Headline of the game: What are the chances that this is Matt Ryan’s last game as the starting quarterback for Atlanta?
For the record, Ryan has not played poorly this season. His 83.9 PFF grade on the year ranks 10th at the quarterback position heading into the final week of the 2020 season. That, along with the fact that Ryan’s contract is working against a potential trade, points to the idea that Atlanta will be heading into 2021 with him as the team’s starting quarterback once again.
However, this is a situation where Ryan is aging and the Falcons will be welcoming in a new general manager and head coach this offseason. Atlanta is also well-positioned to take a chance on Justin Fields, Zach Wilson or potentially even Trey Lance in the top five picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. You would imagine that there will be teams — such as San Francisco and old friend Kyle Shanahan — that may be willing to pull the trigger on the 35-year-old quarterback in a trade. If that is the case, this could very well be the end of an era in Atlanta.
Atlanta has received the early-week backing, as there is some question of motivation from the Buccaneers. A win locks them into the fifth seed and a first-round matchup against the NFC East winner. And they likely would be nearly a touchdown favorite in the wild-card round, which is an enviable position for any seed beside the elusive No. 1.
This should all but ensure that the Buccaneers find the motivation to win, but covering as a touchdown favorite this week appears to be a tall ask, according to PFF Greenline.
The move down to 6.5 still places slight value on the Falcons, but the cash and ticket percentages are counter to our model direction. Backing the Falcons continues to be a weekly chore, but one that has paid off in each of the past two weeks. Expect a similar performance to two weeks ago, with the betting market direction buying into a similar setup.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers almost have nothing to play for (they will be the fifth or sixth seed in the NFC regardless of what transpires Sunday), but Bruce Arians has explicitly stated the Bucs will not be resting any starters.
Outside of getting Mike Evans to 1,000 receiving yards (he’s 40 yards away), it’s difficult to believe that Arians will in fact play his starters all the way through — he’s notoriously been one to say one thing and do another as an NFL head coach.
For that reason, I think the core play from this game remains Evans ($7,500), who has clearly established himself as the team’s alpha wideout. Over the past two weeks, Evans has averaged 28.6 fantasy points per game and commanded a 24% target share.
Atlanta has been one of the best run defenses all season long, so it’s probably good to fade the Buccaneers’ running backs, especially if we get a committee between Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette, who offer little value at their prices.
The Falcons played a close game against Tampa Bay just one week ago, in which Calvin Ridley looked even more incredible than usual. He caught 10 of 14 passes thrown his way for 163 yards and a touchdown. He’s on a run of four straight games with at least 100 receiving yards, and that could very well extend to five this week.
Russell Gage put up a respectable five catches on 10 targets for 68 yards and a touchdown, but he is less likely to repeat that performance. The Buccaneers defense looked significantly better last week against the Lions. No player gained more than 37 receiving yards despite the Lions being down the entire game. The Lions quarterback play wasn’t as good as Matt Ryan typically plays, but the Buccaneers defense also typically plays better than they did two weeks ago. Gage is at $5,100 this week, which is a bit too high.
Headline of the game: This is the Cowboys offense people expected to see when Andy Dalton took over at quarterback
Dalton is the 11th-highest-graded quarterback in the NFL since Week 11, and the Cowboys’ offense ranks 13th league-wide in expected points added (EPA) per play. It may not quite be what many expected from the unit with a healthy Dak Prescott, but they have looked competent at the least, which is the expected outcome with a veteran like Dalton in the No. 2 spot. Competent is far from how they looked across the middle portion of the season when Dalton first took over and while they bounced between Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert during Dalton’s stretch on the sideline.
This offensive revival gives Dallas the potential to be the most dangerous team in the postseason should they win this game and Washington loses to Philadelphia. Dangerous, of course, is a relative term when talking about the NFC East, but you won’t find too many secondaries eager to cover the combination of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb at wide receiver.
The pick ‘em to open disappeared quickly, with 73% of the cash and 91% of the tickets on the Cowboys to start the week. Dallas now has an implied win probability of 61.5% after Dalton put forth his highest-graded game of the 2020 season in Week 16.
The Giants’ 27th-ranked coverage unit could offer similar separation, allowing the Cowboys wide receivers continued opportunities at monster yards-after-the-catch plays. After all, only 41.6% of Dalton’s 366 yards came through the air this past week, despite Dalton throwing 9 yards downfield on average.
The winner has the distinct privilege of backing the Eagles on Sunday Night Football, with the NFC East crown hanging in the balance. Betting markets give the Cowboys a 31.7% chance at the playoffs, while the Giants sit at 23.3%.
PFF Greenline doesn’t offer any preference on the spread or total, as the latest line movement shut down the early week value on the Cowboys.
Both teams have a chance to take home the NFC East crown — the winner of this game will win the division if Washington loses Sunday night. Wayne Gallman at $5.3K is an interesting pay-down running back option because of how bad Dallas is versus the run, but his snaps have been dwindling in recent weeks.
Darius Slayton has been straight-up bad the past few weeks, but his targets in the last three games (8,9,8) and team-leading air yards share (29%) makes him a value at $4.1K. Slayton’s best game of the season came against Dallas in Week 5 when he caught eight of his 11 targets for 129 receiving yards.
The Cowboys offense was on fire this past week, and the Giants will unlikely be able to slow it down.
Ezekiel Elliott had his first 100-yard game of the season with 105 yards on 19 carries. Both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup gained 121 receiving yards each, while both Gallup and CeeDee Lamb scored two touchdowns. The Giants have been pretty average against running backs recently and average against wide receivers all season. All of these guys are solid plays, with Gallup being the cheapest of the group at $5,000.
The only area the Giants have been particularly good at recently is stopping tight ends. New York has given up an average of 59 yards per game to tight ends in the last five games, with Mark Andrews skewing that number up. Dalton Schultz hasn’t reached 50 receiving yards in his last seven games, making him a player to avoid.
