Daily Fantasy DraftKings Pickem Strategy Advice Week 17
Welcome to the craziness that is Week 17 in the NFL. There are teams that are locked into their playoff spots or have nothing to play for at all and could very well sit their starters. Even if some players don’t sit all together, they could be limited to a couple quarters at most. Be sure to check out all the information available on Twitter or by a simple Google search before locking in your lineups as this article is written mid-week. Let’s jump in and take a look at each Tier for the seven-game early slate on Sunday.
Ezekiel Elliott returned last week and rushed for 94 yards and picked up an additional 21 yards through the air but unfortunately, the Cowboys lost and were eliminated from the playoffs. This muddies the waters for Week 17 as it is unclear how much usage he will get and then add the tough matchup vs. the Eagles defense that ranks 4th in DVOA vs. the rush and 3rd in DraftKings points per game allowed to running backs.
DeAndre Hopkins received his second-lowest target share of the season(6) but still managed to make a ridiculous catch in the endzone to pick up 16.5 fantasy points. This week he gets an elite matchup vs. the Colts who have allowed the third-most passing yards per game(254.8) this season and rank 23rd in DK points per game allowed to wideouts. I am also less concerned with his usage as both teams have been out of the playoffs for some time now and it hasn’t stopped him at all.
The Patriots are locked into the playoffs and have wrapped up the division but still have one game left to lock down home-field advantage through the playoffs with a win so I am expecting another big game from Gronk. He has scored 15 or more DK points in four straight games with three of those performances exceeding 25 points and now faces a horrendous Jets defense that ranks 23rd in DVOA vs. the pass and 24th in DK points per game allowed to tight ends. He could be the highest owned player in this tier but also may have the biggest upside.
The Vikings have also locked up their division but have a big game on Sunday as the Rams, Saints, and Panthers are all breathing down their neck for that #2 seed and a first-round bye. Adam Thielen has been quiet over the last two weeks with just five catches for 54 yards but is having a big season overall with 1,215 yards and could be low owned this week considering he is facing a Bears team that has been pretty good against wideouts ranking 14th in DK points per game. Don’t overlook he and Case Keenum’s ability to produce big-time fantasy points as Thielen moves all over the field and can exploit matchups.
Top Targets in this Tier – Rob Gronkowski, Adam Thielen
Marvin Jones has not scored a touchdown or broke 100 yards since Thanksgiving vs. the Vikings and has seen some decline down the stretch as he has only been targeted 14 times over the last three games and tallied double-digit fantasy points just once. Despite neither team in this game having anything to play for, Jones does get a nice matchup vs. the Packers defense that has allowed the 11th most passing yards per game(232.3) and ranks 25th in DK points per game to wideouts.
It’s a similar situation for T.Y. Hilton as the Colts and Texans have been eliminated and on to next season. Hilton did breakout in a tough matchup last week vs. the Ravens catching six of his 12 targets for his first 100-yard game since week 9 against none other than these Houston Texans who rank 28th in DK points per game allowed to wideouts. Look for Hilton to finish the year off strong.
Speaking of the Texans, it was JuJu Smith Schuster getting to them late on Christmas day as he caught six of his seven targets for 75 yards and a touchdown. With Antonio Brown still sidelined with an injury both Martavis Bryant and Smith-Schuster should continue to see high usage in the Steelers defense. The other thing he has going is that the Steelers can still grab a first-round bye with a win and a New England loss. This week they get a winless Browns team that sits mid-pack in passing yards per game allowed (230.7) but rank 29th overall when looking at DVOA vs. the pass. Fire up JuJu with confidence this week.
Another safe play in this tier is Dion Lewis at the running back position. With James White and Rex Burkhead both out last week, Lewis saw the bulk of the action out of the backfield and crushed for fantasy rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown 35.3 fantasy points. Burkhead for sure won’t be back this week and White is still questionable early in the week meaning Lewis could once again be the feature back for the Pats who are huge 15.5 point favorites. The Jets have been pretty good against the run ranking 12th in DVOA and 15th in DK points per game allowed to running backs but the game script in fully in Lewis’s favor here and he should once again see 20+ carries which presents a high floor and ceiling.
Top Targets in this Tier – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Dion Lewis
Tom Brady has been a big disappointment for fantasy lately and a lot of it can be attributed to the run game that has averaged 121.5 yards per game over their last four games. In those four games, Brady has not topped 17 fantasy points once and may not again this week as the Patriots are currently huge 15.5 point home favorites vs. the Jets and will likely lean on Dion Lewis once again.
Kirk Cousins is coming off his best game in over a month throwing for 299 yards and three touchdowns against the Broncos and has topped 15 fantasy points in three of his last four weeks. He has also thrown for multiple touchdowns in five of his last six games. The running game in Washington has been hit hard with injuries which should once again force Cousins to throw it up 30+ times and he gets an elite matchup to do it against the Giants who rank 31st overall in DK points per game to quarterbacks.
