Studs (3x plus return): 17
Average Joes (2.1 – 2.9x return): 18
Scrubs (2x or lower return): 15
We mentioned in this article and saw last week how down bad this Baltimore secondary are by giving Joe Burrow one of the best QB stat performances of all time. Now I am not a huge fan of going back to the well, especially after this QB burnt us last week, but Matthew Stafford ($7,100) is an anomaly in this case. Stafford now has this privilege and honestly has the perfect set of weapons to reenact Cincinnati’s performance this week. The alpha will and is always there in Cooper Kupp ($9,500), who is an absolute joke of a player and would be unlucky not to be the OPOY in 2021. Then there is the deep threat in Van Jefferson ($5,300), who should suit this game and matchup to a tee based on what we saw in Week 16. And OBJ could break off for a big play also.
It is a beautiful bounce-back spot for Stafford. Do not overthink this.
On the lower side of salaries, there will be a lot of traction towards Trey Lance ($4,800) and rightly so at the price. We have seen glimpses of Lance’s capabilities earlier on this season in Week Four and Five, where the rookie showcased his passing talents then rushing upside in back-to-back weeks. The game plan appears to allow Lance to throw the ball a lot, much like his Week Five outing against Arizona, reducing his rushing frequency which, according to his fellow teammates, had been a safety blanket of Lance’s. Those same teammates have publicly said Lance has made significant strides in practice at distributing the football and is taking more risks. Make of that what you will.
This week, Lance’s task is to beat a Houston team that ranks top 12 against QBs on fantasy ppg over the last four weeks, albeit with some reasonably friendly matchups in that spell and collecting 16 INTs on the season sixth-highest in the league. This is not an easy matchup for Lance, much like the one against Arizona. I am not pessimistic here, but I do not see how Lance wins tournaments this week. Cash games could be a different story, but all signs point towards Lance struggling or going back to old habits, which cost him the job in the first place.
I assume that San Fransisco will beat Houston through the run game, which they have been terrible at defending, but we will focus on this later. Overall, Lance is an okay play this week, but I would be surprised if he achieves the hype everyone is giving. But I hope I am severely wrong for all the Lance truthers this week.
Patrick Mahomes ($7,800) was also a standout to me. After the Kansas City QB spread the ball around last week, I expect more of a pass funnel to return this week, with Tyreek and Kelce seeing a lot of the ball. Derek Carr ($5,800), if he can recover from his bruised ribs in time for Sunday, could also be a sneaky 3x play that goes under-owned.
Studs (3x plus return): 18
Average Joes (2.1 – 2.9x return): 24
Scrubs (2x or lower return): 17
The unfortunate news of Carson Wentz hitting the COVID-19 list means Sam Ehlinger is likely to quarterback Indianapolis against Las Vegas, a complete unknown who the organisation is publicly confident in who has had plays in the playbook all season. Sometimes you have to play the most expensive guy at the position, and this of no exception to Jonathan Taylor ($9,000) this week. Ultimately, what we do know is that Taylor is an absolute freak, and the game plan for this must-win game will not be to take the ball out of his hands. The matchup in Las Vegas matches up nicely with Taylor’s volume and ability, with the AFC South side averaging 28.4 ppg (joint 28th in the league) and 9.6 ppg in the red zone (30th in the league) over the last four weeks. I think there is every chance that the leading rusher in the league hits 27+ points this week in one of the most advantageous matchups you can ask for.
UPDATE: If Wentz does make it back in time for Sunday, this only benefits Taylor, in my opinion.
Remember I mentioned Houston’s weakness against the run this season? Well, say hello to Elijah Mitchell ($6,000). The San Fransisco running back is expected to return from injury to feature in Week 17. We have seen Mitchell return from injury multiple times this season and take back his RB1 role, which from the last two games he played in has been the following stat line:
- 49 carries for 199 yards and two touchdowns
- Nine targets, eight receptions for 53 yards
With Houston’s 31st ranking against running backs since Week 13 (34.5 ppg overall and 11.4 ppg in the red zone), Mitchell is an easy plug and play in Week 17. If Mitchell does not make it, we will again go back to Jeff Wilson ($5,600) leading the San Fran backfield. I am slightly less confident in Wilson achieving the upside needed to achieve value, but we have seen Wilson achieve this against Atlanta this season, so it could happen. I prefer Mitchell, however, in this scenario.
