Welcome to Statistically (in)Significant, the place to find great stats that probably only matter at the water cooler (or bar). Each week I'll dig through the stats of the week gone by and deliver you some choice conversation starters. All fantasy stats are standard Yahoo scoring, unless otherwise noted.
20 Fantasy Points per Game
Todd Gurley's monster game in Seattle on Sunday brought his season average up to 20 points per game. There are only 3 active players who average more points per game than Gurley, all of them top end QBs. Ezekiel Elliott is the only non-QB even in Gurley's neighborhood, and he finally returns this week (against the Seahawks, to boot). I do, however, expect Gurley to be on a lot more championship teams than Elliott. The torch in the NFC West has been passed, though maybe not passed so much as ripped from Seattle's grasp with Gurley's 4 touchdowns. In a year where the MVP debate seems to have someone drop out every week, Gurley is looking like the best non-Brady pick of the leftovers.
74-14 Over Two Games
The Jaguars exploded on to the 2017 season in Week 1 by laying a 29-7 whooping on the Texans and announcing their arrival. They completed the season sweep of the Texans this week, this time by a score of 45-7 and clinched their first playoff berth since 2007. The Jaguars scored six touchdowns, and not a single one of them were on your fantasy team. A pair of them from Jaydon Mickens and Tommy Bohannon led the way for Blake Bortles to continue his excellent fantasy streak since Week 12. There will be some waiver pickups this week available from the Jaguars - their matchup against the 49ers looks good, so Keelan Cole will be a guy to check out this week.
4 Passing Touchdowns
A pair of NFC QBs threw four passing TDs each on Sunday, both leading their team to wins while overcoming halftime deficits. Cam Newton was unimpressed with Aaron Rodgers' return, outperforming him at nearly every turn. Newton had no picks to Rodgers' three - his first time doing this since 2009. The Panthers strengthened their playoff resume, with Greg Olsen announcing he's returned, and Christian McCaffrey continuing to roll along, just 26 yards shy of 1000 yards from scrimmage for the year. Nick Foles also threw 4 TDs, though he's in a much different situation than Newton. Foles is taking over for Carson Wentz and had quite a good showing on his first start. He keeps the Eagles in as the #1 seed in the NFC and has a great matchup for Week 16 at home against the Raiders.
5-0 As A Starter
Well, it looks like the 49ers definitely are happy with their choice of QB, as the Jimmy Garappolo era has begun. He's now 3-0 as the 49ers starter (he was 2-0 last year for the Patriots) and has spawned memes with 49ers GM John Lynch. Jimmy G threw for a career high 381 yards on Sunday, but still hasn't surpassed 1 TD in a game this season. This week his matchup against Jacksonville keeps him from being on the streaming radar, but the future is bright for the 49ers and their new QB. Perhaps the biggest fantasy impact on the 49ers is Robbie Gould, who's made 15 field goals in the last 3 weeks. He's responsible for 48 of the team's 66 points in their last three wins. An honorable mention also goes to Marquise Goodwin, who had 10 catches for 114 yards this week.
100+ Receptions 5 Years in a Row
This week's MVP candidate to go down is Antonio Brown. He'll be back for the playoffs, but won't return during the regular season. Before going down, Brown was able to go over 100 catches for his fifth straight season, the first player in league history to do this. The rest of the Steelers delivered on your fantasy hopes, despite the outcome of the game. On the other side, Gronk smashed, Brady led a last minute comeback, and the Patriots won again. Ho hum...I'm getting so sick of the Patriots. I figured the Steelers would have a chance to take them down, but if the AFC Championship game is in Foxboro, then it's going to be a tough road. Perhaps the Jaguars and their league leading 51 sacks can get the job done. The Dolphins gave the league a blueprint for beating the Pats, someone please make it happen in the playoffs this year.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We’ve finally made it. It’s championship week! All of the weeks of agonizing over lineup decisions and waiver wire pickups have come down to this. The key to this week is avoiding landmines. In most of the tough decisions you have this week, the rule of thumb should be to play the guy whose volume you feel the most confident in. You don’t want to get stuck with LeGarrette Blount getting 6 touches, or Sammy Watkins getting 4 targets. This week it’s all about trust. I’ll still list a few players who are mostly worth DFS consideration, but I’ll try to be as definitive as possible with my opinions on most of the rookies for this week. Remember, players that are under the same header and at the same position are listed in the order I like them for this week. Let’s dive in and look at what to expect in week 16…
Rookies to Start:
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 16: vs. Atl.): While Kamara wasn’t quite as studly in his return from a concussion last week as he had been the 5 weeks prior to sustaining the injury, he still topped 20 PPR points and finished as the RB10 for the week. The Falcons seem like a tougher matchup on paper, allowing the 12th-fewest RB points per game this season, but they’ve been vulnerable to receiving backs all year. No team has allowed more than the 91 RB receptions that Atlanta has given up, and only 4 teams have given up more receiving TDs to running backs. Kamara is averaging over 28 PPR points per game in his last 6 healthy games with at least 20 in each. You have to play him this week if you’ve got him, and his high-end DFS price might actually be worth it to have him in your lineup. He should be a cash game staple this week.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 16: vs. Mia.): Good Kareem Hunt has finally returned! Hopefully it was in time to keep your season alive. As I said last week, you have to play him if you’ve got him. The upside is tremendous. Miami is a great matchup for Hunt this week. They’ve given up the 3rd-most RB points in the league, and game script should be heavily in Hunt’s favor with the Chiefs a 10-point home favorite. In the past 2 weeks, both comfortable wins where the Chiefs played mostly from ahead, Hunt handled 29.5 touches per game. Strong volume should be there again this week, and Hunt should be right there with Alvin Kamara as the premier running back plays of the week.