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It's Super Wild Card Weekend and we have a host of excellent games for our viewing pleasure on both Saturday and Sunday. Just because the regular season is over, doesn't mean the drama of football will come to a sudden halt. Following a slew of head coach firings, we have another team to add to the mix of franchises looking for replacements. And, even though our season-long fantasy football seasons are over, that doesn't mean we can't dip our toes into the world of daily fantasy.
Head Coach Vacancies and Candidates
Teams across the league have taken the proverbial hacksaw to their coaching staff. Not surprisingly, the Texans were the latest to clean house, firing head coach David Culley. He inherited a rough deal as Houston’s head coach with enough turmoil to cover the rest of the 31 teams in the NFL. The instability and drama will continue for the Texans as they look for a new coach and still have to deal with the DeShawn Watson situation. In Culley’s defense, he managed to exceed expectations even with a 4-13 record. Still, the Texans will have to make some serious changes inside and out if they are going to turn the organization around.
The Texans and Dolphins were not alone in seeking a fresh start. The Giants, Jaguars, Broncos, Vikings, Bears, and Raiders are also ready to move forward with a new head coach and they may not be alone as the post-season progresses.
As teams put out interview requests, here are some leading names that may find themselves as head coaches in 2022.
Eric Bieniemy - Chiefs OC
Doug Pederson - Former Eagles HC
Joe Lombardi - Chargers OC
Matt Eberflus - Colts DC
Kellen Moore - Cowboys OC
Byron Leftwich - Buccaneers OC
Brian Daboll - Bills OC
Patrick Graham - Giants DC
Kevin O'Connell - Rams OC
Don “Wink” Martindale - Ravens DC
Josh McDaniels - Patriots OC
Todd Bowles - Buccaneers DC
Jim Harbaugh - University of Michigan HC
Wild Card Saturday
Raiders @ Bengals
Patriots @ Bills
There are a host of DFS options during Saturday’s slate of games. RB Josh Jacobs and TE Darren Waller of the Raiders stand out as excellent choices against the Bengals. They have allowed the third-most rushing yards to running backs over the last two weeks and the seventh-most over the last four weeks. Cincinnati has also given up two touchdowns to the tight end position, the third-most yards, and the second-most receptions to TEs over the last four weeks.
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders have a weakness against quarterbacks and wide receivers that Joe Burrow can exploit. Over the last two weeks, the Raiders are ranked 23rd against the position allowing the fourth-most completions and eighth-most passing yards. They have given up 10 receptions to running backs on 19 attempts for 55 yards and a touchdown during that time. A double stack with Burrow and Joe Mixon or even a triple stack with Burrow, Mixon, and either Higgins, Chase, or Boyd could cover all of the basis for potential production.
The Patriots-Bills game will be a doozy. It will be the third time these teams have faced each other and the second time in inclement weather. Buffalo is looking at temperatures between below zero to a balmy four degrees at kick-off with winds at five to 10 miles per hour. That is ridiculously cold. The player that stands out the most to me in this matchup is Josh Allen who will be relying on his legs in the frigid temperatures. It won’t be an easy task as the Patriots have had a top-five defense across all positions over the last two weeks. Either way, I would exploit the ground game from both teams and leave the passing and receiving to the earlier matchup.
Wild Card Sunday
Eagles @ Buccaneers
49ers @ Cowboys
Steelers @ Chiefs
The Eagles-Buccaneers game has some juicy options for Tampa Bay during the Sunday slate. Despite missing Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, and Antonio Brown, Tom Brady has done what Tom Brady does and turned Cyril Grayson and Tyler Johnson into superstar options. Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans are obvious choices against the Eagles secondary who have allowed 26 receptions on 32 attempts for 389 yards and two touchdowns to wide receivers and nine receptions on 12 attempts for 80 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends in the last two weeks. If Evans’ price tag is a little too high, Grayson or Johnson are great value plays at the WR3 position.
For the Eagles, the options aren’t anywhere near as clear. With Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, and Boston Scott all expected to suit up, the running-back-by-committee is back in full force. Likewise, no clear target leader among the pass catchers leaves little to be desired. Only Jalen Hurts has some upside (sort of) with his rushing ability, but the Buccaneers have only allowed three rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks over the entire 2021 season.
The 49ers-Cowboys matchup is rather poor on paper if you look strictly at fantasy points allowed by position. However, there is something unique here because they have yet to face one another this year. Deebo Samuel is a must-start, in my opinion, with his receiving and rushing ability making him a dangerous dual-threat that Kyle Shanahan relies on every game. George Kittle also falls into the excellent start category, but he may be a bit too pricey. I do like Elijah Mitchell for the volume in a Shanahan-led offense. He has rushed 42 times in the last two games and that is unlikely to slow down much.
When it comes to stacking, the Cowboys have the best opportunity out of Sunday’s games without having to bust your budget. With a 50.5 point total, there should be plenty of points to go around for Dak Prescott and either CeeDee Lamb or Amari Cooper who are both great values in DFS. Even Dalton Schultz is intriguing. The 49ers are weakest at the position over the last two weeks ranked 25th-worst and have allowed eight receptions on 10 attempts for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
This certainly has not been the same Kansas City Chiefs team for both real and fantasy football this year. It seems odd to say that playing Patrick Mahomes is risky, but here we are. Remember, risky doesn’t mean must-avoid, though. With Tyreek Hill gimpy after injuring his foot last week, this could be a solid outing for Travis Kelce. On top of that, the Steelers are 32nd against the position allowing 16 receptions (tied for the most with Ravens) and have allowed a whopping 143 yards and two touchdowns to tight ends in the last two weeks.
As for great DFS options, the Steelers don’t have any. Each player is either touchdown dependent and/or target volume dependent. Considering Ben Roethlisberger can’t throw more than ten yards (yes, I am being slightly sarcastic), makes it difficult to feel warm and fuzzy about any player. If there is a team that could swing the odds slightly more in Pittsburgh's favor, it’s the Chiefs. They are 32nd against QBs and 31st against WRs behind only the Lions. Diontae Johnson is an option but Chase Claypool and Ray-Ray McCloud will be volatile options who are dependent on value to finish your roster. The Chiefs are much better against running backs but have still allowed over 200 rushing yards and 74 receiving yards over the last two weeks to running backs. Najee Harris could be a sneaky play as Roethlisberger’s safety valve in the passing game and as the only viable running back on the entire team.
Quick Hits/Injury Updates/COVID-19
Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster returned to practice after being taken off of the injured reserve list. … Rams signed veteran Eric Weddle to play in the playoffs. … Buccaneers have designated Lavonte David to return from IR. Shaq Barrett was activated from the COVID-19 reserve list.