I’ve waited until almost the last minute to file this Week 17 column, since this year’s finale is even more chaotic than ever.
But I’ve examined all the sketchy situations, each team’s motivation, the matchups, and the salaries and I’m ready to stay hot with my picks for the final week of the NFL regular season.
Kirk Cousins (Min, at Det - $6300 on DK and $7700 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-6 value on both sites. The planets have aligned for Kirkie with Dalvin Cook out and the Lions in such sad shape on defense. Tom Brady got them for 348/4 passing last week…in the first half. Cousins has put up 18+ FP in eight straight and he’s at 21.2 FPG in his last three against Detroit. It’s his last chance to enjoy the magic that is Justin Jefferson’s rookie season, and the opponent could not be any better to give us a great chance for a big day.
Baker Mayfield (Cle, vs. Pit - $5500 on DK and $7000 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-5 value on both sites, and a slightly better value on DK. Baker is feeling it right now and the situation is ripe for exploitation with the Steelers resting some key players (CB Joe Haden is already out with TJ Watt) . Before last week’s debacle, Mayfield was averaging 308 passing yards a game with 10 TDs and 1 INT in Weeks 12-15, and he doesn't have to do much to log a productive week at his low price.
Philip Rivers (Ind, vs. Jax - $6000 on DK and $7200 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-10 value on both sites, and slightly better on FanDuel. Now he does have some issues at OT, especially at LT with Anthony Costanzo out. But the Jags are much more of a mess with a ton of guys on IR, including CB Sidney Jones, who has been good. The Jags have given up 40+ points in consecutive games and the Colts are a great bet to score 30+ points, so Phil could easily have a 2-3 TD game. If he doesn't, it’ll mean Jonathan Taylor has gone off.
Derek Carr (LV, at Den - $5700 on DK and $7200 on FanDuel) - He’s not a great value on either site, ranking 12th-best on DK and 14th-best on FanDuel, and I do always have trust issues with Carr. But the Broncos are decimated in the secondary still with four CBs on IR, including their top-2 guy, and Carr has put up 23+ FP in his last three full games. This offense is unpredictable, but Carr’s looking good going into this one.
HIGHER-END GUYS I’M OKAY WITH
Lamar Jackson (Bal, at - $8000 on DK and $9000 on FanDuel) - He’s the #1 value on FanDuel and ninth-best on DK, per our projections. The Raven’s have been able to play to their identity lately, so Jackson’s been a lot better on film and even more so for fantasy. Lamar has 22+ FP in four straight with 8 passing TDs and 4 TDs on the ground. The Bengals won’t have top corner William Jackson, and it’s a must-win, so Jackson is an easy choice for the QB1 ranking this week.
Ryan Tannehill (Ten, at - $7000 on DK and $8200 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-8 value on both sites, but using our projections, he’s clearly a better value on FanDuel. I’m always worried about Derrick Henry bogarting all the production, but the fact is Tannehill comes through more often than not, dating back to last year. He has owned the Jags dating back to 2019 with 23.9 FPG in his last three and he crushed them for 364/4 passing in Week 6. Brandon Allen just put up 371/2 against this dreadful defense last week.
BARGAIN BASEMENT GUYS
None of note.
OTHER QB PLAYS I’M INTO THIS WEEK
Drew Brees (NO, at Car - $5900 on DK and $7400 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-9 value on both sites. I think the numbers will be there for Brees with warm weather expected in Carolina with light winds and DE Brian Burns out, I like Brees to get it done. No Alvin Kamara will hurt, but with all their top RBs out, they have to throw it to ensure a win. Brees looked a lot better on film last week, which was reflected in the stats. He had a 73.1% completion rate with a YPA 12.0. He put up 287/2 passing in this matchup back in Week 7. I think he will easily hit 18-20 FP, but I don’t see much upside from there.
Teddy Bridgewater (Car, vs. NO - $5300 on DK and $6900 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-5 value on DK and the 10th-best on FanDuel. Teddy has three excellent WR options and likely not much of a running game with Mike Davis out, so I think he can easily hit 16+ FP in this one. Earlier this year, in the Dome no less, Teddy was 23-of-28 (82%) for 254 yards (9.1 YPA) with 2 TD passes and 2/10 rushing, so I have confidence.
