DFS Early Look: Week 17


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DFS Early Look: Week 17

Week 16 of the NFL regular season just wrapped up, and that means Week 17 is just around the corner. As my readers likely know, DFS is the best version of fantasy football, and since DraftKings and FanDuel have released their Week 16 prices, it’s time to track down the obvious values and best plays.

Here are the plays that jump out to me for Week 17 DFS:

Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions (VS. CHI)

DraftKings: $5,600 (QB13) | FanDuel: $7,400 (QB9)

There are a ton of reasons to love Goff this week. He’s playing at home again, where he has averaged 24.0 FPG, compared to just 12.8 FPG on the road. That’s the difference between QB4 and QB30 production, all dependent on where he is playing the game.

And Vegas seems to recognize that Lions games – especially those at home – tend to lead to a scoring bonanza. The game total here is 51.5, which is the highest on the slate by 4.5 points. That’s an incredible gap given this is a full, 13-game slate. The Lions' 28.5 implied team total is similarly impressive, as Goff has averaged 22.9 DraftKings FPG (QB3 production on this 13-game slate) across his career when his implied team total is over 28.0 (22 instances) – scoring over 40.0 DraftKings points in 9% of those games.

The only real knock on Goff this week is the matchup. Chicago has been the 7th-toughest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing passers this season (-2.1 FPG), while ranking as the top run funnel (-5.0% pass rate over expectation allowed). Maybe that steers Goff away from massive passing volume, but the Lions implied team total doesn’t indicate it should have much of an impact on scoring.

Goff is easy to love in all formats. I’d expect him to project as one of the top-value QBs of the week, and he should be right there as the QB1 in ownership.

James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals (@ ATL)

DraftKings: $7,200 (RB6) | FanDuel: $8,000 (RB5)

Over the last three weeks, Conner has earned 96% of Arizona backfield opportunities on a 94% snap share. Basically, he’s the closest thing we have to Carolina Christian McCaffrey, even including San Francisco Christian McCaffrey.

Simply put: the entire offense runs through Conner right now. And I wouldn’t expect that to change even if Colt McCoy clears concussion protocol. Over the last two seasons, Conner averages 22.8 DK FPG across the 6 games Colt McCoy has attempted at least 10 passes.

Regardless of QB or gamescript, Conner is going to be out there and he’s going to see awesome usage. For Week 17, he has the added benefit of facing an Atlanta defense that’s allowed the lowest pass rate over expectation (-11.2%) since Week 8. And over the full season, Atlanta has been the 7th-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing RBs on the ground (+1.5 FPG). So Arizona should go extremely run-heavy, and Conner should have success against one of the softer run defenses on a schedule-adjusted basis. Expect Conner to be chalk in Week 17.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings (@ GB)

DraftKings: $7,000 (RB8) | FanDuel: $8,300 (RB4)

Cook has earned at least 17 opportunities in five straight games, granted he’s averaged a rather pedestrian 14.4 FPG over that stretch. The workload is clearly there, but the results really haven’t been.

That could change in Week 17 against a Packers run defense that’s allowed the highest YPC (5.5), most yards after contact per rush (3.6), and the 2nd-highest explosive play% (9.8%) since Week 11. This is clearly one of the weakest run defenses in the NFL, and Cook is in the perfect position to take advantage of that, given he averages 17.6 carries per game since Week 12. He’s not a strong enough play to warrant exposure no matter what, but I’ll certainly have interest in Cook in GPPs should his ownership drift toward 10%.

Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (@ HOU)

DraftKings: $6,400 (RB12) | FanDuel: $7,700 (RB7)

Etienne is a clear tier removed from Conner (who isn’t), but his role is still awesome. Since Week 13, he’s logged 76 touches (6th-most), a 77% snap share, 93% of red zone opportunities, and 100% of goal-line opportunities.

His pass-game role still leaves something to be desired, as he’s averaged a meager 2.3 targets per game in that sample. But a poor pass game role can be easily forgiven in the perfect rushing matchup.

The Texans are the single-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing RBs on the ground (+4.9 FPG), allowing the most yards after contact (1,367), the most missed tackles (111), and the 6th-most yards before contact per attempt (1.6), while grading out as PFF’s worst run defense unit (33.5 team run defense grade). You couldn’t draw up a better rushing spot for Etienne (who averages 17.8 carries per game), and he should be quite popular as a result.

Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams (@ LAC)

DraftKings: $6,100 (RB14)

Cam Akers dominated backfield work in the Rams' blowout win on Sunday, scoring 34.7 fantasy points on a 75% snap share, 71% of backfield opportunities, 100% of red zone opportunities (10 total), and 78% of backfield routes. That’s mid-rage RB1 usage, granted it’s reasonable to doubt Akers’ viability with the current offensive roster the Rams are trotting out.

Still, it’s undeniable that Baker Mayfield has given this offense a spark. And if they can put points up with even a fraction of the efficacy they had on Sunday, this is a great spot for Akers.

