DFS Early Look: Week 17

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DFS Early Look: Week 17

Another week of NFL football is in the books, which means that more NFL football is right around the corner. With both FanDuel and DraftKings having released their Week 17 DFS pricing, it’s time to look ahead to next Sunday’s DFS slate.

Here are the most glaring values I’ve found after analyzing pricing.

Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (VS. KC)

DraftKings: $6,900 (QB7) | FanDuel: $7,700 (QB8)

Southern Ohio legend Joe Burrow is coming off the 3rd-best game by a fantasy QB this season (38.1 fantasy points), and is only the 3rd QB in NFL history to throw for more 525 yards and 4 TDs in a single game.

Burrow is currently PFF’s highest-graded QB (90.7 passing grade), and boasts the 2nd-highest passer rating in the NFL (105.0). He’s certainly started to return to 2019-Burrow form after starting slow in the first 3 weeks of the season, averaging 20.2 FPG over the last 12 weeks – a mark that would be good for QB10 on the season.

One of the most important factors to Burrow’s fantasy success has been passing volume. He averages 21.5 FPG in the 9 games he’s thrown more than 30 passes, but just 16.7 FPG in his other 6 games. On the Week 17 main slate, that’s the difference between ranking just after Patrick Mahomes for QB7, and just barely ahead of Russell Wilson for QB12.

But thankfully for Burrow, he faces Kansas City in a Week 17 matchup that’s the 2nd-highest total on the slate (50.0). And with the Bengals as 4.5-point underdogs to the NFL’s most explosive offense, it’s fair to say passing volume won’t be an issue for Burrow. Plus KC has been a favorable matchup for opposing QBs, allowing 19.9 FPG (3rd-most) this season.

After a legendary Week 16 performance, expect Burrow to be one of the most popular Week 17 QBs in the 2nd-best scoring environment of the slate.

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts (VS. LVR)

DraftKings: $9,000 (RB1) | FanDuel: $10,000 (RB1)

Taylor has been nothing short of a league-winner this season, averaging 22.8 FPG (a mark that leads all healthy RBs), while also leading the league in both rushing yards (1,626) and TDs (17). Taylor is tied for the league lead with 5.5 YPC, ranks behind only Nick Chubb in yards after contact per attempt (3.8), and is PFF’s 2nd-highest graded rusher on the season (89.6, min. 150 carries).

Taylor has hit at least a 60% snap share in every game since Week 6, after only doing so 3 times in his previous 21 games. And since Week 6, Taylor has averaged 25.8 FPG, which not only would easily lead all RBs this season, but would actually be the 16th-best RB fantasy season ever, just ahead of 2017 Todd Gurley and just behind 1995 Emmitt Smith.

But Taylor isn’t quite priced like an RB having a historic season, at least on DraftKings. He’s $1,400 cheaper on DK than 2016 Le’Veon Bell (26.5 FPG) was at his peak. He’s $800 cheaper than 2017 Todd Gurley’s (25.6 FPG) highest salary, and Taylor is $500 cheaper than 2020 Dalvin Cook (24.1 FPG) was at his peak. Taylor’s current salary of $9,000 is actually cheaper than 2018 Todd Gurley (26.6 FPG) was in every week of that season, with the exception of Week 4 and Week 14. So, there is a clear precedent for RBs having an all-time season to be priced at or near $10,000 on DraftKings, and yet, Taylor isn’t.

And this isn’t due to a tough Week 17 matchup, as the Raiders are allowing the 3rd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (+5.7), and the 3rd-most FPG overall to opposing RBs (28.5).

Taylor is underpriced relative to other historically great RBs, and once we throw the plus matchup on top of it, I have little doubt he will be one of the most popular RB plays of this slate.

Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (AT NYJ)

DraftKings: $6,300 (RB11) | FanDuel: $7,000 (RB12)

Jones saw 22 touches and scored 16.1 fantasy points in his season debut as the Buccaneers lead RB.

Jones role on Sunday was incredibly similar to the 3 games he filled in for Leonard Fournette last season, when he earned 23.3 touches per game, a 63% snap share, 4.0 targets per game, 100% of carries inside the 5, and 22.1 DraftKings FPG and 18.6 FanDuel FPG.

