DFS Roundtable: Week 17 Motivation

The DFS team discusses Week 17 motivation

What is your general take on comparing the three buckets of NFL team direction for DFS lineups in Week 17:

  • Teams fighting for playoff spots, positioning, etc.
  • Teams who have clinched byes, berths, etc.
  • Teams out of the playoffs regardless of outcome
Phil Alexander put together a summary of all of the Motivation Tracker for Week 17 which can be found here

Phil Alexander:

  • Teams fighting for playoff spots - I want the most exposure to players from these teams. Not only are they motivated to win, but their playing time is as predictable as any other week. There is no question I'll have more exposure to Pittsburgh than any other team due to the must-win nature of their game and Cincinnati's awful defense.
  • Teams who have clinched byes, berths, etc. - Starters from teams like New Orleans (clinched home field advantage) and Dallas (locked into the fourth seed in the NFC) are generally off my radar. But paying close attention to beat writers leading up to their games is still warranted. If, for example, we receive word Rod Smith will handle the load for the Cowboys this week, I would be interested in GPPs. Nice job by DraftKings, by the way, pricing Smith up this week in anticipation of Dallas resting their starters.
  • Teams out of the playoffs regardless of outcome - This one depends on how long they've been out of the playoff picture. A team like the Raiders, for example, who haven't had a shot at the playoffs all season aren't likely to change their approach just because it's Week 17. Others who were more recently eliminated, like Carolina for example, might not be inclined to expose a young franchise cornerstone like Christian McCaffrey to more hits in a meaningless game.

Regardless of which bucket teams fall into, the overarching theme of Week 17 is to pay attention to the news cycle and know what's at stake for the players you are selecting.

James Brimacombe:

  • Teams fighting for playoff spots, positioning, etc.

I want to roster players that have something to play for only this week. These are playoff-like games for these teams and players and the motivation is there for them to see heavy volume and that is what I want to target in Week 17 with so many other uncertainties out there.

  • Teams who have clinched byes, berths, etc.

These teams and players do not interest me this week as it really just feels like taking stabs blindly at players. Most will be resting their starters and the backups will be seeing higher volume but it is so hard to predict who will get the touches/snaps so it is easier to look at players in more meaningful games.

  • Teams out of the playoffs regardless of the outcome

I don’t mind a team like the Browns who continue to play hard each week regardless of them being eliminated. They get to play the Ravens this week in what will be a division rival, playoff atmosphere type of game so I can see them wanting to go out on top to end the season.

Dan Hindery:

All things being close to equal, I am targeting the guys on teams who need to win. While the teams who are playing must-win games just to get into the playoffs (Eagles, Titans, Colts, Steelers, Ravens, Vikings) will draw the most attention, the teams who need wins to clinch a first-round bye also need to treat this week almost like a playoff game. For example, the playoff hopes of the Rams and Chiefs would both likely take huge hits with a loss. Both teams could really use the first-round bye to get healthy and are much more dangerous playing at home in future rounds. Most of my core plays this week will come from these teams.

The teams that are trickiest are the Bears and Chargers. Both are playing in games that only have real meaning in the case of a big upset in another game. While they should come out playing at full force, there is a fear of scoreboard watching impacting second-half playing time. For example, if the Chargers go in at halftime and see the Chiefs are up big on Oakland, the smart move would be to rest stars like Melvin Gordon III.

I will be almost entirely avoiding players from playoff teams with nothing to play for. There is no reason for New Orleans or Dallas to put key players at risk, though the Cowboys are at least talking a big game about playing like normal.

As far as the non-playoff teams, I will be making a distinction between those recently eliminated (Carolina for example) who might be looking to get overworked stars some rest versus teams who have been eliminated for a few weeks that are just looking to finish on a high note (Green Bay, Cleveland, Cincinnati, etc.).

Will Grant:

For teams that are fighting for playoff spots and positioning, I think those are the teams that you want to target this week – especially for teams that will play their starters for all four quarters. New England is playing early and needs to win to maintain their bye week advantage. Given the massive playoff advantage that a team has playing at home after a bye, you can expect the Patriots to be playing full tilt until it’s obvious they are going to win. Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, and even Sony Michel are all guys to target this week. Pittsburgh is another team to consider since they need to win to have a chance and are playing a marshmallow soft defense in Cincinnati. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Jaylen Samuels are all guys I want ownership of this weekend. The Colts and the Titans are win and you’re in, lose and go home situations. Derrick Henry looks like a super chalk play this week since I don’t see how the Titans win without him having a big game. Zach Ertz rounds out the super chalk stack because the Eagles need to win to clinch and Washington gave up nine receptions for 93 yards the last time they played.

For Teams like Dallas, New Orleans, and the Seahawks to some extent – these are teams that I’m fading because even if their starters actually play this weekend, you can expect they’ll be done by half-time since it’s foolish to risk injuries with nothing to gain. New Orleans especially with guaranteed two weeks of rest of their starters if they don’t play.

If you have to fill in some gaps on your roster, I’d target teams that have something to prove. Cleveland is shooting for a winning season after one win the two previous seasons. Aaron Rodgers looking to get Davante Adams into the record books against a weak Detroit team who has checked out can also be a potential fill in.

Justin Howe:

Teams fighting for playoff spots, positioning, etc. - These are, of course, the safest buckets to pluck from. These teams will go all-out to win and advance, and they'll likely motor on with the approach that's served them well for 15 games.

Teams who have clinched byes, berths, etc. - It's a common misconception that these teams will always sit their starters. Some teams truly fear playoff rust, and some have sentimental reasons to play (see below). As Phil pointed out, it's all about reading the tea leaves from beat writers.

Teams out of the playoffs regardless of outcome - James' point is an excellent one, that there's a big difference between a 3-12 team and an 8-7 one that just got bounced last week. One is starting vacation this week; the other has been on it to some degree since October.

This week, I have some GPP interest in the Saints' key contributors. Sean Payton wouldn't rule out their key guys this week, and some digging helped me to understand why: there are several incentives for them to suit up and play at least some this Sunday. Drew Brees is 8 yards short of 4,000 for the year. Michael Thomas is 24 yards shy of Joe Horn's team receiving record. And the franchise itself has never had a 14-2 season, which would be a nice feather in Payton's cap during contract renegotiation. Not to mention, sitting their starters this week would put them three weeks removed from action in their first playoff game. I'm bracing for Brees, Thomas, and the running backs to see at least two quarters of action. If one of them finds the end zone twice, he could push me way ahead of 90-95% of the pack that expects them to rest.

BJ Vanderwoude:

Of the three buckets of teams, I tend to favor teams fighting for a playoff spot, and those teams that are completely out of the playoff picture. The worst thing for DFS lineups is to start a player only to have them exit the game after a half, or a quarter, or maybe even the first possession.

With teams fighting for a playoff position, you know what you are getting. They will start the same team that they have been running out for the first 15 games, and they will be playing healthy, hurt or somewhere in the middle. These are the teams that you are best to target, as their studs will be playing an entire game and you know the coaching staff will only have one thing in mind, and that is to win the game.

For teams that are already out of the playoffs, there is an opportunity to target players that will be less known, and thus have a lower ownership percentage. If the coaching staff is starting these players, there is a good chance they are going to see a full complement of touches and these are the type of players that are the difference between min-cashing in a GPP, and winning one outright with several players that are less than 5% owned.