Daily Fantasy Football: Sannes' Situations to Monitor in Week 17
It's Week 17, party people. Hold onto your butts.
We've got a lot to deal with every week of the NFL season thanks to injuries, role changes, coaching changes, and other factors. In Week 17, everything you know and hold dear gets thrown out the window.
Sunday's main slate doesn't include a single game where both teams have anything more than seeding on the line. So in every game, you're going to have at least one team that could -- in theory -- not show up and have zero ramifications. Ring the bells of joy.
In other words, every team is in flux in one way or another, and we're going to have to proceed with caution. As such, instead of just running through various situations impacting the main slate, we're going to have to touch on every single team and figure out what we should expect during Sunday's game.
Let's do that here, outlining what each team has on the line and how that could impact their gameplan from a DFS perspective. For some teams, it'll be close to business as usual, and things are going to change after this goes live on Friday morning. You'll still have to be on top of news Sunday before finalizing lineups. But at least for now, here's what we should have in mind with each team on the Week 17 main slate.
The Chicago Bears are toast with nothing to play for this week. Still, it seems like the regulars will get their usual run with head coach Matt Nagy saying the team needs to correct its sloppiness before the offseason.
Unfortunately, nobody here is all that cheap with Allen Robinson at $7,800 on FanDuel and Anthony Miller at $6,700. The targets, though, have been concentrated since Taylor Gabriel sustained his concussion (with a "deep" target being at least 16 yards downfield).
|Past 4 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Especially with the opposing Minnesota Vikings likely to roll out some backups on defense, this is tight enough to get our interest. You can fully justify either Robinson or Miller if you end up in that salary tier. Just keep in mind that the cost is high, and the team may have an extra bit of volatility with nothing to play for.
The Vikings are locked into the 6 seed, meaning they can't move their positioning at all. They seem like they'll be trying to exploit that and get some rest.
Kirk Cousins does not know yet if and how much he will play Sunday might not know until close to kickoff
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) December 26, 2019
They may get Alexander Mattison back for this game, which would help clarify the backfield a bit after Mike Boone's epic flop on Monday night. But with nothing on the line, it'd be hard to project even Mattison for good volume, and the efficiency of the entire team would go in the tank if Kirk Cousins weren't out there. The Vikings' offense is one to avoid in Week 17.
The Atlanta Falcons are a bit of a blessing for this slate. They're not in contention, but even with that having been the case for a while now, the team has still been pushing hard. That allows us to have at least some level of trust in them for Week 17 in a plus spot against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
|Past 2 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Those numbers are absolutely nuts, even for a two-game sample. Even with nothing on the line, you can make the argument that Jones is the top expensive wide receiver on the slate at $8,500.
Austin Hooper probably shouldn't be a cash-game play with his snap rate falling to 69.3% last week, but the tournament appeal is there. He had nine targets in Week 16 with two being deep. At $6,000, that works as a rotational option.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Similar to the Falcons, the Bucs have been out of it for a while now. They should keep things fairly level, which means we've got some passing-game options here, as well.
|In Week 16||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
That's enough volume to make Perriman viable at $7,600. You can certainly go there.
Watson is more of a value play at $6,100, and O.J. Howard checks in at $5,500. On a slate where we're going to want to spend up at running back, low-dollar pass-catchers are highly desirable. When you're looking to save some coin there, both Watson and Howard deserve to be on your list, and Howard seems to be one of the better tight end options we've got.
New Orleans Saints
The first team with a good amount on the line, the New Orleans Saints, can still get a first-round bye if they win and the Green Bay Packers lose. Given the value of a first-round bye and a home game in the divisional round, we should expect them to have the foot on the gas.
That means we should keep the status quo on this offense on the road against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers rank dead last against the rush, which could lead to a gameplan that is heavy on Latavius Murray. Still, Alvin Kamara is the top back here and among the tops on the slate.
Since the team's bye week, Kamara is averaging 11.0 carries and 7.9 targets per game. The targets there are huge with each target worth twice as much as a carry for a running back in a half-PPR scoring setting. Kamara is averaging 26.7 adjusted opportunities (carries plus two-times the player's target total to account for the aforementioned value gap) per game in this span; Murray's maximum output since the bye is 16 adjusted opportunities. With a lot on the line, Kamara's a reliable running back play at $7,900, in addition to the default options in the passing game.
