Collin Hulbert’s Week 17 NFL DFS picks are up here to help you to put together your DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.
Week 16 turned into a very wild week. Scoring was much higher than the previous week in the league, as we cruised back into the 130-point range with a 135-point average, across three lineups.
Similar to our picks through the majority of the season, we had strong performances at Quarterback and were again saved by the flex players across each roster. Two of the three lineups cashed, with the third missing by a mere six points. Some injury concerns late in the week forced two substitutions in two of the rosters.
We waited patiently for Russell Wilson. Midway through the season, Wilson was hard to trust due to his high touchdown per completion rate. Coming into last week, I was elated to finally start him in DFS in the perfect matchup to negate his repressive passing tendencies in 2018. It paid off big. Wilson finished first among our picks at quarterback with 29 points. Baker Mayfield was a close second (25), while Andrew Luck (23) finished with a very strong performance. Dak’s 17 points marked a very lukewarm performance, as none of the Cowboys stacks worked very well at all.
All three running backs averaged over 100 total yards each, but none could find the end-zone, despite the beautiful matchups. Our receivers also turned in very lame performances, as Hopkins (15), Hill (11), and Amari Cooper (4) were all held out of the end-zone as well. From the tight end position, Evan Engram (14) beat out Kelce (8) for the top spot, while Jared Cook was a massive bust (3). Our defenses were decent as the Falcons (14) were top for Week 16. The Rams (8) had a solid day, and the Browns (4) weren’t completely horrible, given their price. The Flex position saved us during Week 16. In two of the three lineups each, Jamaal Williams (25) and Chris Carson (24) carried the weight for the higher-priced letdowns at the top.
A look ahead to Week 17
Week 17 is the trickiest week of the season, every year. By this time, most playoff tickets are punched and teams are usually fighting for seeding and that last wildcard spot. This season is no different. Among the casual fans of the league and DFS, people will start players in DFS rosters without realizing they may not even play the majority of the game. The key is choosing players based on estimated volume, more so than the typical mix of volume, opportunity, and matchup.
The first step in picking a good DFS roster in Week 17 is identifying the games that carry some significance to the teams involved. This weekend, there are three tiers of meaningful games. Tier 1 are the games with direct playoff implications for both teams. Tier 2 involves one playoff-hopeful team. Tier 3 involves a team that would benefit by winning by means of a bye or home-field advantage. Here’s the Week 17 tiers:
Tier 1: Colts vs Titans, Bears vs Vikings
Tier 2: Browns vs Ravens, Steelers vs Bengals, Eagles vs Skins
Tier 3: Texans vs Jags, Pats vs Jets, Rams vs Cards, Chargers vs Broncos, Raiders vs Chiefs
Aside from those three tiers of matchups, there’s little reason to trust any player outside of one of those games. This week, we will be picking players based on these matchups, with only a couple from other matchups.
Note: The Colts vs Titans game is not included in the FanDuel matchups this week due to the late kickoff (7:20 CST), so we will not include players from that game among our picks.
Have a fantastic finale in Week 17.
|PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) Payouts|
|1st||Ramon Colillas||$5,100,000||Spain (Platinum Pass winner)|
|3rd||Marc Rivera||$2,168,000||Philippines (Platinum Pass winner)|
|4th||Scott Baumstein||$1,657,000||United States|
|5th||Jason Koonce||$1,304,000||United States|
|8th||Talal Shakerchi||$509,000||United Kingdom|
Ben Roethlisberger (DK-$7,000/FD-$8,700)
Big Ben might be steaming following the unfortunate loss in New Orleans last week. The Steelers need the Ravens to lose against the Browns in order to secure a playoff berth. They also need to beat the Bengals. Needless to say, Ben will be firing away early and often in this game as the Bengals (32nd defense) won’t have a whole lot to play for on the road this week.
The Steelers open as two-touchdown favorites, which almost seems light against such a terrible and hobbled opponent. The Bengals are starting a number of backups on offense, including a backup quarterback. Though it could certainly be over by the half, I have a feeling head coach Mike Tomlin will have these guys putting on a show for the home fans in their finale.
Nick Foles (DK-$5,900/FD-$7,600)
At some point, we are all going to look at Nick Foles and say, “Man, this guy is a legitimately good starter”. I’m saying it now, before he burns the NFC down to the ground en route to another Super Bowl MVP. It only took most of us a week to admit this is all probably happening again, and we don’t really understand how. Last week, Foles set an Eagles passing record with 471 yards passing, eclipsing Donovan McNabb’s 14 year-old record.
Foles also seemed to do this with relative ease. Even when the pressure was getting there, Foles was dialed in. In a matchup critical to getting into the playoffs, the Eagles must win and hope for a Viking loss to get in. You can rest assured Foles will bring his A-game yet again this week. He seems to play his best when the stakes are highest.
