Boom/bust report: Which Week 17 DFS options could pop?
Boom – to flourish vigorously
Bust – a worthless thing
Daily fantasy sports is a hyper-nuanced game. Theory can inform personal ownership stakes, or desirable plays can be identified and then analyzed for fit. I prefer the latter method. Which players do I want to be heavier on than the field, and which players do I want to be light on, or avoid entirely? The boom/bust report will feature players that fit the following descriptions: a boom is a player priced at $6000 or above who I’m projecting to return at least 3x DraftKings salary value, or a player priced at $5900 or less with favorable conditions to hit 4x salary value. A bust is any player with unfavorable conditions to hit 3x value, regardless of salary.
Before we get into Week 17, let’s review how my picks performed in Week 16.
Blake Bortles and Antonio Gates ended up being smash plays. I missed badly on Ezekiel Elliott and Doug Baldwin. I aced my bust calls; none of the players I identified came anywhere close to returning even baseline value.
Cam Newton ($6800, QB3) vs. Atlanta Falcons
Newton shines bright in big games this one is huge. His floor is there through his rushing production; he’s averaging over 60 yards per game over the last half of the season. The ceiling is there via his arm and his now full cupboard of passing weapons, including Christian McCaffrey. The Falcons have allowed more receptions to running backs than any team in the NFL (101!) and I think this connection will play a key role in week 17. The Panthers can clinch the NFC South and potentially even a first-round bye with a win. Newton will play all four quarters here, which is also important in a week where it’s not a guarantee for many quarterbacks.
Derrick Henry ($5500, RB20) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s finally here. A week where we see Henry get a full workload without DeMarco Murray in the picture. The Titans need this game and will try to shorten it via a heavy running attack to protect Marcus Mariota from making mistakes. Henry posted a line of 14/92/1 in his first matchup against Jacksonville this year and was splitting touches in that game. I like Henry to see at least 20 touches in the workhorse role and easily qualify as a boom in Week 17.
Keenan Allen ($7800, WR4) vs. Oakland Raiders
The Chargers are a team still playing for something and Melvin Gordon is banged up. Allen has been targeted at least eight times in six consecutive games. He will draw plenty of coverage from one of the DFS community’s favorite cornerbacks, T.J. Carrie. It’s been nearly two months since the Raiders have had to face a quarterback of Rivers’ caliber, so their recent metrics don’t necessarily support this call. However, given the situation, the matchup, and the Chargers implied points total this week, I think Allen is as good of a bet as any of the elite wide receivers to go off this week.
Demetrius Harris ($7100, TE1) vs. Denver Broncos
For the second week in a row, I’m going with a minimum-priced tight end as my boom pick. The Chiefs will be rolling out a number of backups this week and Harris is one who should see substantial snap share. He was targeted seven times in Week 16 and caught four passes for 34 yards. Most are familiar with the backup-connection narrative in DFS and that’s certainly part of my angle here, as Patrick Mahomes will be starting for Alex Smith. Harris will need 10 points to make good on this call, but the upside is there. Travis Kelce torched the Broncos earlier this season and I’d expect Andy Reid to employ some similar schemes for the Mahomes-Harris connection as he evaluates his young signal-caller.
Nick Foles ($6400, QB10) vs. Dallas Cowboys
Although he hasn’t seen the overall number of game snaps you’d want for a playoff starter on a No. 1 seed, Foles is unlikely to play the entire game. Sure, it’s range of possible outcomes that Foles has a hyper-efficient first half and throw a few touchdowns, but playing the entire game is almost certainly out of the questions. Philadelphia simply can’t risk injury to their backup with so much on the line in the playoffs.
Ezekiel Elliott ($8700, RB3) vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Elliott was the recipient of immense opportunity last week, touching the ball 28 times. However, he didn’t find the end zone and ended up with just 15.8 DraftKings points in the Cowboys loss to the Seahawks. His salary rose this week from $8400 to $8700. Elliott will need a staggering 26.1 DraftKings points to reach 3x status and avoid a bust rating. The Eagles will likely go easy on their starters, however the they’ve been death to running backs all season long, allowing just 845 yards on the ground so far and only six rushing touchdowns. Elliott would have to break what has essentially been a 15-game trend to return value this week.
A.J. Green ($6300, WR14) vs. Baltimore Ravens
Green is in a tailspin along with the rest of the Bengals offensive players not named Giovani Bernard. The Ravens haven’t allowed a touchdown to a wide receiver since week nine. They contained Green for a line of 5/74/0 in week one. Green hasn’t broken 18.9 DraftKings points in a month, and that’s the number he’ll need to avoid bust status at salary this week. Stay away.
Zach Ertz ($6000, TE3) vs. Dallas Cowboys
The Eagles have the overall No. 1 seed locked up in the NFC. Playing time for starters is going to vary in this game, but given that the team depends so heavily on Ertz and has capable backup options in Trey Burton and Brent Celek, it’s hard for me to envision a scenario where Ertz stays in all game when there is nothing on the line. I can’t stomach the TE3 pricing here and neither should you.