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2024 Fantasy Football: Super Wild-Card Weekend DFS Top Plays

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff calls a play against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field in Detroit.

If you are new to DFS, check out our introductory pieces, such as DFS 101Contest SelectionStackingRostership and Lineup Construction.

This article will go in-depth on each wild-card game and pull the players we are most interested in from them.

If you haven’t already, check out the Cover 5 show on YouTube.


CLEveland Browns at Houston Texans

Weather: N/A (Dome)

Over/Under: 44.5

Spread: HOU +2.5

Cleveland Offense vs. Houston Defense

The Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans matched up in Week 15, and the Browns dominated the Texans.

However, Houston didn't C.J. Stroud, and Case Keenum didn't do the team any favors with his two interceptions. Joe Flacco threw two interceptions but also threw for 368 yards, and Amari Cooper had 265 yards receiving. David Njoku also played well, recording six receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown.

Flacco averages 12.6 yards per passing attempt in play-action, and the Texans have allowed 10.2 yards per attempt on play-action passes, the worst in the NFL. Flacco averages 5.6 yards per attempt on plays that do not feature play-action passes, and that’s the key to the entire game.

If Houston can get Flacco in obvious passing situations, the Texans will win this game. If they can’t make them one-dimensional, the big plays will be frequent.

Over the last few weeks, Houston's primary coverage has been Cover 3 and 4. Flacco averages 10.9 yards per attempt vs. Cover 3 and 8.8 yards per attempt against Cover 4. When Flacco sees a Cover 3 look, the ball is going to Cooper; he has been targeted on 50 percent of his routes vs. this look.

The ball is spread when Flacco gets Cover 4, but the best look here is Njoku, who averages 2.5 yards per route against this look. When Cooper and Njoku are on the field, they have 54.2 percent of Flacco’s targets. I expect this trend to continue as Flacco leans on his top play-makers.

Cedric Tillman and Elijah Moore will be needed in this game for select moments, and our lean between the two is Moore, who leads this group in targets vs. Cover 4. With this being the playoffs, we expect little work toward the other pass-catchers.

At running back, Cleveland splits between Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt.

Ford is the lead back, but Hunt is the trusted one in the red zone and near the goal line. The Texans easily stopped the run in the first matchup, but it was obvious the Browns were running the ball with a big lead.

We don’t have an interest in running back on the Saturday to Monday slate, but Saturday, we like Ford over Hunt because of how Ford has been used in the passing game.

Houston Offense vs. Cleveland Defense

Because Stroud didn't play in the first matchup, we won't go into Houston's offensive approach in that game. This weekend's game will be one of the most challenging matchups for Stroud because the Browns' defense is arguably the best in the league.

Cleveland plays a lot of single-high coverage with an elite cornerback room, and the defense doesn't need to blitz — while generating pressure at one of the highest rates in the league.

Stroud is one of the best passers in the NFL right now, but there are concerns about how the Texans will generate separation against this defense without Tank Dell.

According to NFL NextGen Stats, against the Browns, Nico Collins generated 1.5 yards of separation on average, half as good as he did on the season. Collins is the one Stroud will force-feed, but somebody else has to be able to win his matchup.

In Week 18, Robert Woods and Noah Brown did not play, and the Texans played John Metchie and Xavier Hutchinson on over 70 percent of the passing snaps. Hutchinson had the role we wanted for the big play; over 80 percent of his routes were deep, and Stroud did attempt to get the ball his way.

Collins dominated his matchup, and Stroud didn’t go any other way. If Brown is back, I expect him to be the player who's counted on. While Woods can catch passes, I don’t see him having a ceiling game against Cleveland's corners.

Dalton Schultz will dominate the tight end snaps, but the Browns were the best team in the NFL at defending tight ends. Schultz is only viable Saturday, and I am not interested in the big slate.

The real key to the Houston offense is to slow down the pass rush, put the team in spots where it can mix up play calling and help out its rookie quarterback in the run game.