Headline of the game: Uncertainty at the quarterback position hangs over both franchises
There has been talk that the Jets should either draft someone like Penei Sewell with the second overall pick or trade down to build around Sam Darnold, but it’s hard to see that as anything other than a mistake given what Darnold has put on the field over the course of his three-year NFL career.
Darnold's 60.5 PFF passing grade since 2018 ranks 31st out of 32 qualifiers at the quarterback position. His 92.6 passer rating from a clean pocket is also 31st in that same group. Darnold sits inside the top five at the position in uncatchable pass rate (21.6%), as well.
You can point to the supporting cast, but at some point, Darnold needed to show more to feel comfortable passing on a very good quarterback prospect with the second overall pick.
New England will face a quarterback decision of their own. Cam Newton does not seem to be the long-term answer following a season where he threw twice as many interceptions as touchdowns on an offense barren of NFL-caliber talent at wide receiver and tight end. We saw on Monday Night Football that the Patriots want to get a look at Jarrett Stidham, but the chances that he becomes the answer are slim. That leaves them in a similar position to the Jets — needing a starting quarterback — only without the top-three pick in the draft to go after their guy.
The lowest total in Week 17 should be appropriately overlooked in favor of other action. Both the Patriots and Jets have at least one foot into next season, which begs the question, how do you bet on a game between two teams that may have little interest in winning? The betting market seems to favor the Jets after a two-game win streak locked them into the No. 2 pick.
The move down to a field-goal spread indicates an expectation that the Jets play well and the Patriots look similar to their Monday night performance. There isn’t value left on the spread, but the total offers opportunity. Given the direction-lean, this game should also provide some player prop prospects.
The Patriots’ offense is in full disarray — they simply cannot throw the football with Cam Newton under center. The Patriots QB has completed just 31 passes in his last three games and earned a PFF passing grade of 50.0.
Jarrett Stidham hasn’t been great in his limited action the last three weeks — 41.0 PFF passing grade, 3.7 yards per attempt, 47.4% completion percentage — but the only way I am playing any Patriots’ wide receiver in this game is if Stidham is starting.
Jakobi Meyers was Stidham’s most targeted receiver on Monday night when the second-year QB entered the game midway through the third quarter.
He’s $5K on DraftKings this week. The last time he played the Jets, he caught 12 of 14 targets for 169 receiving yards.
La'Mical Perine might finally get his breakout game before the season is over, and he’s only at $4,100 for the week. He missed over a month of football, but in his first game back last week, he ran nine times as the backup to Frank Gore. Ty Johnson held onto his third-down role. Gore has been declared out for this game with a bruised lung. This leaves Perine, Johnson and probably Josh Adams. With that trio of backs, Perine should be able to put up a career-high in carries.
The Patriots allowed a career game by Salvon Ahmed in Week 15 and Cam Akers in Week 14. Ahmed gained 122 yards on 23 carries, while Akers gained 171 yards on 29 attempts. Perine might be the next rookie to put up big numbers against this defense.
Headline of the game: Minnesota and Detroit look to put bows on disappointing seasons
Coming into the season, Minnesota had aspirations of competing in the NFC North despite losing a significant chunk of starters from a 2019 roster that made the postseason. A non-existent pass rush (32nd-ranked team pressure rate in the NFL) paired with a young secondary that delivered up-and-down performances for much of the year on the outside squashed those aspirations.
Detroit was no stranger to defensive issues in 2020, either. Despite adding to their defense heavily through both the draft and free agency, the Lions were once again one of the worst defenses in the league under Matt Patricia — a result that ultimately led to his firing. Injuries to Kenny Golladay and Matthew Stafford also resulted in an offense that didn’t quite look like the one that Lions fans saw early in 2019. Detroit ranked just 19th in EPA per play this season — not nearly enough to overcome their defense.
This is one of many games that has a fluid quarterback situation. Minnesota has picked up significant early-week backing, pushing out to a touchdown favorite.
The expectation is that Chase Daniels draws the start for the Lions, with the market showing one-sided action on the Vikings. Any further movement could finally make the market overcorrected, providing value on the backup.
The total appears to be sitting on a playable number as that market opens back up. Two of the bottom five defenses in the NFL will be represented in this matchup, as the second-highest total still has value on the over.
Matthew Stafford is looking iffy at best, so it has to be hands-off for the majority of Lions offensive skill players. The offense averaged an abysmal -0.525 EPA per play last week, which is on par with one of the worst weekly offensive performances this season.
The only Lion who can be trusted in any way shape or form is D’Andre Swift, who is priced at $6,300 on DraftKings. Chase Daniel is part of the captain checkdown club — 4.2 aDOT in Week 16 — so I expect Swift to continue to receive looks in the passing game.
The rookie’s usage was also extremely encouraging last week when he played a 68% snap share — his highest snap total since returning from his concussion.
The Vikings have allowed over 30 fantasy points to the last two starting RBs they have faced this season, so the matchup clearly favors Swift in this spot.
The Lions defense has a reputation for giving up a lot of fantasy points to running backs. This was true in Week 9 when Dalvin Cook pulled off 206 rushing yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns, as well as two catches for 46 yards. The Lions haven’t been as bad against running backs since then. The only running back to reach 75 rushing yards against them since that game is Derrick Henry. Cook could still have a good game, but it’s not as automatic as it was for running backs against Detroit in the first half of the season.
Instead, it’s the Vikings receivers who could have big games. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen combined for 86 yards the first time around. Eleven different wide receivers have gained at least 70 receiving yards against them in the seven games since the Lions and Vikings last played each other. This includes a 181-yard performance by Mike Evans and a 171-yard performance by Will Fuller. Both wide receivers could end the season on a high note. Jefferson is $7,600 and Thielen is $7,400, but either wide receiver has a chance to be the top receiver on the week.
