Week 17 - Strategy and Bets
If you listened to the podcast then you know I approach this week differently than others. Week 17 is typically one where people step away from fantasy football and it is certainly one where I significantly downsize my buy-ins. I likely play between 1-5% of my normal bankroll because I prefer to save my money for the divisional round next week, which is always fun to play. Week 17 is simply a way for me to stay in tune for the playoffs. Like I said on the Week 17 Podcast, It is certainly a week to utilize soft skills and get different where possible so I am going to give you a couple of obvious plays at each position with some similarly priced pivots that I hope remain low owned.
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Deshaun Watson
Lamar Jackson looks like the top overall play at quarterback this week and I'm not here to talk you off of him. In fact, I expect a massive day from him, but I do think there are paths to downside that allow someone like Deshaun Watson at $7700 to outscore him. It's more of a gut feel, but Watson never goes quietly, no matter how bad his team is and this team is awful. JJ Watt gave an inspiring speech after last week's embarrassing loss to the Bengals and while I don't think the Texans can stop the Titans' offense, I do expect them to put up a fight. In fact, they are one of my craziest bets this week. I took the Texans outright over the Titans and that pretty much hinges on Watson going off. On the other side, Tannehill is great leverage off of King Henry. I've broken down data all season, do I really need to explain playing a quarterback against the Texans? My point is, there are other options besides Lamar this week. John Wolford was another I talked about on the podcast. He is receiving a lot of buzz because he provides rushing upside at an insanely cheap price. I don't know if I end up needing the salary savings here but he is a fine play if you do need a cheap QB with upside.
The Big Dog is an obvious play this week and I expect him to be the highest owned player on the slate. Bottom 3 rush Defense and it's after October, what's not to like? Even better if he can break a couple of long ones and speed up the pace of the game. He is one of the few RBs that can speed up a game which is what makes him so playable in cash and tournaments. The upside is always enormous, but the downside is always present. The man doesn't catch passes and his statistical twin, Nick Chubb, is 2k cheaper. Just something to think about. Jonathan Taylor is another we all expect to smash this weekend. However, I think the colts can potentially spread it out and then rest the rookie for next week. Don't get me wrong, Taylor is a great play, I'm just going full-on galaxy brain since it's week 17, so I like plenty of pivots around him. Ekeler at $7500 is a fantastic pivot against the Chiefs. Should be a close one in a potentially positive game script without Kenan Allen. I'll take it. I already mentioned Chubb and that looks even better with Watt and Heyward ruled out for the Steelers. I'm not sure I could ever pay near 8k for Montgomery but if you are a true believer then have at it. Point is, there are plenty of pivots off of Taylor and you could grab 3 studs if you wanted to fade Henry. Options are plenty this week.
The next chalk RB in a great spot is Alexander Mattison. It's the matchup we all love, the lowly, pathetic, god-awful, abysmal, poorly coached, poorly ran Detroit Lions. Honestly, I feel for Lions fans. It's cruel what you guys have to endure. I hope for Swift-sake they get someone that knows what they're doing in there. Please. Ok, enough ranting, Mattison should be chalk and so will the Receivers. You gotta pick one. Andrew mentioned the Vikings passing game as his favorite stack this week. If you are playing more than one Vikings pass-catcher then I think you gotta consider Cousins as well. If they are paying off those price tags then so is Kirk. Sitting just above Mattison in price is my beloved Swift and then Josh Jacobs. Both are in tremendous spots and create nice leverage off of Alexander Mattison. Alvin Kamara just destroyed this Minnesota defense last week so is it that crazy to think Kamara-lite can have a nice day? The answer is no, it isn't. It's gonna be so Gruden to hand Jacobs the ball 20+ times in a meaningless game and I am here for it. Melvin Gordon is also in play as Phillip Lindsey will continue to miss time. He is the cheapest of all these in this range. I'll let you tune into the podcast to hear my Malcolm Brown take.
There are so many cheap plays this week that you can afford to pay up for Ridley or Adams if you so please. I will fade those who are likely to sit and target those in competitive games. Ridley and Adams should be in good games so they are playable as always. I've also got a futures bet (+1400) on Davante Adams to lead the league in receiving yards so I will be pulling hard for Mr. Madden 99. I mentioned Tannehill already so obviously Brown/Davis are fantastic leverage plays off of a chalky Henry. This offense is fun to watch and someone is breaking a long one. If you choose correctly, you win the money. Curtis Samuel should see plenty of targets and rushes with Davis and Robby Anderson out this week. He is a tremendous value relative to his opportunity this week. I like Shepherd if Tate sits, and Lamb as other guys in this range. Whether it be as a pivot or another value, Shepherd will provide a nice floor/ceiling combo without Tate. His slot EPA and Targets per route run is much higher than when he is lined up outside or splitting with Tate. As for the cheap guys, I'm just gonna list them off and let you decide. Gabriel Davis, Mohommed Sanu, Richie James, Josh Reynolds, Henry Ruggs, and Jeudy/Patrick are all great values this week. I expect more to open up by lock tomorrow so stay tuned if you have money on the line. Basically, with so many players expected to rest or only play a part of the game, there will be several cheap guys who go off this week. Again, the soft skills required this week will permit an edge, but you must be locked into all the late, breaking news.
Tight End and Defense
Donald Parham will likely be chalk. He is dirt cheap, I love that. He only saw 3 targets last week in a similar scenario so you aren't crazy to pivot elsewhere. Burton, if Doyle sits, is slightly cheaper and has a history of going off when his compadres sit. Irv smith as a pivot off of the other Vikings players is reasonable and the same goes for Jonnu Smith. Engram against the Cowboys and Gesecki in a must-win against the Bills are both great values even at a higher cost. With so much WR value, I don't have to pay down at TE like I typically do throughout the year. When it comes to defense, Just play a reasonably priced defense against a team that you think has completely given up and checked out. Don't overthink it.
As always, these bets are not recommendations and something I like to add in for fun. I don't give them all, especially the wild parlays, but I have gotten good feedback on this section so here's what I'm looking at for a wild, unpredictable Week 17! All bets placed at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Miami, (+107) ML - I think Buffalo rests their starters for most of the game, and Miami wins outright.
Atlanta, (+260) ML - Falcons are Frauds and only show up when the season is over.
Houston, (+287) ML - I hit on this one already. Gut feel more than my usual Data-Driven plays.
J.K. Dobbins, Over 69.5 Rushing Yards (-112) - Release the Rook!
Sterling Shepherd, Over 57.5 Receiving Yards (-112) - Hopefully, Tate sits.
Van Jefferson, Over 20.5 Receiving Yards (-112) - Kupp/Goff out, Wolford should do just enough.
Play a tiny fraction of your typical bankroll
Some random guy is going off, don't be afraid to get different or Leverage off the chalky guys
Factor in players resting, team motivation, and playoff seeding
Have some fun and save your money for the Divisional Round!