Scott Barrett's Week 17 DFS Breakdown

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Scott Barrett's Week 17 DFS Breakdown

What is this column? Each week I’ll be listing the best and most-interesting plays of the week, grouped by position, and ranked and tiered in some sort of descending order. Keep in mind, we’re looking only at the players available on the main slate for both DraftKings and FanDuel.

This article is long. It’s going to be long every week. Ideally, it’s all you should need to know to be able to profit playing DFS in any given week.

Be sure to also watch our DFS Preview livestream every Friday at 3PM EST. Be sure to get in our Discord — if you’re not in there already, you’re missing out on a lot of important news updates as well as personal guidance and advice from our experts. And, most importantly, be sure to check back on Sunday mornings for the “Sunday Morning Update” – basically a TLDR version of this piece along with any injury-related updates we might need.

Anyway, let’s dive in…

TLDR: Too Long, Didn’t Read

Notes: The above plays are ranked by “value” aka projected points per dollar… This chart is more focused on cash than tournaments… The above chart assumes Jordan Howard, Cortland Sutton, Emmanuel Sanders, and Carson Wentz will play, but that James Conner, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Mike Evans will sit.

Running Backs

David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
[DK: RB9, FD: RB9]

Montgomery shouldn’t be downgraded with Andy Dalton reported to start. Montgomery saw 21 carries and 10 targets, good for a position-high 29.1 XFP, in Dalton’s last start.

From the Week 17 XFP Report:

Several weeks ago, we asked, “What’s wrong with David Montgomery?” And the answer was, “He’s not seeing the same target-volume he saw last year.” But that’s no longer the case. Now, in fact, he’s seeing the best target-volume of any RB in the league. Despite the handicap of a hyper-mobile QB — hyper-mobile QBs typically neglect their RBs in the passing game — Montgomery leads the position and leads his team in targets over the last four weeks (averaging 8.3 per game, up from 2.6 targets per game).

Over this stretch, Montgomery leads all RBs in fantasy points scored, averaging 19.5 FPG. He also ranks 6th in carries per game (18.3), 1st in targets per game (8.3), and 1st in XFP/G (25.2, +34% more than next-closest).

He’s finished 1st, 9th, 3rd, and 1st among all RBs in XFP over this span. And his 35.7 XFP in Week 16 was the 2nd-most by any RB in any week this season.

So, Montgomery is seeing the best volume of any RB in fantasy, and by a wide margin. And now he gets one of his softest matchups yet. The Bears are favored by 6.0-points against the Giants, who rank 8th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+2.3), and 9th-worst in YPC allowed (4.47).

He seems badly mispriced this week, as just the RB9 on DraftKings ($6,500).

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
[DK: RB1, FD: RB1]

Taylor has eclipsed 100 rushing yards in 6 of his last 7 games. He has at least one rushing touchdown in 11 of his last 12 games. Over this span, he averages 21.3 carries, 3.0 targets, 143.4 YFS, and 26.2 FPG. For perspective, that’s 18.5% more FPG than the next-closest RB (Austin Ekeler), who is just 9.8% (DK) and 11.1% (FD) less expensive. And Taylor’s Week 17 matchup is flawless, favored by 6.5-points against a Raiders defense that ranks 3rd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+4.3), and 5th-worst over their last 5 games (+6.5).

That’s the easy argument for Taylor. The argument against him is that he hasn’t caught a pass since Week 12. That hasn’t really slowed him down too much, but you can argue he now carries the inherent volatility peak-Derrick Henry would. That, and well you might not be able to afford both Kupp and Taylor this week. He’s inarguably mispriced at just $9,000 / $10,000 — he should be closer to healthy Christian McCaffrey’s $10,000 / $10,500 — and a top value, but our projections prefer Kupp when you’re forced to choose.

On the off chance Carson Wentz is ruled out (COVID), I’d probably try to pivot off of Taylor in both cash and tournaments.

Sony Michel, RB, Los Angeles Rams
[DK: RB23, FD: RB10]

With Darrell Henderson on I.R. and Cam Akers doubtful, Michel appears locked into 100% of the team’s snaps, or, at least 100% of the backfield XFP. He’s arguably the best overall RB-play on DraftKings, priced as just the RB23 of the slate.

From Jake Tribbey’s DFS Values:

Michel has seen at least 20 touches in each of his last 4 games, and eclipsed a 90% snap share in 3 of his last 4.

If Michel can maintain the 86% of backfield XFP he earned the last 2 weeks, then we can roughly estimate him for 16.6 fantasy points given the backfield has averaged 19.3 FPG this season. That would make him a 2.86X value on DraftKings (would rank 1st in our projections among slate-eligible RBs) and would rank 8th-best among slate-eligible RBs over the full season.

But the Ravens have been a tough matchup for opposing RBs this season, ranking 8th-toughest in both schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (-2.9), and YPC allowed (3.84).

So, overall, I’d say this play comes with some risk, despite the likely positive gamescipt with the Rams as 3.5-point favorites. We probably aren’t playing Michel in cash games, and for tournaments, I’m not sure I’m sold on him being a great play if he’s one of the higher-owned RBs of the slate (which I think he will be on DraftKings), as he hasn’t scored more than 21.9 fantasy points in any game this season. Still, when discussing Week 17 values, we need to include Michel given his projected workload relative to his current price of RB22 on DraftKings.

Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
[DK: RB11, FD: RB12]

From Start/Sit:

In the five games Leonard Fournette missed over the past two seasons, Jones has averaged 20.0 carries, 3.6 targets, 114.6 YFS, and 18.3 FPG. Hopefully you don’t need me to tell you that’s both high-end RB1 usage and production.

Last week, Jones played on only 52% of the team’s snaps, handling 20 of 29 carries and 3 of 4 targets out of the backfield. And those numbers are slightly skewed by the lopsided nature of the victory (32-6), as he ceded 4 carries and 1 target to his fellow RBs on the last few drives of the game, after his day had ended.

Given his pillow-soft matchup this week, against the Jets, we like Jones as a low-end RB1. Tampa Bay is favored by 13.0-points, behind a 29.25-point implied total (2nd-most). Against RBs, the Jets rank: worst in total FPG allowed (32.7), worst in rushing FPG allowed (20.3), 3rd-worst in receiving FPG allowed (12.5), 5th-worst in YPC allowed (4.54), and worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+12.1). That final stat is 49% more than the next-closest defense, 310% more than the defense ranking 5th-worst, and is the highest stat I’ve ever seen allowed by a defense this far into a season.

Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers
[DK: RB16, FD: RB5]

Mitchell appears set to play this week, and set to receive a full workload barring any unexpected in-game complications. That makes him look like a top-5 value-play at the position, though he also provides the added benefit of leverage off of Trey Lance-chalk for tournaments.

A healthy Mitchell is both a highest-end workhorse RB, and, more recently, a bell cow. He averages 25.3 carries per game over his last three games, and 4.5 targets per game over his last two. Even with RB Jamycal Hasty back in Week 13, Mitchell still handled 97% of the backfield XFP and 89% of the backfield routes.

