The final week of the regular season is upon us and it shapes to be a pretty challenging one, both on the field and in the world of DFS lineup construction. Week 17 can be pretty tough to get a handle on as we have to consider the motivations of teams that have secured berths and those that have been eliminated from contention. That being said, we can still gain a pretty good sense of where the most interest will lie in terms of the top plays of the week. Let’s get right to it, starting with the games that should capture plenty of interest from DFSers in Week 17.
This Week’s Projected High-Scoring Games
- New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins. Patriots -10, 47. The Patriots should have their way with the Dolphins, the only question is how long the starters will remain in the game.
- New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons. Falcons -5 ½, 53. Two teams who will be on the outside of the playoffs looking in could be headed for a shootout in the Georgia Dome.
- Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns. Steelers -11, 47. The Steelers offensive woes of Week 16 destroyed many DFS lineups and possibly their own playoff aspirations.
- Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants. Giants -3, 51. A game devoid of playoff implications became a little more intriguing with the departure of Chip Kelly.
- Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals. Cardinals -6 ½, 47. The Cardinals had their way with the Packers last week, could they possibly do the same to the Seahawks?
Despite the lack of playoff intrigue, we can expect plenty of attention to be focused on the two games with projected totals greater than 50 points. Of the players from these games, look for Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Tim Hightower to find plenty of support this week. Although the Steelers burned many last week, plenty of DFSers will be expecting a big bounce back against the Browns. The Patriots, Seahawks and Cardinals may find some tepid interest for Week 17, while the Dolphins could be a sneaky source of some garbage time production that may be overlooked.
Popular Matchups to Exploit
- Philadelphia Eagles vs. QBs. We can add Kirk Cousins and his four passing touchdowns to the list of signal callers who have had their way with the Eagles this season.
- San Francisco 49ers vs. RBs. Since their Week 10 bye week, the 49ers have allowed nine rushing touchdowns, which is more than what eight teams have allowed all season.
- New Orleans Saints vs. WRs. Jaguars wide receivers found the end zone four times last week against the Saints.
- New York Giants vs. TEs. The Giants have struggled against tight ends all season and have allowed a touchdown to the position in each of the past two games.
- Tennessee Titans vs. DEF. The Titans have allowed opposing defenses to score double digits in fantasy points for three consecutive weeks.
We touched on the Eagles, Saints and Giants earlier and can expect all three of the above matchups to make it to the short lists of many for possible exploitation. The 49ers run defense would be a popular target if not for the doubtful status of Todd Gurley, while we can be confident that many will look to the Colts as having the potential to extend the Titans streak of 10+ points allowed to opposing defenses to four consecutive games.
Last Week’s Heroes
- WAS QB Kirk Cousins. Cousins led Washington to put an emphatic stamp on the close of the race for the NFC East crown by throwing for 365 yards and four touchdowns.
- NO RB Tim Hightower. A high-scoring game between the Jaguars and Saints offered us plenty of fantasy goodness, including a two score, 169 combined yard outing from Hightower.
- NYJ WR Brandon Marshall. The chemistry of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall was on full display as they hooked up for two touchdowns in the Jets victory over the Patriots.
- WAS TE Jordan Reed. Reed found the end zone twice while hauling in nine catches for 129 yards.
- Arizona Cardinals DEF. It’s not often that a defense is the top scorer of the week, but the Cardinals domination of the Packers did the trick.
If Washington still had something to play for, a Cousins to Reed stack would be a pretty popular and viable Week 17 option. Hightower will find plenty of support by playing in one of the week’s projected top scoring games, while Marshall should be pretty popular as well due to the ‘win and in’ nature of Week 17’s game with the Bills. It’s pretty tough to expect the Cardinals to pull out another 30+ point outing, but many will chase the points and hope for a double digit return.
On to this week’s selections, we can expect the below players to be among the most popular selections of the week. We’ll begin this week’s list of top fade candidates with the quarterback position.
Drew Brees, $6.700
The game between the Saints and Falcons comes in with the highest projected total of the week at 53 points, pointing us to a possible shootout on a fast track in the Georgia Dome. Players from this matchup will be in high demand this week, including Drew Brees, who delivered us a vintage Brees-like performance in Week 17 by throwing for 412 yards and three scores. Adding to the intrigue for Brees this week is an outside shot at 5,000 passing yards for the season as he is currently 453 yards shy of that mark. That’s a tall order, but not completely out of the question for the veteran signal caller. Brees will be a popular choice in Week 17, making him one of the week’s top fade candidates.
Cam Newton, $7,500
The Falcons threw a wrench into the Panthers plans for an undefeated season and held Cam Newton in check in the process. The prohibitive favorite for league MVP failed to throw for a touchdown in Week 16 after throwing 13 touchdowns over his previous three games. We can expect Newton to be a popular bounce back candidate this week, allowing him to take up residence on the fade list for Week 17. The Panthers need the win against the Buccaneers to secure home field advantage for the playoffs, pointing us to a full workload for Newton and great potential for a solid fantasy outing, but we’ll need to look elsewhere for a little uniqueness at quarterback.
