Week 17 is one of my most favorite weeks in the NFL DFS Season. You have so many different situations with Playoff Implications to consider that both Must Plays and Stay Aways go hand in hand. Plus the amount of value that opens up if you know the right places to look for it, is at a peak. I have been working on this article for two days for you because there is a LOT to talk about and 15 GAMES on the main DFS Slate. You’d think this was a MLB or NBA slate if you looked too fast. SO thus begins – Week 17 The DFS Opus of Articles….
I want to start with the AFC teams that have either confirmed or are likely to confirm that they will be resting players due to Week 17 having little to no impact on Playoff Standings.
The Kansas City Chiefs – Coach Andy Reid has said earlier this week he is planning on resting “some guys” on Sunday. This is because the Chiefs have locked up the #1 Seed in the AFC and the only first round bye available. The impact of Sunday’s game is irrelevant. Both Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill are already out and I would suspect Travis Kelce to be in that category as well, along with some of the Chiefs Defensive starters. While we may not know until 90 minutes or so before kickoff who exactly will be getting a rest, we do know that backup Chad Henne will be starting under center and the whole situation really makes me want to X any Chiefs out of my player pool. It does also make me much more interested in Chargers and the Chargers defense. Keenan Allen is OUT but Justin Herbert, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler – yep, I’ll buy.
The Buffalo Bills – While there has not been any official word coming out of Buffalo on the matter, I would suspect that there is a plan in place to give some of their key starters a lessened load on Sunday or even a day off. The reason is simple – the Bill’s have little to play for here as win or lose their standings in the playoffs will not alter. In fact it would take nearly every other team in the AFC playoffs to lose on Sunday for a Buffalo win to matter in any way. Cole Beasley has already been ruled out. So I would be very careful on going all in on Josh Allen or Stefan Diggs or even Zack Moss – unless we hear otherwise from the Bills. Miami however NEEDS to win to have a shot at getting into the playoffs so they are in the exact opposite situation from the Bills and in fact, Myles Gaskin is one of my favorite plays at Running Back because of it. This also is a chance to find some values in the Bills secondary receivers – Gabriel Davis, Isaiah McKenzie… Dawson Knox at Tight End – or if he is finally active, Tyler Kroft. I think these all of these guys will be in play on Sunday for some value in your lineups.
The Pittsburgh Steelers – Coach Mike Tomlin has already said that Big Ben will get a day off in Week 17. The Steelers clinched their division title in Week 16 and are therefore locked (just like the Bills) in their Playoff Seeding and winning or losing in Week 17 will not change anything for them. The question is will we see other starters also get either a day off or a lessened amount of snaps especially as the game goes on. There has been a lot of chatter that perhaps star defensive player TJ Watt may fall in that category. Couple that with Mason Rudolph having been announced as the Starting Quarterback and my interest in Steelers players in my lineups on Sunday is at a 0.00. The Browns however NEED to win this game to get into the playoffs, so I have some interest in Baker Mayfield especially now that he has all of his wide receivers back on the field with him – but in general I am kinda staying away from this game. We will talk about the Browns later as they need a lot of help and not just a win, to get in.
The next set of teams I also think should be top of mind as you look at this slate and the 15 games to choose from. These are the AFC and NFC Teams that NEED to win to get into the playoffs – nothing else, just the win.
Arizona Cardinals – This team is largely being overlooked on this slate and will be in a dog fight against the Rams Defense but they are the only remaining team in the NFC Wild Card Race that a WIN – JUST a win – no matter whatever any other team does, if the Cardinals Win they are in. So we are talking 4 Highly Likely 4 Quarters of Football here, unless Kyler and company find a way to blow out the Rams – which you probably will have wanted to roster Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins and Kenyan Drake for anyway. Christian Kirk is on the Covid-19 IR, so I think Larry Fitzgerald is also in play and to a lesser extent Andy Isabella as a deep threat. Don’t forget about Tight End Dan Arnold too who has become a bit of a security blanket for Kyler, lately. I have a lot of interest in Cardinals – especially in Cash Games. Plus with Cooper Kupp OUT and Jared Goff OUT and Cam Akers Questionable the Cardinals DST could be a sneaky value play.