And he gets his softest matchup yet. Even without QB Jimmy Garoppolo — which, by the way, may lead HC Kyle Shanahan to lean even heavier on the run game — the 49ers are still favored by 12.5-points behind a 28.25-point implied total (5th-most). The Texans rank 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+2.5), and 4th-worst over their last 5 games (+10.3). They rank dead-last in YPC allowed (4.85) and 2nd-worst in rushing FPG allowed (19.3).

Mitchell has been a bit boom-or-bust this season, averaging 22.0 DK FPG in his 5 best games and 11.0 DK FPG in his 5 worst games, but (most of those down games came prior to his ascendance to bell cow-status and) all indications point towards a massive “boom”-game this week.

Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos
[DK: RB10, FD: RB27]

From Jake Tribbey’s DFS Values:

Javonte Williams has been about as good as we could expect any rookie RB to be. Among the 43 RBs with at least 100 carries, Williams ranks 13th in PFF rushing grade (77.8), tied with Jonathan Taylor for 1st with 58 missed tackles forced (despite the 15th-most rushing attempts), 5th in yards after contact per attempt (3.50, which is 0.18 more than Derrick Henry this season), and 5th in runs of 10 or more yards (24).

Williams has averaged 13.3 Fanduel FPG in his last 3 games, even with a healthy Melvin Gordon stealing 48% of backfield XFP. That would rank 10th among slate-eligible RBs, and yet Williams is priced as the RB24 on Fanduel, ahead of an outstanding matchup.

The Chargers are giving up the 5th-most FPG to opposing RBs (27.0), the 3rd-most YPC (4.63), and the 8th-most schedule-adjusted FPG (+3.3) over the last 3 weeks. They rank dead last in Football Outsiders run defense DVOA (4.8%) and are giving up the 4th-most rushing YPG overall (140.3). This is a dream matchup for any opposing RB, especially one as talented as Williams.

The presence of Gordon may limit the overall upside of this play and keeps Williams from being cash game viable on DraftKings. And while I wouldn’t bet on it in cash games, I wouldn't be surprised if Williams saw one of his biggest workloads of the season after Gordon averaged a laughably bad -0.6 YPC on 7 carries last week. Javonte shapes up as an ideal tournament play on both sites in Week 17, and can be considered a cash game play on Fanduel.

Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills
[DK: RB29, FD: RB30]

Singletary has seemingly been promoted to bell cow-status over his last three games. Over this stretch, he’s played on 81% of the team’s snaps, while handling 83% of the carries and 89% of the targets over the backfield. He averages 13.3 carries, 5.3 targets, 15.9 XFP/G (RB9), and 16.8 FPG (RB9) over this span.

In Week 14’s loss, he turned 4 carries and 7 targets into 14.9 fantasy points. In Week 15’s 17-point victory, he turned 22 carries and 1 target into 16.6 fantasy points. In Week 16, a 12-point victory, he turned 12 carries and 6 targets into 18.8 fantasy points.

Week 17 should be another lopsided victory for the Bills, and Singletary’s best matchup yet. His opponents over the last three weeks combine to yield just -1.8 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (would rank 10th-best). This week, the Bills are 14.5-point favorites, behind a 29.25-point implied total (most), against a Falcons defense that ranks 7th-worst by schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+2.4).

The counter-argument against Singletary, is that he was (slightly) less of a bell cow last week, playing on 71% of the snaps, and ceding 4 of 16 carries to Zack Moss. Further, we have a long history of Singletary underwhelming in spite of a bell cow workload. In the 10 career games Singletary has played on at least 75% of the team's snaps, he averages 14.2 carries, 4.3 targets, and 13.7 FPG. There just hasn’t been much upside for him on an extreme pass-heavy team where the QB serves as the team’s primary goal-line back.

Still, he’s glaringly a top value on both sites, and a great play. I question his upside for tournaments, but he’s still one of the better plays on the slate.

Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals
[DK: RB25, FD: RB21]

James Conner has yet to practice this week, after sitting out Week 16 with a heel injury. If he’s out, Edmonds becomes a borderline must-play on both sites, priced as just the RB25 ($5,700) and RB21 ($6,500) of the slate.

HC Kliff Kingsbury has a long history of employing a bell cow RB, and employing a bell cow RB to great fantasy success whenever he’s lost one of his top-2 RBs to injury.

- Last week, without Conner, Edmonds played on 92% of the team’s snaps, earning 16 of 17 carries and 9 of 9 targets out of the backfield. He totaled 24.5 XFP (3rd-most on the week) and 26.7 fantasy points (6th-most).

- Over Arizona’s five games without Edmonds this year (Weeks 9-14), Conner averaged 17.4 carries, 5.4 targets, 20.9 XFP/G (5th-most), and 25.6 FPG on an 85% snap share. Those numbers ranked 10th-, 8th-, 5th-, 2nd-, and 1st-best over this stretch.

- In the one game Kenyan Drake missed last season (Week 7), Edmonds played on 96% of the team’s snaps, earning 25 of 26 carries and 3 of 4 targets out of the backfield.

- In Week 7 2019, David Johnson suffered an injury on his first touch of the game. (This was before Kenyan Drake joined the team.) And Edmonds totaled 35.0 fantasy points on the back of 27 carries, 4 targets, and a 94% snap share. The next week Edmonds himself suffered an in-game injury, but had played on over 90% of the snaps up until that point (late in the 3rd quarter).

Basically, this is an 8-game sample size, suggesting we’re looking at about 22.6 XFP and 25.2 fantasy points from Edmonds this week. Either number would lead all RBs, and by a wide margin. The on-paper matchup isn’t great (bottom-3 by schedule-adjusted FPG allowed), but I don’t think that matters as much as Edmonds’ guaranteed workload in contrast to his inexpensive salary.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
[DK: RB14, FD: RB14]

On paper, Penny isn’t quite a top value play. But, given his miniscule projected ownership, he is a terrific one for tournaments.

From the Week 17 XFP Report:

Penny, clearly, isn’t a bell cow. And the volume he’s seeing hasn’t been great. But it also hasn’t seemed to really matter.

Over the last three weeks, Penny has played on 52% of the team’s snaps, earning 69% of the carries and 31% of the targets out of the backfield. He averages 15.7 carries, 1.3 targets, 10.2 XFP/G (32nd), and 17.6 FPG (5th) over this span.

Although the disconnect between his XFP/G and FPG average makes me fearful of a looming regression to the mean, I doubt the regression will be coming this week. Seattle is favored by 7.0-points, against a Detroit defense that ranks 5th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+3.8) and 5th-worst in rushing FPG allowed (16.3).

Assuming Alex Collins is still out, Penny projects as a slight value on DraftKings, priced as the RB14 ($6,100).

Darrel Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
[DK: RB23, FD: RB24]

From Start/Sit:

If Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) sits out, Williams should be started as a high-end RB2. If he plays, you can drop Williams back down to the high-end RB3-range.

When Edwards-Helaire last missed time (Weeks 6-10), Williams played on 64% of the snaps, handling 72% of the carries, 63% of the targets, 85% of the opportunities inside the 10-yard-line, and 67% of the XFP out of the backfield. (Jerick McKinnon who handled 6% of the carries and 33% of the targets over this span has been designated to return from I.R.).

