Each week I will 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. I will 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'm attempting to find players that can pay dividends for your lineup but 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 which will help you to sort through the noise while you put lineups together that can offer a degree of security.
Note: Week 17 brings inherent risk as some teams may decide to not play their quarterbacks and skill position players a normal amount as they look to the playoffs. Please understand going in that some players on this list may not see four full quarters this week.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Carolina Panthers at home in a Week 17 NFC South showdown. The Buccaneers are six-point favorites at home and Vegas has set the total for this game at 44 points. The Buccaneers have an implied total of 26.5 points and the Panthers have an implied number of 17.5 points.
The Buccaneers passing attack will face the league’s last ranked passing defense which is giving up 273.5 yards per game through the air. The Panthers yield 7.6 yards per attempt which is seventh-worst throughout the league and only nine teams in the NFL have allowed more than the 26 passing touchdowns the Panthers have surrendered.
The Panthers have given up 389 completions to date and are third-worst in the NFL in this area. Let’s take a deeper look into the kind of completions they are surrendering to see where they are vulnerable and how that fits with what the Colts do on offense.
As stated above, they’ve also surrendered 26 touchdowns through the air. They’ve have allowed a touchdown-to-completion ratio of 6.7 percent which is ranked No. 19 in the NFL. The Panthers are allowing a large amount of completions, but it is not only the quantity, it is the quality in the completions they are surrendering as well.
The Panthers have allowed 51 passing plays that have gone for 20+ yards which puts them in the bottom third of the league at No. 21 overall. They’ve allowed 11 passing plays that have gone for 40 or more yards and this is where Winston and Evans could do damage in this game. Only five teams league-wide have allowed more plays in this category.
The Panthers defense is vulnerable underneath and vertically and that gives Evans a high floor from yardage and high upside as he’ll get a few vertical shots down the field. Evans doesn’t need a lot of volume to score points as he is capable of making big plays in a flash and the numbers show that the Panthers are getting beaten by big plays. However, Evans is in line for a bigger workload than normal as Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate is out due to an injury and it is clear Evans will be the workhorse.
Evans the No. 1 option in the Buccaneers passing attack but his target share has trailed off over the past few games. I’d expect him to receive a significant uptick in volume this week which gives him that high floor/high upside mix.
Vegas is telling us that the game script here is calling for lots of scoring from the Buccaneers and there is the potential that Winston and Evans will have to carry the load for the Buccaneers offense. Winston and Evans are safe options for Week 17 GPP play as they have both a high floor and a high ceiling.
The Atlanta Falcons bring the New Orleans Saints into town in Week 17 in another NFC South clash. Vegas has set the total at 56.5 points and it sees this game as the highest scoring game of the week. The Flacons are 6.5 point favorites at home with an implied total of 31.5 points while the Saints have an implied number of 25 points.
The Saints are the No. 30 ranked passing unit in the league allowing 270.5 yards per game. Only two teams league-wide allow a higher average than the 7.8 yard average the Saints allow and only seven teams in the NFL surrender a higher passer rating than the 95.4 rating the Saints have allowed.
The Saints have allowed 351 completions which is ranked No. 22 in the NFL. They’ve given up 23 passing scores to date which is ranked No. 15 league-wide. They’ve have allowed a touchdown-to-completion ratio of 6.6 percent which is ranked No. 16 in the NFL.
The Saints have allowed 45 passing plays that have gone for 20+ yards and are tied for No. 9 overall here. They’ve allowed nine passing plays that have gone for 40 or more yards which is No. 18 in the NFL. Those numbers look solid, but the game script turns those numbers on their head.
The game script is calling for a shootout and if that happens, it is entirely possible that Jones goes off in this contest. He’s been banged up with a toe injury but has played through it and had big play opportunity last week. What interests me is that the Falcons will be forced to score and keep pace against the Saints and that is a funnel for volume to the Falcons passing game.
Jones carries some risk with the toe injury, but Vegas has this as a super high scoring game and that helps Ryan and Jones. I’d watch the injury report and how Jones practices and if he doesn’t look limited then I’d lock him in and look forward to this potential shootout.
The New Orleans Saints are on the road in an NFC South matchup as they take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 17. Vegas has this game tabbed as the highest scoring game of the week with the total set at 56.5 points. The Saints are a 6.5 point underdog on the road and they have an implied total of 25 points while the Falcons have an implied number of 31.5 points.
