Since we’re publishing this a day early, there’s no player grid this week. We’ll have that for you in the Sunday Morning Update, along with all of the important news, notes, and updates (injury, weather, etc.) you need to know in order to dominate this slate. And make sure you watch the Cashing Points livestream which was moved from Thursday night to Saturday morning. Week 17 is a tough week, but oftentimes my most profitable week. It’s a blend between regular season and preseason DFS. It’s a very news-heavy week. It’s important to know which teams have something to play for and which teams don’t. Which teams are resting starters and which teams are not. Wes Huber went in-depth on this here. As did Graham Barfield here (re-posted down below). As I tried to show here with RBs, and Wes Huber showed with receivers in his article, there’s going to be a lot of value this week. A lot of surprise superstars. Players whose names you barely recognize finishing top-12 at their respective positions. I think this is especially true with RBs - the most volume-dependent position in fantasy. For this reason, I fully expect to pay down at RB and up at WR on the bulk of my lineups. But who should you play? Keep reading:
Motivation (Stolen From Graham) Playoff teams resting starters
Chiefs — They’ve already locked up the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye. Patrick Mahomes is out and I’d be shocked if Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill plays.
Bills — This hasn’t been confirmed yet, but they are locked into the 2 or 3 seed. Josh Allen played just seven snaps in a similar Week 17 spot last year when the Bills were locked into a Wild Card slot. If the Steelers lose, the Bills are the No. 2 seed
Steelers — They’ve already won the AFC North. Ben Roethlisberger is out along with T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward.
Teams with no playing time concerns
Packers, Saints, and Seahawks — The top-three seeds in the NFC have all clinched, but are all still alive for the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye. The Seahawks need the Packers to lose and the Saints to lose/tie to vault all the way up from the No. 3 seed to the 1 seed.
Ravens — If they beat the Bengals, they are in.
Browns — If they beat the Steelers, they are in.
Titans — If they beat the Texans, they win the AFC South.
Colts — If they beat the Jaguars and the Titans lose, the Colts win the AFC South. They can also make the playoffs with a win and a Ravens, Browns or Dolphins loss.
Dolphins — The Dolphins are in with a win over the Bills or a Ravens, Browns, or Colts loss.
Rams — L.A. can lock up a Wild Card berth with a win over the Cardinals, but they will be short-handed. Jared Goff (thumb) is out, Darrell Henderson (ankle) is on I.R., and Cooper Kupp is on the COVID list. Also, Cam Akers (ankle) is very questionable to play.
Cardinals — Whoever wins the Rams-Cardinals game makes the playoffs.
Bears — The Bears are in with a win or a Cardinals loss.
Washington, Cowboys, and Giants — The NFC East is an absolute joke. But, all three of these teams are very much alive. If Washington beats the Eagles on Sunday Night Football, they are in. Meanwhile, the winner of the Cowboys-Giants game can become NFC East champs and the No. 4 seed if Washington loses. Adding to the intrigue… The Football Team is dealing with a slew of injuries on offense between Alex Smith (calf), Antonio Gibson (toe), and Terry McLaurin (ankle).
Teams with question marks
Buccaneers — HC Bruce Arians is a known embellisher of the truth, but he said that they are going to “play to win” against the Falcons. I’m skeptical. The Bucs can’t improve their playoff standing since the Saints have already locked up the NFC South. If the Bucs’ lose and the Rams lose, Tampa is still the No. 5 seed at 10-6. However, locking up the No. 5 seed is incredibly valuable because it would give them a date with the No. 4 seed (NFC East winners) in the Wild Card round.
Eagles — Even though the Eagles were never competitive this season, they are still playing a big part in the playoff picture. If they beat Washington, the winner of the Cowboys-Giants game will make the playoffs as NFC East champs and the No. 4 seed. Meanwhile, HC Doug Pederson is fighting for his job. Does he go all out? Key defensive players Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett are battling injuries.
Vikings — Dalvin Cook isn’t playing after his father unfortunately passed away this week. Meanwhile, Kyle Rudolph and Riley Reiff are both out. HC Mike Zimmer said he’s not resting starters against the Packers, but Minneosta could (and should) use this week to get a longer look at some of their players that aren’t locks for 2021 roster spots.