Over this stretch, Williams averaged 14.2 carries, 5.4 targets, 94.0 YFS, 17.5 XFP/G, and 18.0 FPG. If over the full season, those numbers would rank 16th-, 7th-, 10th-, 10th-, and 8th-best.

Kansas City is favored by 5.0-points against a Cincinnati defense that ranks 10th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing RBs (+1.4).

Boston Scott, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
[DK: RB52, FD: RB29]

From Start/Sit:

If Jordan Howard (stinger) sits out, joining Miles Sanders on the bench (hand), you can start Scott as a high-end RB2. If Howard suits up, drop Scott to the high-end RB3-range.

Philadelphia didn’t seem to miss Sanders when he last missed time (Weeks 8-10), as Scott and Howard combined to put up Derrick Henry-type numbers in his absence. Across those three games, Philadelphia’s RBs averaged 30.3 carries, 142.3 rushing yards, 2.0 rushing touchdowns, and 26.2 rushing FPG. Scott and Howard split the work evenly (both averaging 9.0 XFP/G), but Howard was the more productive RB, averaging 13.0 FPG to Scott’s 11.5.

This isn’t a great matchup on paper, as Washington is the league’s top pass funnel defense, ranking worst in passing FPG allowed to QBs (19.4) but 4th-best by rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs (10.2). Though, Philadelphia’s RBs did tag them for 200 rushing yards (on 33 carries) just 2 weeks ago.

D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
[DK: RB16, FD: RB6]

From Jake Tribbey’s DFS Values:

Swift practiced in full on Wednesday, and will likely be suiting up for his first game since Week 12. In a slate loaded with mid-priced RB values, I think Swift could wind up as one of the sneakiest of the bunch.

So far this season, Swift has averaged 18.5 FPG and 18.9 XFP per game in the 10 games he’s started and finished. Among slate-eligible RBs, both of those marks rank 4th-best, which immediately makes Swift jump out given he’s priced absurdly low as the RB15 on DraftKings.

If we simply project Swift for his season-long average of 18.5 FPG, then he’s a 3.08X value, which would rank 1st among all slate-eligible RBs on DraftKings in our projections.

However, it’s worth noting that Swift isn’t projected for anything resembling his season-long average. In fact, across the industry, he’s consistently projected 2.0 to 4.0 full points lower.

The reason is obvious, we just don’t know what his role will be in his first game back from injury. Edwin Porras pointed out the risk of reaggravation, which obviously adds volatility to the play. So, I think that largely removes Swift from cash game lineups.

But in tournaments, I’m going to approach this situation as if Swift is back in his normal role, which likely means projecting him as a top-3 RB value on the slate, at least on DraftKings. With current industry sentiment, I’d expect middling ownership here, so I’m viewing this as a stellar leverage spot of the David Montgomery, Sony Michel, or Devin Singletary chalk in tournaments.

Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
[DK: RB12, FD: RB19]

Josh Jacobs has played on at least 45 snaps in each of his last 5 games, something he only did twice in his first 8 games.

Over that stretch, he’s averaged 15.4 FPG (10th-best among slate-eligible RBs), 4.0 targets per game (14th-best), and 18.6 XFP per game (4th-best).

His Week 17 matchup is a tough one, with Indianapolis allowing the 11th-fewest schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing RBs (-1.7). To make matters worse, the Raiders are 6.5-point underdogs. Jacobs has been notoriously gamescript dependent in his career, averaging 13.9 DraftKings FPG as an underdog, compared to 18.5 as a favorite. And despite already shattering his career high in targets, those splits are still very present this season, with Jacobs averaging 13.3 DK FPG as a dog, compared to 17.2 when favored.

So how do we approach Jacobs this week? Well, I don’t think we can view him as much more than a contrarian tournament play. In the event the Raiders pull off the win, he’s likely a value, especially as the RB18 (by salary) on Fanduel. And if we are making lineups geared towards that outcome, I think it makes a ton of sense to stack him with the Raiders’ defense (0.37 correlation).

But should the Raiders lose, it’s tough to see how Jacobs could manage a tournament-winning performance, especially with scat-back Jalen Richard back in the swing of the offense.

Michael Carter, RB, New York Jets
[DK: RB37, FD: RB37]

Tevin Coleman is on the reserve/COVID-19 list, potentially forcing Carter into a full-on bell cow-role. He’s a solid value, but on a week with a lot of value at the RB position, maybe still not a “top play.”

From Jake Tribbey’s DFS Values:

Carter earned his highest snap share (74%) of the season last week against Jacksonville, running for a season-high 118 yards and scoring 14.4 fantasy points in the process. He earned 75% of backfield routes and 53% of backfield carries, but did cede goal line work to Tevin Coleman, getting out-carried 3 to 1 inside the 5.

While the risk of Tevin Coleman vulturing TDs is far from ideal, the gamescript sets up perfectly for Carter (who averages 4.3 targets per game) with the Jets as 13.0-point underdogs. So far this season, Carter has averaged 14.2 DraftKings FPG when the Jets are underdogs by 7.0 or more points, which would rank 14th among slate-eligible RBs, making Carter pop as a value given his RB36 salary on DraftKings. And if we project Carter for 14.2 fantasy points this week, then he’s a 2.78X value on DK, which would actually lead all RBs in our projections.

With that said, Carter is the definition of a tournament-only play. The Jets could (as unlikely as it may seem) keep this game close, which probably means more snaps for Tevin Coleman. Or Coleman could simply steal every high-value touch near the goal line, which would force Carter to catch a litany of passes to hit value, and maybe that doesn’t happen with Zach Wilson under center as Carter has only averaged 2.7 targets per game in games Wilson has started and finished.

Interestingly, Tampa Bay is the league’s toughest defense for opposing RBs from a rushing perspective, allowing just 7.2 rushing FPG this season. But they are far weaker at defending RBs through the air, allowing 11.5 receiving FPG this season (tied for 7th-most). So, there’s the chance that if the Jets want to get their RBs involved, it will need to be through the passing game. And that should mean targets for Carter.

If Carter can yet again hit a 70% share of snaps in a game where the Jets will likely be forced to throw a substantial amount, it’s tough to argue against him as a value given his $5,100 DK salary.

Other / Notes

Damien Harris is an intriguing play, but for tournaments only. Obviously, the game-environment is near-perfect, favored by 16.5-points against the Jaguars. New England is expected to score 29.25 points this week, which ranks tied for most on the slate, and New England is already the league’s 7th-most run-heavy offense… Harris has found the end zone in 8 of his last 9 games, and he’s exceeded 100 rushing yards in each of his last 2. Rhamondre Stevenson will be back this week, capping his upside, but Harris has still flashed a decent ceiling even in games Stevenson played.

Austin Ekeler is a fine pivot off of Jonathan Taylor, though that’s the crux of the argument for him; he’s not nearly as strong of a play as Taylor on paper. And Johnny is a little worried over the fact that he was symptomatic last week, thinking he doesn’t return to his full workload this week.