The Falcons are the league’s No. 26 ranked passing defense allowing 261.7 yards per game. Atlanta has surrendered 393 completions to date which is No. 31 in the league and they are allowing a completion rate of 65 percent which is sixth-worst league-wide. Brees has no issues completing passes but he’ll actually get some help here in this matchup as the Falcons are a very soft pass defense.
The Falcons have allowed 29 passing scores (No. 29 league-wide) and the rate they allow touchdowns in relation to the completions they allow is 7.4 percent which is No. 22 in the NFL. The passer rating that they surrender is 93.2 and only 10 teams allow a higher rating.
The Falcons struggle to generate much pressure as they only have 32 sacks in 2016. The rate at which they sack the quarterback relative to the number of attempts against them is 5.3 percent and that’s seventh-worst in the NFL. The above numbers paint a pretty picture for Brees and company, but he’ll get that extra split-second in the pocket this week and that could lead to a few big connections down the field.
Where this matchup is most attractive is in the game script. The Falcons are going to score points on the Saints defense and the script is funneling passing volume to the Saints offense. Brees should be able to exploit the soft Falcons pass defense and add in the increased volume and it looks like a buffet of passing game happiness for the Saints.
Cooks is far and away the Saints No. 1 vertical threat and he won’t face the Falcons No. 1 cornerback Desmond Trufant who is on IR with a pectoral injury. He’s been targeted 36 times in the past four games and has caught at least five passes in those four games. He could be in line for a big game here as Brees will take shots down the field to Cooks.
When looking at the game script, it is easy to see a path to added volume for Olsen in what looks like a back and forth game that should be high scoring. Also, when these teams met back in Week 4, Olsen caught six passes for 76 yards and a score with Derek Anderson filling in for Newton at quarterback. The Falcons and Panthers combined for 81 points in that game.
Pivot: The Falcons are very vulnerable to the tight end position and they have been beaten regularly throughout the 2016 season. Last week, Panthers tight end caught six passes for 59 yards. Two weeks ago, the 49ers tight ends hit them for 67 yards and a score. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce went for eight catches and 140 yards in Week 13.
The Falcons have given up at least five catches to tight ends in 10 of their 15 games this year. They’ve also given up seven scores to the position in 2016 and overall they have a very hard time covering tight ends that can run good routes and exploit coverage.
The tight ends that give the Falcons the most trouble are “move” tight ends and that describes Saints tight end Coby Fleener ($4,800), and he’ll have opportunity in this game. Another player to consider here is rookie receiver Michael Thomas ($6,700). He has been very involved in the passing attack in is a solid play in a game that has an incredibly positive script for the Saints passing game.
The Washington Redskins take on the New York Giants at home in an NFC East showdown in Week 17 with significant playoff implications. The Redskins are eight-point favorites at home and they have an implied total of 26 points. Vegas is not calling this a high scoring game though with a total of only 44 points as the Giants have an implied total of only 18 points as they are locked into the No. 5 spot in the NFC playoffs and will/should be resting their stars.
The Redskins passing attack will face the league’s No. 22 ranked passing defense which is giving up 251.5 yards per game through the air. The Giants yield 6.7 yards per attempt which is fifth-best throughout the league. The Giants are also tough to score on as they’ve surrendered only 14 passing touchdowns and that is second-best in the NFL.
The Jets have only given up 347 completions to date and are No. 21 in the NFL in this area. Let’s take a deeper look into the kind of completions they are surrendering to see where they are vulnerable and how that fits with what the Patriots do on offense.
The Giants have allowed 53 passing plays that have gone for 20+ yards which is a rate of 15.3 percent, and it ranks them No. 24 overall league-wide in this statistic. They’ve allowed 11 passing plays that have gone for 40 or more yards, a rate of 3.2 percent which is No. 23 league-wide. Clearly, the Giants can be beaten vertically through the air.
The Giants are banged up on defense and it is likely that with nothing to play for, they’ll sit some of their starters as this game wears on. Considering that, and looking at the game script, it seems that this game lines up very favorably for the Redskins passing attack.