Devin Singletary is going to be a workhorse in this game. Bobby Slowik needs to dial up the run game to get the Texans in better spots and, by extension, set up play action for Stroud. The Browns haven’t been a great run defense, and that’s the key to winning this matchup.

MIAmi Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs

Weather: Zero degrees and some wind

O/U: 44

Spread: KC -4

Miami Offense vs. Kansas City Defense

The weather has been called a major concern for the Miami Dolphins' offense, but that could be a bit overblown. We watched this offense last season in a snow game in Buffalo, and the Dolphins put up 29 points. The snow is not fun for offenses, but everybody on the field is dealing with the cold — it’s tough for everyone.

Miami's offense has two key injuries to monitor: to RB Raheem Mostert and WR Jaylen Waddle. We anticipate both suiting up, and that will be a major upgrade for this offense, one that has struggled a lot in its second matchups vs. teams.

Mike McDaniel is an offensive mind who we trust, but this game comes down to the execution of his players, and they’ve been a major letdown in big games all season.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ primary coverage in this game will be some look where two safeties are deeper for most of their game. Kansas City did give a few Cover 0 and 1 looks in these teams' first matchup, but that is more of a situational defense than their primary one for a team like Miami.

Tua Tagovailoa averages 9.1 yards per attempt against two-high looks, and that yardage has been all to his top wide receivers: Waddle and Tyreek Hill.

The metrics point to a big game for both of these players. But factoring in their injuries, the weather and the way they’ve played in the big games, it’s hard to believe in both of them. However, a double stack with Tagovailoa, Hill and Waddle will be largely underplayed for some of the bigger contests.

Cedrick Wilson filled in for Waddle last week, so if he’s out again, Wilson is the one slotted for the full-time role. Braxton Berrios has the WR3 role secured, but I think River Cracraft showed he can make the splash play and gets more run in this game. If Miami has a healthy group at wide receiver, none of these players will see much usage.

Miami's run game has been trying to attack teams horizontally — against the Chiefs, it did not work. With De’Von Achane, I expect the Dolphins to try again, but it’s difficult to imagine how successful they will be because Mostert is a fast running back and had no room to get the edge.

The Dolphins' key to this game is the run game, and we believe they'll put two running backs on the field at a pretty high rate. The Chiefs' linebackers have had issues defending running backs in the passing game, and we think you want the element of a power run game with Jeff Wilson. If Mostert can’t suit up, Wilson with Achane will be one of our favorite ways to be different in the bigger contests.

Kansas City Offense vs. Miami Defense

Patrick Mahomes has struggled all season as a passer, and it’s a lot to do with his trust in his pass-catching group. This game is a matchup to spark the offense onto a Super Bowl run because the Dolphins have zero pass rushers on the edge, and they will have to blitz to generate pressure.

Over Mahomes' career, he’s been the quarterback you don't want to blitz. But this season, he has not been the same player against the blitz. In these teams' first matchup, Mahomes was running when blitzed instead of being able to find someone open.

The Dolphins will give Kansas City's offense a lot of Cover 1 and trust that their defensive backs can hold up without help in coverage. Travis Kelce against Miami's linebackers/safeties is an advantage his way, and his disappointing first matchup shouldn’t be the case in this game.

Rashee Rice has emerged this season, but a matchup with Jalen Ramsey will be tough for Rice to win consistently.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling stepped up big in the postseason last year, but he has dropped a lot of deep balls, so Mahomes doesn't go to him much anymore. Justin Watson and Richie James will play a decent amount but are just rotational pieces.

With the Dolphins' blitz rates, Mecole Hardman is an interesting player because of his athleticism and his ability to take a screen pass far.

The Chiefs have a workhorse running back in Isiah Pacheco, who will be on the field for the entire game. Miami's linebackers have been attacked in recent weeks, and their rushing metrics are interesting because this defensive line group is playing its first game together.

The volume will keep Pacheco in play on the Saturday-Monday slate, and a stack of him with the defense should be very popular this week.

