The final week of the NFL regular season is upon us, and while that signals the final big slate of the season, I’m really looking forward to the condensed playoff slates that will actually feature some meaningful games!
For DFS purposes, this is a fun weekend because people tend to overthink things. While there are a handful of teams that will drastically change their personnel – I’ll touch on those situations before I get into the top Week 17 plays – things should stay on par for the vast majority of the league. Some teams that are out of the playoff race have been in that situation for weeks, and teams without playoff hopes generally treat this is as they would any other week. I’m not saying we won’t see some weird things on Sunday, but I don’t see it being as bizarre as some might expect.
NEWS & RESTING SITUATIONS
Let’s touch on some key news that has already surfaced as of Thursday night.
Sean McVay has already made it known that RB Todd Gurley, QB Jared Goff, LT Andrew Whitworth and C John Sullivan will all sit out while Cooper Kupp is also very likely to be inactive given that he missed another practice Thursday and the Rams have no incentive to push him. Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins could potentially so some limited time, but they aren’t at all DFS viable and could very well end up sitting entirely. That leaves the offense to Sean Mannion, Malcolm Brown and Josh Reynolds with Pharoh Cooper and Tavon Austin also likely seeing increased snap rates. Brown is intriguing in the sense that his workload is relatively secure at a dirt-cheap salary, but the absence of Whitworth and Sullivan is going to be felt and Sean Mannion’s presence under center is not going to do the running game any favors. I can get behind Brown as a volume-driven punt for $3,900 on DraftKings but will likely be looking in other directions for GPPs. I’m also not going to be invested in the ancillary receivers here, but if you’re choosing one I’d give Reynolds the nod as the most likely to post a useful DFS performance.
Eagles Splitting Reps?
With the top seed in the NFC locked up, the Eagles have nothing to play for on paper. If you watched the second half of Monday’s game against Oakland, it was evident that this offense is completely out of sync and can use a confidence boost heading into the playoffs with a bye week already on tap. Nick Foles has been taking first team reps in practice and he’s fully expected to play at least a portion of Sunday’s game against Dallas, but how much he’ll actually play is unclear. It’s possible the Eagles play their starters for the first half and turn the keys over to Nate Sudfeld and the backups, but the high likelihood that the first and second teams end up splitting reps makes this an easy situation to avoid. I will have zero exposure to the Eagles and besides Ezekiel Elliott being 120 rushing yards short of 1,000 – a feat he can certainly pull off – I don’t see any reason to actively target anyone on the Dallas side either. I don’t think I’ll end up succumbing to the Zeke narrative and will instead be looking to LeSean McCoy when I’m paying up at RB.
Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell Likely to Rest
Per Steelers beat Tim Benz, it’s been suggested that Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell will both join Antonio Brown on the sideline this weekend against Cleveland. Pittsburgh is still vying for playoff seeding so they do have something on the line, but will turn things over to Landry Jones and Stevan Ridley. It’s not clear as of this writing whether or not JuJu Smith-Schuster, Martavis Bryant, Jesse James or Vance McDonald will be impacted as well, but if Big Ben isn’t under center I won’t have any piece of Pittsburgh’s passing attack. I’d prefer Patrick Mahomes to Landry Jones if I’m going dirt cheap at QB, although Mahomes could very well be without some of his best weapons as well.
For those interested in what teams still have something on the line, here’s the short list of teams with the playoffs (or simply seeding) on the line.
New England Patriots – They need to win to secure the top seed, so this is a very appealing offense.
Pittsburgh Steelers – I’ve already touched on this situation, but it appears the Steelers won’t be going all out.
Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Charles, Buffalo Bills – These four teams are vying for the final two playoff spots.
Minnesota Vikings – They have not yet clinched a bye, so they’ll be at full strength. I still don’t have much interest in the Minnesota aerial attack but may have some tournament exposure to Jerick McKinnon.
New Orleans Saints – With an outside shot at Minnesota falling out of the No. 2 seed, New Orleans is still expected to play their starters for the entire game.
Los Angeles Rams – They’ve already announced their plans.
Carolina Panthers – Basically the same situation as New Orleans. Expect a full game out of the starters.
Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks – Both of them are fighting for their playoff lives.