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 16: @SF): It was a surprise that Fournette missed last week’s game, but he should be ready to go this week. A win this week would clinch the division for Jacksonville, so don’t look for them to rest any starters or limit their snaps just because they clinched a playoff spot. When healthy, Fournette’s volume is consistent enough that you could set your watch by it. He’s handled at least 15 touches in every game he’s been healthy and 20+ in 8 out of those 11 games. The 49ers have been much improved against running backs since Reuben Foster got fully healthy in week 9. In the first 8 weeks, the 49ers were coughing up 31.7 RB points per game, and at least 23 points in 7 of them. In the 5 games since, no opponent has reached 23 RB points and they’ve allowed an average of just 16.5 per game. Despite that improved play by the 49ers D, Fournette’s volume should carry him to a low-end RB1 day. I’d prefer Kamara or Hunt for DFS purposes, but Fournette should be in your championship week lineups in season-long leagues.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 16: vs. TB): McCaffrey returned to the RB1 ranks last week with his 3rd 60+ yard rushing day and his 7th touchdown of the season. This week he gets to square off with a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed the 7th-most RB points per game and ranks 21st in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat. It should be another great opportunity for CMC to finish as a top-15 running back. He’s shown an incredibly stable floor with at least 8.3 PPR points and 4 targets in every game this year. He’s a reliably safe RB2 option this week in a plus matchup.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 16: vs. Det.): It’s still not a done deal that Mixon returns this week, but if he does, he comes back to an ideal matchup. The Lions have allowed the 3rd-most RB points per game for the season, but since Haloti Ngata went on IR they’ve been coughing up 28 points per game to the position, and a large chunk of that has come on the ground. Detroit is giving up 109 rushing yards per game and has surrendered 11 rushing scores in the 9 games Ngata has missed. They’ve also allowed the 7th-most RB catches and 11th-most RB receiving yards for the season. The Lions are bad in every aspect of defending the opposing backs. If Mixon is a full go, he should be slated as an RB2 this week.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 16: @Hou.): This week could be as good an opportunity as JuJu has had all year to shine. The Steelers will be without leading receiver Antonio Brown and his absurd 11.6 targets per game (12.2 if you don’t include his shortened outing against the Pats). That volume has to go somewhere. There is a chance the Steelers will lean more on Le’Veon Bell and the run game to make up the difference, but the Texans rank 6th in run defense DVOA and might force the issue. Houston ranks 23rd in pass defense DVOA, and has allowed the 5th-most WR points per game. This is a golden opportunity for JuJu, and you should treat him as a WR2 this week. He should pretty much be chalk in DFS lineups, especially at his $5,400 price tag on DraftKings.
TE Evan Engram, NYG (Wk. 16: @Ari.): The Cardinals have been fairly stingy to opposing tight ends of late, allowing just 17-155-1 total to the position in their past 5 games (7.3 PPR points per game), but the Giants entire passing game revolves around Engram and Sterling Shepard, and there is a good chance Shepard is going to be chased around by Patrick Peterson in this one. Engram may not be an ideal choice for DFS lineups in this tougher matchup, but he should remain a top-5 or 6 option for season-long leagues. The Giants have to throw it to someone, and all year long Engram has consistently been that someone.
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 16: vs. Cle.): Trubisky has thrown for 585 yards in the last 2 weeks, and the Browns have allowed at least 17 fantasy points to 6 of the last 7 quarterbacks they’ve faced. There’s always a concern that the volume dries up on Mitch if the Bears play from ahead (and they are a 6.5-point home favorite), but the Browns have given up at least 19 fantasy points to all 4 QBs that have attempted fewer than 30 passes against them. That list of QBs includes Jacoby Brissett and Andy Dalton. Mitch is far from a sure thing despite the great matchup, but he is an intriguing streaming option for 2-QB leagues or leagues with 14+ teams.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 16: @Ari.): With Eli Manning having a shortage of WRs, he’s been leaning on the running backs in the passing game over the past couple of weeks, and Gallman has been a primary benefactor. Shane Vereen has still been involved with 9 targets in the past 2 games, but Gallman has seen 16 targets to go along with 20 carries in those 2 contests. He’s failed to find the end zone, but he’s finished as the RB15 and RB18 in those games. The Cardinals pose a tough test for most running backs, allowing the 9th-fewest points per game to the position, but they’ve also given up the 10th-most RB receptions and 11th-most RB receiving yards. If Gallman’s usage remains the same, he should finish as a low end RB2 or high-end flex again. He’s definitely an option who could be available if you are trying to avoid using either Green Bay running back.
WR Cooper Kupp, LAR (Wk. 16: @Ten.): Kupp’s numbers took a big hit last week with the return of Robert Woods and the game script getting away from the passing game. The Rams built an insurmountable lead early and didn’t need to throw much in the 2nd half, but I don’t expect this week’s game to be 34-0 by halftime, so Goff should be throwing at least a little more than the 21 times he threw last week. The Titans are vulnerable to WRs. Tennessee has allowed the 9th-most WR points per game, and has been especially vulnerable over the middle, where slot receivers like Kupp do a big chunk of their damage. The Titans rank dead last in the league in pass defense DVOA on throws over the middle. Kupp has a chance to eat them up. He’s back in play as a WR3 option this week.