PITtsburgh Steelers at BUFfalo Bills

Weather: Around 20 degrees, some snow and winds around 15-30 mph

O/U: 36

Spread: BUF -10

Pittsburgh Offense vs. Buffalo Defense

Mason Rudolph has been phenomenal in his starts with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are playing pretty simple offense right now.

They are playing slow and running the ball at a 60 percent rate, and Rudolph is taking advantage of defenses when they add an extra player down to stop the run.

If the Buffalo Bills can stop the run with their normal two-safeties-deep scheme and force the Steelers to be one-dimensional, Buffalo will get a big lead and control the game. 

George Pickens and Diontae Johnson both have 15 targets from Rudolph. Pickens has almost double Johnson's yards, including a 71-yard receiving touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks. If the Bills bring the extra player down, Pickens will have a big fantasy day; they'll do that if they're trailing.

If they aren’t, it will be a day for Johnson and Pat Freiermuth for receptions. Allen Robinson has seen the snaps but hasn't been a factor. Calvin Austin III is a gadget player but has a low floor here.

The Bills' run defense has had a rough 2023 season due to injuries to its key players and the fact that they don’t bring three linebackers on the field at a high rate.

Buffalo runs nickel or dime on 97 percent of its defensive snaps. With five defensive backs on the field, Najee Harris averaged 4.2 yards per carry, and Jaylen Warren averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Warren is the player we expect to be the higher scorer of the two. Warren leads the team in targets with Rudolph on the field, and Harris has four receiving touchdowns.

Buffalo Offense vs. Pittsburgh Defense

After a roller coaster season, the Bills are the No. 2 seed in the AFC and have a home playoff game.

Josh Allen has been a roller coaster all season, too; he’s turning the ball over on plays that make you scratch your head while being the most dominant player on the field and willing his team to win victories.

Since Joe Brady took over as play-caller, Allen is tied for the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL (with Derrick Henry and Jalen Hurts). Buffalo has designed runs for him at a high rate, and that's been highly effective.

The Bills will likely not have Gabe Davis this weekend, and we expect them to go more 12 personnel with Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox. If they choose to go with 11 personnel, it’ll be Trent Sherfield as the third player. Throughout his career, he’s been a good red zone and move-the-chains type of wide receiver. If you play Allen, we'd double stack with Stefon Diggs and Khalil Shakir or Kincaid. 

Many touches have gone to James Cook. Leonard Fournette has overtaken Latavius Murray, and Ty Johnson occasionally sees snaps. I expect Cook to get around 60 percent of the snaps in this game, with the other 40 percent being split among the others.

Without T.J. Watt, I expect the Steelers' defensive line to struggle and for Cook to have explosive runs. His issue is that he has to score from outside the 3-yard line — Allen gets the rushes near the goal line.

Green Bay Packers at DALlas Cowboys

Weather: N/A (Dome)

O/U: 50.5

Spread: DAL -7.5

Green Bay Offense vs. Dallas Defense

Jordan Love is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys have an injury to to Stephon Gilmore to monitor. Throughout the season, Love has struggled against man coverage, and given that the Cowboys lead the league in man coverage usage, if Gilmore is out, we doubt the Cowboys will confidently stick to this scheme.

Moreover, if Christian Watson and Jayden Reed return, the Green Bay Packers' opportunity for big plays will increase, particularly against whoever Daron Bland isn't covering. Dallas is likely to default to Cover 3, and if the team's pass rush is effective, it'll be in good shape. However, if it falters, Love is poised to put up impressive numbers.

Predicting the performance of the Packers' wide receivers is challenging due to various injuries. Watson stands out with the highest upside, considering his big-play ability and his past success against this defense — he scored three receiving touchdowns against Dallas last season.

Reed has evolved into a schemed-up wide receiver, similar to how Deebo Samuel is used, showcasing considerable upside.

Two other noteworthy receivers are Romeo Doubs and Dontayvion Wicks. Doubs has been on the field for 80 percent of the dropbacks this season but hasn’t been highly productive or a consistent target. Wicks has demonstrated more versatility and overall effectiveness this season.