Dare Ogunbowale (RB37 / RB43) saw 17 carries and 4 targets last week, and that’s nothing to scoff at. We may see a bit more work from Ryquell Armstead on the ground, but Ogunbowale should be locked into the pass-catching role. And that will definitely be the more valuable role this week, as 16.5-point underdogs. He’s in play as a punt, but isn’t quite a top play on a week with so much RB value elsewhere. (For instance, I strongly prefer Michael Carter at the same price-tag.)

Jaret Patterson is a viable punt, though Jonathan Williams played a bit too much last week for my liking. There are better plays.

Wide Receivers

Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
[DK: WR1, FD: WR1]

From the Week 17 XFP Report:

Kupp not only leads all WRs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns — the esteemed triple crown — but he’s pacing the league (leading by 20% or more) in each stat, and, most importantly, by FPG. He averages 21% more FPG (+4.5) than the next-closest WR (Davante Adams).

At $9,500 on DraftKings, he’s (merely) priced like a high-end WR1, but nothing quite like a WR on pace for the single-greatest fantasy season of all-time. His 28.1 DK FPG leads all players at all positions (including QBs). And is also the most by any WR in any season all-time.

And Kupp isn’t just the production king, he’s now also our XFP/G leader. He averages 22.0 XFP/G, which leads all players at all positions, and ranks 2nd-most by any WR in my database (spanning 14 NFL seasons). He’s sandwiched in between Calvin Johnson’s 2012 season (22.2) and DeAndre Hopkins’ 2015 (21.3).

If Kupp scores exactly 28.1 DK fantasy points this week (his per-game average), he’ll provide 2.96X value, which ranks best at the position. The next most-expensive WR (Deebo Samuel), in contrast ($8,700 vs. 22.1 DK FPG), would provide just 2.54X value.

And 28.1 fantasy points seems like a low bar this week, given Kupp’s drool-inducing matchup. Over the last six weeks, opposing WR1s are averaging 24.3 FPG against Baltimore, though they collectively average just 14.7 FPG in all other games.

In DFS this week, he’s nearly a lock-button play.

Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
[DK: WR18, FD: WR3]

Note: Brown suffered an ankle injury in practice on Wednesday and hasn’t practiced since. He appears legitimately questionable for Sunday’s game. If he’s out, upgrade Rob Gronkowski significantly. If he’s active, he’s still a great play, just very boom-or-bust. If he’s going to remain mega-chalky despite the injury, it may be worth pivoting.

From the Week 17 XFP Report:

Brown leads all players in targets per route run (0.32) and ranks behind only Cooper Kupp in fantasy points per route run (0.66). He’s seen at least 11 targets in three of his last four games, and has reached at least 90 yards in each of his last three games. He now ranks 5th among all WRs in FPG (19.3).

And it still seems as though there’s room for more. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans both played in five of Brown’s six games, forcing him into a part-time role, running a route on only 66% of the team’s dropbacks. But that number jumped to 84% last week with both WRs out. And Godwin is out for the rest of the season, while Evans is on the COVID-19 list and is not yet fully recovered from the hamstring injury which sidelined him last week.

In their absence, last week, Brown earned a 45% target share (10th-most by any player in any week this season), catching 10 of 15 targets for 101 yards. Most impressively, 71% of his targets came against Stephon Gilmore’s shadow coverage — Gilmore currently ranks as PFF’s 9th highest-graded CB in coverage.

This week, Brown faces a Jets defense that ranks 4th-worst in PFF coverage grade. They have no player of Gilmore’s caliber in their secondary. So, I suspect Tom Brady and Brown can and will do whatever they want this week. And, hopefully, that means winning you a championship.

And for those of you who don’t own Brown, or were already knocked out of the playoffs, he’s a near must-play in DFS this week, priced as just the WR18 on DraftKings ($6,100).

Braxton Berrios, WR, New York Jets
[DK: WR78, FD: WR55]

Elijah Moore is out and Jamison Crowder is doubtful, pushing Berrios into the full-time role he saw last week (88% route share). Over his last three games, and despite running a route on just 50% of the team’s dropbacks over this span, Berrios averages 5.7 targets, 1.0 carries, and 12.3 FPG (low of 10.6).

Regardless of matchup, Berrios was looking (glaringly) like the top punt-WR of the slate (though better suited for cash than GPPs). But it’s encouraging that his matchup, against slot CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, is extremely favorable as well. No CB has given up more receiving yards than Murphy-Bunting since he returned from injury in Week 11, also ranking 10th-worst of 89-qualifiers in yards allowed per snap in coverage over this span. And Wes Huber loves the coverage shell matchup:

“We want two things to give consideration to Berrios: (1) opportunity and (2) a competitive rate of Cover 3. He’ll have the first covered with an inactive ruling for Crowder and TB is using Cover 3 at the fifth-highest rate. Among WRs running at least 100 routes across from Cover 3, over the last three seasons, Berrios leads all qualified WRs with 0.66 FP/Rt, 3.49 YPRR, ranks fourth-best with a 130.2 TPR, and has drawn a 28% target share (fourth-highest).”

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins
[DK: WR11, FD: WR12]

From Start/Sit:

Waddle has been nothing short of a revelation this season, on pace for the most receptions and the 6th-most fantasy points by any rookie WR all-time.

Waddle has caught at least 8 passes in 4 straight games, averaging 23.1 FPG over this span (low of 18.0). And, since Week 6, he averages 10.8 targets, 17.8 XFP/G, and 18.9 FPG. Those numbers rank 6th-, 8th-, and 6th-best over this span. Clearly, he’s not just “good for a rookie”, but he appears to be a dependable mid-range WR1 for fantasy.

Waddle runs 61% of his routes from the slot, and gets a best-possible matchup this week against the Titans. Tennessee ranks worst in FPG (17.4) and YPG (77.7) allowed to opposing slot WRs.

Waddle should be started as a top-7 option this week.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
[DK: WR19, FD: WR21]

Per Johnny, “Brandin Cooks is ‘the nuts’ if he’s fully healthy (asymptomatic) following his week off from COVID.”

From Start/Sit:

I can’t ever seem to get Cooks right. He flopped in four straight pillow-soft matchups (Weeks 9-13), and then smashed against Seattle (Week 14).

Seattle looked like a brutal on-paper matchup as they ranked top-4 in FPG allowed to outside WRs, but bottom-4 against slot WRs. Cooks had run just 30% of his routes from the slot at that point, but that jumped to 62% against the Seahawks. And that, in turn, flipped this from a bottom-4 to a top-4 matchup. He took advantage, scoring 21.1 DK fantasy points (most since Week 3), with 83% of his receiving yards coming from the slot.

Week 15 was also tricky. If we knew he would be moved to the slot, it’d be a top matchup, as the Jaguars rank 11th-worst against slot WRs. If not, it would be fairly tough (well below average), as he’d be drawing shadow coverage from CB Shaquill Griffin on the outside. But Houston again (smartly) moved Cooks around the formation to take advantage of more favorable matchups. And it worked again; he scored 32.2 DK fantasy points. Only 59% of his routes came from the outside, and 72% of his total receiving yards came from the slot.