WRs Keelan Cole & Dede Westbrook, JAX (Wk. 16: @SF): I was fully bought in on Westbrook last week, but it was Cole came up big, finishing as the WR1 for the week in a stunning turn of events. If he’s not already owned in your dynasty leagues, he should be a priority stash right now with Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee both hitting free agency this offseason. While Westbrook has been getting all of the attention as the snaps and targets headed his way have piled up, it’s been Cole who has been the better fantasy player. Cole has scored a TD in each of the past 3 games, and now has put up 18-388-3 on 28 targets (5.6 per game) over the past 5 games while Westbrook has tallied 22-256-1 on 35 targets (7 per game). With Marqise Lee already ruled out for this week, both Cole and Westbrook are intriguing flex options in a decent matchup as the 49ers rank 31st in pass defense DVOA. The fact that Jaydon Mickens caught 2 TDs last week is a little concerning, but I wouldn’t expect a repeat performance this week. I’d expect Mickens to be mostly in the slot, and the 49ers rank 4th in pass defense DVOA on throws over the middle, and 30th or worse on throws to both the left side and right side of the field. Cole has shown a higher ceiling, but Westbrook has shown the safer volume.
Rookies to Sit:
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 16: @Chi.): This week should present a legitimate opportunity for the Browns to get their first win of the season, but to get it Kizer will have to manage to limit the turnovers, something he’s failed to do all season. He’s turned the ball over 7 times in the past 3 weeks and 25 times on the year. Being yo-yo’d in and out of the lineup by coach Hue Jackson has clearly stunted his development and hurt his confidence level. The Bears have the 3rd-fewest interceptions in the league as a defense, but they also allow the 8th-fewest QB fantasy points. Given how poorly Kizer played last week, you’d have to be much braver than I am to trust him in any lineups this week.
RBs Jamaal Williams & Aaron Jones, GB (Wk. 16: vs. Min.): This is a situation best avoided. Green Bay is eliminated from playoff contention, and the Vikings are still alive in the race for the number 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The motivation in this one could be pretty one-sided. Shutting Aaron Rodgers back down will probably increase Green Bay’s rushing volume, but it’s hard to be confident that Williams will still see the vast majority of the work, and the Vikings allow the fewest RB points per game in the league. Green Bay will also be without Hundley’s favorite passing target, Davante Adams in this one, giving Minnesota one less weapon to worry about defending. If you want to take a shot at one of these guys in a DFS tournament, go ahead. There’s a chance that one of them has a nice game. I’d be more inclined to try Aaron Jones than Williams thanks to the discounted price tag, but there is nothing certain about either of these two this week.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 16: vs. Den.): Perine has gone in the tank the past 3 weeks while the Broncos’ defense appears to have righted the ship in the past 2 after struggling mightily for a 5-game stretch. Denver has allowed 90 rushing yards total to opposing backs in the past 2 weeks and held the Jets’ and Colts’ offenses to a combined 13 points in 2 convincing wins. Perine posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing games a month ago, but he’s totaled just 120 rushing yards in the 3 games since, finishing as the RB33, RB33, and RB36 in those games. Denver is a tougher matchup than any of the 3 teams he just faced, and he also tweaked his groin in practice on Thursday. If Perine is able to play, he shouldn’t find his way into your lineup.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 16: @NYJ): Ekeler has just 7 touches in the last 2 weeks and managed to lose a fumble on one of those touches, and this week he might not even play. As of Thursday he looks like a true game-time decision, and there is no way to trust him even if he does play. I’d stay away in all formats.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 16: vs. Oak.): Clement played just 15% of the offensive snaps last week in Nick Foles’ first start for Philly, reversing a trend that had him playing ahead of LeGarrette Blount in week 14. He hasn’t seen more than 7 touches in any of the past 5 games, and hasn’t reached 7 PPR points in any of the past 4. Oakland’s defense isn’t anything impressive, but Clement hasn’t been receiving the kind of volume you can bet on, even against a bad defense.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 16: vs. LAC): If I believed Matt Forte was actually going to miss this game, I would probably have snuck McGuire into the ‘Sleeper’ section below, but I don’t think he will. If the running back role stays a 3 person committee, it’ll be too muddled to rely on McGuire. The Chargers have been vulnerable to the run, allowing the 10th-most RB points per game and ranking 29th in run defense DVOA, but McGuire has seen just 19 touches total in the last 4 weeks. He needs an injury ahead of him to see the field enough to be useful.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 16: @Bal.): Mack is averaging about 40 yards on 7 touches per game in the past 3 weeks, and this week the Colts’ implied point total is around 14 points. You can do better than Mack this week. He’s nothing more than a punt option for DFS tournaments, but one who hasn’t produced in weeks and costs $1,000 more than the minimum in DraftKings.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 16: @Cin.): Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that Golladay’s opportunities will increase with TJ Jones now on IR. Over the past 3 weeks Golladay has out-snapped Jones 154-32, and in that time he’s posted just 9 catches for 90 yards on 12 targets. The deep balls are fun when they happen for Kenny G, but they’ve dried up of late, and the Bengals allow the 3rd-fewest WR points per game. There are better places to look for an upside DFS punt play.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 16: vs. LAR): In case the pedestrian stat lines Davis has been putting up aren’t enough to convince you to bench him this week, the Rams have allowed the 8th-fewest WR points per game so far this year. Davis hasn’t reached double-digit fantasy points since week 1. I still believe in Corey long-term, but if you don’t you should be able to find a buyer who will still be willing to pay a pretty penny for him this offseason in dynasty leagues. I think a coaching change in Tennessee would help that entire offense a great deal.