Jackson has been incredibly active in the six games he’s played since he missed the Week 10 game against the Vikings. He’s been targeted 39 times in those six games, catching 24 passes for 555 yards and three scores. Jackson has posted four 100 yard games in that span and is connecting with Cousins down the field and that should continue this week.
When looking at the sum of this game’s parts relative to the Redskins passing game, there is a path to solid production for Cousins and Jackson and they are an intriguing GPP stack in Week 17.
The Seattle Seahawks go on the road to take on the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC West clash in Week 17. Seattle has clinched the division but is fighting for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. The Seahawks are favored by 9.5 points on the road and have an implied total of 26.5 points while the 49ers have an implied total of 17 points. Vegas has set the total at 43.5 points.
The 49ers have the league’s No. 12 passing defense and are allowing 237.3 yards per game. They surrender 7.7 yards per attempt and are No. 28 in the NFL in this category. They’ve allowed 29 passing scores and are No. 29 in the NFL here and the reality is they are very vulnerable to the pass. While they aren’t yielding much quantity against the pass, they are giving up quality as evidenced above.
The 49ers have given up 299 completions to date (third-best in the NFL) but they’ve allowed a touchdown-to-completion ratio of 9.7 percent which is ranked No. 31 in the NFL. The 49ers have given up 55 passing plays that have gone for 20 or more yards and that is a rate of 18.4 percent in relation to their completions. They are ranked No. 31 in the NFL here.
The 49ers have given up 10 passing plays that have gone for 40 or more yards and that is a rate of 3.3 percent in relation to their completions. They are No. 25 league-wide in this area and this is where Baldwin can do damage in this game.
Wilson has heated up over the past two games as they’ve had some running game uncertainty. He’s thrown seven touchdowns in the past two games. Seattle’s implied total has them scoring three-plus touchdowns and Wilson is going to be vital in moving the ball on the 49ers defense.
Baldwin has been consistent as of late but isn’t scoring like he did last year. He’s still seeing enough passing game volume and is making the most of his opportunity as he’s converted 31 of his 43 targets (72 percent) over the past four games. He did score last week and caught 13 passes for 171 yards.
Wilson and Baldwin form a solid, stable stack with a good floor and some intriguing upside in Week 17 and are a solid GPP play in Week 17.
Pivot: Jimmy Graham ($6,400) is a great choice at tight end this week. The matchup is great and he has re-emerged as a premier tight end in the NFL. Selecting Graham allows you to get a piece of the action here at a reduced price. He would also make for a strong triple-stack option with Wilson and Baldwin.
The Detroit Lions are at home in Week 17 to take on the Green Bay Packers in an NFC North winner take all situation. The winner of this game locks up the NFC North and the loser potentially goes home and their season ends. The Lions are a 3.5 point underdog at home with an implied total of 21.5 points while the Packers implied number is 25 points.
The Packers have the No. 29 ranked passing defense, allowing 265.1 yards per game. They are yielding 8.0 yards per attempt which is dead last in the NFL. The Packers have allowed 344 receptions to date in 2016 which is ranked No. 20 in the NFL.
The Packers have 30 passing scores in 2016 which is second-worst in the NFL. They’ve allowed a touchdown-to-completion ratio of 8.7 percent which is ranked No. 29 in the NFL. The Packers have given up 53 passing plays that have gone for 20 or more yards and that is a rate of 15.4 percent in relation to their completions. They are ranked No. 26 in the NFL here.
The Packers have given up 11 passing plays that have gone for 40 or more yards and that is a rate of 3.2 percent in relation to their completions. They are No. 24 league-wide in this area and it’s apparent that the Lions pass catchers should be able to do damage in this contest.
Tate started his season slowly but has really emerged as the Lions primary weapon. The Lions saw him slumping and deployed him close to the line of scrimmage and fed him the ball in the middle part of the season, and over the past few games he’s run deeper routes and been targeted more down the field.
Tate’s been targeted 40 times over the past four games and has 28 catches for 383 yards and a score. Tate is a volume play and completely dependent on the number of targets he sees as he isn’t a home-run threat and he’ll need a heavy number of catches to get to GPP value.
However, the Lions can’t (and sometimes won’t) run the ball and that means the short throwing, quick hitting plays they run to Tate at the line of scrimmage makes up their running game. Tate should have a very big role in the game plan for the Lions as they don’t want Stafford dealing with pressure and that means the ball has to come out quick to playmakers that can make the first defender miss, and that’s Tate.
