Trust the Process: NFL Week 17 Fantasy Preview

Where’s the NFL season gone?  Sadly, it is Week 17 which means teams are resting starters for the playoffs and other teams are trying out players for the future.  All 32 teams will be in action on Sunday for a full 16-game slate.  What follows are some thoughts to help you make the best decision for your fantasy rosters this week.  I play a balance of Head-to-Heads and Guaranteed Prize Pool Tourneys on DraftKings.  I have a lot of fun doing it.  Good luck to you this weekend.

Two Peas in a Pod – The best stack of the week looks to be Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, which just so happened to be the best stack last week.  These two guys are in-sync right now.  Rodgers scored  40.18 DK points and Jordy scored 39.40.  They were #2 and #4 overall.  Rodgers passed for 347 yards and accounted for 5 TD’s.  Jordy had 9 receptions for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns against a supposedly strong Minnesota defense.  Green Bay plays indoors at Detroit this week.  The game is projected to be the 2nd highest scoring game of the week.  The Packers enter the game with a 5-game winning streak.  The last time the Rodgers played a Ford Field, he threw a Hail-Mary TD bomb that traveled 65 yards up as well as forward. Rodgers leads the NFL in TD passes. He comes into the game with a streak of 14 TDs without an interception. Detroit is 30th in DVOA against QB’s.  Jordy is the NFL’s leader in RedZone targets. He had 2 TDs in the first game vs. Lions.  Is this the Thanksgiving Day game?  It sure feels like it because these two guys are going to eat and eat well.  I am going to load up my plate with some Rodgers and Jordy and will certainly go back for seconds.
Sticky Note equals C-Note – Should David Johnson rest up for next year? Are the Cardinals done?  Will DJ get the same amount of usage?  I don’t know and neither does anyone else.  Since nobody knows then I am putting my money on DJ.  All year I have played him.  Constantly reminding myself of this sticky note via @MarcasG has made me a decent amount of money. David Johnson is a machine. Don’t over think it.  Play DJ.  If you are wrong, then you went down swinging with the best running back in the NFL who has had 100+ all-purpose yards in EVERY GAME this season!  Against a so-called impenetrable defense last week in Seattle, he had 3 TDs and 34.6 DK pts.  In 5 of his last 6 games, he has 27+ points.  Per @LateRoundQB, DJ’s weekly PPR rankings at RB are:  6, 10, 5, 19, 1, 1, 6, 11, 5, 1, 1, 1, 10, 5.  I am betting on him because that is what the sticky note says as the bank account has grown.

Vegas Baby Vegas – Here are some games that I’d suggest you target as game stacks.  The first two have playoff implications.  The third is for pride with interesting coaching subplots attached to them.  Highest game totals (as predicted by Bovada) are Saints @ Falcons (56.5), Packers @ Lions (49.5), Jaguars @ Colts (47.0)

You’re Dead to Me –Adam Thielen was the #1 overall scorer last week.  I was All-In on Adam Thielen . . . in week 15 with he had 0 points!  Last week, I decided not to go down that rabbit hole again.  He was dead to me as he was to the other 98% of the entries into the $1.5 million contest.  Fortunately, I got lucky with a stage five clinger like Allen Robinson and his partner-in-crime, Blake Bortles or all of my lineups would have been dead to me.  Who is the guy that is dead to me this week?  Vernon Davis.  In week 15 he was facing a weak Chicago Bears defense and was coming off a game with 9 targets.  Throw-in the fact that Jordan Reed was out and what was there not to like?  He proceded to catch one pass for 13 yards.  His team scored 41 points and he accumulated 2.3 DK points.  I like Washington’s offense.  I like Davis’ potential.  However, if Jordan Reed is out again, I will have 0.0% exposure to Vernon Davis, even at $3,300.
Quizz Show – Doug Martin is out for trying to enhance his performance (needs a refund) and Charles Sims is injured.  That leaves Jacquizz Rodgers as the main back for Tampa Bay as they take on Carolina in Week 17.   In the three games that both Sims and Martin have been out this year, Quizz has gotten heavy usage to the tune of 82 touches (27/game), including 30 carries and 5 receptions totaling 129 scrimmage yards in Week 5 against Carolina. 