WRs Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne, SF (Wk. 16: vs. Jax.): As well as Jimmy Garoppolo has been playing, I have a simple rule of thumb here…don’t trust fringe fantasy WRs against the Jaguars. They haven’t been quite as impenetrable over the past few weeks as they were for most of the year, but they’ve still only allowed 4 receivers all year to reach 80 receiving yards: Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Corey Coleman, and Tyler Lockett. Taylor and Bourne don’t belong in that group. If you wanted to buy into one of these guys as a contrarian play, I’d go with Bourne. The Jags have allowed 10 passing TDs in the last 6 weeks, and all of them have traveled over 20 yards. Nine of them went 25+ yards, and 4 of them went 40+ yards. Only Marquise Goodwin averages more yards per catch for San Francisco than Bourne’s 16.7. Taylor averages 10.1.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 16: @NE): Zay saw just 2 targets last week while playing 70% of the offensive snaps. This has pretty much been a lost season for him, and I wouldn’t count on him getting it turned around this week. The Pats have allowed the 2nd-most WR points per game, but Jones has just 25 catches on 70 targets for the season. Steer clear.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 16: vs. Jax.): Kittle had his best showing since week 5 last Sunday, but he finished as just the TE18 for the week, and I wouldn’t count on a repeat performance. He was still comfortably out-snapped and out-produced by teammate Garrett Celek, and he goes from facing off with the team allowing the 8th-most TE points per game to the team allowing the 3rd-fewest. There’s no reason to test out Kittle in any format this week.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 16: @Chi.): Njoku has just 1 catch for 3 yards on 5 targets in the last 2 weeks, and the Bears are in the top half of the league at limiting TE points. There’s no reason to chase a TD that is unlikely to happen. There are better dart throws out there this week. See below for two specific ones.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
RB Tion Green, DET (Wk. 16: @Cin.): Green has seen 10+ carries in 2 of the 3 games he’s been active for, and this week Detroit faces a Bengals team that has allowed a league-worst 131.5 rushing yards per game. Theo Riddick was questionable earlier this week, but it looks like he’ll be able to play. If Detroit manages to get out in front in this game, they may rest Riddick and give Green extended run. With Riddick playing, Green will be no more than a DFS punt option (a better option in formats that aren’t full PPR), but he could have a really nice day if he finds his way to 15+ carries.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 16: vs. Cle.): Cohen’s touches have been up and down of late, but his snap share has been fairly consistent over the past month or so. He’s played at least 35% of the offensive snaps in each of the past 5 games, and pushed up near 50% in two of them. This week’s matchup plays more into Cohen’s strengths than Jordan Howard’s. The Browns rank 1st in run defense DVOA and allow a league-low 3.3 yards per carry, but they rank 30th in pass defense DVOA on throws to running backs. Cohen has twice as many catches as Howard on the year. I like Cohen if you are looking for a cheap DFS option at running back this week. He’ll cost just $3,700 on DraftKings.
WR Chris Godwin, TB (Wk. 16: @Car.): Godwin could be a DFS tournament winner this week. DeSean Jackson looks unlikely to play Sunday (he’s not practicing as of Thursday), and Godwin costs the minimum on DraftKings. He posted a 5-68 line the last time a Tampa starting WR was out, and he’s played over 50% of the offensive snaps in each of the past 2 games. Tampa has also started to throw the ball with a little more success, putting up at least 270 passing yards & 2 TDs through the air in each of the last 3 games. The Panthers have allowed the 7th-most WR points per game for the season, and over the past 6 games they’ve been especially bad, coughing up 44.4 points per game to the position. The Bucs are the worst team in the league at defending WRs, and they allow 40.7 per game. Godwin also may benefit from OJ Howard being on IR, as the Bucs could use another big, physical playmaker in his place. If Jackson is out, Godwin has serious upside this week.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 16: @NYJ): I mention Williams here solely as a stash option for dynasty leagues. If by some chance he’s landed on your waiver wire as he’s scuffled along to just 10 catches for 87 yards on 19 targets, you should be scooping him up before we hit the offseason and rosters lock. Tyrell Williams will be a restricted free agent this offseason, so there may be some targets that open up in the Chargers’ offense, and top-10 draft pick rookie WRs rarely are available on the wire.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (Wk. 16: vs. NYG): If you’re looking for a DFS dart throw at TE this week, you’re not going to find one much better than Seals-Jones. The Giants have allowed 50+ receiving yards to the tight end position in 11 of their 14 games this year, and have allowed a tight end score in 11 as well. There is a little concern since RSJ’s connection seemed to be with Blaine Gabbert who was benched, and his snaps have been limited, but he’s clearly shown himself to be the best receiving tight end in the desert. If you’re throwing a dart at any Cardinals’ TE against the worst TE defense in the league, it should be Seals-jones.
