Week 17 DFS picks: QBs Fitzpatrick, Murray among top bargains
Week 17 is a wistful time for people in season-long fantasy leagues, as the vast majority of owners are done for the year. If you’d like to keep the fantasy fires burning for another week and haven’t dabbled in daily fantasy football, this is the ideal week to give it a try.
Let’s take advantage of our last full slate of games and examine some of the more attractive DFS plays for Week 17.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets ($7,800): There’s motivation aplenty for Fitzpatrick this week; not only would a Jets victory would secure a playoff spot, but the Jets will also be playing in Buffalo on Sunday, where Fitzpatrick spent four seasons. This is a reasonable price for a quarterback with such a high floor, and it’s a good way to leverage the talents of WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker without worrying that one might produce subpar numbers at the expense of the other.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Browns ($6,000): This week, I’m inclined to spend big at wide receiver and running back, and I can’t turn down the New Year’s clearance sale on Johnny Football. The Steelers’ pass defense isn’t good, and Manziel threw for 372 yards and a TD against Pittsburgh in Week 10. You can't ignore Manziel's 108 rushing yards against the Chiefs last week, either.
Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders ($6,100): It’s hard to pass up a 1,000-yard rusher at a price like this. Murray visits Kansas City this weekend, and he fared well in a previous matchup with the Chiefs, rushing for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Bilal Powell, RB, Jets ($6,000): Powell has out-snapped Chris Ivory in three of the Jets’ last four games. During that time Powell has averaged 89.8 yards from scrimmage and has scored three TDs. He faces a Buffalo defense that’s been generous to opposing RBs in terms of fantasy points, particularly in the passing game, where Powell thrives.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos ($5,500): The price is attractive, as is a home matchup against a soft Chargers run defense. Anderson looked good against the Bengals on Monday night, rushing nine times for 73 yards and a TD, and he’s outplayed teammate Ronnie Hillman over the last five weeks. Still, there’s always risk with a time-share at running back, and the Broncos’ RB situation has vexed fantasy footballers all season.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers ($7,100): Bryant disappointed a lot of DFS players last week but remains an attractive buy at this price. With the Vegas total on Steelers-Browns at 47.5, and with the Steelers favored by 9.5, Pittsburgh has a team total of 28—and that number seems conservative. Bryant had 178 yards and a TD in an earlier meeting with the Browns.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles ($6,600): After being an underachiever for much of the regular season, Matthews has picked it up in recent weeks. He’s had a TD catch in four of his last five games and has strung together two consecutive 100-yard performances. J-Matt has a tantalizing matchup against the Giants in a game with a hefty Vegas total of 51.5.
Zach Miller, TE, Bears ($5,900): With Bears WR Alshon Jeffery out last week (and on the injured reserve for the last game of the season), Miller had seven catches for 69 yards. He’s had 18 receptions for 211 yards in his last three games and should play a key role against the Lions whether or not Jeffery returns this week.
Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles ($5,700): Over his last three games, Ertz has 26 catches for 298 yards and a TD. He’s almost a must-own at this price.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers ($8,800): This is the only premium quarterback I’m considering. The Steelers’ offense laid a big fat egg in a critical game against the Ravens last week, yet Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes remain alive. After such a bitterly disappointing effort in Baltimore, Roethlisberger might go nuclear on the Browns. Big Ben is bound to have a chip on his shoulder the size of a beef brisket, and I’m reluctant to pass him over and miss out on a potential windfall. As strongly as I feel about the bounce-back narrative for the Steelers’ offense, I want a stake in the Pittsburgh passing game this week, and if I don’t use Roethlisberger, I’ll use one of his receivers.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons ($8,800): It’s mildly concerning that Freeman has averaged 54 rushing yards and a smidge under 3.0 yards per carry in his last four games. But he’s averaged 35 receiving yards over that span and has run for a touchdown in each of his last two games. Truth is, I wouldn’t consider Freeman this week if not for his matchup with the Saints. Back in Week 6, Freeman gashed New Orleans for 156 yards from scrimmage and two TDs.