Kenyan Drake (Ari, at LAR - $5400 on DK and $6200 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-4 value on both sites, but that is pending Chase Edmonds’ status. But no matter what, Drake is looking better than usual with Edmonds out of practice all week. He scored his sixth TD in as many games last week and put up 10/49/1 rushing (4.9 YPC) in the first matchup. He’s getting targeted lately, and if Edmonds is out Drake is a lock for 15-20 touches, so I’ll take my chances at his relatively low price. If The Drake scares you (and that’s fair), then bail from him if Edmonds is active, just make sure you have another late-game option.
Melvin Gordon (LAC, vs. LV - $5700 on DK and 6700 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-10 value on both sites and #4 value on DK. He’s not particularly reliable, but Melvin has looked very good lately and Phillip Lindsay is out and Royce Freeman was barely involved last week with only 4 touches. Gordon needs 107 rushing yards to get to 1000 yards for the season, and he’s averaged 4.9 YPC or better in four straight (6.2 YPC in that span). The matchup is good, since the Raiders are giving up 4.8 YPC and 105.9 rushing yards per game to RBs (8th-most) and 5.5 YPC to RBs the last four weeks.
HIGHER-END GUYS I’M OKAY WITH
Derrick Henry (Ten, at Car - $9400 on DK and $10200 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-5 value on both sites, and the #2 value on DK. Basically, in cash games, it may be a case of “start Henry or lose” this week. I’ve wisely left him off this column a couple of times lately, but you can be damn sure he’s in this week. Henry had his best game of the season against this craptastic Texans run defense in Week 6 with 264 yards and 2 TDs. The Texans continued to suck against the run last week giving up 262 yards and 2 TDs to the usually-worthless duo of Samaje Perine and Giovani Bernard last week. Henry will be eating on Sunday - big time.
Joanthan Taylor (Ind, vs. Jac - $7400 on DK and $8400 on FanDuel) - He’s the #6 value on both sites. Taylor is rolling now with 34/157/3 rushing the last two weeks and the Jaguars have given up 7 TDs to four different RBs the last four weeks. Taylor needs 84 rushing yards for 1000, and he will get the ball more than enough time to get that, so the only question I have is can the Jaguars put up a fight and keep Taylor in the game? If they can and Taylor plays nearly full-time all four quarters, 25+ points are in play.
Nick Chubb (Ind, vs. Jac - $7400 on DK and $8400 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-10 value on both sites. The Steelers are a mess this week and will rest most if not all of their key starters on defense with guys like TJ Watt and Joe Haden already ruled out. Chubb will also get G Wyatt Teller back, and the Browns running game has been considerably worse without Teller (see last week). Chubb could easily go off with 125+ yards and 1-2 TDs.
Myles Gaskin (Mia, at Buf - $6500 on DK and $6700 on FanDuel) - He’s a slightly better value on FanDuel, but top-13 on both. Obviously, this guy is getting the ball, especially if one of their banged-up WRs (Parker and Grant) are out. Gaskin, who was in this column last week, was a juggernaut with 14/87 rushing and 5/82/2 receiving playing 78% of the snaps. He’s now seen 19+ touches in five straight when he’s been healthy. games when he’s been on the field. Gaskin posted 13/82 scrimmage for 14.2 FP against the Bills in Week 2. Buffalo will likely rest some starters in a relatively meaningless game, and that can only help Gaskin’s chances.
Jeff Wilson (SF, vs. Sea - $6000 on DK and $6300 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-9 value on both sites, but top-3 on FanDuel. I’ve been on this guy lately here and he’s still looking appealing this week. Wilson last week played 70% of the snaps in his huge game and there’s every reason to believe they will continue to feed him the ball, since he’s clearly the only guy with a chance to have a big role next year. In fact, he may be the leader of the pack for the #1 RB spot next year. Niner RBs combined for 18/48/2 rushing in this matchup back in Week 8. Wilson’s a good bet for another 15-20 touches, so I’ll roll with him again.
