Here's a few budget-priced DFS plays to cash in on this wild card week, in addition to a few premium-priced players to avoid. Best wishes for a fabulous kick off to your fantasy New Year this weekend.
QB - A.J. McCarron, Cin vs Pit ($25 in DFS) - McCarron is the second-cheapest starting QB option in DFS. I'll take that value against a Pittsburgh defense that, while staunch against the run, has proven vulnerable versus the pass (third-most passing yards allowed). McCarron provided reason for optimism in this week's matchup by posting a respectable 280 yards and two touchdown passes (also two interceptions) in a meeting with Pittsburgh in early December.
RB - Spencer Ware, KC at Hou ($13) - This is a small price to pay for a player in a run-heavy offense that is coming off a 16/76/1 line in Week 17. Ware should be good for at least a dozen carries against Houston, and he's averaging a TD every 12 carries (not to mention a healthy 5.6 yards per tote).
RB - Eddie Lacy, GB at Was ($21) - I expect GB to try its damnedest to establish a running game early in Washington. Lacy has been an up-and-down fantasy commodity, but he did post the 12th-most fantasy points at the RB position over the final seven weeks of the regular season (including three 100-yard rushing efforts and three touchdowns). Given the risky nature of the highest priced RB options this week, the much-cheaper Lacy, likely to get 15-20 touches, is not a bad dice roll.
WR - Tyler Lockett, Sea at Min ($14) - Lockett posted seven catches for 90 yards in his previous meeting with the Vikings and, in the freezing temperatures expected this Sunday in Minnesota, the simple bubble screens and go routes that Seattle likes to use him on shouldn't be too adversely affected by the elements.
WR - Markus Wheaton, Pit at Cin ($11) - It's pretty crazy to think that you can get a receiver that has scored four times in his past six games (with at least 50 yards in five of those contests) for $1 more than the minimum. At $11, you can even live with what Wheaton did against Cincy in Week 14 (4/65 line), but his end-of-season run as a whole shows that he's very capable of adding an end zone splash to the mix this time around.
TE - Heath Miller, Pit at Cin ($15) - Miller's price tag is not bargain-basement for a tight end, but $15 seems like a pittance to pay for a guy that is facing a team that he has caught 20 passes against in two meetings this season (10 catches in each game).
QB - Aaron Rodgers, GB at Was ($33) - Rodgers is averaging just 215 passing yards and has a total of three touchdown passes in his past three games. Given the issues with pass protection and his receivers gaining separation, he's not worth this week's sticker price (as the third-highest QB on the board).
RB - Charcandrick West, KC at Hou ($20) - The market hasn't adjusted to reflect West's recent production, which has equated to the 45th-most fantasy points at the RB position in the final seven weeks of the regular season - by comparison, teammate Ware ranks 16th in that span. There's a good case to be made that West deserves Ware's price tag ($13) this week, and Ware should be the one affixed with the $20 tag.
RB - Jeremy Hill, Cin vs Pit ($28) - Hill ended his regular season in fine fashion (16/96/1 rushing against Baltimore), but his production over the course of the entire season can be considered only spotty, at best. And his two meetings with Pittsburgh this season figured heavily into the rough patches he experienced along the way. Against what was the third-toughest defense for a fantasy RB to score against this season, Hill managed just 92 total yards combined ( and 0 TDs) in those two contests. This week, save your money for high-end wideouts and skip on the "top shelf" running backs.
WR - Jeremy Maclin, KC at Hou ($27) - For the $27 price tag, you certainly want more upside than what Maclin offers this week. Dealing with a sore hip, he'll face a Texans secondary on Saturday that ranks as the third-toughest in fantasy against opposing receivers since Week 8, allowing just 6 WR touchdowns in that nine-game span. And it's worth noting that Maclin underdelivered when these teams faced off in Week 1 (5 catches, 52 yards, 0 TDs).
WR - Randall Cobb, GB at Was ($22) - You want to pay $22 for a receiver that hasn't found the end zone in the past six games and is averaging just 46 receiving yards in those contests? I certainly don't.
TE - Richard Rodgers, GB at Was ($16) - Washington's defense did well at limiting TE touchdowns during the regular season, allowing just four scores to the position. And touchdowns are really what you are hoping for when you pay up for Rodgers, as he's scored eight times this season, including in Week 17. But he was held to just one catch and less than 10 receiving yards in each of the three games leading up to that regular-season finale - to further emphasize the yardage peril, he finished a game with 34 yards or less in 12 of his 16 games.