FanDuel Week 17 Slate Breakdown with Cash and GPP Picks
Before every football season, I scour old DFS books and articles to brush up on fundamentals and make sure my process is where I want it to be going into the season, but also to look for inspiration for writing styles and topics. During my review process this year, I found inspiration in Jonathan Bales’ last post here at 4for4, where he highlighted his skills as one of the great phallic artists of our time.
While this might seem quite juvenile (and to be honest, if you’ve spent any time with Bales, he can be quite juvenile, but juvenile is funny), it’s the type of thing that can get you through a grind like football season. Don’t get me wrong, I have the best job in the world and I work in my pajamas most days but the week-to-week grind of fantasy football analysis can get quite redundant—I can only spin aFPA and touchdown rate so many ways. In order to break up my weekly monotony, I started putting links to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in my articles. It wasn’t random, though. Whenever I wrote about something a player did 9 times I linked to this video:
Coincidentally (or maybe not), this is the ninth time I’ve linked to this video this season. Now, I do see the irony in posting the same video in my articles in an attempt to break up the monotony, but I thought it was funny and no one called me out on it, so I kept doing it for my own amusement. There’s really no other point to this intro other than that I know a large percentage of DFS players won’t play in the postseason and I needed to get that off my chest. And maybe as a byproduct of this pointless rant, you’ll find a way to not take yourself so seriously everyday—life’s more fun that way. If any of you come up with some silly life hacks to get you through the day, shoot them my way on twitter @TJHernandez.
On to the good stuff.
Week 17 is a unique animal so in the spirit of breaking up the monotony, this week’s slate breakdown will take on a different format. With so many variables at work in terms of players resting or possibly resting if a playoff scenario changes mid-game, this is a week I generally pull back the reins on my cash game. In spots I am playing cash, the best bet is to load up on players who will almost certainly play the entirety of their game. To that note, all research for Week 17 should start HERE.
Rather than breaking up this week’s article into cash and GPP plays, I’ll discuss games with the most relevant scenarios and how to approach the best DFS players in those games, followed by any other games to add players from this week.
- Falcons vs. Panthers - Both teams in this game have an incentive to win and I’d expect starters to play throughout this contest. No player in this game has better odds to hit cash game value than Christian McCaffrey ($6,900). While Atlanta ranks first in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs, they are the only defense that has allowed at least 100 receptions to the position and only five teams have allowed more receiving yards to opposing backs. Only two quarterbacks have better odds to hit cash value than Cam Newton ($8,400) against a Falcons defense ranked 23rd in quarterback aFPA. On the other side of the ball, Julio Jones ($8,400) is a top-five value at his position against a defense ranked 30th in wide receiver aFPA and has allowed five 100-yard receivers since Week 9. Mohamed Sanu ($5,600) is one of the better price-saving options at his position this week and is the only player on the Falcons besides Julio with double-digit red zone targets. Only two defenses face a higher passing rate in the red zone than Carolina.
- Ravens vs. Bengals - If Baltimore wins, they’re in. The Ravens are favored by 9.5 at home with an implied point total near 25. Since Baltimore’s Week 11 bye, only six players have more touches than Alex Collins ($6,800) and he faces a Bengals defense ranked 31st in running back aFPA. Over the last five weeks, five running backs have amassed at least 100 total yards in a game against Cincinnati. Giovani Bernard ($6,200) projects as a top-three value against Baltimore’s run funnel defense.
- Titans vs. Jaguars - Tennessee is in the playoffs with a win and Jacksonville is locked into the No. 3 seed. Doug Marrone insists starters will play the entire game and that they’ll be playing to win, but I’m cautious about trusting any Jaguar, especially since the Titans are still favored by 3.5 points. DeMarco Murray suffered an MCL tear last week and while he said he’ll attempt to play through the injury, I’m confidently rolling out Derrick Henry ($5,800). Tennessee has a top-10 rush rate in neutral game script and only one team runs at a higher rate in the red zone. Delanie Walker ($6,100) has seen fewer than 5 targets in a game just once this season and is worth a dart throw in case Jacksonville does rest starters on defense or decides to roll out a vanilla game plan as to not lose the upper hand—if the Titans win, the most likely scenario is that these two teams will face off in the Wild Card round.
