A lot of times week 17 is just about going through the motions. Teams already know their fate, players can’t get motivated and nobody really knows who is going to see playing time. As always, injuries are a huge part of this.
Although these situations can be scary, they can also be exploited. Nothing is scarier than playing DFS in the last week of the season, but I’m here to help ease your nerves. Let’s look at some guys who might miss their contest on Sunday and try to take advantage of the moment.
Who’s out: Dwayne Haskins Jr. (1.8x)
Next man up: Case Keenum (1.85x) at Dallas Cowboys
I’ve mentioned Haskins in just about every article this year, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I am going back to the well. Case Keenum is not your normal backup as he was the starter to begin the season and has showed promise in his career.
Keenum went up against this defense in week two and did well for himself when he completed over 70% of his passes, throwing for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. With that output he would have put up 30.97 points with his current multiplier of 1.85x.
The Cowboys need to win this game to keep their playoff hopes alive but Washington would love to play spoiler here in the final week of the season. Keenum should have a floor of 25 points this week after playing well last weekend in Haskins’ absence completing over 72% of his passes for 158 yards and a score.
Who’s out: Dalvin Cook
Next men up: Mike Boone (1.6x) & Ameer Abdullah (1.9x) vs. Chicago Bears
After the Vikings locked up the sixth seed in the NFC last weekend, they will most likely be conservative as they have already ruled out Dalvin Cook and tagged Alexander Mattison as questionable. With most of the country expecting Mattison to miss the contest, the Vikings will have a backfield consisting of Boone and Abdullah.
Chicago is no slouch against the run ranking sixth in the league in terms of rushing yards per game so it won’t be a juicy matchup. However, the Bears have given up a total of five touchdowns to opposing running backs in the past three weeks – four on the ground and one through the air.
Both bode well for Boone and Abdullah as they have different skill sets, but I think Boone is the play between the two because the Bears have only given up two touchdowns through the air to opposing running backs. Look for Mike Zimmer and his staff to get an extended look at what they have in Boone – with all the injuries to their backfield right now they could use another
Who’s out: Josh Jacobs
Next man up: DeAndre Washington (1.7x) at Denver Broncos
With Jacobs listed as doubtful, DeAndre Washington will most likely be handling a heavier workload in a must-win game for the Raiders. Washington has done so twice in the last three weeks and has delivered in both opportunities totaling over 130 yards rushing while finding the end zone in each game.
Last week he put up 32.56 fantasy points with his 1.85x multiplier an even though it is less this week, he still has big game potential at 1.7x with nobody to compete for redzone carries. Jalen Richard (1.9x) will also see a larger role, but Washington has been the go-to back when Jacobs has missed time.
Denver, although they have not given up a rushing touchdown to an opposing back in the last five weeks, has allowed over 100 yards rushing on average to the position. This team can be run on and Oakland has playoff dreams – Washington has multi-score potential in this AFC West tilt.
Who’s out: Terry McLaurin
Next man up: Steven Sims Jr. (1.8x) at Dallas Cowboys
Terry McLaurin has been officially ruled out for Sunday which means Steven Sims Jr. has an opportunity to build off of his last two weeks and be the number-one target. I already mentioned in my main slate preview that over the last two weeks Sims has been targeted 21 times and totaled three touchdowns.
Like I said with Keenum, this is a perfect spot for the Redskins to play spoiler against a Dallas team that has given up eight touchdowns to opposing wide receivers over their last six contests. In a game where I expect Sims to reach double-digit targets for a third-straight week, I love a Keenum/Sims stack as it is one of the juiciest I have ever seen with both players at 1.8x or above.
Who’s out: Zach Ertz
Next man up: Dallas Goedert (1.3x) at New York Giants
A week after the best performance of his career, Dallas Goedert will have a chance to duplicate the performance with Zach Ertz ruled out. Even with Ertz on the field this season, Goedert has been productive catching 54 of his 77 targets for over 500 yards and five touchdowns.
Last week, with Ertz on and off the field due to injury, the second-year tight end put together a stat line of 9/91/1 on a career-high 12 targets. I mentioned Goedert in the main slate preview as well because of the need for a skill player to step up for the Eagles with all of the injuries decimating their team – this is his time.
Goedert will threaten to surpass his numbers from last week’s career-night and this Ertz news puts him in a great place to see a high volume of balls.
Teams to fade
Like I mentioned earlier, week 17 can be tough in terms of fantasy because you never truly understand the intentions of these teams. Some teams have already sealed their fate and others want to go down in a blaze of glory – most of the time it’s the people like you and I that get burned by it. Let’s talk about some situations to stay away from.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Ravens have already clinched the number-one seed and a first-round bye. They will be without Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram throughout the game and even guys that MIGHT play like Mark Andrews, Hollywood Brown and Hayden Hurst may only see the field for a quarter or two.
We know that the infamous RGIII will be taking Jackson’s place under center, but how productive can he possibly be? In a mop up role this season he hasn’t shown that he is up to the task against a lousy defense let alone a stout one like the Steelers – the same Steelers that are playing for a playoff spot.
The O/U total is set for 37 in this one and that doesn’t translate into fantasy points. I’m fading the Ravens entirely because there are too many variables and question marks across the board.
Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
I’m staying away from the Texans for the same reasons I am Baltimore – who is going to play? We already know Will Fuller III will miss the game (shocker) and both Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins have questionable tags for this weekend.
Now, even if these two do play, they will be limited in their abilities and lack the motivation they need with the teams’ fate already decided. I fully believe that the Texans’ gameplan will be a conservative one with the goal being to get out of the regular season with their best players healthy – don’t let this team burn your fantasy finale.
Much like the Steelers, the Titans are actually playing for something in week 17 as they can clinch a playoff berth with a win on Sunday. I don’t see any reason to have exposure to the Texans this weekend.