Even without Antonio Brown, Big Ben threw two touchdowns on Christmas day making it seven straight games with multiple touchdown passes. Like I mentioned earlier, the Steelers are still playing for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs but without Brown again this week and an elite running back in the backfield(Le’Veon Bell), we shouldn’t expect high volume from the passing game which will limit Big Ben’s upside.
Matthew Stafford hasn’t flashed much upside since having his throwing hand stepped on earlier in December against the Ravens. He has hit double-digit fantasy points in every single game this season but has only hit the 20-point threshold once in his last five games. There has been no word nor is it expected that the Lions will rest their starters against the Packers and that is good news as the matchup is favorable as the Packers rank 25thin DK points per game allowed to quarterbacks. Back in Week 9, Stafford completed 26 of 33 passes for 361 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Packers.
The Eagles snuck out a win on Christmas vs. a weak Raiders defense but it was almost all credited to the defense as Foles came back to Earth after a four-touchdown performance the week before. He completed just 50% of his passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. With the win, the Eagles locked up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs so it is unclear how much run they will give Foles in a division game vs. the Cowboys. If word comes out that they will let him play the entire game to prepare for the playoffs, fire him up as the Cowboys rank 21st in DK points per game allowed to QB’s and Foles has a ton of weapons to help him hit value(Ertz, Jeffery, Agholor, Ajayi).
Top Targets in this Tier – Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford
The fourth tier is a very interesting one considering four of the five quarterbacks have nothing to play for as their teams have been eliminated from playoff contention. Only the Vikings and Case Keenum have something to play for as they look to lock up the #2 seed and a first-round bye. As of Wednesday, the four other quarterbacks are slated to start for their respective teams but Eli Manning seems to have the biggest question mark as to how much playing time he will see.
Dak Prescott gets a tough matchup on paper vs. the Eagles who rank 6th in DVOA vs. the pass and 12th in DK points per game allowed to the position. With the Eagles having already locked up the #1 seed there is a chance they could rest some starters in the second half which would open up Prescott’s upside if he was to play the entire game.
Brett Hundley will get the start and likely play the entire game but the knock on him this week is that two of his top receiving options are dealing with injuries. Devante Adams remains in the league’s concussion protocol while Jordy Nelson was injured in Saturday night’s game and has yet to practice this week. The matchup is also not high on the list as the Lions rank 16th in DVOA vs. the pass and 14th in DK points per game allowed to quarterbacks. Proceed with caution.
Jacoby Brissett easily gets the best matchup in the tier facing a Texans defense that ranks 24th in DVOA vs. the pass and dead last in DK points per game allowed to quarterbacks. The issue with him is that the upside really hasn’t been there as he has just three touchdowns over his last four games while averaging 11.9 DK points per game. If you are planning on using Brissett in this tier, be sure to pair him with his top target, T.Y. Hilton, in Tier 2.
Top Target in this Tier – Case Keenum, Jacoby Brissett
Tier 5, which consists of five wide receivers, start with Stefon Diggs who has not only scored in back to back games but has also been much better at home this season. He is averaging just over 85 yards per game(44 on the road) and has scored five touchdowns(2 on the road) while averaging 20.9 DK points per game(9.9 on the road). The matchup is not the greatest against the Bears who rank 14th in DVOA vs. the pass but the good news is that Diggs has also seen an uptick in targets over his last four games with 7.3 per game compared to his 5.9 season average.
As a mirror opposite, Brandin Cooks gets a great matchup this week against the Jets who rank 23rd in DVOA vs. the pass and 19th in DK points per game allowed to wideouts. The issue here is that he has trended down with his targets lately with an average of 5.5 over the last four games and the game script will most definitely not be in his favor as the Pats are huge 15.5 point favorites.
After scoring in back to back games, Alshon Jeffery recorded his worst game of the season catching zero balls on just two targets against the Raiders. He and Nick Foles have not shown the same chemistry as he and Carson Wentz did for most of the season. The Eagles have also locked up the #1 seed and although he will start the game, it is unclear how many snaps he and the rest of the starters will see against the Cowboys. Best to fade Jeffery here.
Jamison Crowder played with a hamstring injury last week and seen just 45% of the snaps but came through catching all four of his targets for 47 yards and a touchdown. He has been the most targeted player on the Redskins this season(6.8 per game) and with an extra week to get back to full health should be able to exploit an excellent matchup vs. the Giants who rank 24th in DVOA vs. the pass and 21st in DK points per game allowed to wideouts.
Martavis Bryant also gets an upside matchup in Week 17 against a Browns team that ranks 29th in DVOA vs. the pass. He should also see some added target share this week with Antonio Brown still sidelined with an injury while the Steelers are still fighting with the Patriots for the #1 seed in the AFC. This is one tier that I will be splitting a few a players in multi-lineup contests.
Top Targets in this Tier – Jamison Crowder, Stefon Diggs, Martavis Bryant
Zach Ertz has been the most reliable option in this tier averaging 7.2 targets and 15.5 DK points per game but will be hard to trust this week as the Eagles have wrapped up the #1 seed and it’s unclear how much the starters will play this week. The same sentiment holds true for Ertz’ teammate Nelson Agholor who could also see limited snaps. Another big question mark in this tier is the status of Sterling Shepard as he was not present at practice on Thursday and with the Giants having nothing to play for, it is unlikely he sees the field and if he does it will likely be limited snaps.