TE Adam Shaheen, CHI (Wk. 16: vs. Cle.): I mentioned under Ricky Seals-Jones that the Giants are the worst TE defense in the league. The Browns are the 2nd-worst. Shaheen was inactive last week with a chest injury, but he was starting to show a nice rapport with Mitch Trubisky prior to that. You’ll need to monitor his health situation and make sure he plays this Sunday, but Shaheen is a great DFS dart throw option just like RSJ, and he’s $300 cheaper on DraftKings than Seals-Jones.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you parse through your toughest lineup decisions this week. I’ll be back next week for a quick look at the rookies for the week 17 slate. Most leagues will be over with by then, but there are a few outliers that continue through the final week of the season, and DFS will of course continue. Keep a close eye on the injury report this week. DeSean Jackson, Allen Hurns, Theo Riddick and Leonard Fournette’s health situations could all have a major impact on some of the players included above, so keep an eye on this throughout the week. If you have any specific questions, or want to yell at me about anything above, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We’ve arrived at week 17. For most of us, this means the fantasy season is over, and for good reason. Week 17 is typically a fantasy bloodbath. So many teams have so little to play for this week that it’s hard to predict which teams will treat it like a normal week and which won’t. To have a fantasy championship be decided in week 17 is just cruel; and yet, some leagues do it. This year, there are exactly 11 teams that can have their playoff positioning altered in week 17, and at least one of those (the Rams) has already decided to sit many of their starters.
With that in mind, this week’s breakdown will be a little different than usual. I’ll still break the players down by guys you should start, borderline guys, guys you should sit, and some sleepers, but these lists will look a little different than usual. You’re going to see some guys in the ‘Borderline’ and ‘Rookies to Sit’ sections that you aren’t used to. The Sleeper section will also be entirely made up of guys worth a dart throw this week in DFS lineups. There aren’t a ton of them though. Let’s dive in and see who has something to play for in the season’s final week…
Rookies to Start:
RB Alvin Kamara, NO (Wk. 17: @TB): Trusting Kamara this week is an easy decision. The Saints need to win this game to lock up the division title, and AK-41 totaled over 150 scrimmage yards and 2 TDs in the first meeting with Tampa. He’s scored over 15 PPR points in every game he’s been healthy for since week 7, and the matchup here is a good one. Only two teams have allowed more running back touchdowns than the Bucs this season. Kamara should be a cash game staple this week and should be in every season-long lineup still going.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Wk. 17: @Atl.): McCaffrey’s receiving production took a bit of a hit last week with just 2 catches for 19 yards, but I like his chances of bouncing back this week in what should be a pretty good game. Atlanta needs to win to secure a playoff spot, and Carolina needs to win to have a shot at the division title. The Falcons have allowed the 14th-fewest RB fantasy points per game, but they’ve also allowed 101 running back receptions on the year, 7 more than any other team in the league. With the WR group ailing (Funchess shoulder issue, Damiere Byrd back on IR), I expect the Panthers to lean on CMC in the passing game a bit more than usual. He’s an excellent play in PPR formats and should be a great DFS option as well this week.
RB Jamaal Williams, GB (Wk. 17: @Det.): It appears that Williams will be the workhorse back in this game for Green Bay, and the matchups don’t get much better than this. The Lions have been bleeding points to RBs over the past couple months, giving up 29.3 PPR points per game to the position in the 10 games since they lost Haloti Ngata for the year. They’ve given up 112 rushing yards (4.53 ypc) and 1.2 rushing scores per game in that stretch. The only concern for Williams here is that he might be dealing with a negative game script with Detroit a 7-point favorite. As long as Aaron Jones sits, I’d expect him to see enough receiving work that it shouldn’t be a problem. Williams should be a strong option in most formats this week.
RB Samaje Perine, WAS (Wk. 17: @NYG): The efficiency for Perine has been miserable, but the usage has been there and should be again this week. The Giants have allowed the 9th-most running back points per game and rank 24th in run defense DVOA. Samaje got the start last week despite battling a groin injury, and he handled 20 touches on just 34 offensive snaps. He did suffer an Achilles injury (which is why he only played 34 snaps), but he’s practicing in full for week 17 and should see his touches go up as long as he doesn’t get hurt again. There isn’t a ton of ceiling with Perine, but the matchup and volume should make him a very likely top-20 option at RB.
RB Wayne Gallman, NYG (Wk. 17: vs. Was.): The Giants’ season has been over for a long time, but they insist on trying to win more football games. They’ll be a little short-handed with Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard sidelined in week 17, so they are likely to lean on Wayne Gallman in the passing game once again. Gallman has averaged 16.3 touches and 80 scrimmage yards per game in the past 3 weeks, and more importantly for PPR formats, he’s averaged 8 targets and 6.7 catches per game in that stretch. Washington has done a pretty good job of limiting RB receiving production, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about it given what a big role Gallman should play in the passing game this week. Washington has also been getting gashed in the run game, giving up 130 yards per game and 6 rushing scores in the past 7 weeks. I’d view Gallman as a decent RB2 option in PPR formats and a great DFS option at just $4,200 on DraftKings.
RB Matt Breida, SF (Wk. 17: @LAR): Breida nearly matched Carlos Hyde last week in fantasy points despite playing about half as many snaps and handling half as many touches. I’d expect him to see at least a slightly bigger share of the work this week, and the Rams have allowed the 5th-most RB points per game this season. If he sees any bump in volume, he’ll find himself likely pushing for a top-25 RB performance this week.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT (Wk. 17: vs. Cle.): I would be all in on JuJu if the Steelers had any interest in treating this like a game they should try to win. Instead, it sounds like it will be Landry Jones under center and Stevan Ridley as the team’s lead back. I’d still expect JuJu to play much of the game with Antonio Brown sidelined again, but there is still a risk that he’s pulled early. If Big Ben does end up getting the start, JJSS is a no-brainer start, but if not, he falls more into WR3 territory. It is a pretty enticing matchup though, with the Browns ranking 29th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA.