The Washington Football Team – A win on Sunday Night clinches the NFC East crown no matter what the Giants or Cowboys do. So make sure you check out my Sunday Night Football DFS Article later in the weekend.
Now let’s talk about THE COLTS and why I think a Phillip Rivers, TY Hilton, Jonathan Taylor stack has upside and plus being a contrarian start to a lineup:
The Colts are in a unique scenario. They first NEED to Win at Jacksonville. Nothing happens if they do not win. But if they do win AND one of these teams LOSE: Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns – the Colts are in the AFC Playoffs. However specifically if the Titans lose, the Colts are the AFC South Champions. Now you could say, yes but there are other teams in similar scenarios – but the COLTS play at 4:25. They will very likely already know the results of the Ravens and Browns games which kick off at 1PM. If both the Ravens and Browns win, the Colts will need to be on their A Game ASAP. I also would not be surprised if they aren’t scoreboard watching the Tennessee game (also at 4:25) for AFC South Title dreams. To me the Colts primary weapons NEED to be in your player pool. I don’t mind taking a shot on Michael Pittman or Trey Burton as a fliers but Phillip Rivers, Jonathan Taylor and TY Hilton are my primary targets. Also the Colts DST is going very overlooked here against the Mike Glennon led Jaguars.
Next up are the “ORs”. These are the teams that clinch with a win OR a loss by another team. I will lay these out in the order of priority in my opinion. Some situations are not what they seem … and some “locks” may not really be the “locks” that you think they are.
The LA Rams: Believe it or not, the Rams don’t actually have to win on Sunday to advance to the NFC Wildcard. This is because if the Chicago Bears LOSE to the Green Bay Packers, the Rams are IN. The only issue with this is that that both the Rams/Cardinals and Packers/Bears games will be playing at the same time. So while I think there is a very popular thread going around of “If Cam Akers plays he is a lock” and even if he doesn’t Malcolm Brown should be (since Darrell Henderson is out), but I’m not sold on that. Or even with back up quarterback John Wolford (who has never taken snap of NFL football mind you), Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds, Tyler Higbee are priorities (Cooper Kupp is out) – again, I am just not ready to commit. There is a real chance that Coach McVay scoreboard watches in the game and if he sees the Packers go up BIG against the Bears (which could likely happen), I could easily see McVay starting to pull players – especially Akers, Woods and Key Defensive players who he will need healthy for the playoffs. So while I do not mind taking a shot on a lineup with Wolford and Reynolds or Higbee stacked as a contrarian play, I just don’t have a lot of interest in the Rams in general. I will say if Akers is out and it is Malcolm Brown, the volume he will see does make him viable too. Play at your own risk in other words.
The Chicago Bears – are in an identical scenario to the Rams. If they win they are in, but they are also in if the Cardinals lose to the Rams, the Bears are also in. With both of these games playing at the same time, again there is risk in playing Bears on the basis of playoff implications. BUT there is one reason why I prefer Bears players to Rams players on Sunday – the Bears are playing Aaron Rogers. If the Bears get any sort of lead on Aaron Rogers there is no way they are slowing down unless it is a HUGE one. Aaron Rogers can turn a game around and come from behind on anyone and so I see the Bears playing hard for 4 Quarters. I really have a lot of interest in David Montgomery who has literally been on fire all month and is in a must win against the 24th ranked run defense. Montgomery will be a chalky play, but there are a lot of ways you can get different in your lineup to off set. I think you need to take a look at Mitchell Trubisky and Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney. Plus both Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet are cheap and will go under owned on a slate that also has Mark Andrews, George Kittle, Darren Waller and oh yeah Travis Kelce on it. The Bears DST has a lot of missing pieces on it and a full game stack here is not out of the question. We will talk about Packers targets later. I kinda love the Bears here.
