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Dan's DFS picks: Wild Card round

7 Jan 2016

By Dan Podheiser
Playoffs! Playoffs?

That's right, folks, you haven't lost me yet. The 2015 NFL regular season may be over, but I'm back for the postseason with a fresh slate and a brand new mantra.

"You play to win the game!"

For our purposes, that means we're playing to win some cash, and both DraftKings and FanDuel have upped the ante with some exciting GPPs for the NFL playoffs.

Let the Wild Card round fun begin.

For a full explanation of the differences between DraftKings and FanDuel scoring, read this blog post by Daily Fantasy Sports 101.

Quarterback: Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (DK: $5,900; FD: $8,000)

Cousins had a breakout season in his first year as the Redskins' starting quarterback this year, throwing for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also finished 2015 as the hottest QB in the league, winning NFC Offensive Player of the Month for December.

Oh, and Cousins also serves as a foster parent for dogs during the season, so move over and make room for me on the bandwagon.

But all that aside, Cousins is insanely cheap on DraftKings this week, clocking in at the middle of the pack among starting playoff QBs at a very reasonable price. He's at home against a Packers defense that has struggled mightily in the second half of the season, the Redskins don't have much of a running game, and Cousins has thrown at least three touchdowns in three straight games. I love this play.

Running Back (DK): Jerick McKinnon ($3,800)

I'm taking a flyer on McKinnon, the Vikings' pass-catching backup running back who might only touch the ball 10 times on Sunday if he's lucky. But the Seahawks can be vulnerable against speedy tailbacks in the checkdown game, and McKinnon showed the ability to break loose for some big gains in the second half of the season.

Temperatures are going to be frigid in Minneapolis on Sunday, which means NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson is sure to see a ton of carries out of the backfield. But after that, I won't be surprised if McKinnon is one of Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's main targets in the passing game.

Running Back (FD): Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals ($6,700)

I don't really love any of the eight starting running backs this weekend, to be frank, so I'm reluctantly going with Hill, who hit a rough patch this season but whose workload has increased since Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton went down with an injury in Week 14.

I sincerely doubt Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is going to want to put his trust in backup quarterback A.J. McCarron to deliver Lewis his first-ever playoff win. So I'm banking on a bunch of carries by Hill, both to push the Cincinnati offense forward and to kill game clock to keep the Steelers' vaunted offense off the field.

Wide Receiver (DK): Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers ($9,600)

Speaking of that Steelers offense, Antonio Brown is officially from a different planet. The Pittsburgh wideout finished the season with 136 catches and 1,834 yards, seeing double-digit targets in each of the team's last nine games.

Brown is a reception machine who is also possibly the best yards-after-catch receiver in the NFL. And in a tough road playoff game, look for Ben Roethlisberger to put his trust in his stud receiver. We might see 25 throws go Brown's way in this one.

Wide Receiver (FD): A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals ($8,300)

While I don't think the Bengals' passing game will do much against Pittsburgh on Saturday, I still think Green is a lock to do what he always does against the Steelers – beat them downfield for at least one long touchdown. Green has put up 100 yards and a touchdown in three of his last four games against Pittsburgh, including both 2015 contests.

Most importantly, I think Green is going to be McCarron's safety vault in his first playoff start. When the blitz comes, he'll quickly throw it to Green on a slant. When he's going downfield, he's going to Green, the fastest and tallest guy on the field. Look for Green to see double-digit targets in this game.

Tight End: Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (DK: $6,300; FD: $7,400)

Cousins' rise in Washington has been remarkable this season, and much of it can be attributed to his stud tight end. Reed was unstoppable in 2015, and especially down the stretch, posting 333 yards and five touchdowns in his last three full games of the season (not including the team's Week 17 game against Dallas, in which Reed rested most of the game).

Reed totaled 87 catches and 11 touchdowns for the year, and I'm sure he'll be the most targeted player in the Redskins' offense on Sunday. He's the best tight end on the board at a reasonable price. Go grab him.

Defense: Kansas City Chiefs (DK: $4,000; FD: $5,100)
The Chiefs have, in my opinion, the best defense in the NFL, and they get to go up against the worst offense in the playoffs on Saturday. The Texans, starting the perpetually concussed Brian Hoyer at quarterback, likely won't be able to move the ball past midfield in this game. Houston might equally shut down Kansas City on the other side of the ball, but folks, Kansas City might pitch a shutout in this one.
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