Starting Stacks for Week 17

Scott Bischoff takes a look at the stacks that could pay dividends in Week 17 in GPP play on FanDuel and DraftKings.

Each week I take a look at every NFL game in an attempt to identify players that can be stacked together to maximize value in GPP play at FanDuel and DraftKings. I examine the spreads and totals for each game as well as the implied totals for each team and blend that with the likeliest script that these games will follow. In doing so, I attempt to find players that can pay dividends for your lineup. In some cases, I will also provide a pivot within the stack to another player and give reasons as to why a pivot might make sense. You can use this information as a guide, and you will have multiple options to help you to sort through the noise while you put lineups together that can offer a degree of security.

Week 17 of DFS play is here, and hockey coach Herb Brooks had it right when he famously said: “great moments are born from great opportunities.” Each team has its motivation for how it is going to handle the minutes they play their starters in the season’s final week, and this article from FootballGuys’ Phil Alexander is a great place to get some of that information.

Monitor news coming from all teams this week as there is potential for cheaper priced options to play big minutes for teams resting starters, and this is where you can gain an edge over the competition. Be sure to pay attention to the status of players you are looking to roster, but understand there are no absolutes at play. There will be opportunities for backups this week, and the more research you do relating to playing time and game scripts, the better your chances of having a meaningful final week of regular-season DFS play.

The following write-ups are not written with any consideration to playing time issues and are matchup and game script related. The following stacks carry more risk than normal due to playing time volatility, and you need to determine how much risk you are willing to tolerate before deciding to roster any of the following players.

Lastly, this article will be updated Saturday if any news comes out that impacts the following players in any way.

Edit: This article was updated as of 9:00 PM EST on 12/29/18

Below each write-up is information on the starters (if any has been revealed) and what each team may do in certain circumstances, and injury information. This information will help you assess risk and help you build lineups.

RISK-AVERSE STACKS

Patrick Mahomes II + Tyreek Hill

FanDuel: Mahomes ($9,500) + Hill ($7,800) = $17,300

DraftKings: Mahomes ($7,100) + Hill ($8,400) = $15,500

Facing the No. 31 ranked DVOA pass defense and the No. 14 ranked pass defense allowing 236.2 yards per game

Game Total - 54

Implied Totals - Chiefs at 34 points and Raiders at 20 points

Game Line - Kansas City Chiefs -13.5

The Kansas City Chiefs are at home on Sunday as they take on the Oakland Raiders in a Week 17 AFC West matchup. This game is expected to be high scoring as it has the highest total of the week, and the implied number has the Chiefs scoring almost five touchdowns in this game.

Mahomes has been incredible in 2018, throwing for 48 touchdowns and 4816 yards while only throwing 11 interceptions. He has also added 217 yards rushing and has two rushing touchdowns this season. Mahomes threw four touchdown passes when these teams met back in Week 13.

The Raiders allow an 8.0-yard average, and only three teams in the NFL are worse in this area. The Raiders have given up 55 passing plays of 20-plus yards, and only six teams across the league have given up more. The Raiders have surrendered 13 passing plays of 40-plus yards which are the most in the NFL. Lastly, the Raiders have yielded 34 scores through the air which are most in the NFL.

Hill is the most explosive vertical option in the Chiefs passing attack, and the deep ball has gashed the Raiders in 2018. Hill has been held in check of late, but the matchup against the Raiders is excellent, and one he should exploit. Hill has been targeted 36 times in the past four games, and he has caught 17 passes for 272 yards, but he has not scored in that span of games.

The Chiefs passing game should excel against the Raiders as they have been vulnerable to the pass throughout the entire season. Mahomes and Hill have a chance to put up big numbers in Week 17.

Pivot: Tight end Travis Kelce ($7,700 at FanDuel and $7,200 at DraftKings) is an extremely dangerous weapon in the Chiefs passing game, and he has been on fire of late. He has been targeted 40 times in the past four games, catching 31 passes for 360 yards and scoring three touchdowns over that span (note that he caught two touchdowns when these teams faced off in Week 13). The Raiders are the league’s last-ranked DVOA pass defense versus the tight end, and Kelce should have a monster game this week.

Edit: The Chiefs need a win or a Chargers loss to clinch home-field advantage, but there is also a chance that the Chiefs will pull their starters if they get up big in the second half, or if the Chargers are losing their game.

