Daily Fantasy NFL: Week 17 Thoughts

Week 17 is my favorite week of the daily fantasy NFL season for for a few reasons. It is the only week where Sunday contests have all 16 games. There is no Monday night game, so the sweat is better. And there are always some teams resting for the playoffs, creating interesting daily fantasy lineup opportunities. In this article, I’ll talk about my thoughts for the last full week of the NFL season.

Washington Will Rest Players

Most Week 17’s we have multiple teams locked into their seed and at least a few teams planning to rest their players. This week we only have one team, the Washington Redskins. The Cardinals cannot get the top seed in the NFC if the Panthers win against Tampa Bay, but their games go on at the same time and therefore the Cardinals will almost certainly play everyone fully. Houston has a 99%+ chance to win the AFC South even if they lose. The tiebreaker between the Colts and Texans comes down to strength of schedule, and the only way the Colts can win that tie breaker is if 7 seemingly random teams win or lose. If we assume each game has a 50% chance to go finish in the Colts favor on average, the Colts only have a 1/500 chance of making the playoffs/winning their division. Despite this, I’d be surprised if the Texans rested anyone. They don’t want to give the Colts any chances, even if it is an extreme long shot.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden has not been clear on who will rest and who will play, or who will play only part of the game. The inactives for the Redskins on Sunday will be very illuminating. My guess is that guys with any type of injury will not play, and key starters will play a drive or two. The only guy who comes to mind as a play is Jamison Crowder, the Redskins rookie slot receiver. Crowder should get increased targets and workload with most the starters resting, but he doesn’t seem to be overwhelmingly good. The fantasy impact of the Redskins resting starters is mostly for the Dallas offense. The Redskins defense is average, so with some starters being rested, they should be pretty bad. This is reflected in the line, Dallas is 4 point favorites projected to score 22 points with a really bad, inexperienced QB. I like the Dallas defense in this game as well as Darren McFadden in a likely run heavy game for the Cowboys.

Three Top Tier WRs

There are three extremely good plays at WR this week, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., and Antonio Brown. All of them could have explosive games and are clearly a tier above every other WR. I think I like Odell Beckham Jr. the best because of the matchup. The Eagles have already been terrible against WRs this season, and their secondary has gotten worse, losing both of their starting CBs this season, one last week in Byron Maxwell.  Julio Jones is a close second. He has had a great season despite QB Matt Ryan having one of the worst seasons of his career. Atlanta has averaged only 21 points a game this season, but this week they are projected for almost 30. We should see more fantasy points from the Falcons than we have been used to this season. Antonio Brown could easily have a better game than Julio or Odell. The only thing that keeps him behind the others is his team is an 11 point favorite, so there is danger we see mostly running from the Steelers this week.

The Tavon Austin Special

I love Tavon Austin this week because of a nearly perfect matchup and positive injury impact. First off, Todd Gurley is in a walking boot and probably won’t play this week. This should mean a bit more passing from St. Louis, which will benefit Austin, and he should be more likely to score a TD without as much competence at RB for the Rams. It’s also a great special teams matchup. The 49ers have the second worst ranked special teams according to PFF, and most of their issues come in the punting game. Even if Tavon fails to have much impact on offense, he is a big threat to score on a punt return this week, especially against such an inept offense who should punt a lot. He crushed the 49ers in Week 8 for over 100 yards from scrimmage and 2 TDs, I expect that kind of upside this week. Austin is a great stack with the Rams defense.

Two Strong RB Plays

Deangelo Williams and Devonta Freeman stand out as the two top RB plays this week. Williams is obviously great. The Steelers are 11 point favorites, Williams consistently plays 90% of snaps, and the Browns are a terrible run defense. Deangelo has been the top fantasy RB of the week multiple times this season, it would not be shocking if he was again this week. Freeman is also clearly good but I think he’s even better than he looks on paper. New Orleans struggles a ton with short passing,  so I think we see a ton of dump off passes to Freeman. He already ran well against the Saints earlier this season, nabbing 100 yards and a TD on only 13 carries. I think he has a lot of success again.

Track The Bears

The Chicago Bears have lost their two most targeted pass catchers this season, Alshon Jefferey and Martellus Bennett. That leaves a huge hole in their passing game, one that has been filled by emerging TE Zach Miller. But Miller has not been practicing this week. If he plays, he’s a fantastic fantasy option, possibly the best value at TE. If he doesn’t play, there is going to be at least one gem in the Bears receiving core. The only guy who comes to mind is Eddie Royal. He plays in the slot, had the most receptions for the Bears last week not including Miller, and has had big games and fantasy success in the past, Josh Bellamy is the only other sensible fantasy option. (EDIT: Royal is doubtful, Josh Bellamy may be in play).


Good luck this week!


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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