Never Go Against a Sicilian When Death is on the Line  – Could also be called “never get involved in a land war in Asia” or “don’t ever argue with your wife” . . . all classic blunders. Playing any Steelers (or anyone else that has nothing to gain) would also be a classic blunder.  Sure, they could get a decent amount of work and score some points early and often in an A+ matchup against the winless one-win Browns.  Sure you could have bought Enron stock after all their executives were indicted because you just knew that there was no way you can keep a big-time company like them down.  Or, you could have pick an alternative option … any option and saved money. I apologize to the head cheerleader and all of Steeler nation for just comparing the Killer B’s to Enron.  #BadAnalogy but you get the point.  Don’t make the amateur mistake. Don’t over think it.  There are enough other players out there that you can get excited about.  Play someone else, enjoy watching the games and save your money.
Back to the Future –According to @ScottBarrettDFB, last year’s top-5 RB’s (PPR scoring) in Week 17 were (1) Rashad Jennings, (2) DuJuan Harris, (3) Tim Hightower, (4) Ronnie Hillman and (5) Jonathan Grimes.  Can we learn something from the past to help us this week?  Before you set your lineups, make sure that you know if a team has something to play for and a reason to play their money-makers
Banana in the Tailpipe – How many times are we going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe.  Amari Cooper is very talented.  Oakland is a great team.  Derek Carr is an outstanding quarterback but his backup is still a backup.  Cooper has explosion capabilities as he has demonstrated with his two 30+ performances this year.   Denver is the toughest D against WR’s.  He is playing with a backup QB.  Cooper has averaged only 8.6 DK points in the last five games and that was with an All-Pro caliber QB.   Don’t do it. Don’t fall for him again.  He is a great talent with a high ceiling and a very low price of $5,500 this week.  However, even if he meets 3x value at 16.5 points, that would be only the 5th time all year he has met that number.  Might be worth a flier in a GPP but against Denver’s “No-Fly Zone” D and a backup QB is probably a -/EV.
Stage Five Clinger – Let’s face it, we all like the hot girl that is into us.  We don’t like the hot girl that won’t leave us alone and is pulling us down into the abyss.  Larry Fitzgerald is like that hot girl.  He is one is a future Hall of Famer.  He has only averaged 9.8 pts per game over the past 5 weeks while averaging 49 yards.  He has gone 10 straight games without a TD, which is the longest drought of his career.  Yet I keep playing him.  I can’t get rid of him.  He has grabbed on to my fantasy soul like he I am a 3 yard reception.  But he’s so attractive.  Fitz is 2nd in the NFL in receptions with 102 (trailing Antonio Brown’s 106) and 7th in targets with 143.  Carson Palmer doesn’t throw the long ball effectively any more so Fitz’s skill set is still useful.  Just this week, he mentioned that he might want to play one more year. This tells me that he’s not done yet.  He only has 5 TD’s this year.  That means he has to be due, right?  He is also going against the Rams.  The Rams are terrible. They are 28th in DVOA against the pass.  Did I mention that the Rams are terrible?  Fitzgerald is a future hall of famer who wants it. Wants it bad.  I can feel it.  Come on Fitz.  Give me a performance like ARob last week.  If I can’t get rid of you, then please be worth it . . . at least for a day.  He has reached double digit DK points in twelve of his 15 games this year so that is promising.  However, all three misses have been within the last 5 weeks.  But he’s due!
Belichick Yourself –Patriots are dangerous to roster in fantasy.  It is as if the hooded one purposely tries to deflate our bankrolls.  Yep, see what I did there?  Anyways, this seems like a juicy spot for New England with the #1 seed on the line but so was last year when they lost at Miami in Week 17 and Denver got home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.  Even if they do show up and take care of business, who exactly will be taking care of business?  Edelman is getting less and less snaps.  Bennett is a mystery.  Hogan has been hurt.  Mitchell is a rookie.  Floyd is a newcomer.  They are favored by 9 points so it seems to be a “Blount Force Trauma” game but they have three NFL starting caliber backs sharing time.  None of them played more than 29 snaps last week.  I don’t feel real secure playing any Patriot except Brady.  I will have him in some GPPs but with him costing essentially the same as Aaron Rodgers (who I believe is the optimal play), I won’t have a large exposure to him.  Also, good luck figuring out who on the Dolphins is fantasy-viable against the Belichick-led defensive unit.
