As season-long fantasy football managers join NFL Wild Card Weekend DFS leagues, new challenges emerge as they attempt to determine the correct lineup every week rather than sort out the team they drafted several months ago. How should DFS managers treat Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Cedrick Wilson when making lineup picks with four more games set to play?
Amari Cooper has the hot hand for DFS after asking for more targets
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. We see this time and time again. A star player says something to the media about their volume, and then they start to get hyper-targeted. That is what happened to Cooper, a traditionally quiet player regarding these kinds of issues.
After going on a local radio show and mentioning his target volume, Cooper averaged 8.3 targets over his last three games. Over that span, he recorded 15 receptions for 182 yards with 2 touchdowns. That is a significant spike from averaging 4.6 targets from Weeks 9-15.
At $5,900 on DraftKings for the Sunday Showdown slate, Cooper is a fantastic value as the No. 11 priced WR. Where we expect to see Cooper make the most of his price tag is inside the red zone, where he is 14th in the NFL in targets (17) among receivers.
For Dallas to win, they will need to target San Francisco’s weak pass defense, which ranks 16th in DVOA (Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric) compared to second in rush DVOA. The Cowboys’ offensive explosion in Week 18 (51 points) proves that this offense can score in bunches on any given Sunday. Whereas Lamb might see a higher roster percentage, Cooper could be the correct pick in DFS.
CeeDee Lamb had been quiet in DFS as of late
Maybe Lamb needs to take a page out of the veteran’s book and get on a radio show too. The second-year WR out of Oklahoma has been extremely quiet as of late despite possessing immense talent. Over his last four games, Lamb has averaged just 3.8 receptions for 58 yards on 5 targets per game. The last time he found the end zone was way back in Week 10 against Atlanta. He also has not recorded over 70 yards in any of his last five outings.
This is not to say Lamb has not had a productive season. He topped all his numbers from his rookie season. His targets (120), receptions (79), yards (1,102), and touchdowns 96) are all higher. That’s not even due to the additional week, as Lamb played in 16 games this year. His per-game stats are still better, going from 6.9 targets, 4.6 receptions, 58.4 yards to 7.5-4.9-68.9.
Lamb’s DFS value today
In DFS, Lamb has topped double-digit points in 10 contests but only has one game of 15+ points since Week 10. For a player of his caliber, he is “due.” It’s simply difficult not to pick someone of Lamb’s talent in DFS anytime you get the chance — especially on a condensed slate as we have this weekend.
At $6,200, this is the cheapest Lamb has been on DraftKings since Week 1 ($5,700), and the first time since Week 13 that he is sub-$7,000. The value is there. Yet, I can’t help but hesitate to plug him knowing his volume is down, his touchdowns have dried up, and his last 100-yard game came in Week 8. Lamb will be the highest-rostered player among Dallas’ WRs, which further points towards wanting to shy away and go with Cooper. With that said, it is playing with fire to fade Lamb, regardless of the fantasy format.
Cedrick Wilson Jr. is likely the chalk pick in DFS on Sunday
At $4,400, Wilson is the No. 24 priced wide receiver for the Wild Card round of the 2022 NFL playoffs. He is the bargain play managers will use to free up money across their lineup. He is the worst kept secret of the weekend for DFS. Wilson is no longer a contrarian play when everyone else is thinking the same thing. And there is a reason most managers are considering Wilson.
In Week 18 as he took over for Michael Gallup, Wilson was phenomenal. He recorded 119 yards and 2 touchdowns on his 5 receptions (6 targets). It was his second 100+ yard game of the season. It was also a deviation from the norm based on what we had seen from Wilson earlier in the year in the exact same role.
In Weeks 2-9 (when Gallup was on IR), Wilson averaged only 3.4 targets, 2.3 receptions, and 36.6 yards per game but did score 3 touchdowns. What we saw in Week 18 against the Eagles was two-fold. It was a get-right game for the Cowboys’ offense (which they needed), and it came against a Philadelphia team playing backups in a de facto preseason contest as they had already clinched a playoff berth. This was the high-water mark for Wilson.
Wilson meshes with Dak Prescott
There does seem to be legitimate chemistry between Dak Prescott and Wilson, though. It’s impressive for a player to come off the bench out of obscurity and catch 73.8% of his 61 targets. Wilson is also receiving better, more efficient looks.
His catchable ball rate of 94.5% blows out the rest of the Cowboys’ WRs. Cooper is second at 79.2%, with Lamb at 78.8% and Gallup at 72.6%. Wilson also leads all Dallas WRs in yards after catch per reception at 5.7. When making DFS picks, I am absolutely looking at Wilson. Yet, I am not assuming I am the only person doing the same thing.