Teams that are dead for the playoffs and may rest starters
- Texans — What are the chances that HC Romeo Crennel lets Deshaun Watson play a full game and risk injury in a meaningless game? Star tackle Laremy Tunsil also might sit.
- Lions — Matthew Stafford has been battling a slew of injuries and likely won’t play. Also, Kenny Golladay’s season is over as he looks forward to free agency.
- Jaguars — James Robinson (ankle) is confirmed out. D.J. Chark (shin) might sit, too. Mike Glennon is starting again.
- 49ers — Jimmy Garoppolo will not return and Brandon Aiyuk (ankle) is out.
- Chargers — Keenan Allen (COVID list) won’t play. L.A. also might be without Joey Bosa and Chris Harris.
- Panthers — Christian McCaffrey will not return while Mike Davis is unlikely to play. T Russell Okung is also out and Robby Anderson missed practice Wednesday.
- Falcons — Julio Jones (hamstring) is confirmed out. Todd Gurley is confirmed dust.
- Raiders — Trent Brown has been back on the line over the Raiders last three games, but he might miss the season finale with a knee injury.
- Broncos — K.J. Hamler (concussion) might sit.
- Patriots — Damien Harris (ankle) hasn’t played since Week 14 and might miss the finale.
- Bengals — Tyler Boyd (concussion) and Tee Higgins (hamstring) are both banged up.
- Jets — Frank Gore is out and La’Mical Perine is on the COVID list after testing positive.
Malcolm Brown, RB, Los Angeles Rams
[DK: RB58, FD: RB41]
Cam Akers is highly likely to sit out this week, in addition to Darrell Henderson who has already been ruled out. No other RB on the Rams roster has played a snap this season, and the Rams will be playing this game to win, with an 82% chance at making the playoffs. The team they’d need to lose if they lost (the Bears) are also playing in the 4PM EST time window. So, all this means it’s highly likely Malcolm Brown is locked into a full-on bell cow workload this week. If he gets 100% of the work, we should expect about 20.9 XFP, or what would have ranked 2nd-most last week. Maybe 100% is too bold, and he’s not a top-end talent, and neither is backup QB John Wolford now captaining the ship, so even if mid-RB1 usage is likely, mid-RB1 production is probably not. Even so, he’s still a tremendous value in a perfectly neutral on-paper matchup against the Cardinals.
Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings
[DK: RB19, FD: RB59]
Dalvin Cook is out, and the Vikings are still 7.0-point favorites with the 3rd-highest implied point total of the slate (30.75). They get a Detroit defense that’s giving up the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (+7.2). Earlier in the year, when Cook left in the final drive of the 2nd quarter of Week 5, Mattison beasted in relief, totaling 136 YFS on 23 touches. But he flopped as chalk the next week in a blowout loss, playing on 48% of the snaps to Ameer Abdulla’s 28% and Mike Boone’s 10%. There’s a chance something like that happens again, but it’s not likely, given the spread and the on-paper matchup. Mattison’s status (concussion) is still somewhat up in the air, but if he’s active I think this is easy (on FanDuel). Just play him. He’d be a full-on workhorse and a borderline free square in a top matchup. He’s still a top play but not a lock on DraftKings. If he’s out, it’s worth noting Ameer Abdullah has out-snapped and out-touched Mike Boone over the last 4 weeks. But Abdullah is still probably viewed as the change of pace / pass-catching RB, while Boone is seen as the direct backup to Mattison. In Week 17 last year, with Cook and Alexander Mattison both out, Boone scored 24.0 fantasy points, which ranked 7th-most on the week.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
[DK: RB2, FD: RB2]
As always, Henry has massive slate-busting upside. But especially this week. He needs 223 rushing yards to reach 2,000 on the season. And actually, there’s probably a decent chance he comes close. The Texans rank worst in YPC allowed (5.41), worst in rushing FPG allowed (21.5), and worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+7.8). Henry also, by the way, has exceeded 200 rushing yards in each of his last 2 meetings with the Texans, averaging 211.5 rushing YPG and 39.8 FPG. The Titans need to win this game to make the playoffs, but not if Miami, Baltimore, or Indianapolis lose (with Miami and Baltimore playing at 1PM). They may still care about seeding, but that’s the concern.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
[DK: RB6, FD: RB7]
The Browns are in a win-and-in scenario, favored by 6.0-points against the Mason Rudolph-led Steelers. The Steelers have one of the toughest defenses in football, and especially one of the toughest run defenses in football, but maybe not if they’re resting starters. And they are – T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward will both sit out. Jonathan Taylor scored 19.4 fantasy points against them last week, one week after Giovani Bernard dropped 22.7. Perhaps most importantly, the Browns are likely to get back Wyatt Teller this week. Chubb averages 27.8 DK FPG over his last 8 games with Teller active. Over this span, he’s hit at least 23.5 DKFP in 6 of 8, and 35.0-plus in 4 of 8. Chubb will go far lower owned than he should, and is easily paired with Cleveland DEF chalk. He’s easily my favorite contrarian play on this slate.
Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins
[DK: RB13, FD: RB17]
In his return to action last week, Gaskin played on 76% of the team’s snaps (4th-most), scoring 33.7 fantasy points on 13 carries and 5 targets. Gaskin averages 19.2 FPG since Week 5, which ranks 4th-most. Since Week 3, he averages 17.5 XFP per game on a 71% snap%, which both rank 2nd-most. And yet, he ranks just 13th (DraftKings) and 17th (FanDuel) in salary this week. This is a must-win game for Miami, but the matchup isn’t great for Gaskins (Buffalo is favored by 4.5-points and the Bills rank slightly tougher than neutral on-paper against RBs), but he is a great value.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
[DK: RB8, FD: RB5]
This is a do-or-die situation for the Colts, who are favored by 14.0-points behind the 2nd-highest implied point total of the slate (31.75) up against the hapless Jaguars. The same hapless Jaguars who are giving up the 4th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (+4.7). Taylor, meanwhile, has been on fire – or, “in beast mode” as HC Frank Reich has said. Over the last 5 weeks, Taylor averages 17.8 carries, 3.0 targets, 116.6 YFS, 5.5 YPC, and 21.5 FPG. Typically, I prefer to pay down at the RB position in Week 17, but Taylor is a worthy exception.
Ty Johnson, RB, New York Jets
[DK: RB58, FD: RB59]
With Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine both out, Ty Johnson should see an expanded role. The only other active RB on the roster is Josh Adams, who has seen only 22 touches all year. I think we should expect Johnson to return to the sort of workload he saw in Week 13, when Gore and Perine only played on 2 combined snaps. That week, he played on 63% of the team’s snaps, totaling 22 carries, 2 targets, and 22.7 DKFP. Though Adams did see 8 carries and 0 targets on 31% of the snaps, totaling 74 rushing yards (9.3 YPC). This is a fairly favorable matchup against the Patriots, but seeing as how Johnson plays for the abysmal and unpredictable Jets, he doesn’t rank very high on my board.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
[DK: RB15, FD: RB10]
Swift never had a shot at fantasy relevancy last week, in a worst-possible matchup (Tampa Bay leads the league in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to RBs) in a game the team lost by 40. But his good usage should not go unnoticed. He’s seen at least 4 targets in 9 straight games, and at least 5 targets in 5 straight. He’s averaging 64% of the snaps and 70% of the backfield XFP over his last 4 games. If he maintained that share of the XFP across the full season, he’d rank 6th in XFP per game (16.4), sandwiched in between Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs. And he’s been productive as well, hitting 15.0 fantasy points in 3 of his last 4 games, averaging 18.1 FPG over this span. The Lions have nothing to play for, and they’re 7.5-point underdogs to the Vikings, but this is also the same Vikings team that gave up 6 scores to Alvin Kamara last week.
Update: With Matthew Stafford now ruled out, I’m now far less bullish on Swift heading into Week 17. Chase Daniel is the checkdown king, heavily targeting RBs throughout his career, so Swift could still hit. But his upside is now capped, as Detroit is far less likely to make many trips into the red zone or have much overall offensive success.
Jeff Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers
[DK: RB21, FD: RB24]
In Week 16, Wilson scored 26.4 fantasy points on 12.8 XFP. That might not seem like tremendous usage, but 12.8 XFP represented 26% of the team’s XFP, which ranked 2nd-best among all RBs. He did that on a 70% snap share (8th-best), earning 20 of 23 carries and 2 of 7 targets out of the backfield. In his last 2 games without Raheem Mostert, he averages 18.5 carries, 2.0 targets, and 29.2 FPG. Projected game script is unideal (6.0-point underdogs) and the on-paper matchup is not good (Seattle ranks 10th-best in both YPC allowed and rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs), but he remains an enticing value in spite of these concerns.
