💪 Wild Card Weather Warriors

These guys are built for the winter...

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Playoff games. Coaching cycle news. I wish it’d never stop…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Underdog:

  • Worried About the Weather? We got you.

  • Underdog Pick’Em Plays. Highers. Lowers. Winners.

  • Ravens getting healthy. Their bye week couldn’t have gone better

  • DFS Stacks: Rams ready to roll…

  • It’s 1/13. Take it away, Chris Allen…

I was getting messages about the weather for this weekend on Tuesday.

And that’s just me - your friendly neighborhood fantasy weatherman. Look at how the national discourse has gone. People are calling for a schedule change!

So, after seeing all the hoopla, I’ll say what you’re all thinking. I’ll be the brave one here.

Every team needs a dome.

It’ll be freezing in Kansas City and snowing in western New York with playoff hopes on the line. I walked through the potential impacts of snow last week, and sustained winds at +20 mph at Orchard Park are already a break point for worrying about passing rates. Cold temps are different, but we can take a similar analytical approach to see how we can attack both offenses.

🧐 A Quick Glance at the Data

As I mentioned, playing in the freezing cold presents a different challenge. It’s not like there’s rain causing the ball to slip out or through a player’s hands. Or wind sailing a pass attempt or field goal off its mark.

However, we know how it feels. The drop in barometric pressure affects your joints, making it tough to move. So, using TruMedia, I found the coldest games played outside since 2013:

Admittedly, a two-game sample doesn’t give us much. But we can set expectations versus leaning on narratives. And from what we can see from all four teams, RBs should be our focus:

  • The average change in total plays run was -4.5 (meaning about 5 fewer plays were run)

    • Only one team exceeded their average play volume in ideal conditions (the Titans)

    • Of the four teams, Seattle ran the most plays per game but had the second-largest drop in pace in cold weather (-5.9)

  • The average change in pass rate over expectation was -6.0%

    • All four teams fell below their average PROE

    • Of the four teams, Seattle had the second-highest PROE in ideal conditions (1.3%) but the largest drop in the cold (dropped to -9.0%)

In English: take away a drive of plays and tip the run/pass ratio toward the ground game. However, we can’t apply this logic every time it gets cold out. Just the extremes. But since we’ll see it play out tonight, at least one guy stands to benefit from the conditions.

😤 Isiah Pacheco, Chiefs

I realize part of the consternation about this matchup is Miami (a ‘warm-weather’ team) has to show up at Arrowhead Stadium tonight. But think about the Chiefs’ side of things. They were stuck here regardless of what happened in the AFC East title race. And now, a home game doesn’t look as inviting as it did a few weeks back.

KC forecast

Regardless, if we can expect an uptick in rushing attempts, RBs on both sides should be in play. But De’Von Achane might be splitting carries with Raheem Mostert. However, Isiah Pacheco (mostly) has the backfield to himself.

We’ve had two games with KC’s angry runner back from injury. Pacheco’s shown above-average efficiency with his carries, but (as Dwain pointed out earlier this week) his role has evolved, giving him access to an even higher ceiling.

“While those are substantial numbers, Pacheco’s evolution as a passing-down option has unlocked his RB1 potential. With Jerick McKinnon sidelined in Weeks 12, 16 and 17, the second-year back handled 100% of the two-minute offense and enjoyed target shares of 16%, 13% and 26%. Over those three games, he averaged 23 fantasy points.”

Dwain McFarland

Pacheco’s situation already lent itself to a top-12 result. Now, the in-game conditions point us to the same idea. The mounting injuries for Miami’s defense have caused them to fall into the Bottom 10 in rushing success rate. Plus, James Cook was a dropped TD away from dunking on the Dolphins with 13.9 PPR points as a receiver alone. So look for Pacheco to shine in a must-win for the Chiefs. And he’s not the only RB staring down a wintry scene for the weekend.

😏 Jaylen Warren, Steelers

The Bills find themselves in the same situation as the Chiefs. They won the division title and got to host a playoff game…but at what cost?

I mean, sure, check the timestamp. This picture was taken yesterday. But the forecast doesn’t paint any better of a picture for Sunday afternoon.

Orchard Park forecast

Snowfall during the game with sustained winds over 20 mph. Conditions like this lend credence to the idea that snow and wind will neutralize Buffalo’s greatest edge (Josh Allen). So if Pittsburgh has any shot of pulling off the upset, they’ll need the best out of their RBs. Najee Harris will take the lead, but I’m looking to Jaylen Warren to give the team the spark it needs.

