Hello and welcome to the Week 17 Update. What is this article? Mostly it’s a follow-up to yesterday’s big DFS piece – Scott Barrett’s Week 17 DFS Breakdown. But this article should also offer some utility of its own for redraft and dynasty players.
Each week I’ll be breaking down the key injuries, news, and notes from Saturday / Sunday and will be updating this article up until kickoff (1PM EST). And I’ll also be providing a sort of TL;DR to yesterday’s big DFS article. Who are my core cash game plays? You can find that at the end of the article.
Key News, Injury Updates, & Notes
Sunday Morning Update
- BREAKING: Adam Schefter believes Cam Akers will play, but will not receive a full workload. Malcolm Brown is still in play, but he’s risky. Does Akers syphon off 8-10 touches? Or is he only active in the “break glass in case of emergency” sense. That’s what you need to ask yourself. I’ve fully moved Brown down, but I won’t fault anyone for playing him.
- BREAKING: Per Michael Giardi, “My understanding is Matt Barkley will get “meaningful snaps” per source. Starter Josh Allen is just 40 yards away from breaking the team’s single season passing record. Bills also following similar formula to last year’s week 17, when they rested key starters.” Boom! There you have it. Allen and the rest of the starters (on defense too) will likely spend the remainder of the game on the bench after Allen breaks that record. You know what to do.
- BREAKING: The Bills are sitting CB Tre’Davious White, DE Jerry Hughes, and DE Mario Addison. Please disregard the existential crisis I suffered further down below. This is a great sign for Tua Tagovailoa, who we spent a great deal of time on in this article and in the livestream. It’s also encouraging for Mike Gesicki and Myles Gaskin, who we like quite a bit. This also seems to imply we really won’t see too much of Buffalo’s starters this week. I’m guessing Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, John Brown, and many of the team’s defensive starters come off of the field after a drive or two. Gabriel Davis goes back to being a pretty great value-play.
- BREAKING: Dolphins WR Jakeem Grant is OUT. Lynn Bowden is yet another solid value play at WR. In Week 15, with Grant out, Bowden caught 6 of 7 targets for 37 yards, while adding 9 yards rushing on 1 carry. He’s more of a high-floor than high-ceiling play, but he’s in play.
- BREAKING: Per Rams beat reporter for ESPN Lindsey Thiry, via Matthew Berry, “She expects an increased role today for Van Jefferson in place of Cooper Kupp. Also expects McVay to take advantage of Wolford's mobility in this game.” Neither player is high on my radar, but both are in play. Jefferson is just a punt, but below Josh Reynolds. McVay is hard to trust at this point, but this is obviously encouraging. I still wouldn’t expect too much, however. Wolford ran for about 20 yards per game in the AAF, and that’s probably what Thiry is envisioning.
Saturday Night Update
- Per Ian Rapoport: "Chiefs RB Le’Veon Bell (knee) is expected to dress vs. the Chargers, but if he plays it’ll be very little, source said. RB Darwin Thompson is slated to get the bulk of the carries.” Rapoport has been hard to trust all year, but this report seems likely to be true. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is no lock to return by Kansas City’s next game. So, Darrel Williams shouldn’t play much at all, and neither should Bell (dealing with a knee injury). This makes Thompson is a fine punt but not a top play, playing amongst backups. I think I like him slightly less than Rodney Smith and Dare Ogunbowale on DraftKings, but slightly more than both RBs on FanDuel. Inactives will be key. For Thompson, a lot hinges upon whether Kansas City has 2 or 3 RBs active.
- Cardinals WR Christian Kirk is OUT. WR Larry Fitzgerald is UNLIKELY TO PLAY. This bumps Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson but neither are very high on my radar.
- Per Adam Schefter, Rams RB Cam Akers is “likely to try to play today.” That’s a big blow to Malcolm Brown chalk. We likely won’t have clarity on this situation by lock (the Rams play in the 4PM EST time window.) He gets a big bump down our rankings.
- Ravens RB Gus Edwards is LIKELY TO PLAY.
- Texans LT Laremy Tunsil is NOT EXPECTED TO PLAY.
- Lions QB Matthew Stafford is EXPECTED TO START. That’s a big boost to WR Marvin Jones and RB D’Andre Swift, who we liked quite a bit.