The Tennessee Titans – The Titans do need to win – if they win they get in BUT they can also get in if either Baltimore, Miami or Indianapolis loses. The thing is, when the Titans take the field at 4:25 they will already know the fate of the Ravens and Dolphins. If both of those teams win, you can expect the Titans to go all out against the Texans. But if the Bills beat the Dolphins or somehow Cincinnati upsets the Ravens… the only thing left to accomplish would be the AFC South Title which they would secure if Indy Loses and they win. Derek Henry should smash the texans and he will be the Chalk running back on Sunday because of it. The last time these two played he took 22 carries for 212 yards and 2 Touchdowns. He even had 52 yards receiving. How can you not like him in a must win scenario. I will have a lot of Henry and I will eat the Chalk. Ryan Tannehill, AJ Brown, Corey Davis, Jonuu Smith, Anthony Firsker … they all are in a great matchup and again in a must win. In that same week 6 game Brown went 5 for 58 and 2 Touchdowns. Firsker went off – 8 for 113 and 1 and that was with Jonuu on the field. I love Derek Henry in this spot but I do worry if the Titans are up big and Coach Vrabel knows that they are in the playoffs because of a Baltimore loss or Miami loss, if we will see 4 quarters out of Henry. Maybe 3 Quarters will be enough. It is why as much as I like Henry, I like Tannehill and his pass catchers just a smidge more. Corey Davis didn’t even play in that Week 6 game so now he gets a crack at a defense giving up a league WORST 426 yards per game. I like the stack of Tannehill and Brown or Davis as pivot from Henry – but I also like Henry a lot. Deshaun Watson will play in this game and I expect the chalk stack will be Watson – Henry – Brandin Cooks. I think Tannehill – Davis – Cooks will be a contrarian way to stack or Brown in place of Davis there. Don’t sleep on KeKe Coutee or Chad Hansen on the Texans side either. Or the Tight Ends Jordan Akins or Darren Fells too as cheap dart throws. In fact just by including either Coutee or Hansen in your Watson-Henry-Cooks stack will give you some leverage. I like the Titans on Sunday and I like this game to kinda go off so I also like the full game stack too … but keep in the back of your mind, Tennessee may have less to play for than you think when they take the field based on the results of the earlier games.
The Baltimore Ravens – Just play Lamar Jackson and don’t think about it. Pair him with the Ravens DST and Mark Andrews is my favorite pass catcher. The Ravens are in with a win OR a Cleveland or Indianapolis Loss. Lamar isn’t going to wait for the chance that the Colts lose and the Browns will be in a close game (most likely) against the Steelers. So expect the Ravens to pour on the offense. Even if he only plays 3 quarters, I think Lamar is a smash play here at QB and with no Mahomes on this slate, he is also the highest projected QB on the slate. Play all the Ravens you want. Outside of Lamar and Andrews, no one is seeing much ownership and with the Ravens DST pricey, they aren’t seeing much ownership either. To be honest, Lamar himself isn’t really the Chalk at QB either. Honestly I am starting to like a Lamar – Henry – Montgomery – WR? – WR? – Andrews – Ravens DST lineup a lot right now. I do think JK Dobbins is in play as well but I kinda like Gus Edwards more. If the expectation is the Ravens go up big here, Gus the Bus will be the grinder. No one is going to play Gus Edwards on a 15 Game slate and he makes for a cheap flex play with some upside. It’s not that I don’t like Hollywood Brown or Willie Snead in this matchup, I just like Andrews more in this matchup. I also don’t mind not stacking anyone with Lamar as with his legs alone he is likely to provide the fantasy points you need. I also don’t mind not running the stack back with a Bengal either. If you do want to, Tyler Boyd should play in this game and he would be my favorite to do so with. Just play Lamar and collect your winnings after. #Analysis
The Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins are in if they can win against the Bills. However they are also in if the Ravens OR the Browns OR the Colts, lose. Their opponent we have already discussed has clinched the AFC East and their playoff seating and have very little to play for in this game except maybe to try and keep the Dolphins out of the playoffs. So what are we going to see on Sunday? Well first Tua Tagovailoa will be under center. Ownership will be way down on Tua with the specter of Fitzmagic looming after last week – BUT many players may not know that Fitzpatrick is now on the Covid-19 IR. So barring injury, this should Tua’s show and that makes him a sneaky QB play. The Bills are the second WORST team in the league against Quarterbacks and are giving up nearly 360 total yards in offense on average. Plus, with little to play for, we don’t even know what defense the Bills will field on Sunday. DeVante Parker is questionable but he did practice on Friday and local beat writers have said he looked good. I’d be shocked if he didn’t play in a game of this magnitude. Jakeem Grant did play in Week 16 and is likely to play on Sunday, I could see his role increase with the Playoffs on the line. If either of those two aren’t playing you have hero of last week Mack Hollis, Lynn Bowden Jr, Isaiah Ford, Malcolm Perry – all of them cheap and with little to no ownership may be worth a look (My favorites out of that group would be Hollis and Ford btw). But the two Dolphins I have the most interest in are RB Myles Gaskin and Tight End Mike Gesicki. If there was any doubt Gaskin wasn’t the Dolphin’s “guy”, week 16 should have erased that and Gesicki is seeing targets at a near elite level for a TE in 2020. 6 or more over the last 3 games and averaging 60 yards over that span as well. Plus in Week 2 he took the Bills to school scoring 30 Fantasy Points with 8 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins on a whole are projecting at low ownership, so I think taking a piece or two from this offense could pay dividends. I also don’t mind taking a shot at the Miami DST either. We just don’t know how much of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs we will see (at least at the time of this writing) and again in a must win situation, the already excellent Miami Defense could step up even more.
