FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 17

Welcome to our weekly FanDuel NFL primer, where we give you an overview of the 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.


Patrick Mahomes ($9,000 on FanDuel): Last week in a game where Kansas City led from start to finish and held Seattle's offense in check, Mahomes attempted just 28 passes, his second-lowest total of the season. Unsurprisingly, the end result wasn't a spike week, but he still managed to reach 23.8 FanDuel points behind two passing scores and a rushing touchdown. Mahomes has now rushed for a touchdown in three of his last four games as he continues to tack on fantasy points with his legs more often than not.

The Chiefs are 12.5-point home favorites over a miserable Broncos team that just fired its head coach, so we can't rule out another low-volume game through the air if Denver waves the white flag. But when Mahomes faced the Broncos earlier this month, he racked up 352 passing yards and 3 touchdowns on 42 pass attempts, and the only thing holding him back from a bigger fantasy performance was an uncharacteristic 3 interceptions.

On a slate without Josh Allen and one that could also be missing Jalen Hurts, it's practically a must to include Mahomes in our player pool. Our projections are in love with him this week, pegging him for the most FanDuel points across all positions.

Justin Fields ($8,400): Following seven straight games of 20-plus FanDuel points, Fields finally submitted a clunker in Week 16, most notably rushing for a season-low 11 yards on 7 rushing attempts against the Bills. Prior to that, the dual-threat quarterback had rushed for at least 47 yards in his last 11 games -- a streak that dated back to Week 3. But between a difficult opponent, poor weather, and a game that got out of hand in the second half, we can probably give Fields a pass.

He should fare better in what will be a more forgiving spot against the Lions. Despite generally playing better of late, Detroit's defense still ranks last in our schedule-adjusted rankings, featuring the 32nd-ranked pass defense and 30th-ranked rush defense. Further enhancing the appeal of this matchup is a slate-best 52.5 over/under, which is easily the highest mark in another week lacking many notable totals.

Facing a weak defense in a game with shootout potential, Fields has a great opportunity to bounce back.

Jared Goff ($7,400): If this Detroit-Chicago matchup lives up to expectations, then that could lead to a productive outing from Goff, as well. In fact, he's thrown for at least 330 yards in three of the last four games, tossing 3 touchdowns in two separate games over that span. The Bears aren't exactly a top-flight defensive unit, either, sitting 29th in adjusted pass defense, per numberFire's metrics.

Despite a campaign with many ups and downs, Goff has actually been one of the league's more efficient passers. Among quarterbacks with 200 or more drop backs this season, Goff ranks fourth in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. That lines up with him also ranking fifth in adjusted yards per attempt (7.9) among qualified quarterbacks.

The lack of any rushing ability whatsoever holds back Goff, but he has still managed to crack 25 FanDuel points four times this year. In what could be the best fantasy environment on the board, he could come through at this fairly modest salary, and he projects as the position's best value play.

Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey ($9,500): CMC is coming off an underwhelming performance by his standards, but a stout Washington rush defense combined with an unusually low two targets can explain the result. We shouldn't be the least bit surprised by a more favorable outcome versus the Raiders this weekend.

McCaffrey's usage in five games without Elijah Mitchell has been amazing, averaging 30.8 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets) with a 79.1% snap rate, 79.2% route rate, 23.7% target share, and 70.8% red zone rush share. That's led to a robust 128.8 scrimmage yards per game, and he's cashed in with 7 total touchdowns.

Las Vegas is an average defense against the run, and they also rank 26th in adjusted fantasy points allowed per target to running backs. It's all led to coughing up the eighth-most FanDuel points per game to running backs. Per our model, CMC has the highest projection at the position on Sunday.

James Conner ($8,000): Even with Colt McCoy expected to be back, rostering players in this Cardinals offense isn't super exciting, but we might want to make an exception for one. Conner may have a lower salary than McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Josh Jacobs, but he's been every bit the workhorse back as those three down the stretch.