Lamar Jackson (DK-$5,600/FD-$7,700)
Lamar Jackson has been about what the Ravens hoped for at this point in the season. He’s a run-scheme quarterback who makes plays with his feet and occasionally with his arm. His passing ability is limited, despite the widespread optimism across the league. For Jackson, the key to his passing success will rest on his ability to draw defenders close to the line of scrimmage and find breaks in zone coverage.
The Browns have been bad against the run this season (24th) and just as bad as the pass (27th). This week, Jackson will have plenty of opportunities through the air and on the ground this week to win the game, division, and ride into the postseason on a high.
Josh Allen (DK-$6,000/FD-$7,700)
Josh Allen isn’t playing in one of the meaningful games this week — he’s at home in a divisional game against the Miami Dolphins. Allen wasn’t great last week against the Patriots, but it was a tough matchup on the road. The friendly confines of Buffalo and the amazing fans will be cheering the Bills on in full this week, so they’re one of the rare teams I believe will show up with full effort.
The Dolphins have been terrible against the run and shouldn’t offer much of a challenge to slowing down Allen on the ground. Allen is definitely a wild card this weekend, due to the circumstances of the game and its insignificance. If you want a solid floor, with a mystery box of results, Allen could very well end up on the good end of a lopsided battle.
Jaylen Samuels (DK-$6,800/FD-$6,700)
Monitor the James Conner situation this week as Jaylen Samuels is in a top-5 running back scenario. We’ve seen all season the Steelers primary running back is in a great position to excel, each week. The success of the passing attack, combined with the weapons (Brown, Smith-Schuster) allow for plenty of good lanes and formations for the Steelers backs. The negative game script was not helpful for Samuels last week, as he was limited to only 14 fantasy points.
This week’s matchup against the NFL’s worst defense will be a nice change of game script as the oddsmakers don’t anticipate a negative game script for the Steelers this time around. Pending the return of James Conner, Samuels will be in line for a heavy dose of touches this week. He’s primed for a big game and priced to fit any budget.
Chris Carson (DK-$6,500/FD-$6,400)
If Chris Carson plays this Sunday, you really should start him in at least one lineup. Carson has had at least 12 points in each of his past six games. He’s also the lead back for the best rushing team in the NFL. This weekend, Carson will face the worst rushing defense in the NFL (Arizona). Last week, Arizona gave up 167 rushing yards to a guy who was a free agent less than two weeks ago. Seattle doesn’t have a whole lot to play for in this game, other than the destination of their wildcard opponent.
If Seattle wins, they’ll be playing in Dallas during Wildcard weekend. If the Bears lose to the Vikings and the Seahawks lose, they’ll be on the road against the Bears. The Bears have the top-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, so I think the Seahawks might play their starters until this game is well in hand. Monitor the Chris Carson news prior to kickoff in case Mike Davis somehow gets the start.
CJ Anderson (DK-$5,400/FD-$6,200)
CJ Anderson came out of the scrap heap and ran all over the Cardinals last week, going for 167 yards and a score on the ground as the Rams didn’t seem to miss Todd Gurley very much. Anderson will have a decent matchup against a mediocre rush defense (49ers) and should get the green light to dominate touches again. With Todd Gurley still dealing with knee inflammation, it’s probably close to a sure bet Anderson will get a heavy workload this week.
With a win, the Rams can lock up the second seed and avoid traveling to Chicago in the divisional round. For the duration and opportunity, Anderson might be a slightly better value than Chris Carson this week, though Carson will have much better odds of scoring in a softer matchup. There’s no guarantee Carson plays in the second half, whereas Anderson should play the entire game.
Antonio Brown (DK-$8,700/FD-$8,800)
Antonio Brown hasn’t been on this list since early in the season. After last week, Brown re-emerged as the undisputed go-to weapon in this high-powered attack. The Bengals are terrible and I’ve already explained why the Steelers aren’t going to take it easy on them this week. Who in this offense do you trust the most when it matters? The answer is simple. You look to the critical games in the critical situations. Last week, Brown reeled in 14 of 19 targets against a solid Saints defense. Though the Steelers shouldn’t be in much of a shootout this week, Brown should have as high of a floor as any receiver this week.
Julian Edelman (DK-$7,600/FD-$7,100)
Edelman had a good week last week against a stingy Bills defense. With a possible bye week riding on this game, the Patriots will be playing their starters and actively trying to avoid a wildcard game. Following the departure of Josh Gordon, Edelman has re-emerged as the Patriots top offensive target. As Gronk struggles to stay healthy and potent on the field, Edelman is one of the few remaining Patriot weapons with some level of established chemistry with Tom Brady. The Jets are 26th against the pass. I wouldn’t expect a high scoring affair, but I would expect Julian Edelman to get the highest target rate on the Pats.
Stephon Diggs (DK-$7,000/FD-$6,700)
Diggs burned the Bears in their first matchup for 13 catches, 126 yards and a touchdown. In the most meaningful game of the season, at home, with proven success against the very same team on the road, Diggs is due for another big game. The Bears have been exploited by good receivers throughout the season. Diggs should be another top target for Kirk Cousins this week in this critical elimination game.