The Chiefs and Jaguars don’t have anything to play for on Sunday as their playoff seeds have been determined. Alex Smith won’t play for Kansas City and they’ll likely sit some other starters, but it’s not clear exactly what Jacksonville is going to do as of yet. The starters appear likely to suit up and could play a normal allotment of snaps, but the uncertainty there will lead me to look in other directions. Teams who aren’t in the playoff race should be expected to treat this as a normal week unless they express otherwise as Sunday approaches. Be sure to stay up to date with the RotoGrinders DFS Alerts app, as we’ll alert you of these situations as they unfold.
Week 17 Top Plays
I’ll go position-by-position for Sunday’s slate in the same format I used last week. I’ll list my top three plays at each position and if I prefer them on one site to another, I’ll make that known. These aren’t my top selections at each position in raw points, but rather the players I’m planning on having the most exposure to.
- Russell Wilson ($8,700 on FanDuel, $6,900 on DraftKings) – Wilson has been dreadful for fantasy purposes each of the last two weeks. Arizona has stiffened against the pass in the back half of the season, but they are still a nice draw for running QBs. Seattle needs this game to stay alive and their best bet is try to try to let him take over.
- Jimmy Garoppolo ($7,700 on FanDuel, $6,700 on DraftKings) – He’s cheaper relative to the field on FanDuel, so I’ll have more exposure there. The DraftKings price tag – in line with the elite QBs on this slate – may cause Garoppolo to go overlooked but he’s in a nice spot against a Rams Defense that will be resting some key starters.
- Cam Newton ($8,400 on FanDuel, $6,800 on DraftKings) – He gets the slight nod over Brady for the final spot here, but it’s close between those two. Newton and the Panthers have motivation and face a below average Falcons pass defense.
- Derrick Henry ($5,800 on FanDuel, $5,500 on DraftKings) – I’ll bump Henry down if DeMarco Murray ends up playing, but he didn’t practice Thursday and it’s hard to imagine him being effective even if he does suit up. Henry is expected to get a large chunk of the rushing workload on Sunday and given the Titans run-heavy nature, his likelihood to exceed 20 touches at a middling price tag makes him an elite target.
- Kenyan Drake ($7,000 on FanDuel, $7,200 on DraftKings) – Drake was a big disappointment against Kansas City but steps into a prime bounce-back spot against a Buffalo defense that has been shredded twice by Patriots backs, once by Frank Gore and once by Drake himself over the last four games. If Damian Williams does return, Alvin Kamara would take Drake’s spot.
- LeSean McCoy ($8,200 on FanDuel, $8,000 on DraftKings) – The workload should be secure in a close contest and I’m not overly concerned about the poor road splits this weekend. He’s one of the few high-end backs we can peg for a big workload.
- Julio Jones ($8,400 on FanDuel, $8,200 on DraftKings) – I like the idea of stacking this game up with Julio/Newton plus either Olsen or Funchess, and the Falcons should be feeding their most explosive weapon as frequently as they can.
- Marquise Goodwin ($6,900 on FanDuel, $6,600 on DraftKings) – Garoppolo to Goodwin has been a consistent theme since the 49ers QB change and I love the upside for these two against an understaffed Rams Defense.
- Jamison Crowder ($5,800 on DraftKings) – Crowder may end up being my most heavily owned WR on DraftKings at $5,800. I’m going to have a handful of Cousins/Crowder stacks against a Giants Defense that has been very friendly to slot receivers on the season.
- Keenan Allen ($8,600 on FanDuel, $7,800 on DraftKings) – He’s had a rough stretch over the last two games, turning 18 targets into just a 10-117-0 line. The Raiders Defense is not nearly as good as the Eagles Offense made it look in Week 16, and I’m expecting one last boom from Allen. Oakland has been relatively solid against slot receivers which pushed Allen down this list.
- Rob Gronkowski ($8,500 on FanDuel, $7,000 on DraftKings) – With viable pivots off Julio in the mid-range at WR and the likelihood that Antonio Gates is extremely popular, Gronk may end up being my most heavily owned player on the slate.
- Jack Doyle ($5,400 on FanDuel, $4,700 on DraftKings) – He’s had a slow couple of weeks on top of the snow game early this month, so his price has dipped a bit and this is a very nice opportunity to buy low.
- Greg Olsen ($6,400 on FanDuel, $5,600 on DraftKings) – Olsen will be featured in most of my Cam Newton stacks.