NFL

DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 17

Kirk Cousins is the lucky quarterback to draw the Lions' defense in Week 17. Who else should join in him in your final DFS lineups of the regular season?

In this DFS preview, I'll focus on the Sunday main slate and group players into two categories based on their DraftKings salaries: players to build around and value plays.

Players to build around are those with high salaries but even higher production ceilings, making them worth prioritizing in your lineup. Value plays are guys with lower salaries and typically come with some risk, but adding them to your lineup will help you afford the more expensive players on the slate.

All references to betting totals and spreads are from FanDuel Sportsbook. All stats are from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.

Players to Build Around

QB Deshaun Watson, Texans ($7,700) vs. TEN

Deshaun Watson was banged up during the Houston Texans last game, so monitor his status over the weekend, but if he suits up, this is an ideal spot to put up a big number. According to Sports Info Solutions, the Tennessee Titans are generating pressure on 30.4 percent of opponents' dropbacks, the third worst rate in the league. That's good news for Watson, who leads the league with 9.2 yards per attempt when he's kept clean. Watson already demonstrated his ability to dominate Tennessee with four touchdowns and 35 fantasy points against the Titans in October.

Watson by Pressure SituationComp PctYds/AttTD-Int
No Pressure76.0%9.221-2
Under Pressure55.2%7.89-4


RB Derrick Henry, Titans ($9,400) vs. HOU

Derrick Henry roughed up the Texans defense for 212 yards and 43.4 fantasy points in their last meeting, and there's no reason to doubt his ceiling would be any lower this time around. Houston is allowing a league-high 2.9 yards after contact per rushing attempt, while Henry is second in the league with 3.4 yards after contact per attempt, according to Sports Info Solutions. This is the ideal matchup for Henry, and in a must-win game for Tennessee, he's likely to be given a heavy workload.

RB Dalvin Cook, Vikings ($9,200) vs. DET

The Minnesota Vikings are favored by 6.5 points with the third-highest implied total on the slate (30.5 points). Based on game script, this looks like an ideal spot to roster Dalvin Cook. Additionally, the Detroit Lions struggle to defend the run against the Vikings' preferred formation with two running backs (21 or 22 personnel). In those formations, which account for 62 percent of Cook's carries, Detroit is allowing 4.8 yards per carry, the third-worst rate in the league according to Sports Info Solutions.

RB Nick Chubb, Browns ($7,600) vs. PIT

The Pittsburgh Steelers have nothing to play for and have already announced Ben Roethlisberger will sit out, which dramatically shifted the line, as the Cleveland Browns are now 10-point favorites. Keep an eye on news out of Pittsburgh this weekend, because more players resting could turn this into a must-play scenario for Nick Chubb. Even if none of Pittsburgh's top defenders join Roethlisberger on the bench, the game script is likely to play in Chubb's favor.

WR Justin Jefferson, Lions ($7,600) vs. DET

The Lions are allowing a league-worst 10.0 yards per target to slot receivers, where Justin Jefferson has lined up for 56 percent of his targets, according to Sports Info Solutions. Adam Thielen ($7,400) also sees a heavy dose of targets in the slot and is worth consideration, as well. However, Jefferson has emerged as the significantly more explosive weapon, averaging 12.6 yards per slot target compared to 9.6 for Thielen.

Value Plays

QB Kirk Cousins, Vikings ($6,300) vs. DET

Given the recent performance of the Lions' defense, this is a bargain salary for Kirk Cousins. The Lions' defense appears to have thrown in the towel on 2020 and is allowing opposing quarterbacks to score 11.1 fantasy points above their average over the last five weeks. Cousins carries the lowest salary among quarterbacks averaging at least 20 fantasy points per game and he should get a significant boost from Detroit's defense.

RB Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys ($6,400) vs. NYG

In the games he's played, Ezekiel Elliott has 34.1 percent usage rate when the Dallas Cowboys are playing with a lead -- that's consistent with his 34.9 percent usage rate in those situations from 2019. So Elliott's extreme dropoff this year has been, at least in large part, due to the Cowboys routinely finding themselves in negative game scripts. As three-point favorites against the New York Giants, however, Elliott could build upon last week's 20.9 fantasy points with another strong performance in another favorable game script.

RB Melvin Gordon, Broncos ($5,700) vs. LV

The Las Vegas Raiders have given up the third-most fantasy points per game to running backs this season, which immediately puts Melvin Gordon on our radar. With nothing to play for, there's also a chance the Denver Broncos try to feed Gordon the ball to push him over 1,000 yards (he's 107 yards away). It's still a milestone that matters to players -- both running backs and their offensive linemen -- so it's potentially an added incentive for Denver in an otherwise meaningless game.

WR Michael Gallup, Cowboys ($5,000) vs. NYG

Since Week 8, Michael Gallup leads the Cowboys with a 22.7 percent target share. Gallup is frequently used as a downfield weapon, which makes him more of a boom-or-bust option than Amari Cooper, but he flashed the upside of that usage last week with 33.1 fantasy points against the Philadelphia Eagles. With 20 or more points in two of his last four games, Gallup looks like a potential steal again this week.

TE Cole Kmet, Bears ($3,000) vs. GB

Since Week 13, Cole Kmet is tied for 11th among tight ends with 22 targets. That hasn't translated into significant fantasy production yet, but the consistent usage and low cap hit (tied for 25th among tight ends) make him an obvious gamble in tournament lineups.


Ryan McCrystal is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan McCrystal also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username cfbfilmroom. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.