Instead of looking at the backfields in terms of volatility, this week, we will just look at whom is looking to play. Then, maybe a glimpse into usage.
Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown have already been ruled out with the Steelers locked into the #3 seed. The Cowboys opened as 3.5-point favorties to the far inferior Eagles on the road, but are now as much as 4.0-point dogs in some places; the Steelers appropriately opened as 12.5-point favorites against the Browns at home, but have plummeted by an extraordinary 6-plus points; and the Giants opened as 5-point dogs on the road to slightly lesser Washington team, but that spread has ballooned to 7.0, suggesting that DAL, PIT, and NYG will be resting players to some degree. Jason Garrett has said that healthy starters will be active.
The key term is “to some degree” in that Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, Eli Manning, and Odell Beckham, Jr. can all be active come Sunday morning, start their games, and be done for the day before halftime, regardless of the score. With a steady over-under of 44, Washington’s implied total of 26 points suggests a total stinker for what has been a great Giants defense, so that may be where we see the largest fantasy impact from these three teams in DFS where the Giants DST may be overowned and Kirk Cousins, DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed, and Rob Kelley go underowned.
Beware of going crazy with these opposing DSTs, though. Deangelo Williams is going to play keepaway from the Browns and put up elite numbers because, well, the Browns. Darren McFadden should run wild and get whatever he wants in the second half with the Dallas O-line beating Philly’s D-line. It should be noted that we should not get cute with Tony Romo against a depleting Eagles defense. Jerry Jones has all but said that a QB controversy from success would far outweigh the gains of getting back on the saddle for a few series’. Expect Mark Sanchez to relieve Prescott.
Washington is interesting, as a half of the Josh Johnson and Rashad Jennings Horrorshow should be generate some sacks and interceptions.
These three teams will be on more people’s radars than any other situations, but we need to follow them all. Call these value DFS plays or free agents to flex in a Week 17 championship to tilt your lazy opponent, but these are all situations to watch or upon which to contemplate or act:
Definitely (or Strongly Presumed) Out Week 17:
|Team||Opp||Position||Player Out||Reason||Player In|
|BUF||at NYJ||QB||Tyrod Taylor||Rest||E.J. Manuel|
|CLE||at PIT||QB||Robert Griffin III||Concussion||Cody Kessler|
|HOU||at TEN||QB||Brock Osweiler||Bad||Tom Savage|
|NYJ||vs BUF||QB||Bryce Petty||Injury||Ryan Fitzpatrick|
|OAK||at DEN||QB||Derek Carr||Injury||Matt McGloin|
|PIT||vs CLE||QB||Ben Roethlisberger||Rest||Landry Jones|
|TEN||vs HOU||QB||Marcus Mariota||Injury||Matt Cassel|
|HOU||at TEN||RB||Lamar Miller||Injury||Alfred Blue|
|NYJ||vs BUF||RB||Matt Forte||Injury||Bilal Powell|
|PIT||vs CLE||RB||Le'Veon Bell||Rest||Deangelo Williams|
|TB||vs CAR||RB||Doug Martin||Suspension||Jacquizz Rodgers|
|CIN||vs BAL||WR||A.J. Green||Injury||Brandon Lafell|
|PIT||vs CLE||WR||Antonio Brown||Rest||Eli Rogers|
This is not a complete list, as there is no need for this post to go over players who have been missing games already and were completely expected out due to injury, like Adrian Peterson, but there are some notes:
- You must take note of the opponents of the resting QBs! These DSTs are all in play. Backups love to get sacked and throw picks.
- Trevor Siemian will not the full game against the Raiders. This game should be a pile of dung without Derek Carr and the Broncos not playing for anything. The Broncos WRs are a sneaky GPP correlation play if you: (a) have the Raiders running for a google of yards; but (b) refuse to try figuring out which Raiders RB gets the fantasy points.
- Chris Ivory (hamstring) practiced Wednesday. He was limited, but this seems precautionary with no news of a flare-up after 18 touches in Week 16. The Colts have given up big games to meh RBs all season, putting Ivory and his volume in play.
- Greg Olsen should outright miss Week 17 and Jonathan Stewart may have re-injured his foot, explaining how the Bucs have gone from 3.5-point favorites to 6.0, despite the over-under on this game falling from 47.5 to 46.5 in the same time. Kelvin Benjamin can get 15 targets in Week 17. With Olsen limited in Week 16, Benjamin hauled in four of eight targets. Still, Carolina will have to get points from somewhere, putting Benjamin and Ted Ginn, Jr. firmly in play.
- Melvin Gordon (knee, hip) practiced Wednesday. He is three yards short of 1,000 and I am not in the camp that this will be a timeshare with Ronnie Hillman in that he is in play as a super-contrarian GPP play.
- Thomas Rawls (shoulder) was a full participant in practice on Wednesday. This is a bit of a pleasant surprise. Looks like he will play in an excellent matchup in San Francisco. As much as a cheap Alex Collins would be fun, but Rawls not being as low-priced forces some thought.
- Expect Theo Riddick (wrist) to play Week 17. He may be the Lions’ best offensive weapon and the game is do-or-die. It would be really silly to not find a way for him to play with the injury secure. More importantly, this would completely take Zach Zenner out of play for fantasy.
- Expect Jeremy Hill (knee) to not play Week 17. If Green was scratched while close to playing Week 16 and in advance for Week 17, it would baffle the mind that Hill would play through something as irritable as a knee injury in Week 17. If he is in, Rex Burkhead makes for a great FantasyDraft GPP play where you can flex two players and get a full point per reception. If Hill is out, Burkhead is still a great play, but will be chalky, so we would have to play at least (maybe) 25% of him to justify not fading. (Side note: I have no idea why the Bengals are favored by as high as 2.5 points in some places.)
- Alfred Morris and Paul Perkins are stay-aways for me. Morris should get outshadowed by McFadden and the Giants should be playing from behind to limit Perkins’ second half value. Stinks for Perkins because Washington is a fantastic matchup.
- Keep an eye on LeSean McCoy (illness) news. He missed practice on Wednesday and may be better by Wednesday—and I normally ignore narratives—but the Bills are Coached-By-Rex-Ryan levels of dysfunctional. McCoy doing whatever it takes to stay in one piece and not get killed with Manuel leading the offense makes sense. Don’t be surprised by an 11th hour scratch, so be prepared to play Mike Gillislee against the Jets. Apparently, Brandon Marshall forgot to take his crazy pills and did Brandon Marshall things in the locker room on Sunday, so they’re dysfunctional, too.