Week 17 is all about Christian McCaffrey. Expect him to be out there a bunch even with the Panthers needing a telescope just to fantasize about the playoff hunt.
Fewell says he has no plans to pull Christian McCaffrey out early. (He only played one series in Week 17 last year vs. Saints.)
— Joe Person (@josephperson) December 26, 2019
McCaffrey is 67 receiving yards from 1,000 for the season, and he's 216 scrimmage yards from breaking Chris Johnson's single-season record. The Panthers have been aware of these numbers for a while now.
The Panthers' season (in spirit) ended back in Week 12 with a 29-3 loss to the Falcons. That was the game where Kyle Allen's issues became abundantly obvious, and it was clear the team wasn't going to the playoffs. They've gone all-in on McCaffrey since then.
Over the past five games, McCaffrey is averaging 15.8 carries and 11.6 targets per game, amounting to 39.0 adjusted opportunities. McCaffrey has at least 58 receiving yards in all of those games and has topped 80 in three straight. With that volume, he can pay off without a touchdown even up at $11,000.
This is why it doesn't really matter whether the Panthers score a bunch of points. They're going to dump him as much as he can handle, and the yardage here has the potential to be nuts.
McCaffrey is not a must-use player in cash games because we have cheaper backs on teams with something to gain from a win. If McCaffrey gets dinged even a bit, he's not touching the field the rest of the game. But for tournaments, we need to prioritize getting him in decently often, and there are enough cheap wide receivers to make that a realistic ambition.
Green Bay Packers
If the Packers win Sunday, they lock up a first-round bye, and they can get home field throughout the playoffs if they pair that win with a San Francisco 49ers loss. Motivation is not in question here.
Jones is in play for tournaments no matter how things break here because he has massive efficiency, giving him upside even on limited touches. This week, Jones could be in play for cash games, as well, depending on the status of Jamaal Williams. Williams has missed Wednesday's and Thursday's practices due to an injury suffered Monday, casting serious doubt on whether he'll be able to play.
When Williams has been out this year, the Packers have used Jones like a bellcow. Here are Jones' splits this year in the three games where Williams has played less than 30% of the snaps versus what he has done the rest of the year.
|Jones in 2019||Carries Per Game||Targets Per Game||Adj. Opp. Per Game|
|With Jamaal Williams||18.3||6.0||30.3|
|Williams Out or Limited||13.0||3.7||20.3|
A 50% boost is big for anybody; it's gargantuan for someone with Jones' efficiency levels. Monitor Williams' status because an absence for him would make Jones one of the top running backs on the board.
The other noteworthy guy here is Allen Lazard. Lazard got a role change recently and has played 75% of the snaps in consecutive games. He leveraged that into a nine-target day on Monday with three of those targets being deep. For $5,400 in a spot where the team will be pushing for a victory, Lazard is a high-quality value play at wide receiver.
Playoff dreams are a distant memory for the Detroit Lions, so we should expect things to remain pretty static here. That allows us to consider Kenny Golladay as a bring-back option when stacking up the Packers' side of this game, but the rest of the team is hard to swallow.
We've got two games of sample on the Lions with Marvin Jones on injured reserve. Golladay has 29.7% of the targets in those games with five total deep targets. He had 158 yards in his first game with David Blough, so he can still hit his ceiling even with poor quarterback play. Blough prevents Golladay from being a must-have option, but we can give him thought if we want to use someone like Jones, Lazard, or Adams.
Kerryon Johnson came back last week and split work with Bo Scarbrough. The team has no reason to push Johnson, and the odds he posts a difference-making score are low. Even at minimum salary, Johnson isn't someone who needs to be in our player pool.
New York Jets
The New York Jets are a hard team to peg. One week, it looks like Sam Darnold is the answer, and the next, he's going full Jameis. But some of those spike weeks have come since it has been clear that the team won't be going to the playoffs, meaning they're at least intriguing this week.