Headline of the game: Baker Mayfield gets a second chance against a Pittsburgh defense that forced him into his worst game of the season
It appears as if the Steelers will rest some starters in this game, which is music to the Browns’ ears seeing that they cut away their margin for error in the AFC playoff hunt this past week with their loss to the Jets.
In the first matchup between these two teams, Mayfield came into the game with a rib injury, and he left with by far his worst overall grade of the season (31.9) after being pressured on 10 of his 23 dropbacks in the game. Mayfield threw for 9 yards and an interception with four sacks taken on those dropbacks.
The 2018 No. 1 overall pick will need to put on a much better performance for Cleveland to have a chance in this one, even if Pittsburgh does give several starters the day off on defense.
This could be the Week 17 classic of ones-versus-twos, as the Steelers look to rest some players to the Browns' benefit. The market has reacted accordingly, pushing from a -4 open to a brief stop at -10. Moving even further certainly wouldn’t be surprising, as the public has had a hard time not backing this Week 17 favorite.
The total has moved out, but not at the speed at which the spread has. PFF Greenline finds a value opportunity on the current 42.5 after most cash and tickets are found on a certain side. It’s reasonable to assume that further rest cases could pop up for the Steelers, who have no motivation to slow an inspired Browns performance.
The Browns running game needs to get players back on their offensive line, most notably Wyatt Teller and tackle Jedrick Wills. The Browns OL struggled to gain steam versus the Jets in Week 16 without them.
For Nick Chubb ($7,600) and Kareem Hunt ($5,900) to pay off their respective salaries, they will most certainly need their OL operating at full strength. That would allow them to take full advantage of a banged-up Steelers defense that has not been the same defensive juggernaut after so many injuries.
Getting to face Mason Rudolph drastically increases the Browns' chances of playing with a lead, which is both a boost to their DST ($2,500) and their ground game. Positive game scripts are usually accompanied by strong run games.
The Steelers offense might be one to avoid this week. The Steelers destroyed the Browns in Week 6, but the only noteworthy fantasy performance was James Conner, who gained 101 yards on 20 yards with a touchdown. The Browns defense has played very well recently, and the Browns have much more at stake than Pittsburgh. This could lead to the Steelers resting some players.
The Steelers should be able to use their tight end to attack the Browns defense regardless. Five different tight ends have gained at least 45 yards against the Browns in the last six weeks, and Cleveland has allowed six total receiving touchdowns to tight ends in that time. This is great news for Eric Ebron. The Steelers won’t have the depth to rest Ebron unless they bring up a tight end off the practice squad. If they do rest Ebron, then Vance McDonald will be the Steeler to have, and he’s only $2,500.
Headline of the game: Bengals can play spoiler against another AFC North team
The Ravens can clinch a playoff spot with a win and have the potential to make some noise in the postseason, given the way their offense has started to click in recent weeks. The Bengals have some motivation to lose and secure a better pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but there is also motivation here to play spoiler for a divisional rival after doing so two weeks ago against the Steelers.
Granted, he was throwing on air against a floundering Houston defense, but Brandon Allen posted a 91.4 PFF passing grade last week while averaging 10 yards per pass attempt and recording a passer rating of 126.5.
The likely outcome here is that the Ravens roll, given what’s at stake for both teams and the fact that Baltimore ranks second in the NFL in EPA per play over the last four weeks. The NFL has provided stranger results over the last several weeks than a Cincinnati win here, though.
The Ravens have reeled off five covers since their Covid game and appear to be the new favorite of the betting market. A win in Week 17 ensures Baltimore’s playoff berth, but a loss doesn’t automatically remove the team from contention.
The spread is difficult to peg down, with an opening scattered between +11 to +13. Depending on the number, PFF Greenline finds some value on the Ravens, which sides with the spread movement and the majority of cash and tickets.
Brandon Allen looked impressive against one of the worst defenses in the NFL last week but faces a much more challenging test in Week 17.
The Ravens have been on an offensive tear, which could lend some opportunities onto a particular side of the total. Greenline finds some value, but this is a spot to monitor for line movement throughout the week.
As great as Brandon Allen looked in Week 16, it’s really just a testament to how bad the Houston Texans are on defense. Fantasy players should not expect anything like the offensive explosion the Bengals produced last week in a much tougher matchup versus the Baltimore Ravens.
Heading back to Tee Higgins isn’t the worst option at just $5K after his 99-yard performance in Week 16, but the rookie’s upside increases dramatically of Marcus Peters and/or Jimmy Smith is held out another week.
The last time Higgins faced the Ravens, he caught four of eight targets for 62 yards.
But regardless of cornerback availability, Higgins will have his chances to make plays downfield after he saw five deep targets and 168 total air yards in Week 16.
Mark Andrews is ready for a huge game. Andrews had a slow start to the season, but one of his bright points was the Week 5 matchup against the Bengals. He caught six of nine passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. During the last few weeks, he’s consistently put up those kinds of numbers. The Bengals have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, so Andrews at the very least should match his recent numbers.
Both running backs for Baltimore also have the potential for a lot of rushing yards. Five of the last six lead backs to face Cincinnati gained at least 80 rushing yards. The most yards they’ve allowed to one back is 128, which occurred last week. J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards will probably split the carries, but each has the potential for 80 yards. Both Browns backs did just that against Cincinnati in Week 2. Edwards is the cheaper of the two options at $4,900.
Headline of the game: The Bills offense has every reason to scare Miami in this matchup
The Bills once again showed in primetime that their offense makes them the team with the best chance to knock off Kansas City in the postseason. It can’t be understated how impressive Josh Allen‘s improvement has been this season, nor how impressive Stefon Diggs has looked in his first year with the team. The ability of receivers like Diggs and Cole Beasley to create separation against man coverage has already suited them well against the Dolphins this season, and it will again here.