Dare Ogunbowale, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
[DK: RB50, FD: RB41]
The Jaguars, locked into the 1st-overall pick, will be starting Mike Glennon and sitting James Robinson this week. That means Ogunbowale should return to a similar workload to the one he saw last week, playing on 71% of the team’s snaps (5th-most on the week), earning 14 of 16 carries and 5 of 7 targets out of the backfield. That’s a highly-valuable role and a true bell-cow workload. But this week’s matchup is brutal, up against a tough Colts run defense, as 14.0-point underdogs with just the 3rd-lowest implied point total on the slate (17.75).
Darrel Williams / Darwin Thompson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
With Clyde Edwards-Helaire and probably Le’Veon Bell both out this week, we could see Darrel Williams in a true bell cow workload. Williams played on 70% of the snaps last week, totaling 10 of 17 carries and 4 of 6 targets out of the backfield. Of course, this is also a meaningless game for the Chiefs. One in which they plan to rest their key starters, including QB Patrick Mahomes. Williams certainly could be at risk for sitting – he had already leapfrogged Bell in the pecking order – with the depth concerns they have in the backfield and as they head into the playoffs (Edwards-Helaire isn’t a lock to return by their next game). Look for more clarity as the week unfolds. This could be the Darwin Thompson show for all we know, or a split backfield. This week’s matchup against Los Angeles ranks somewhere around perfectly neutral and slightly above-average on paper, though they enter this week as 3.5-point underdogs with just a 20.25 implied point total.
Other / Notes
- Like I said earlier, I prefer to pay down at RB. But, obviously, Alvin Kamara is hard to resist after he dropped 56.2 fantasy points last week against the Vikings. One concern is how badly the Saints want to win this game – the No. 2 seed isn’t worth anywhere near as much as it once was. But the matchup is strong, favored by 7.0-points against a Panthers defense that ranks 5th-worst in YPC allowed (4.85) and 8th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+2.3).
- Last week Melvin Gordon played on 66% of the team’s snaps, earning 15 of 19 carries and 0 of 2 targets out of the backfield. That’s not tremendous usage, but he’s still a little too cheap with Phillip Lindsay still out. And the matchup is terrific, against a Las Vegas defense that ranks 4th-worst in YPC allowed (4.85), 6th-worst in rushing FPG allowed (17.4), and 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+5.8).
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
[DK: WR1, FD: WR1]
Adams is $9,200 on DraftKings, which is about what you’d expect for the top WR of the slate. (Michael Thomas was $9,900 in Week 17 last year.) But it’s not what you’d expect for the top WR season in fantasy history. And that’s exactly what we’re getting with Adams, who is averaging 26.3 FPG, or 27.9 if adjusting for injury. He gets a neutral matchup against the Bears, in a game Green Bay needs to win in order to lock up the No. 1 seed. Yeah, just play him on every lineup.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
[DK: WR2, FD: WR3]
Across the 6 games Julio Jones has sat out, Ridley averages 21.2 fantasy points, 20.9 XFP, 165.8 air yards, and 11.0 targets per game. If over the full season, those numbers would rank 3rd-, 1st-, 1st-, and 1st among WRs. Over his last 4 games, Ridley averages 11.3 targets and 26.0 DK FPG. He’s hit 100-plus receiving yards in 4 of his last 4 games, and has seen 9 or more targets in 6 straight games. Tampa Bay has given up highs of 33.6 (Robert Woods), 28.5 (Cooper Kupp), 60.9 (Tyreek Hill), and 35.3 DKFP (Calvin Ridley) to opposing WRs over their last 5 games. In a week where we’re trying to pay up at WR and down at RB, Ridley is popping as one of the best plays of the slate.
Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
[DK: WR7, FD: WR
Jefferson is just 110 yards off of Anquan Boldin’s record for receiving yards in a single season by a rookie. Do the Vikings go out of their way to try to get Jefferson those 11 fantasy points (or 14 on DraftKings)? I’m not sure, but hopefully a coach or player will let something slip before Sunday, so we’ll know whether or not to go all in on Jefferson. But even if that’s not a mark they’re actively striving for, there’s a good chance he gets there anyway. The Lions have allowed the 2nd-most schedule adjusted FPG to opposing WRs (+7.2), and are giving up the 4th-most FPG to opposing outside WRs (25.7). I mean, just last week Tom Brady and Blaine Gabbert combined for 491 yards and 6 touchdowns against the Lions. Of course, Adam Thielen is also very much in play, but I do prefer Jefferson outright.