Devonta Freeman, $7,600
The highest-priced running back of the week may actually be in line to justify his price tag in the expected shootout between the Saints and Falcons. Although Freeman has cooled considerably from his blistering pace in Weeks 3 through 6, he still offers tremendous upside and brings an average of 22.4 points per game to the table. The Saints defense has resembled a sieve for much of the season, including Week 6 when Freeman contributed 156 combined yards and two scores for a cool 38.6 points. Despite the hefty price tag, Freeman will be highly owned and for good reason – there’s a solid chance that he comes in as Week 17’s most productive running back. Difficult as it may be, we’ll have to consider fading Freeman for a little differentiation for our lineups.
DeAngelo Williams, $7,100
In a season filled with disappointing running back output and untimely injuries at the position ruining many lineups on a weekly basis, Williams has become a reliable source of fantasy points on a weekly basis. As such, he’s become somewhat of a plug and play choice for many DFSers, which pushes Williams into the realm of weekly consideration as a fade candidate. Reliable sources of production are tough to pass on. The only argument we can make in favor of passing on Williams is for the sake of uniqueness. If we have a lineup featuring many chalk plays, we could look to fade Williams for a little differentiation. However, if we have a lineup with a decent amount of contrarian selections, we’ll want to roster Williams as an anchor to balance out the risk.
Odell Beckham Jr. $9,000
After serving his one-week suspension in Week 16, Odell Beckham Jr. enters Week 17 for a prime matchup with an Eagles team that has had plenty of struggles against opposing wideouts this season and by extension will be one of the highest-owned wide receivers this week. The game’s projected total of 51 points will only add to the intrigue and point many DFSers to click the plus sign next to his name, in spite of the hefty price tag. We’ll look a little further south on the salary charts for a great matchup that offers us a little uniqueness as well.
Julio Jones, $8,500
Julio Jones is another of Week 17’s pricey wide receivers that also happens to be in a great matchup. The Saints have been torched many times this season, including last week when Blake Bortles connected with his receivers for four scores. To add to the appeal of Jones in Week 17, he is only 16 receptions shy of tying the all-time mark of receptions in a season. Look for the Falcons to target Jones early and often against the Saints, making him a risky fade candidate due to huge upside, but a necessary one in our search for uniqueness.
Rob Gronkowski, $7,400
We can consider Rob Gronkowski as a fade candidate for two reasons: high-ownership percentage and concerns over how much action he will see on Sunday. Despite his status as the most expensive tight end each week, Gronkowski always finds plenty of support from DFSers hoping for a monster outing to justify the high price tag. The potential exists for that each and every week, but the reality is that he has only one multiple touchdown outing to his credit this season – Week 1 against the Steelers. He’s had plenty of fine games since that point, but there are also plenty of weeks where we can find more efficient uses for our salary cap dollars. As one of the more unpredictable teams in the league, the Patriots could very well play their starters well into the fourth quarter or pull them at halftime. We’ll take a pass on Gronkowski due to the uncertainty.
Jordan Reed, $6,500
Jordan Reed has been on quite roll by averaging 31.4 points per game over his past three. Unfortunately for DFS purposes, that roll looks to be coming to an end as Washington will likely be limiting snaps for their starters with the NFC East crown wrapped up and no chance of improving their current playoff position. Even in limited duty, Reed could sneak free for a score, but there’s simply not enough upside there in limited duty to justify a salary of $6,500. We’ll take a pass on Reed and look to a cheaper tight end with upside for Week 17.
Arizona Cardinals, $3,300
We covered the prolific output of 33.0 points the Cardinals defense produced in Week 16 earlier. As one of last week’s heroes, there will be plenty of DFSers hoping for similar output. Possible? Sure, just not likely. The Cardinals could easily surpass 10+ points against the Seahawks, but would need the wheels to completely fall off – as they did for the Packers in Week 16 – to come close to last week’s output. We’ll pass on the Cardinals and search for an under the radar defense that could be one of week 17’s top producers.
Houston Texans, $3,300
The Texans defense has two consecutive games with 10+ points to their credit, which will lead many owners their way for Week 17. After scoring 11.0 points in Week 15 against the Colts, they doubled it in Week 16 and scored 22.0 points against the Titans. The defense seems to be peaking – just in time for the playoffs – and the interest in the Texans defense should be peaking as well, leading us to another solid fade candidate for Week 17.
That concludes The Fade for Week 17, which is definitely one of the more challenging weeks for DFS - but can still be a profitable one by applying the same successful principles we used in Weeks 1 through 16. Best of luck this weekend!