Stafford hasn’t been quite the same since suffering a throwing finger dislocation versus the Bears three weeks ago and that brings a little risk into the equation. However, Stafford has looked fine on his short throws recently but has struggled with decision making and has forced the ball into bad spots due to that poor decision making and pressure he’s seen from the Giants and Cowboys.
Green Bay is No. 5 in the NFL with 38 sacks in 2016 and if they are able to bring enough pressure on Stafford to make him uncomfortable, it’ll mean bad things for the Lions offense. The Lions are one dimensional and they aren’t going to run the ball well on the Packers and that adds more risk on this stack, but it also means the Lions will be thrown the ball a lot in this contest.
There is plenty of risk in this stack as I’ve illustrated, but there is also significant upside and that makes it a worthwhile stack for GPP play in Week 17.
Pivot: Marvin Jones Jr ($5,600) is a complete flier as he’s really struggled to get off of press coverage at the line of scrimmage, and he’s having a hard time in contested catch situations, but the Lions continue to take shots down the field to him and he could pay off if one or two of those targets hit home. Tight end Eric Ebron ($5,800) was targeted 12 times last week and the Packers are not doing a good job of covering tight ends recently. He is another intriguing option as he’s capable of stretching the field and is difficult to cover because of his size and physicality. Ebron could pay off in this matchup as he should see enough volume to warrant selection, and the script is very positive for the Lions passing game.
The Houston Texans travel on the road to take on the Tennessee Titans in a Week 17 AFC South clash. The Texans have won the AFC South but Savage started his first game last week and he needs game time and should see a full four quarters Sunday. The Titans are of the playoffs in 2016 after losing second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota to a broken leg last week.
The Texans are three-point underdogs on the road with an implied total of 18.5 points. The Titans have an implied total of 21.5 points and the total has been set at 40 points in this game. There is certainly risk associated with the low total in this game and that must be accounted for.
The Titans are the league’s No. 31 ranked passing unit allowing 270.9 yards per game. The Titans allow 7.3 yards per attempt which is No. 19 in the NFL but they have given up 24 passing touchdowns in 2016. The Titans have allowed 362 completions which is ranked No. 27 league-wide. Interestingly, they’ve allowed a touchdown-to-completion ratio of 6.6 percent which is No. 18 in the NFL.
Savage started his first game last week after coming in for an underperforming Brock Osweiler in Week 15 and completed 18-of-29 passes for 176 yards. Savage has taken care of the ball the 1+ games he’s played and that’s in stark contrast to Osweiler.
Hopkins was targeted 17 times in Week 15 which was the highest volume he’d seen in the entire season. He was only targeted six times last week and there is risk associated with the volatility here. This stack is entirely dependent on the kind of volume that Hopkins will see, but the Titans can be had as they are a middle of the road pass defense.
However, there is significant risk here on several levels. The Titans can be beaten, but Savage isn’t lighting the world on fire and you’re banking that the volume Hopkins sees gets them on top of the matchup.
Can you trust Savage to make plays and get the ball to Hopkins at a level that warrants rostering him? Also, Vegas doesn’t like this game to be a high-scoring affair with a total set at 40 points. You’re taking on huge risk at the quarterback position and that risk is automatically passed onto the receiver as he’s dependent on the quarterback throwing him the ball.
This one is as risky as it gets and is truly like punching in the dark. However, by stacking these two players together you’ll potentially be able to spend up elsewhere and if they can get to GPP value you are a step ahead of the game.
The Jacksonville Jaguars go on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts in Week 17 for an AFC South clash of teams at the bottom of the AFC South. The Jaguars have been a tremendous disappointment and are 3-12 while the Colts are currently 7-8 and looking to finish an even 8-8 on the season.
Vegas has the total set at 48 points and has the Jaguars as a 4.5 point underdog on the road. The Jaguars have an implied total of 21.5 points while the Colts have an implied number of 26.5 points. The Titans are the league’s No. 24 ranked pass defense allowing 260.8 yards per game. They are ranked No. 25 in the league in completions allowed (353) and they are allowing 7.6 yards per attempt which is No. 24 league-wide.
