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Madden Stream Picks: Top DraftKings Fantasy Football DFS Targets, Values for January 4

Zach Thompson gives his top studs and value plays at each position for Monday’s three-game Madden Stream DraftKings slate, which starts at 6:00 p.m. ET.

For the first time since the NFL regular season kicked off in mid-September, there is no Monday Night Football on tap from the NFL on this first Monday of 2021, but don’t worry, the DraftKings Dream Stream is ready to step in and fill the fantasy football gap with a full six-game schedule of sims. While the first game of the day gets underway at 12:00 p.m. ET, the featured slate begins at 6:00 p.m. ET with a rivalry game that is a rematch of the real-life Week 17 matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. At 8:00 p.m. ET in primetime, the New Orleans Saints will travel to the virtual Twin Cities to take on the Minnesota Vikings in a matchup featuring two of the top RBs in Madden 21. For “Madden After Dark” at 10:00 p.m. ET, there’s another great matchup as the Houston Texans visit the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson ($9,300) faces off with Deshaun Watson ($7,300).

As usual, it’s important to remember that each roster is not impacted by COVID-19 opt-outs, injuries, suspensions or illness in these sims and that the highest-rated options have been placed at the top of the depth charts. The roster for each team includes all player movement that occurred prior to Week 1 of this season and uses the Madden 21 ratings from Week 1 of this season.

For more details, you can find the game settings, depth charts, abilities and X-factors for each team in Madden 21 along with the upcoming schedule on the Madden Stream info page. There were a few tweaks to the X-factors and Superstars in the latest December update, so be sure to check the depth charts of each team.

Check out the daily DraftKings Madden Stream contests lobby with paid contests for real cash prizes now available alongside free contests. Each simulation will be played out computer vs. computer via an online Madden Stream using Madden 21. In this format, you can enjoy watching the game stream on the DraftKings YouTube channel, the DK Live app (download here) or right here in this post.

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Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans, $9,300 — Paying up for Jackson will stretch your salary cap across the rest of your roster, but it’s hard to pass on the dynamic Madden cover athlete since he comes with such a remarkably high ceiling and a great matchup on this slate against the porous Houston defense. Jackson and the Ravens split their two earlier sims against the Texans in Madden 21, but he had a big game in each contest, producing 31.46 DKFP in their 24-20 win and following that up with 38.52 DKFP in their 37-28 loss. He ran for over 100 yards in each of those games and threw for four scores as well. Jackson is coming off an impressive run of production with over 35 DKFP in each of his three most recent sims. He carried the Ravens to the semifinals of the Madden Holiday Season, but couldn’t quite get them past the eventual-champion Chiefs despite three rushing touchdowns and 44.24 DKFP in the virtual AFC Championship contest. He stayed hot in his first game after the tournament as well, producing 40.9 DKFP against the Broncos with 147 rushing yards and three more scores. In his 33 sims in Madden 21, he has averaged 27.0 DKFP on 146.7 passing yards and 106.3 rushing yards per sim while totaling 30 touchdowns through the air and 30 more on the ground. In this matchup, he’s too good to pass up even at this elevated price point.

Other Option — Deshaun Watson ($7,300)


Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns, $6,000 — The Steelers rested Big Ben for their real-world regular-season finale, but he’ll be on the field for this sim matchup against the Browns. These two teams just met a few sims ago in the Madden Holiday Season but neither was able to advance in the playoffs. Pittsburgh won that contest, 28-21, behind 21.22 DKFP from Roethlisberger, who threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 24.0 DKFP in his first meeting with the Browns, showing he has the most upside of the affordable QB plays on this slate, especially in this favorable matchup.

Other Option — Drew Brees ($6,600)

Running Back


Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints, $8,800 — Even though this is sim No. 30 for the Vikings in Madden 21, this is the first time they’ll be taking on the Saints with Cook and Alvin Kamara ($8,000) going head-to-head. On Christmas Day, we know what Kamara did to the Vikings’ defense in real life, but in simland, Minnesota’s defense has been much better against the run. Cook has also been dominant in these Madden sims carrying all the workload in the Vikings’ offense and even claiming NFC MVP honors in the recent Madden Holiday Season. Cook had over 21 DKFP in five straight games including all three in the Holiday Season, highlighted by a 51.0-DKFP performance against the Giants. He did lose that streak of big games with a down game in his most recent sim after the tournament with “just” 16.5 DKFP against the Cardinals. He should bounce back, though, in this matchup with the Saints. He has scored an insane 38 touchdowns in his 29 sims while averaging 99.9 rushing yards and 28.7 receiving yards per sim.