Outside of the above, it will be another week where we debate which Denver running back we prefer out of Javonte Williams ($6,400) and Melvin Gordon ($6,200), despite their 1.1 YPC total averaged in Week 16. Many will pay the extra and play Williams with the little price difference, making Gordon that bit more differential in GPPs. You would imagine that Drew Lock will not do an incredible amount against Los Angeles, so the two backs should be pivotal in Denver getting anything from this game. Also, with Dan Campbell stating DeAndre Swift ($6,000) should be good to go against Seattle, so if Swift comes in under-owned, I will be all over him in tournaments to pivot from a highly-owned Ronald Jones ($6,300).
Studs (3x plus return): 24
Average Joes (2.1 – 2.9x return): 22
Scrubs (2x or lower return): 23
One of the smash hits from Week 16 returns for Week 17 in Antonio Brown ($6,100). It was no real surprise that Brady’s first look was AB last week, with the now Buc seeing ten receptions for north of 100 yards. It was revealed post-Sunday also that Brown has a $1 million incentive engraved into his contract if he achieves the following stat lines on the season (brackets are how far Brown is away from reaching said goals):
- 800 yards (281 yards away)
- 50 receptions (11 away)
- 7 TDs (3 away)
I would not put it past AB to get his million-dollar bag, and Brady will also want AB to get it equally as bad. First up to try and stop this from happening is the Green Gang from New York, who has been showing some end of season promise but still giving up points and losing games, except for Week 16. Even in the said win against Jacksonville, New York allowed Lawrence to have one of his more impressive performances of the season, so Brady, Brown and Co should not have any issues throwing the football on Sunday.
Another situation that was of no real surprise to discover, and something highlighted in this article a few weeks earlier, was that the Dallas offense is in its prime when Amari Cooper ($6,600) is getting the football. Sunday Night Football was the prime example, with Cooper racking in 85 yards and a touchdown in a dominant display from Dallas. It has been a difficult season for Coop, with injuries halting any level of consistency on the field being established. The former Raider seems to be hitting form at the right time of the season, and with Arizona up next, you fancy Cooper’s chances to have a big game again. This is especially the case when we see that Arizona has been 31st at defending opposing WRs through the last four weeks overall (47.5 ppg) and 30th in the red zone (12.2 ppg). If you fancy a bring back in this game, you will do well in finding a better option than Christian Kirk ($5,800). Kirk has been the volume king in the desert in the absence of DeAndre Hopkins, seeing 21 targets over the last two weeks, averaging 18.1 fantasy points per game through that stretch. Kirk may see coverage from the infamous Trevon Diggs this week, but we saw with Justin Jefferson how Diggs is not invincible, so I have faith Kirk can be the alpha receiver once again this week.
Some cheaper guys on the slate are the Buffalo receivers, excluding Diggs. It feels like one of Gabriel Davis ($5,000) or Cole Beasley ($4,900) could have a nice day against this terrible Atlanta secondary. With both returning from the COVID list, the Buffalo receiving core is back to full health, and when this was the case, Davis had been the primary beneficiary. My gut says to me it is a Beasley week. There are no real stats to back it up, but those are usually the best calls. I like Rashod Bateman ($4,800) to gather some momentum following his first touchdown as a pro last week. Bateman has been on the few Baltimore weapons to survive the QB carousel as of late and should benefit from a pass-heavy game script against LA.
Studs (3x plus return): 11
Average Joes (2.1 – 2.9x return): 6
Scrubs (2x or lower return): 9
Early ownership projections at tight end are super interesting this week cause everyone seems to be paying down at the position. Paying up for the elite options in one of Andrews, Kelce, Kittle, or Gronk could be a great way to steer away from the chalk, especially if you are jumping on the Lance and AB train. My rankings of the four tight ends mentioned are as follows:
Outside of the elite guys, Foster Moreau ($3,800) is my favourite pay down option this week. Indianapolis has been terrible against the position all season (31st overall) and through the last four weeks (25th overall), and Carr is going to need more than just Renfrow to past this bend-don’t-break defense. Gerald Everett ($4,100)is also a nice pay down option at the position who QB Wilson has taken a liking to as of late with three double-digit performances in a row.
Studs (3x plus return): 9
Average Joes (2.1 – 2.9x return): 13
Scrubs (2x or lower return): 13
This week, the easiest decision for me regarding DSTs was to include Miami ($2,800), given their price. The unit is coming off a season-high 25 point performance against New Orleans led by Ian Book and now get to face a Tennessee team without tackle Taylor Lewan and with weapons like AJ Brown not trending to play as of writing this. In my opinion, the best defense statistically in football will carry the team to the playoffs, so they are a steal at a discounted price. on is over. With seven sacks in the last two weeks, this NFC North defense is still getting pressure to the QB and are set to get all their defensive coordinators to return from COVID protocols, which can only be a boost.