We also may catch them in a spot where they're facing some reserves with the Buffalo Bills locked into the 5 seed in the AFC. If that means guys like Tre'Davious White sit, it could upgrade the Jets enough to spark some interest.
|Past 2 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Crowder is just $5,600 and had 17 targets the first time these two teams played. His floor-ceiling combination is good enough to give him some thought.
Robby Anderson would be the biggest benefactor if White were to sit. He's got double-digit FanDuel points in five straight games, meaning he has been the one decently steady option in a volatile offense. If you're playing in a large-field tournament and need someone with the higher ability to blow up, then Anderson should be your preferred option.
It seems like Le'Veon Bell and the Jets could be veering toward a nasty breakup in the offseason, but it hasn't stopped them from riding him down the stretch. In two games since sitting due to an illness, Bell has averaged 23.0 carries and 3.0 targets per game. He still hasn't had efficiency, but Bell's $7,100. You could do a lot worse if you need to spend down from the Aaron Jones-Alvin Kamara tier.
As mentioned, the Bills are locked into their seeding, thus giving them nothing to play for this week. And it sounds like they're willing to take advantage of that luxury.
Sean McDermott said the majority of the Bills' players will practice and play this week but not all of them. Josh Allen will play.
— Matthew Fairburn (@MatthewFairburn) December 24, 2019
#Bills HC Sean McDermott on if Matt Barkley could get some time: "Yeah, he could"
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) December 24, 2019
Even if Josh Allen plays, he's unlikely to see the whole game. This makes him and the entire team risky for DFS. It does make the Jets' defense more intriguing, giving us a potential value option at $3,200.
The Cleveland Browns weren't a trustworthy offense when they were in the playoff hunt. Now they're officially eliminated. Should be fun!
There is a path to a good output for the Browns against the Cincinnati Bengals, which at least makes their main pieces worth mentioning here. If they put forth any effort, they're matched up with the league's 31st-ranked pass defense, meaning they should move the ball. If the Miami Dolphins can do it, why not the Browns?
The stink around the Browns helps us snag them at some reduced salaries, too. Jarvis Landry is $6,800 with Odell Beckham at $6,600, and both have gotten big volume all year long. Beckham just hasn't cashed in on that volume, for one reason or another.
Again, if we assume the Browns play hard, this is a good matchup in theory, and we know where the ball is going. That may not be enough to get you to use Baker Mayfield and company. But for tournaments, the Browns honestly do need to be on your radar, and you could do a lot worse than the pass-catching options here.
With the first overall pick locked up, the Bengals can finally try again. I'm certain that's the only thing that has been holding them back all year long.
Thankfully, the Bengals should close things out on a good note. Teams have continued to gut the Browns' pass defense since the Myles Garrett suspension. With Garrett off the field, opponents are averaging 8.4 yards per pass attempt, up from 7.4 when Garrett is on the field, per The Quant Edge. The Bengals might not be able to do that, but they should move the ball, at least.
The big value option here is John Ross. Ross' snap rate jumped back up to 78.9% last week, the highest since he came back from injured reserve. Ross had 13 targets in that game with seven being deep. At $5,200, he can pay off even if he doesn't score a touchdown, making him a top-notch play if you're trying to spend down at wide receiver without sacrificing upside.
The Dolphins have played well of late, especially offensively, generating some good will heading into Week 17. We just shouldn't expect the offense to keep up what it has done.
Sunday's game against the New England Patriots will be the first time since Week 12 the Dolphins have faced a team ranked better than 20th against the pass, according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics. The Patriots are first there. You could consider DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki, but their salaries have risen to account for their volume, and the task is tough.
You could give some thought to Patrick Laird with Myles Gaskin now on injured reserve. Laird played 54.4% of the snaps last week and is likely to get a handful of targets for $5,100. With the Dolphins heavily in evaluation mode, though, Laird's floor and ceiling are both uninspiring even for his salary.
New England Patriots
The Patriots are currently the 2 seed in the AFC, meaning they're in line to get a first-round bye. That's big motivation, and it means they'll be firing on all cylinders on Sunday. Add in a matchup with the Dolphins, and that's a team we should covet on this slate.