At tight end, Tucker Kraft has maintained a significant role in the offense despite Luke Musgrave being activated off IR, but their roles could easily flip vs. Dallas.

Aaron Jones is the most crucial factor in this game. The Cowboys have been dominated in the trenches in all their losses. Jones is expected to dominate the usage; even if AJ Dillon returns, I anticipate this being Jones' backfield. While the Cowboys boast an athletic front seven, they tend to struggle when faced with physicality.

Dallas Offense vs. Green Bay Defense

The Cowboys are formidable at home — they boast an average of 8.5 yards per passing attempt. On the road, that number drops to 6.7.

The Packers predominantly employ zone coverage, a scheme Dallas struggles to exploit explosively. Dak Prescott tends to showcase a more methodical approach against zone-heavy defenses, saving his spectacle for man-to-man looks.

CeeDee Lamb is one of the NFL's most consistent and dominant wide receivers. While Jaire Alexander is undoubtedly a skilled corner, Green Bay is unlikely to assign him to shadow Lamb because the Cowboys can strategically move Lamb away from Alexander.

If the Packers opt for a traveling man coverage scheme, Lamb is poised to make significant plays. Last year against this defense, Lamb recorded 11 receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns. In this game, you can anticipate that the Packers will aim to limit him.

Jake Ferguson will be a pivotal player — he's adept at finding soft spots in zone looks. And De’Vondre Campbell's potential absence due to an injury could significantly boost Ferguson's usage. Last season, Dalton Schultz played a crucial role against this scheme, accumulating six receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown.

Brandin Cooks has consistently made big plays throughout the season, and in a Prescott-centric strategy, doubling with Cooks or Ferguson seems prudent. Jalen Tolbert and Michael Gallup don't attract our interest in this matchup.

Tony Pollard takes the lead role in the running back department but has struggled to perform this season. Nevertheless, his usage makes him a top target, especially considering the Packers will likely prioritize limiting the passing game over the run. Backup running backs don't warrant consideration in this scenario.

Los Angeles Rams at DETroit Lions

Weather: N/A (Dome)

O/U: 51.5

Spread: DET -3

Los Angeles Offense vs. Detroit Defense

The Detroit Lions have allowed the sixth-most yards per attempt against twin formations this season, and the Los Angeles Rams averaged 32 percent of their passing attempts from this formation to end the season. This formation switch was the leading cause of Matthew Stafford's touchdown resurgence, and with the Rams' weapons, it is a very difficult look to defend. 

The Lions will be a much better defense in the postseason than in the regular season because they are healthy on that side of the ball, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson's impact is tremendous. Detroit hasn't defended slot wide receivers well this year, but putting in a player such as Gardner-Johnson will help, as will being more creative with Brian Branch.

That said, Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua are two of the hardest wide receivers to defend. They have amazing hands and a quarterback that puts the ball in spots where only they can make the catch.

We expect Kupp and Nacua to have a huge target share in this game, but Kupp will outperform Nacua with his playoff experience. Demarcus Robinson is the player to double stack with Stafford; Robinson has had multiple playoff games but is averaging 2.98 yards per route run from twin formations with Stafford. Robinson is also getting a ton of the red zone usage because teams have to respect Kupp, Nacua and the run game.

The Lions' run defense has been elite this season. The unit added two great run defenders at their positions: Alim McNiel and Gardner-Johnson. Kyren Williams is a bell cow running back, but this is projected to be a challenging game for him. Detroit will put Los Angeles into many passing situations, hoping to generate turnovers by Stafford.

Detroit Offense vs. Los Angeles Defense

Jared Goff will see a lot of Cover 3 and Cover 4 from defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and the Rams. I expect a lot of Cover 3 because of the Lions' rushing attack, and Los Angeles will probably force Goff to throw the ball down the field.

