The final week of the NFL season is here and it seems like the number of elite quarterbacks still standing has dwindled more and more every week. Be sure to consider who has anything left playing for this weekend when drafting your teams, especially when looking at QBs who may be pulled early.
MORE NFL POSITIONAL TARGETS FOR WEEK 17
Cream of the Crop
Eli Manning, NY Giants (vs PHI) – $5600
Neither the Giants nor the Eagles have anything to play for, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a knock on Manning. In Week 17, I’m more looking for very specific situations to avoid—like the Redskins. Manning is still the quarterback of a team projected to score 27.3 points against one of the worst secondaries in the NFL.
Tom Brady, New England (at MIA) – $7400
New England clinches home-field advantage with a win or a Denver loss, but since the Broncos play later in the day, the Pats are going to have to play to win here. The Dolphins have been one of the worst teams in the NFL against opposing tight ends, so Brady-to-Gronk might be the top stack in terms of upside this week.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (at CLE) – $6900
Roethlisberger and the Steelers are currently the top-projected offense in Week 17. There’s some concern that game flow could limit Big Ben’s workload here, but I’ll roll the dice given that I think Pittsburgh is going to come out attacking and make sure they do their part to get into the postseason.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (vs NO) – $5500
The Saints’ pass defense just keeps getting worse. They’ve now allowed 11.9 points above expected to opposing quarterbacks, which is the worst mark in the NFL. I really don’t like Ryan all that much, but he does have an obvious stack and the matchup has proven to be more important than the talent when it comes to New Orleans.
Middle of the Pack
Drew Brees, New Orleans (at ATL) – $6700
This is the sort of game that could turn into a shootout, yet Brees is $100 cheaper than last week. His health appears to be fine and he won’t even need to be incredibly efficient to return value at this price if he drops back to pass 40+ times.
A.J. McCarron, Cincinnati (vs BAL) – $5300
I actually really like McCarron this week at this price. The Ravens have allowed 9.7 points above expectation to opposing quarterbacks, which means they’re close to the Saints when it comes to being horrific in the secondary. Any time a $5300 quarterback is leading an offense projected over 25 implied points, it’s worth a look.
Cam Newton, Carolina (vs TB) – $7500
Newton is in a similar situation to Big Ben—facing a weak opponent with a poor pass defense—but he’s just a tad more expensive. I like Newton a bit less because I do think they’d be more likely to keep the ball on the ground should they get up big on Tampa Bay, against whom they’re currently 10.5-point favorites.
Johnny Manziel, Cleveland (vs PIT) – $5100
If he’s going to use his legs, I’ll be all over Manziel. This is another matchup in which I think he’s going to keep the ball on the ground. He should be forced to drop back to throw quite a bit.
Rest of the Field
Sam Bradford, Philadelphia (at NYG) – $5300
Who knows with Bradford? This is the second-highest projected game in Week 17, and Bradford is definitely underpriced considering the Giants have the third-worst pass defense in the NFL after adjusting for quarterback salaries.
Carson Palmer, Arizona (vs SEA) – $6500
I won’t be on Palmer in cash games for obvious reasons, but I sort of like him in GPPs. The Cards are still projected quite well, despite the matchup, and we are getting a bit of a discount here on a player whose price dropped $500 from last week. I don’t really like the potential number of plays for both teams, or Palmer might be higher. Palmer to John Brown is my favorite pairing for GPPs.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit (at CHI) – $6200
Stafford has been surprisingly consistent of late, topping 16 DraftKings points in every game since early November. I still wouldn’t trust him in cash games, especially at the price, however, and I also don’t love the Stafford-to-Megatron stack that was once in play basically every week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, NY Jets (at BUF) – $5400
Fitzpatrick has now exceeded his salary-based implied points in eight straight games. The Bills’ pass defense isn’t what we thought it would be in the beginning of the year—basically middle of the pack or worse. I like Fitzpatrick/Decker/Marshall in GPPs.
Jonathan Bales is the author of the Fantasy Sports for Smart People book series, and most recently Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports.
Follow him @BalesFootball.