Week 17 daily fantasy advice: Previewing the week in DFS
The final week of the 2016 regular season is upon us, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of time to play some DFS. This article can help you start your weekly DFS prep as you plan to take down a big tournament or cash in with a 50/50 in Week 17.
This is where I usually preview each slate available, but it’s straightforward and simple this week: There is just a “main” slate, with all 16 games happening on Jan. 1. No early-slate only, or late-slate only, or Sunday-Monday specials. Just 16 games packed into one day, one slate.
This gives you more options to differentiate your lineups, but it also makes settling on a final main slate lineup more difficult. (Ah, the paradox of choice.)
Below are my early-week musings in DFS for Week 17.
(Note: I’m providing only DraftKings and FanDuel salaries, as I live in Florida, where Yahoo does not operate.)
Matt Ryan and Drew Brees will duel in Atlanta this weekend, and it’s easy to envision these two being the highest-owned quarterbacks in Week 17—and for good reason. The Falcons have given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year, while the Saints have surrendered the 11th-most fantasy points and third-most passing yards. I expect Brees to be more highly owned on FanDuel, where he’s the sixth-most-expensive option ($8,200), compared to DraftKings, where he’s the second-priciest quarterback ($7,600).
While Ryan and Brees will draw plenty of attention, another top-tier quarterback—Aaron Rodgers—also needs to be seriously considered. Rodgers is the most expensive quarterback on DraftKings and the second-most expensive on FanDuel, but he’s worth the extra cash. He’s traveling to Detroit to take on the Lions, who have given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. Rodgers threw four touchdowns against them back in Week 3.
If you are looking to save some money, Blake Bortles is an interesting option on DraftKings, priced at $5,600. Bortles is perhaps the most tilting quarterback you can own in fantasy, but he does have a tasty matchup against a Colts defense that has surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and has given up two-plus passing scores in 10 games this year.
On FanDuel, Russell Wilson is again a great, cheap option. He costs only $7,600—the same as Bortles—and is playing against the miserable San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers actually have a decent defensive ranking in terms of total passing yards surrendered, but that’s only because teams don’t have to pass on them very often in the second half of games. The 49ers have given up the (tied for) third-most passing touchdowns this year. And as Wilson has proven throughout his career, he doesn’t need many completions to do damage. He has averaged over 21.5 FanDuel points per game over the past eight games, and hasn’t completed over 30 passes in any game in that span.
Le’Veon Bell has the dream matchup against the Cleveland Browns, but he’s a wildly expensive $10,400 on DraftKings, and $10,000 on FanDuel. Normally, I’d say he’s worth it, but the Steelers are locked into the No. 3 seed, and it would surprise me if they played Bell much—if at all—especially after he suffered a late-season injury last year and missed the first round of the playoffs. That’s a bit too much risk for such an expensive player.
I do love Devonta Freeman this week at $8,000 on FanDuel and $7,000 on DraftKings. The Falcons have a home game against the Saints in Week 17, and a first-round bye on the line. The Saints have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year, and the second-most rushing touchdowns (18). Freeman has scored eight rushing touchdowns in his past four home games. You do the math.
Latavius Murray has been a hit-or-miss player this year, but he could hit this week against the Denver Broncos, a team he shredded for 114 yards and three touchdowns in Week 9. With Derek Carr out, the Raiders should lean on the run even more this week, and even though Murray is not a workhorse, he does still get between 15-20 touches per game. I’m not 100 percent sold on Murray yet—his potential touchdown equity with Carr out does concern me a bit, so consider this a fluid thought early in the week—but I’m definitely intrigued.
Alex Collins is an obvious name to monitor this week. He tallied 10 touches in Week 14 and another 11 in Week 16, and he could be in line for 20-plus touches in Week 17 if Thomas Rawls sits. Considering that Collins and the Seahawks will take on the San Francisco 49ers—who rank last in fantasy points given up to running backs by a mile—a projected 20-plus touches would make Collins the best value play of the week.
The Panthers were one of the worst teams in the league at covering wideouts earlier in the year, but they have really turned it on over the past two weeks to become one of the better teams. Over the second half of the season (since Week 9), the Panthers have given up just four receiving touchdowns to wideouts. That makes it difficult for me to trust Mike Evans, even though at first glance, it looks like a can’t-miss matchup. I won’t be completely fading Evans, but I might be underweight compared to the field.
I’m definitely interested in pairing Rodgers with Jordy Nelson, especially if Darius Slay misses time again. Dez Bryant roasted the Slay-less Lions in Week 16, and there’s little doubt Nelson would make quick work of them as well. Over the past nine games, Nelson’s average stat line is 7-97-1.
Speaking of Dez Bryant, the Cowboys seems perfectly content with playing their core starters in these meaningless final weeks, and he has another juicy matchup on tap against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have given up the third-most fantasy points to receivers this year. He should see a lot of Nolan Carroll, who grades 103rd out of 120 qualifying corners this season. Bryant costs only $6,200 on DraftKings, and has been largely overlooked all year long.
Play Tyreek Hill at your own risk. He’s still flirting with a PFF-era record in terms of scoring efficiency—he is scoring a ridiculous 0.73 fantasy points per opportunity—but the opportunities have become difficult to project. He has no receptions on eight targets over the past two weeks, but he does have 68-yard and 70-yard rushing touchdowns to his name in that span. Obviously, any time he touches the ball, he can go the distance, but with just seven touches over the past two weeks—all of them rushing attempts—he’s hard to trust.
Travis Kelce has been getting a lot of love for his big season, but I still feel like the second half of his season has been underserved. He has six 100-yard games in his last nine outings, and he now sits at 1,117 yards on the year. If he goes for 100 again, he will have put together the best receiving season (in terms of yards) by a tight end since Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham ripped off 1,300-yard seasons in 2011. I see no reason why Kelce can’t keep rolling in Week 17 against the Chargers, a middle-of-the-pack team against tight ends that Kelce had success against in Week 1 (six catches for 74 yards on seven targets). Kelce is still just the third-most expensive tight end on DraftKings, at $5,000, and on FanDuel, at $6,800.
If I’m playing Russell Wilson, I’m happy to stack him with Doug Baldwin or Jimmy Graham. The 49ers have given up a passing score to tight ends in two straight games, and in three of their past five. Graham is tied for third among tight ends with six receiving scores. I think Graham is more of a GPP play this week, though, since his targets haven’t been where you’d want them to be for a cash play. After seeing nine targets in Week 13, Graham has just nine targets over the past three weeks combined.
Charles Clay predictably hit last week, and he could be in for another strong outing in Week 17 against the New York Jets, who have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends this year, including an embarrassing seven touchdowns to tight ends in their past four games. Over the past three weeks, Clay ranks fourth among tight ends in targets (22), tied for second in receptions (18), fifth in yards (209) and first in touchdowns (four). He is the top fantasy tight end in that span—in both PPR and standard formats.