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams ($8,600): Admittedly, I’m worried that the Rams will use their franchise running back sparingly in a meaningless regular-season finale. But Gurley could still do an awful lot of damage on, say, 15 carries against a 49ers defense that’s giving up 125.8 rushing yards per game and has yielded 19 TD runs. Gurley ran for 133 yards and a TD against San Francisco in Week 8.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers ($8,200): The Steelers are in danger of missing the playoffs, and Le’Veon Bell will return from a knee injury next season, so this could be something of a last hurrah for Williams, even though he’s under contract for another year. Expect him to make the most of his remaining time as Pittsburgh’s feature back with a big day against a Browns defense that ranks last in the league against the run. D-Will has scored eight TDs in his last seven games.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons ($9,300): Jones need 243 yards to break Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964 receiving yards in a single season, and he needs 17 receptions to break Marvin Harrison’s single-season record of 143. Both of those numbers are within reach against an atrocious New Orleans defense, and Matt Ryan is apt to feed Jones early and often to help his star receiver make a run at the record book.
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers ($9,100): As mentioned earlier, I want a stake in a Pittsburgh passing attack that figures to be traveling to Cleveland with a bloodlust after last week’s debacle in Baltimore. Brown had 10 receptions for 139 yards and two TDs against Cleveland in Week 10.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants ($8,900): Is there any doubt he’ll come back from his suspension with a vengeance? Over his last seven games, OBJ has averaged 7.0 catches, 125.6 yards and 1.3 TDs—and I like the over on all of those numbers this week against the Eagles, who play terrible defense and are apt to be in disarray after this week’s firing of coach Chip Kelly. Lest there be any concern that the Giants won’t be motivated, consider that the loser of this game will have to play a game in England next season. In pro wrestling parlance, this is a loser-leaves-the-country match.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots ($8,100): There’s always a case to be made for shelling out top dollar for the most dominant tight end in the game. A win against the Dolphins on Sunday would give the Patriots home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, so they have incentive to go all out in Miami. In a Week 8 game against the Dolphins, Gronk had six catches for 113 yards and a TD.
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers ($6,600): He’s always worth a look, though he might take an early seat if the Panthers are well ahead or well behind in the fourth quarter vs. the Buccaneers.
Top kicker values: Josh Brown ($4,600), Chris Boswell ($4,900), Graham Gano ($4,900)
Top defense values: St. Louis ($4,600), Tennessee ($4,100), Baltimore ($4,000)
Here’s the lineup I’m sending out for FanDuel’s $33K Sunday NFL BIG $10 Triple Up.
Johnny Manziel ($6,000)
Devonta Freeman ($8,800)
Bilal Powell ($6,000)
Antonio Brown ($9,100)
Odell Beckham Jr. ($8,900)
Jordan Matthews ($6,600)
Zach Ertz ($5,700)
Josh Brown ($4,600)
I was hell-bent on getting two of the Julio-Antonio-Odell triumvirate into my lineup, and I wanted to get myself a premium running back as well, so sacrifices had to be made. The primary sacrifice comes at the QB position—the risk with Johnny Football is that his weekly floor is virtually bottomless, but the hope is that he can put up decent numbers against a shaky Pittsburgh pass defense and perhaps do some damage with his legs.
There was also a small sacrifice at tight end, where I had to pass up Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen in favor of the more affordable Zach Ertz. I also skimped on a defense and went with Tennessee, which will try to take advantage of the Colts’ tumultuous QB situation. At receiver, I chose Antonio and Odell, reluctantly declining to pay up for Julio, but I wanted a stake in the Falcons’ matchup against the Saints, hence the addition of Freeman.
I also wanted a stake in the Jets, so I grabbed Powell, who’s been playing well and doesn’t cost much. My third receiver is Matthews, who’s been on a roll and should be prominently involved in a game that will likely be a track meet. Kicker Josh Brown gives me another piece of that anticipated Eagles-Giants shootout.