WRs Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook, JAX (Wk. 17: @Ten.): Allen Hurns is expected back this week, but Marqise Lee isn’t, and with the way these two are playing, I’d be shocked if Hurns plays a huge number of snaps. The Jaguars are in an interesting spot with head coach Doug Marrone saying they will treat this as a normal game, but their seeding is already decided. It wouldn’t be a shock if we see some Chad Henne in this one, which would likely lower the ceiling for each guy a bit. The matchup is a pretty good one, with the Titans allowing the 7th-most WR points per game, but if either guy plays limited snaps or spends a lot of time with Henne under center, they will likely find themselves as borderline WR3 options.
WR Corey Davis, TEN (Wk. 17: vs. Jax.): Davis finally got on track in week 16, posting his best fantasy game of the season. He caught 6 passes on 9 targets for 91 yards. This week he gets to face off with one of the toughest WR defenses in the league, but as I mentioned above, the Jaguars don’t have anything to gain by winning this one. I’d expect some of their key defenders to play limited snaps, and the Titans will still be playing for a possible playoff berth. Even through his struggles, Davis hasn’t seen fewer than 4 targets in any game since recovering from his hamstring injury 2 months ago, and he’s seen 7+ targets in 4 of the 9 games he’s played. I think 5-60 would be a reasonable expectation this week for Corey, and maybe he finds his first career TD.
WR Mack Hollins, PHI (Wk. 17: vs. Dal.): The Eagles aren’t expected to play their starters for too long in the finale, and Hollins should see plenty of run in this game. The Cowboys’ pass defense is nothing to write home about, and Hollins has managed to produce whenever the ball comes his way. For the season he’s caught more than 76% of the targets to come his way and has averaged 15.5 yards per catch. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t see at least 5+ targets.
TE George Kittle, SF (Wk. 17: @LAR): Garrett Celek played limited snaps in week 16 and wasn’t targeted once while Kittle managed to score his second TD of the season. Celek isn’t listed on the injury report this week, so there’s a chance he goes back to his regular role as the lead tight end, but I think Kittle will still lead the team in snaps there. Jimmy Garoppolo has made the 49ers TEs fantasy relevant, and this week Kittle gets to face a defense that has given up 4 tight end TDs in the last 3 games and is also resting a number of their starters.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Mitch Trubisky, CHI (Wk. 17: @Min.): If the Vikings officially had the number 2 seed wrapped up, I’d like Trubisky as a sleeper with the Vikes likely to sit most of their important starters. Unfortunately for Chicago, there is still a scenario where the Vikings could lose the first round bye. It is a really specific scenario: the Saints would have to lose to Tampa Bay, the Panthers would have to beat the Falcons, and the Vikings would have to lose. I think it’s really unlikely that New Orleans will lose to Tampa with the division title at stake, but I don’t expect Minnesota to chance it, especially since they play in the early slate while the other two games are both in the late afternoon. If Minnesota plays to win, their suffocating defense should shut down the Bears’ offense without much trouble.
QB DeShone Kizer, CLE (Wk. 17: @Pit.): Kizer has totaled 7.4 fantasy points in the last 2 games combined, and the Steelers can still potentially win homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and should be at least a little motivated to win. No thank you.
QB Davis Webb, NYG (Wk. 17: vs. Was.): Webb will be active in the season finale, but it appears it will be Eli Manning who gets the start. Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo has already said that the plan is for Eli to play every snap, and I believe him. Webb might not play at all, which is kind of ridiculous given that the Giants ended Eli’s start streak to get Geno Smith 1 start.
RB Kareem Hunt, KC (Wk. 17: @Den.): The Chiefs have absolutely nothing to gain by running their workhorse out there for a big snap number. They’re locked into the 4-seed already, so if Hunt is active at all, I’d only expect him to play a few series to make sure he doesn’t build up any rust before the wild card weekend. He shouldn’t be in fantasy lineups.
RB Leonard Fournette, JAX (Wk. 17: @Ten.): Just as Kansas City is locked into the 4th seed, Jacksonville has the 3-seed wrapped up and has nothing to gain with a victory. Like Hunt, if Fournette plays at all it will just be a few series early on. There’s no way you can rely on him this week despite claims from Doug Marrone that the Jaguars will treat this like any other game.
RB Joe Mixon, CIN (Wk. 17: @Bal.): Mixon is practicing as of Thursday, but there’s still no guarantee that he’ll suit up this weekend for the finale. He’s left each of the last two games he’s played with injury early on, and Gio Bernard has played well. If the Bengals are going to go all-out in an effort to play spoiler to Baltimore, I’d expect a pretty even split of work between Mixon and Gio if both are active. The Ravens aren’t exactly a defense to fear (they’ve allowed the 13th-most RB points per game), but the Bengals’ offense remains mediocre at best and a split in volume would make both guys tough to trust.
