What’s up guys! We have finally made it to the end of what was a really good season overall for me, and hopefully you too! Typically I go game-by-game in my article weekly, but with this slate being 15 games and with it being more about who is playing and why, I’m going to format it differently. I’m going to go position by position and explain who I am targeting and why, any feedback you can provide on this format would be great! Let’s get to it!
Overall Slate Outlook
Before I dive into who I’m targeting, I want to quickly go over who will be playing motivated football on Sunday. Week 17 means there are a lot of resting players and moving parts, so we need to be on top of news.
Must win situations: Chiefs, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Rams, Vikings, Eagles
Teams I’m expecting to rest players: Saints, Cowboys
Cash Game Tier
Patrick Mahomes- Our favorite ketchup loving quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, is set to be the highest-owned Quarterback on the slate, and rightfully so against the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are coming off a short week, after an emotional win on Monday Night Football this past weekend, and we should assume a full onslaught from the Chiefs is in store for Sunday with them needing to win to lock up the number one seed in the AFC. Mahomes threw for four touchdowns against the Raiders in their first meeting this season, and he has still managed to put up respectable numbers since then despite facing off with the Ravens, Chargers and Seahawks, three very good defenses. This Raiders defense is horrible, and they have no ability to get pressure on the quarterback allowing Mahomes ample time to pick them apart. He will be highly-owned, but he is the clear top play for me in all formats this weekend.
Ben Roethlisberger- On DraftKings, it’s clear we are going to play Mahomes in cash games, but it becomes more of a conversation on FanDuel where Mahomes is priced at almost $10,000. If you can’t stomach the hefty price tag, there are two other options I would consider in Ben Roethlisberger and Jared Goff. The Steelers are in a situation where they must beat the Bengals, and they need the Ravens to lose to the red-hot Browns (LOL) to secure a playoff spot. That being said, we should expect them to go all out for secure the W this week in a fantastic matchup with a Bengals defense we have targeted relentlessly over the second-half of the season. It does actually look as of now like Antonio Brown is a threat to miss this game, which would negatively affect Ben for sure, but I still would consider him as of now as a 14.5 point home favorites. This Bengals defense ranks bottom-five in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game, and it’s pretty clear they threw in the white towel a while ago…maybe when they hired Hue Jackson.
Jared Goff- Goff makes the most sense to me as the QB2 for cash games this week, especially if Brown does in fact miss Sunday’s game. The Rams are in a must-win situation to avoid playing in the wild card game, and they find themselves at home against the San Francisco 49ers. It’s not talked about as much as it should be, but Goff has some of the strongest home/road splits in the NFL. He’s averaging over 350 passing yards per game this season at home, and the Rams offense looked much better last week than it did in recent weeks. The Rams are implied for pretty much the same amount of points as the Steelers, and Goff comes in as my second overall quarterback for all formats this week behind Mahomes.
Josh Allen- Our man Josh Allen the most interesting play to me this weekend, and I debated including him in the cash game tier, because I do think he would be playable in cash if you needed the savings you get with him. The Dolphins have featured one of the worst defenses in the NFL over the last five weeks, and Allen was able to shred them for 231 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and 135 yards on the ground in their meeting four weeks ago. This game took place in Miami, and now Allen is listed as a 5.5 point home favorite, without mentioning that the Dolphins defense has been even worse on the road. Allen is just behind Goff on my QB list this weekend, and I 100% will have exposure to him.
Kirk Cousins- This is my wild card QB of the week, as I really don’t expect anyone to target Cousins against the Bears. There’s a huge narrative that Cousins can’t win a big game, or he folds under pressure, and the Vikings find themselves in a must win game to make the playoffs. Matt Nagy has said the Bears will go all out of Sunday, but they really won’t gain anything from winning. They would need the Rams to lose for them to see a bump up, and that’s unlikely, so it’s not a stretch for me to think that some of the key Bears players could be limited here, especially if the Vikings are winning — the fact that the Vikings are favored by 4.5 tells me all I need to know. Narrative aside, if the Vikes are going to win this game they will need a big game from their franchise quarterback and it makes sense in tournaments when he’s going to be so low-owned.
