As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each season and week of DFS, different factors are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” is a series that examines players who are now being propelled into a starting role (thus creating a larger opportunity for that player), whether it be via injury, suspension or simply a change to the depth chart.
Week 17 is a whole different animal given the variety of scenarios. Some teams will be shutting it down to rest for the playoffs, others may be resting simply to end the season with health since they’re already eliminated. Then there are the handful of teams still with something to play for, along with the eliminated teams that still want to play for pride and go all out for a win.
Basically, there’s a lot to consider. So for that reason, here are some next man up quick hits with players (and even teams) that should see larger Week 17 roles (in no particular order).
Pittsburgh Steelers Offense
The “Big Three” for the Steelers will be resting (Big Ben/Bell/Brown) since they’re locked into the 3-seed in the AFC. Maybe the Browns win this game, but their defense still allows a ton of fantasy points. That makes Landry Jones an attractive play as a minimum priced QB playing to impress the rest of the NFL against the team that’s allowed the most DKFP to his position this season. DeAngelo Williams should see some work at RB, but he’s also a weapon to keep healthy for the postseason. Fitzgerald Toussaint should be the beneficiary in the backfield, where the Browns rank 31st against RBs. Somebody’s got to catch the ball too … so look for Eli Rogers and Jesse James to be most involved.
Dallas Cowboys Offense
The Cowboys have wrapped up the top seed, but still plan to play the starters. Everyone expects it to be only a couple of series before the backups hit the field, though. Tony Romo won’t see the most work as the back-up, as Mark Sanchez will get most of the work at QB, but probably isn’t worth fantasy consideration seeing as we don’t know how much he’ll play. Darren McFadden does make for a strong option, however. Zeke shouldn’t play long, and Run DMC hasn’t looked bad lately — carrying 14 times for 49 yards last week. It would seem silly to run Dez Bryant out there too much considering his injury history, so this could be a Brice Butler week too.
New York Giants Offense
Washington will be playing for their playoff lives on the opposite sideline, but the Giants have nothing to play for as the 5-seed in the NFC. Expect this to be a similar situation to the Cowboys, where Josh Johnson enters the game early. Rookie WR Sterling Shepard has been hot and could stay on the field some with the backups, though. The same could be said for Paul Perkins, who’s been seeing significantly more work recently.
Matt Cassel/Matt McGloin
Obviously, you know about the two devastating QB injuries last week. Minimum priced QBs can be tempting, but these guys are both in brutal matchups this week. McGloin clearly has a lot to play for and would love to prove himself, but his first start coming in Denver is far from ideal. Houston has been a pretty bad matchup, ranking third vs. QBs this season, so there’s really no reason to look at these two guys with options like Jones and Manuel on the board.
I like using Jones for a minimum priced QB this week, but E.J. Manuel is also in an interesting position. He’ll be starting against a horrific Jets’ secondary and should be motivated to prove himself. The Bills want to see what they have in Manuel and are excited to give him an opportunity this week as they transition to a new coaching staff.
Houston is locked into the 4-seed in the AFC, but are in an interesting position. With Tom Savage still a new QB, they’ll probably try to get in a rhythm against the Titans’ terrible pass defense. But it’s also unlikely they risk playing Lamar Miller (who’s banged up) with the starters. That means another heavy dose of Blue, who scored 19 DKFP against the Bengals last week.
The Eagles are essentially down to Sproles at RB, so they don’t have much of a choice here. With everyone injured, the coaches have already let us know that Sproles will have a large role against the Cowboys — who are likely shutting it down this week. Philly doesn’t have anything to play for either, which can be scary, but Sproles still figures to see a lot of work in a meaningless game.
Hello, Zach Zenner! After going off on MNF against the Cowboys (another reason to like Sproles this week) for 92 total yards and two rushing touchdowns, Zenner should have a role in Detroit’s backfield into the postseason (if they get there). Theo Riddick’s status is worth monitoring (likely out), but even if he plays, Zenner proved to be a force in the ground game that the Lions haven’t had this season. If Riddick is out again, Zenner makes for a fantastic value play.
Thomas Rawls left last week’s game with a shoulder injury after gaining just eight yards on eight carries. He probably will suit up this week, but that doesn’t mean Seattle won’t see what they have in Collins. The rookie gained 28 yards on seven carries last week, and caught all four of his targets for 19 yards. Given the matchup with San Francisco (by far the worst team against the run this season), Collins could have a breakout game if he gets some work.
Jacquizz Rodgers/Brandon Myers
The Bucs are falling apart at RB. Doug Martin is gone because of a PED suspension and Charles Sims is on IR. That leaves Rodgers, who has done well as the starter this season. He posted 15.8 DKFP last week against the Saints, and has a matchup with the 17th ranked Panthers this week. Tampa is probably out of the postseason, but has a slight chance of getting in so they’ll be playing to win. Carolina’s weakest position on defense is tight end — 29th overall. With Cameron Brate now on IR, Myers will be getting the start, and in a great position.
For questions or comments hit me up on Twitter @julianedlow
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) 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.