RBs Aaron Jones & Devante Mays, GB (Wk. 17: @Det.): Jones looks like a longshot to even play this week, and we haven’t seen anything from Mays yet this season. Mays has totaled negative-1 yards on 3 carries and lost a fumble this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Devante’s out-touched by FB Aaron Ripkowski in this one. If you’re looking for a guy to play from the GB backfield against the Lions’ awful run defense this week, the choice is Jamaal Williams.
RB Corey Clement, PHI (Wk. 17: vs. Dal.): I was thinking that Clement might be a strong option for this week with the Eagles having nothing to play for and resting Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount, but there’s a strong possibility they rest Clement as well. It’s looking likely that it will be mostly Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner handling the running back snaps for Philadelphia this Sunday. They may mix in their main RBs early on, but there won’t be enough work for any of those backs to be trusted this week. The best DFS play of the group is probably Smallwood. I’m not sure that they will have 5 running backs active, so if one of Smallwood or Barner is inactive, the other is the best DFS play.
RB Tion Green, DET (Wk. 17: vs. GB): The Lions have a pretty good matchup this week with the Packers, who have allowed the 7th-most RB points per game this season (and at least 27 PPR points to RBs in 5 of their past 6), but Green will continue to play second fiddle to Riddick and the matchup actually seems to suit him better. While the Packers have given up 160.5 points to running backs in the past 6 contests, just 43% of those points have been put up on the ground. The rest have been receiving points. Tion Green has not caught a pass all year. While you may be tempted to trot him out this week after his 10-point showing in Cincy, I think he’ll be hard-pressed to duplicate it.
RB Tarik Cohen, CHI (Wk. 17: @Min.): No team allows fewer running back points per game than the Vikings, and as mentioned above with Trubisky, Minnesota still needs to take care of business here and should be playing their starters. Cohen is usually a boom-or-bust flex option anyway. So facing the toughest RB defense in the league makes using him a bad idea. Only 2 teams have allowed fewer RB receiving yards than the Vikings.
RB Marlon Mack, IND (Wk. 17: vs. Hou.): With the season already long over for the Colts, Mack still hasn’t seen much of a bump in playing time. He played just 15 offensive snaps in last week’s loss to Baltimore, and there isn’t much guarantee he plays more this week. There are better options out there than Mack in his limited role.
RB Austin Ekeler, LAC (Wk. 17: vs. Oak.): The Chargers are still fighting for a playoff spot, but that’s actually a bad thing for Ekeler this week. Melvin Gordon is fighting through an ankle sprain, but I would expect him to suit up in this game with the season on the line. Ekeler has been dealing with a hand injury of his own, and was limited to just special teams last week. He’s got his hand in a cast and will be unable to catch passes out of the backfield. Because of this, Branden Oliver would get the start if Melvin Gordon is unable to play. I’d avoid Ekeler even in that scenario.
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (Wk. 17: @NE): It would be nice if the Jets were able to give McGuire some extended run in the regular season finale, but they could have done that at any point in the last several weeks and haven’t. He has just 19 touches in the past 5 weeks, and expecting any more out of him this week would likely be a mistake.
WR Chris Godwin, TB (Wk. 17: vs. NO): Godwin posted another strong performance last week in a starting opportunity as DeSean Jackson sat with an ankle injury, but Godwin sustained an ankle injury of his own in that game. He’s not practicing as of Thursday, so there is a real chance he sits this week. DeSean Jackson, on the other hand, is practicing and looks like he’ll be able to play. Even if he suits up, Godwin likely won’t play nearly as many snaps as he did last week and may even lose some work to Adam Humphries if the Bucs don’t want to overdo it with Godwin.
WR Zay Jones, BUF (Wk. 17: @Mia.): There is a chance Zay gets more involved this week, but he shouldn’t be doing so from any of your lineups. He has zero catches in the last 3 weeks despite playing 70% or more of the offensive snaps in each of the last 2. The fact that he costs more than the minimum in DraftKings is a joke.
WR Mike Williams, LAC (Wk. 17: vs. Oak.): As mentioned with Ekeler, the fact that the Chargers are still fighting for a playoff spot likely means the reserves aren’t going to see extended opportunities in week 17. Williams has seen just 6 targets in the past 5 weeks. There is no reason to fire him up against the Raiders.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (Wk. 17: @Sea.): RSJ has faced two of the worst TE defenses in the league in the past 2 weeks and has just 2 catches for 11 yards to show for it. He played a season-high 54% of the offensive snaps in week 16 and didn’t record a catch. Clearly he doesn’t have the same connection with Drew Stanton that he does with Blaine Gabbert. There are better options is you’re looking for a sleeper tight end this week.
TE David Njoku, CLE (Wk. 17: @Pit.): Njoku has done next to nothing since his breakout game against the Chargers in week 13, and there is no reason to expect that to change this week. The Steelers have allowed the 2nd fewest TE points per game in the league.
TE Adam Shaheen, CHI (Wk. 17: @Min.): The Vikings don’t have much to play for, but Shaheen has missed the last two games with a chest injury and appears iffy at best for this one. Minnesota has allowed the 3rd-fewest TE points per game, so even if Shaheen is able to play there isn’t really a good reason to try him in any format.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN (Wk. 17: vs. Jax.): As long as Delanie Walker is playing, there’s no reason to trust Jonnu Smith in fantasy. He has just 4 catches for 38 yards total in the past 8 weeks, and the Titans are still alive for a playoff spot, so they have no reason to sit Delanie now.