- The Vikings will be without LB Eric Kendricks, DE Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE Jalyn Holmes, CB Cameron Dantzler, and CB Chris Jones. That’s 5 starters on defense. And LT Riley Reiff seems unlikely to play. This no doubt bolsters Marvin Jones and D’Andre Swift, who we do like. But it also makes me feel like Alexander Mattison may now be something of a trap-play. I’ve moved him slightly down based on this, and the news that Stafford is likely to play.
- Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde has been downgraded to OUT. RB Rashaad Penny is back, but expect Chris Carson to be bumped up to about a 70% snap share in Hyde’s absence. Unfortunately, Carson is still a bit banged up too, and the matchup is still pretty tough on paper. He’s in play but isn’t too high up on our radar.
- The Steelers will be without CB Joe Haden, TE Eric Ebron, and LB Cassius Marsh, due to COVID. They’ll also be without DE Cam Heyward, C Maurkice Pouncey, and LB TJ Watt. Of course, QB Ben Roethlisberger will also be out, and more starters could be benched.
- The Chargers will be without DE Joey Bosa, CB Casey Hayward, LB Malik Jefferson, and S Rayshawn Jenkins.
- The 49ers will be without CB Richard Sherman, DT Javon Kinlaw, LE Dre Greenlaw, and CB K’Waun Williams. This is great news for D.K. Metcalf. Without Sherman, the 49ers ranked bottom-10 in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s. With Sherman, they ranked best in the league. Metcalf and Russell Wilson stacked on FanDuel is a great contrarian option for tournaments.
- Saints RBs Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Michael Burton, and Dwayne Washington are all OUT, due to COVID-19. More on this and what it means for Ty Montgomery further down below.
- Rams RB Cam Akers is QUESTIONABLE and looking like a true GAMETIME DECISION. Hopefully we get more clarity on Sunday morning, but a true gametime decision would make things tricky on us – the Rams play at 4:25PM EST. RB Malcolm Brown would be an easy top play if he’s out.
- Lions QB Matthew Stafford is QUESTIONABLE. We talked about RB D’Andre Swift and WR Marvin Jones in the Breakdown. If Stafford plays, they’re both great plays. If Stafford is out, feel free to fully take them off your board.
- Bills WR John Brown WILL PLAY.
- Texans RB Duke Johnson is QUESTIONABLE. RB CJ Prosise is no longer with the team. If Duke Johnson is out, David Johnson would return to the bell cow workload he’s seen over the last 2 weeks. Over this span, he’s played on a position-high 86% of the team’s snaps, averaging 10.0 carries, 7.0 targets, and 29.6 DK FPG. He’s not as strong of a play as those numbers might imply, but he’s a much better play than he’ll ever get credit for. But, again, only if Duke Johnson sits out.
- Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds is looking like a true GAMETIME DECISION. Kenyan Drake would be in play if Edmonds is out, but still wouldn’t be very high on our radar in a week loaded with RB value. Plus, D.J. Foster took over for Edmonds last week, so a bell cow workload for Drake seems unlikely. (Edmonds played on 38% of the snaps in the first half before leaving. Foster played on 34% of the snaps in the second half.)
- Bears TE Cole Kmet is QUESTIONABLE. He seems likely to play after practicing all week. He’s a very solid play and a strong value, hitting at least 6 targets in 3 of his last 4 games, and reaching at least 85% of the snaps in 3 straight games.
- Bears starting CBs Jaylon Johnson and Buster Skrine are OUT. Somehow, WR Davante Adams is now an even better play than when I wrote him up as a near-must-play on Friday.
- Texans LT Laremy Tunsil is expected to sit this week. On paper, Deshaun Watson is a smash-play, but this is a concern. Though, Watson’s hand injury should not be. He’s no longer even on the injury report.
- Buccaneers LBs Devin White and Shaq Barrett are OUT. CB Carlton Davis is DOUBTFUL. That’s a pretty big boost for the Falcons, and especially Calvin Ridley, who is probably the only Falcon worth playing. He’s a top play.
- Packers LT David Bakhtiari is OUT. Bakhtiari currently ranks and has ranked as PFF’s top tackle for a number of years now. Not good.
- Browns LT Jedrick Wills WILL PLAY. LG Wyat Teller is QUESTIONABLE but LIKELY TO PLAY. Add to this LB T.J. Watt and DE Cam Heyward sitting out for the Steelers. Nick Chubb at low ownership, LFG.
