News & Analysis

Jeff Ratcliffe's fantasy football focus: Facts, predictions, and tips for Week 17

Nov 7, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) warms-up before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The fantasy football regular season is in the rearview mirror for most leagues, but there’s still plenty of fantasy to be played. So this week, we’re going to pivot slightly in the Focus and take a closer look at each contest for DFS purposes. In addition to this article, don’t forget to also check out our fantasy football projections and fantasy football matchup charts.

NY Jets @ Buffalo

Greenline: BUF -2, O/U 36.9

There isn’t a lot to love in this contest for New York. Sam Darnold gets a brutal draw with the Bills allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. It’s wise to fade all the Jets skill position players in DFS this week, including Le’Veon Bell. The veteran back racked up 30 touches last week, but it’s tough to like him in a game in what will likely be a low-scoring contest.

Josh Allen is reasonably priced in DFS and is worth some consideration in tournaments given his high fantasy ceiling. Expect Allen to look John Brown’s way a lot in this contest. Brown will see plenty of Arthur Maulet, who simply doesn’t have the speed (4.62 40 time) to keep up with Brown. Devin Singletary flashed a high fantasy ceiling at times in his rookie season, but he’s worth fading given the fact that the Jets allow just 3.2 yards per carry to opposing running backs.

Cleveland @ Cincinnati

Greenline: CLV -3.5, O/U 43.3

Joe Mixon battled the flu and posted a disappointing fantasy line last week, but he’s poised to bounce back against a Browns defense enters the week as the No. 12 fantasy matchup for running backs. Tyler Boyd is also in play this week with a matchup upgrade. Boyd was a fantasy monster last week and should have no problem against T.J. Carrie. The Browns corner is allowing a 74% catch rate on the season.

Let’s try this again with the Browns passing game. Baker Mayfield and company were a massive disappointment in their previous meeting against the Bengals just three weeks ago. But he’s worth another look against this Cincinnati defense that is allowing 8.1 yards per passing attempt. Odell Beckham Jr. found the end zone last week and is priced right for GPP exposure. Likewise, Jarvis Landry is in play, especially at DraftKings where you get a full point per reception.

Green Bay @ Detroit

Greenline: GB -10.4, O/U 43.3

© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Jones enters the week with a league-leading 16 rushing touchdowns. He’s facing a Lions defense that allows 0.9 rushing scores per game. Sometimes, it’s really that simple. It’s also easy to like Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams in this matchup. Detroit allows the second-most net passing yards per game (293.9).

The Lions got Kerryon Johnson back last week, but the young running back only saw 10 carries against Denver. While Johnson has mouth-watering upside, he’s just too risky to trust as anything more than a punt play this week.

LA Chargers @ Kansas City

Greenline: KC -8.6, O/U 46.4

While on paper the matchup looks good for Melvin Gordon, the gamescript doesn’t set up well for a run-heavy script. That means we could see a lot of Austin Ekeler. With both backs similarly priced, it makes sense to have more exposure to Ekeler this week.

The Chargers also struggle against the run and enter the week as the No. 7 fantasy matchup for running backs. Damien Williams was largely a major fantasy disappointment this season, but he did see 19 touches for 92 scrimmage yards and a score last week. Williams is far from safe, but his reasonable price point puts him in play as a tournament option.

Chicago @ Minnesota

Greenline: MIN -2.3, O/U 37.6

Allen Robinson is a top-10 fantasy wide receiver and is just 11 catches shy of 100 for the season. While it’s a tall task to for him to catch that many balls this week, the Vikings defense doesn’t figure to hinder him. Xavier Rhodes has regressed in a big way this season. Opposing wideouts have caught 84% of targets thrown into his coverage and Rhodes allowed 7 catches on 8 targets when these teams last faced each other back in Week 4.

The Mike Boone experiment didn’t work out so well last week, but the Vikings could certainly have Alexander Mattison back on the field. While Mattison is certainly tempting, it’s best to fade this backfield altogether this week. With so many teams in play, there are far better options even as punt plays.

