4 FanDuel NFL Studs to Target in Week 18
Spending your available salary in any DFS lineup on a stud can make or break your lineup. These high-salaried players will take up the majority of your budget, so it’s critical to carefully consider which ones you’ll want for each slate. Whether it’s trying to capture a safe floor in a cash game or chasing a huge game to help you win a tournament, nailing the expensive players is one of the keys to making winning NFL lineups on FanDuel.
The last week of the season can be wacky, with varying levels of motivation for teams. Let's look at studs who we know will have to go all out this week.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
FanDuel Salary: $8,800
Projected Points: 24.5
We liked Josh Allen last week, and he produced an interesting performance. If you had known that he only had 120 passing yards and no passing touchdowns, there's no way you would have rostered him. However, 81 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground saved his fantasy day.
This was Allen’s third game in his last four with over 60 rushing yards. He's set a career-high with 700 yards on the ground this season and is third in quarterback rushing fantasy production this season. It has him in position to repeat as the QB1 overall in fantasy, a feat that hasn't been done since 2011-2012.
Last week was Allen's worst game through the air all season, even worse than the game against the New England Patriots that was heavily influenced by the weather. He is still tied for the fourth-most passing touchdowns and has the seventh-most yards through the air. This week, he'll face a matchup that's one of the best he could see.
The Buffalo Bills will be at home against the New York Jets for the regular season finale. The Jets haven't been able to contain many quarterbacks this season, ranking last in pass defense, according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics. They just allowed Tom Brady to throw for over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns last week, and Allen threw for 366 yards and 3 touchdowns himself in their meeting earlier in the season.
Buffalo needs this game to clinch the AFC East title for the second consecutive year, so they will keep their foot on the gas in this game. They are the biggest favorite on the main slate this week and have the second-highest implied team total.
Like last week, Allen is dominating our projections at quarterback, projecting for nearly three points more than anyone else at the position. He's a high-ceiling option every week, and this one is no different.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
FanDuel Salary: $10,200
Projected Points: 22.6
The sign of a truly great player across sports is when he or she makes a great performance seem ordinary or even a bit disappointing.
This can be applied to Jonathan Taylor in Week 17. For about any other running back, 108 yards and a touchdown would be a great day. Taylor's fantastic season means that game was actually below his season average in terms of fantasy points per game. He'll have a chance to close out the season strong.
Taylor continues to pace the league in most categories for running backs. He leads in rushing yards by over 500 and leads in touchdowns by 2. This has him running away with the RB1 crown, boasting a nearly 60-point lead over Austin Ekeler. He'll have both team and individual motivation in the season finale.
The Indianapolis Colts will face the Jacksonville Jaguars again in their last game of the season. The Colts need to win to ensure a playoff spot. Last season, they were in a similar spot against Jacksonville, and Taylor saw 30 carries and went for 253 yards and a couple of touchdowns. Jacksonville is still exploitable on the ground, as they are 31st in schedule-adjusted run defense.
The Colts have the highest implied team total of the week, even on the road in this game. No other running back projects close to Taylor, with his 22.6-point projection followed by Dalvin Cook's 16.8. He'll be a great tournament option, too, as no other high-salaried back can really compete with his upside this week.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
FanDuel Salary: $10,000
Projected Points: 19.5
Two seasons ago, many DFS weeks were a puzzle of how to fit in Christian McCaffrey and Michael Thomas. They were two record-setters who were as consistent as they come in fantasy football. Last season, it was Davante Adams and either Alvin Kamara or Derrick Henry who we were always trying to roster together.
This season, Jonathan Taylor and Cooper Kupp have been the best players at their positions.
Kupp had 95 yards last week against the Baltimore Ravens. His season has been so good that those 95 yards are actually tied for his third-fewest in a game for him this year. His seven targets were the fewest he's seen all season. He still has 22 more targets than anyone else this season. All this volume could lead to him breaking some records this week.
Kupp needs 12 catches to break Michael Thomas' record for most receptions in a season. He's 135 yards shy of the seasonal receiving yards record, as well. These are certainly within reach given Kupp's typical performances this season.
The Los Angeles Rams will play the San Francisco 49ers this week. The Rams have locked up a playoff berth but still need a win to clinch the NFC West title. Kupp had 11 catches for 122 yards in the first matchup between the two teams, and he should see the ball a lot this week.
There's no question that Kupp is the top wide receiver on the slate, with Davante Adams and the Green Bay Packers having nothing to play for this week. Adams is the only other player at the position who comes close to Kupp's 19.5-point projection, but he's at risk of only playing a half or playing with a backup quarterback.
None of that is likely for Kupp, who is once again the safest option at wide receiver.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FanDuel Salary: $7,400
Projected Points: 10.9
Aside from his exasperating insurance commercials, Rob Gronkowski has had a great year. He's averaging 11.5 half-PPR points per game, outscoring the consensus TE2 coming into the season in Darren Waller and trailing only George Kittle, Travis Kelce, and Mark Andrews. He could be in line to see even more volume in the coming weeks.
Gronk bounced back from a disappointing two games -- a combined 3 catches for 52 yards -- to have 7 receptions for 115 yards in Week 17. We should see him get more targets with the continued absences of Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette and now the presumed absence of Antonio Brown. We haven't seen it yet, but Gronk's red zone target share should increase, as Godwin and Fournette combined for 36.8% of the team's red zone targets.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the Carolina Panthers in their last game of the regular season. These are the same Panthers that held Gronkowski to just two targets in Week 16. However, 50% of the targets that week went to Brown, who likely won't be playing this week. Gronk should inherit some of those vacated targets as we saw him do last week when Brown exited in the third quarter.
Head coach Bruce Arians has said that the team will play to get the second seed in the NFC, so we shouldn't see the starters pulled unless the game gets out of hand. This is good news for Gronkowski, who will be a favored target of Tom Brady once again. Tampa's team total is a healthy 24.75 points in this game, so we should anticipate them playing this game all out.
Gronkowski's 10.9-point projection is second on this weak slate for tight ends. With all the weapons the Bucs are missing, it wouldn't be a surprise if he's one of the featured offensive players, which could see him have a big game.
Nicholas Vazquez is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Nicholas Vazquez also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username hbyanksman. 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.