We are finally to Week 17. I shouldn’t say finally, because the regular season has flown by. This year has been a lot of fun! If there is actually anyone out there that does read this each week, I truly want to thank you and I hope I’ve steered you in the right direction more often than not. Let’s get down to this very interesting slate, but before we do…
FULL DISCLOSURE: I will not be playing any Green Bay Packers players this week. Not because I think any single one is a bad play, but because, as you know if you’ve read this column at all this year, I’m a die-hard Detroit Lions fan. I will be rooting against the Packers with all I have. I hope Aaron Rodgers goes 2-for-35 with 6 interceptions and two fumbles. I hope Jordy Nelson catches one ball for -10 yards. You get the point. I try to separate my fanship from my fantasy plays, but this is one game I just can’t do it. With so much on the line, the Lions winning the division is up there with winning the big bucks this week in the way it would make me feel.
For those looking for DraftKings picks, check back tomorrow for Neil’s plays for week 17.
Week 17 Plays
On FanDuel, the clear-cut best play at quarterback to me is Russell Wilson ($7,600). He’s in a lower tier than the top guys at the position price wise, but I really do like his chances of being the best point per dollar play and possibly even top overall scorer at the position. He’s playing a horrible defense and he should have his foot on the gas throughout. The Seahawks have been up and down all season, and I feel they’ll want to push the envelope this week to get everyone rolling into the playoffs.
Another quarterback I’ll consider is Matt Ryan ($8,700). At home against the Saints defense makes him an exceptional play. The Falcons want to secure a first round bye, so you can expect Ryan play hard throughout. With Drew Brees on the other side of the field, there is a chance that the Saints put up a fight and Ryan has to keep the pedal down. Surprisingly, the Saints run defense has been respectable since getting destroyed by the Falcons running backs very early in the year. This sets up well for Ryan from a game plan perspective. I’m not sure I am going to pay the extra $1,100 to go from Wilson to Ryan, but we’ll have to see where I’m at by Sunday.
David Johnson ($9,300). Just play him. Seriously. This is our last chance to roster the second year all world talent and I’m going to do it. In a week where nothing is certain, I think we can count on Johnson to get his usual touches. The safety in that is critical to us this week at a position where there are a ton of questions.
Finding a second running back who we can count on and lock in a high ceiling is exceptionally tough. If he was healthy, I could fully get behind Bilal Powell ($6,600). Assuming Forte is out, Powell would be in for a big workload if his health cooperates. That’s a big if. We’ll have to keep an eye as the weekend progresses to see if he’s in play here.
I think we can expect to see a similar workload this week from Mark Ingram ($6,100) as we did last week. His price is too cheap in my opinion. This is a matchup that I think he can perform well in, as he had 20.7 FanDuel points back in Week 3 against the Falcons. Ingram is one of those guys that I don’t feel good about clicking the green plus next to his name, but his price simply doesn’t match his ceiling. One other nugget. One of his offensive linemen was quoted talking about how important it is to them to get him to 1,000 yards rushing. He needs 60 yards to reach 1,000. Take that for what it’s worth.
I am giving serious consideration to JacQuizz Rodgers ($5,200). He’s the last man standing in this backfield and we’ve seen him produce as the go-to guy earlier in the season. I don’t love the matchup here, but volume alone puts him squarely in play at this price. Rodgers touched the ball 35 times the last time these two teams played. I don’t expect the same number of opportunities here, but we can realistically expect 20 touches with the chance of more. The Buccaneers have been a much better team this year when they limit the amount of throws that Jameis Winston has to make. They want to grind, grind, grind. They will try to do that here in a game they have to win. Rodgers may be the safest “cheap” play at running back this week.
DeAngelo Williams ($4,500)/Fitzgerald Toussaint ($4,500) – I would love either one of these guys without the other. If we get word before the game that either one will be the bell cow back, I would heavily lean toward rostering that guy along with Johnson. The problem is that I think they’ll have a 50/50 split here. There’s still a chance one of them pays the salary off with some upside, but it lowers the chances tremendously and this would be nothing more than a multi-entry play at best. Just keep an eye on this situation. We know what Williams is capable of as the lead back.
There is one sneaky play this week that I don’t think anyone will be on… Paul Perkins ($4,500). Perkins has looked better and better as his workload has gradually increased. With the Giants basically playing for nothing (they’re locked into the NFC #5 seed), I think they will give Perkins plenty of touches in this game. Rashad Jennings should be the guy to take a seat when the starters leave the game, due to age and injury concerns. This could be Perkins coming out party against a very susceptible Redskins run defense. There is some risk here, but heck, just about everyone on the slate this weekend is a risk.
In my opinion, Mike Evans ($8,400) is the highest upside play at the position. He should get eight to 10 targets and that’s more than enough for him to find the end zone twice and end up over 100 yards. With Cameron Brate now out for the rest of the way, Evans figures to be option 1, 1a, and 1b in this offense, especially in the red zone.
I love pairing Doug Baldwin ($7,100) with Wilson this week. I seem to get Baldwin wrong more than I get him right, but his upside is immense. This is a game the Seahawks want to win and Baldwin torched the 49ers defense in their first matchup this year going 8-164-1. Baldwin saw a ridiculous 19 targets last week. While I don’t think he sees that many again, there is something to say about Tyler Lockett’s season ending injury increasing Baldwin’s target share. He realistically should see 12-15 in this game.
I’m going back to the well with Michael Thomas ($6,700) this week. In a matchup that has shootout written all over it, Thomas is Brees’ favorite target and is underpriced compared to his upside. Thomas went 7-71-1 on 11 targets in his earlier matchup with the Falcons this year. He seems to be back to full health and I expect plenty of targets for him this week with multi-touchdown upside.