Other Option — Alvin Kamara ($8,000)


Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns, $4,300 — Samuels is a solid value play since he is the third-down back for the Steelers and usually gets enough work in his timeshare to be a nice value alongside James Conner ($3,500). Samuels had his third touchdown of the Madden 21 sims in his most recent game against the Giants and has put up over 8.0 DKFP in nine of his 12 most recent sims. Samuels had four catches out of the backfield for 23 yards and 6.3 DKFP in his recent matchup with the Browns and should be involved again as a receiving option out of the backfield in this rematch.

Other Options — Duke Johnson ($4,700), J.K. Dobbins ($3,800)

Wide Receiver


Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers, $6,800 — Even in a tough matchup with the Steelers, OBJ has a high ceiling if he gets targets from Baker Mayfield ($6,300), who has been inconsistent in these sims. Beckham just had eight catches for 121 yards and 23.1 DKFP against the Steelers in their recent meeting but followed that up with just one catch for 10 yards and 2.0 DKFP in a matchup against the Jaguars. Those two results are a good example of how boom-or-bust he has been throughout Madden 21. He does come with a very high ceiling, though, and has over 20 DKFP in four of his eight most recent games, highlighted by a 41.3-DKFP performance against his former team, the Giants. He is worth a look due to his ceiling as long as you’re aware of the bust potential as well.

Other Options — Michael Thomas ($7,000), Brandin Cooks ($6,500)


Tajae Sharpe, Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints, $4,700 — Although he is no longer with the team in real life, Sharpe is the Vikings’ WR2 in Madden and has been a very reliable midrange WR play as of late. Sharpe has at least four catches in four straight games, averaging 5.0 catches for 75.0 yards over that span and producing at least 9.9 DKFP in each sim. Sharpe has scored seven touchdowns in his 29 sims, but even when he doesn’t get into the end zone, his volume is enough that he is still worth a look under $5K.

Willie Snead IV, Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans, $3,200 — When the Ravens move the ball through the air, Snead is usually involved as the team’s slot receiver. He doesn’t have tons of big-play potential but is a solid possession option. He should have the advantage in this matchup against Houston’s struggling secondary and had three catches for 14 yards, a touchdown and 10.4 DKFP followed by six catches for 86 yards and 14.6 DKFP in his two earlier meetings with the Texans. He can be hit-or-miss, but in this matchup, I think he’ll be a solid value play and allow you to spend up at other spots for top options like Jackson and Cook.

Other Options — Emmanuel Sanders ($5,100), Randall Cobb ($3,700)

Tight End


Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings, $4,600 — The Vikings’ defense has struggled to defend TEs in Madden 21, so Cook should be in a smash spot. He has multiple catches in 14 straight sims, averaging 4.1 catches over that span and 4.5 catches per contest over his 35 Madden 21 sims. He has a very high ceiling and relatively high floor with over 8.0 DKFP in four straight sims before slowing down a little in the Madden Holiday Season Championship when the Chiefs held him to just two catches for three yards.

Other Option — Eric Ebron ($5,200)


Darren Fells, Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens, $4,400 — Fells has been a very solid possession option for the Texans and Watson in these sims and usually piles up receptions and PPR points. He has averaged 4.1 catches per sim but has only managed to find the end zone three times in 30 sims. Fells totaled 10 catches for 139 yards in his two earlier matchups with the Ravens, and he should be lined up for another solid performance in this sim even though his ceiling isn’t quite as high as Cook’s.

Other Option — Austin Hooper ($3,400)



Steelers DST vs. Cleveland Browns, $3,100 — The Steelers’ DST had 10.0 DKFP in their recent matchup with the Browns on two sacks, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown. They followed that up with a pair of picks and 13.0 DKFP against the Giants in their most recent sim and now have at least 5.0 DKFP in 11 of their past 12 sims. They have the upside and playmakers to make big plays and a good matchup against the Browns, so they’re the top defense to target if their salary isn’t an obstacle in your roster build.


Saints DST at Minnesota Vikings, $2,800 — The Saints’ defense helped them all the way to the Championship game of the Madden Holiday Season tournament. They had at least 6.0 DKFP in five straight sims before struggling in the final game against the high-powered Chiefs. They should be able to limit the Vikings in this matchup since Minnesota has been hit-or-miss on offense with Kirk Cousins ($5,400) struggling to get much going in most matchups.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.