The Dallas Cowboys AND The New York Giants – I am grouping these teams together because they are both in the same situation and playing each other. If Washington loses on Sunday night, the winner of this game will be NFC East Champion and advance. Which means of any game on Sunday, you have the best possible chances of the entire offenses playing all 4 quarters in this Cowboys Giants matchup. Since the winner’s fate will not be decided for hours after the conclusion neither team can afford to take their foot off the gas. So here are some notes that may interest you. First the Giants DST has only allowed 2 teams to go for 30 or more points against them all season. One of those 2 teams was the Cowboys, with Dak Prescott under center in Week 5. This happened to be the game Dak Prescott’s season came to an end and in relief Andy Dalton threw for 111 yards on 11 passes (ie; averaged a little over 10 yards per throw). Second the Cowboys DST carry a narrative that they have been playing “better recently” but in reality they have given up 30 or more points in 3 of their last 5 games and in that week 5 game, the Giants (with Daniel Jones under center) put 37 points on them and won. I am telling you this because I think this game has the potential to be a shootout with a lot of points scored and no one is really talking about it. Both defenses are giving up 250+ passing yards per game, so I think Andy Dalton and Daniel Jones make for contrarian plays at QB with upside. The Last time these two teams played CeeDee Lamb dropped 124 yards on the Giants with 6 Catches while Michael Gallup went 4 for 73. Amari Cooper was the lone ‘dud’ but perhaps that had a lot to do with James Bradbury on the other side of the ball. It’s hard not to go back to the well on Lamb who has really broken out over the last half of the season and I think Gallup also is in play. Whether it’s Cooper, Lamb or Gallup though – all of them are under $6,000 on Draft Kings and I think they all are viable. On the other side of the ball, Sterling Shepard wasn’t available in Week 5 but he should firmly be in play on Sunday in a must win. Darius Slayton however put on a show going 8 for 129. Golden Tate is Doubtful by the way, so I really also like Evan Engram here in a must win scenario and the same goes for Dalton Schultz of the Cowboys. Both Tight Ends should come in relatively low owned with bigger names on the slate. But I think the real heart of this game will be the running backs. Ezekiel Elliot will play in this game and while he has been bad for pretty much the entire season from a fantasy perspective, if there ever was a game where Zeke needs to show up for his team it is this one. I don’t mind taking a shot on Zeke and I think Tony Pollard is definitely in consideration for a Flex Play as he certainly has earned a share of touches even with Zeke on the field. On the other side of the ball, Wayne Gallman has disappointed lately but against the Cowboys defense that ranks last in the league for yards BEFORE contact, he should find room to run. I also think, believe it or not, Alfred Morris is worth a look as a cheap cheap low owned dart throw flex…. this game is seeing very low ownership across the board and with each team trying to be the one holding their breath for the Sunday Night results, I really do think it has a chance to be the sleeper game of the weekend.
