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DFS NFL: Getting An Edge Week 17

Week 17 is the hardest week to play daily fantasy NFL. With teams resting starters, and with teams having nothing to play for wanting to get a look at some of their younger players, the best plays end up being a lot less straightforward than earlier in the season. This week a large part of my research process has involved looking at box scores to see how players workloads increased or decreased based on different team motivations. I’ll share what I found in this article, as well as give some takes for this Week 17. Despite this week being the most difficult, it should be the best week of the season to get an edge on the daily fantasy field.

Pay extra attention to Inactives and the Injury Report

By the end of Friday, this page on the NFL website will have all the statuses of players on each team. Pay attention to who is not going to play and do some research on what players may take their playing time. At 11:30 ET, teams will announce their inactives, which you will eventually find on this page. This is another invaluable piece of information you are going to want to pay attention to this week. Key offensive players being inactive may mean that there are going to be some very good value plays on that team.

Teams with nothing to play for who are out of the playoffs

For teams with nothing to play for who are out of the playoffs, there is certainly the possibility these teams will rest some of their starters and give some of their younger players more playing time. Therefore, their may be some opportunity in these games for playing some younger players and it may be risky to play some of the older starters, who may get reduced playing time.

I looked at all the box scores for the past two years with teams in this category. My main finding: Surprisingly, in almost every instance every player played their usual snaps. I only found a few cases where a younger player got more playing time, and it was only a small uptick. If players on these teams are not outright inactive or declared out ahead of time, you probably don’t have to worry about them seeing less playing time than usual. I would check the Rotoworld news page for any coach talk on if any players may see increased playing time in their teams finale.

These games may feel risky, but my sense was that in most cases there is very little to worry about. I certainly wouldn’t go HAM on young players in these games because I wouldn’t expect a lot of starters to rest.

Teams locked into their seed, resting starters

With teams who are in the playoffs and locked into their seed, you will often see greatly reduced snaps and teams outright resting players. I was able to find seven examples in the past few seasons, below are my findings.

Overall, who plays a lot and who doesn’t on these teams is really hard to predict. I would suggest mostly staying away from any veteran starters and trying to find some opportunity with younger bench players.

Most of the time, teams either rest their starting QB or let their starting QB play a small amount of the game. If the starting QB is active, I would avoid playing the backup because he will not be likely to get enough playing time to be worth starting.  In one instance, the Falcons played all their starters their usual snaps, despite having the one seed locked in for that season. In another instance, the Packers wrapped up the one seed and rested Aaron Rodgers. Matt Flynn threw 5 TDs that game. Therefore, if the starting QB is inactive, the bench QB could be a good option in these games.

In many instances, starting skill position players, moreso with WRs than RBs, also played a reduced amount of snaps or were rested. Often times in these games the number 3 and 4 WRs saw some greatly increased snaps. There may be some huge opportunity with backup WRs in these games, so pay extra attention to the WR position for teams who are locked into their playoffs seeding.

Below are teams who are locked into their playoff seeding and some analysis on who may be good plays in these games.

Giants

The NY Giants are locked into the wild card and the spread suggests they will rest a lot of players, but still have their starters active. It’s likely guys like ODB, Eli, and Victor Cruz will play a quarter or a series, so there probably isn’t much opportunity there. Backup QB Ryan Nassib probably won’t get enough playing time here. Overall, I think Sterling Shepard is worth a gamble and should be a bit better projected than usual. Since he’s a rookie and the teams 3rd WR, it’s very plausible he plays most of the game. He’s a talented player so he may see more targets than usual and benefit. This is certainly risky, he could have limited playing time, but the matchup is quite good here so the upside is there. Paul Perkins or Orleans Darkwa could be in play at RB, but I would not play either of them unless I saw any reports on them seeing an uptick.

Houston

Houston is locked into the four seed. I would avoid DeAndre Hopkins as he will possibly play limited snaps. Since Lamar Miller is really hobbled, Alfred Blue is probably a safe bet to play a lot of snaps and should be a solid play on a run-first team. Will Fuller has some very similar logic to Sterling Shepard, he is a rookie and the Texans have very few WRs on the roster. He may see full snaps in an extremely good matchup, and is probably worth some risk.

Dallas

Same story as the Giants. Starters will be active and should play a few series. There are rumors Darren McFadden will get a lot of snaps, so he should be a solid play. Brice Butler is a young player who may see a large amount of snaps here in a pretty solid matchup. Cole Beasley or Terrence Williams are probably high risk.

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh has announced they are outright resting Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Ben Roethlisberger. Going against a really bad Browns defense, there should be some big opportunity in this game. Unfortunately, the situation at RB is really unclear. Deangelo Williams and Fitzgerald Touissant could see a lot of playing time. If Williams is inactive, Touissant is probably a must play. Williams is banged up so he seems quite risky even if he’s active. Landry Jones is not a very good QB, but he is practically locked into 100% of snaps against a bad defense, so he is worth playing. I’d pair him with Eli Rogers, who has had a solid rookie season and is likely to see a lot of playing time in this game. But like Shepard and Fuller, there is some risk.

 

Conclusion

For the most part, don’t be scared of playing players who are active on teams who are out of the playoffs, as in most instances those players get their usual workload. With the four teams who are locked into their seeding, definitely avoid most of the starters or veterans. Pay close attention to those teams this week to see if you can glean some info on who may get a large workload, and it may very well give you a big edge in the last big contests of the DFS NFL season.

 

View all posts by Daniel Steinberg
Daniel Steinberg

About the Author

Daniel Steinberg Daniel Steinberg is a former bond trader at a multi-billion dollar proprietary trading firm in Chicago. He uses his knowledge of statistics and his creativity from his career as a poker professional to create the most advanced Daily Fantasy statistical analysis that you will find anywhere. Follow him on twitter @DanielSingerS

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