Who are some of your favorite new considerations in the player pool for Week 17 based on teams resting or pulling starters early?
Phil Alexander: Rod Smith is the first name that comes to mind. Dallas is locked into the fourth seed in the NFC and has zero reasons to risk an injury to Ezekiel Elliott ahead of the playoffs. Smith scored a touchdown in four straight games following Elliott's suspension last season, and given a full workload, would have multi-touchdown upside against a beatable Giants defensive front. Smith won't be a free square if he's named the starter, however. DraftKings, in anticipation of the Cowboys resting Elliott, raised Smith's price into RB2 territory.
James Brimacombe: Royce Freeman is the name that I want to load up on now with Philip Lindsay out for the week. Freeman had some glowing recommendations heading into the season, but it was Lindsay that pulled away with the job. Now with a single game left on the season the Broncos will be looking to see what they have in Freeman and a double-digit touch effort should be in the cards. On 113 rushing attempts on the season, Freeman has 5 touchdowns so looking at a 15+ touch type of game might be all he needs to find the end zone one more time this season.
Dan Hindery: Royce Freeman becomes interesting in Denver, especially if Kansas City has a big first half against the Raiders. Jalen Lindsay is out for Denver and this is a game where the Chargers may hedge their bets a bit and rest guys in the second half if it looks like the Chiefs are handling their business against Oakland.
Dwayne Washington is a name to watch for New Orleans. Sean Payton was cranky when questioned about how much his starters were going to play and didn’t admit to planning rest for Mark Ingram II or Alvin Kamara. However, common sense would point towards the top two backs barely seeing the field. That would leave Washington as a potential workhorse back in a game New Orleans is favored to win against a Carolina team throwing in the towel. Washington has just 16 carries on the season but 11 came in a blowout win over the Bengals when Kamara and Ingram rested much of the second half. He could have a chance for 20 touches this week at a bargain price and has to be on the DFS radar.
Cleveland gives up over 124 yards per game on the ground and they are playing the Ravens who need to win to be in. While the Browns want to close out the season on a streak and notch their first winning season in a long time, guys like Gus Edwards and Lamar Jackson become new considerations you might not have considered before because they have a high floor and could exceed value against the weak Cleveland run defense.
The Packers are going to want to play well against Detroit, even though there is no playoff implication to the outcome of the game. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams become chalk plays, but Jamaal Williams is going to be the feature back in the game and his floor should be pretty low as well.
Cameron Brate is the main tight end in Tampa and I expect them to want to close out the season on a high note in front of the home crowd. They had a disappointing season and may be in for a good house-cleaning before next summer, and they’ll want to do well in this final showing. Brate is the feature tight end with O.J. Howard on IR. Brate might be an interesting GPP play against the soft Atlanta Defense.
C.J. Anderson and Rod Smith, of course, should be at the top of this list for any DFSer. But if the Saints do decide to sit their starters for most of the game, I'll have some contrarian interest in running back Dwayne Washington. He's the only back other than Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II of note, and he took on a huge garbage-time workload in a Week 10 blowout, racking up 11 rushes in the second half. If he's given a full game as the lead back, I'm confident he'll touch the ball 18-20 times in a still-favorable matchup.