FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Early-Slate Helper: Week 17

The Week 16 NFL DFS early-slate on FanDuel has eight games, all kicking off at 1 p.m. EST. The New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, and Green Bay Packers are all favored by double-digits, while no game total even hits 50. This could lead to some chalky plays, but there are enough games on this slate to keep ownerships low.

The numberFire NFL DFS Matchup Heat Map will be referenced for all implied totals and spreads throughout this article, so be sure to check it out.

Let’s look at the best plays at every price point on the slate.

High Priced Studs

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints ($7,900)

Alvin Kamara finally showed signs of life after a 40-yard burst for a touchdown in Week 16. He later found paydirt again from one-yard out for his fourth touchdown on the season. Kamara's 26 fantasy points were his highest since Week 3, meaning he's getting healthy just in time for the fantasy season to be over.

Fantasy gamers will have one last shot at a healthy game from Kamara in Week 17, and the matchup couldn't be better -- literally. The Carolina Panthers 0.20 Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play ranks dead-last among all defenses, with the Jacksonville Jaguars sitting at 31st with 0.11.

Kamara has seen at least 15 touches in each of his last six games, meaning he is clearly playing ahead of Latavius Murray. He projects to be the best fantasy point value per dollar at his position, so he can redeem his sub-par season in a big way for DFS gamers.

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals ($7,300)

Joe Mixon almost received the lock button last week against the Miami Dolphins, but pregame reports of him dealing with a stomach bug came just in time. Videos of him lethargically going through warmups scared off a majority of the DFS community.

The Cincinnati Bengals still fed Mixon 23 touches, but he handed in just 8.3 fantasy points as he was clearly not his same explosive self. The bright spot is that was his eighth-straight game of at least 16 touches, meaning his workload is safe.

While he wasted a dream matchup with the Dolphins, the Cleveland Browns are even worse against the run. They rank 29th when adjusted for strength of schedule, so Mixon should be able to make up for his lost efficiency from last week. The Bengals are 3-point underdogs against the Browns, but they tend to feeds their star running back regardless of game script. With his matchup and workload, Mixon should crush his salary.

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons ($8,500)

Over the last two weeks, Julio Jones has been targeted 35 times by Matt Ryan for a 41.7 percent target share. He's also caught 23 of those for 300 yards and two scores.

A big part of that insane volume has been the absence of Calvin Ridley, who is done for the season. Ryan clearly holds Jones in higher esteem than Russell Gage or Christian Blake, so his massive target share should continue against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Seeing as how they have allowed the most targets, receptions, and yards to receivers this season, Jones is in a good spot to exceed his already lofty expectations.

Our projections have him seeing the most targets and finishing with the second-most fantasy points among receivers on this slate.

Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs ($7,500)

According to, Travis Kelce has led the Kansas City Chiefs in every major receiving category over their last four games. Whether its getting deep looks, dump-offs, or intermediate targets, Kelce has been the clear alpha for Patrick Mahomes. With double-digit fantasy points in each of those games, he also presents a great floor at a position that drops off in a hurry.

The last time Kelce played the Los Angeles Chargers, he hauled in seven of his 10 targets for 92 yards and a touchdown. Our projections have him posting a very similar stat line, so paying up for him is the way this week.

Mid-Priced Upside Plays

Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots ($6,500)

Sony Michel is always a very polarizing player. With only 12 receptions on the season, he offers almost no floor in the passing game and relies strictly on groundwork. While that can be great when the Patriots have a lead throughout the game, he has yet to top 100 yards rushing in a game this season. Without a touchdown, he's rarely getting you double-digit fantasy points, which caps his ceiling hard.

This should be one of the weeks he hits his that high note, as the Pats are favored by 16 points over the Dolphins. With Julian Edelman banged up and Tom Brady taking more hits than usual as of late, Michel should be leaned on heavily throughout the game. Miami has seen the most running back rush attempts and the second-most rushing yards this season, and they also rank 24th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. If this isn't a Michel game, then I don't know what is.

Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers ($6,000)

With D.J. Moore leaving Week 16 with a concussion, the Panthers' offense fell completely flat. While Christian McCaffrey salvaged his day with 15 receptions and 119 receiving yards, the rest of the pass-catchers only put up 117 combined.

While Curtis Samuel failed to produce without Moore, it is encouraging that he saw 93 air yards in the contest. That put him at 347 over the last four games, which is second to only Moore, who has still not practiced this week. Without him, Samuel would absorb most of his air yards and see extra targets in the intermediate range as well.

The Saints are heavy favorites in this game, so the Panthers will likely be airing it out in the second half. While they present a tough matchup, they have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to receivers this season -- largely due to garbage time plays while playing in a soft zone. If Moore doesn't suit up in this meaningless Week 17 contest, Samuel would operate as the top receiver.

Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers ($6,000)

If you're looking to pay down at tight end, Hunter Henry is likely the cheapest you should go. The Chiefs defense has been elite against the pass all season, ranking third in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, but they are strongest on the perimeter. They can be exploited in the interior of their secondary, which is where tight ends operate the most. They have allowed the third-most receptions and fourth-most yards to the position this season.

Henry ranks top 10 among tight ends in target share, receptions, and receiving yards this season despite playing in just 11 games, so look for him to exploit this mismatch.

Bargain Bin Prospects

John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals ($5,200)

While he only connected for 84 yards, John Ross saw 283 air yards in Week 16. That was more than the entire Bengals team combined. Andy Dalton clearly wants to take advantage of his 4.22 speed, and Ross has shown the ability to break the slate before in his first two games of the season, where he totaled 270 yards and three touchdowns.

He was also second among receivers in snaps last week, indicating he's past his injury and is firmly in the WR2 chair. Ross' speed coupled mixed with his deep opportunities -- plus a matchup with Cleveland's 23rd-ranked schedule-adjusted total defense -- equals a recipe for success.

Jonathan Taylor Smith is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice Jonathan Taylor Smith also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jtsmittyyy. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.