BARGAIN BASEMENT GUYS
Malcolm Brown (LAR, vs. Jac - $4300 on DK) - This is DK only for now, but if Cam Akers is out, then Brown is a great play on all sites. Even if Akers is in, I think Brown has a chance to come through at this low price. He’s not game-script dependent and he’s often involved in goal-line situations. The Cardinals got run all over last week by Jeff Wilson and the 49er and they give up 5.2 YPC to RBs the last four weeks, so Brown can help you this week. If Akers is inactive, Brown’s a slam-dunk. I actually think QB John Wolford will be decent, and he does run, which should help Brown.
Gus Edwards (Bal, vs. Jac - $4900 on DK) - This is DK only for me, but Gus could easily do well everywhere at a relatively low price. Edwards has been limited with a back issue, but he’s looked great the last two weeks, so I like his potential this week, assuming he goes.
Edwards put up 24/127 rushing and 4/73 receiving the last two weeks and he’s looked great. He just hasn’t scored. If he can find the endzone in this cake matchup, he will be a great value pick. The Bengals won’t have their top corner, so their pass defense will take a hit and they’re giving up 114.8 rushing yards per game (5th-most) and 5.1 YPC to RBs the last four weeks. There should be enough production to go around for Gus and JK Dobbins in this one. If the back issue scares you off, that’s fair.
Alexander Mattison (Min, at Det - $5500 on FanDuel) - I’d probably pass on him on DK, but on FanDuel, he’s the #2 RB value on the board at his unusually low price. Assuming he’s active, of course, Mattison should have a great opportunity against a defense that has been non-competitive for weeks now. I have him with 16 touches, 80 total yards, and a 70% chance of scoring.
OTHER RB PLAYS I’M INTO THIS WEEK
De’Andre Swift (Det, vs. Jac - $6300 on DK and $7500 on FanDuel) - He’s only the 12th-best value on DK and only 21st on FanDuel, but I do like Swift IF Matthew Stafford is in and he is expected now to be in as of Saturday. With Stafford in, Swift’s upside is through the roof against a Vikings defense that has been absolutely dreadful stopping the run. They are really struggling inside, and they also won’t have star LB Eric Kendricks again. Swift, meanwhile, is likely to get C Frank Ragnow in the lineup, so 20+ FP is in play.
Calvin Ridley (Atl, at TB - $8500 on DK and $8700 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-6 value on both sites despite his high salary, and he’s actually the #1 value on FanDuel. He’s looked incredible lately - unrecoverable - and he’s the man with Julio Jones out again. Ridley has put up 16+ FP in his six games without Julio this season, including 110+ yards in 5 of those 6 games, including a 10/163/1 receiving line and 32.3 FP against the Bucs way back in Week 15. Tampa will likely rest some starters at some point in the game, and impact LBs Devin White and Shaq Barrett are already out with top corner Carlton Davis doubtful. Full green light on Calvin.
Justin Jefferson (Min, at Det - $7400 on DK and $7900 on FanDuel) and Adam Thielen (Min, at Det - $7400 on DK and $7900 on FanDuel) - Neither guy is a great value on either site, and both of their histories in this matchup actually aren’t very good. Obviously, with Jefferson it’s only one game, but Thielen was also hurt for much of 2019. Jefferson needs 111 yards to break Anquan Boldin’s rookie record of 1367 yards (2003) since the AFL-NFL merger, and the Lions just gave up 300 receiving yards to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown last week in less than a full 60 minutes of action. Thielen's got 14 TDs and he’s leading the league in end-zone targets with 19, scoring on a remarkable 68.4% of those end zone targets. The Bucs top-3 WRs scored 4 TDs in this matchup last week, including two by Mike Evans. With no Dalvin Cook, it’s an easy call for the Vikings to throw 20-25 balls to these two studs.
TY Hilton (Ind, vs. Jax - $5800 on DK and $6300 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-6 value on FanDuel and only the 23rd-best value on DK, but I like TY this week for sure. The Colts can win any way they’d like in this one, but when they pass it, Hilton will be in a good spot to go off.
