Deeper, Cheaper and More Contrarian: Week 17

Deeper, Cheaper and More Contrarian: Week 17

Welcome back for the last week of the regular season. Without a Thursday game, we don’t have any true percentages to go off of. That means we’ll have a game by game taek-fest for my Week 17 Fantasy Aces GPP picks.

If this is your first year of daily fantasy, don’t make the mistake of thinking Week 17 is anything like the first 16 weeks. The closest comparison is Preseason Week 3, but with everything on the line for roughly a quarter of the teams. I have an affinity for attacking the games featuring opponents who both have playoff life or seeding on the line. Conversely, it’s imperative to avoid games with teams locked into their playoff spots, with nothing to lose nor gain in Week 17. While it’s not always awful to use players on opposing sides of a meaningless match-up, most key contributors from locked-in teams will be taken out of harm’s way sooner than later, assuming they play at all. Coaches always want these games to be as short as possible, so we should generally avoid them in DFS.

Before diving into each game, let’s make sure we’re aware of each team’s situation. The following teams are locked into their playoff seeding and have nothing to gain nor lose in Week 17: DAL, NYG, PIT, and HOU. You’re not considering starters on any of these teams, and you’re only considering backups if it’s known in advance their workloads are near certainties.

The following teams have playoff life and/or seeding on the line in Week 17 and should all be given more consideration than non-playoff team’s players: ATL, SEA, GB, DET, WAS, NE, OAK, KC, and MIA. The DET-GB and MIA-NE match-ups are especially intriguing. Note: Tampa Bay is still mathematically alive to make the playoffs, but the probability of both the Patriots and Giselle deeming me an upgrade from Tom Brady is far more likely.

All unlisted teams are eliminated from playoff contention.

Let’s get to each game:


With Houston locked into their playoff spot and Tennessee losing Marcus Mariota, there’s not much to like here. Derrick Henry could see an uptick with nothing on the line, but that’s the extent of players I’d take a look at in this game.


An ugly game here with E.J. Manuel in for Tyrod Taylor. Manuel stacked with Sammy Watkins could be a dart throw for those looking for a cheap quarterback, just realize the floor is the actual floor.


A divisional game that would project to be muddy and low-scoring if there were anything on the line. The lack of such motivation makes it even more unclear how the coaches will deploy their players, especially Marvin Lewis. I’m fully avoiding this game.


This game has many intriguing options, but none come without risk. Blake Bortles stacked with Allen Robinson and/or Marqise Lee is the strongest option. Bortles is auditioning for his own job, and the match-up is friendly and indoors. Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton are also in nice spots, but I expect high ownership, and there are other better options at their price points.


With Dallas locked into their playoff spot, this game is another full fade.


After the mutiny in Minnesota last week, I foresee a more united approach this week. Use the Vikings DST at home against Matt Barkley in a bounce back spot.


With Tampa mathematically alive, they will attempt to win the game. Jacquizz Rodgers is my favorite running back play of the week and should see a mammoth workload. A Jameis Winston and Mike Evans stack is also in play, but I like ‘Quizz the best here.


Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin has already said the fantasy superstar trio of Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Ben Roethlisberger will rest, so the Steelers’ side is more clear with backups playing a full game. Jesse James could see a nice line against the Browns hapless tight end defense, but he’s a risk due to the arm of Landry Jones. Eli Rogers should also see a hefty target load, but carries the same risk. If you’re shooting for the moon, a Jones double-stack with James & Rogers is usable. On the other side, Isaiah Crowell jumps out with appeal for GPPs, and Corey Coleman is a cheap game-stack punt if you use a Landry Jones stack.


This is the second-most interesting game on the slate, as both teams have something to gain in seeding. On the Miami side, Matt Moore is an affordable quarterback who could have appeal if the game remains in reach. However, with Miami playing a road playoff game next week, don’t expect anyone needed for the playoffs next week to remain in harm’s way. On the New England side, Tom Brady is still Tom Brady and is always in play (naked, as there’s no certainty in target distribution), but this match-up has all the makings of a LeGarrette Blount game and could very well be his biggest of the year. He’s my second-favorite running back on the slate.


All Giants are a full fade. We know the starters are going to play some but not all of the game, and that’s the worst possible scenario. Washington is more interesting, as their playoff life depends on a win. DeSean Jackson has been hot and heavily targeted of late. He is my favorite play on the Washington side. Rob Kelley is in play as well, in what could be a contrarian use after all the touchdowns that didn’t go to him last week. Coach Jay Gruden should try to ice this game against New York’s backups in a game I foresee Washington leading.


This game features the highest betting total of the week by seven points and projects to be a heavily targeted game in GPPs. Naturally, I want to avoid it. The player in this game I think has the highest ceiling of anyone this week is Devonta FreemanMatt Ryan has put up good, not great numbers of late. You’d have to go all the way back to Week 9 for his last 300-yard outing, and he’s only had a two since Week 4. Running backs will remain the focal point of the Atlanta offense, and Devonta Freeman is most reliable with a playoff bye on the line. On the other side, all Saints players are in play, but all will have chalk symptoms. With that said, I can’t fault anyone who wants to roll out a Drew Brees and Michael Thomas stack.


These are two of the most friendly teams to opposing defenses so both the Cardinals’ and Rams’ DST units are in play here. Otherwise, avoid all offensive players in this game. David Johnson remains a high output option but I strongly prefer to use that salary elsewhere this week.


San Diego and Philip Rivers have ranged from average to nightmarish since Melvin Gordon went down, and now they face a motivated Chiefs team who still have a path to a first round playoff bye. The Kansas City defense is a fantastic use this week, probably the best of the slate. Similarly, Travis Kelce has been the best tight end in football over the last month, and that will continue. Roll with lots of Zeus and the KC defense from this game.


With Seattle still fighting for seeding and a bye week, they should look to blow the lid off this game early against one of the softest defenses in the league. Thomas Rawls is a candidate for an explosion, as San Francisco has allowed multiple big games to running backs already. Doug Baldwin is an equal or better play, particularly considering the 8/164/1 line that he dropped on the 49ers in their first meeting.


With Oakland needing a win for a first round bye, they must defeat Denver again. I strongly suspect they will beat the Broncos the same way they did in Week 9, by pounding Latavius Murray, hopefully into the end zone multiple times. Murray is by far the strongest play from this game, albeit the only one.


Thank you, NFL schedulers, for saving the best for last. Both of these teams’ playoff lives hang in the balance and this, in my eyes, is the bread-and-butter core game for DFS use. While I do expect higher ownership from this game, it’s vital to have the week’s premier stack in Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, along with secondary stack options Jared Cook and Davante Adams. Golden Tate is a very nice game-stack to go with the above, and I recommend getting these guys into at least half of your lineups because Rodgers and Co. don’t have the option of leaving anything to chance. The pedal will be to the metal.

As always, run well my friends!

Editor’s Note:  If you’re new to the 2QB DFS scene and would like to give Fantasy Aces a shot you can use our referral code to sign-up.

TJ Calkins

TJ Calkins owns a small business in steel manufacturing that you've never heard of and is sarcastic to a fault. Whether it's dynasty, DFS, best ball or redraft, he's always finding a way to get his fantasy football fix. You can find him on Twitter @tjcalkins

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