The Cleveland Browns – the Browns are in a unique spot where a win isn’t enough and a win plus a loss by another team isn’t enough but it has to be a Win OR a Tennessee Loss PLUS a win by Baltimore, Indianapolis and Miami. That is a lot to take in for the Fabulous Baker Boys. The Browns and Steelers will play at the same time as the Ravens and the Dolphins … so I’d be shocked if the Browns aren’t scoreboard watching. That being said we know that the Steelers will be starting Mason Rudolph under center – so I think the Cleveland DST is in play. What we don’t know if there are any other starters who will be sitting or playing limited snaps – including any defensive starters. Against this Steelers team, I have faith that Big Game Baker Mayfield will show his face and with his wide receivers back I don’t mind at all a Mayfield – Jarvis Landry – Rashard Higgins stack. I also think you can mix in Tight End Austin Hooper who has seen an uptick in usage since returning from injury. I also like Kareem Hunt here as a pass catching option, but if the Steelers are going to rest any Defensive starters (Including TJ Watt) I think Nick Chubb is certainly in play with extremely low ownership. The only thing the Browns can control here is their own win, after that it will be prayer time that somehow the stars align. Speaking of the stars aligning, Donovan Peoples-Jones is also worth a Dart Throw flex look. He has been a down the field threat for Baker recently.
The last grouping I will talk about is the teams in the NFC that have Motivation to win. Despite having clinched their playoff berth, these teams have more to play for and I think it would be wise to consider the options.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I want to bring the Bucs up here because while they have already locked their seeding in for the playoffs, they kinda are also in a MUST WIN situation. You see if the Buccaneers win they will play the winner of the NFC East in the first round. That could be the Washington Football Team or the New York Giants or the Dallas Cowboys. I don’t think it takes a lot of thought to think that the Bucs would much prefer that matchup to potentially the Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks or most notably – the Saints. So I would expect Tom Brady to be ready to go and for me Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Gronk are all strong plays on Sunday against the Falcons. I also don’t mind Ronald Jones and to a lesser extent Leonard Fournette. Even with Brady taking the second half off last week, his first half performance and most notably Mike Evans’ and Rob Gronkowski’s performances led to some bit payouts in week 16. Could lightning strike twice? The Bucs certainly have a reason to play hard on Sunday.
The Green Bay Packers – The Packers are already the #1 Seed but they need a win against the Bears to claim a first round bye. Since this year only one team will claim a bye in each division, this is a very valuable asset to have entering into the playoffs. So Aaron Rogers and Devontae Adams stacks should the highest owned and highest projected stacks on the entire slate. In fact I think there will be a lot of Rogers – Montgomery – Adams stacks in the field on Sunday. For me though, I also think TE Robert Tonyon and he will be in my player pool. After breaking a Five Game touchdown streak, Rogers may be looking for him again in the end zone here. I don’t mind looking at a secondary receiver, be it Marquez Valdez-Scantling or Alan Lazard for leverage, but I don’t know if you will need to if you are stacking Rogers and Adams and including Tonyon and then running it back with a Bears receiver instead of David Montgomery,.. But make no mistake, I think it would be wise to have a good amount of Rogers and Adams on Sunday if you are multi-entering. The question mark for the Packers though is the running game. Aaron Jones is expected to start and play, but did AJ Dillon show enough last week to cut into Jones’ workload – especially if the Packers want to try and save Jones as much as possible for the Playoffs. Jamaal Williams will also work his way into the mix as well. I don’t mind taking a shot on Jones on a lineup or two, as I think he could be a great play, but I’m not as high on him as I am Rogers and Adams. If you are multi-entering, I don’t mind a shot on Dillon as a flex play if you are multi entering and to a lesser extent Williams.
There is one pause to the Green Bay Party however. The Packers also earn the First Round Bye if the Seahawks Lose. Both the Packers and Seahawks games are at 4:25 so if the Seahawks are losing in the 4th quarter there is a real chance the Packers will rest some players – Rogers, Adams and Jones most notably. So here’s to hoping the big numbers come early and often from the Green & Yellow.