Zach Ertz (DK-$6,700/FD-$7,800)
Zach Ertz rebounded from a poor Week 15 by going for 110 and two touchdowns in Week 16. The Eagles are playing for their playoff reservations and need a win and a Vikings loss to secure the spot. Ertz makes for an ideal stack this week as Nick Foles will be aiming for another high-flying performance to end the season. In their previous matchup, Ertz went over 80 yards on nine catches. He will be a challenge for the Skins on Sunday and makes for the only tight end in DFS this week who is highly incentivized to perform. Spend your money here on a tight end.
George Kittle (DK-$6,300/FD-$6,700)
Kittle has his hopes set on breaking the single-season tight end receiving yardage record. This seems ludicrous, given the fact Kittle has had three quarterbacks throwing to him this season. Lately, Kittle has been more of a decoy, serving as the most effective blocking tight end in the league, as well as setting up Garrett Celek for some wide open receptions. Kittle will be facing the Rams, who haven’t been good at stopping opposing tight ends. Kittle is 100 yards shy of the record and is well aware of his proximity to breaking the record. He wants it, and for only $6,700 on FanDuel, he’s probably worth it for the price.
Evan Engram (DK-$5,300/FD-$5,900)
Engram’s 14 fantasy points a week ago weren’t so much of a surprise to most who follow the Giants. Engram is essentially a bulky wide-receiver who lines up wide on occasion. The fact he’s been one of the top targets in Odell Beckham’s absence isn’t surprising either. Engram possesses the athletic ability to break slant routes for long gains, like Kittle. If OBJ is out again this week, expect Engram to be a nuisance against the Cowboys in New York.
Houston D (DK-$3,300/FD-$5,000)
Houston hasn’t looked especially sharp lately on defense. Luckily, are coming into Houston and no one knows which quarterback will be getting the start for the Jags. Regardless of the starter, the Houston defense will be able to pressure the quarterback plenty in this game. We all know what pressure will lead to, especially with the two quarterbacks Jacksonville will be choosing between, for the start.
Seahawks D (DK-$3,700/FD-$4,700)
The Seahawks are playing the Cardinals. Rosen has looked very much like the rookie he is, and the Cards haven’t found much help from the offensive line or their offensive playmakers this season. The Seahawks just wrapped up an intense game at home against the high-powered Chiefs. A win secures their road trip to Dallas in a week, so I am expecting the Seahawks arrive motivated and pressure the Cards up the middle. If the Seahawks turn the script negative for the Cardinals, the Seattle defense will have all they can eat.
Falcons D (DK-$2,600/FD-$3,700)
The Falcons showed up again last week, racking up a hefty 14 points. This week, they’re on the road but they’re also a cheap alternative and face a turnover-prone quarterback in Jameis Winston. This risk is purely for turnover potential. I fully expect the Bucs to still score at least 17 and throw for 300 yards.
Brian Hill (DK-$3,900/FD-$5,800)
If you didn’t know who Brian Hill was last week, you still might not know who he is this week. Hill displayed some juice a week ago in the limited action he received following the injury to Tevin Coleman. Hill had 115 yards on just eight carries. This week, he will have the weak Bucs defense, along with little competition for carries. There’s simply no one else there to split time with him. Enjoy a nice workload for a bargain.
Kendrick Bourne (DK-$3,800/FD-$4,900)
Injuries to Pettis and Goodwin should make Bourne the default number one guy in San Francisco this week. Aside from the clear, odds-favorite target — George Kittle — Kendrick Bourne should get plenty of action in what will likely be a negative game script. For only $4,900 on FanDuel, it’s hard to find another guy who will get the same amount of work this Sunday.
Jeff Wilson Jr. (DK-$4,400/FD-$5,800)
Since we’re on the topic of 49ers, Matt Breida will likely be out again this week. In that case, Wilson will assume the bulk of touches, which should be nice whether they’re ahead or behind. Wilson has shown flashes as a pass-catcher this season and should get plenty more work this week as the Rams will enter the contest as nine-point favorites. Expect a lot of touches for Wilson, just don’t expect them to be especially effective.
Royce Freeman (DK-$3,500/FD-$4,700)
If you told me at the start of the season that a rookie running back would be voted to the AFC Pro Bowl this season, I’d have put a lot on Royce Freeman being that guy. I would’ve been way off. Phillip Lindsay, the undrafted rookie from Colorado, led the Broncos backfield this season and electrified the Broncos faithful all season long.
Freeman was the early-round back from Oregon we all expected to lead this backfield and dominate touches. With Lindsay injured, Freeman will serve as the lead back and get an opportunity to showcase his talents, uninterrupted. At $4,700, he’s a cheap plugin who could easily find the end zone.
Collin is a former Army Intelligence and Logistics officer who got a little too into Football analysis. Since leaving the Army, he’s practically the Jack Ryan of football analysts. But he spends most of his days with his wife and two daughters, so he is clearly a better father than Jack Ryan.
Follow Collin on Twitter @CollinHulbert