It also helps that the Patriots showed life against the Bills last week. Tom Brady finished with 0.22 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, his best mark since Week 8. NEP is the model numberFire uses to track the expected points added or subtracted on each play, and Passing NEP includes deductions for negative events like sacks, incompletions, and interceptions. The league average is 0.10, and Brady's season-long mark is 0.07. His Week 16 output was a major deviation, and it came against the league's seventh-ranked pass defense. It's not a sign that the Patriots have fully shed the question marks around their offense, but it does help you feel better about them here.
The best outlet for doing so seems to be Julian Edelman, who is $7,500 on FanDuel. Edelman's six targets were his second-fewest since Week 2 (the only lower outing was the week before), but he did seem a bit healthier and finished with 72 receiving yards. It was a step up after he seemed broken the previous week.
The biggest question around Edelman -- and this entire offense -- is upside. Edelman had just one deep target in Week 16, and Brady threw deep only one other time in the game. He has thrown just eight balls at least 16 yards beyond the line of scrimmage the past three games combined, which limits the offense's ability to move the ball in chunks. You can have a good floor in that type of offense, but blowing the lid off a slate is tough.
So, Edelman is in play, especially if you have a team full of volatile players and need a steady floor. That's something you may want on this slate. We just shouldn't expect a ceiling game out of him, and that should influence the way we view him.
Two other players you could at least consider if you want a cheaper option than Edelman are Mohamed Sanu and Sony Michel. Sanu's output has been terrible, but he's playing a lot of snaps and is $5,300 against a putrid defense. You don't need as much of a ceiling at that salary, putting him on the map.
There's a very narrow set of circumstances in which a rush-only player like Michel can pay off in DFS. The five running backs who have made a perfect lineup with less than 10 receiving yards this year have averaged 139.6 rushing yards and 2.0 touchdowns per game in the weeks they've made the perfect lineup. Usually, you're not getting that out of Michel.
When you're at home as a 16-point favorite against a bad rush defense, it's a little bit different. Michel has 19 and 21 carries the past two weeks, so the volume is there again, and there's a path to him at least paying off on a slate where scoring figures to be a bit lower. Even with his limitations still being present and concerning, we can occasionally turn to Michel as a tournament option for $6,500.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers are a lot like the Browns. It was impossible to predict whether they'd show up even before things got as bad as they currently are. They did just hang 45 points on the Jacksonville Jaguars a few weeks ago, but the Jaguars had fully packed it in for the season by then. The Kansas City Chiefs have not yet, though they could during this game (more on that in a second).
We can keep the status quo on the Chargers, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. We've got a pretty good idea of what to expect from a volume perspective with now a seven-game sample since the team changed offensive coordinators.
|Past 7 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
With the lack of high-leverage volume, Allen's upside comes with a lid. He hasn't topped 100 receiving yards since Week 3, and he has averaged 71.4 receiving yards per game since the coordinator change. It's certainly not bad for a guy who is $6,700. It's just hard to make him a priority when that's the case.
Williams has a pair of 100-yard days since the coordinator change, and he has at least 50 receiving yards in each game. The floor has been pretty solid. But even with touchdowns in a pair of games recently, he still hasn't had more than 15.1 FanDuel points in a game this year.
Both Allen and Williams are options in their respective salary tiers, especially if you want to dabble in the Chiefs' side of things and run it back with an opponent. Hunter Henry fits that mold, too. There's just nobody here who stands out as being a can't-miss option on a 15-game slate.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs could finish as high as the 2 seed or as low as the 4 seed. But in order to get the two seed, they'd need the Patriots to lose to the Dolphins, which seems unlikely.
Basically, you're left asking whether they care whether they're the 3 or 4 seed. If they do care, then they'll push the whole way through because the Houston Texans don't play until the afternoon and could pass the Chiefs with a win and a Chiefs loss. If the Chiefs don't care, though, they could pack it in once the Patriots build a hefty lead over the Dolphins.
That means the Chiefs carry risk. We can build assumption lineups where we assume they push the whole game, in which case Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce are all top-notch options. We just shouldn't do that in cash games.
