Week 17 DraftKings Optimal Plays
As mentioned in my FanDuel Optimal Plays article and in our So Who's Motivated article, it is all about assessing which teams will be motivated to perform. There are some teams and players we want to target, and others we want to avoid, because they have much different incentives for Week 17.
I broke down the NFC playoff scenarios earlier, so now I’ll take a look at the AFC and how it might affect our approach to selecting players.
- Broncos: Clinched AFC West and first-round bye; clinch No. 1 seed with win or Patriots loss
- Chiefs: Clinched playoff spot; locked into No. 5 seed
- Chargers: Clinch No. 6 seed with win and losses by Dolphins, Ravens
- Colts: Clinched playoff spot; locked into either No. 3 or No. 4 seed
- Bengals: Clinched AFC North; clinch No. 2 seed with win and Patriots loss
- Ravens: Clinch No. 6 seed with win and a loss by either Chargers or Dolphins
- Steelers: Clinch No. 6 seed with win and losses by Dolphins, Chargers, and Ravens
- Patriots: Clinched AFC East; clinch No. 1 seed with win and Broncos loss; lose first-round bye with loss and Bengals win
- Dolphins: Clinch No. 6 seed with win and Ravens loss or Chargers win
- Raiders, Texans, Titans, Jaguars, Browns, Bills, and Jets are all out.
Got it? Good.
Of the teams listed in all but the final bullet point, only the Chiefs have nothing for which to play. Thus, we’re looking at the Raiders, Texans, Titans, Jaguars, Browns, Bills, Jets, and Chiefs as teams to potentially avoid. The Chiefs in particular are one to fade.
Also note that the Colts can move up or down a seed, but they’ll still have a home playoff game in the Wild Card round as the No. 3 or No. 4 seed, so their motivations aren’t as strong as a team fighting for a postseason berth.
Week 17 DraftKings Optimal Motivation + Value Plays
Combining team motivations with values from the DraftKings Value Report, here are some potential AFC targets in Week 17.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. HOU $5600
The quarterback position is really interesting on DraftKings because a lot of the good values are out of playoff contention. Cam Newton is an awesome value, so you might want to look at him or some other NFC quarterbacks who are motivated to win.
Andrew Luck is intriguing, but again, he doesn’t necessarily have a whole lot for which to play. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick is playing another team that is out of the postseason race. Fitzpatrick himself obviously has individual motivation to play well, and he’s one of the best values in Week 17.
RB Knile Davis @SD $3000
This is sort of the same situation as Fitzpatrick in which the player has major motivation to perform even if the team does not. The Chiefs have nothing to play for, and we wouldn't expect much work for fantasy stud Jamaal Charles. With Davis, you’re looking at essentially a starting running back priced at $3000, so he’s basically a must-start. There are only five backs that cost under $300/point, and Davis is just $247 in the value report.
WR A.J. Green vs. BAL $8100
Because Green has a difficult matchup and is priced relatively high, he probably won’t be owned all that much this week. That could make for an interesting contrarian tournament play because we know Green has elite potential against anyone.
The Bengals are going to be going all-out because they can still acquire a first-round bye fairly easily, and it seems probable that they’re going to do everything they can to get the ball in the hands of their best player. I don’t think Green is a smart heads-up play, but I will roster him in GPPs.
TE Charles Clay vs. NYJ $4500
Ideally, we want to look for teams that are fighting to get into the playoffs versus teams that are out of contention. That’s what we have with the Dolphins, who might be the favorite to win the No. 6 seed in the AFC.
The tight end position is more flexible on DraftKings because Jimmy Graham is priced appropriately, so he’s not an automatic start. Clay offers better $/point value and is in a good situation against a defense that’s been the sixth-worst in the NFL against tight ends.