Originally posted: December 29, 2017
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Week 17 is a unique experience in NFL DFS. Unlike sports with longer seasons like MLB and NBA, it’s the only time teams rest their starters. It offers some new sources of value, but also additional uncertainty. For that reason, I think it’s better suited to tournaments than cash games. Paying close attention to the player news Sunday morning has never been more important and we could see some surprise inactives in addition to the players we already know won’t play. It’s a bittersweet week for football fans (or maybe just bitter if your team(s) and/or fantasy team(s) have been eliminated). The season is ending, but some of the best football of the year is still ahead in the playoffs.
Jacoby Brissett (IND): $6,600 vs. HOU
With his future uncertain, you can be sure Jacoby Brissett is looking forward to one more game to add to his resume. He’s coming off a brutal stretch of opponents – Ravens, Broncos, Bills, and Jaguars – and gets a much softer matchup this week against the Houston Texans. Brissett had one of his best games of the year against the Texans in Week 9, throwing for 308 yards and two touchdowns. It was one of only two 300+ passing yard games for the second-year quarterback. The Texans defense hasn’t gotten any better (or healthier) since then and with TJ Yates leading their offense nowhere, they’ll have to deal with quick three-and-outs and a lot of time on the field. They’ve allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. That’s particularly impressive considering they’ve faced Blake Bortles twice, Marcus Mariota twice, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, and DeShone Kizer. Brissett ranks third in our Value Play tool.
Malcolm Brown (LAR): $4,500 vs. SF
The Rams are resting the most players of any team (as far as we know), which opens up all kinds of value. Jared Goff and Todd Gurley will sit along with a couple of starting linemen. The usual starting receivers – Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, and Cooper Kupp – are expected to play limited snaps or not at all. Malcolm Brown will be the starting running back. Sean Mannion will start at quarterback, which should encourage the Rams to pound the run. I was surprised to learn that Brown actually has 49 carries this season for 192 yards. Todd Gurley must have captured all my attention.
The massive workload that is typically Gurley’s will partially shift to Brown this week. He has no significant competition for carries, but the offense won’t be as efficient, which should limit his opportunity a little. He hasn’t had many chances in the passing game, but he’s caught nine of 10 career targets. It’s a locked-in role against a 49ers defense that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs. At minimum salary, Malcolm Brown offers a 12-15 touch floor with a much higher ceiling.
Derrick Henry (TEN): $5,800 vs. JAC
The best running back on the Tennessee Titans will get the featured role against the Jaguars. Derrick Henry has outplayed DeMarco Murray all season, averaging 4.7 yards per carry to Murray’s 3.6. Murray has a third-degree MCL sprain and hasn’t practiced as of Thursday. He insists he can play through it, but even if he does, the Titans have said he’ll be used sparingly. Henry, who has looked like the better player since his arrival last year, has 10 touchdowns in just 258 career carries (five in 2016, five in 2017) and has been steadily siphoning touches away from Murray.
It’s not an easy matchup. Jacksonville ranks 20th in fantasy points to running backs, though it’s still the weak(er) point compared to their pass defense. However, it’s also in the Jaguars’ best interests to lose the game. A loss means the Jaguars would most likely face the Titans in the playoffs instead of the tougher Chargers. The Titans must win to make the playoffs at all. So far, Doug Marrone is insisting he’s playing his starters. But it seems unlikely that they’ll play much, at least. But even if they do, Derrick Henry will get the ball often enough to justify his meager salary.
Will Fuller (HOU): $5,100 @ IND
It’s hard to recommend any receiver with TJ Yates throwing them the ball. But it’s even harder to ignore what Will Fuller could do to a bad Colts defense if DeAndre Hopkins sits. Hopkins is officially a game-time decision, but with the season lost, it would be foolish to rush back a franchise star. It would be Nuk’s first missed game of his career, leaving his NFL-high 11.6 targets per game up for grabs. They’ll mostly go to Fuller, but Braxton Miller will get some extra work, too. The Colts have been terrible against the pass and allow the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers. It doesn’t feel good to rely on TJ Yates, but Fuller is too good a value to pass up.
Mohamed Sanu (ATL): $5,600 vs. CAR
This is a huge game, not only for Atlanta and Carolina but for the NFC South. The Falcons must win to secure a wild-card spot. If the Panthers win, they have a chance to win the NFC South, assuming the Buccaneers can knock off the Saints. Nobody’s resting for this game. Carolina’s pass defense has struggled all season, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points. The slot may be their biggest liability, with veteran Captain Munnerlyn having a particularly bad year. Mohamed Sanu has averaged 6.6 targets per game over his last five games. His 11 red zone targets are second on the team to Julio Jones. His five red zone touchdowns are by far the most – including one at Carolina in Week 8. He’s the top wide receiver in our Value Play tool.
Jack Doyle (IND): $5,400 vs. HOU
Who better to accompany Jacoby Brissett than his favorite target? Jack Doyle has been targeted 103 times in 14 games. His 7.4 target average trails only Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz, and Evan Engram. His 8.4 FanDuel points per game ranks ninth. It’s quite the unexpected season. Doyle had some moments of fantasy-relevance last year, but in his first three years combined he had 43 total targets. The Texans are tenth in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. I expect Brissett to continue to lean on his favorite weapon, Doyle, who had eight catches for 63 yards in the first game against Houston this season. He’s the second-most undervalued tight end in our Value Play tool.
Nick Rose (LAC): $4,600 vs. OAK
The Chargers have been unable to get any kind of reliability out of their kicking game this year. Younghoe Koo, Nick Novak, and Travis Coons have all had a chance but flopped. Last week, they turned to Nick Rose, who made 10 of 11 field goals and 18 of 20 extra points for Washington earlier this season. He promptly missed his only field goal attempt. Assuming there isn’t an actual curse on Chargers’ kickers, I expect Rose to bounce back this week. Oakland’s defense has struggled all year long and with the Chargers in must-win mode, Vegas estimates they’ll score around 25 points. Aside from the extra point attempts, Rose should contribute at least a couple of field goal attempts. The Raiders have allowed the second-most fantasy points to kickers.
San Francisco 49ers (SF): $4,000 @ LAR
The Rams are taking this game off. In addition to Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, starting center John Sullivan and starting tackle Andrew Whitworth will not play. Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Sammy Watkins will all have very short days, if they take the field at all. Sean Mannion will be throwing to Pharoh Cooper and Josh Reynolds, with Malcolm Brown running the ball. None of these names are particularly scary. Sean Mannion appears to specialize in kneeling. He has 16 career pass attempts in three seasons and eight kneel-downs. The former third-round pick out of Oregon State has basically no game experience at the NFL level through three years. It’s a serious red flag on a team that prior to 2017 didn’t have a successful quarterback. It’s not quite Christian Hackenberg-level worrisome, but it’s a bad sign. The fact that he managed to sneak an interception into his 16 attempts doesn’t help.
You might have noticed I haven’t mentioned the 49ers defense at all. This is not an accident. I have only a few good things to say about them. They’re practically free. Only the Browns defense against the Steelers costs less. They’re coming off their best game of the season, in which they picked Blake Bortles three times and scored their first touchdown. The inspiration that Jimmy Garappolo has brought to the offense seems to be finding its way to the defense, too. With four straight wins under their belt, I can’t blame them.
Source: Fantasy Pros
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