The New Orleans Saints – The Saints have already clinched their division too but if they win AND the Packers lose AND the Seahawks win, then they will earn the First Round Bye. So Drew Brees and Company certainly have plenty to play for … but they will have to do it without Michael Thomas (IR) and now both Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray due to Covid-19 IR placements. So Who DAT starting at Running Back for the Saints? Enter journeyman Ty Montgomery as you first candidate. Montgomery has been an adept pass catcher in the past, so I could see him soaking up a lot of targets that would have gone to Kamara and he should see the lionshare of work. He is a cheap play as the sites haven’t caught his salary up with the news, so I do expect him to be popular – but I feel safe using him as a high upside Flex Play. The Saints have also called up Tony Jones from their practice squad who I would expect to see some snaps as a backup to Montgomery. Jones is not in the Draft Kings player pool but he is on Fan Duel for $4,500. Lastly and perhaps most notably, I think we will see a good amount of Taysom Hill on Sunday with designed run plays. The problem there is, both Draft Kings and Fan Duel now have Taysom Hill only QB Eligible and I cannot justify you starting Taysom Hill at QB, unless news breaks late that he and Brees will have a true Timeshare at the position. It doesn’t get any easier either with Wide Receiver. Tre’Quon Smith is also now on IR. Which means Emmanuel Sanders needs to be in your player pool. The Panthers are giving up nearly 260 yards through the air and I can’t see Brees not looking Sanders way early and often here. Over the last two weeks Sanders has taken 5 targets for 76 and 83 yards respectively and he is also due for a Touchdown having last caught one from Taysom Hill during Brees’ absence. I also think you need to look at Tight End Jared Cook. The Panthers rank 26th in the league against Tight Ends and last week Cook 3 Catches for 83 yards. Cook is also due a score, since his last came on the arms of Taysom Hill. You can get cute with WR names like Marquez Callaway, Juwan Johnson or Austin Carr but last week with both Smith and Thomas off the field only Callaway saw enough targets to have a fantasy impact. All of them are cheap and will carry no ownership, if you pick the correct dart throw here – more power to you. I do have to wonder though if we may see the former Packer, Jake Kumerow get back on the field and a decent amount of snaps. The Saints claimed him off Waivers on Christmas Day so he wasn’t eligible for week 16 – but he will be for week 17. Aaron Rogers was high on Kumerow as a Packer and in his first game as a Saint (week 15) he did catch a touchdown pass. Of the 4 Wide Receivers I just mentioned, I have the most interest in Kumerow on Sunday.
The Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks are in the playoffs but if both the Packers and the Saints LOSE, they will earn the #1 Seed and First Round Bye. All they have to do is beat the 49ers who earlier this season Russell Wilson threw for 261 and 4 Touchdowns against and ran for 23 yards. However anyone with a pair of eyes can tell you, Russell Wilson hasn’t looked or played the same as he was earlier this season over the last month. BUT we do have DK Metcalf to lean on. In that game against Seattle, Metcalf accounted for 161 of Wilson’s 261 yards as well as 2 of the 4 Touchdowns. I will have no issue playing Metcalf as a one off on Sunday. Ownership should be a little down on Metcalf too as I think the Seahawks are going a little overlooked since what they are playing for seems a out of reach, at least on paper. Then we have the curious case of Tyler Lockett who since week 7 when he had 200 yards and 3 Touchdowns has had 67 yards or fewer in his last 9 games also only 1 touchdown in that same span. Ownership on Lockett is in the basement and frankly, that is really why I don’t mind taking a shot on him here. Isn’t it just like a Must Win situation to bring out the best in us after all? Tight End Jacob Hollister is also riding a two game Touchdown streak and I think you can also take a shot there – he is cheap and no one is going to play Hollister over the other bigger names on the slate at that position. I also like Chris Carson. Carson has seen 15 and 16 touches since returning from injury but with Carlos Hyde out, I could see that number rise to potentially 20 touches. He also has seen 3 targets in each of his last two games and again with Hyde out, he could be more involved in the passing game. I also think the Seahawks DST is as sneaky cheap play that could go overlooked. C.J. Beathard will be under center for the 49ers and with both Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk out – it will be George Kittle and … Richie James? Kendrick Bourne? Oh my. If you are making a Seahawks stack with Wilson and Metcalf for instance, I think a run back from the 49ers that can give you some leverage off off Kittle (who will be a very popular play) is Jeff Wilson. With Raheem Mostert ruled out in Week 16, Wilson had 22 carries plus a nice catch and run for 20 yards and the Seahawks run defense doesn’t scare me too much to take a shot on near guaranteed workload.