The other name to consider for tournaments is Damien Williams at $6,400. He came back from injury last week to 16 carries and 3 targets. A Chiefs running back has played at least 50% of the snaps nine times this year, and six of them are by Williams, including all three of his most recent fully healthy games. We desperately want that out of a running back tied to Mahomes, especially when he's only $6,400.
Williams -- like the pass-catchers -- comes with risk in case the Chiefs decide to pack it in at a certain point. But the upsides are certainly there, and we should be broadly looking to buy into this guy before people realize what his fantasy potential actually is.
Case Keenum will be starting for Washington in place of Dwayne Haskins this week, and normally, that'd get us excited. Keenum ranks 14th in Passing NEP per drop back out of 42 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs whereas Haskins is 41st. It would be an upgrade for the offense. But the offense doesn't look like it'll be at full strength.
McLaurin not playing should help guarantee that Steven Sims keeps the beefy role he has had lately with 31.1% of the targets the past three games. Sims has seven deep targets in that time, too, so even though the yardage hasn't been there, he has the potential to put together a big day. He's in play at $6,000, especially if you want to stack pieces of the Dallas Cowboys' passing offense.
Kelvin Harmon is the other player who could benefit, and he costs just $5,200. Harmon out-snapped Sims last week and seems likely to get a larger piece of the pie if McLaurin can't play. Those extra targets are worth more, too, when coming off the hand of Keenum. Both of these guys are in play, though we do need to lower expectations of the offense when it'll likely be without such a key cog in McLaurin.
The Cowboys had motivation in their favor last Sunday. It did not matter. We should keep that in mind when making decisions this weekend. However, things are different this time around, and it should push us to ride with the Cowboys' offense against Washington.
There are two big differences here that weren't in place last week. The first is that Washington's defense -- as the New York Giants showed last week -- is dumpster slush. They're 29th against the pass and 26th against the rush, meaning it's a more advantageous spot than even a flawed Philadelphia Eagles defense.
|Since Cooper Trade||Yards Per Attempt||Passing NEP Per Drop Back||Success Rate|
|Prescott at Home||8.80||0.27||54.0%|
|Prescott on Road||7.27||0.17||49.6%|
This means the Cowboys are at home in a must-win game against a terrible defense. That puts Prescott on the map (even with his shoulder injury) while Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Gallup are in the cash-game discussion. Cooper has top-notch upside for tournaments if you decide to pay up at wide receiver.
The Oakland Raiders seemed dead in the water entering Week 16. But alas, here we are, with their playoff odds still sitting at 5.4% entering the final week of play. What makes this even more intriguing for DFS is that every team they need to win is playing in the afternoon slate, meaning the Raiders will kick off with their playoff hopes still alive. They should be playing to win on Sunday.
They may have to play that game shorthanded, though. Josh Jacobs is yet to practice this week due to his shoulder injury and an illness that required him to have surgery on Wednesday. The team has remained optimistic that Jacobs can play, but DeAndre Washington is once again on the table if Jacobs cannot.
We've seen Washington in two games without Jacobs, and Washington's snap rate was exactly 63.5% in both. That's a mark that Jacobs has topped only three times this year.
In those games, Washington has averaged 18.5 carries and 5.0 targets (28.5 adjusted opportunities) per game. For $6,300, you'll take that all day, and he would immediately vault into the cash-game discussion as the top low-dollar running back on the board.
The passing-game pieces, unfortunately, are far less fruitful. Hunter Renfrow came back last week to nine targets, and nobody else logged more than four. Renfrow's return takes a big chunk out of the appeal in Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams, so if Jacobs sits, Washington is likely the only key piece we'll want to trust despite the must-win nature.
The bookmakers' faith in the Broncos should translate to some DFS interest, as well, especially in Courtland Sutton. Sutton has 25.2% of the targets since Lock took over along with 31.6% of the deep targets. With the Raiders sitting 30th against the pass, Sutton makes sense at $7,100.
There is a bit of appeal in DaeSean Hamilton at $5,500 if you need a value wide receiver. He has nine and six targets, respectively, the past two weeks, and he's actually tied with Sutton for the team lead in deep targets with Lock starting. Hamilton is more expensive than Allen Lazard and John Ross, both of whom have better upside, but Hamilton is on the map if you're looking to differentiate.