In last week’s downpour against the Ravens, Warren rotated in on passing downs and short-yardage situations. Plus, he got half of the attempts inside the 5-yard line. Despite only carrying the rock nine times, Warren bested Harris in forced missed tackle rate (33.3% to 26.9%) and adjusted yards after contact (3.4 to 3.2). Essentially, he’s the type of runner you need to get through defenders for a shot at long gains.

Combined with his five targets, Warren hasn’t had fewer than ten touches in a single game since Week 8. And the Steelers’ dropback over expectation rate has declined since Mason Rudolph took over. If the snow and wind push them to rely on their RBs even more, Warren’s explosive potential can shift the game in Pittsburgh’s favor.

🛠️ Everything you need for the Wild Card’s Saturday Slate

For everything else you need for Saturday—including our Inactives page, which will update in the afternoon with all of the relevant status updates—you can get to your destination with a mere click of a button.

See our suite of tools to get you ready for today’s slate below:

Game Hub
Free Bets
Start Sit
Utilization Report
UD Picks

🏈Playoff Best Ball! Let's Go!

It's time to get our draft on!

If you haven't joined in on the fun over at Underdog Fantasy because you're focused on beating your friends and family in season-long? Well, guess what...season-long is over!

Underdog has contests for all types of fans and Fantasy Life's own Peter Overzet has tips on How to WIN in Playoff Best Ball!

Underdog Fantasy is making it even more fun with a $100 FIRST DEPOSIT MATCH. Seriously, sign up TODAY to get a 100% deposit match of up to $100.

Good luck, and start drafting on Underdog Fantasy!

UD Pick'Em WC

Don’t feel like building a DFS roster but still want to get in on the Super Wild Card weekend action? Say no more.

Underdog’s Pick’em plays are a fun way to see how each player does while putting some money down on the outcome. If you’re new to the format, Geoff breaks down how it works AND gives you the best targets for the weekend. What more could ya ask for?

If you’re new to pick’em, every week, I put out an article and try (key word is “try”) to put together a winning five-way pick'em ticket using Underdog’s selection of Higher/Lower offerings. 

I also put up extra pick’em plays every week in the FREE Underdog Pick’em Tracker on Fantasy Life. We are still up over +75 units on the season for all posted plays. 

Here are a few of my favorite pick’em targets for wild card week. 

🤘 Matthew Stafford HIGHER 274.5 passing yards 

Matthew Stafford walking back into Detroit… with a chance to knock off his old team. How does he not go off? The former Lions’ QB has played spectacular football in 2023 and has ended the year with back-to-back 300+ yard games. Overall, he ranks eighth in yards per attempt and has gone over this number in four of his last five starts. 

The Lions are also a terrific matchup. They're a textbook funnel to the pass defense that is 30th in yards per attempt against and 30th in passing yards allowed. They allowed an average of 384 yards passing over their final three games, and in two of those games, they were up against Nick Mullens

Look for Stafford to end this game with a big statline even if he doesn’t get the outright win.

UD Pick'Em WC

☝ Josh Reynolds HIGHER 29.5 receiving yards

While you could certainly correlate Stafford with either a HIGHER on Puka Nucau (preferred) or Cooper Kupp, going that route will also affect your payout. If you want to maintain at least a 20x payout on a 5-play card on Underdog, then I’d recommend bypassing the correlation and going with a HIGHER on Josh Reynolds – who may be acting as the defacto number two wide receiver for the Lions this weekend. 

As of Thursday night, WR Kalif Raymond is likely out, and TE Sam LaPorta hasn’t practiced. Reynolds stepped up with those two players hurting last week and caught five passes for 44 yards. He also went for 50+ yards in five of his first six games this season – when Jameson Williams was suspended. With this game likely to feature plenty of back-and-forth action, there is still some value showing on his HIGHER even now that it has hit the low 30s. 

⏬ Josh Allen LOWER 19.5 completions 

This could best be classified as a “gut play,” but it’s also one that is based on an impending weather situation and not the bowl of ice cream I had for dinner last night. The forecast for Buffalo on Saturday is for bitter cold (20-25F) with winds that may reach 20mph. In that type of game environment, who in their right mind would ask their QB to drop back more than necessary?

The Bills have also moved to being more of a ball-control, run-first team since switching offensive coordinators, with Josh Allen completing fewer than 16 passes in three of his final four games. If Buffalo does get a lead, then we’re likely to see very conservative play calling, with Allen potentially being asked to do more with his legs than his arm in this spot.