Alright you have now gotten my picks for every team with something to play for this weekend. However there are teams playing that have nothing to play for except pride. Some of those teams have plays on them that I think you should target. Some of them don’t. If it burns me, it burns me but I won’t have a Patriot, Panther, Jaguar or Bengal in any of my lineups or in my player pool for Multi Entry. The teams in this “playing for pride only” category that I will be targeting are:
New York Jets
Las Vegas Raiders
San Francisco 49ers
So going position by position – here is who I like, who I haven’t already mentioned above, from this group of teams with only pride on the line:
Matt Ryan vs Tampa Bay – 2 weeks ago Ryan put up 356 yards and 3 TDs against this defense. With potentially his job on the line going into next season, he will want to put on a show.
Kirk Cousins vs The Lions – Dalvin Cook will not play Sunday and Cousins threw 3 TDs against Detroit already once this season.
Mathew Stafford (if he plays) vs The Vikings – coming off of one of the worst statistical games of his career in Week 16, Stafford now gets a Vikings team giving up nearly 270 yards of passing offense per game.
Justin Herbert vs The Chiefs – there is a real chance that it isn’t just Chief’s Offensive starters that will get a rest on Sunday and Herbert will want to cap his stellar rookie season off with a strong performance, cementing his spot under center for 2021.
Derek Carr vs The Broncos – I am mainly interested in Carr as a stack with Darren Waller and or Nelson Agholor as I don’t think many will be rostering a stack like that and I like the potential against a Broncos team ranked 22nd against QBs and giving up nearly 250 yards through the air.
Melvin Gordon – Philip Lindsey is out and he plays the 27th worst Defense against Running Backs
Ty Johnson – Jets Running Back? Frank Gore and La’Michel Perine are out and he catches passes too!
Alexander Mattison – will draw the start against the leagues second worst run defense, allowing nearly 140 yards on the ground on average. In week 9 Dalvin Cook had 252 total yards and two touchdowns against this team. If Mattison can do half that, I’ll be ecstatic.
Deandre Swift – with Stafford starting I like Swift’s potential for targets here and the Vikings are nearly as bad as the Lions, ranked 26th in the league against running backs and giving up nearly 140 yards on the ground per game.
Austin Ekeler – with Keenan Allen officially out, Ekeler could be in for an even deeper workload and against a Chiefs defense ranked 20th against running backs, you could do worse than a low owned Ekeler in your lineup.
Josh Jacobs – I haven’t liked the time share with Deandre Booker and Jaylen Richard recently, but with nothing to play for except pride – I think Jon Gruden leans on his work horse to show Raiders nation there are better days ahead. For what it’s worth, Jacobs ran for 112 yards and 2 scores against the Broncos in Week 10 and you may not find him at any lower ownership than you will this week.
David Johnson – coming off his best performance as a Texan in Week 16, Johnson should be a prime position to stay hot. The Titans are just behind the Lions at 28th in the league against running backs allowing 120+ yards on the ground. Johnson also scored a touchdown against them in Week 6.
Justin Jefferson – only 50 or so yards from breaking Randy Moss’s single season rookie receiving record and hard pressed not to think he will break it with 4 of his last 6 games totaling 85 yards or more. Especially with Cook out, Cousins may be given the green light to let it fly in Week 17.
Adam Thielen – the thunder to Jefferson’s lightning, Adam Thielen has also had a spectacular 2020 with 14 Touchdown catches. Hard not to think he doesn’t make it 16 against a Lions team ranked 31st against Wide Receivers and giving up nearly 290 yards through the air per game. You may not catch Thielen at this low ownership again, by the way.
Calvin Ridley – Ridley has just gone bananas over the last 4 weeks, smashing the 100 yard mark in each of those games and scoring 2 touchdowns along the way. In Week 15 he went 10 for 163 and 1 against the Bucs. Fly Falcon Fly. He will be a popular play, for good reason.
Russell Gage – the immediate pivot from a Chalky Calvin Ridley, Gage has quietly had a nice season as well and he found success against the Bucs in Week 15 going 5 for 68 and a score. His price tag is a little higher than I’d like but if Ridley’s ownership skyrockets, I like Gage as a leverage play.
Marvin Jones Jr – who else but Marvin Jones right? With 8 or more targets in 5 of his last 7 and a Touchdown Catch against the Vikings in Week 10, I kinda like Marvin Jones as Stafford’s go to this weekend. The Vikings are allowing nearly 270 passing yards per game. Give me 70 and a score from MJJ and I’ll be happy.