The Tennessee Titans are one of the more dependable teams on the slate from a motivation perspective. Not only are they in a must-win spot, but the Texans could hit the eject button depending on how things break in the early games. You're going to want to have Titans in your player pool.
It also helps here that Derrick Henry seems to be back at full health after getting in a full practice on Wednesday. That's Henry's first full practice on a Wednesday since Week 12, meaning he's potentially the healthiest he has been in quite some time.
As discussed with Michel, a player who doesn't get work in the passing game -- like Henry -- needs to blow up as a rusher in order to pay off. But in the past five games, Henry ran for 86 or more rushing yards in each, topped 140 yards three times, and controlled 47.2% of the team's red-zone chances. He's not the top running back on the slate with guys like Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, and potentially Aaron Jones all holding multiple sources of upside, but Henry needs to be in our rotation among the expensive backs.
A.J. Brown is coming off a down game, but he was squaring off with Marshon Lattimore there and won't see as stiff of a test this time around. Even including Week 16, Brown has 24.5% of the targets the past four games and is averaging two deep targets per game. If you can't get to Henry, stacking Brown with Ryan Tannehill is another palatable route for exposure to the Titans.
As mentioned with the Chiefs, there's still a chance the Texans could snag the 3 seed if they were to win while the Chiefs lost. Unfortunately, that upside may be dried up by the time the Texans take the field.
The Chiefs game kicks off at 1 pm Eastern while the Texans and Titans don't square off until the afternoon. They'll have a good idea of whether they have a shot to leapfrog the Chiefs by that point, meaning if the Chiefs win, there's a chance Bill O'Brien pulls the plug and rests his guys for next week. He could do that even if the Chiefs lose if seeding doesn't matter as much to him.
That makes everybody here a risk. Thankfully, because of late swap, you don't need to completely abandon ship. You could lock in guys like Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins and then simply shift over to someone else before the afternoon games if the Chiefs look like they're well on their way to victory. That's the luxury of having a beefy afternoon slate.
|Without Fuller||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Hopkins is (relative to his workload) pretty cheap at $8,300. As long as you're around to utilize late swap should the Chiefs win, you can give him some thought here.
Kyler Murray seems to be trending toward playing after logging limited sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. That would be a major plus here, especially with Jalen Ramsey reportedly set to miss Week 17 for the Los Angeles Rams.
Murray had played well before his exit in Week 16, running six times for 40 yards, giving him at least 30 rushing yards for the fifth time in the past seven games. That was with his day being cut short.
The Rams are likely to sit some players, which would make Murray intriguing, especially after the offense completely flopped against them earlier this month. If Murray plays, there are worse players you could consider at quarterback.
You don't have to stack Murray at all, but both Christian Kirk and Kenyan Drake are viable if you decide to do so. Kirk didn't log a single catch last week but has stayed off the injury report entering Week 17, an improvement from where he was previously. He also still holds a heavy lead in target share since Drake joined the team.
|Past 7 Games||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
The thought of using Kirk again has my bankroll considering mutiny, but Kirk's workload against a team sitting players should get our attention, especially given that the Cardinals have been eliminated for a while now.
Drake is $7,300, which is meaty, but he has averaged 15.9 carries and 4.4 targets (24.7 adjusted opportunities) per game since joining the team. His snap rate last week was the highest it has been since Week 11, and they likely still want to see what he has before entering contract negotiations this offseason. He'll grade out well below players like Elliott, Jones, and Kamara, but you can consider Drake as a rotational piece when multi-entering for tournaments.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams' playoff chances came to a screeching halt last week thanks to their loss to the 49ers. There's nothing on the line for them this week, and it makes all of their high-end pieces risky.
Sean McVay hasn't ruled out any starters except for Ramsey, but there has been speculation that some key players could sit. Unless we get confirmation that this won't be the case prior to Sunday, using any Rams players in your lineups is flirting with destruction.
Thanks to their victory last week, the Philadelphia Eagles have themselves a win-and-in scenario against the Giants. They just might not be at full health for it.