Ben Roethlisberger + Antonio Brown

FanDuel: Roethlisberger ($8,700) + Brown ($8,800) = $17,500

DraftKings: Roethlisberger ($7,000) + Brown ($8,700) = $15,700

Facing the No. 28 ranked DVOA pass defense and the No. 30 ranked pass defense allowing 275.7 yards per game

Game Total - 45.5

Implied Totals - Steelers at 30 points and Bengals at 15.5 points

Game Line - Pittsburgh Steelers -5.5

The Pittsburgh Steelers are at home as they take on the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on Sunday for an AFC North matchup in Week 17. This game is expected to be a high-scoring affair as it carries the fourth-highest total of the week, and the implied number has the Steelers over four touchdowns in this contest.

Roethlisberger has thrown for 33 scores and 15 interceptions to go along with 4842 yards in 2018 while adding three rushing touchdowns to his numbers. The Steelers passing offense is a very potent, and they should be able to exploit the matchup and produce at a high rate in this game.

The Bengals allow an 8.0-yard average, and only three teams in the NFL are worse in this area. The Bengals have given up 57 passing plays of 20-plus yards, and only two teams across the league have given up more. The Bengals have surrendered 12 passing plays of 40-plus yards which are the second-most in the NFL. Lastly, the Bengals have yielded 31 scores through the air which are second-most in the NFL.

Roethlisberger is at his best when he can extend plays with his feet, and that allows his receivers to go off script and make big plays. Pressure can force him to throw early, but the Bengals struggle to generate much pressure as they have registered 33 sacks in 2018, and only six teams have fewer sacks this season.

Brown is a dangerous weapon because of a combination of elite route-running ability and speed to take the top off the defense. He has game-breaking ability and can hit the home run in a flash. The Bengals do not have an answer for Brown, and he should torch them in Week 17.

Brown has been targeted 46 has been times over the past four games. He has caught 33 passes for 423 yards, and he has scored four touchdowns over that span. Roethlisberger and Brown make for an excellent stack in Week 17.

Pivot: Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster ($7,900 at FanDuel and $8,300 at DraftKings) is also an extremely potent weapon, capable of big plays in this phenomenal passing attack. He has been targeted 46 times in the past four games, and he has caught 29 passes for 334 yards while scoring twice in that span.

Edit: Brown showed up on the injury report on Thursday with a knee injury and is questionable for the game. Monitor his status before the game, and make sure he is not limited if you plan to play him. Smith-Schuster will have to take on a larger workload if Brown misses the game, and is a natural pivot.

Aaron Rodgers + Davante Adams

FanDuel: Rodgers ($8,400) + Adams ($8,500) = $16,900

DraftKings: Rodgers ($6,300) + Adams ($8,000) = $14,300

Facing the No. 32 ranked DVOA pass defense and the No. 10 ranked pass defense allowing 231.3 yards per game

Game Total - 45

Implied Totals - Packers at 26.5 points and Lions at 18.5 points

Game Line - Green Bay Packers -8

The Green Bay Packers take on the Detroit Lions at home on Sunday in an NFC North matchup in Week 17. This contest has the sixth-highest total of the week, and the Packers implied number has them nearing four touchdowns this week. Rodgers and company should be able to have their way with the Lions pass defense in this game.

Rodgers is one of the game’s elite quarterbacks, and he has performed at a high level for the Packers in 2018. He has thrown for 25 scores, 4416 yards, and only two interceptions in 2018 in what has been a bit of a down year for the Packers as a whole.

The Lions have allowed 29 scores through the air in 2018, and only six teams have allowed more in 2018. The Lions allow an 8.2-yard average which is worst in the NFL. The Lions have given up 10 passing plays of 40-plus yards, and only seven teams across the league have given up more.

Interestingly, the Lions run defense has stiffened and become one of the netter run units in the NFL since the acquisition of nose tackle Damon Harrison. It is likely that the Packers passing game is very involved in getting the Packers to their implied number in this game.

Adams is easily the first option in the Packers aerial attack, and he has been targeted 55 has been times over the past four games. He has caught 34 passes for 364 yards, and he has scored three touchdowns over that span. Rodgers and Adams make for an excellent stack in Week 17 as they have a chance to have a big day in their season finale.

Adams is questionable with an ankle injury, and you will want to see him practice this week to make sure he is good to go on Sunday.

Pivot: Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($5,000 at FanDuel and $3,900 at DraftKings) avoids cornerback Darius Slay in this matchup as he will see cornerback Nevin Lawson this week. Rodgers can exploit the Lions secondary if he goes away from Slay, and the path for GPP success for Valdes-Scantling is not tough to see. He should make an impact in this game and could be a sneaky play.