Miami @ New England

Greenline: NE -15.7, O/U 45.5

Julian Edelman is still banged up with a knee injury, but the veteran has managed to get limited work in at practice this week. There’s no doubt that Edelman comes with risk this week, but he’s also very appealing given the matchup. Miami allows a league-leading 1.8 receiving scores per game to wideouts this season.

It finally happened. DeVante Parker broke out for fantasy purposes and is on his way to finishing as a top-15 wide receiver. Unfortunately, the schedule makers weren’t kind to Parker and gave him a brutal matchup against the Patriots to close out the season. Parker will almost certainly see a shadow from Stephon Gilmore in this contest. Gilmore has allowed just 46% of his targets to be caught this season.

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay

Greenline: TB -1.5, O/U 46.9

Julio Jones isn’t cheap this week, but he’s worth paying up for in this matchup. Tampa Bay has been the top fantasy matchup for wideouts this season. To be fair, Jones didn’t do much in this matchup back in Week 12, but his enormous fantasy ceiling puts him squarely in play as a premium DFS option this week.

It hasn’t been the prettiest season for Jameis Winston, but the Bucs quarterback is standing on the precipice of history with just 92 more passing yards to top 5,000 for the season. Sure, his wide receiver corps is decimated, but Winston managed to top 300 yards with this group last week. Better yet, he gets a fantasy-friendly draw against the Falcons. While Winston is a longshot to throw for the 570 yards he’d need to top Peyton Manning’s record, he should have no problem working his way up the all-time list in this matchup.

New Orleans @ Carolina

Greenline: NO -12.1, O/U 45.4

We witnessed history with Michael Thomas last week. The question now is how high he will set the bar with the single-season receptions record. Thomas will see a shadow from James Bradberry this week, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Thomas caught all five of his targets for 51 yards and a score against Bradberry back in Week 12. Also, don’t hesitate to fire up Alvin Kamara in this matchup. Carolina is the No. 1 matchup for running backs with a massive 1.7 rushing scores allowed per game to the position.

D.J. Moore remains in the league concussion protocol and has yet to practice this week. If Moore manages to play, he’s a hard fade in DFS with a shadow likely from Marshon Lattimore. The matchup also isn’t a good one for Christian McCaffrey. Given his enormous price point, it’s hard to justify being overexposed to McCaffrey this week.

Washington @ Dallas

Greenline: DAL -10.5, O/U 46.1

It’s been a lost season for the Washington skill position players for fantasy purposes. Injuries, a coaching regime change, and the quarterback carousel have put a damper on things for sure. That said, Terry McLaurin has shown the ability to be a solid fantasy option. While this isn’t the best matchup on paper, the likely gamescript makes McLaurin worth some exposure in tournaments.

© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This just in, opposing running backs are absolutely shredding the Redskins, so let’s continue to exploit that trend with Ezekiel Elliott. Washington is allowing a massive 42.1 FanDuel points per game to opposing backfields with both Miles Sanders and Saquon Barkley going nuts against them. With the Cowboys in a must-win situation, Elliott is poised for a massive day against this defense.

Oakland @ Denver

Greenline: DEN -3.4, O/U 41

It was a bit of a surprise that Josh Jacobs had surgery this week, but the procedure was reportedly to address a skin infection and does not have any impact on his status for this weekend. Of course, Jacobs sat out last week to rest his ailing shoulder and the Raiders remarkably stayed in the playoff picture. There’s certainly a chance Jacobs gets back on the field, but it isn’t wise to build lineups around him given the strong possibility that he sits.

Courtland Sutton took a big step forward in 2019 and that began back in Week 1 when he last faced the Raiders. Sutton put up a healthy 120 yards in that contest. Of course, that was a very different Broncos squad. Emmanuel Sanders had yet to be traded and Joe Flacco was under center. That said, Sutton is very appealing here with the Raiders banged up in the secondary. With Trayvon Mullen in the concussion protocol, the Raiders will likely have to start Keisean Nixon. A UDFA out of South Carolina, Nixon has allowed five catches on six targets for 105 yards in three games this season.