Nelson Agholor – Phillie be Damned – a star has been born in Las Vegas! 8 or more targets in 3 of his last 4 and TWO 100 yard games in that same span along with 2 touchdowns. He has become a big play threat for Gruden and I could see him featured heavily in this season finale. The Broncos are giving up nearly 250 yards through the air and while he is a little more expensive on the sites than I normally like, I do like the stack with Carr and Agholor as a low owned option with tons of upside.
Mike Williams – he is the ultimate boom or bust guy but with no Keenan Allen and nothing to lose, would it shock you to see Herbert take multiple deep shots to Williams in this game against the Chiefs? If so, I’ll be happy to be rostering Williams. He saw 11 targets last week without Allen by the way.
Jerry Jeudy – I really don’t trust his quarterback and in general Broncos Wide Receivers have been disappointing us all season long, but Jeudy saw 15 targets last week and even if he sees half, he should find more room to move against a Las Vegas Defense allowing nearly 270 yards through the air on average.
Darren Waller – Waller the Baller has been on a TEAR over the last month. 537 Yards through the air between weeks 13 – 16 and 3 touchdowns. It doesn’t matter the defense he has played he has been ELITE in the last month of the season. With Kelce’s playing time in question, Waller will be very popular as the second most expensive tight end – but if you are paying up for the position, I think Waller needs to be in serious consideration. I will have my fair share of him in my lineups.
George Kittle – After 7 weeks on IR the 49ers said that Kittle would be limited. No problem, he took his limited snaps to 92 yards. Now a week removed there should be no question who the 49ers offense will run through in Week 17. This is the Kittle revenge game by the way since it was in week 8 against Seattle that he went down. Clear the way – big George is coming through and with Waller above him in price and Mark Andrews below him in price, George could be coming in at an ownership discount and I’ll take it!
Irv Smith – with so much fanfare on Justin Jefferson, Irv Smith’s breakout campaign has gone a little unnoticed. But with Kyle Rudolph off the field, Cousins looked to Big Irv and in Week 16 Irv delivered with a 6 for 53 and 2 line. I’d look for Irv Smith to be involved again here with Dalvin Cook and his target share not on the field.
Hayden Hurst – Hurst has been hit or miss all season but he is riding a 2 game touchdown streak including one against the Bucs in week 15 and sometimes I like to ride the hot hand.
Noah Fant – I can never seem to get Noah Fant right (by the way, don’t you just wish he was as dominating as Kelce or Kittle or Waller so we could nickname him Noah FantASY?) He has seen 11 and 9 targets over the last two weeks and had a touchdown in that span. The Raiders have been pretty good against Tight Ends this year, but he should see solid volume and so I do not mind taking a shot, possibly as a run back on Raiders stacks more than anything else.
TJ Hockenson – I am only going to use him if I am playing a Lions stack with Stafford, but for what it’s worth Hockenson has been seeing a fairly consistent amount of targets all season long and nothing about the Vikings pass defense scares me.
Donald Parham/Stephen Anderson – in the wake of Hunter Henry’s Covid positive test, Parham and Anderson got the start in week 16 and both saw targets (Parham 3, Anderson 6) and both went for about the same yardage (Parham 47, Anderson 48). One of these guys is going to catch a touchdown pass and both are cheap and have NO ownership. My bet is on Parham who already has two TDs on the year but for cheap low owned dart throws – you could do worse.
The Jets – as much as I hate to say it about my beloved Patriots, they stink. The Jets are on an actual roll and the Patriots are not. Pair the Jets D with Ty Johnson as a mini stack in your lineup. I just think the Jets are ready to pay some comeuppance after a lot of years of frustration.
The Raiders – The last time these two teams played, Drew Lock threw 4 Interceptions. #Analysis
The Chargers – Chad Henne is starting for the Chiefs. Worth a shot in my book.
The 49ers – If it’s true that Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh is in line for a Head Coach job in 2021 there sure isn’t a better resume builder left this season than “I built the Game Plan that kept the Seahawks form the first round bye and number one seed last year”. #Analysis
Good Luck in your Contests!