 It’s a Bold Strategy Cotton – I love DeAngelo Williams.  He is my favorite 33 year old running back.  Yes, he got hurt this year but if healthy, he would have been better than half of the starters in the NFL.  It looks like the Steelers are going to rest all-world Le’Veon Bell this week.  In the 2 games that the Steelers actually played while Bell was suspended (the third game was the 34-3 debacle at the hands of the Eagles, which can hardly be called a real game), Williams had 38 and 23 DK points.  Per @JameyEisenberg, in the past 2 years when Le’Veon Bell has been out, DeAngelo Williams has 10 games of double digit points in standard leagues (out of 13 total games).  He is hungry, talented and going against Browns (2nd worst defense in NFL).  I will be firing up some D. Will in my GPP’s and hoping that Fitz Touissant (one of the only Michigan Wolverines I haven’t liked) doesn’t vulture carries.
So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance  – The Colts are about to get Bortled up with some ARob.  Last week, Blake Bortles, who came into the game with more pick-sixes than wins in his career, had 29.70 DK points (QB6). Allen Robinson, who was last week’s “Stage Five Clinger”,  had a season-high 26.7 (WR7).  This week they get to go on the road to Indianapolis.  The game is projected to be a shootout.  The colts are average at best on defense.  Bortles to ARob will not be the top stack of the week (that will be Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson) but it will be Top-3 as they have no running game and play for pride (and stats).
Princess Leia Lineup of the Week – I was 7 years old and Leia was not only a Princess but a goddess.  She was my first crush.  I fell madly in love with her at first sight.  She was beautiful and could work a laser blaster as well as anyone in the galaxy.  On Sunday nights, I always make out an early cash game lineup that is based on finding the best balance of players without doing extensive research.  Back in the day, I was in love with Princess Leia but I didn’t end up marrying her.  Typically, I love my first lineup that I create but don’t end up using it completely in my cash games (which I have won at 60% clip this year, btw).  Here is my early lineup:
  • Russell Wilson ($6,800) – Playing for the #2 seed, coming off his best game of the season with 37.6 points and going against one of, if not the worst defense in the NFL.
  • Mark Ingram ($5,600) – Had 2 TDs and 25.3 DK points last week.  He now faces Atlanta, the league’s 26th worst defense against RB’s, in the highest projected scoring game of the weekend. He is also 60 yards shy of his first 1,000 yard season (if you want to take a trip down narrative street). The Saints are out of the playoffs but they would probably love to stick it to their division rivals who are fighting for the NFC’s 2-seed.
  • Bilal Powell ($6,500) – He has averaged 24 points in the last three weeks.  If he is healthy and Forte is out, his usage should be extremely high regardless of game-flow.  His opponent, Buffalo, has given up the most fantasy point to RB’s in the last four weeks, while allowing 7 rushing TDs in that span.
  • Cam Meredith ($5,200) – 33 targets in the last 3 games leading to 73 DK points during that span.  Cash games are all about volume and he meets that criteria.  He is simply too cheap for his usage.
  • Jordy Nelson ($8,200) – Has 22+ DK points in six of his last 8 games.  He has double digit games in all but one this year.  Last week, he was the #4 overall scorer (39.4) on the week despite going against a “good” defense in the Vikings.
  • Adam Thielen ($5,600) – Top overall scorer last week with 46.8 DK points.  He had 12 catches for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He has double-digit points in seven of the last 8 games.
  • Charles Clay ($3,500) – He was on the field for 87 of 92 snaps in the Week 16 overtime loss.  He has 23 targets in the last 3 games, accounting for an average of 20 DK points and 4 TD’s.
  • LeGarrette Blount ($5,700) – Double digit DK points in eight of last 10 games.  He leads the NFL in touchdowns with 17.  The Patriots are favored by 9 in a game that still has meaning for them and may call upon the power back to finish it out.
  • Arizona Cardinals ($3,000) – Only 4 teams have turned the ball over more than the Rams, led by rookie QB Jared Goff.  Arizona ranks 6th in takeaways.
 Jamy Bechler is a die-hard Michigan Wolverine fan, who feels conflicted and disloyal every week that he doesn’t roster Tom Brady on his fantasy team.  He is a regular DFS player that competes under the screen name “DKJamy”.  Jamy uses his DFS skills to drive his season-long league opponents crazy with constant waiver wire pickups.  He was a college basketball coach for 20 years but now is a full-time motivational speaker who lives in a van down by the river.  However, he won enough in the past year with DFS to buy new rims, fuzzy dice and paint a big  block “M” on the side. You can follow his DFS site @WinningDFS101 or his personal account @CoachBechler for inspirational and motivational thoughts.