- Saints @ Buccaneers - The Saints can clinch the division and a home playoff game with a win and they are favored by a touchdown with the second-highest implied point total of the week (28.75). Tampa Bay ranks outside the top 20 in aFPA to both running backs and wide receivers, so all the usual suspects are in play for the Saints. Alvin Kamara ($8,800) projects as a slightly better value than Mark Ingram ($8,400) despite the more expensive price tag. Kamara outgained Ingram 152-79 in their first meeting with the Buccaneers but only two teams have allowed more rushing touchdowns than Tampa Bay. Michael Thomas ($8,200) will likely be under-owned because of a hamstring injury that limited him to 62% of the Saints snaps last week but no team has allowed more yards or receptions to wide receivers than the Bucs. Even with his limited play last week, Thomas ranks in the top 10 in red zone targets over the last six weeks. No quarterback has better odds to hit cash value than Drew Brees ($8,200). Mike Evans ($6,900) is priced down as the WR16 this week, making him the top value at his position. Evans had his first 100-yard game of the season last week and he will rely on a pass-heavy game script against New Orleans’ tough perimeter corners.
- Patriots vs. Jets - With the highest over/under of the week, all of the most popular Patriots are in play in a game where they have to win to lock up the No. 1 seed. Tom Brady ($8,500) faces a Jets defense ranked 31st in quarterback aFPA, allowing the fourth-most touchdowns to the position this year. Brandin Cooks ($7,400) is a good bet to get back on track against a secondary that has allowed the fifth-most completions on deep balls (traveled 15+ yards in the air) this year. Rob Gronkowski ($8,500) is the only high-priced option at his position this week and with so much value at other positions, fitting him into lineups should be relatively easy. Only two teams have allowed more touchdowns to tight ends than the Jets this year. Though the Jets are a pass funnel, Dion Lewis ($7,200) projects as a top-five value at his position after seeing 29 touches last week.
- Bills @ Dolphins - Buffalo still has a shot at the playoffs and Tyrod Taylor ($7,300) projects as a top-two value at his position. Since Taylor took back his starting role, only six teams have thrown at a higher rate in the red zone than Buffalo and they face a Miami defense that has allowed the highest passing touchdown rate inside the 20 this year. Charles Clay ($5,600) has reclaimed his role as Taylor’s favorite target, accounting for at least 26% of the Bills targets in each of the last three games. LeSean McCoy ($8,200) has touched the ball less than 20 times in a game just once over the last five games and Miami ranks 28th in wide receiver aFPA. On the other side, Kenyan Drake ($7,000) is a top-four running back value against a Bills defense ranked in the top 10 in aFPA against quarterbacks and receivers but last against running backs. Jarvis Landry has been the most consistent fantasy receiver in the league this season and the Dolphins are the most pass-heavy red zone team in the league.
- Chargers vs. Raiders - In a game that the Chargers need to win to have a chance to make the playoffs, they are favored by 8 points with an implied total of 25. Melvin Gordon ($8,400) currently projects as a top-two value at his position but is day-to-day with an ankle injury. If he sits, Brandon Oliver ($4,500) becomes one of the best values on the slate. Keenan Allen ($8,600) faces an Oakland defense ranked 22nd in wide receiver aFPA and only four teams have thrown at a higher rate in neutral game script this year than the Chargers. With Hunter Henry out last week, Antonio Gates ($5,700) played 77% of the Chargers snaps and was targeted 8 times, catching 6 for 81 yards and a touchdown. Only two teams have allowed more receptions to tight ends than the Raiders and no defense has given up more yards to the position.
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