This decision to move Cooks around the formation has definitely helped to bolster his numbers and helped to make him more matchup-immune. But Cooks is also benefiting from Davis Mills’ return. Cooks has been targeted on 25.7% of his routes with Mills under center, as opposed to just 19.5% with Tyrod Taylor under center. And Cooks averages 16.0 FPG (~WR12) and 15.8 XFP/G in Mills’ full games started and finished, as opposed to just 11.7 FPG (~WR40) and 12.8 XFP/G with Taylor.

After sitting out Week 16 (COVID), Cooks returns to get a favorable matchup no matter where Houston decides to line him up. San Francisco ranks 2nd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (+3.0) and 2nd-worst over their last five games (+6.7). The 49ers rank 10th-worst by FPG allowed to slot WRs (14.4), and 6th-worst by fantasy points allowed per target (1.98). And, over the last 8 weeks, the 49ers rank 2nd-worst in FPG allowed to outside WRs (23.5), starting backups on the perimeter after losing starters Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Los Angeles Rams
[DK: WR26, FD: WR21]

OBJ isn’t a “top play” or a top value, but he is a strong contrarian play for tournaments. And he’s an ideal pairing option for Matthew Stafford-stacks, which we like a lot.

From Start/Sit:

Beckham and Van Jefferson can both be started this week, as high-end WR3s, but I strongly prefer Beckham.

Jefferson has seen at least 6 targets in 7 of his last 9 games, averaging 6.1 targets and 10.6 FPG over this span. But twice over the last three weeks he’s failed to hit that mark, and his least productive outings have come over his last two games, where he’s averaged just 3.0 FPG.

Beckham has now out-targeted Jefferson in three straight games, and he’s averaging 6.6 targets and 13.0 FPG (WR22) over his last five games. And he’ll get the best of this drool-inducing matchup, as he runs 79% of his routes from the perimeter, in contrast to Jefferson’s 53% and Cooper Kupp’s 45%.

Baltimore ranks middle-of-the-pack against slot WRs, thanks to the tough coverage of Tavon Young. But they rank worst in FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs (25.5). And they’re considerably worse now on the outside than even these numbers imply.

Baltimore lost CB Marlon Humphrey (out for the year) in Week 14, after already losing CB Marcus Peters in training camp. They were forced to start Anthony Averett and Chris Westry on the perimeter, with Young in the slot. But Averett left Sunday’s game with a chest injury and Westry is on the COVID-19 list.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen some monster games from perimeter WRs facing Baltimore: Tee Higgins (43.4 fantasy points), Ja’Marr Chase (19.5), Davante Adams (16.4), and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (20.8). And over their previous four games: Donovan Peoples-Jones (90 yards), Diontae Johnson (30.5 fantasy points), Darnell Mooney (23.1), and Marquise Goodwin (20.4).

Cooper Kupp should have a field day, of course, but there’s still plenty of room for Beckham to hit big.

A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
[DK: WR7, FD: WR8]

From the Week 17 XFP Report:

In his return to action last week, Brown earned 16 targets, 200 air yards, 2 end zone targets, and 2 deep targets, good for 30.1 XFP. That ranked most among all WRs on the week, and 6th-most by any WR in any week this season. This also equated to a 53% target share (3rd-most by any WR in any week this season) and a 45% XFP share (2nd-most by any WR in any week this season). And Brown was highly efficient with that good volume, as he’s always been, catching 11 for 145 yards and a score, good for 31.5 fantasy points.

(Julio Jones, meanwhile, remained a non-factor; earning just one target for the second week in a row.)

This was rare volume for any WR, but — (sadly) — especially for Brown, who, for whatever reason, has always had to make due with less. Or, at least, in contrast to the WRs as productive as he’s been.

Since entering the league, Brown ranks 5th in 100-yard games (12), but he ranks just 56th in double-digit target games (5), with 3 of those games (60%) coming over Brown’s last five games.

Since entering the league, Brown has been the single-most efficient WR in fantasy, out-scoring his expectation (PAR) by +3.0 FPG, or 24%. He’s produced as a mid-range WR2, but on only mid-range WR4-levels of volume. Perhaps now we’ll finally see what he can do with high-end WR1-levels of volume.

From Wes Huber’s Advanced Matchups:

Did your eyes gaze upon A.J. Brown doing whatever he wanted against the San Francisco defense in his first game since being activated from IR last week? If not, quickly remedy that deficit in your knowledge. HE… TOOK… OVER. AJB made the 49ers’ defense appear to be on the level of a collegiate spring game. An 11/145/1 receiving line (34.5 FPs) on 16 targets later, Brown laid any and all questions as to his health to rest. In Week 17, Miami will put the highest rate of Cover 1 and 13th-highest rate of Cover 3 on the field. It needs mentioning that the ‘Phins have utilized the fourth-highest rate of Cover 3 during the entirety of their seven-game winning streak.

When opposed by Cover 1 during his career, AJB has fashioned 0.74 FP/Rt (fifth-most), 3.35 YPRR (sixth-most), a 131.5 TPR (eighth-highest), and has drawn a 31% target share (eighth-highest). On 31% of career routes, Brown has registered 41% of his receptions, 41% of his yardage, and 50% of his total TDs across from single man coverage. When defenses have placed a Cover 3 on the field across from Brown, he’s responded with 0.58 FP/Rt (fourth-most), 3.04 YPRR (fifth-most), 11.9 YPT (eighth-most), a 119.1 TPR (12th-highest), and has collected a 26% share of the targets (10th-highest).

With all of those numbers in mind, does the individual matchup even matter? We’ll take a look anyway. Brown will draw Xavien Howard on around 40% of his routes. The X-Factor has granted 1.08 YPCS (36th-fewest among 78 qualified perimeter CBs), 0.26 FP/CS (34th-most), a 91.5 TPR (36th-lowest). And those numbers have come down quite a bit during the second half of the season, particularly during the last three games when his coverage has been nearly flawless. Even with a streaking Howard tracking AJB on enough reps to matter, Brown is a top-six fantasy wideout that packs together outstanding hands and second-to-nobody physicality. In my eyes, for my cap dollars, Brown is one of the top bargains on the entire slate with WR7/WR8 pricing. He was the very first addition to my Cash/SE lineup this week. Enough said.

Michael Pittman, WR, Indianapolis Colts
[DK: WR24, FD: WR21]

In addition to being a pretty strong pure value-play, Pittman also offers leverage off of Jonathan Taylor for tournaments, as they’re massively negatively correlated together (-0.24).

From Wes Huber’s Advanced Matchups:

Reading up on the COVID list activations, learning that some of the Las Vegas faithful are excited about the return of Brandon Facyson means we share something in common. While initially evaluating the matchup for Michale Pittman Jr., coverage from Desmond Trufant had my fingers crossed for a speedy recovery from Facyson. In all honesty, I have no idea why Trufant wasn’t already installed across from Casey Hayward Jr. as the permanent starter on the outside. But I am thrilled for the return of Facyson.

