FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 17
Welcome to our weekly FanDuel NFL primer, 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 daily fantasy tools at your disposal. In particular, our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values, while 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.
Now, let's run through some of this week's top plays of the slate.
Lamar Jackson ($9,000 on FanDuel): As we all know, much of Week 17 analysis boils down to team motivations and the latest news surrounding players resting, but we actually have quite a few teams with the incentive to go all out this year. The Ravens are one such team, as a win over the lowly Bengals earns them a playoff spot. Lamar Jackson had more of a floor game against the Giants in Week 16, but he's reminded us more of the tantalizing 2019 version lately, posting 30.22, 34.92, and 26.68 FanDuel points in the three weeks prior. After being neck and neck with Kyler Murray for much of the season in rushing yards and attempts, Jackson now has a comfortable lead in both categories, and another 92 rushing yards will give him his second straight 1,000-yard campaign. Cincinnati is an 11.5-point underdog and ranks 25th in overall defense, per numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics.
Aaron Rodgers ($8,500): I really wanted to put Josh Allen ($8,200) here because under normal circumstances, he would be a top point-per-dollar play at this salary. However, with the Steelers announcing that they will start Mason Rudolph at quarterback against the Browns, they're likely gift-wrapping the No. 2 seed to the Bills, who only need a Pittsburgh loss to secure it. Barring a surprising dud from Cleveland, this scenario makes it less likely that Allen needs to go four full quarters against Miami. On the other hand, we have no such worries for Aaron Rodgers, whose Packers are fighting for the top seed in the NFC. The Bears are a tough matchup, ranking 10th in adjusted pass defense, but Rodgers has been lights out in 2020, overtaking Patrick Mahomes as the league leader in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. Rodgers put up 25.64 FanDuel points against Chicago earlier this season, and this game has one of the slate's highest totals (52.0).
Ryan Tannehill ($8,200): This week's most fantasy-friendly game environment will likely belong to this Titans-Texans matchup, which sports a slate-high 56.5 total. Deshaun Watson ($8,700) was banged up towards the end of last week's game, and the Texans don't have anything to play for, but Watson insists that he'll play, giving us even more confidence that this one shoots out. Although Tennessee loves to demolish opposing defenses with Derrick Henry whenever they can, often limiting Ryan Tannehill's pass attempts, that hasn't prevented Tannehill from posting big fantasy scores here and there, with three games exceeding 28 FanDuel points. It just so happens one of those spike weeks came against this Houston defense, which ranks 31st in adjusted pass defense. A win crowns the Titans AFC South champs, so Tannehill could be unleashed if the Texans hold up their end of the bargain. As for Watson, there's the risk that he sits out late if this one gets out of hand, but he's worth the risk, as he's projected for the most FanDuel points across all positions in numberFire's model.
Derrick Henry ($10,200): Between Dalvin Cook likely missing Sunday's game, and Alvin Kamara potentially being a risky play depending on how things unfold for the Saints, it's Derrick Henry who tops our high-salaried running backs. The Titans clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Texans, so we should expect Henry to get all the work he can handle against a defense that ranks 29th in adjusted run defense and has given up the second-most FanDuel points to running backs.
Alvin Kamara ($9,400): Despite needing some outside help to nab the No. 1 seed in the NFC (a Packers loss and Seahawks win), recent comments from Sean Payton suggest they'll be a full go this weekend versus Carolina, which keeps Kamara on our radar. As noted above, I still wouldn't be shocked if New Orleans reduces Kamara's workload if they get out to a big lead or those other games aren't trending in their favor, particularly after giving him a season-high 25 touches last week, but it's not like we can ignore a guy who just rattled off six rushing scores in a single game. Kamara posted 18.8 FanDuel points against Carolina in Week 7, and he projects as the best point-per-dollar running back.
Jonathan Taylor ($8,400): The Colts need a win plus a loss from one of the other wild card contenders to get into the postseason, and that first part shouldn't be too difficult at home against the one-win Jaguars. Indianapolis is the biggest favorite on the board (14.0 points), setting the stage for a whole lot of Jonathan Taylor. Taylor doesn't rate as well as the elite backs in terms of adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets), but his 17.8 carries and 3.0 targets per game over his last five is nothing to scoff at. Jacksonville is 25th in adjusted run defense and has coughed up the fourth-most FanDuel points per game to opposing backfields.
David Montgomery ($8,200): A surprise late-season turnaround from the Bears have them in position to make the playoffs if they can beat the Packers. Since Mitchell Trubisky reclaimed the starting job, David Montgomery has now scored at least 19 FanDuel points in five straight games, averaging 18.8 rushes and 3.6 targets over that span. Game script could be an issue as a 5.5-point underdog, but the matchup otherwise checks out against a defense that's 23rd against the run in our metrics and has allowed the fifth-most FanDuel points per game.
