FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 17
Welcome to our weekly FanDuel daily fantasy football helper, where we give you an overview of the Sunday main slate to help you get started on your research. As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's premium tools at your disposal. In particular, the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals, and every team's strengths and weaknesses. You also have access to numberFire's weekly projections, which can assist you in nailing down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values.
Now, let's run through some of this week's top plays on the FanDuel main slate.
Patrick Mahomes ($8,600 on FanDuel): The Chiefs have a shot at claiming the 2 seed with a win over the Chargers, but the problem is they also need the Patriots to fall to the lowly Dolphins to get there. Between that and some blowout risk as 9.0-point home favorites, Kansas City could ease off the gas earlier than we might like, so this isn't entirely a risk-free Week 17 spot.
Still, Patrick Mahomes always has the potential to put up a big score and projects for the most raw fantasy points among quarterbacks. After dealing with some midseason ailments, Mahomes has looked more like himself in recent weeks, and the Chargers rank just 22nd in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play.
Jameis Winston ($8,100): In what was a wild and at times borderline comical Week 16 game against the Texans, we mostly got the "bad" version of Jameis Winston, who tossed four picks while piling up 335 yards and a score. Although it marked Winston's 5th game with three or more interceptions this season, it was also his 11th 300-yard passing day and 3rd straight game with over 40 pass attempts.
For better or for worse, Winston will keep on slinging it with reckless abandon, and while that sometimes means games like last week, we also saw the flip side of that in Weeks 14 and 15 when he topped 30 FanDuel points. This week's matchup against Atlanta has a slate-high 48.0 total in what should be a shootout between Winston and Matt Ryan ($7,800).
Ryan Tannehill ($7,900): Motivation and playing time are always key factors in Week 17, so it isn't a bad strategy to side with players on a team still fighting for a playoff spot like the Titans. In many ways the opposite of Winston, Ryan Tannehill hasn't reached 40 pass attempts in any of his nine starts, but continues to rack up fantasy points through remarkable efficiency, averaging 9.6 yards per attempt and tallying multiple passing scores in all but one of those games.
Yeah, Tannehill's probably playing a bit over his head, but he should keep things going against a Texans team that could be resting players if the Chiefs already have a win locked up in the early window. And even if Houston gives it their all, their defense ranks 21st in schedule-adjusted pass defense and 28th in FanDuel points allowed to quarterbacks.
Christian McCaffrey ($11,000): The Panthers may be out of contention, but they still have the goal of getting Christian McCaffrey in the record books. He's just 67 receiving yards away from being the third player in NFL history to rack up 1,000 yards rushing and receiving, and he also has an outside shot of breaking Chris Johnson's scrimmage yards record. McCaffrey logged 13 carries and 15 targets in a blowout loss last week, so you know the opportunities will be there against the Saints, regardless of game script.
Ezekiel Elliott ($8,700): The Cowboys need a win to have a shot at the playoffs, Dak Prescott is playing through a shoulder issue, and Washington struggles against the run. It all lines up as an Ezekiel Elliott day, and he'll almost certainly be one of the more popular plays on the slate. Dallas is favored by 11.0 points at home, and Washington has allowed the fourth-most FanDuel points to opposing running backs.
Alvin Kamara ($7,900): Alvin Kamara is one of the best point-per-dollar running backs in numberFire's projections, and he draws everyone's favorite running back matchup in the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers rank 32nd in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and have allowed the most FanDuel points and rushing touchdowns to opposing backs this season. With last week's two-score performance fresh in people's minds, Kamara should also see a good chunk of ownership. In the same price range, Aaron Jones ($8,000) is also looking like a strong play versus Detroit, as Jamaal Williams is expected to miss Week 17.
DeAndre Washington ($6,300): Josh Jacobs is doubtful to play against the Broncos, setting up DeAndre Washington as one of the slate's top values. In two starts with Jacobs out, Washington logged 26 opportunities in Week 16 and 21 in Week 14. The Raiders also still have a slim shot of making the playoffs, so motivation shouldn't be an issue here.