Zach Ertz missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday, though head coach Doug Pederson said that Ertz was progressing. Ertz played through the injury last week, so he would seem to be on the right side of questionable despite the lack of practice. But having Ertz banged up would open up quite a bit of volume for Dallas Goedert.
With Ertz in and out of the game in Week 16, Goedert had 12 targets, his most of the season by four. Two of those targets were deep, giving Goedert multiple deep targets in two straight games after he didn't have any such games through Week 14.
Given the way the Eagles have utilized the injury report all year, Ertz is likely to be questionable, and we're not going to know for sure whether he's going to roll until well after lock. Even if Ertz does play, though, Goedert is viable at $6,400.
The other potential pass-catcher who could benefit from an Ertz absence is Greg Ward at $5,600. Ward has 17.7% of the team's targets the past three games with Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor either limited or out. Ward's yardage upside is capped with just two deep targets in that span, but he can find the end zone, trailing only Ertz in red-zone targets with five the past three games. If you want predictable, steady volume, Ward supplies that, even if he doesn't necessarily have 100-yard upside.
With Ertz banged up and right tackle Lane Johnson likely out again, it'll be hard to trust Carson Wentz. Wentz's play has ticked up recently, but for $7,700, we should be looking for quarterbacks in better situations than Wentz's.
The other injury question with the Eagles centers around Jordan Howard. Howard is expected back this week, which tosses a wrench into the sweet volume Miles Sanders has gotten recently. It doesn't mean we have to completely cross Sanders off, though.
Doug Pederson says they will still go ahead with Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Says Scott has earned the chance to keep playing. Focus with Jordan Howard is getting him back into game shape #Eagles
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) December 26, 2019
Howard playing would push Sanders out of the cash-game discussion, but this gives us wiggle room to consider him in tournaments.
In games with Howard out, Sanders has averaged 15.7 carries and 5.2 targets per game, amounting to 26.0 adjusted opportunities. If you're getting that for $7,400 on a team that'll be pushing for a win, it's pretty attractive.
Further justification for using Sanders comes from how he'd likely be utilized even if Howard were to mix in. There's no chance they'd take Sanders' passing-game work off his plate; he was getting volume there even when Howard was healthy, and he has had at least 50 receiving yards in four games (including two straight). That's the more valuable volume for a back, anyway, and we can still project those looks to go his way.
Unless we get early word that Howard will be inactive, Sanders isn't in play for cash. The appeal is there for tournaments regardless, though, meaning he, Goedert, and Ward are all viable paths to exposure to the Eagles in a high-leverage spot.
New York Giants
The Giants get a chance to play spoiler here, and they've known they won't be going to the postseason since October. They've still pushed pretty hard in that time, meaning they're a non-contender we can at least consider.
Saquon Barkley has played well the past two weeks, but it's also worth remembering that both outings came in plus matchups. Washington ranks 26th against the rush, and Miami is 24th. The Eagles are fourth and have a ton on the line this weekend. That should push Barkley down our priority list among the expensive backs.
The receivers, though, are interesting. We've seen four games out of them since Sterling Shepard came back from his concussion in which Golden Tate was able to play. Here's the target distribution in that time.
|Past 4 With Tate||Overall Targets||Deep Targets||RZ Targets|
Shepard has gotten steady volume, and Tate has been a fairly dependable deep threat. There's plenty to like with both.
Shepard is $6,200, and Tate is $5,900. We want to find cheap volume at wide receiver, and those two should give it to us. Don't be afraid of dabbling in this team even with nothing on the line.
It's a must-win scenario for the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend, exactly what we should be seeking out. Several key Baltimore Ravens defensive players will rest, too, to help further move the needle in the right direction.
This offense is just might be too miserable for that to matter.
With Mason Rudolph going on injured reserve, Devlin Hodges will get the start again. Hodges was benched for a reason last week and ranks 38th in Passing NEP per drop back (one spot behind Rudolph) out of 42 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs. They put up a whopping 10 points last week against a middling Jets defense, making it hard to assume they'll be able to take advantage of a less-than-full-strength Ravens unit.
In the games Hodges has started, the team has thrown on early downs in the first half just 36% of the time, according to Sharp Football Stats. If that were their full-season mark, it would be the lowest in the league by four percentage points, and the Ravens are the only team below 48%.