The Dolphins rank first in Cover 0 and Cover 1 usage this season under Brian Flores, and it’s worked well for them to this point because they have players like Byron Jones and Xavien Howard on the outside. Defending this Bills’ offense — especially with the way it’s playing right now — presents a different challenge altogether.
Diggs, in particular, has torched single coverage. His 843 receiving yards in those situations are more than any other receiver in the NFL. Miami, like Cleveland, will be in a situation where they hope their opponent is resting starters.
Bettors are backing the Dolphins after the early-week spread dropped to a field-goal difference. The majority of cash and ticket percentages are on the Dolphins, as the market likes to back teams that need a win to get into the playoffs. There are some scenarios where the Dolphins still get in after a loss, but they need to secure their place with a win over the Bills.
In contrast, the Bills are playing for the No. 2 seed, which ensures two home playoff games. And while home-field advantage isn’t worth what it once was, there should be an expectation that teams still find value in it. For this reason, the Bills could be undervalued on this current spread, which is the direction that Greenline leans at -3.
Continue to monitor Greenline for the latest information, as injury or line movement should provide further value on both the spread and total.
The Buffalo Bills will have a chance to finish the season as the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the AFC, so they will be surely vying to come away with a victory in Week 17. They might end up resting starters, but for now, let’s assume they want the No. 2 seed.
Stefon Diggs remains an elite-option at the WR position because he is seeing unreal usage in the Bills’ offense. Over the past four weeks, he ranks fourth in target share (32%) and 13th in team air yards share (37%). Overall, he ranks third in the NFL in total air yards since Week 13.
All that usage will almost certainly turn into fantasy points versus the Miami Dolphins, who Diggs lit up for 153 yards the last time he faced them back in Week 2.
John Brown also appears to be a screaming value at just $3,600, assuming he is activated off the Reserve/Covide list prior to Week 17. If not, Gabriel Davis is the exact same prince ($3.6K) and has seen 10 targets over the past two weeks. Two of his targets have been end-zone targets, but he has been unable to haul in either for scores.
Mike Gesicki is far and away the best play from Miami at $4,200 this week. Gesicki has exactly one game this season with 100 yards, and that was Week 2 against the Bills. He gained 130 yards by catching eight of 10 passes thrown his way with a touchdown.
It’s the only 100-yard performance Buffalo has given up to a tight end, but that hasn’t stopped others from finding some success. The Bills have given up the fourth-most yards to tight ends this season.
The running back situation in Miami will be one to monitor. Myles Gaskin returned after missing most of November and December to gain 87 yards on 14 carries, along with 82 receiving yards on five catches. He doubled his touchdown total on the season with two receiving touchdowns.
The Dolphins gave him and Salvon Ahmed equal opportunities early last week, but Gaskin became the hot hand. Gaskin is the best bet among the two for a solid game, but Ahmed has an outside chance of leading the way if he gets opportunities and is playing well. At $4,400 this week, Ahmed has more upside than most backs around that price.
Headline of the game: Are the Seahawks underrated heading into the postseason?
When discussing the top teams in the NFC, teams such as Green Bay, New Orleans and even Tampa Bay often get mentioned before Seattle does. The Seahawks do come in behind those three teams in the PFF power ratings, but even with an up-and-down second half of the season, Russell Wilson is still capable of carrying this team on his back for several games.
Wilson's 90.6 PFF grade through 16 weeks still ranks fifth at the position. The Seahawks also still have a receiving corps that is more than capable of getting underneath his downfield passes. His 13 touchdown passes on throws targeted 20 or more yards downfield are tied for the most in the NFL with Patrick Mahomes. Despite the deficiencies they may have elsewhere, Wilson and the potential for explosive plays on that offense should put them in the conversation when discussing the NFC’s top teams.
The market has backed off the Seahawks in early-week action, as their outside chance at the first-round bye could dissipate quickly during this matchup. The NFL moved some contests around to avoid meaningless games developing, but Seattle could easily see that the probability no longer exists for them to make the jump to the No. 1 seed. This could explain part of the reason for the betting market to immediately back off their side to start the week, but the cash and ticket percentages are counter to the current spread direction.
The total has seen a similar correction, as we have seen a drop of 1.5 to 46. There is the distinct possibility that the Seahawks back off at some point during the mid-week action to get some rest for a difficult matchup the following week. There is a little value in the moneyline, but no further opportunities exist on these game markets.
With C.J. Beathard under center, the 49ers deployed an extremely run-heavy game plan in Week 16. They called run plays on 54% of their offensive plays and ran nearly half of their plays out of 21 personnel (44.6%).
The wide receivers were a non-factor, but it was interesting to see that Richie James played ahead of Kendrick Bourne. With Brandon Aiyuk already ruled out, we could see James operate as the team No. 1 wide receiver, and that makes him an insane value at nearly the stone minimum price of $3.1K.
Jeff Wilson Jr. will continue to operate as the team’s lead back, and his price sticks out like a sore thumb at just $6,000. Seattle has been middle-of-the-pack versus RBs this season, but Wilson is coming off his second 30-point fantasy performance of the year.
George Kittle played less than 50% of the snaps in Week 16, so the reports that he would be on a pitch count came to fruition. But despite the limited snaps, Kittle was able to turn his five targets into 92 receiving yards.
The 49ers’ tight end reminded us last week of his elite upside. With him likely playing a full snap share in Week 17, he is set to have a huge game. Over the past four weeks, Seattle has allowed the fifth-most receptions to TEs.
This season with Beathard at QB, Kittle owns a team-leading 27% target share and is averaging 3.46 yards per route run.
Kittle offers the same upside as Travis Kelce but at a $2,600 discount.