Cash Game Tier
Saquon Barkley- Barkley will be a cash game building block on Sunday, taking on a Cowboys defense that should be resting starters throughout the game. Jerry Jones has come out and said that the Cowboys would not be resting players this weekend, but he has lied in this exact scenario before anf there’s a reason that the Cowboys are listed as six point underdogs to the Giants. This is also a huge narrative game for Barkley, who has been fading in the rookie of the year conversation down the stretch as Baker Mayfield has hit his stride. He should want to put on a show in the last game, and he’s my top overall running back in Week 17.
James Conner- I haven’t seen anything about touches, but Conner is expected to be able to handle a full workload in his first game back Sunday, with the Steelers season on the line. We know that the Steelers like to ride just one guy, so I’m not concerned about a touch-split whatsoever and it doesn’t get better than this matchup against the Bengals. They have allowed the second-most touchdowns on the ground this season, and Conner adds value in the passing game as well,
Jamaal Williams- I expect Jamaal Williams to be the highest-owned running back by a good margin given his mid tier price tag and expected workload against the Lions on Sunday. I’m much more #TeamAaronJones than I am Williams, but with Jones on IR, Williams saw all of the running back touches for the Packers last week and was involved in the passing game as well. We don’t typically attack Detroit given how slow they play, but at only $6,000 on DraftKings Williams is one of the top overall plays on the slate.
CJ Anderson- With Todd Gurley out, it’s set up to be CJ Anderson SZN once again in Week 17. I was flat out wrong assuming that CJ wouldn’t dominate the work as he racked up 20 carries for 167 yards last week after being on the team less than seven days. I still don’t think he’s very good, but he will dominate work in the best offense in the league and I have plenty of faith in McVay being able to put him in positive situations.
Royce Freeman- I do expect Royce Freeman to be popular, given his price with Phillip Lindsay injured, but I also don’t know how confident I feel in him even at a value. The Broncos have failed all season to get Freeman into +EV situations, running him into loaded boxes at one of the highest rates in the NFL. This is a must win game for the Chargers, and we should expect a big defensive effort, and that may be why I’m a bit more hesitant to roster Freeman in cash games.
Sony Michel- Michel is one of my favorite tournament targets this week, at home and slated as a big-time 13.5 favorite. We have talked all season how Michel is in play much like LeGarrett Blount was in his time in New England, when the Patriots are large favorites in expected positive game-script, they will pound the ball. This benefits Michel, who should be able to rack up another 20+ carries and is in a prime matchup with the New York Jets.
Melvin Gordon- I don’t think many people will be targeting MG3 this week, which makes him the perfect GPP leverage play off of Barkley. The Chargers need to win this game, and I’m assuming that they will peel back the reigns a little bit after giving Gordon just 15 touches in his first game back from injury. The matchup isn’t great as the Broncos have fixed their run defense that hurt them earlier on in the season, but Gordon has the ability to be involved in the passing game and I’ll take volume over matchup any day in tournaments.
Nick Chubb- Nick Chubb is another player in a tough matchup this Sunday, on the road in Baltimore, but he has averaged over 20 touches per game as the Browns starting running back and like I said with Gordon, I’ll always take the volume in tournaments over a bad matchup.
Cash Game Tier
Davante Adams- I was all in on Adams coming into the week, but his injury situation is kind of giving me cold feet, plus we want to spend up at tight end which I will get to in a minute. That being said, Adams has pretty much been the best fantasy wide receiver this season, and this is another big-time narrative spot with him being very close to a few Green Bay Packers records. Ultimately, if he is active Sunday I would play him with confidence, but I’m trying to figure out a way to fit him in my lineup at the moment.
JuJu Smith-Schuster- I LOVE this play, and I really don’t think he is going to end up being that highly owned. There’s a narrative floating around Twitter that JuJu played last week for his fantasy owners and then let them down…THIS IS FAKE NEWS. I don’t know what world people live in, but on planet Earth 11 catches for 115 yards is not a bad game, but if it lowers his ownership this week then please, continue! Antonio Brown is legitimately banged up, and while I do think he will probably be active this feels like a JuJu game for me especially against this slow Bengals defense.