Arizona @ LA Rams

Greenline: LA -5.5, O/U OFF

At this point, it’s simply impossible to ignore the play of Kenyan Drake. He’s been an absolute monster over the last two weeks and helped propel a number of teams to a fantasy championship in season-long fantasy. This week, he’s a sneaky option to consider in DFS. Sure, the matchup isn’t great, but with the Rams potentially resting some of their starters, Drake has the chance to hit big again. He’s worth stacking with the Cardinals defense, who have the potential to surprise if Blake Bortles is under center for the Rams.

The hottest receiver in the game over the last month just might be a tight end. Tyler Higbee has rattled off four straight 100-yard performances with 35 catches over that span. He also gets an extremely favorable draw this week with the Cardinals on the schedule. Arizona is the runaway No. 1 matchup for tight ends with an average of 16.2 FanDuel points surrendered to the position. Of course, it should be mentioned that the Rams could rest a number of their starters this week. While the matchups may be tempting, be careful if you’re considering any Rams this week.

Philadelphia @ NY Giants

Greenline: PHI -5, O/U 44.7

It’s been a season of attrition for the Eagles pass-catchers. We can now add Zach Ertz to that list after the stud tight end suffered a rib injury against the Cowboys last week. Ertz is in danger of missing this week after not practicing Wednesday and Thursday. If Ertz sits, expect Carson Wentz to look Dallas Goedert’s way a ton this week. Goedert saw a season-high 12 targets last week and is a good bet to see another double-digit workload again this week if Ertz doesn’t play.

We don’t have to go too far back for the last time Darius Slayton faced the Eagles. That contest took place just three weeks ago, and Slayton had himself a day. The Giants wideout found the end zone twice and ranked second among wideouts in fantasy scoring for the week. The Eagles secondary struggles against speed, so Slayton offers major upside this week.

Indianapolis @ Jacksonville

Greenline: IND -4.1, O/U 42.3

After a down game in Week 15, Marlon Mack bounced back against the Panthers last week. Look for him to carry that momentum into this contest, as he gets another favorable draw. Jacksonville enters the week as the No. 2 fantasy matchup for running backs and allow 5.35 yards per carry to the position. Mack racked up 109 yards and a score against the Jags back in Week 11.

It sounds like the Doug Marrone regime will get a stay of execution and return for 2020, but that doesn’t help the cause for fantasy purposes this week. The Jags’ downward spiral has made it tough to trust anyone in a Jacksonville uniform.

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore

Greenline: BLT -0.4, O/U 37.8

Instead of analyzing the matchups in this contest, it’s more important to consider the impact of Baltimore resting its starters. While that might sound like a good thing for Pittsburgh, it’s still too dicey to trust any Steelers skill position players. Likewise, on the Baltimore side, it’s tough to predict how the touches will get distributed. Fade this game outright.

Tennessee @ Houston

Greenline: TEN -1.8, O/U 45.3

© Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

There were a number of fantasy surprises this season, and Ryan Tannehill has to be near the top of that list. Since Week 7, only Lamar Jackson has scored more fantasy points than Tannehill. While the Titans didn’t win their last meeting with the Texans, Tannehill did post 279 yards and two scores through the air to go along with 10 yards and a score as a runner. Of course, a big part of Tannehill’s recent success has been the play of A.J. Brown. The rookie wideout went nuts against the Texans in Week 15, posting 8 catches on 13 targets for 114 yards and a score.

While we can’t ever overlook Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, neither player is priced cheaply enough this week to make them especially appealing. They’re worth have some exposure to in tournaments, but there are much better stacks to build your lineups around.

San Francisco @ Seattle

Greenline: SF -2.5, O/U 47.3

Seattle isn’t quite as bad against tight ends as the Cardinals, but they aren’t that far off. The Seahawks are the second-best fantasy matchup for the position, so yeah, upgrade George Kittle. You won’t get him in lineups for the main slate, but Kittle is worth serious consideration in the captain spot in Showdown contests.

The Seahawks are absolutely decimated at running back with both Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise going down with injuries last week. While Seattle did sign Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin this week, the expectation is that Travis Homer gets a majority of the touches. Homer is a lightly used rookie against a tough 49ers defense. Those two things typically don’t combine well for fantasy purposes.

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