Wes Huber went in deep on Jefferson here.
A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
[DK: WR11, FD: WR5]
Brown is a superhuman freak of nature and a phenomenal GPP play this week. He’s of that high-variant archetype that always works best for GPPs, averaging 25.1 DK FPG in his 6 best games and 10.0 DK FPG in his 6 worst games. On paper, you might think he works well as a leverage play off of Derrick Henry, which is probably true, but there’s room for both to be successful this week – they’re positively correlated this year, and much more highly correlated than I expected (0.21 RSQ). The big draw with Brown is this week’s matchup against the Bradley Roby-less Texans. Without Bradley Roby, the Texans are giving up 124.2 YPG and 26.3 FPG to opposing WR1s – Davante Adams (44.6), D.J. Chark (27.6), T.Y. Hilton (25.0), Allen Robinson (27.3), Hilton (11.1), and Tee Higgins (21.9). He’s risky, but I suspect I like him more than just about anyone else in the industry this week.
Wes Huber went in deep on Brown here.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
[DK: WR4, FD: WR4]
Diggs ranks 3rd in FPG (19.4) and 2nd in XFP per game (17.2). He has seen at least 10 targets and scored at least 19.0 fantasy points in 4 straight games. He averages 12.0 targets and 31.1 DK FPG over this span, and has reached 90 receiving yards in 7 of his last 8 games. Cole Beasley is likely out, and maybe also John Brown. Diggs smashed Miami when they first faced them in Week 2, scoring 32.3 DK FPG on 13 targets. It’s a neutral matchup on paper, but the big question is how much Buffalo wants to win. And that’s a big question I don’t totally have the answer to.
But there’s also another concern, which Wes Huber talked about here, that Xavien Howard shadows Diggs this week. (Noah Igbinoghene shadowed Diggs in Week 2.) I think it’s likely Howard shadows this week, but I also don’t think that matters too much. Maybe it’s worth shaving a point or two off of Diggs’ expectation, but I won’t go far beyond that.
But maybe it is worth bumping up John Brown ever so slightly. He averages 9.5 targets, 7.0 catches, and 85.5 receiving YPG over his last 2 games. He’s way too cheap and a phenomenal value if he suits up. But he might not.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
[DK: WR56, FD: WR
Over the past 2 seasons, Hardman ranks 3rd in YPT (11.2), just behind Justin Jefferson and A.J. Brown. So, it’s not hard to see why fantasy players have long begged for Hardman to supplant Demarcus Robinson or Sammy Watkins to become a full-time WR for the Chiefs. Or, at least to see a bit more volume. But that’s just not how the Chiefs want to use him, instead viewing him as a gadget-type player and a true backup to Tyreek Hill. But those same fantasy players will see their wish granted this week, with at least Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce likely to sit out. Though Patrick Mahomes too, with Chad Henne replacing him. Hardman has seen 15 targets over the last 2 weeks with Hill banged up, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Chiefs try him out in the Hill-role this week. Meaning, he’s feeling like a borderline free-square, not far off the minimum salary on both sites.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos
[DK: WR56, FD: WR57]
Jeudy saw 15 targets last week, but was not at all productive with that good volume, catching just 6 of those targets for only 61 yards. He’s now dropped 13 targets and 180 air yards worth (or a minimum of 30.0 fantasy points worth) of targets this year. By PAR, he’s the single least-efficient WR in fantasy football. Yes, now worse than A.J. Green. And, yes, this is the same WR we were drooling over just a few short months ago. Yes, Greg Cosell did compare him to Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr., calling him easily the best WR in the class. So, yes, I do still believe in the talent. And, again, he also saw 15 targets last week. And for dead teams like Denver, Week 17 is often used as a week to showcase rookies. To see what they have in a player heading into the offseason, and an opportunity for a player like Jeudy to end the year on a high note. With KJ Hamler out, there’s a good possibility Jeudy moves back into the slot (like he did in Weeks 1 & 5 when Hamler was out), which would be ideal. Las Vegas ranks as the league’s 2nd-biggest slot funnel, giving up the 2nd-most FPG to slot WRs, but just the 16th-most to outside WRs. Though he’s risky, he’s way too cheap, and a screaming high-upside value.
Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers
[DK: WR37, FD: WR33]
Las Vegas is the 2nd-biggest slot funnel, only behind the Saints, who are giving up the 5th-fewest FPG to outside WRs but the 8th-most to slot WRs. That’s good news for Samuel, who runs 72% of his routes from the slot. Over the final half of the season (or, since Week 7), Samuel ranks 11th in FPG (15.9). And yet he ranks just 37th (DK) and 33rd (FD) in salary. He’s hit at least 16.0 fantasy points in 6 of his last 9 games, has seen 9 or more targets in 4 of his last 7 games, and (as a bonus) rushed for 52 yards on 7 carries last week. He’s a phenomenal value and a top play this week.
Other / Notes
- Wes Huber made a compelling case for Emmanuel Sanders, Marquez Callaway, and Richie James here. They’re all great plays.
- Darius Slayton is still way too cheap. He gets Daniel Jones back this week, though Golden Tate is out, and Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard are banged up. He’s seen at least 8 targets in 3 straight games (all tough matchups), and now gets a best-possible matchup against the Cowboys. Dallas ranks dead-last (and by a good margin) in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (+6.4). He’s a great play.
- Since Week 13, Michael Gallup leads Dallas WRs in targets (29, +6), yards (256, +14), and touchdowns (4, +2), averaging 7.4 targets and 15.5 FPG over this stretch. He’s still way too cheap, and a strong play this week. Amari Cooper is the biggest disappearing act in football, and will likely go M.I.A. again this week, shadowed by James Bradberry (who held him to just 4.3 fantasy points in Week 5). This should help funnel more even more volume towards Gallup.
- Laviska Shenault is a terrific punt-option, averaging 1.0 carries, 8.0 targets, and 12.1 FPG across his last 3 games. Week 17 is often a great week for rookies, as dead teams take this chance to see what they have in a player, and give them a chance to end their rookie season on a high note.
- Jakobi Meyers is a decent GPP dart-throw. Here’s what we said last week in the XFP Report: “If Cam Newton were a more-capable passer, Jakobi Meyers might be a fantasy superstar. He’s not, so he’s not. But if he were! Since Week 7, Meyers ranks 7th among WRs in XFP% (21%), behind (in order) Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Brandon Aiyuk, Stefon Diggs, Michael Thomas, and Calvin Ridley.” QB competency is still a concern, but this is also the ultimate matchup for any passing attack. The Jets have a bottom-3 pass defense and are the No. 1 pass funnel defense in the NFL. Meyers turned 14 targets into 12 catches and 169 yards when he faced them in Week 9.
- Marvin Jones ranks just 41st (DK) and 33rd (FD) in salary this week. Considering he ranks 10th in fantasy points since Week 10, averaging 15.5 FPG, that seems a bit silly. He’d be an easy top play this week if Matthew Stafford were starting, but, unfortunately, he’s not. Still, he’s in play.
- If not Hardman, maybe Byron Pringle is the play. He’s at least a worthy punt-option for the lineups that need the extra savings.
- Nelson Agholor has hit at least 24.0 fantasy points in 2 of his last 3 games. He averages 8.2 targets and 16.9 DK FPG over his last 6 games. He’s far too high-variant for cash, but that’s sort of perfect for large-field GPPs.
- Darren Waller averages 134.3 YPG over his last 4 games, hitting at least 75.0 in each. He averages 11.3 targets per game over this span, hitting double-digits in 3 of his last 4. Waller is a phenomenal GPP play, as always – averaging 30.7 DK FPG in his 5 best games and 6.8 in his 5 worst games. I still prefer to pay down at TE in cash, but Waller is one of my favorites for tournaments. The TE position has been an absolute mess this year, but Waller is putting up fringe-WR1 numbers and is priced well below that, despite the monstrous edge he offers at his own position.
- Mark Andrews has hit 60 receiving yards in 5 straight games. Darren Waller has just 2 more all year. Cincinnati is a top-6 matchup, and Baltimore has something to play for. He’s in play. George Kittle is already one of the best TEs of all-time. Don’t @ me. He totaled 92 yards on just 5 targets and 50% of the snaps last week. They’re both in play.
