DRAFT Week 17 Breakdown and Top Plays
Redraft season has sadly come to an end, or you're in a league you shouldn't be in. Week 17 is tough to navigate for championship purposes but can set up nicely for DFS. For this specific column, we have four more weeks of coverage, with different matchups, and a fresh set of players primed for your lineups each week.
DRAFT's weekly fantasy contests are not your typical salary cap format. Instead, they offer a series of snake-style draft contests with differing team amounts. You can choose from head-to-head, 3-team, 6-team, 8-team, or 10-team contests, with varying dollar amounts per contest. With each draft, players must select five position players: 1QB, 2RB, and 2WR/TEs. There are no salaries, no ownership percentages, and no large tourneys.
Below, I take a look at some of the best plays of the week, according to league size. You will see multiple references to aFPA, which is our schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric. By using aFPA, we remove bias so that we can level the playing field and compare matchups in an "apples-to-apples" manner. One more note: remember that DRAFT is a snake-style format, so you must plan accordingly in larger contest sizes.
With only two drafters involved, your cumulative score just has to be higher than that of your opponent. Since only 10 players are involved, stick to the elite DFS chalk here.
Russell Wilson (SEA) vs. ARI
His last two weeks weren’t the greatest, but Wilson is fighting for his team’s life in Week 17 versus an Arizona team with nothing to play for. We’ve all seen the six-year QB carry a game on his shoulders and if necessary, he’s certainly capable of doing it again. Wilson is projected by DRAFT as their highest-scoring QB on the week with 19.6 DRAFT points, and our own John Paulsen has him ranked as his No. 1 QB for Week 17.
Tom Brady (NE) vs. NYJ
The Patriots are battling for top AFC honors, plus home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Even if nothing was on the line, Brady would be motivated to crush the Jets, New England’s fellow AFC East rival. The Jets' defense surrenders the second-most aFPA to opposing QBs and should be no threat to Brady’s performance on Sunday.
LeSean McCoy (BUF) @ MIA
Buffalo heads to Miami to face a Dolphins defense ranked 28th in RB aFPA. The Bills are still in the playoff hunt, meaning McCoy's workload shouldn't see a decline on Sunday. He's DRAFT's highest slotted RB on this week's slate, with a projected 16.9 DRAFT points. True chalk is tough to predict in Week 17, but McCoy is as chalky as they come.
Melvin Gordon (LAC) vs. OAK
Another RB on a team with something to play for, Gordon is a great choice this week. He's averaged 20.3 DRAFT points over the past three weeks and gets a home contest against the Raiders in Week 17. The Chargers among those alive when it comes to playing in January, so their offense should be at full strength on Sunday. Gordon is dealing with a left ankle sprain so be sure to keep an eye on his status as the week progresses.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Keenan Allen (LAC) @ OAK
As the current seventh seed in the AFC, the Chargers can earn their playoff ticket with a win, along with help from the Titans and/or the Bills and Ravens. Oakland sits 22nd in WR aFPA, meaning QB Philip Rivers and Allen should have no trouble connecting against this Raiders secondary on Sunday. The former CAL wideout is the No. 1 ranked WR on DRAFT this week—15.30 projected points.
Julio Jones (ATL) vs. CAR
Jones has averaged 164 receiving yards in his last three contests with the Panthers and gets a climate-controlled home dome to play in this week. If the Falcons win, they’re in when it comes to the postseason, so look for them to come out guns blazing. Atlanta’s stud WR is the second-highest projected scorer at his position on DRAFT and should be taken in all contests this week.
Rob Gronkowski (NE) vs. NYJ
The Patriots can secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win or a Steelers loss. Both teams play in the early time slot, so New England will have their foot on the pedal from the start. Gronk is a legitimate threat on any route as he’s always a mismatch due to his ridiculously large physique. As the fourth-ranked WR/TE on DRAFT this week, Gronk is chalk once again.
When you enter a contest with only three teams, you’re either picking two players at a time, or you’re in the middle of two drafters doing just that. Same studs apply here; draft accordingly.
6, 8 or 10-Person Draft
Below you’ll find a few more recommendations for Week 17 starters to assist in filling out five-player rosters when more players are involved. You’ll need to dig a bit deeper into the rankings to find a player or two who will out-produce the players your opponents draft.
Cam Newton (CAR) @ ATL
Carolina is looking to secure their division title and the chance for a first-round bye. They’d also love the opportunity to deny their NFC South rival Falcons a playoff berth. This double narrative means Newton should be on point Sunday, looking to burn Atlanta’s defense both through the air and via his legs. The Panthers QB averages 20.09 DRAFT points per contest and is projected to post 17.8 in Week 17.
Kirk Cousins (WAS) @NYG
Washington was eliminated from postseason contention in Week 14, but Cousins certainly has plenty to play for in the final regular season game of 2017. He and Washington have yet to come to terms on a contract and the six-year QB is most likely heading towards free agency in 2018. He gets a weak Giants defense on Sunday, a unit that allowed 32 touchdowns this season—the most of any defense in the league. We could see a monster game from Cousins, and DRAFT agrees, ranking Cousins fifth in their weekly projections.
Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. GB
Green Bay's secondary has been putrid, giving up the fourth-most aFPA to QBs all season. Stafford tossed the rock for 361 yards and two touchdowns back in November against the Packers, and he gets a toasty, covered home venue to throw to his heart's content this week. Despite the lack of postseason hopes, Stafford makes a solid choice for Week 17.