Among 78 qualified perimeter CBs, Facyson is gift-wrapping 1.46 YPCS (seventh-most), 0.36 FP/CS (third-most), 0.29 AY/CS (the most), and a 105.2 TPR (22nd-highest). Opposing QBs have targeted Facyson at the second-highest rate this season in order to take advantage of the corner allowing the third-highest completion rate of 20-plus targets. The Raiders are employing the highest rate of Cover 3 in the league. When MPJ has faced Cover 3 during his career, he’s fabricated 0.43 FP/Rt (19th-most), the 10th-highest qualified improvement to an FPG average (25%), 2.29 YPRR (17th-most), and 10.9 YPT (17th-most). On only 21% of career routes, Pittman has found a home for 26% of his catches, 30% of his yardage, and 33% of his total TDs.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions
[DK: WR19, FD: WR16]

Note: QB Tim Boyle will start this week for the Lions, and he’s a pretty clear downgrade from Jared Goff. RB D’Andre Swift’s return is also less than ideal. St. Brown has averaged 3.1 FPG lined up as a RB over the last four weeks, so the return of Swift (18% target share) will hurt him a little bit, So, St. Brown is no longer a must-play, but he is still one of the better plays of the slate.

From the Week 17 XFP Report:

St. Brown has seen at least 11 targets and gained at least 70 yards (or scored at least 15.0 fantasy points) in four straight games. He’s finished top-6 among WRs in fantasy points scored in three of his last four games. And, over this stretch, he averages 11.5 targets (4th-most), 1.0 carries, 91.5 YFS (9th-most), 18.0 XFP/G (7th-most), and 22.4 FPG (5th-most).

He’s run 64% of his routes from the slot over this span, and now gets a near-best possible slot matchup against the Seahawks. Seattle has given up the 6th-most FPG to opposing slot WRs (15.3), but they’re also the league’s top slot funnel defense, giving up a league-high 24% of their total receiving fantasy points allowed to slot WRs.

St. Brown is a strong value on DraftKings this week, priced as just the WR19 ($6,000).

CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
[DK: WR8, FD: WR10]

From Jake Tribbey’s DFS Values:

Lamb hasn’t scored more than 20.0 fantasy points in a game since Week 10, but I think that could change this week with a strong matchup and the Cowboys playing in by far the highest total game of the week (52.0, 2.5-points more than next closest game).

The Cardinals have massively struggled as of late against WRs, allowing +15.5 schedule-adjusted FPG over the last 5 weeks (2nd-most). WR1s are no exception, with Arizona allowing the 6th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to WR1s over that same stretch (+3.0). And they’ve allowed by far the most fantasy points per deep pass this season (3.22) – an interesting note given Lamb ranks 20th among all WRs with 1.7 deep targets per game.

So we’ve established it’s a favorable matchup, but how does the game environment affect his expectation this week? Well, Lamb averages 18.4 DraftKings FPG and 15.1 Fanduel FPG this season when playing in a game with a total over 50.0 (8 instances). And his 3 best games of the season (Week 1, 6, and 10) have all come in those situations. On DraftKings, 18.4 FPG would rank 5th-best among WRs over the full season, representing a value relative to Lamb’s WR8 price tag. On Fanduel, 15.1 FPG would also rank 5th-best, and Lamb is the WR9 (by salary).

So he’s a value and a solid tournament play on both sites given the matchup and scoring environment, but I prefer him on FD where he is slightly cheaper and costs just 12% of the total salary cap, compared to 14% on DraftKings.

Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys
[DK: WR12, FD: WR18]

From Wes Huber’s Advanced Matchups:

If the information has yet to reach your doorstep, both Marco Wilson and Robert Alford will miss Week 17 due to injury. The next man up is 2016 UDFA Antonio Hamilton. His 1.49 YPCS would rank fifth-most, 0.28 FP/CS (19th-most), 0.20 AY/CS (fourth-most), and 93.4 TPR (38th-highest), if qualified. The Cardinals are using top-15 rates of Cover 1, 3, 4, and 6. From the surface, attempting to exploit Arizona’s scheme rotation can end in migraines. However, they do have a pretty consistent pattern of rotating their Cover 1 and Cover 3 rates. If the pattern holds, this should be a week where they use a top-10 rate of Cover 1.

Under that scenario, over the last three years, Amari Cooper has produced 0.62 FP/Rt (10th-most), 3.00 YPRR (ninth-most), and he’s drawn a 30% target share when opponents utilize a Cover 1 (ninth-most). He’s generated 33% of his catches, 38% of his yardage, and 40% of his total TDs on only 24% of his routes. The other factor lending credence to a top-10 Cover 1 rate is that, in Week 16 when Alford was out, Arizona shifted to a top-10 Cover 1 rate after they lost Wilson to injury. It’s possible that’s the scheme where Hamilton and Kevin Peterson, their replacements, are most comfortable in coverage. If the Cards go with a high Cover 3 rate at the direct expense of Cover 1, it will benefit CeeDee Lamb more than Cooper. Either way, Wilson and Alford have been on the field for over 1,250 snaps, combined, this season. Arizona will obviously be at a distinct disadvantage. The play is not designed for Cash/SE lineups. But it is the definition of the moderate-risk, high-reward development for small- and LF GPP consideration.

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
[DK: WR45, FD: WR35]

Gallup ranks 45th in salary on DraftKings ($4,800), but he ranks 16th among all slate-eligible WRs in XFP/G (14.6).

Granted, he’s also been far less productive than that, ranking only 35th (among slate-eligible WRs) in FPG (9.9). But in his defense, he’s also dealt with some brutal luck. Despite playing in only 8 games, he ranks 13th among all players in fantasy points lost on plays negated due to penalty (11.2). If we add those numbers back to his total, he’d be averaging 11.3 FPG (27th-best on the slate). And he’s actually only played in 5 full games. So, adjusting for injury luck and penalty luck, he’s averaging 13.3 fantasy points per four quarters. That would rank 21st-best on the slate.

Anyway, this is admittedly a little heavy-handed, but Gallup is no doubt a top volume-related value. And when Gallup hits, he tends to hit big (a function of his team-high 12.3 aDOT), which is great for tournaments. And the matchup is excellent. Arizona is giving up the 6th-most FPG to outside WRs over the last four weeks. And they’re a little bit worse now with Robert Alford out, and his backup Marco Wilson also (likely) out. The matchup for CeeDee Lamb in the slot is favorable as well (Byron Murphy), but not quite as soft as it is for Gallup and Cooper on the outside.

Other / Notes

If Mike Evans suits up, he’s in play as a contrarian option regardless of Antonio Brown’s status.

If Courtland Sutton ($4,500) manages to play, he’s a phenomenal punt, with WR Jerry Jeudy and WR Tim Patrick both out. Over the past two seasons, Sutton averages 17.0 FPG without Jeudy. And Sutton has earned target shares over 20% in each of the last two weeks with Drew Lock under center, his highest since Jeudy’s return. He earned a whopping 26% target share with Drew Lock in 2019.

If Emmanuel Sanders is out, Gabriel Davis warrants serious consideration at his WR39/WR55 pricing. In Weeks 14-15, he averaged 7.5 targets and 20.4 FPG. And last week Isaiah McKenzie scored 32.4 playing the Davis-role.

