Time sure flies when you’re having fun. The final week of the NFL’s regular season already is upon us. Before I go any further, I just want to say thanks to everyone who has been reading this season. Hopefully you won some money, and hopefully you had some fun.
Week 17 presents fantasy football managers with one of the most interesting slates of the season. It’s the busiest main slate, featuring 30 of the NFL’s 32 teams. Only the Sunday night Colts-Titans playoff play-in game is excluded — which, by the way, would be a great game to try out DraftKings’ Showdown contests, but I digress. Discount options are bound to pop up late in the week, as Week 17 tends to have a lengthier list of inactive players. Finally, only 15 teams remain in the playoff hunt, which means the following games are between two eliminated teams: Falcons-Buccaneers, Lions-Packers and Dolphins-Bills. I advise avoiding those three games in cash games and targeting them in GPPs, as bizarre things sometimes happen in games when neither team has anything left to play for.
As always, I’ll start my lineups with my favorite stacks of the week. The concept behind stacking a QB with his WR is simple: both players benefit from each completion, doubling the benefit of that play for your fantasy lineup. As Adam Levitan pointed out this offseason, 79 percent of the lineups that won DraftKings’ Fantasy Football Millionaire contests used a QB stack in their lineup. With the significance of stacking in mind, this article aims to highlight the best stacking options for Sunday’s main slate.
5. Jared Goff ($6,200)/Robert Woods ($6,900), LAR vs. SFLots of regular starters sit out Week 17, creating tons of DFS discounts. My typical DFS strategy for Week 17, therefore, is load up on the discounts I think will win me the week and then look for more expensive players I can count on to provide fair value for their hefty salaries. Put differently: I look for costly players who won’t be the reason I lose.
Goff and Woods won’t break the bank, but they also aren’t particularly cheap, either. Regardless of their cost, there is a lot to like here. The Rams need either a win or a Bears loss (both games start at 4:25 ET) to earn the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, so we shouldn’t have to worry about any of the shenanigans that might impact some of the teams with nothing at stake Sunday. The 49ers have allowed the most passing TDs to wide receivers this season, which increases the ceiling of the Rams’ passing offense. Woods leads the team with 8.5 targets per game, and his red-zone role has increased since Cooper Kupp (knee) was placed on IR. Goff has had a few bad games this season, but he also has been tangibly better at home, averaging 119 more passing yards per game and 1.3 more TDs per game than on the road. He also has thrown nine picks in eight away games, compared to three picks in seven home games.
If you’re interested in the Rams’ stack but want to make it a little more contrarian for a GPP, then Brandin Cooks ($6,500) is worth considering in place of Woods.
4. Lamar Jackson ($5,600)/Michael Crabtree ($3,600), BAL vs. CLESince he became the starter in Week 11, Jackson has become a cash-game staple — just not for people looking for a traditional stack. Stacking him with one of his wide receivers is a much riskier move that’s only really appropriate for GPPs. While the risky here is high, the potential payoff is massive.
Jackson has been characterized as a running QB, and that’s fair, but it’s not as though he never throws. Over his past five games, he’s averaging 23 attempts and one passing TD per game. That’s more than enough to enable a receiver to post a good fantasy performance. Since he took over, the majority of his passes have gone to John Brown (hamstring; $4,000), Willie Snead ($3,600) or Crabtree. Brown is nursing an injury, and throughout his career he has been ineffective when not near 100 percent health. That could shift more of the targets to Snead and Crabtree. Furthermore, Snead saw zero targets in Week 16 — the second time he’s seen zero targets since Jackson took over. Additionally, Crabtree’s average depth of target is much higher than Snead’s, which means a Crabtree target is likely worth more than a Snead target. With Brown ailing and Snead an occasional no-show, Crabtree is the player to target.
3. Ben Roethlisberger ($7,000)/Antonio Brown ($8,700) or JuJu Smith-Schuster ($8,300), PIT vs. CINThe Bengals and the Raiders are the two worst defenses that play in meaningful games Sunday, so it should come as no surprise to see their opponents in this article (we’ll get to the Raiders’ in a minute). The Steelers are fighting for their playoff lives in Week 17 — they are eliminated with a loss.
The Bengals are a particularly fun way for the Steelers to end the season, as one of the Bengals’ hallmarks this season has been the way they allow multiple pass-catchers to have good games simultaneously. The previous time these two faced off Brown and Smith-Schuster finished with 23.1 and 24.5 DKFP, respectively. That was Week 6, and it was not the first time the Bengals had given up multiple 20-plus DKFP performances to pass-catching teammates. If you don’t want both Steelers WRs or if you can’t afford them, you shouldn’t have to worry much about choosing which one to roster — there’s a solid chance both have a great game Sunday.
2. Russell Wilson ($6,100)/Doug Baldwin ($6,100), SEA vs. ARIThe Seahawks have clinched a playoff berth, but they still have a lot to play for in Week 17. If they lose, they risk playing either the Rams or the Bears on Wild Card Weekend, while a win would lock them into a matchup against the Cowboys.
Many managers will avoid this matchup out of fear of Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson. Peterson is still very good, but he’s not as frightening as he once was, and he doesn’t always shadow wide receivers. Furthermore, 10 WRs have scored at least 18 DKFP against the Cardinals this season, emphasizing the idea that the Peterson fear is overblown among the fantasy community. The Cardinals have allowed barely fewer DKFP to WRs than the league average. When you combine the fear of Peterson with Baldwin’s early-season struggles, he might be an unpopular play, despite catching 203 yards and three TDs over his past two games. Wilson has been his typical late-season dominant self, with multiple passing TDs and at least 18 DKFP in 11 of his past 12 games.
1. Patrick Mahomes ($7,100)/Tyreek Hill ($8,400), KC vs. OAKThe Chiefs can earn the AFC’s top seed with a win Sunday. If they lose, they could fall as low as the fifth seed — not only would that mean no first-round bye, it would mean no home playoff games. So the Chiefs need to win Sunday. They have an easy matchup, hosting the Raiders, and their need to win should ensure their starters stay heavily involved. That alone is enough to give Mahomes and Hill an advantage against a lot of other Week 17 starters, and that’s before getting into how great they are, or how favorable the matchup is.
Mahomes is averaging almost five DKFP per game more than this seasons’ second-most productive fantasy QB, yet he’s only $100 more expensive than the next-most expensive QB. Meanwhile Hill has the seventh-most DKFP among wide receivers. The Raiders have allowed every starting QB other than Jeff Driskel to score at least 15 DKFP, and opposing QBs average more than 20 DKFP per game. They also have allowed the second-most TDs to wide receivers.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is arikleen) 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. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.