Tyrod Taylor (BUF) @ MIA
Taylor and the Bills are in must-win-to-keep-playing mode, but also need the help of the Ravens, Chargers, and Titans along the way. The Bills QB will also be looking to put on good show, as he may be wearing a new uniform in 2018. Miami ranks 24th in QB aFPA, which bodes well for Taylor’s output on Sunday. He’s a great call in a six-team or larger DRAFT contest.
Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) @ LAR
NFL’s new “it” guy, Garoppolo is coming off an impressive 23.0 DRAFT-point performance versus Jacksonville and gets a Rams defense that will most likely not be at full strength in order to rest starters for the postseason. The 5-10 49ers have a bright future and will want to end their season on a high note. Garoppolo is building chemistry with rookies George Kittle and Trent Taylor which should continue into Week 17. DRAFT predicts a respectable 16.30 fantasy points for the young QB on Sunday.
With a Saints win, they secure the NFC South title and with that, the privilege of a home playoff game. Tampa Bay is 12th-worst at defending RBs, surrendering an aFPA of 24.4 PPR points to opposing rushers. Vegas has deemed this contest as the highest over/under of the week, so you definitely want a piece of it. Kamara’s Week 16 performance was subpar, which could dispel drafters from taking him in smaller contests. Ingram fared better last week, and we should see similar output to his 16.5 DRAFT points on Sunday. They’ll both get the volume, so draft either or both with confidence.
Christian McCaffrey (CAR) @ ATL
Like Kamara and Ingram, McCaffrey’s Panthers are battling for the NFC South title, which means no rest for their star players. Carolina’s WR corps is banged up, so McCaffrey has the potential to be split out in the slot, along with his share of backfield usage. Last week was a bust for the rookie RB, as his 9 attempts for 39 yards only yielded 6.8 DRAFT points. Recency bias is real when it comes to DFS, so McCaffrey is a guy you can grab later in the draft for more value.
Kenyan Drake (MIA) vs. BUF
Although not in playoff contention, the Dolphins face the league’s worst run defense this week at home. Drake gutted the Bills for 20.3 DRAFT points just two weeks ago and should produce again on Sunday in Miami. The sophomore rusher has a projected score of 16.10 DRAFT points and is a great DFS play in Week 17.
Carlos Hyde (SF) @ LAR
Here’s your variant RB for Week 17. Hyde has averaged 21 touches in his last two contests and gets a Rams defense that will most likely be resting their starters at some point during the game. The Rams have already clinched the NFC West title, with the 49ers just wanting to finish strong. Snag Hyde late in larger contests, when others grab more mainstream starters who may not see a full game.
Wide Receiver/Tight Ends
DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) @ IND
No wideout has more targets or PPR points this season than Hopkins, even after rookie QB Deshaun Watson’s season ended early due to injury. The Texans have nothing to play for, which is the only reason Nuk is mentioned down here instead of the chalk section. Hopkins is ranked fifth among WRs on DRAFT this week, with 12.5 projected points. Editor's Note: Hopkins may not play this week, so monitor the injury reports leading up to kickoff.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) vs. CLE
In his first game without Antonio Brown, the rookie posted 16.5 DRAFT points, in a 75-yard, 1-touchdown performance versus Houston in Week 16. Smith-Schuster may get lost in the shuffle of WRs in drafts, so he could be a solid value pick this week. Be wary though, as he might be catching passes from Landry Jones.
Michael Thomas (NO) @ TB
Week 16 was a dud for those who drafted Thomas, as he was struggling with a hamstring injury. He should be healthier and produce closer to his average of 12.94 DRAFT points on Sunday. The Bucs’ secondary has surrendered the ninth-most fantasy points to WRs this season, which bodes well for Thomas’ output. With a division title and a home playoff game on the line, expect the Saints to play their go-to guys as long as they need them to secure that win. Thomas is projected to score 13.30 DRAFT points, the third-highest for WRs/TEs on DRAFT.
Adam Thielen (MIN) vs. CHI
Thielen’s last two games were less than stellar, including last week’s frigid tilt with the Packers. He gets a cozy, dome setting for this week’s showdown versus the Bears. The Vikings are playing for a first-round bye, and Thielen has become a big playmaker for Minnesota this regular season. DRAFT has the fourth-year WR ranked fairly low, but 4for4’s John Paulsen has him ranked as his No. 7 WR for Week 17.
Josh Doctson (WAS) @ NYG
After being targeted 13 times in Week 16, Doctson gets a juicy matchup against a battered Giants defense ranked 31st in the league in aFPA versus WRs. His QB Kirk Cousins gets one last hurrah before free agency, so will be looking to put on a show. Doctson isn’t the safest play out there but is an intriguing choice in larger team contests.
Greg Olsen (CAR) @ ATL
Carolina needs a win to have a chance at a home playoff game and are running shallow when it comes to healthy pass-catchers. Enter an injury-free Olsen, who has been on the field for an average of 95% of the Panthers’ snaps in the past three weeks. He’s been a bit erratic in fantasy points since his return from a broken foot which will most likely discourage drafters from rolling with the veteran TE. However, this game sets up nicely for a big output from Olsen.