Pivot Play: Davante Adams Over Jordy Nelson in Week 17
This is a weekly series where I break down my favorite tournament plays for the upcoming NFL week. I’m going to be focusing on high upside plays and pairings that could really pay off big for you in a tournament.
Drew Brees ($7,600) and Brandin Cooks ($6,900) = Combined $14,500 Total
The Saints are out of the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean Drew Brees doesn’t have a ton of incentive to pile up the pass yards. Brees is only 150 yards or so away from his fifth 5,000 yard passing season and is also getting closer to the all time passing-yards mark. Matchup-wise, the Falcons have been the second most generous team to the QB position all season in terms of fantasy production (behind only Cleveland), and this game, predictably, also comes with one of the highest projected game totals of the year at 56.5. After the “no-target-game” in Week 12, Brees’ most explosive receiver, Brandin Cooks, has bounced back and averaged 9 targets over his last four starts, which is up from the 6.8 per game he received from weeks 1-11. Cooks has struggled against Atlanta in the past, but without Desmond Trufant in the Atlanta secondary, that trend could easily shift this week and a massive game for Cooks and his QB is very possible.
Bonus: Blake Bortles ($5,600) and Allen Robinson ($5,500)
Pivot Play: Marvin Jones and the motivated Lions offense
Matthew Stafford ($6,000): The Packers have been magnets for big passing games from opposing QBs nearly the entire season and have already allowed nine games of 280 yards passing or more. Since Green Bay’s offense has started clicking, opposing QBs have had to throw the ball a lot more, with the last three QBs throwing 39-43-50 times against them. That list includes Sam Bradford from last week who (on top of throwing 50 times) also put up 29 fantasy points in defeat. The Lions are third last in the league in rush yards per game (Minnesota is last), so I expect Matthew Stafford to be forced into throwing a ton in this game, much like Bradford was. At only $6,000, I think Stafford is a great tournament target this week and carries big game upside for a small price.
Bonus: Andrew Luck ($6,700)
Tevin Coleman ($5,100): Atlanta’s offense has averaged 33.5 points and 412 yards per game to this point in the season, and Coleman himself, when healthy, has seen a near even split in workload with Devonta Freeman in said offense. Moreover, for fantasy purposes, Coleman’s 1.29 fantasy- points-per-touch is also more productive overall than Freeman’s rate, who is averaging right around 1 point per touch in 2016. Coleman also just had his best game since returning back from injury last week as he accumulated 135 yards and a TD on just 12 touches against Carolina. He should be motivated in Week 17 to end the season strong and carve out a role for himself in the postseason.
Darren Sproles ($4,000): The Eagles are down to two healthy RBs: rookie Byron Marshall — who has only taken 11 touches all season — and Darren Sproles. Head Coach Doug Pederson has already gone on record saying that Sproles will likely play “a lot,” so we can expect his usage to likely top the 48% of snaps he played on last week. Dallas has already clinched the NFC East and should be resting starters as the game gets deeper, meaning Sproles will also probably get some run against second stringers. Sproles’ price and his pass catching ability make him somewhat matchup proof anyways, but the fact he’ll be going against an unmotivated Dallas team means his upside, in an already high usage spot, is even bigger than normal.
Bonus: Jordan Howard ($6,800)
Pivot Play: Michael Thomas’ high target upside against the Falcons
Pierre Garcon ($5,000): There are a lot of external factors that could help Pierre Garcon accumulate a big fantasy total this weekend. DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed are both banged up and either may sit out or simply be limited in their ability to contribute. Similarly, the Giants top corner in Janoris Jenkins missed last week with a back issue and may very well sit or play sparingly this week given the meaningless nature of this game for the Giants. Garcon, meanwhile, has averaged a very respectable 14.9 DK points over his last four games — all while scoring just one TD — and given the injury news, he could very well be in a spot for increased targets and red zone usage this week.
J.J. Nelson ($4,600): The Cardinals are essentially down to two healthy wide receivers at the moment, J.J. Nelson and Larry Fitzgerald. Nelson has taken over 70% of the snaps for Arizona the past two weeks and has done well at making teams pay for over defending both Fitzgerald and Arizona’s true workhorse, David Johnson. Nelson has now scored 5 TDs in his last 4 games, 3 of which were from 40 yards or longer. The Rams have allowed an insane 11 TDs to the WR position over their last 6 games and are a great target for Nelson to continue his TD streak against this week. I think he makes for fantastic value option in tournaments.
Bonus: DeAndre Hopkins ($6,500)
Antonio Gates ($3,800): It’s really hard to ignore the narrative for Gates this week. He needs two TDs to pass Tony Gonzalez for the all-time record for TEs, and — as if this wasn’t enough — will also be playing in the (possibly, he may return next year) last game of his career AND the (likely) last game ever in San Diego. Gates also played on a season high 84% of the snaps last weekend and scored twice, proving that likely dead-in-the-water head coach Mike McCoy is completely fine with rolling him out there over Hunter Henry at this point in order to chase history. It’s rare to see a team whose sole focus might be to have one player score multiple TDs in a game, but that may be the case with Gates this week, and it’s undoubtedly something to take advantage for fantasy in Week 17.
Bonus: Jared Cook ($3,100)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($3,100): The Buccaneers have faded a little recently, but their matchups have been tough as they’ve faced two of the best offenses in the NFL in Dallas and New Orleans over that span. This week, Tampa returns home in a must win game against a banged up Cam Newton who has only run for 79 yards and completed 45% of his passes over his last four starts. The Bucs have also been a better defensive unit at home this season (averaging 10.14 DK points while at home) and will face Carolina in Tampa this week. With little to play for, Carolina may even decide to rest their star QB at some point in the game, meaning backup Derek Anderson — who threw two INTs and zero TDs against Tampa earlier in the year — might get some play.
Bonus: Arizona Cardinals ($3,000)
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) 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.