With most fantasy football leagues over, Week 17 of the NFL season is a great time to play some DFS. So today’s edition of the matchups to avoid and matchups to exploit column with be DFS-centric.
In a week that promises to be somewhat crazy, remember to build your lineups with players who have something on the line. That can mean teams playing for a spot in the playoffs, or possibly younger players who are looking to showcase their skills. Below you’ll find recommendations for each game on this week’s slate.
Fire up Marvin Jones.
This just in, Jones is a Packers killer. In his last three meetings against Green Bay, Jones has 18 catches on 28 targets for 388 yards and four scores. Even though the Lions are out of the playoff hunt, Jim Caldwell has no intentions of resting his starters. That puts Jones in play as a very interesting DFS option. He’s a slightly better value on FanDuel ($7,300) than he is on DraftKings ($6,500).
More wide receiver value to be had.
Here’s another contest between two teams out of postseason contention, but there’s still value to be mined. T.Y Hilton hasn’t been the best fantasy option this year without Andrew Luck, but he’s coming off a 100-yard performance and gets a very favorable matchup. He’ll see primary coverage from Johnathan Joseph, who is allowing a whopping 17.7 yards per catch this year. Hilton is a solid DFS value at $5,900 on DraftKings and $6,700 on FanDuel. Also, keep an eye on DeAndre Hopkins’ status. He’s looking very iffy for Sunday. Will Fuller would see a big target boost if Hopkins is unable to go, and he’s dirt cheap this week ($5,100 FD, $4,300 DK).
Tough matchups at running back.
It’s wise to fade this matchup for both backfields this week. Minnesota currently allows the third-fewest PPR points per game to running backs, which puts a damper on Jordan Howard’s fantasy prospects. He’s just a bit too pricey ($6,800 FD, $5,800 DK) to use with any confidence. Likewise, Latavius Murray gets a matchup downgrade against a Bears defense that allows the eighth fewest fantasy points per game to running backs.
Dion Lewis continues to roll.
The Patriots running back took advantage of a plus matchup against the Bills and increase volume due to James White sitting out and was one of the top fantasy running backs last week. White could return this week, but Mike Gillislee looks to be on the wrong side of questionable. That means another heavy workload is likely for Lewis. He isn’t as cheap as last week, but Lewis still offers solid value, especially on FanDuel ($7,200).
Use Josh Doctson for upside.
The second-year man didn’t break out in 2017, but he has the potential to get big in the season finale with an extremely favorable matchup on tap against the Giants. New York will be shorthanded this week as disgruntled starting CB Eli Apple is suspended. Better yet, Doctson is a big-time DFS bargain ($5,800 FD, $4,400 DK). He isn’t safe enough to use in cash games, but he’s worth some exposure in tournaments and could be stacked with Kirk Cousins.
Don’t trust the Eagles.
Unlike some of the other playoff teams with nothing to play for this week, the Eagles have yet to announce that they will be sitting their starters. That being said, it’s unlikely for Philly to use their starters for the entire game. It’s wise to avoid Nick Foles, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Jay Ajayi this week.
Stevan Ridley redux.
Don’t call it a comeback. Seriously. But Ridley is actually in play as a viable fantasy option this week with the Steelers resting Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh rested Bell in Week 17 last season and DeAngelo Williams racked up 26 touches in that contest. In other words, expect heavy volume for Ridley. While he’s far from the most ideal option, Ridley is nearly the minimum price on DraftKings ($3,500). Unfortunately, Ridley wasn’t added to the FanDuel player pool this week.
Julio Jones is in a good spot.
The Falcons wideout is battling injuries, but expect him to play with the Falcons in a position to lock up a playoff berth with a win. Jones is a good bet to see a shadow from James Bradberry this week. Carolina had Bradberry track Jones in Week 9, and Jones got the better of the matchup with four catches on four targets for 88 yards. Jones is pricey ($8,400 FD, $8,200 DK), but his high ceiling/floor combination is ideal for cash games. He can also be stacked with Matt Ryan, who comes in at a slight discount this week at just $7,400 on FanDuel and $5,900 on DraftKings.
Punt with Patrick Mahomes?
This is an interesting thought, for sure. Mahomes flashed major upside in the preseason and will draw the start with the Chiefs resting Alex Smith. He’s the minimum on FanDuel ($6,000) and close to the minimum on DraftKings ($4,700). However, the problem here is twofold. First, he faces a Broncos defense that still does a good job against the pass. He’ll also likely be throwing to the likes of Demarcus Robinson and Demetrius Harris. Mahomes is worth a tiny bit of exposure in tournaments, but he’s a very risky option.
Derrick Henry is the chalk.
With DeMarco Murray dealing with a torn MCL and unlikely to play, Henry becomes a must-play in cash game lineups. Henry comes at a sizeable discount ($5,800 FD, $5,500 DK) and should see a healthy workload. The matchup against Jacksonville isn’t ideal, but the Titans are still playing for the No. 6 seed. Technically, Tennessee doesn’t need to win to keep the spot, but they’ll seal the deal with a victory.
Fire up Malcolm Brown.
Here’s another freebee this week. The Rams will rest Todd Gurley, and Brown will serve as the lead back. He figures to see ample touches and draws a very favorable matchup against a 49ers defense that allows the fourth-most fantasy points per game to running backs. Brown offers major salary relief at a dirt-cheap price point ($4,500 FD, $3,900 DK).
Pay up for LeSean McCoy.
While Miami is out of the playoff hunt, the Bills have an outside shot at still making it to the dance. That means good things for McCoy this week, as does his matchup. The Dolphins have struggled against the run this season, and have allowed a touchdown to running backs in four of their last five games. McCoy is pricey ($8,200 FD, $8,000 DK), but you can get away with paying up for him thanks to all of the value on the board this week.
Philip Rivers is in play.
This is a good week to pay up for quarterbacks, especially in cash games. But don’t just blindly spend your salary. Focus on players with something on the line. Rivers is one of those players, with the Chargers in a must-win situation in order to have a chance at making the post season. He’s expensive ($8,300 FD, $6,600 DK), but Rivers is tied for fourth among quarterbacks over the last six weeks and offers a high floor in a decent matchup against the Raiders.
Pay up for Russell Wilson.
Like Rivers, Wilson is in a must-win spot this week. He’s also very pricey, coming in as the highest-priced signal-caller on FanDuel ($8,700) and essentially the highest-priced on DraftKings ($6,900) with Ben Roethlisberger ($7,000) sitting. Wilson has been a bit of a dud over the last two weeks, but he’s still the No. 1 fantasy quarterback for the season and is in play as a cash game option.
Mike Evans is discounted, but risky.
Those looking for a bargain at wide receiver may have their eye on Evans on FanDuel, where he’s a modest $6,900. It’s certainly a tempting price point, but it isn’t wise to use Evans in cash games this week. He’s likely to see a shadow from Marshon Lattimore. The rookie corner has been impressive in his debut season and has yet to allow a touchdown in his coverage.
Use Alex Collins for tournament diversification.
This isn’t the most appealing contest for fantasy purposes, but Collins is somewhat interesting as a tournament play. He’s relatively cheap ($6,800 FD, $5,600 DK) and gets a plus matchup the Bengals. Cincinnati is banged up on the defensive side of the ball, and as a result, the Bengals have surrendered four rushing scores to running backs over the last three weeks.