Deep League Sleepers and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Patrick Mahomes, KC (Wk. 17: @Den.): The matchup isn’t a great one for Mahomes’ first NFL start, but the Broncos’ defense isn’t what it once was. Denver has allowed the 15th-fewest QB points for the year, and may be throwing in the towel on this season. They let Kirk Cousins throw for 299 yards and 3 scores last week. They’ve given up 12+ points to the opposing QB in 13 of the 15 games they’ve played this year, and 15+ in 9 of them. Mahomes makes for an interesting streamer in 2-QB leagues, and would be a fun play in a limited slate DFS tournament. He probably won’t be playing with a full complement of weapons, but he should be comfortable with the 2nd-stringers that he typically works with in practice.
RB Brian Hill, CIN (Wk. 17: @Bal.): I mentioned above that I could see an even split of the work between Gio Bernard and Joe Mixon out of the Bengals’ backfield this week if both guys are active, but if one or both sits out, Hill should see some extended run. The Bengals’ season has been over for a while now, so it might make sense to see what Hill can give them. Keep an eye on the updates throughout the week. Hill would be worth a dart throw in limited slate DFS tournaments if it looks like one of those two will be out.
WR Kenny Golladay, DET (Wk. 17: vs. GB): Fresh off an 8-target game, Golladay gets to square off with a Green Bay defense that has allowed the 8th-most WR points per game. The Packers have been more vulnerable to short throws, so Golden Tate is the best play in the Lions WR group this week, but Golladay costs just $3,300 on DraftKings and played 95% of the offensive snaps last Sunday. He’s got a chance to end his season on a high note this week.
WRs Trent Taylor & Kendrick Bourne, SF (Wk. 17: @LAR): The 49ers didn’t just go on a 4-game winning streak to take week 17 off. Look for them to go all-out in an effort to get to 6-10 and 5-0 in the Jimmy Garoppolo era. That means Taylor and Bourne will play their normal roles against a team that is sitting a lot of their key players. For Taylor that has meant 8+ PPR points in 3 of the last 4 games. Bourne hasn’t been quite as consistent, but he did put up a 4-85 line against Tennessee and has been targeted 11 times in the past 2 weeks. Both are worth considering as a dart throw in limited DFS slates. Marquise Goodwin remains the best option in this passing attack though.
WR Josh Reynolds, LAR (Wk. 17: vs. SF): The Rams have already ruled out Jared Goff, Cooper Kupp and Todd Gurley for their week 17 tilt with the 49ers. I’d be surprised if Sammy Watkins or Robert Woods play more than a couple series. That should give Reynolds plenty of playing time in a game where the 49ers are actually favored to win in Los Angeles. The Rams should be throwing it a decent amount. Sean Mannion isn’t the best QB out there, but Sean McVay’s offense has proven to be a pretty good one so far this season. Reynolds is nothing more than a dart throw in DFS tournaments, but he’s one that has already posted 2 6-target games in weeks where Watkins and Kupp were active. I’d expect him to lead the Rams in targets this week (if it isn’t backup RB Malcolm Brown).
WR Ryan Switzer, DAL (Wk. 17: @Phi.): The Cowboys don’t really have much to play for this week, and Cole Beasley is listed as questionable with an illness as of Friday. Switzer is the most likely option to take over in the slot, and in a game where Dez and Terrance Williams might get pulled before it’s over, Switzer might be the best bet on the team to play a full complement of snaps if Beasley sits. Beasley has drawn 13 targets in the last 3 weeks.
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (Wk. 17: vs. SF): The Rams will have to throw the ball somewhere, and Everett is one of the few guys who should get extended run this week that has some production under his belt already. I’d expect the leading weapons this week for LA will be Malcolm Brown, Josh Reynolds, Pharoh Cooper, Tavon Austin and Everett (maybe Tyler Higbee as well). Among those players listed, only Higbee and Everett have more than 100 receiving yards for the year. I’d expect the number 2 TE Everett to have a better connection with backup QB Sean Mannion. The 49ers have allowed 14-113-2 to tight ends in the last 2 weeks. This is as good a week as any to take a shot on Everett.
That’s all I’ve got for this season. Hopefully I’ve helped you navigate some tough weeks this year with your rookies. If I did, make sure to come back next year when I start covering the 2018 rookie crop. As usual, if you do have to set a lineup this week or play any DFS lineups, keep an eye on the injury reports and weather reports throughout the week, and most importantly keep an eye on any updates about players who will be rested. 21 teams have nothing to gain with a win this week. If you have any specific questions or want to yell at me about any of the info above, feel free to hit me up on twitter to do so (@Shawn_Foss). As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
We're joined by fantasy football veteran and former drinkfive.com contributor Vince Foss as we discuss the very best plays moving forward into championship week. We'll analyze the matchups and go over recent NFL news and updates that can impact the production of your players.
For Fantasy Football team managers, playing in week 15 is all about making the right starts to get to the championship. Whether you fought hard to get into the playoffs from the bottom of the league or coasted into a bye spot early on, everyone is on an even playing field and (in most cases) only has one shot.
We'll be paying special attention to the players that you should and shouldn't start in week 15 and what matchups to keep in mind should you make the championship game in Week 16. We're joined by regular guest and drinkfive.com contributor Mike Mocerino.
Welcome back! We're joined this week by fantasy football veteran Matt Ellis to discuss the best starts moving forward into Week 13. This is the last week of the regular season of most fantasy football leagues, so put your best foot forward!