Edit: Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson is out for this contest and Rodgers should be able to exploit the Lions secondary in this game. Packers receiver Randall Cobb ($5,000 at FanDuel and $5,000 at DraftKings) is a super intriguing option working out of the slot and he will have plenty of volume going his way of Adams scratches.

Matt Ryan + Julio Jones

FanDuel: Ryan ($8,500) + Jones ($8,600) = $17,100

DraftKings: Ryan ($6,300) + Jones ($8,500) = $14,800

Facing the No. 30 ranked DVOA pass defense and the No. 23 ranked pass defense allowing 251.4 yards per game

Game Total - 51.5

Implied Totals - Falcons at 25 points and Buccaneers at 26.5 points

Game Line - Atlanta Falcons +1.5

The Atlanta Falcons take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road on Sunday in a Week 17 NFC South matchup. This contest is expected to be a high-scoring game with the second-highest total of the week, and the implied number has the Falcons scoring three-plus touchdowns.

Ryan should be busy in this game, and he has a chance to be a great value as the Falcons should go over their implied number. This is a key for GPP play as getting players to outperform their price leads to success.

Ryan has thrown for 33 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2018 to go with 4546 passing yards and three rushing touchdowns. He is playing at an extremely high level and with both defenses underperforming; he has a chance to be a critical piece to GPP success in Week 17.

Opposing quarterbacks have hit the Buccaneers for an 8.2-yard average, and no team in the NFL allows a higher average. The Buccaneers have given up 53 passing plays of 20-plus yards, and only 12 teams across the league have given up more. The Buccaneers have also yielded 31 scores through the air which is second-most in the NFL.

The game script has both teams scoring enough points to keep the opposition’s offense throwing the ball to stay in the game. It is easy to see a path for GPP success for each team’s passing attack when looking at the matchup, and this game certainly has shootout potential.

Jones has been the first option in the Falcons passing game as he has been targeted 157 times this season so far. He has been targeted 32 times in the past four games, catching 20 passes for 234 yards and four scores over that span.

Jones is questionable for this week, but the Falcons are optimistic as head coach Dan Quinn has said that Jones is ahead of last week’s schedule at this time. Jones should be good to go, and he has a chance to finish the 2018 season on a very high note.

Pivot: Wide receivers Calvin Ridley ($5,900 at FanDuel and $5,300 at DraftKings) and Mohamed Sanu ($5,800 at FanDuel and $4,800 at DraftKings) are both solid options due to the matchup and the game script. Tight end Austin Hooper ($5,200 at FanDuel and $3,500 at DraftKings) is also a strong option as he faces the league’s No. 29 ranked DVOA pass defense versus the tight end.

Edit: Neither team has anything to play for in this game, but injuries have really hit the Falcons in 2018. There is no guarantee Jones or running back Tevin Coleman finish this game.

Jameis Winston + Mike Evans

FanDuel: Winston ($7,600) + Evans ($7,300) = $14,900

DraftKings: Winston ($6,100) + Evans ($7,700) = $13,800

Facing the No. 29 ranked DVOA pass defense and the No. 25 ranked pass defense allowing 254.1 yards per game

Game Total - 51.5

Implied Totals - Buccaneers at 26.5 points and Falcons at 25 points

Game Line - Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1.5

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are at home as they take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in a Week 17 NFC South matchup of teams ending their season after this week. This game is expected to be a high scoring contest as it carries the second-highest total of the week. The implied number for the Buccaneers has them nearing four touchdowns, and there is a chance that Winston and company finish their season on a strong note.

Winston has had an up and down year as he has struggled with decision making and turning over the ball. However, back in Week 6 when these teams played each other, Winston threw for 395 yards and four scores.

The Falcons do a solid job of defending the pass as opposing quarterbacks have hit the 49ers for a 7.4-yard average. Only 12 teams do a better job in this area. They are posting fairly average numbers against the pass, but there is a vulnerability that teams have exploited.

The Falcons have yielded 29 scores through the air, and only six teams have given up more. The game script has this contest as a potential shootout and one that has both teams throwing the ball early and often throughout this game. This is a volume-based play and Winston should be able to exploit the Falcons while getting his team into the end zone.