Robert Woods- Woods is the prototypical cash game wide receiver, a model of consistency. He’s seen 7 or more targets in every game except for two this season, and he’s topped 70 or more yards in every game but three. He remains affordable across the industry, and he gets the best matchup with the 49ers defense on the inside.
Robby Anderson- Robby Anderson has struggled career-wise against the Patriots, but this also may not be the same old Robby Anderson. He has single-handedly saved Sam Darnold’s season, who was looking very, very bad before he got on the same page as Anderson, and he’s racked up almost 40 targets over the last four games (!!!). He’s scored a touchdown in three straight as well, and while he won’t be as highly owned as last week, I’m comfortable with him in all formats.
Chris Godwin- Our old friend Chris Godwin became one of the top plays of the weekend once DeSean Jackson was ruled out, and it would be hard for me to exclude him from my cash game build. He becomes an elite value as his snaps and routes will increase without Jackson, as we saw when Jackson missed time earlier this season, but I also think there is a legit risk that Jameis Winston doesn’t play the whole game, which would hurt his value for sure. I will most likely end up playing him, but if ends up getting a lot of Griffin at QB this could be a disaster…the upside is just too high for the price.
Kendrick Bourne- I don’t feel super confident in a ceiling here, but with Dante Pettis and now Marquise Goodwin out, Kendrick Bourne immediately jumps out as a potential value wide receiver in all formats. His chemistry with Nick Mullens is growing, he’s seen 20 targets over the last four games and the 49ers will obviously be thrust into pass-heavy game-script in this matchup with the Rams.
Robert Foster- Foster clearly has a strong rapport with Josh Allen, and his speed sets up perfectly with Allen’s tendency to chuck up the deep ball. He’s been fantastic as well since the Bills made him a full-time player, he’s topped 100+ yards in two of his last three games and last week he and Allen left two touchdowns on the field, it should have been another monster day for the duo. I love Allen in GPPs this weekend, and I’m pairing him up with Foster no doubt.
Stefon Diggs- Obviously we aren’t going to want to run Kirk Cousins naked in tournaments, so if you are following me on that play we are going to pair him with Stefon Diggs. Diggs hasn’t seen the volume I had hoped at the beginning of the season, but he has still been able to find the end zone regularly and he has owned the Bears throughout his career. I expect both him and Thielen to put up big games on Sunday in a must win situation to make the playoffs, but if choosing one I’m siding with Diggs.
Travis Kelce- Week 17 is always pretty whacky, and it’s the first slate in a long time that I’m pretty much dead set on spending up at tight end, even in cash games. Kelce torched the Raiders in their first meeting to the tune of 168 yards and two touchdowns, and now we get a massive narrative spot with him being just 53 yards short of the all-time receiving yard record for a tight end in a single season. I also think you can use Tyreek Hill in cash games if you want, but my top stack with Mahomes is Kelce this weekend.
George Kittle- If I’m not playing Kelce, George Kittle is an amazing option in all formats. He, like Kelce, is around 100 yards short of the same exact record, and with the 49ers pass catchers being so banged up, he could see an even larger bump in volume even though he has been steadily seeing 8+ targets a game with Nick Mullens at quarterback.
Chris Herndon- Herndon remains cheap on DraftKings, despite racking up nearly 30 targets over the last five games. I really want to spend up on Kelce or Kittle this week on most of my teams, but if you absolutely need the savings Herndon is the top value tight end for me and it’s not close.
D/ST Options: Seattle, Pittsburgh, New England, Buffalo, Kansas City
Monkey Knife Fight Pick
Anyone that follows us knows that we at DFS Karma has been playing on our new partners website, monkeyknifefight.online a ton in recent weeks. It’s different than DFS, and it allows you to play prop games without having to compete with thousands of other people. If you haven’t already joined, you can sign up using the promo code “KARMA” and I suggest you do so given the vast success that we have had already between both NFL and NBA! Anyways, I’m going to give away my top prop on the website for this week’s NFL slate, so you can sign up and play with me!
This weeks prop comes from the Cowboys/Giants game and it’s the Over/Under prop for a chance to 1.8x you buy-in. You must pick two correctly of the three options, and I’m going with :
Eli Manning — OVER 242.5 passing yards
Dak Prescott– UNDER 123.5 passing yards
Saquon Barkley — OVER 5.5 receptions
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)