Michael Thomas ($9,200): The Saints are still fighting for the top seed in the NFC, so like Kamara, Michael Thomas is also very much in play. What more needs to be said about Thomas' ridiculous 2019 campaign? He's racked up double-digit targets in all but three games and has scored over 20 FanDuel points in seven of the last eight. Carolina isn't likely to slow him down, either, ranking bottom-10 in FanDuel points allowed to wideouts.
Julio Jones ($8,500): In the two games since Calvin Ridley went down, Julio Jones has seen 15 and 20 targets for a downright silly 42.2% target share and 61.2% air yards share. The Buccaneers have actually moved up to ninth in schedule-adjusted pass defense, but as a team that frequently finds itself in shootouts, they've also allowed the most FanDuel points to wide receivers this season. At right around the same price, Davante Adams ($8,400) should also have success against Detroit, with Green Bay needing a win to have a chance at the top seed.
Julian Edelman ($7,500): The Patriots can clinch a first-round bye with a win over Miami and have a slate-high 30.50 implied total, so they're theoretically a team we want exposure to this weekend. However, this isn't the easiest offense to predict for DFS purposes, with even Tom Brady ($7,600) showing fairly limited upside over the latter half of the season.
That said, if there's one guy who's maintained a consistent role, it's Julian Edelman, who owns a solid 26.3% target share and 32.4% air yards share in a pass-catching group that's seen changes throughout the season. And while he saw reduced snaps again last week (71.2%), that had more to do with him being evaluated for a head injury than the nagging ailments that derailed his Week 15.
Edelman is typically more of a high-floor guy than a tournament winner, but he looks like our best way of attacking Miami's 32nd-ranked schedule-adjusted pass defense.
Steven Sims ($6,000): Terry McLaurin has been ruled out for Week 17, so Steven Sims could see more looks as a potential value play against Dallas. As is, Sims has compiled a team-high 31.1% target share and 35.0% air yards share over the last three weeks, with double-digit targets in each of the the last two. While the Cowboys haven't been an especially lucrative matchup for opposing aerial attacks, they still rank just 19th in schedule-adjusted pass defense.
Travis Kelce ($7,500): Travis Kelce projects as the top tight end by a sizable amount, particularly with George Kittle off the slate and Zach Ertz already ruled out. Since the Week 12 bye, Kelce leads Kansas City with a 30.8% target share and 36.1% air yards share, and he's dropped below eight targets only twice in 15 games this season.
Dallas Goedert ($6,400): And speaking of Ertz, his absence should make Dallas Goedert very popular this weekend against the Giants. Goedert saw a season-high 12 targets with Ertz banged up in Week 16, and he could be the top target for Carson Wentz ($7,700) in a pivotal win-and-you're-in game. Even with such a depleted offense, the Eagles should be able to put up points on a Giants defense that ranks 28th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Wide receiver Greg Ward ($5,600) should also benefit from Ertz being out.
New England D/ST ($5,000): The Pats' defense projects as the top-scoring defense on the board this week. They're not only this year's top-ranked defense in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play, but they're favored by 16.0 points over an already pass-heavy Dolphins team, which should give New England plenty of chances to pile up sacks and turnovers. Although Ryan Fitzpatrick has performed well down the stretch, he's benefited from a soft schedule in recent weeks and should be in for a long day.
Pittsburgh D/ST ($3,500): Pittsburgh is priced like they're facing Lamar Jackson, but instead they'll get Baltimore's JV squad led by Robert Griffin III. The run-heavy nature of this offense isn't necessarily ideal for the Steelers' defense piling up fantasy points, but Pittsburgh still has an outside shot of making the postseason, so they'll be plenty motivated to try and take advantage of this skeleton crew and gut out a win. They're projected as the slate's top value defense.