- The Kansas City Chiefs will be resting their starters: QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, and WR Sammy Watkins. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire is also OUT.
- Dolphins WRs Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker are QUESTIONABLE. Both seem likely to play.
- Denver Broncos RB LeVante Bellamy is QUESTIONABLE. He played on 8 of 77 snaps (10%) last week. It’s a very slight boost to Melvin Gordon if he’s out.
- Colts WR Michael Pittman is QUESTIONABLE but LIKELY TO PLAY.
- Ravens WR Willie Snead is officially listed as QUESTIONABLE, but is probably more DOUBTFUL than questionable.
- Chargers WR Keenan Allen is OUT. More on what this means for Mike WIlliams further down below.
- Giants WR Golden Tate is DOUBTFUL.
- Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald is QUESTIONABLE.
- Rams QB Jared Goff is OUT. John Wolford will be starting in his absence.
- Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is OUT. Mason Rudolph is starting in his absence.
- Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is OUT.
- Rams WR Cooper Kupp is OUT.
- Rams RB Darrell Henderson Jr. is OUT.
- Vikings RB Dalvin Cook is OUT.
- Saints RB Alvin Kamara is OUT.
- Lions WR Kenny Golladay is OUT.
- Falcons WR Julio Jones is OUT.
- 49ers WRs Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel are both OUT.
- Panthers RBs Christian McCaffrey and Mike Davis are both OUT.
- Jaguars WRs D.J. Chark and Collin Johnson are both OUT.
- Jaguars RB James Robinson is OUT.
- Bills WR Cole Beasley is OUT.
- Jets RBs Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine are both OUT.
- Broncos WR KJ Hamler is OUT.
- Patriots RB Damien Harris is OUT.
Full Update / Things We Missed
I always pay especially close attention to line movements throughout the week. [email protected] saw their Over/Under fall 5.0-points, pushing Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Myles Gaskin further down my board. [email protected] fell 3.5 points. DAL @ NYG fell 2.5 points. TEN @ HOU gained 1.0 point.
So, yeah, it seems highly likely Buffalo will be resting their starters for the near-entirety of this week’s game. This is a huge boost to QB Tua Tagovailoa, RB Myles Gaskin, TE Mike Gesicki, and MIA DEF. QB Josh Allen, WR Stefon Diggs, and WR John Brown are no longer in play. Gabriel Davis is a legitimately strong play, likely to play the full game (with starters and backups). Of course, Matt Barkley targets aren’t super enticing, but he is a strong value.
Tagovailoa is now an excellent GPP play, and especially if paired with Gesicki. Johnny spent about 5 minutes on this in Saturday’s livestream. Miami will be trying their hardest to win this week, and should, against a bunch of backup defensive players on the Bills. This will be a terrific opportunity for a big stat-padding week, and for Miami’s rookie QB to enter the playoffs with boosted confidence.
Ownership excluded, Justin Herbert is an even better play for similar reasons. He's 340 passing yards away from Andrew Luck's rookie-season record, and will play the entirety of this week’s game against a backup defense. One concern with Tagovailoa is that he’s not very good. But that’s no concern with Herbert, who ranks 6th in FPG since Week 4 (22.6). He’s mispriced on both sites.
Alvin Kamara is OUT for Week 17. He missed two games last year. What happened in those two games? Latavius Murray handled 91% of the team’s touches out of the backfield, averaging 24.0 carries, 9.0 targets, 153.5 yards, 2.0 touchdowns, and 34.4 fantasy points per game. Now, Murray is also out, as is just about every RB on the Saints roster sans Ty Montgomery. What does this mean? It means Montgomery is now the single-best play on the slate. He gets a soft matchup against the Panthers, in a game the Saints are playing to win. Touchdown-upside isn’t super high because Taysom Hill exists, but he’s still likely to play on at least 90% of the team’s snaps and earn a high number of targets. He’s a must-play.
