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Mike Krueger | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

DFS Lineup Review - Week 17

This was a news heavy week with player injuries and team motivation shaping the slate. Week 17 can be tricky in this regard but it can also give us degenerates an edge if you’re paying close attention. With so many players (Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, Davante Adams, Antonio Brown to name a few) sitting or likely to be limited, it made sense to condense our player pool to teams fighting for playoff berths and players with comfortable workload projections. This process led to fewer options at running back which made using a WR or TE in Flex a viable strategy.

Here’s a look at my cash game Lineup for Fanduel in Week 17.


With the Chiefs battling for the No.1 seed in the AFC and getting a home matchup against the lowly Raiders, Patrick Mahomes ($9500) was easily the top projected quarterback on the slate. The price was a little prohibitive for my taste but jamming in the Chiefs QB was certainly a good play given the question marks surrounding the other viable quarterbacks.

There were some rumblings that Ryan Griffin might get a series or two for the Bucs “if the situation presented itself” which likely soured some folks on Jameis Winston ($7600). But, the likelihood of the Bucs blowing out the Falcons or vice/versa and Griffin seeing time was slim in my estimation given the weakness of both defenses. Plus, if the Bucs happened to be sitting pretty with a huge lead in the fourth quarter, it was likely because Winston had a great game and not because Tampa had suddenly found a great deal of success running the ball. So, considering I had Winston as my No.2 ranked quarterback for the week and he was $1900 cheaper than Mahomes, the choice was relatively easy for me. This was a key decision as the savings allowed to fill out my roster with an additional stud at WR and gave me some leverage on the field.

In the same range, I also considered Josh Allen ($7700) in a juicy matchup at home against the Bills who Allen had just torched back in Week 13 when he finished as the No.2 fantasy QB for the week. I also gave some slight thought to Ben Roethlisberger ($8700) in a must-win game against a beat up Bengals defense but in reality I was never going outside the Mahomes/Winston/Allen trio at quarterback.

Running Back

The craziness of Week 17 really caused some havoc at the running back position. A number of our typical high-priced studs were either inactive or facing a light workload. These scenarios eliminated Todd Gurley, Christian McCaffrey ($9400), Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott from consideration. That left Saquon Barkley ($8500) to soak up a lot of ownership (60.9 %) as the lone three-down back with the most upside on the slate. Barkley also had a higher touch projection than Melvin Gordon ($8100) who was going to cede some snaps to a returning Austin Ekeler ($5800).

Finding other comfortable cash game plays at running back was a little challenging. Sony Michel ($7200) was in a good spot, at home facing the Jets in a game where the Patriots were favored by 13.5 points. Jamaal Williams ($6800) was also intriguing given he was likely to see most if not all of the offensive snaps against a middling Lions defense. However, the given the strength of the Lions defense is up the middle and with Davante Adams ruled inactive on Sunday morning, I removed Williams from consideration on fears that the Packers offense might struggle to move the ball on a consistent basis.

This mid-6K range at running back became interesting as Damien Williams ($6900) become a thing once Spencer Ware was ruled in active midway through the early games. I chose to stick with my original plan and roll with C.J. Anderson ($6200) who I liked slightly more than Michel and Chris Carson ($6400) and who I favored over Williams once Adams was ruled out. All of these 6K options carried some risk, but Anderson seemed to have biggest guaranteed workload with just as much TD expectation as Michel, Carson, and Williams or any of the cheap-o running backs expected to see increased run like Rod Smith ($4500), Royce Freeman ($4700) or Dwayne Washington ($4500).

Wide Receiver

The key to my receiver group this week was Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($5000) as a salary saver. When Adams and Equanimeous St. Brown were announced inactive on Sunday morning, the projected workload and targets for MVS combined with his salary couldn’t be ignored. Plugging him into my lineup allowed me to fit in Julio Jones ($8600) who was my No.1 ranked wide receiver on the week along with JuJu Smith-Schuster ($7900) was going to be the No.1 receiver for the Steelers with Antonio Brown on the sidelines. Many folks opted to take the $800 savings and play Tyreek Hill (7800) but I preferred the game environment and matchup for Julio. Tyreek was 29.8 percent owned with Julio and his higher salary coming in at 8.3 percent. Julio (24.3) and Tyreek (26.1) were basically a wash.

Chris Godwin ($5100) posted a 6-56-1 line against the Falcons back in Week 6 with DeSean Jackson active. We obviously ran hot with Godwin torching the Falcons with a 6-114-2 line in Week 17 but with DeSean Jackson sidelined once again, Godwin was a lineup building block in a matchup against a Falcons defense that’s given up the 6th most fantasy points to wide receivers.

Tight End

Travis Kelce ($7700) was an early-week lock for me. The matchup against the Raiders who had given up the 4th most fantasy points to the position along with having the salary to pay up at the position made Kelce an easy choice. George Kittle ($6700) was also a great narrative driven play given the 49ers didn’t have anything to play for expecting getting Kittle the single-season yardage record for the position. Throw in the fact that Marqise Goodwin was ruled inactive leaving Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor as starting wideouts, it was no surprise the 49ers went Kittle heavy in the second half to get him the record. Kelce and Kittle garnered the most ownership at the position with Kelce coming in at 62.9 percent and Kittle at 22.1 percent.


With the safe RB pool dwindling as the week went on it became increasing clear that playing a wide receiver in the flex position was something to consider. I even messed around with some Kelce / Kittle lineups but ultimately settled on a group of four receivers I felt comfortable with. In the end, I preferred MVS as a salary saver over cheap running backs like Royce Freeman and Dwayne Washington and preferred the floor of Julio Jones over Tyreek Hill, with the idea that Kelce had the best matchup of all the Chiefs receivers against the Raiders.

With my roster construction in place, I moved JuJu Smith Schuster ($7900) to the flex position to give me some swapping options if needed. He was locked into my lineup on Tuesday and with Antonio Brown being ruled out on Sunday morning, I liked him even more. JuJu was easily the most owned wide receiver on the slate (79.1%) with the Steelers fighting for the playoffs at home against the Bengals.


There were a number of viable defenses to choose from this week with the Texans ($5000), Chargers ($4400), Patriots ($4100) and Bills ($3700) looking attractive from a matchup perspective. Once we learned Elliott would be sitting for the Cowboys I assumed the brain trust in Dallas might do a smart thing and rest some of their other key guys on offense like Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, etc. making the Giants ($3300) a seemingly good option at the cheap end. Dak played the whole game and the Cowboys scored 36 points giving the Giants-D a not-so-nice -4 on their scorecard for giving up more than 35 points. Jeez...


We have our tendencies in DFS and they serve us well, but there are always exceptions to the rules. While there was certainly a path to being profitable playing three running backs this week, I felt more comfortable with the wide receiver plays of Julio, JuJu and Godwin than taking too many gambles in the mid-range or low-end at running back. The strategy paid off and left me with a nice 12-5 regular season record in cash games this season.

On to Wildcard Weekend…