That could lead us to targeting the backfield. However, James Conner seems doubtful after missing another practice Thursday, and the team went full-blown committee mode after Conner left in Week 16. With center Maurkice Pouncey already ruled out, that dispersed volume is likely to be inefficient. Hard pass.
The run-heavy nature of the offense also lowers our incentive to chase the pass-catchers, even with their salaries being reasonable.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is only $5,900, and he's now an extra week removed from his knee injury. However, he was fifth on the team in targets last week, and only one of his looks was deep. He could blow up, but it's certainly not the most likely outcome.
Frankly, it's hard to see anybody on this team posting a truly must-have score. No skill-position player on this team has topped 20 FanDuel points since Week 8, and Conner is the only player to score more than 17.1 all year long. They could very well pay off, but the odds they give you tournament-winning scores are minimal at best. As such, even in a must-win game against a handful of backups, there is not a single player on this team who absolutely must be in your player pool.
While the Steelers fight for their playoff lives, the Ravens get to reap the benefits of locking up the first overall seed early.
Harbaugh said that Lamar Jackson, Earl Thomas, Marshal Yanda and Brandon Williams all won't play Sunday against Steelers.
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) December 23, 2019
They'll be without Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, which opens up opportunities for Robert Griffin III, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill. Cheap volume is always intriguing. We just have to note the circumstances around that volume.
With Marshall Yanda also sitting, the Ravens will be without their best linemen, decreasing the expected efficiency of the offense even before you account for Jackson's absence. That hurts everybody here, especially against the league's third-best schedule-adjusted defense.
If they're not as efficient, the odds they'll get a lead are lower. That puts a lot of risk in Edwards, whose lack of passing-game work requires him to play on a team that can run deep into a game. He also has a similar problem discussed with Michel where he needs to blow up as a rusher in order to hurt you for not having him.
That could push us toward Hill, who is $5,900. Hill had a season-high four targets in Week 16, and he turned them into 32 yards. He should also get at least some early-down work with Ingram sidelined. He's at least more viable than Edwards as a result, but the likelihood that they split work severely caps the appeal of both.
Griffin at $7,000 might be the most relevant piece here from a DFS perspective. He has shown some juice in mop-up duty at times this year, so he's not a complete dud by any means. He also could add to his floor and his ceiling via rushing. If you want cheap access to the Ravens, he's the best route for getting it.
Just keep in mind that there's no Yanda, and the team could easily choose to limit Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews, as well. Toss in the tough matchup, and it's not the end of the world if you fail to have any Ravens in your player pool.
The Indianapolis Colts are out of the playoff hunt, though that was the case last week when they notched a blowout win over the Panthers. There are a couple of factors working against them this week that may push them out of our player pool.
The biggest one is that stud guard Quenton Nelson is in concussion protocol. He returned to a limited practice on Thursday, but he still has some steps before getting cleared to play. If he can't go, it would downgrade everybody tied to this team.
The secondary issue is that the volume has been super spread out recently. Nobody had more than four targets in Week 16, and Marlon Mack has been locked in a committee since returning from his injury. We should want to use players facing the Jaguars, but with Nelson banged up, the volume dispersed, and the team playing outdoors, it'll be hard to buy into anybody in this offense.
Some teams play well despite being out of playoff contention. The Jaguars are not in that group.
Jacksonville has been outscored, 214-89, the past seven games, never scoring more than 20 points in that span. Gardner Minshew has come crashing back to Earth in a big way, and it means everybody here lacks upside. We should keep the status quo for all Jaguars skill-position guys; the status quo just isn't very good. Proceed with caution here.
The potential exception would be if Leonard Fournette were to sit due to a neck injury that held him out of practice on Thursday. If Fournette can't go, the team will likely get an extended look at Ryquell Armstead, who is the minimum salary. Armstead has 15 targets this year while playing mop-up duty behind Fournette, including five targets in garbage time in Week 9, so we could reasonably project him to hold a three-down role. If Fournette can't go, then Armstead immediately becomes the token bargain-bin value option who pops up out of nowhere in the final slate of the season.