Wes Huber made the case for Hunter Renfrow (WR13/WR16) here, He averages 19.7 DK FPG over his last 5 games, or 17.7 DK FPG over his last 8. Darren Waller is still out (COVID)… But I think Zay Jones (WR66/WR76) is even more compelling at cost and ownership. Renfrow’s matchup is a bit tougher, as Indianapolis ranks 6th-best in FPG allowed to slot WRs (10.2), but 8th-worst to outside WRs (22.6). Jones has seen (counting backwards) 8, 9, 7, 5, and 7 targets over his last 5 games, ranking 24th in XFP/G over this span. And he’s reached 50 yards in each of his last two games.

Keenan Allen is just the WR6 and WR9 by pricing this week, though he ranks 3rd among all slate-eligible WRs by XFP/G (18.5) and 6th by FPG (16.4). With slot CB Bryce Callahan ruled out, this moves to an easy top-5 matchup. From Weeks 9-14, without Callahan, slot CB Kyle Fuller ranked 6th-worst of 51-qualifying CBs in yards allowed per slot snap in coverage. In Week 12, without Callahan, Allen turned 10 targets into 7 catches and 85 yards.

Cole Beasley (WR42/WR42) has 19 targets over his last two games, but he hasn't done much with that good volume. You can say that's because he's 32 years old and dusty (one double-digit fantasy point game since Week 10), or you can say he was banged up for a while, but now healthy, and he understandably underwhelmed in tough matchups. His last two opponents ranked (respectively) 5th- and 10th-best in FPG allowed to slot WRs, but Atlanta ranks 11th-worst (14.0). He’s popping as a slight value on both sites.

Tee Higgins is exceedingly hard to fade, averaging 25.7 DK FPG over his last 5 games… Tyreek Hill has unrivaled face-melting upside, always… Wes Huber does like Tyler Boyd’s matchup quite a bit… And Ja’Marr Chase is Ja’Marr Chase… Still, I’m probably fading the lot if I’m not rostering either QB from this game. For Patrick Mahomes or Joe Burrow lineups, all pass-catchers are in play.

Between Jake Tribbey, Wes Huber, and myself, we wrote up all of CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup… Ultimately, I think Lamb is your best and only play for one-off lineups (lineups without a Dallas or Arizona QB), but all pass-catchers from that game (including Christian Kirk, Zach Ertz, and Antoine Wesley) are very much in play for gamestacks. (This will be the chalkiest gamestack of the slate.) Johnny suggested rotating between them. (e.g. Lamb, Gallup, and Ertz on one lineup vs. Lamb, Cooper, Kirk on another.)

Tight Ends

Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
[DK: TE1, FD: TE1]

There’s an argument to be made that Andrews is even more of a “must play” than Cooper Kupp. Averaging 33.2 DK FPG over his last 3 games, he offers massive “bury you”-upside, and especially when factoring in the inherent positional advantage he offers in contrast to Kupp. Heck, even just 19.0 DK FPG from a TE at a $7,400 salary makes him arguably the most valuable player on the slate. TEs are inherently volatile, but the unrivaled upside he offers at the position, and his recent hot streak may make him unfadable for cash.

From the Week 17 XFP Report:

It looks like there’s still a Big-3 at the TE position, only this time the names have changed. Andrews leads all TEs in FPG (18.0), ahead of Travis Kelce (16.9) and George Kittle (15.6). TE4 Rob Gronkowski is 36% off the position-high (13.2 FPG), and TE5 Darren Waller is 39% behind (12.9 FPG).

And Andrews continues to widen the gap. He’s finished as a top-5 fantasy TE in an astounding six of his last seven games. He’s seen at least 8 targets in each of his last nine games. And since Week 5, he averages 10.0 targets, 17.2 XFP/G, and 20.2 FPG. Those numbers lead all TEs over this span, and, among wide receivers, rank 9th-, 10th-, and 4th-best.

Even across the full season, Andrews would rank 7th among all wide receivers in FPG (17.7). There are few fantasy cheat codes as powerful as owning a fantasy TE who is putting up mid-range WR1-levels of production. So, it’s not surprising ESPN is showing Andrews to be the 2nd-most valuable commodity in all of fantasy, behind only Cooper Kupp.

And Lamar Jackson’s absence hasn’t slowed down Andrews at all. In fact, the reverse is true. Andrews has flashed an unreal ceiling this year, posting highs of 44.7, 38.6, 31.5, and 29.5 DK fantasy points. But the latter three scores have all come without Lamar Jackson.

And, so, maybe Andrews owners should be rooting against a quick return for Jackson. Jackson easily ranks worst in PFF pass grade since Week 6 (46.3), and Andrews is averaging 53% more fantasy points per route run without Jackson under center.

Zach Ertz, TE, Arizona Cardinals
[DK: TE9, FD: TE13]

From the Week 17 XFP Report:

Ertz, like Mike Gesicki, has a TE-designation for fantasy but is basically an oversized full-time slot WR. He’s run a route on 83% of Arizona’s dropbacks over the last 8 weeks, with 63% of his catches coming from the slot.

Since joining the Cardinals in Week 7, Ertz is averaging 7.0 targets (19.1% target share), 12.1 XFP/G, and 11.7 FPG. Among all TEs over this span, those numbers rank 7th- (8th-), 7th-, and 4th-best.

And some of these numbers might be skewed against him, with Kyler Murray playing hurt and then missing time due to injury. And we should continue to expect a bit more from Ertz moving forward, with DeAndre Hopkins out for the remainder of the season and leaving behind an 18% target share.

Over the last two weeks, without Hopkins, Ertz has averaged 12.0 targets, 18.8 XFP/G, 64.0 YPG, and 13.4 FPG. (For perspective, Mark Andrews currently leads the position with 15.7 XFP/G.)

Ertz is a strong value on FanDuel this week, priced as just the TE13 ($5,500), in a perfectly neutral matchup against the Cowboys.

Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
[DK: TE10, FD: TE11]

Goedert is Wes Huber’s favorite TE-play of the slate. Here’s what he had to say in Advanced Matchups:

For a second-straight week, Dallas Goedert stands as the only Target in Philadelphia’s matchup. It would be silly to state it wasn’t disappointing to see Goedert only score 4.8 FPs last week. When I see a player that entered a matchup with a multitude of arrows pointing toward production, when it doesn’t happen, I want answers. We begin with the obvious: Goedert did not depart Week 16 due to injury. The next consideration is game script. Philly pushed themselves toward a 20-3 lead over the Giants at the midway point of the third quarter. Most definitely a factor. Next, we want to track down his involvement. And the numbers are disappointing. Since Zach Ertz’s trade to Arizona in Week 7, sans being removed from Week 10 due to a concussion, Goedert has run a route on 88% of team passing plays and collected a 26% target share. Both elite rates at the position. Even after Week 16, he ranks fourth-best with 0.452 FP/Rt. All of the metrics leading me to Goedert last week are entirely sound.

