Staking Bales: My Strategy in the Season’s Final Week

Staking Bales: My Strategy in the Season’s Final Week

By Jonathan Bales (Daily Fantasy Expert), last update Dec 27, 2013

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Jonathan Bales is a DraftKings Pro and the author of the Fantasy Football for Smart People book series. His latest book, How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports, is a data-driven guide to winning on DraftKings. He is also (unofficially) sponsored by GrubHub.

Follow Jonathan Bales on Twitter: @BalesFootball.

I’m going to be honest with you guys. I'm suffering from a holiday hangover. I have absolutely no motivation to write this article. I mean, like, none—the least I’ve ever wanted to write something in months.

As I type these words, the result seems inevitable: an article that sucks. Will it contain any information that will be of use to you? I don’t know. Maybe. This coffee could kick in and I could be hit with a sudden burst of brilliance. It’s just highly unlikely.

And that’s kind of what’s going on in Week 17 of the NFL season. There are some players who have a whole lot of motivation to perform well. Then there are some who have pretty much already checked out for the year. Could Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks write an amazing Week 17 preview article hook up for two scores? Yeah, they could, but it’s not very likely.

I already discussed which teams and players might be motivated in my optimal plays articles and Josh Moore has an even better article on Week 17 motivation right here. It’s not like you need to select players from only the most motivated teams, but if you have more exposure to those guys than to the teams that really just want the season to end, you should be good to go.

With that in mind, here are a couple plays I like and dislike at each position this week.


Target/Avoid in Week 17


Fitzpatrick’s Titans don’t have much motivation to perform well, but neither do the Texans—their opponent. If you’re going to target a player on a team that lacks motivation, make sure they’re playing a similar squad. Fitzpatrick is No. 2 in the DraftKings Value Report and you can stack him with wide receiver Kendall Wright in tourneys.

I know Orton is going to be a popular choice this week because of his low price tag, but he won’t be on any of my teams. I semi-cover the Cowboys, so I’ve seen all of Orton’s throws since he came to Dallas. Maybe he could have been relatively effective a few seasons ago, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. Even with a pretty strong supporting cast and a plus matchup, I don’t trust Orton at all.


Running Back

Motivated team. All-Pro quarterback returning. All-World type of matchup. Obvious play assuming he's cleared to play.

Facing a highly motivated Saints team in New Orleans is going to be difficult for Tampa Bay. I fully expect this game to turn into a blowout, meaning there’s a high probability of Rainey seeing a reduced workload. He won’t be in any of my lineups, regardless of the value.


Wide Receiver

I like big, red zone-relevant receivers with elite quarterbacks in quality matchups on teams that are projected to score a lot of points. When they’re cheap, that’s even better.

I realize the Niners have good motivation to win on Sunday, but so do the Cardinals, who can still make their way into the playoffs. Plus, Crabtree is going to see some Patrick Peterson, which obviously limits his ability to have a monster game.


Tight End

The Dolphins have a very real chance of making their way into the postseason. The Jets have gotten killed by tight ends this year—they’re the sixth-worst defense against the position—and Clay is perhaps the top bargain bin player this week.

Coming off of a strong performance in Week 16, Lewis might interest you if you’re looking for a cheap tight end. The Jags aren’t incentivized to win and the Colts, although locked into one of two seeds, still have at least a little motivation. They’ve also been the eighth-toughest defense against tight ends this year.

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