Goff might have a big chip on his shoulder this weekend against the team that got rid of him and saw its current quarterback as the upgrade needed to get the team over the hump. Sean McVay and the Rams are familiar with all the tendencies Goff has struggled with, and we believe the Lions have the pieces to counter that.

The loss of Sam LaPorta is a big one for Detroit's red zone passing attack and its explosive plays after the catch. Without LaPorta, Amon-Ra St. Brown has a 29.8 percent target share this season and gets the most of the red zone targets. St. Brown is built for these games, and we expect a big game from him in this matchup. Jameson Williams will be the player who catapults the Lions into a high-point total.

The Rams have been beaten deep and down the sidelines; Jameson Williams leads the Lions in targets out wide and is the player who wins deep. Williams is a must for your Goff builds this weekend. The only other pass-catcher we have interest in is Josh Reynolds, and it’s because he’s a player we expect to step up in the red zone.

This Los Angeles secondary is very beatable, and Detroit has the pieces to score points.

The Lions' run game is a split between Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery. The Rams' defensive line was very good at the end of the season and hasn’t been beaten on the ground at all. Our lean here is Gibbs because Los Angeles has shown tendencies to give up big plays on the ground, and the methodical runner hasn’t had much success.

Running away from Aaron Donald will be ideal for this matchup, and Gibbs has had more opportunities at the end of the season. 

PHIladelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Weather: Possible Rain 

O/U: 44

Spread: TB +3

Philadelphia Offense vs. Tampa Bay Defense

The Philadelphia Eagles find themselves in a challenging situation heading into this matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Philadelphia, with a predictable offense and key injuries at crucial positions, faces a healthy, formidable Buccaneers defense that boasts multiple starters who missed the two teams' initial encounter.

The Buccaneers will likely deploy Cover 1 and Cover 3, and Jalen Hurts has struggled against such coverage throughout the season. The uncertainty surrounding A.J. Brown's availability make DeVonta Smith a pivotal player for the Eagles. His elite route-running skills could pose a significant threat, especially given the physicality of Tampa Bay's corners. Hurts must establish a rhythm with Smith to exploit this matchup effectively.

If Brown is fully active, he becomes a top priority due to his ability to handle the physicality of the Buccaneers' cornerbacks. Regardless of coverage, Hurts consistently targets Brown, making him a reliable option if available.

Dallas Goedert has the best matchup on paper and is almost a must for this game. Kincaid, Kraft, George Kittle, Juwan Johnson, Evan Engram, Schultz and others have had high outputs for the tight end position, and have done it in line or the slot. Goedert is the healthiest of the pass catchers for Philadelphia and the best option the team has.

The Eagles' rushing attack might not be the primary focus this week. Philadelphia features a split backfield with D'Andre Swift, and a play designed to vulture rushing touchdowns adds complexity. Considering Tampa Bay's defensive health and the challenges in the rushing game, it may be wise to lean more on the passing attack and exploit matchups through the air.

Tampa Bay Offense vs. Philadelphia Defense

The matchup between the Buccaneers' offense and the Eagles' defense presents an intriguing battle of struggling units. Philadelphia shown vulnerabilities against the pass and the run, while Tampa Bay has struggled to convert opportunities into touchdowns. 

The Eagles will give the Buccaneers a lot of single-high coverage looks. Baker Mayfield's success against similar defensive looks this season — particularly targeting Mike Evans and Chris Godwin — provides a blueprint.

Despite Mayfield's challenges, Evans and Godwin have consistently found success down the field. The double stack of Mayfield with these two dynamic receivers could be a game-changer, given the Eagles' susceptibility in the secondary. Exploiting the deep third of the field, Evans and Godwin have the potential to outperform their matchups against James Bradberry and Darius Slay.

While Philadelphia's defensive line dominated Tampa Bay in their first matchup, we're not seeing that same defensive line. Rachaad White is a running back in a perceived “bad matchup” who will get 80 percent of the touches and be used as a pass catcher and runner.

This is a spot we will go to in Showdown, but on the main slate, we will avoid it.