However, Goedert only ran a route on 70% of team passing plays (21% decline), and he was only fed with a 13% target share (51% faceplant). It should be noted that a holding penalty on a designed screen to Goedert nullified a 12-yard TD, and Jalen Hurts only completed 17 throws. It’s an unfortunate series of events. That said, Goedert is still the hottest TE at the moment, and we can roster his awesomeness with TE10/TE10 pricing. Since Goedert ranks inside the top-12 TEs against each of the five common coverage schemes, the scheme specifics from Washington are redundant. WFT is permitting 13.1 FPG to TEs this season (14th-most), 22.2 during the last two games (fourth-most). Perhaps of more importance, the Football Team has handed out the most total FPG to opposing offenses (98.5). It’s another excellent matchup to feed out Goedert addiction.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
[DK: TE5, FD: TE4]

Gronkowski is seemingly in something of a slump. He scored just 3.3 fantasy points on 2 targets in Week 16. And this came one week after he turned 11 targets into only 4.9 fantasy points.

Prior to that, Gronkowski averaged 7.9 targets and 17.7 FPG in full games. (For perspective 17.7 FPG would rank 1st at the position, tied with Mark Andrews.) Prior to this recent 2-week down-stretch, he saw at least 8 targets in 6 of 7 full games, and caught multiple touchdowns 3 times.

Chris Godwin is out for the year. Mike Evans is still dealing with a hamstring injury which sidelined him last week. Antonio Brown is dealing with an ankle injury which kept him out of practice Thursday and Friday. And, despite all of these injuries, Tampa Bay has a 29.25-point implied total (most). And they’re facing a Jets defense that has ceded 25.0% of their total receiving fantasy points allowed to TEs (6th-most).

He’s a great tournament-play on both sites.

Other / Notes

Stephen Anderson is minimum price on DraftKings. TE Jared Cook is out, as is TE Donald Parham. And, well, you know the rules. When we get a min. price TE with no other TEs healthy, we play him.

In Travis Kelce’s last game, he caught 10 of 13 targets for 191 yards and 2 scores, good for 41.1 fantasy points… Tyreek Hill was seriously limited last week, still dealing with COVID limitations. Cincinnati runs Cover-2 at one of the top-10 highest rates in the league, which will hurt Hill, but could lead to Kelce being peppered with targets underneath. Cincinnati has already given up the most FPG to opposing TEs over the last four weeks (22.1)… He’s a strong tournament play who could go far lower-owned than is typical for him.

Noah Fant is a legitimately enticing GPP-play, with potentially all three starting WRs out. For whatever reason, Albert Okwuegbunam ran just 6 routes last week. The Chargers are the No. 2 funnel matchup for TEs (30.9%) and the No. 3 overall matchup by schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+4.9).

Graham Barfield made a compelling argument for both Gerald Everett and Foster Moreau here.

Brevin Jordan remains a viable punt on DraftKings, priced at just $2,800. This was a prospect I liked quite a bit in the offseason, though very raw, reminding me of Gerald Everett and Jonnu Smith. HC David Culley promised us we’d see more from Jordan as the season progressed, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen play out. Jordan ran a route on a season-high 61% of the team’s dropbacks last week. And over his last 2 healthy games, he averages 5.5 targets (13%) and 11.1 FPG.

Quarterbacks

I think cash is pretty easy this week. You just play Trey Lance. On both sites.

For tournaments, as always, get weird, get creative, have fun. The QB position is always more about the stack (and the leverage you’ll gain if that stack hits) than the individual QB play itself.

This week in particular you’ll want to lean heavy on dub-stacks with a bring-back on the other side. Unless, of course, you’re playing a mobile QB (Kyler Murray, Tyler Huntley, Taysom Hill, or Trey Lance). But, on a full 14-game slate like this one, I suspect you’re going to need that extra upside and correlation.

Matthew Stafford stacks are probably our favorite at ownership, but it’s hard to argue against some other more popular plays like Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert.

Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers
[DK: QB45, FD: QB32]

From Start/Sit:

This offseason (here), I compared Jalen Hurts (2021) favorably to Lamar Jackson (2019). But, even more brazenly, I compared Lance (2021) to Patrick Mahomes (2018). That was no doubt at least a little too bold, but it’s not hard to see why I was so bullish:

Lance — who averaged 77.0 rushing YPG and 13.3 rushing FPG throughout his career at North Dakota State — has massive Konami Code-upside. And he’s perfectly set up for success, with an elite offensive mind in HC Kyle Shanahan calling plays, and surrounded by three of the NFL’s best YAC monsters.

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And what have we seen from Lance thus far? Through six quarters of play, Lance is averaging 232.7 passing yards, 15.3 rushing attempts, 86.7 rushing yards, and 22.6 fantasy points per four quarters. That’s 4.2 more carries and 22.8 more rushing YPG than Lamar Jackson. And 22.6 FPG would rank behind only Josh Allen and Justin Herbert.

Lance gets a perfectly neutral on-paper matchup against the Texans. But the 49ers also have a 28.5-point implied total (4th-most) and a 12.5-point spread in their favor, implying terrific field position and plenty of opportunities for vultured rushing touchdowns.

We like Lance as a fringe-QB1 this week, assuming Jimmy Garoppolo sits.

Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
[DK: QB10, FD: QB6]

From Start/Sit:

Hurts currently ranks 5th in FPG (22.0) and averages 22.4 FPG in career starts, hitting at least 19.0 fantasy points in 13 of 18 games (72%). Hurts is still dealing with an ankle injury, but it’s unclear how much this might cap his upside. Last week, Hurts ran only twice for 7 yards, but Philadelphia never needed to keep their foot on the gas against the Giants, winning by 24 points. In his first game back, the week prior, and against this same Washington defense, Hurts rushed for 38 yards and 2 scores on 8 carries.

But Hurts needs to be started as no less than a mid-range QB1 this week, given this near-perfect matchup. Washington is the league’s top pass funnel defense (+6.0% over expectation), and the most favorable matchup for any QB, ranking: worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed (+5.6), worst in total FPG allowed (23.9, +16% more than next-closest), worst in passing FPG allowed (19.4), worst in rushing FPG allowed (4.5), worst in fantasy points allowed per dropback (0.505), and worst in opposing passer rating (104.7).

Against Washington last week, Dallas QBs Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush combined to drop 38.1 fantasy points in a 56-14 beatdown. And the week prior, Hurts scored 28.6 fantasy points, while averaging 11.4 yards per pass attempt.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams
[DK: QB5, FD: QB10]

From Start/Sit:

Stafford is coming off his worst start of the season, posting season-lows in FP (6.7) and yards (197) while he struggled with mistakes all game long against the Vikings. His poor game is part of a smaller sample trend as of late with lower scores than normal after a hot start. Stafford has now scored fewer than 16 FP in four of his last 7 games after never dipping below 16.5 FP once in his first eight games. Well, this is an ideal bounceback spot in perfect time for championship week against a Ravens secondary that is in shambles. Obviously, Joe Burrow’s gaudy 525-yard performance is burned into everyone’s brains but this secondary was showing signs of cracking even before that. Over the full season, only Washington (22.9) has given up more FPG to QBs than the Ravens (19.8) and this secondary has allowed multiple passing scores five times in their last six games with the lone passer failing to do so being Baker Mayfield. I’m going back to Stafford as a top-5 play for Week 17. [GB]

Scott Barrett combines a unique background in philosophy and investing alongside a lifelong love of football and spreadsheets to serve as FantasyPoints’ Director of Analytics and Lead DFS Writer.