Week 17 in the NFL season can be frustrating for season-long fantasy
owners as playoff-bound teams tend to sit starters for rest and
fear of injury. For this reason, most leagues tend to finish the
fantasy playoffs in Week 16, when most teams are still vying for
a playoff spot with star players playing their usual snap counts.
The late season resting of players that drives most fantasy players
nuts can actually be a blessing for DFS owners looking for value
plays on their tickets, as second string running backs and wide
receivers with cheap salaries can be a nice addition to a daily
Take for example Darren McFadden, who will likely see the majority
of carries for the Cowboys with Ezekiel Elliott resting for most
of the game. Although the former Arkansas Razorback will have
Mark Sanchez behind center and some of the starting offensive
linemen in the vaunted Dallas line may sit, he is still an excellent
value at his current salary of $4,300.
Just like McFadden, Williams will have a backup quarterback running
the offense with second and third string skill position players.
But in a game where touches are key and a matchup at home against
the No. 31 ranked Cleveland run defense, Williams is a very enticing
play at his backup salary of $5,500.
Those are just a few plays that I am targeting based on NFL teams
resting starters this week. Here are a few other picks that may
help you bring home some cash on DraftKings.
NFC North on the line: Aaron Rodgers threw
four touchdowns the last time he faced Detroit.
The theme this week with all DFS options is motivation, and will
they play the entire game. In the case of Aaron Rodgers on the
road against Detroit, the Packers have everything to play for
in the battle for the north crown, and Mr. Olivia Munn will torch
the Lions secondary that allowed three easy passing touchdowns
to Dak Prescott Week 16.
I understand the hesitation of some owners paying for the most
expensive quarterback, especially one who managed only 11 points
two weeks ago on the road against Chicago. But in a game where
locking up a quarterback with a high floor is key, Rodgers playing
for the season against Detroit in a dome is about as sure of a
thing as you can get. Pay the premium and try to make up some
of the cost with low-priced running backs like McFadden and Williams.
Stafford hasn’t topped 20 fantasy points since he injured his
middle finger against the Saints. While some might attribute his
struggles to the finger injury, I would venture to say his lack
of production can be attributed to tough matchups and the absence
of Theo Riddick in the passing game.
Although Riddick did not practice on Thursday and may miss Sunday’s
game against Green Bay, a home game against a Packers secondary
that has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points against opposing
wide receivers makes me like Stafford this week.
Heck, if Adam Theilen and Sam Bradford can light up the Packers
at Lambeau Field to the tune of 200 yards and two scores, I like
Stafford’s chances to have a big game at home with Golden Tate
leading the way.
After a strong start to the season with three 20-plus performances
in his first five games, Philip has been mediocre at best down
the stretch, even in advantageous matchups like Atlanta on the
road and Oakland at home.
Injuries to his wide receiving corps and a surprisingly high
number of interceptions and fumbles have limited Rivers’
fantasy value this season.
Conversely, the Chiefs defense has been spectacular down the
stretch, limiting opposing quarterbacks to single digits fantasy
points in the last three weeks, while not allowing a single passing
touchdown since Week 13.
A win over the Saints secures the number two spot in the playoffs
for the Falcons and the much-coveted first round bye, while the
Saints have only pride on the line and a chance to play spoiler
against a division foe.
The two teams combined for 77 points when they faced off in Week
3, with Freeman posting 200 total yards and a score.
New Orleans has been the whipping boy for Freeman since he was
drafted in 2014. He scored a touchdown in four of the five games
he has played against the Saints, including a two-touchdown, 160-yard
game Week 5 of 2015.
The main fear with Freeman is the possibility that Tevin Coleman
will have a big game on the ground. But if you believe in the
narrative that the two backs take turns with having big games,
it is Freeman’s turn after Coleman’s 135-yard, one score performance
Thomas Rawls is back at practice and is on track to start Week
17 against the 49ers, but his bruised shoulder and the likelihood
of Russell Wilson and the passing game blowing out San Francisco
leads me to believe he will not be used heavily.
Enter Alex Collins, a rookie running back from the University
of Arkansas who looked impressive last week against Arizona when
Rawls left with an injury.
I have written ad nauseam about the futility of the Niners run
defense, so I will spare you any further explanation on why playing
running backs against San Fran is a good idea.
Collins could be a home run hitting running back that could bring
fantasy gold for DFS players as we close out the regular season.
In a game of two eliminated teams with nothing to play for accept
pride and contract bonuses, Howard on the road against the Vikings
is a play that I am avoiding this week on my tickets.
Howard has been spectacular this season, a likely rookie of the
year candidate in any other season without Dak and Zeke stealing
the show. But the Vikings have allowed the 25th fewest points
to opposing running backs over the past five weeks, and I anticipate
that Mike Zimmer will have the defense fired up to stop the Bears
in front of the home crowd.
H2H/Cash - Doug Baldwin @ San Francisco ($7,000
Tyler Lockett’s gruesome leg injury last Sunday against Arizona
opened the door for Baldwin to see the majority of carries as
the Seahawks mounted a comeback against the Cardinals.
With Lockett out until 2017 and the Seahawks in need of a win
and a Falcons loss to move up to the second seed in the playoffs,
I suspect that Baldwin will receive double digit targets against
the 25th ranked 49er pass defense.
Other options to consider - Golden
Tate vs. Green Bay & T.Y. Hilton vs. Jacksonville
Travis Kelce has clearly been the best tight end in football
over the second half of the season, reaching 100 yards in five
of his last six games, including last week’s 11/160/1 monster
game in a victory over Denver.
For some reason the salary makers at DraftKings have yet to adjust
his salary accordingly, making Kelce a decent value play even
Kelce had six catches for 74 yards when the Chiefs hosted the
Chargers at Arrowhead Week 1, which was well before Andy Reid
and the coaching staff made Kelce the focal point of the offense.
Look for a big return with a nice floor from Kelce in an important
Week 17 game against the Chargers with significant playoff seeding
implications in play.
GPP - Eric
Ebron vs. Green Bay ($3,600 on DraftKings)
My best friend (a diehard Lions fan) and I got a full-bellied
chuckle when ESPN’s Sean McDonough said “a surprising
drop from the usually sure-handed Ebron.” Eric Ebron is
many things, including big and fast, but sure-handed is certainly
not something I think of when I think of the former first round
pick from North Carolina.
With that said, I will target him this week on my GPP tickets
due to his matchup against the Packers and the fact that Anquan
Boldin may be limited with a hand injury.
Ebron caught eight of his 12 targets for 93 yards in last week’s
loss to Dallas. Look for him to give similar numbers and a possible
score this week against Green Bay.
Witten is an iron man and will no doubt try to get on the field
this week against the Eagles. For fantasy purposes, I am avoiding
all Cowboys this week accept for Darren McFadden, as you simply
do not have enough information to make a logical prediction on
Defensive Play of the Week
Titans vs. Houston ($2,900 on DraftKings)
Eliminated from the playoffs and without their star young quarterback
who left with a broken leg last week, the Titans will no doubt
be motivated to beat their division foe in the final game of the