👀 Seeing who the sharps are betting on is like peaking at the smart kid’s homework. Let’s see who they like.

Raiders’ starter says he’s out if the team doesn’t keep Antonio Pierce. That’s one way to get him hired.

Can we trust Stefon Diggs with Gabe Davis out? The data says yes.

😍 Jordan Love. Great QB. An even better person.

👑 Ravens TE1 back at practice. No, not Isaiah Likely. THE OTHER GUY!

🤓 Everyone’s focused on the snow in Buffalo, but what about the wind? The team over at Sharp Football breaks it all down.

😆 Before the playoffs start, let’s take one more look back at best near-miss plays from the ‘23 season. To sum it up, Sheesh!

📈 The Commanders strike first with a GM hire. HTTC.

🤔 AP voters release the 2023 All-Pro team. Who do you think got snubbed?

🎉 The Patriots find their new head coach. A well-deserved hire.

WC Stacks

Finding the right player stacks can be the key to building a profitable roster in DFS. If you want to get the jump on this weekend, James McCool from Paydirt DFS has the data to guide you for Super Wild Card Weekend.

😎 Contrarian option: Los Angeles Rams

📝 Facts:

  • While Matthew Stafford only averaged 16.6 fantasy points per game, he had a strong floor with no games under 10 fantasy points while exposing the ceiling of both Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp and propelling them both to 25+ fantasy point ceilings multiple times on the year.

  • The Rams finished the regular season averaging 23.76 points per game, doing so with 4.47 scoring drives per game and 24% of their drives ending in touchdowns.

  • In the second half of the season, the Rams averaged 9 more points per game while dropping their dropback rate from 62% to 55%, which shows a drastic jump in efficiency from the offense as a whole.

💰 Stack info (DraftKings)

WC DK pricing

🧮 Salary and projections:

  • Combo 1 (Stafford/Nacua/Kupp): This combination is the most expensive at $21,200, but it justifies its price with the highest Median score of 48.13. This suggests confidence in a strong performance from this trio.

  • Combo 2 (Stafford/Nacua/Higbee): With a lower salary of $17,100, the Median score slightly drops to 40.9. The reduction in cost comes with a modest decrease in expected performance, providing a value option.

  • Combo 3 (Stafford/Kupp/Higbee): The most affordable at $17,400, the Median score is 38.9, the lowest among the three but only slightly less than Combo 2, making it an attractive budget-friendly option.

WC Stacks

🚀 Top Finish and High Scoring Potential

  • Combo 1 (Stafford/Nacua/Kupp):

    • Top Finish: Leads with an 11.2% chance, indicating a strong potential to finish at the top, consistent with its high Median score.

    • 60+% Potential: At 17.4%, it has the highest chance among the three to exceed the 60+% scoring mark, highlighting its high-performance ceiling.

  • Combo 2 (Stafford/Nacua/Higbee):

    • Top Finish: Has a 1.9% chance, significantly lower than Combo 1, which may reflect the impact of Higbee's inclusion over Kupp in the WR2/TE position.

    • 60+% Potential: At 3.0%, the probability of surpassing the 60+% threshold is lower compared to Combo 1 but suggests that high-scoring games are still within reach.

  • Combo 3 (Stafford/Kupp/Higbee):

    • Top Finish: Offers the lowest probability at 0.7%, showing a much less likely chance to achieve the highest rank.

    • 60+% Potential: With a 1.8% likelihood, it indicates that while this combination is budget-conscious, it carries a significantly reduced expectation for high-scoring outcomes.

1️⃣ Combo 1: This is the premium selection for those aiming for the highest average performance, as indicated by its top Median score and the best odds for a Top Finish and 60+% scoring. It's suited for players ready to invest more for potentially higher rewards.

2️⃣ Combo 2: Provides a value proposition with a slightly reduced Median score and a much lower chance for a Top Finish but still maintains a modest likelihood for high-scoring games. It could be a strategic pick for those looking to allocate budget across other lineup spots.

3️⃣ Combo 3: Despite being the most affordable, it offers the lowest Median score and probabilities for a Top Finish and 60+% scoring, making it a riskier option. However, the inclusion of both Kupp and Higbee could be advantageous in certain game scripts.

While the Lions started out as a strong defense, it was mostly based on an early season schedule and has since been a spot to attack. On the season, they have allowed 11.3 yards per attempt while giving up 28 passing TDs. With how strong the Rams’ passing attack is, this is a prime spot to focus on with relatively low ownership.

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