The Seahawks running backs and tight ends should be avoided. The only running backs to finish with over 70 rushing yards against the 49ers are the two Rams backs in different games, and they only ended up in the 80s. They’ve only allowed nine rushing touchdowns to running backs all season. The Seahawks have been rotating their backs and could be looking to get Rashaad Penny more involved, especially if they have a lead.
Similarly, the 49ers have allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends all year. The Seahawks had a two tight-end-rotation for the last several weeks, and then Greg Olsen returned to the mix this past week. If they only had one tight end, that player probably should be avoided. With three it’s a hard pass.
This leaves the wide receivers. D.K. Metcalf caught 12 passes on 15 targets for 161 yards and two touchdowns the last time these teams met. The 49ers secondary has undergone changes since that time, but that probably won’t be enough to stop Metcalf. He might not repeat the numbers from last time, but he should still be a top-five wide receiver. Metcalf is at $7,300 and should do better than some of the wide receivers priced higher than him.
Headline of the game: What does this Rams offense look like with John Wolford at quarterback?
Wolford has not taken a single regular-season snap at quarterback in the NFL, but here he is, starting in Week 17 with a playoff berth on the line. Wolford did get reps as a starter with the Arizona Hotshots in the AAF, earning a 78.4 passing grade that led all quarterbacks in the league last season. He also earned a league-high 114.0 passer rating from a clean pocket.
Those are both good signs, but to state the obvious, the AAF is not the NFL. Wolford will be going up against an Arizona pass rush that has come alive of late and has generated pressure on 41% of snaps over the last five weeks. That charge has been led by Haason Reddick, whose 23 pressures over that stretch rank sixth among all NFL players.
The Cardinals certainly have plenty to play for in their own right, with a win needed for a chance at a playoff berth.
Check back with PFF Greenline later in the week for betting insights into this Week 17 game.
The Rams starting QB in Week 17 will be John Wolford — formerly of the Arizona Hotshots in the AAF. He averaged 20 yards rushing per game in the defunct football league in 2019 and rushed for over 1,800 yards (not including sacks) in his four-year college career at Wake Forest from 2014-2017.
Needless to say, he adds a QB mobility element to the Rams’ offense that Jared Goff simply does not possess. We have seen other inexperienced rushing QBs be fantasy relevant in their first starts this season (Taysom Hill, Jalen Hurts), so I see no reason why Wolford can’t be in play at $4,900 this week.
He can open up a ton of salary to spend on other players, and the matchup couldn’t be better. The Cardinals have allowed the third-most rushing yards to QBs this season and have allowed the third-most fantasy points to QBs in their last two games.
Sean McVay’s offenses have traditionally dominated the Cardinals during the Kliff Kingsbury era. In three matchups, L.A. has yet to score fewer than 30 points or put up less than 400 yards.
The Cardinals' offense is one to avoid this week, especially with Kyler Murray hurting. Arizona struggled against the Rams defense a few weeks ago. They tried to get DeAndre Hopkins involved in the offense by throwing to him 13 times. He was able to bring in eight of those passes, but that only led to 52 yards and a touchdown. We can expect Hopkins to be the focal point of the offense as usual, but he probably won’t put up big numbers on his targets.
Dan Arnold had a career game in the box score with 61 yards and two touchdowns. A lot of that came from a single 59-yard catch. He’s averaging less than two catches per game this season. While he should be able to catch two or three passes again in this game, they are unlikely to end up as touchdowns. Even at $3,100, he should be avoided.
Headline of the game: With the No. 1 pick locked in, Jaguars look to earn their second win of the season against Colts
Picture this: the Jaguars go 2-14 with both wins coming against the 10-6 Colts, and they still secure the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and QB Trevor Lawrence. That would be a fitting way to ring in 2021.
Of course, that is not the likely outcome. Despite blowing the game last week against Pittsburgh, the Colts are still a good football team that is fully capable of rolling over bad football teams. Philip Rivers has been up and down for much of the season, but this profiles as an “up” spot against a Jacksonville defense that comes into this game ranked 31st in EPA allowed per pass play.
Additionally, Jonathan Taylor has really turned things around late in his rookie season, as his 90.1 rushing grade since Week 11 ranks third at the position behind Derrick Henry and Aaron Jones. Barring disaster, the Colts’ offense should have little trouble in this matchup.
The Colts find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoffs, as they still need help even if they do come away with a win in Week 17. This is another situation where the market is heavily backing the team required to win to extend their season.
It is a constant theme in Week 17, but sometimes the spread adjusts too much to this one-sided action. Only a handful of books have this line posted, which means we could see some line movement once it is widely available. Make sure to monitor PFF Greenline for the latest opportunities in this matchup.
It’s Jonathan Taylor lock-button week in DFS. His price only increased by $100 on DraftKings this week, which doesn’t add up considering the rookie scored 17-plus fantasy points and saw at least a 57% snap share for the third consecutive week.
He continues to split time with Nyheim Hines, but this RB split is being overstated — the Colts are so reliant on the ground game that Taylor still gets fed even with Hines working in.
JT has not played more than 70% of the offensive snaps since “taking over” the backfield in Week 11. Still, he ranks third in PFF rushing grade (90.1), fourth in fantasy points per game (21.5) and 13th in expected fantasy points per game (16.1) since that time.
The Jaguars have allowed the most rushing yards since Week 12, so this is an absolute smash spot for Taylor and the Colts’ run game.
Jack Doyle is an under-the-radar target priced at $3,000. Doyle saw a season-high six targets in Week 16, two of which came in the red zone. Doyle has been running the most routes when the team enters the red zone among Colts TEs, so that gives him the highest chance of finding the end zone on Sunday.
The Jags have allowed the most receiving touchdowns to TEs this season.
