Happy Holidays, everyone! It’s the trickiest time of the fantasy football year — the dreaded Week 17. The finale of the NFL regular season is littered with questions as starters can sit, unknowns get random playing time and lineups are thrown into flux.
Don’t worry. Sit back, sip your eggnog and drink in my four under-the-radar sleepers. As always, hit me up with any questions on Twitter @AndyMc81 using #AskAndy.
Brian Hill, RB, Falcons ($3,900)
As Homer Simpson once said, “the two greatest words in the English language, DE-FAULT!” That’s where we find the Falcons’ running back room and likely default lead RB Brian Hill. Tevin Coleman ($4,700) is missing practices with a groin injury, while Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith already are on injured reserve. Even if Coleman does suit up, how effective will he be?
Hill took full advantage last week after Coleman’s departure, rumbling for 115 yards on just eight carries that included a 60-yard gallop. That was against the disintegrating Panthers, and this week Atlanta visits a Tampa Bay run defense rated 29th in fantasy points allowed.
The sophomore NFLer was a stud on the ground at Wyoming, hammering off more than 1,800 rushing yards in his senior season. The talent is there, and he’s flashed at the professional level. Keep an eye on Coleman’s playing status, but I would slide Hill into a DraftKings roster regardless with the Bucs on tap.
Rashard Higgins, WR, Browns ($3,500)
This is a terrific Week 17 game for fantasy players because both teams will be dressing all their regular healthy starters. Baltimore is fighting for a playoff spot and Cleveland is looking to spoil a berth for its division rival.
It’s tough to be optimistic for any opposing offense against this top-ranked Ravens D that is allowing the second-fewest DKFP to wide receivers. Despite valid concerns, I’m still liking “Hollywood” Higgins. His chemistry with star quarterback Baker Mayfield ($5,300) has been growing since training camp, when the duo formed a bond working together as backups.
Higgins provides an added dimension to the other Browns receivers. Hollywood’s straight speed to be a downfield threat is coupled with running tight routes out of the slot for short and intermediate passes. This makes it difficult to assign a defender to him, especially when Baltimore needs to account for move-the-chain options Jarvis Landry ($5,800) and David Njoku ($3,700).
The third-year veteran was in a bit of a lull before last Sunday, when he scored a touchdown and had another 50-yard-plus catch erased due to a suspect penalty. However, the Colorado State alum did find success battling another stingy defensive corps when he popped off 16.2 fantasy points in Houston earlier. Higgins also got into the end zone in a sweet 15.6-DKFP effort versus the Ravens back in October.
For the salary cap cost and known relationship with the quarterback, Higgins is definitely worth a look in your WR3 or Flex spot.
Sam Darnold, QB, Jets ($5,200)
The Patriots neutralized Bills rookie QB Josh Allen ($6,000) this past Sunday in Foxborough and host another first-year signal caller in Darnold. The difference is Darnold actually possesses some weapons to work with in Robby Anderson ($5,600), Chris Herndon ($3,400) and Elijah McGuire ($5,300) unlike poor Allen.
As we’ve seen throughout 2018, New England’s D is far from perfect, and Darnold is in the type of groove that can take advantage. Five touchdown tosses to zero interceptions over the past two weekends for an average of nearly 300 yards per game cannot be overlooked. New York’s third overall draft pick is beginning to figure out this crazy NFL world and has a great chance to finish on a high note.
Dwayne Washington, RB, Saints ($3,000)
Multiple reports state New Orleans will sit or limit reps for several key starters Sunday since the Saints have clinched the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
Running backs Alvin Kamara ($7,900) and Mark Ingram ($5,300) are a pair of those contributors that should be rested. That means the lionshare of the backfield opportunities could go to Washington. The 2016 seventh-round selection of the Lions doesn’t have much of a pro resume, but he’s built to deliver punishment at 6’1” and 223 pounds.
The Saints face a Panthers squad that’s lost seven straight and a once stout run defense that’s giving up an average of 155 rushing yards over its past three outings. For fantasy owners the chance Washington’s got to produce serious contrarian contest points is very real and could be that sleeper to help put you in the money.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is AndyMc81) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.