For whatever reason, I missed Lamar Jackson in the Breakdown. I think I like a lot of the other QBs we mentioned more for GPPs, but Jackson is one of the best cash-game QBs on the slate. The Ravens should be going all out to win this game. And Jackson is 92 rushing yards away from 1,000 on the year. Maybe that's a thing they care about, but probably not. Jackson has hit 22.0 fantasy points in 5 of his last 6 games, and is averaging 28.3 FPG over his last 4 games. The Ravens have the 4th-highest implied point total on the slate (28.5), and Cincinnati ranks 7th-worst in passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt. Though they’re tough against QBs by just about every other stat. The real concern with Jackson is whether or not he’ll need to keep his foot on the gas against this run funnel defense, favored by 13.0.
Keenan Allen has fallen under 35% of the snaps in 2 games this year. In Week 5, Allen left in the 1st Quarter, and Mike Williams exploded in his absence, catching 5 of 8 targets for 109 yards and 2 scores. Last week, without Allen, Williams saw a team-high 10 targets (or 30% target share). The next closest Chargers receiver saw just 6 targets (18% target share). This is a tough on-paper matchup, but it might not be so tough in actuality, and especially not if the Chiefs plan on resting their defensive starters. (I’ll start tracking defensive inactives as they roll in on Sunday morning.) Williams is a great play, just like he was last week.
With Christian McCaffrey and Mike Davis both doubtful, Carolina RB Rodney Smith is intriguing, though RB Trenton Cannon, FB Alex Armah, and WR Curtis Samuel are all likely to mix in. It’s a tough matchup but there’s a chance they want to get a look at him in a bell cow workload as they head into the offseason, and with Mike Davis set to hit free agency. But really he’s just a viable punt, not a great play. I have him somewhere within the Ty Johnson / Dare Ogunbowale / Darwin Thompson tier. (You can check out the TLDR further down below for the full rankings.)
I should have mentioned David Montgomery as a potential contrarian play. He leads all RBs in DK FPG (27.0) since Week 12 (his first meeting against Green Bay). He ranks 5th (DK) and 6th (FD) in salary, in a strong on-paper matchup against Green Bay. FanShare thinks he’ll be owned, but I haven’t seen him mentioned anywhere else. He’s fine.
Wes Huber spent a good deal of time on Emmanuel Sanders and Marquez Callaway here. They’re both terrific values, and are even more valuable now, with the added bonus of operating as leverage off of Ty Montgomery.
Contrarian Plays I Like
By far, my favorite contrarian plays / ownership-related GPP plays are:
QB: Justin Herbert (4%) / Tua Tagovailoa (1%)
RB: Nick Chubb (5%)
WR: A.J. Brown (11%)
TE: Mike Gesicki (6%)
1. Ty Mongtomery, RB (25.8%)
2. Alexander Mattison, RB (23.7%)
3. Derrick Henry, RB (23.5%)
4. Davante Adams, WR (22.5%)
5. Malcolm Brown, RB (17.8%)
6. Justin Jefferson, WR (17.3%)
7. Jonathan Taylor, RB (17.2%)
8. Calvin Ridley, WR (14.2%)
9. Brandin Cooks, WR (14.2%)
10. D’Andre Swift, RB (14.1%)
1. Ty Montgomery, RB (33.8%)
2. Derrick Henry, RB (31.5%)
3. Jonathan Taylor, RB (24.2%)
4. Davante Adams, WR (22.5%)
5. Justin Jefferson, WR (21.3%)
6. Darren Waller, TE (19.4%)
7. Calvin Ridley, WR (18.2%)
8. George Kittle, TE (16.4%)
9. Brandin Cooks, WR (14.2%)
10. Alexander Mattison, RB (13.7%)
Note: This assumes Cam Akers will play. If he does not, Malcolm Brown becomes a top-4 RB play on both sites.
Note: This will not be updated on Sunday.
Cash Core (DK/FD)
QB: Deshaun Watson, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill (stacked w/ Derrick Henry), Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert (FD)
RB: Ty Montgomery, Derrick Henry, Alexander Mattison (FD), Malcolm Brown (if Cam Akers is OUT), Jonathan Taylor, Punts (Refer to the TLDR)
WR: Davante Adams, Jerry Jeudy, Calvin Ridley, Justin Jefferson, Marvin Jones, Mike Williams, Curtis Samuel, Gabriel Davis (DK), Laviska Shenault (DK), Emmanuel Sanders,
TE: Noah Fant, T.J. Hockenson, Darren Waller, George Kittle, Evan Engram (DK)
DEF: CLE (DK), LAC (FD), Other (Refer to the TLDR)