The Jaguars' one victory of the season was in Week 1 when the Jaguars defeated the Colts. Even in that matchup, none of the Jaguars put up great numbers. James Robinson ran for 62 yards on 18 carries and added a 28-yard catch, but that was the closest thing to a big game. Robinson very well might not play in the game. The Colts are playing much better than they did back then, and they have everything to play for while the Jaguars will just play for pride.
D.J. Chark Jr. is the closest thing to a safe play after leading the Jaguars in receiving yards each of the last two games, but that’s only if he’s healthy. He left the last game with a leg injury. To ensure his safety for next season, Jacksonville might not play him.
Headline of the game: The Texans’ defense needs a lot of work heading into next season
When you give up 10 yards per pass attempt to Brandon Allen and a Bengals offense without its top receiver (Tyler Boyd), it’s time to take a long look in the mirror. This hasn’t been a one-week issue for Houston, either. It has been the entire season.
The coverage grades on their defense do not paint a pretty picture. Vernon Hargreaves III sits at 40.9, Eric Murray comes in at 50.4 and linebackers Tyrell Adams and Zach Cunningham sit at 40.7 and 41.3, respectively. It’s a spot that Houston must address this offseason, and they’ll have to do so without what will likely be a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. There are a lot of decisions to be made for the Texans this offseason.
The need to win to ensure a playoff berth is once again resulting in a spread that has significant line movement. The opening -4.5 disappeared quickly, as crossing through 7 was the only thing to slow this market. Texans backers have finally stepped into the market, but the cash and ticket percentages are still heavily skewed toward the Titans.
PFF Greenline finds value on all three betting markets, as this could be one of the best opportunities in Week 17. The fantasy goodness could also be plentiful, which makes this one of the more anticipated games for all betting markets.
He’s averaged 26.6 fantasy points per game — if Duke misses Week 17, Johnson has to be strongly considered among RBs at $6,800. The Titans have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to RBs over the past four weeks.
When these teams first played back in Week 6, David totaled 21 touches for 69 offensive yards from scrimmage.
Deshaun Watson ripped the Bengals to shreds in Week 16 and thus has continued his streak of dominant fantasy production despite not playing with Will Fuller the last four weeks. He ranks third in expected fantasy points per game (23.9) and sixth in actual fantasy points per game (25.2) in the last three games he has played with Brandin Cooks this season.
Both marks are slightly better than his splits with Fuller through the first 12 weeks of the season when he averaged 23.2 fantasy points and 20.4 expected fantasy points per game.
A follow-up 30-point performance is well within Watson’s range of outcomes on Sunday considering he scored 35 fantasy points the last time he played Tennessee.
Cooks was also uber-productive in that game versus the Titans with nine catches for 68 yards and a touchdown on nine targets, so he should be a big wide receiver target in this matchup.
The Titans have allowed the third-most fantasy points to WRs over the past four weeks, and Cooks owns a massive 32% share of the Texans’ air yards since Week 13 even after missing one game.
The Titans offense put up fantasy points all over the place the last time the Titans and Texans met. Derrick Henry ran for two touchdowns and A.J. Brown caught two. Henry ran for 212 yards on 22 carries. If Henry repeats that performance, he would be 13 yards away from 2,000 on the season. Backup Anthony Firkser put up the best game of his career with 113 yards off of eight catches and a touchdown.
This time around, the Titans will have Corey Davis while the Texans won’t have their top cornerback, Bradley Roby. The Titans are playing for their playoff lives while the Texans are playing for pride. This should all add up to the Titans playing even better this time around. Put your faith in all of the Titans offensive players, and you shouldn’t regret it.
Jonnu Smith is the Titan most likely to have a big game and can be had at a relative bargain at $3,800.
Headline of the game: Drew Lock and Jerry Jeudy could both use big games to close out the season
The Broncos’ offense has not come close to living up to the preseason hype. Part of that is the absence of starters such as Courtland Sutton and Ja’Wuan James, but a big part is disappointing play from players like Lock and Jeudy.
Lock’s PFF grade of 60.8 ranks 28th among 32 qualifying quarterbacks this season, ahead of only Carson Wentz, Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Mullens and Sam Darnold. A league-high 25.5% of his passes have been charted as uncatchable.
On the flip side, the balls that do have a chance to be caught are being dropped by Denver receivers at the highest rate in the NFL (9.5%). Jeudy has been the primary culprit, with 12 dropped passes on the season, fewer than only Diontae Johnson. Both could use a strong close to the season against a Las Vegas defense that can be beaten.
Two teams with nothing to lose face off in this AFC West showdown. The betting market direction has been entirely one-sided, with 65% of the cash and 88% of the tickets on the Raiders. This explains the move from a pick ‘em out to +2.5, with further movement expected. Right now, PFF Greenline finds value on 2.5, which makes this an early-week opportunity to lock in.
The current total doesn’t provide value after a full-point shift down missed out on the best number. This is one of the few games where both teams are playing for the same thing, which makes it one of the only normal matchups in Week 17. Getting the better number before further line movement will benefit those looking for value this weekend.
It’s gross to support going back to Melvin Gordon III and Jerry Jeudy in Week 17 after both players flopped in Week 16. But the facts can’t be ignored — Jeudy saw 15 targets last week and Gordon is the clear RB1 in the offense with Phillip Lindsay on IR.
Jeudy’s total expected fantasy points in just Week 16 (26.3) was second to only Davante Adams. We only see that type of usage with the elite tier of wide receivers, so Jeudy should be a strong DFS play at just $4.2K on DraftKings this week.
As for Gordon, it just comes down to the Raiders’ defense being an absolute trainwreck versus RBs. They have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs over the past four weeks. There isn’t another running back that has 20-25 touch potential in a plus-matchup priced as low as Gordon is this week ($5,700).
The Raiders ran all over the Broncos defense when they faced off in Week 10. Josh Jacobs ran for 112 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns, while Devontae Booker gained 81 yards on 16 carries and two more touchdowns. No Raiders player gained more than 40 yards receiving.