Over the last six games, Conner has rarely left the field (92.3% snap rate), dominated work inside the 20-yard line (69.6% red zone rush share), and seen consistent receiving volume (14.0% target share). It's all amounted to him averaging 28.0 adjusted opportunities per game, and he's scored at least one touchdown in all six weeks.

While this could be a lower-scoring game versus Atlanta, the Cardinals are just 3.0-point road 'dogs, so Conner's volume should remain high in a tight matchup. Additionally, the Falcons are just 23rd in adjusted rush defense, further boosting Conner's chances of maintaining his touchdown streak.

Rhamondre Stevenson ($7,000): The 2022 Patriots offense has been about as entertaining as watching paint dry, but Stevenson has been the lone bright spot.

With Damien Harris out or limited for virtually the entire second half of the season, Stevenson has been New England's bell-cow back when healthy. In eight games where Stevenson has played at least 70% of the snaps, he's averaged 27.1 adjusted opportunities with a 21.9% target share and 69.9% red zone rush share.

Harris got in a limited practice on Wednesday, but he's been limited for a couple of weeks now and still hasn't made his return. He last played in Week 12 and last saw significant snaps in Week 8, so even if Harris is active, it's hard to envision him eating into a significant chunk of Stevenson's workload.

Fumbling on the 5-yard line and effectively ending the Pats' comeback attempt versus the Bengals last week, Stevenson is coming off a forgettable performance, but his 90.6% snap rate in a negative game script was an encouraging sign for both his health and volume moving forward.

This isn't a bad matchup to rebound against Miami; the Dolphins rank 18th in adjusted rush defense and are 31st in adjusted fantasy points allowed per target to running backs.

Kenneth Walker III ($6,700): In Week 16, Walker rushed for 107 yards and earned a whopping 30 adjusted opportunities despite a negative game script pretty much the entire game. And yet, due to his failure to score a touchdown, he earned only 11.5 FanDuel points, so his salary is actually even lower this week.

It's worth noting that Walker logged just a 53.4% snap rate, ceding a good chunk of snaps to DeeJay Dallas, and he was also out-targeted by Dallas 6 to 2. Whether that split was due to health reasons or game script, an extra day between games and a closer matchup against the Jets should lead to Walker's snaps getting an added bump on Sunday.

Overall, across his last eight healthy games, Walker has averaged 25.0 adjusted opportunities with a 72.2% snap rate, and the Seahawks love giving him the ball near the goal line (91.4% red zone rush share). This isn't an easy spot against the Jets, but New York is tougher versus the pass (3rd in our ranks) compared to the run (12th), which could further encourage Seattle to rely on Walker.

Wide Receivers

Justin Jefferson ($9,200): What more needs to be said about Jefferson? Over the last three games, he's averaged 15.7 targets, 11.7 receptions, and 159.7 receiving yards while scoring two touchdowns -- leading to 27.8, 24.3, and 25.3 FanDuel points. Across the season as a whole, he leads all non-quarterbacks in FanDuel points, averaging 19.8 per game.

Outside of the Bears-Lions game, this Vikings-Packers is the only other game with a fairly high total (48.5), so Jefferson could also benefit from a back-and-forth contest. Green Bay is also 27th in adjusted fantasy points allowed per target versus wideouts.

Amon-Ra St. Brown ($8,200): St. Brown actually leads numberFire's wide receiver projections over superstars Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill, and even if you think that's a bit too bullish, there's no question he's in a fantastic environment to produce big numbers against Chicago.

As previously mentioned, the Bears have one of the league's worst pass defenses, and they also rank 29th in adjusted fantasy points allowed per target to wide receivers. Meanwhile, in St. Brown's 12 healthy games, he's enjoyed a 30.9% target share and 28.0% air yards share, averaging 10.4 targets per game. He also leads the team in red zone targets, amassing a 30.8% target share inside the 20 over those weeks.

As a key player in the most likely matchup to shoot out, St. Brown is quite appealing, and he comes at a much lower salary compared to the aforementioned Jefferson and Hill.