I talked about the Lions matchup this week with Marvin Jones and the same holds true for Golden Tate who has seen steady targets all season(7.5 per game) and sits with 899 yards and four touchdowns. I do prefer Jones slightly as he gets the better matchup vs. Damarious Randall while Tate, in the slot, will see quite a bit of Morgan Burnett who is rated quite a bit higher than Randall over at PFF. Both are definitely in play if Stafford is going to be playing the entire game.
Like I have mentioned, the Eagles will likely sit most of their starters, at least in the second half which presents an excellent matchup for the Cowboys this week and Vegas agrees as they have Dallas sitting as road favorites. Dak Prescott even mentioned he will be damned to finish the season after last week’s performance so I fully expect the offense to play the entire game and try and end 2017 on a high note. Roll out Dez with confidence.
Josh Gordon has continued to trend down since his return and posted his worst game of the season(4 games) last week in Chicago with just two catches on eight targets for 19 yards. He is getting the targets(9 per game) but gets an even tougher matchup this week facing a Steelers team that ranks 7th in DVOA vs. the pass and DK points per game allowed to wideouts. More bad news as the Steelers also have the #1 seed to play for so you can expect a strong performance against their division rivals.
With Aaron Jones not practicing this week and doubtful to play in Sunday’s finale, it opens up the workload for Jamaal Williams once again making him a nice target this week. He has flashed big upside since taking over as the Packers top back mid-season and posted one 100+ yard game and scored in three straight games from Week 12-14. He will likely see 20+ touches this week in a terrific matchup vs. the Lions who rank 28th in DVOA vs. the rush and 31st in DK points per game allowed to running backs.
Top Targets in this Tier – Golden Tate, Dez Bryant, Jamaal Williams
Jordan Howard has been a boom or bust play all season. He has flashed big upside as he has rushed for 100 or more yards five times and scored multiple touchdowns three times but also scored 10 or fewer DK points seven times. I have a strong feeling that the latter will be the case in Week 17 as he gets a terrible matchup against a Vikings defense that has allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game(87.1) and fewest DK points per game to running backs. Probably best to fade him here. Robby Anderson is also on my fade list in this tier as he is not only questionable with an illness but has also done nothing since Josh McCown went down in Week 13. Lamar Miller has been a huge disappointment this season as he has not topped 75 yards once and comes in with three straight weeks without getting to 10 DK points and was out-touched and out-performed by Alfred Blue on Christmas day. Safe to say Miller is also a fade in Week 17.
After starting off the tier with three fades it doesn’t leave many options but there is some value with the Vikings players this week as they have the #2 seed in the NFC to play for and the starters will likely play the entire game unless it gets out of hand. The matchup for the running backs is a tough one as the Bears have allowed the ninth-fewest yards per game(105.5) and rank 9th in DK points per game allowed to the position. Because of this, I lean Jerick McKinnon who has been far and away the receiving back this season with 4.5 targets per game compared to Murray’s 1.1 per game. On the season, McKinnon has 51 receptions for 421 yards and a touchdown. As for Kyle Rudolph, he has been dealing with n ankle injury all December and was once again limited in practice this week. On top of that, he gets a tough matchup as the Bears rank 12th in DK points per game allowed to tight ends. For receiving options, I prefer Diggs and Thielen for the Vikings. SKOL!
I talked about Jacoby Brissett and T.Y. Hilton as a nice stack earlier and another option on the Colts this week is tight end, Jack Doyle. He is tied with Hilton for the team lead in targets(6.9) and gets a terrific matchup vs. the Texans who have allowed the seventh-most passing yards per game(246.3) and rank 26th in DK points per game to the tight end position.
Top Targets in this Tier – Jerick McKinnon, Jack Doyle
If Duke Johnson gets in a full practice this week after being limited Wednesday he makes an intriguing option as he has been a nice PPR back all season. He is fourth in receiving among running backs with 68 receptions for 618 yards and three touchdowns. Will Fuller cannot be trusted as he has fallen off a cliff since Deshaun Watson went down before Week 9. Bilal Powell is a nice option here in this tier as he is closing his season out on a high note with touchdowns in three of his last four games and coming off his second 100+ yard game last week vs. the Chargers.
The Colts may not have anything to play for in Week 17 but Frank Gore has a milestone to hit. Via Evan Silva on Twitter:
I fully expect the Colts to feed him the ball this week. Another option who is fully in play here is Randall Cobb of the Packers. With Jordy Nelson and Devante Adams very doubtful to play it will open up a ton of targets and Cobb could very well be the beneficiary giving him a high floor and ceiling vs. the Lions.
Top Targets in this Tier – Bilal Powell, Frank Gore, Randall Cobb
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions leading up to Sunday morning lineup lock, be sure to hit me up on Twitter(@Jager_Bombs9). Good luck everyone!