That could be a similar formula the Raiders try to use this week. Jacobs is reasonably priced at $6,200, while Booker is at $4,000.
Latavius Murray and Mike Davis have both put up two-touchdown games against this Broncos defense since the Raiders duo did so. Some big-name receivers have put together big numbers against Denver, but they’ve also held players like Tyreek Hill and Michael Thomas under 60 receiving yards. The wide receivers for Las Vegas will be limited.
Headline of the game: Why have the Chiefs been unable to separate on teams down the stretch?
The Chiefs picked up another win in Week 16 against the Falcons, but it was a victory of the uninspiring variety once again. Patrick Mahomes earned just a 46.4 PFF passing grade in the contest, which was topped off by a pass that should have been a game-ending interception. It was similar to the Raiders game in that Mahomes was under a relatively high rate of pressure and held onto the ball for longer than 3 seconds per dropback on average.
The Chiefs are still the Super Bowl favorite (and for good reason), but the fact that they have failed to separate on teams for over a month straight while scratching their way to wins gives at least some cause for concern heading into the postseason. Maybe, just maybe, they’re not the impenetrable juggernaut that they have held the reputation of being for much of the season.
The Chiefs have locked up the No. 1 seed in the AFC, with the market immediately moving onto the Chargers. The -1.5 open has completely flipped, as the expectation is that coach Andy Reid rests the majority of his starters. Any further clarification will cause more corrections, as +3.5 may not be enough to satisfy the desire to back the Chargers. The sample size is quite small, but not all of these past situations have played out to betting market expectations.
This is consistently a spot where the market overvalues a team facing off against backups. PFF Greenline thankfully finds no value on the current game markets, with better opportunities coming from the player prop and fantasy markets.
The Kansas City Chiefs are locked into the No. 1 seed, so we will surely see some of their key players rested in this spot. Andy Reid has spoken to the fact that we are going to see Chad Henne play in this game, so this isn’t an offense we want to be targeting for DFS purposes.
The only potential value play could be running back Darrel Williams ($4,800), who could receive the lion’s share of work should the Chiefs decide to rest Le’Veon Bell. But on the flip side, it’s important to remember that Williams played more last week, so if K.C. views him as the defacto starter it could be Bell who sees the large workload.
We will most likely see Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle operate as the team’s three primary receivers. Hardman would be the clear favorite at $4,200 because he would presumably slide right into the Tyreek Hill role in the Chiefs’ offense.
Hardman has 15 targets over his last two games.
On one hand, the Chiefs are the team most likely to rest starters next week with their playoff seed locked up. This would favor the Los Angeles offense. On the other, the Chargers were missing some of their top skill players this last week, and they may sit out again this week in a meaningless game.
Kansas City’s run defense could cause a lot of problems for Austin Ekeler. The Chiefs have only allowed one running back to score a touchdown against them in the last six weeks. They’ve also only allowed one running back to reach over 70 rushing yards in that time. They have allowed three backs to catch a touchdown against them in these six weeks, so there is hope for Ekeler as a receiver.
Tyron Johnson could be someone to take a risk on in the passing game at $4,000. He’s caught at least three passes in each of the last three games and has two touchdowns in that span. He has big-play potential with over 20 receiving yards per catch. Kansas City has allowed the fourth-most receiving yards on deep passes in the last six weeks with 471. This should give Johnson the chance to make one or more big plays.
Headline of the game: Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams is as good as it gets in the NFL
It’s hard to say that there is a quarterback-wide receiver combination that should instill more fear in opposing defenses right now than Rodgers to Adams, especially with the way that both players are playing right now.
Heading into Week 17, Rodgers is the highest-graded quarterback in the NFL (94.5), while Adams leads the way at the wide receiver position (92.3). The last time a quarterback and wide receiver on the same team both led their position in PFF grade was Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne in both 2006 and 2007.
Both Rodgers and Adams are likely to play here as Green Bay looks to secure the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Although the NFC North has been ramped up for weeks, this matchup still offers quite a bit of playoff intrigue. A Packers win locks in the NFC’s No. 1 seed, and the Bears need a victory to secure the final wild-card spot. A Chicago win also offers the distinct possibility of a rematch next weekend, which should ensure the stakes remain high throughout.
The early-week movement has sided slightly with the Packers, but our cash and ticket percentages show a discrepancy among bettors. The majority of early-week cash has been on the Bears, which indicates a preference from bigger bettors to back the home dog, while the tickets side with the favorites. Little betting value has opened up, but line movement could create new opportunities.
Since Week 12, A-Rob ranks second among all WRs in expected fantasy points per game (20.9), and he has performed versus expectation. His 33% target share (second) and 47% team air yards share (second) give him an extremely high ceiling, which he could easily deliver in Week 17.
The only multi-touchdown game Robinson has all season came versus the Packers in Week 10.
On the other end of the spectrum, Montgomery leads all RBs in fantasy points scored since Week 12, but it’s worth noting he has out-done his expected fantasy point total by 34.1 fantasy points.
The Packers embarrassed a strong Bears defense a few weeks ago, putting up 35 points against them while the defense added a touchdown. Green Bay spread the ball around with each back gaining 17 carries, and no receiver had more than 70 yards even though four receivers scored touchdowns.
Robert Tonyan is primed for a bounce-back performance. His streak of five straight games with a touchdown ended last week against the Titans. In that game, he caught one of two passes thrown his way for 17 yards. He’s playing a Bears defense that has allowed 15.4 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. He was averaging four targets per game up until Week 14, but has seen three and two targets respectively in the last two games. Green Bay should get Tonyan more involved than the last two weeks. He’s at $5,000 this week.