Should Jones manage to recreate those DK and FD numbers from last season in Week 17, then he’s already a 3.5X value on DraftKings and a 2.7X value on FanDuel.

But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume Jones can provide more value than that, given his Week 17 opponent. The Jets have allowed +11.8 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs this season, which isn’t just the most in the NFL, it’s 60% more than the No. 2 team (Seattle), and 293% more than the No. 5 team (Atlanta). This isn’t just the NFL’s softest defense for opposing RBs, it’s the softest by an order of magnitude.

And with Tampa favored by 13.0-points (the 3rd-largest spread of the slate), a run-heavy approach seems all but guaranteed. I’m expecting Jones to pop as a value in basically every set of projections across the industry, and that will undoubtedly make him a popular DFS option.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks (VS. DET)

DraftKings: $6,100 (RB13) | FanDuel: $6,900 (RB14)

Ahead of Week 15, I had this to say about Penny:

And Penny followed that up with a 4.4-point fantasy performance on 13 touches, averaging just 3.5 YPC in a game Seattle scored just 10 points and were heavy underdogs. But this past Sunday, in a game where Seattle was favored against Chicago, we saw Penny return to that elite form. He tallied 17 carries and had 135 rushing yards (7.9 YPC), scoring 19.5 fantasy points. So maybe Penny is really good, but we just need to be more conscious about when we play him, favoring matchups with likely positive gamescipt and weak defenses against opposing RBs.

And in Week 17, the Seahawks open as 7.5-point favorites, suggesting a more favorable gamescript for Penny. Plus, Detroit is allowing the 4th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (+5.2) this season. Given Penny averages 19.2 FPG in the 6 career games he’s earned more than 12 touches, if we simply add our schedule-adjustment to that total, we get a slate-breaking 24.4 fantasy points, which leads all slate-eligible RBs.

That estimate may be too friendly to Penny, but even so, it’s tough to deny he’s a value priced as a high-end RB2 in a cushy Week 17 matchup.

Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (AT NYJ)

DraftKings: $6,100 (WR18) | FanDuel: $8,500 (WR3)

Saying Antonio Brown was the whole show for Tampa Bay on Sunday somehow feels like an understatement. He recorded 14 targets for an otherworldly 50% target share, and 101 receiving yards for a 44% yardage market share. The result was 20.1 fantasy points, but that seems like it’s on the low end of reasonable outcomes going forward for as long as Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are out, given just how large of a share of receiving work AB carved out in a WR unit averaging 46.6 FPG so far this year.

FanDuel seems to have caught on to that fact, as they’ve already priced AB up to WR3 for the Week 17 main slate. But DraftKings hasn’t. And at this point, AB’s DK price looks almost comical.

The 19.2 FPG that Brown averages this year ranks 4th among slate-eligible WRs, and yet he’s priced as the WR18 on DraftKings. And keep in mind, 5 of Brown’s 6 games this season have come with Godwin and Evans playing. So 19.2 FPG is probably closer to an accurate floor for Brown, rather than an average expectation going forward.

For his Week 17 matchup, the Jets rank middle of the pack in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WRs (+0.6), but, they do rank 4th-worst in PFF coverage grades (44.1), so I’d say the matchup is at least somewhat favorable. But then again, we could probably argue even a difficult matchup would be largely irrelevant given just how underpriced AB is on DraftKings relative to his target expectation on this elite offense.

Brown will probably be the highest-owned WR of the week on DraftKings, and for good reason. But I do think there’s merit to playing him in FanDuel tournaments, where he still offers overall WR1 upside and should see very little ownership.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions (AT SEA)

DraftKings: $6,000 (WR19) | FanDuel: $6,900 (WR16)

St. Brown has seen 11 or more targets, and earned at least 73 receiving yards in each of his last 4 games. And in those games, he has averaged 22.4 FPG. Among slate-eligible WRs, that ranks 2nd-best, behind only Cooper Kupp.

Compared to his first 11 games of the season, St. Brown has seen a 117% increase in targets per game, a 165% increase in yards per game, and a 224% increase to his FPG. And he is commanding a strong number of the high-value opportunities that used to go to D'Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson, as he ranks 3rd among all WRs with 12 red zone targets over the last 4 weeks.