- Noah Fant totals 20 targets and 33.3 fantasy points over the last 2 weeks. He’s only $4,400. He shouldn’t be $4,400. He’s a really strong play.
- Mike Gesicki has basically been Tua Tagovailoa’s WR1 this year. He’s exceedingly cheap and is going far more underlooked than he should. Despite missing a bulk of Week 14, he’s averaging 7.3 targets and 17.1 FPG over his last 4 games. He’s a great play.
- Evan Engram is only $3,700, and that’s dumb. Daniel Jones is likely back. Sterling Shepard was limited in practice early in the week, though so was Engram with an ankle injury. Golden Tate is likely out. Engram has seen 7 or more targets in 4 of his last 5 games, or in 7 of his last 9 games. He caught 7 of 10 targets for 65 yards last week, while adding 5 rushing yards on 1 carry. He’s a strong value-play at a gross position.
- Irv Smith is a great leverage play off of Justin Jefferson, and is a strong play in his own right. He caught 6 of 9 targets for 53 yards and 2 scores last week.
- Hunter Henry seeing 7 or more targets in 4 of his last 5 games, and now Keenan Allen is likely out. I get it. Jordan Akins, Hayden Hurts. Whatever. Austin Hooper, no Harris Bryant, 15 targets last week. Why not? Gerald Everett with Cooper Kupp potentially out. Fine. Punting with Deon Yelder? Sure.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
[DK: QB3, FD: QB2]
Since the Bill O’Brien firing in Week 5, Watson ranks 1st in DK FPG (27.3), 2nd in FD FPG (24.8), and 2nd in passing YPG (306.0). He’s rushed for at least 25 yards in 10 of his last 11 games, and at least 35 yards in 7 of his last 9. He leads all QBs in fantasy points and DK fantasy points over the last 6 weeks, averaging 25.3 FPG and 28.3 DK FPG. And that’s in spite of the league’s toughest QB schedule over this stretch, worth (in quantifiable terms) an average of 1.8 FPG off of his per-game average. He gets a much softer matchup this week – Tennessee ranks 4th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+2.7). If Houston plays this game to win, without resting any key starters, he’s probably the best QB play of the slate. Unfortunately, we can’t yet say with any certainty that that’s going to be the case.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings
[DK: QB12, FD: QB9]
Cousins has thrown for 3 or more touchdowns in 6 of his last 10 games. He ranks 5th in DKFP since Week 11, averaging 24.3 DK FPG. Dalvin Cook is out, and Cousins’ best game this year came in (Week 6) the only game Cook sat out. This week, he gets the same Lions defense that gave up 32.9 DKFP to Tom Brady last week in just 2 quarters of work. And then ceded an additional 15.2 to Blaine Gabbert in relief. The Lions rank worst in passing FPG allowed (20.5), worst in passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt (0.60), and worst in passer rating allowed (111.7). Cousins is way too cheap in a smash spot.
Wes Huber went in deep on Cousins here, calling him the best overall play on the slate.
Other / Notes
- The question with Josh Allen and the Bills is “How badly do they want to win the No. 2 seed?” But that’s really the only question, and most teams do seem to care about seeding. Otherwise Josh Allen seems like a near-lock. He averages an absurd and league-high 30.8 DK FPG over his last 7 games, which is 5.8 more DK FPG than the next-closest QB. Miami is a somewhat tough matchup on paper, but Allen smashed them in Week 2 (37.5 DKFP) all throughout the Brian Flores-era (averaging 30.9 DK FPG against their man-heavy scheme) and has been pretty matchup-proof all year.
- Tennessee has the highest implied point total of the slate (32.0) and Ryan Tannehill always seems to smash when Vegas thinks he will. His highest score of the season (37.0) came in the only other game Tennessee’s total was this high. And he averages 26.0 FPG in his 5 highest-total games of the year. Tannehill is a terrific leverage play off of Derrick Henry chalk, but they’re actually fairly highly positively correlated, so you can feel safe playing both. Wes Huber went in deep on Tannehill here.
- Are QB punts in play on DraftKings? Yes. Drew Lock, Chad Henne, Daniel Jones, Teddy Bridgewater, Chase Daniel, Mason Rudolph, Mike Glennon, etc. (in some sort of order) are all in play if you can stomach it. Personally, I don’t think I can. And I think there’s a big tier-drop after the 4 QBs we just wrote up.