Allen Robinson ($6,100) finally got on the right side of the box score in Week 16. It was easy to see coming with such a juicy matchup, as Robinson saw 12 targets, his most in five weeks. He has another good matchup this week against the Colts. I think Blake Bortles forces the ball plenty to Robinson this week to try and carry some sort of positive momentum into the offseason. (NOTE: I like Bortles this week, but only on DraftKings, due to price. No way I’m playing him at the same price as Wilson on FanDuel.) Marquise Lee popped up on the injury report on Wednesday, and this needs to be monitored. If he misses, I like Robinson even more.
Golden Tate ($5,700) is simply underpriced. In a matchup against such a susceptible secondary, Tate may have the most upside per dollar on the slate. It’s not looking like Theo Riddick will play this week, which makes Tate even more important to this offense. The more I look at Tate, it’s hard to find many cons. Due to the situation with teams resting/not playing for anything, Tate is one of the best overall plays at wide receiver, from a raw points perspective.
There will probably be some pretty solid cheap plays this week, but they’ll be hard to pinpoint before the games without knowing exactly what teams will be doing with snap counts, etc. I don’t think you need to go lower than Tate.
Is there actually another tight end to consider than Travis Kelce ($6,800)? I shouldn’t have to tell you why he’s a good play, but just in case you’ve been in a cave without wifi the past eight weeks, allow me to fill you in. He’s averaged over 100 yards receiving the past six weeks and has had over 100 yards in five of those six games. The Chiefs are still playing for seeding, so Kelce has the best floor and ceiling at the position this week. Just find a way to fit him in.
The two defenses I’m looking at this week starts with the Kansas City Chiefs ($4,900). The Chiefs have looked very impressive the back half of the season. This defense, for the most part, has had its way throughout. Typically we view the Chiefs as a better play at home, but they have double-digit FanDuel points in each of their last five road games. And those games came against some decent offenses, starting with most recent: Falcons, Broncos, Panthers, Colts, and Raiders. They’ve been forcing a ton of turnovers. Philip Rivers has turned the ball over 15 times in his last six games. On top of the opportunity for turnovers, the Chiefs probably have a better chance than anyone in the league for a special teams touchdown with Tyreek Hill ($6,500) returning kicks and punts. I don’t mind the double dip with Hill this week, but just know he hasn’t caught one pass on eight targets over the past two games – since Maclin has been healthy. However, he has scored a touchdown in each.
If I need a little savings, I’m okay with the Arizona Cardinals ($4,700). The Cardinals have had their struggles this year, but they get to face the Rams to end the season. The Cards have given up an average of 32.4 actual points to opposing offenses over the past five games, but they have also had six or more FanDuel points in four of those five games. They still get to the quarterback and force turnovers. Those five games came against teams like the Saints, Seahawks, Falcons, and Redskins. Four of the best quarterbacks in the league this season. This week they get Jared Goff who is a fantasy defense’s best friend. The worst that an opposing fantasy defense has done against the Rams in their past eight games is seven FanDuel points. They’ve scored double digits in four of eight with a high of 26. And the Rams have played defenses like the Saints, Jets, and 49ers during that stretch. That says something. In the six games as a starter, Goff has thrown five touchdowns, seven interceptions, and lost three fumbles. He’s also been sacked 18 times in those six games.
Great, now I’ve convinced myself to play two defenses this weekend. I’ll probably take the lower owned option come Sunday if it’s a big discrepancy.
Matt Bryant ($5,300) has been incredible all year. He has one single digit FanDuel game at home this year and he had nine points in that game. In seven home games, he has averaged 11.7 FanDuel points. Just try to figure out a way to afford him.
If you absolutely cannot pay up for him, Will Lutz ($4,800) is fine in the same game. He has the same upside as Bryant, especially kicking in the dome, but he lacks the consistency.
Week 17 Stay Aways
Aaron Rodgers, Ty Montgomery, Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Mason Crosby, and Green Bay Packers defense. Stay away from them all! In all reality, they profile as decent plays, but as I said above, I will be summoning up whatever powers I can for them all to have horrible games. This is just for fun, I said I wouldn’t recommend any Packers players, so I also won’t include any in my stay aways.
There aren’t any quarterbacks that I hate, who are actually playing for something still. So, let me just warn you away from the guys who don’t have much to play for and therefore may have a very limited ceiling. Ben Roethlisberger, Tyrod Taylor (out), Dak Prescott, and Eli Manning.
The same goes for LeVeon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott at running back.
I’m not too interested in DeMarco Murray ($7,800). His usage has been high this year and this is a perfect spot to get the rookie some extra carries to increase his experience going into next season.
Some people are recommending Darren Sproles ($5,500) this week. While he is the last back left in this offense, I think the Eagles give all the heavy lifting to Carson Wentz to give him as many extra reps as possible to finish out his rookie season. Sproles just isn’t an every down back. He’s explosive, but his floor is too low for me.
Don’t play Antonio Brown; it looks like he’ll sit out. And Odell Beckham Jr. shouldn’t play more than a few drives, so that’s too risky as well. Dez Bryant is in the same boat.
TY Hilton ($7,800) is a guy I will be staying away from. The Jaguars secondary has been underrated all season and I expect them to limit Hilton in this matchup.
Adam Thielen ($6,500) has looked pretty good over the past few weeks, but I’m not buying it yet. Box score watchers will be all over him this week, so from a game theory perspective, I think it’s safe to stay away.
I’m going to do my best to stay away from everyone not named Travis Kelce at tight end.
Well, that’s it for this week and for the regular season. Once again, I really appreciate everyone taking the time to read this each week. Have a great New Years! Be sure to follow me on twitter at @mrclutchdfs if you want to get any updates from me on which way I’m leaning on some of these plays come Saturday.
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