The Chargers rank as the NFL’s 4th-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing RBs on the ground (+3.3 FPG), allowing the 2nd-highest YPC (5.4), the 3rd-most yards after contact per attempt (3.1), and the 4th-most missed tackles (88). This is an awful run defense, and Akers and the Rams' offense have shown they can take advantage of the plus matchup. He’s shaping up as one of the strongest RB values of Week 17.

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos (@ KC)

DraftKings: $6,400 (WR15) | FanDuel: $7,000 (WR17)

Jerry Jeudy is the WR3 over the last three weeks, averaging 22.9 DraftKings FPG on a much-improved workload (9.0 targets per game). This is the best three-game stretch of Jeudy’s career by PFF receiving grades (77.8) – suggesting the young WR has finally found his groove.

Similar (but even more so) than Cam Akers, Jeudy is a player that’s tough to feel comfortable with, given the incompetency we’ve frequently seen from his offense. But if there was ever a week for Broncos pass catchers to put up big receiving numbers, it’s Week 17 against Kansas City.

The Chiefs are the 10th-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing slot WRs (+1.1 FPG), and the 9th-softest matchup for WRs overall (+2.1 FPG). They’ve allowed the 6th-highest completion percentage over expectation (+2.4%), the 11th-most passing yards (3,488), and the most TDs (30) to opposing pass catchers this season. With Denver listed as a 13.5-point underdog, they will be forced to throw early and often against a relatively weak pass defense. That pass-game volume should flow through Jeudy, who is playing some of the best football of his career.

Allen Lazard, WR, Green Bay Packers (VS. MIN)

DraftKings: $5,400 (WR28) | FanDuel: $6,200 (WR35)

Allen Lazard is just way too cheap as the Packers WR1, assuming Christian Watson sits out Week 17 with his hip injury.

In Week 16, Lazard earned a season-high 11 targets and was Aaron Rodgers first read on a team-leading 7 of those targets. Agnostic of matchup, Lazard clearly pops as underpriced in his current role. But it’s Lazard’s matchup that really takes him over the top as a strong play.

The Vikings are the single-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing outside WRs (+7.5 FPG), and they’ve allowed the 7th-most DraftKings FPG (17.4) to opposing WR1s this season. Plus, this is a must-win game for the Packers, which could mean they lean more pass-heavy than normal, as Aaron Rodgers will want the game in his hands, assuming it’s a close contest in any regard. Lazard should pop as one of the top WR values of Week 17, assuming Christian Watson sits this game out.

Rashid Shaheed, WR, New Orleans Saints (@ PHI)

DraftKings: $4,000 (WR55) | FanDuel: $5,600 (WR51)

Shaheed is the ultimate big-play machine. He has just 27 touches this season, but three of those touches have gone for TDs of 40 yards or more.

And, he’s adopted a full-time role over the last four weeks, averaging 4.0 targets per game and scoring at least 7.9 fantasy points in each contest. And Shaheed has room for that role to grow, with Chris Olave dealing with a hamstring injury and Jarvis Landry recently being placed on IR.

If Olave sits, Shaheed will be the No.1 WR on a team that desperately needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive, facing an incredible Eagles offense as 7.0-point underdogs. His combination of big-play upside, raw volume, and price are nearly unmatched if he winds up as New Orleans’ WR1 this week.

Elijah Moore, WR, New York Jets (@ SEA)

DraftKings: $3,500 (WR73) | FanDuel: $5,300 (WR69)

It’s hard to think of a WR more glaringly underpriced than Elijah Moore, now that Mike White is back as the Jets QB. Moore averages 13.9 FPG and 7.0 targets per game without Wilson (numbers that would rank 23rd- and 35th-best among WRs) – presenting obvious value relative to his almost stone-minimum price tag.

And I think the matchup could be an underrated boost for Moore as well. Seattle is the 4th-toughest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing outside WRs (-4.8 FPG), but a near-neutral matchup for opposing slots (-0.6 FPG). And Moore has run 69% of his routes from the slot since Week 11. That means that (hopefully) volume should be funneled away from the Jets’ outside WRs in a brutal matchup and to Elijah Moore.

Everyone is aware of the boost Mike White provides these WRs, and I’d expect Moore to be the most popular salary-saving WR as a result.

David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns (@ WAS)

DraftKings: $4,100 (TE10) | FanDuel: $5,600 (WR10)

If we ignore the Week 16 weather game that nuked the fantasy scores of all Browns pass catchers, David Njoku’s volume has been great in his healthy games.

Njoku averages 12.4 XFP/G, 7.3 targets per game, 60.6 YPG, and 13.6 FPG over his last seven healthy games – marks that would rank 4th-best, 3rd-best, 3rd-best, and 2nd-best among all TEs over the full season.

Obviously, TE10 is an inappropriate price for a TE, seeing the volume and earning the production Njoku has when healthy. And it gets even more inappropriate once we note that Washington is the 5th-softest schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing TEs since Week 10 (+3.4 FPG).

Njoku is one of my favorite TE plays of the slate, and I’d be pretty surprised if he wasn’t one of the most popular TEs of Week 17.

Jake Tribbey is the 2022 FSWA Football Writer of the Year and the leading Spring Football expert in the fantasy industry. He is a lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.