Evans is a dangerous weapon, and he is the first option in the Buccaneers passing attack. Evans has been targeted 31 has been times over the past four games. He has caught 18 passes for 345 yards, and he has scored one touchdown over that span. Evans has a chance to finish the 2018 season on a high note in this potential shootout, and he has a chance to get to GPP value with a big game.

Pivot: Wide receiver Adam Humphries ($6,300 at FanDuel and $5,400 at DraftKings) has seen an uptick in volume over the past few weeks, seeing 35 targets and catching 25 passes. If he can get into the end zone, he can get to GPP value. He is more intriguing at DraftKings because of the full point for receptions, but the matchup makes him intriguing in both formats.

Edit: Neither team has anything to play for here, but there is some speculation that the Buccaneers want to see what quarterback Ryan Griffin can do with the offense. Buccaneers head coach said he wanted to see Griffin get snaps this week versus Atlanta. It is possible that Winston gives way to Griffin at some point in the game.

RB/DST STACKS

Chris Carson + Seattle Seahawks D/ST

FanDuel: Carson ($6,400) + Seahawks ($4,700) = $11,100

DraftKings: Carson ($6,500) + Seahawks ($3,700) = $10,200

Facing the No. 27 ranked DVOA run defense and the No. 32 ranked run defense allowing 153.1 yards per game

Game Total - 40

Implied Totals - Seahawks at 26.5 points and Cardinals at 13.5 points

Game Line - Seattle Seahawks -13

The Seattle Seahawks are at home to face the Arizona Cardinals in a Week 17 NFC West matchup. The Seahawks are a 13-point home-favorite, and the running game should produce at a high level making Carson an outstanding GPP play in Week 17.

The Cardinals are allowing 4.8 yards per carry, and only five teams in the NFL allow a higher average. The Cardinals have surrendered 20 running plays that have gone for 20-plus yards, and only one team in the NFL allows more of these types of runs. They have also given up 23 rushing touchdowns which are the most in the NFL in 2018.

The game script calls for a very heavy workload as the game wears on for the Seahawks running backs, and Carson is in line for a very big game in this contest. Carson’s path to GPP success is fairly easy to see in Week 17 versus the porous Cardinals defense.

Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen is trying to do too much with the football, and he has thrown 14 interceptions in the 13 games he has played. Pressure is hurting him, and the Seahawks can pressure the passer. It is easy to see them getting sacks and turnovers on defense which can turn into instant production with the ability to make a big play or two.

Both Carson and the Seahawks defense have outstanding matchups in Week 17, and both sides of this stack should perform well in GPP play in Week 17.

Edit: There is a possibility that head coach Pete Carroll pulls his starters if the Seahawks get up early in this game.

Sony Michel + New England Patriots D/ST

FanDuel: Michel ($7,200) + Patriots ($4,100) = $11,300

DraftKings: Michel ($5,200) + Patriots ($3,100) = $8,300

Facing the No. 25 ranked DVOA run defense and the No. 26 ranked run defense allowing 126.0 yards per game

Game Total - 45.5

Implied Totals - Patriots at 29.5 points and Jets at 16 points

Game Line - New England Patriots -13.5

The New England Patriots are at home as they bring the New York Jets to town on Sunday for a Week 17 AFC East clash. The Patriots are a 13.5-point home-favorite, and the game script calls for the Patriots to be up big in this game. They should have little trouble putting points on the board, getting up early, and grinding out the clock via their rushing attack.

The Jets are allowing 4.6 yards per carry, and only 11 teams in the NFL allow a higher average. The Jets have surrendered 23 running plays that have gone for 20-plus yards, and no team in the NFL has allowed more of these types of runs. They have also given up 16 rushing touchdowns which is seventh-most in the NFL.

As mentioned above, the Patriots are expected to get up early and force the Jets and rookie quarterback Sam Darnold to keep passing in this game. The Patriots always scheme pressure and they will be able to apply pressure on Darnold, and that means there will be opportunities for sacks and turnovers for the Patriots defense.

The game script is calling for plenty of passing from the Jets, and more passing from the Jets means more opportunity for the Patriots defense. The game script is also calling for plenty of volume for the Patriots running backs, and Michel has emerged as the Patriots primary runner since Week 12 when he faced the Jets for on the road.

Michel has had 89 carries in the past five games, and he has averaged 4.8 yards per carry over that span. He is in line for a big workload again this week, and he should put up very strong numbers against a poor Jets run defense.

Michel and the Patriots defense are each in an excellent situation from a matchup perspective, and both parts of the stack should perform well in GPP play in Week 17.