He has 60+ yards in five straight, and the matchup is too good against the hapless Jaguars.
Marquise Brown posted 6/98 receiving in this matchup two weeks ago, and TY can do something similar with ease. He needs to score to go off, but I’m sniffing a big-play TD for TY in this one.
Marvin Jones (Det, vs. Min - $5100 on DK and $6100 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-9 value on both sites. I got burned badly by Marvin last week, and I’m surprised I’m going back to the well here. But with Matthew Stafford trending strongly toward playing and with top CB Cameron Dantzler out for the Vikings (plus great LB Eric Kendricks), I can’t pass on Jones’ upside in this matchup. The Vikings have no pass rush and are really, really struggling inside, so Detroit has a good chance to move the ball well. Marvin has also absolutely owned the Vikings with 7 TDs against them in his last five games, including a decent 3/43/1 line on only 4 targets in Week 9.
Marquise Brown (Bal, at Cin - $5900 on DK and $6000 on FanDuel) - He’s not a value at all on DK, but he’s the eighth-best value on FanDuel. Brown has been on a roll lately with 12+ FP in five straight with 4 TDs in those five games. Brown had his best game of the season against the Bengals in Week 5, posting 6/77/1 receiving, and that was with Lamar struggling and top Bengal CB William Jackson in the lineup. Jackson is out, and Lamar has been noticeably better as they’ve been able to run their staple offense effectively with their RBs and Lamar running well.
Curtis Samuel (Car, vs. NO - $5300 on DK and $6100 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-10 value on both sites and the fourth-best on FanDuel. Samuel is looking good in this one because we’re looking at 5+ carries for him after he put up career-highs in both rushing yards (52) and receiving yards (106) last week against Washington. Mike Davis is out, and Samuel has 16+ FP in 6 of his last 9 games. He should easily get 12+ opportunities.
HIGHER-END GUYS I’M OKAY WITH
DK Metcalf (Sea, at SF - $7300 on DK and $7600 on FanDuel) - He’s not a good value at all on DK, but he’s top-5 on FanDuel. The 49ers really don’t have a CB who can handle DK, and he’s long overdue for a big game. He had his best game of the season against the 49ers in Week 8 with 12/161/2 receiving, so I’m looking at a repeat performance.
BARGAIN BASEMENT GUYS
Jerry Jeudy (Den, vs. LV - $4200 on DK and $5100 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-4 value on both sites, actually. I know his drops were brutal last week, but I’m not bailing from Jeudy in his last chance to make a good impression in his rookie season. He finished with only 6/61 receiving last week, but the season-best 15 targets he saw is certainly a positive. I think he will get another 10+ looks and he did put up a solid 4/68 receiving against the Raiders in Week 10. Jeudy will get it done this week with 13+ FP.
Laviska Shenault (Jax, vs. NO - $4200 on DK and $5500 on FanDuel) - He’s a better value on DK for sure, but top-16 on both sites. DJ Chark is out and Shenault has quietly posted 9+ FP in four straight, including 5/48/1 receiving on 7 targets against the Bears last week with a promising 87% of the snaps. He has 5+ catches in the three straight and got 3/37/1 receiving in his first pro game against the Colts in Week 1. Indy is down a CB this week in Rock Ya-Sin and they have been really struggling on the back end lately, giving up 17/218 receiving to WRs the last four weeks.
Rashard Higgins (Cle, vs. LV - $4500 on DK and $5600 on FanDuel) - He’s the ninth-best value on DK and the 15th-best on FanDuel. The Steelers will be resting guys in this one and Baker Mayfield has been on fire for weeks now. Higgins in his last game posted 4/76 receiving on 5 targets against the solid Giants defense in Week 15, which gave him 68+ yards and 11+ FP in three straight games in Weeks 13-15. The Browns should push the pedal to the metal with Baker and the passing game to ensure a win.
