Week 17 of the NFL season is upon us and what better way to complement yearly leagues than by playing daily leagues as well? Assuming your opponent’s team is stacked and you’re fighting a losing battle, DFS is a way to still monetize your football knowledge on a lost week in yearly leagues. However, there is a bit of a strategy difference due to the weekly salary cap. In this article, fantasy expert Ricky Sanders will walk you through the thought process of putting together the best possible FantasyDraft DFS lineup for the upcoming weekend slate:
Matthew Stafford, Lions, $11,300 – The tilt between the Packers and Lions this week is one of the few games where both teams have something to play for. In this case, the two teams will be competing for the NFC North title. Luckily for both teams, this game will be played inside the dome of Ford Field so this also negates any threat of potential weather issues. Matthew Stafford’s previous meeting against the Packers (in Green Bay) proved to be his best fantasy outing of the entire season. In that game, Stafford threw for 385 yards and three passing TDs which makes sense from a game plan perspective. The Packers rank 11th in terms of rushing defense according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric compared to 20th in passing defense. Instead of running into a brick wall, most teams choose to throw more instead against this stout front seven and it worked for the Lions the last time. With Theo Riddick likely out once again, and the team having to rely on the Dwayne Washington/Zach Zenner duo again, it would not be shocking for Stafford to exceed 40 passing attempts once again (as he did in the previous meeting). As icing on the cake, Stafford has produced a superior QB rating at home in back-to-back seasons. With so many factors in his favor, it would be foolish to fade him at this price tag.
David Johnson, Cardinals, $18,600 – Coach Mike Tomlin hinted Le’Veon Bell will likely sit out this weekend which leaves David Johnson as the only elite back worthy of consideration. As per usual, Johnson is in an excellent spot to succeed against a Rams team that has allowed a whopping 25 receptions to backs over their last four games. No back has caught more passes (77) than Johnson this year neither have any racked up more receiving yards (841). Amazingly, Johnson’s floor this season has proven to be 15.40 fantasy points and that lowly output came in his last meeting versus the Rams. With Johnson looking for vengeance, I would not want to be one of the few caught without rostering him in cash games.
Bilal Powell, Jets, $12,300 – With Matt Forte continuing to sit out practice, the Jets have absolutely zero reason to rush him back considering they have been eliminated from the playoffs. Therefore, it will be the Bilal Powell show once again and he has been surprisingly effective this season. Amongst all backs who have carried the ball at least 100 times, Powell ranks second in yards per carry (YPC) behind only LeSean McCoy. Furthermore, only three backs have caught more passes this season: the aforementioned Johnson, Bell and James White. That is it. Now, he will square off against a Bills defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing backs over the last month and the third most fantasy points overall. During the course of their last four games, the Bills have surrendered seven rushing TDs and 698 rushing yards to opposing backs to go along with 229 receiving yards. With Powell drawing a full workload once again, he is one of the best values on the entire slate at this mid-tier cost.
Michael Thomas, Saints, $12,600 – The 7-8 Saints have nothing to play for other than pride and the fact they will likely find themselves in a shootout against another high-powered offense. Vegas lists this game as above and beyond the highest over/under of the weekend (56) with the Packers/Lions game sitting in a distant second (48.5). After flopping at home last week, Drew Brees now finds himself in a dome (although it is not home) against a defense that has allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing QBs. In the first meeting, Brees threw for 376 yards and three TDs and Michael Thomas caught 7-11 targets for 71 yards and a TD. In fact, this performance proved to be his first big game as a professional and he took off from there, posting double-digit fantasy points in nine of his next 11 games. He has morphed into the number one WR in an offense where Brees mostly looks for the open man and this matchup was clearly conducive to him the first time. While the defense can certainly make adjustments, the Saints simply possess too many weapons for the defense to focus on any one receiver. At the cost of a low-end WR2, Thomas has the upside of a true WR1 in this perfect game atmosphere.
Antonio Gates, Chargers, $7,400 – Narratives typically are not worth overanalyzing because most of them are made up by the media. However, like Kobe Bryant’s 60 points in his final game, getting Antonio Brown to the all-time TE TD record is a narrative worth recognizing and factoring in. With the team eliminated from the playoffs, the TD record is literally the only thing they have to play for and this could be Gates’ final game as a professional. For that reason, the team should target him heavily once they get into the red zone. Hell, he ranks second in red zone targets (17) amongst TEs anyways so it is not like he does not get the looks on an average week anyways. After catching 8-13 targets for 94 yards and a TD last week, his price actually decreased nearly $1,000. Although the reasoning for using him does not fly in most scenarios, there is little doubt it will contribute to the Chargers game plan this week.
Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on to FantasyDraft as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: FanVice, RotoCurve and Daily Fantasy Cafe. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.
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