Headline of the game: The Saints have shown a number of ways to beat teams heading into the postseason
Yes, the Saints don’t necessarily have much of a downfield passing attack with the current version of Drew Brees at quarterback. What they do have, though, is one of the better underneath passing games in the NFL when Brees is healthy and getting the ball out with more accuracy than any quarterback in the NFL to go along with one of the best rushing attacks in the league.
That rushing attack was on full display against the Vikings on Christmas Day. Alvin Kamara (82.1) and Latavius Murray (81.4) are both top-10 running backs by PFF grade this season, and the Saints have a top-10 run-blocking grade as a team, as well.
Those two things in conjunction lead to results like Kamara’s six-touchdown performance that drove plenty of teams to fantasy football championships. Ideally, Brees gets back to the quarterback we saw just before the injury who was capable of hitting passes 10-plus yards downfield when he got the opportunity, but the completeness of this roster makes them a tough out regardless.
The NFC South champions still have an outside chance at the No. 1 seed, as a Green Bay loss opens up an opportunity. The betting market seems intrigued with backing the Saints, as they have moved out half a point from the opening six-point spread. Early market leaders have started to post +7, which could be where we end up by kickoff.
The total has seen significant movement from the 51-point open, dropping to 47.5. This is an overcorrection, according to PFF Greenline, with value present on the reduced number. Some 98% of the cash is on the under, but the majority of tickets have started to come in on the over. This is a spot to monitor PFF Greenline for the latest information when this market finally settles.
All of the Carolina wide receivers are in the mid-5k salary range for Week 17, making each of them potential great values. The upside play is D.J. Moore, who leads the team in target share (27%) and air yards share (43%) since Week 10.
Moore scored 25-plus fantasy points the last time he played the Saints, and that makes his $5,700 salary way too cheap to pass up on. But if salary needs to be saved, savvy DFS gamers should have no problem paying down for Curtis Samuel, who has averaged 14.0 expected fantasy points per game since Week 10.
He’s coming off an impressive outing that saw him exceed 160 total yards from scrimmage on 12 opportunities (five targets, seven carries).
Alvin Kamara isn’t going to run for six touchdowns against the Panthers, but he could get the best of this young defense. Aaron Jones put up 145 rushing yards against them two weeks ago, and Ronald Jones gained 192 yards on the ground against them in the middle of the season.
Jared Cook could show up big in what is probably his last regular-season game in a Saints uniform. Cook hit a rough stretch in the middle of the season, but he’s played over 50% of the Saints offensive snaps the last three weeks. He has scored two touchdowns in the last four weeks and just had his best game of the season in terms of receiving yards at 82.
Five of the last six tight ends to face Carolina have reached at least 50 receiving yards. Four different tight ends have scored a touchdown against the Panthers in that six-game stretch. This all adds up to a big game for Cook, making him worth the $4,700 price tag.
Headline of the game: Can Washington get enough from its offense to secure an NFC East title?
We all know that Washington’s defense has become one of the best in the NFL at this point. The question in this game is whether their offense can give them enough against a Philadelphia defense that has been shredded over recent weeks.
The quarterback position remains the biggest question mark. It won’t be Dwayne Haskins drawing the start following the precipitous slide to his release. Still, it remains to be seen whether Alex Smith can return or if it will be Taylor Heinicke drawing his second career start under the lights on Sunday Night Football with the division on the line. It’s hard to feel overly confident in either option.
Smith’s 65.8 overall grade on the season ranks 31st out of the 38 quarterbacks who have played at least 300 snaps this season, and he poses little threat to challenge defenses vertically, given that he leads the league in the percentage of passes thrown to players short of the first-down marker (67%). Heinicke, meanwhile, played well in relief last week, but his only start back in 2018 earned a 46.2 overall grade.
Washington will likely rely on the defense to make splash plays and provide the offense with short fields.
The marquee matchup in Week 17 will decide who ekes out the NFC East division title. The spread has flipped from a -1 open, with early-week indications pointing to Alex Smith’s availability. This could be what is driving 79% of the cash to back Washington in a must-win game.
Both offenses sit in the bottom-fourth of our opponent-adjusted offensive grades. The biggest differentiator between the teams is their defenses. Washington has shown the ability to win football games, which should only be buoyed by Smith’s presence minimizing mistakes offensively. This seems to be the most likely narrative from the betting market, as the total sits at the second-lowest number of Week 17. PFF Greenline doesn’t fully buy into this narrative, which opens up some opportunities on the spread and total.
Jalen Hurts didn’t light the fantasy world ablaze in Week 16, but he still posted a respectable 20-plus fantasy points in most formats.
The rookie will be in a tough spot in Week 17 versus the Washington Football Team, but his rushing upside will make him a strong DFS option. Also, consider that the WFT has run predominantly zone coverage schemes since Week 12, so we should get a strong finish to the season for Hurts.
Hurts has been a much better passer against zone than man this season.
The Football Team ranks fifth in fewest rushing yards and fantasy points allowed to RBs over the last four weeks.
Tight end Dallas Goedert left Week 16 with an injury, which thrust Zach Ertz back into the No. 1 tight end role. The Eagles’ tight end has seen seven targets in back-to-back weeks, so he would be a top TE option in DFS for Week 17 should DG not be able to recover from his calf injury.
The Eagles defense has allowed a ton of yards to big-name wide receivers in recent weeks. Five different wide receivers have had 121 yards or more against them in the last five weeks.
Terry McLaurin was spotted in a walking boot, so it’s unlikely he will be ready to play. J.D. McKissic is someone who could put up big receiving numbers. Half of his receiving production occurs when he’s lined up as a wide receiver. He led Washington in receiving last week with eight catches on 10 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Antonio Gandy-Golden could also be a sleeper in this game. He returned to action after missing over two months of action and played the second-most snaps among Washington’s wide receivers in his first game back. He didn’t catch any of the three targets thrown his way, but he could play a role in the offense against the Eagles.