The Colts have given up 26 passing touchdowns in 2016 and they’ve allowed a touchdown-to-completion ratio of 7.4 percent which is ranked No. 21 in the NFL. The Titans have given up 52 passing plays that have gone for 20 or more yards and that is a rate of 14.7 percent in relation to their completions. They are ranked No. 21 in the NFL here.
There is risk associated with the game script here though as one has to consider whether last week was a “black swan” or a signal that Robinson and Bortles will finish the year on a strong note. It is an understatement to say Bortles and Robinson have had a down year, but they connected last week as Bortles targeted Robinson 12 times and nine were caught for 147 yards.
Another consideration is that the Jaguars are a very good defensive football team (No. 3 pass defense) and that’ll prove to be a challenge for the Colts offense. Can Luck push the Jaguars and force passing game volume to Bortles and Robinson? Vegas says yes as they have the Colts scoring 3+ touchdowns, but I don’t think it will be that easy. That’s the risk in a nutshell.
Robinson has had a bad season but has proven himself in the past as a big-play receiver capable of making plays which gives him a huge ceiling, and we saw a little of that last week. This is a risky stack, but it could pay off like it did last week and the price to roster both gives you flexibility to spend up elsewhere.
RUNNING BACK/DEFENSIVE STACKS
LeSean McCoy ($9,100) + Buffalo Bills ($4,800) = $13,900
The Buffalo Bills travel to the Meadowlands to take on the struggling New York Jets in a Week 17 AFC matchup featuring teams at the bottom of the AFC East. The Bills are currently 7-8 while the Jets are 4-11 and have been looking to the draft as their season has been effectively over for a few weeks.
This game script looks to funnel volume to the Bills rushing attack as this game should be out of reach relatively early as the Bills matchup well all over the field. McCoy has been fantastic in 2016 and he’ll finish strong with a big game here.
It also looks good for the Bills defense as the Jets are starting Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback in Week 17. Fitzpatrick is turnover prone and he will put the ball into bad places when the Jets are behind and forced to push the pace. This bodes well for the Bills defense and its ability to be a productive play in GPP tournaments this week.
The Bills are favored by six points on the road with an implied total of 25 points while the Jets have an implied total of 19 points. Again, the game script here is very favorable for the Bills running game as it should funnel running attempts as the game wears on and that is good news for McCoy.
The Jets have the No. 14 ranked run defense allowing 100.9 yards per game and a stout 3.8 yards per carry. However, the Jets have yielded big plays against the run. They’ve been hit for 11 runs that have gone for 20 or more yards and only seven teams in the NFL have given up more plays generating big yards from the run than the Jets.
The Bills defense has the ability to pressure quarterbacks as they have the fifth-most sacks in the NFL. The Bills will make Fitzpatrick uncomfortable and he’ll put the ball into bad spots which could lead to big plays for their defense which makes them an intriguing GPP play in Week 16.
David Johnson ($9,300) + Arizona Cardinals ($4,700) = $14,000
The Arizona Cardinals travel to Los Angeles in Week 17 to take on a struggling Rams football team. The Cardinals are favored by six points on the road with an implied total of 24 points while the Rams have an implied total of 17.5 points.
The Cardinals should be in a situation to get Johnson heavily involved early in this game (rushing and receiving) and if Vegas has it right, they’ll be running the ball to kill time late in this game, all of which benefits Johnson’s ability to produce fantasy points.
Johnson takes on the league’s No. 18 ranked run defense allowing 105.1 yards per game. They allow 3.9 yards per carry which is outstanding but they’ve surrendered 11 touchdowns to date. Also, they have been hit by the big play as they’ve given up 12 running plays of 20 or more yards. Only four teams have yielded more 20+ yard runs than the Rams.
The Cardinals will pressure rookie quarterback Jared Goff and make it difficult for him and he has turned the ball over (nine turnovers in seven games) and the Cardinals do an outstanding job in coverage with cornerback Patrick Peterson throwing a blanket over areas which can take away parts of the field. From a game script perspective, it’s tough to see the Rams offense doing much here and Vegas is certainly projecting the Cardinals up and running out clock in this game.
Johnson should see plenty of work in this game as a runner and receiver, and he’ll face a run defense that will yield touchdowns. Because of the matchup and the way the Cardinals play on defense, there is opportunity on both sides of this stack and they make for a nice option in GPP play in Week 17.
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