Myles Gaskin ($6,700): There was some concern that Myles Gaskin would split touches evenly with Salvon Ahmed in last week's return, but Gaskin would ultimately go on to tally 14 carries and 5 targets on a 76% snap rate, while Ahmed would be relegated to just 6 opportunities and a 24% snap rate. Gaskin's lead back role will do nicely at this salary, and Miami ensures a postseason berth with a victory over Buffalo, so they have plenty to play for.
Davante Adams ($9,300): I mean, who else could we lead off with? Aaron Rodgers' favorite pass-catcher projects as easily the top wideout, particularly with Andy Reid already announcing that key Chiefs starters will sit out in Week 17, taking Tyreek Hill off the table. Rodgers loves to target Adams in the red zone, who leads the league in red-zone targets (26) and targets inside the 10-yard line (19).
Justin Jefferson ($8,000): Generally speaking, we probably want to avoid teams that have nothing left to play for, but it might be worth making an exception for the Vikings' passing game, particularly with Dalvin Cook expected to be out. They get to face a poor Lions defense that looked to be totally checked out against the Buccaneers in Week 16. Detroit ranks 32nd in adjusted pass defense, 31st in Target Success Rate allowed to wide receivers, and 32nd in FanDuel points allowed per game to the position. This contest actually has the second-highest total on the board (54.5), further suggesting a high-scoring affair. In Justin Jefferson's last four games with Adam Thielen active, he's averaged a fantastic 10.3 targets per game with a 29% target share and 46% air yards share.
Brandin Cooks ($7,300): The hope is that the Texans will want to play spoiler against their division rivals, and Brandin Cooks makes for a perfect bring-back option in Titans stacks. Tennessee ranks 27th in adjusted pass defense and has allowed the fourth-most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers. In three games since Will Fuller's suspension, Cooks has averaged 8.3 targets per game with a 23% target share and 34% air yards share.
Michael Gallup ($6,200): Michael Gallup's usage with Andy Dalton at the helm was flying under the radar entering Week 16, but that may not longer be the case after posting 27.1 FanDuel points. In the six games since Dalton returned from injury, Gallup leads the team in targets (7.0 per game) while also garnering a team-high 31% air yards share. The 44.5 total between the Cowboys and Giants isn't terribly exciting, but both teams need a win to have a chance at the postseason. The Giants are 30th in Target Success Rate allowed to wideouts.
Darius Slayton ($5,000): Darius Slayton has seen his snap rate rise above 85% in each of the last four games, and in his last two with Daniel Jones quarterbacking, he's seen 8 targets in both weeks with a 26% target share and team-high 32% air yards share. It remains to be seen if Slayton and a hobbled Jones can translate this volume into fantasy production, but the salary is right to take a shot in tournaments. Dallas ranks 25th in adjusted pass defense and has given up the fifth-most FanDuel points to wide receivers.
Darren Waller ($7,800): It's fairly safe to say that Travis Kelce won't be out there this weekend, which leaves Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle as the next best things. Waller might be the safest bet considering the Ravens' low passing volume lowers Andrews' shot at a big game, and Kittle only played on 50% of the snaps last week. Although both the Raiders and Broncos have been eliminated, barring any news about resting players, their matchup carries a healthy 50.5 total, so we could still get a fantasy-friendly game. Waller projects as the top option in both raw points and point-per-dollar value.
Jonnu Smith ($5,300): Jonnu Smith got off to a promising start this season, but he's ultimately proved to be a touchdown-or-bust option with little in the way of weekly yardage. Still, you could do worse than roster a tight end on a playoff contender that's favored in a game with a 56.5 total. After recovering from a recent knee injury, Smith's now seen 7 and 5 targets the past two games (26% target share), and he's been the team's top red-zone receiving threat all season, seeing just under 25% of their red-zone targets.
Seattle D/ST ($3,900): The divide between teams with something to play for and those that don't open up some value on defense, and it's actually the Seahawks who project as the best value. Seattle has a small chance of snagging the top seed in the NFC, which should be enough to keep them motivated against San Francisco. The Seahawks' defense was a laughing stock to start the year, but they've turned things around the recent weeks and now rate as a roughly league-average unit in numberFire's metrics. Although C.J. Beathard has performed at a league-average level himself in this year's small sample, posting 0.13 Passing Net Expected Points per drop back, he produced negative marks in both 2018 and 2017, so we shouldn't be surprised if Seattle forces him into some mistakes.
Los Angeles Chargers D/ST ($3,500): The Browns' defense is another fine choice at $4,100 against Mason Rudolph, but if you need more savings, the Chargers could do the trick. With the Chiefs almost certainly rolling out the JV team against Los Angeles, they're showing an uncharacteristically low 20.00-point implied team total. Chad Henne will presumably get most of the snaps at quarterback, and he last started an NFL game in 2014. Considering Henne has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in his career and won't have any of Kansas City's top weapons at his disposal, the Chargers' defense figures to end their 2020 campaign on a high note.