James Washington (Pit, vs. Phi - $3500 on DK and $5200 on FanDuel) - He’s the #2 value on DK but only the 21st-best value on FanDuel. He’s done some good things with Mason Rudolph in the pros, and they know each other very well because they played together for FOUR years at Oklahoma State. Washington has some risk, but he’s a good bet to play more snaps than their top-3 WRs, and the Browns won’t have top corner Denzel Ward, which is big. I could easily see Washington getting it done with 4-5 catches for 80+ yards and a TD.
Gabriel Davis (Buf, vs. Phi - $3600 on DK and $5200 on FanDuel) - He’s the #1 WR value on DK, but only 15th-best on FanDuel. Cole Beasley is out and Davis ran the most routes of any Bills last week with 30, and he had a decent 5 targets (3/33). The matchup isn’t great, as the Dolphins have good outside corners, but I can see Davis being treated like their #1 WR in a relatively meaningless game. He may not get much action from Josh Allen, so there is downside, but I do think he can easily get 10-12 FP.
Mike Gesicki (Mia, at - $4200 on DK and $5900 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-5 value on both sites. He’d be an incredible play if his boy Ryan Fitzpatrick was playing, but we will have to settle for Tua. We still don’t know about WRs Parker and Grant (or at least I don’t as of this writing Saturday late afternoon), but Gesicki has a real shot to come through no matter what. Tua was not good on film last week, but Miami needs this game badly and the Bills don’t, so I think they will rest some players. Noah Fant posted 8/68/1 receiving in this matchup two weeks ago, and the Bills are allowing 60.1 receiving yards per game to TEs (4th-most). Back in Week 2, I loved Gesicki in this matchup and he was in this column and he put up 8/130/1 on 11 targets.
TJ Hockenson (Bal, at - $4600 on DK and $5800 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-8 value on both sites. Like with Marvin, I got burned by The Matthew Stafford injury last week with Hockenson, but while I can’t say I love him, I do like him and could see him going off. The Vikings are a mess on defense right now and they won’t have LB Eric Kendricks in coverage yet again. Jared Cook and Adam Trautman combined for 5/127 last week against the Vikings.
Jared Cook (NO, at Car - $4700 on DK and $5700 on FanDuel) - He’s not a great value on DK, but he is the 6th-best on FanDuel. With all their top RBs out, they’re going to have to lean on the pass in an important game, with the #1 seed still in play. Cook had a season-high 82 yards last week and he posted 3/32/1 receiving in this matchup back in late October. Cook is actually averaging a healthy 15.5 FPG in his last three games in this matchup, dating back to 2019, and the Panthers have been bad against TEs all year and still give up a promising 15.6 FPG to the position the last four weeks.
HIGHER-END GUYS I’M OKAY WITH
Mark Andrews (Bal, at - $5800 on DK and $7200 on FanDuel) - He’s only the 11th-best value on DK but he is the fourth-best value on FanDuel. Andrews is back, and so is Lamar Jackson. Andrews has now posted 12+ FP in five straight with 60+ yards and 5+ catches in each game. I loved him in this matchup earlier in the season and he had a solid 6/56/1 back in October, and he’s averaging a whopping 18.6 FPG in this matchup in his last three dating back to 2019. It’s been a good matchup all year with the Bengals giving up 64.0 receiving yards per game (2nd-most) and 14.6 FPG the last four weeks.
George Kittle (SF, vs. Sea - $6000 on DK and $7200 on FanDuel) - He’s not a value at all on DK, but he is a top-6 value on FanDuel. But with Brandon Aiyuk out, I say, why not with Kittle? Kittle played only 50% of the snaps and was coming off a 2-month layoff, and he still posted a strong 4/92 on 5 targets. I think he will be the centerpiece of the passing game against the Seahawks, who have been a decent TE matchup this year.
BARGAIN BASEMENT GUYS
Austin Hooper (Cle, at NYJ - $3800 on DK and $5200 on FanDuel) - He’s a top-2 value on both sites. The Steelers won’t have a ton of defensive starters and Hooper’s role has shifted in recent weeks. He’s kind of a go-to guy with 15 targets last week and 14+ FP in consecutive games even with all the WRs playing one of those games. I don’t think we see S MInkah Fitzpatrick play much, and I think the Browns will aggressively go for it to ensure a victory.