And despite playing like a high-end WR1 these last 4 weeks, St. Brown is priced like a mid-range WR2. It’s truly an egregious mispricing, especially with St. Brown (who runs 78% of his routes from the slot) facing Seattle this week. The Seahawks are currently giving up the 4th-most FPG (16.0) to opposing slot WRs, and are a massive slot funnel, allowing a 51.5% slot target share, the most in the NFL by nearly 5%.

I can’t say St. Brown will be the highest-owned WR of the slate, with Antonio Brown shaping up as an even better play at a nearly identical DraftKings price. But St. Brown is sure to be chalky, and depending on how exactly ownership shakes out, may represent a compelling pivot off AB in tournaments.

Josh Palmer, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (VS. DEN)

DraftKings: $3,600 (WR81) | FanDuel: $5,200 (WR64)

Mike Williams is unvaccinated, which means he won’t be able to play in Week 17. And so far this year, we’ve seen Josh Palmer play well in his 2 games as a full-time starter, averaging 6.5 targets per game, 54.0 YPG, and 16.5 FPG. Over the full season, 16.5 FPG would rank 8th among slate-eligible WRs, and yet Palmer is priced as a low-end WR6 on DraftKings, and a WR5 on FanDuel. Even if we remove the pair of TDs Palmer has scored in his 2 games in a full-time role, he would still average 10.5 FPG, which would rank 33rd among slate-eligible WRs. Any way we cut it, Palmer in a full-time role is ridiculously underpriced on both sites for Week 17.

The matchup isn’t great, as Denver has allowed the 11th-fewest schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing WRs this season (-1.2). But similar to Antonio Brown, it’s hard to care much about matchups when Palmer is so glaringly underpriced. As 6.0-point favorites, the only legitimate risk with this play is that Denver lays an egg and LAC relies on their ground game in positive gamescript, leading to minimal pass game work for the offense as a whole. But given they have the 4th-highest pass rate above expectation (+6%), I think that’s a fairly minor concern.

Expect Palmer to be popular given he’s one of the more obvious punt plays we’ve seen this season.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (AT NYJ)

DraftKings: $6,200 (TE5) | FanDuel: $6,700 (TE4)

Chris Godwin has a torn ACL, and Mike Evans appears truly questionable (COVID/hamstring) for Week 17. So with the Buccaneers missing 70% of their WR fantasy production from the first 14 weeks of the season, Gronk is sure to be heavily involved, right?

Well, I think so, but we haven’t seen it translate to impressive fantasy results yet. In Week 15, Gronk saw a season-high 11 targets, but earned just 4.9 fantasy points. And this past Sunday, Gronk posted a season-high (and 2nd-highest on the team) route share (87%), but that resulted in just 2 targets, and Gronk’s lowest PFF receiving grade of the season (46.5).

So maybe age is catching up to the future hall of famer, and we shouldn’t expect to see a boost to his already impressive production from prior to Week 15, when he ranked 2nd among all TEs in FPG (15.5), 1st in red zone targets per game (1.3), and 1st in end zone targets per game (1.0).

But maybe it’s not, and Gronk has just gotten unlucky with a few poor receiving performances. We can’t say for certain either way yet, but I’m more than happy to take the chance on Gronk in Week 17, as the Jets have given up the 7th-most FPG to opposing TEs this season (14.5) and the 8th-most schedule-adjusted FPG (+2.1). And we need to figure that Gronk, an all-time great red zone threat, will benefit at some point from Godwin and Evans leaving behind 1.4 end zone targets per game and 3.2 red zone targets per game.

That aside, there are still some obvious holes in this play. The Buccaneers are 13.0-point favorites, so a run-heavy approach appears likely, but they do throw the ball 13% more than expected (5% more than the No. 2 team), so if any team were to air the ball out while beating the Jets, it would be Tampa. And this is slate loaded with high-priced TEs, so there is no shortage of production at the position for those who want to pay up.

But I also don’t think Gronk is remotely as bad as the 4.1 FPG he’s averaged these last 2 weeks, especially with so much vacated red zone production up for grabs. He isn’t likely to be the highest-owned TE on the slate, but he offers one of the best ceilings, which is what really matters for tournaments.

Jake Tribbey is a recent college graduate and lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from NFL DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.

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