Garrett Wilson ($7,300): Quarterback Mike White will be back in the saddle for the Jets on Sunday, and that's great news for Wilson. In White's three starts, Wilson has averaged 10.0 targets per game with a 23.6% target share and 39.0% air yards share, resulting in him going for 111.7 receiving yards per game over this span. His looks from White haven't been of the dink-and-dunk variety, either, averaging 6.3 downfield targets (10-plus air yards) per game, which is a great sign for his upside.

While this isn't a high-total game against Seattle, the Seahawks' defense hasn't been anything to write home about this year, ranking 25th against the pass in our metrics. This matchup also rates as one of the better ones in terms of pace, possibly giving us hope that this game can have some added fantasy juice.

Allen Lazard ($6,200): Christian Watson missed practice on Wednesday, and if he's ultimately ruled out, that opens that path to Lazard being a target hog versus the Vikings. Despite trailing Watson in targets since his midseason breakout, Lazard has still led all Packers skill-position players in snap rate (94.5%) and route rate (93.8%) over the last six games. With Watson missing half of last week's game due to injury, Lazard led the team in targets (11) while posting a 28.9% target share and 42.9% air yards share.

Add in that running back Aaron Jones is also dinged up, and Lazard may need to be featured prominently by default. And it just so happens that Minnesota is 27th in adjusted pass defense and has given up the second-most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers.

Tight Ends

Evan Engram ($5,800): Engram has emerged as a late-season surprise, and what seemed like a fluky game or two has seemingly turned into a trend. Over the last four games, the tight end actually leads all Jacksonville pass-catchers with a 27.4% target share, and he's scored 11.5, 33.7, 10.2, and 14.8 FanDuel points.

In a Week 17 game that has no bearing on the Jaguars' postseason outlook, there's some risk in using any of their players, but coach Doug Peterson insists that "there is never a meaningless game" and that he won't rest anyone who's healthy enough to play.

While the Texans have been putting up more of a fight over the last few weeks and even notched a win over the Titans, they still rank 20th in adjusted pass defense, opening the door for Engram to continue his hot play as the regular season comes to a close.

Cole Kmet ($5,300): Perhaps I'll look foolish listing Kmet in this space yet again, but his role continues to remain positive despite having little to show for it lately. Over the last seven games, Kmet leads all Chicago pass-catchers in target share (25.8%), air yards share (23.4%), snap rate (96.6%), and route rate (83.5%). Of course, in a run-heavy, Fields-centric offense, those marks don't lead to as much overall volume as we would like, but he's still averaging just under six targets per game during this stretch.

Kmet hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 10 -- but that just so happened to be against these same Lions. Detroit has allowed the 5th-most FanDuel points per game to tight ends and ranks 32nd in adjusted fantasy points per target allowed to the position.


New York Giants D/ST ($4,700): Although this is a higher salary than I generally want to dole out at defense, the Giants deserve a shout if you have the extra cap space. That's because they're up against the sinking ship that is the Indianapolis Colts as the Jeff Saturday era continues to look more and more dire.

In his 2022 debut against the Chargers, Nick Foles looked completely lost, getting sacked seven times while tossing three picks. The Chargers' defense totaled 20 FanDuel points, and while the Giants' defense is nothing special, there's no reason to think they can't get in on the fun.

The Giants are middle of the pack when it comes to sacks, but they've actually been one of the best teams at generating pressure, so they should be able to wreak havoc against whichever overmatched quarterback the Colts roll out this weekend. New York is tied for the slate's highest defense projection in numberFire's model.

Kansas City D/ST ($4,300): Kansas City isn't even a league-average defense, let alone an upper-tier one, but they're facing a Broncos team that just hit rock bottom after getting torched by the Rams 51-14. In a disastrous and roundly mocked performance by Russell Wilson, L.A.'s defense scored 21 FanDuel points behind 6 sacks, 4 interceptions (1 was off backup Brett Rypien), and a defensive touchdown.

Maybe Denver's coaching change gives the team a short-term boost to end the season, but the more likely scenario is another golden opportunity for the opposing defense. When the Chiefs visited the Broncos three weeks ago, the Chiefs' D/ST scored a season-high 15 FanDuel points.