4 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups to Exploit in Week 17
The beauty of daily fantasy football is that, unlike a season-long draft where someone is tied to their top players all year, any top players in the NFL can make their way into your lineup. While that can be a blessing, it can also be a curse.
Although you're able to roster Austin Ekeler, Jonathan Taylor, and Alvin Kamara all at once if you want, it is unlikely that all three running backs are optimal plays at their respective salaries for a particular week. There are many elements to decide which players are the best plays, and a large aspect of daily fantasy is the matchup a player has.
While usually encompassed in some respects inside the salary figure, a soft matchup can carry a good running back to a great week. On the other hand, a tough matchup can make superstars suboptimal to roster.
Which matchups are lurking in this weekend's games that we can take advantage of on FanDuel?
Rams Passing Attack vs. The Ravens Secondary
Week 16 was an off one for the Los Angeles Rams.
Matthew Stafford ($7,600) threw three picks, and Cooper Kupp ($10,200) didn't even score a touchdown. I'm not sure which was more surprising. Still, a matchup with the hapless Baltimore secondary should right the ship in Week 17.
Baltimore just ceded 525 yards to Joe Burrow, and it's not a new trend. The once-defensively-sound Ravens have allowed 0.25 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back this season -- tied for the fourth-worst mark in the NFL. Their secondary has scuffled all year, and the Bengals took full advantage of it.
Still, though, the Ravens are allowing -0.04 Rushing NEP per carry to opposing ball carriers. That's the second-fewest in the NFL, and while Sony Michel ($7,100) should be popular with his solid new role, he's not the path of least resistance against this Baltimore defense.
Stafford and Kupp are the obvious connection, but my favorite play of the week is tight end Tyler Higbee ($5,600). Higbee has underperformed his touchdown expectation significantly this season, and his floor is rock solid for the salary considering he's seen at least five targets in 9 of his last 11 games.
Because of the insane salary on Kupp with obvious paths to failure for a wideout, one of my favorite ways to get different this weekend will be using Stafford, Higbee, and Odell Beckham ($6,600) to attack the struggling Baltimore secondary.
Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams vs. The Chargers Run Defense
Only two things will ever sway me onto a committee backfield in NFL DFS -- an outlier run-to-pass ratio and an outlier matchup.
The Broncos are likely saddled with Drew Lock for the rest of the year with Teddy Bridgewater suffering a scary concussion in Week 15. That should only increase the run-heavy trend for Denver. Since Week 10, Denver's 45% early-down, first-half pass rate is the sixth-lowest in the league. They want to establish the run.
Los Angeles will let them do that. The Chargers are either last or second-to-last in the NFL in rushing success rate, Rushing NEP per carry, and Adjusted FanDuel points per carry. Rex Burkhead scored twice on 18 carries, which shouldn't have been a surprise -- every tailback scores on L.A.
Deploying both of them in one lineup isn't really crazy with that pristine of a matchup. We've seen both eclipse 18 FanDuel points this year in a matchup with the Lions, and Detroit is a tougher matchup on the ground than Los Angeles.
It will require a friendly script, as a supremely negative one would crush all hopes of using either, but with the Broncos just six-point underdogs, perhaps their pair of star running backs are in a position to carry them to a solid effort in SoCal.
George Kittle vs. Texans Linebackers and Safeties
Dare I say that George Kittle ($7,300) might be contrarian in Week 17?
Kittle has gone back-to-back weeks without a score, and that may be just enough time for people to have forgotten about the 30-FanDuel-point upside he has. Plus, Deebo Samuel's return to viability and the swap of Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance may make some unsure of Kittle's role moving forward.
Even including the past two weeks, Kittle leads the 49ers in targets per game (7.0), receiving yards per game (76.7), and red-zone targets (7). He's still got the best role in a passing game that should be fine; Lance has averaged 0.13 Passing NEP per drop back in limited appearances this season. That's right around the league average.
The 12.5-point spread is the true lone concern with the talented tight end, but even then, he likely has a substantial impact in the course of San Fran blowing out Houston in the first place. He's a solid spot for a single-entry tight end spot, and Brandin Cooks is an awesome mini-stack for him should Cooks be active this weekend.
Chiefs D/ST vs. Bengals Offensive Line
There are two solid defenses in the contest that boasts just a 49.5-point total. Particularly, the Bengals should have their hands full with a unit that has been tremendous with Chris Jones in the lineup this season.
Despite their week coasting through the Ravens, the Bengals have struggled in pass protection. They've allowed a 29% pressure rate this season, which is tied for fifth-worst in the NFL.
Kansas City has ended up with a defense that generates pressure extremely well. Their 34% pressure rate is tied for the third-best rate in the league. Organically, that is a path to failure for the Cincinnati offense as we've seen in multiple games this season.
Rather than loading up on Burrow and his pass-catchers, the Kansas City D/ST ($4,100) could be a sneaky place to target on FanDuel in Week 17.