I don’t see him getting anywhere near a full workload coming off injured reserve so soon. If Foreman does get the bulk of the work, he’s in for a huge day, as the Houston Texans have allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs over the past four weeks, giving up 28.68 per game. You’ll want to watch how Henry progresses this week before you lock in Foreman, but I like his chances to exceed value this week.
Jamaal Williams vs. Green Bay Packers ($4,800)
You didn’t think you were going to get out of here without a revenge game narrative, did you? In Week 18, Jamaal Williams returns to Lambeau Field, his home of four years. Even though fellow running back D’Andre Swift is back from injury, the Detroit Lions don’t have much (anything) to play for, and if the game looks anything like last week, Williams will get the bulk of the carries. On the flip side, the Green Bay Packers have already secured the first seed and first-round bye, so they don’t have anything else to play for. Their starters could sit for a big part of the game, leaving Williams with an opening to rack up a stat-line. Like everything in Week 18, this is all speculation, but at only $800 above the minimum running back salary, I think he has a great chance to put up some points.
John Bates @ New York Giants ($3,000)
After the departure of Ricky Seals-Jones due to a head and neck injury, John Bates took over the pass-catching tight end role, running 83.3% of routes while receiving four targets. Neither the Football Team nor the New York Giants have anything to play for this week, as their seasons are over, but in a divisional matchup, I don’t see Washington taking its foot off the gas. Over the past four weeks, the Giants have allowed 12.68 fantasy points per game to the tight end position. Washington doesn’t have much in the way of pass-catchers, and if Terry McLaurin is locked down by James Bradbury, things could open up for Bates. I like him as a cheap play if you want to save some salary-cap space.
Harrison Bryant vs. Cincinnati Bengals ($2,600)
In Monday night’s…well, beatdown, Harrison Bryant was the lone bright spot with a one-yard touchdown catch on one whole target. Now, let’s call this pick what it is; it’s a dart throw that is counting on Bryant finding the end zone. However, over the past three weeks, Bryant has caught touchdown passes in each game. He’s not a target monster, and there is some uncertainty with Case Keenum under center, but you can do worse when it comes to tight end picks.
Well, that’s all she wrote, folks. Thank you for sticking with me throughout the season as I grew and navigated the Wild West that is DFS. I hope you had a great season! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Britt_Flinn for post-season DFS content and other content through the off-season. Now go win some cash!