The Reid Option: Week 17
Each week, Sammy Reid will break down each position in detail, pinpointing his favorite plays at various salary ranges. Who should we be focusing our core on this week? Read below to find out!
Well, my friends, the final week of the regular season is here. And frankly, it got here too soon. This has been a really enjoyable NFL season, and I’m sad it’s coming to an end. One of the best tricks that football pulls is that it gives us a taste and then leaves us wanting more, as opposed to the oppressive omnipresence of baseball or even basketball.
But we’ve had a great ride my friends, and the fond memories of the 2018 NFL season will last in my heart long after the season has ended. There was the time I played Adrian Peterson in cash. And that time I played Kalen Ballage in cash. And of course, who could forget the time I played Anthony Firkser AND Michael Gallup in cash … at the same time! Ah, memories.
I have to admit, I am looking forward to the quiet time after the football regular season ends and before the baseball season begins. I grind so hard all year for both daily and seasonal fantasy, and in those couple fantasy-free months all sorts of time opens up for me. I actually have time to read books, to exercise, to spend time with my wife. And of course, to not actually do any of that sh*t and just spend a ton more time at the poker table. But seriously, for those of you who grind all year round, I don’t know how you do it. I need the break.
Of course, we have one more regular-season slate to smash on before the degeneracy of the playoffs hit. I love Week 17 – it’s kind of like a preseason slate, and you know that no matter how much you study the motivations of every team, there will definitely be some ridiculous and unexpected things that happen that tilt the living bejesus out of all of us. I, for one, am extremely here for it.
Cash games are still viable because there will surely be clueless rubes out there who jam in dudes who only play one quarter, but in general I find Week 17 to be the hottest of GPP slates. Besides, if you’re still hunting for that big tournament bink you’ve been chasing after all season (looks at self in mirror), this is really your last shot. Let’s get at it.
With all the value that should be available at the skill positions, I’m very ok with paying up at QB this week. Both Ben Roethlisberger and Patrick Mahomes are in God-maker spots, and Mahomes specifically might be the stone cold nuts. The Chiefs need to win this game to assure themselves of the #1 seed in the AFC, and there’s no more enticing matchup than the Oakland Raiders, a team built on hopelessness and ineptitude. The Raiders have allowed 7.6 net yards per attempt this season – by far the worst mark in the NFL – which seems #good if you’re playing a man who’s trying to put the exclamation point on his MVP case. As for Ben, the Steelers are at home and need to win to keep their faint playoff hopes on life support, and they draw the punching-bag Bengals – the only defense this season to match the Raiders in total yards per play allowed (6.2) and the only defense to allow scores on more than 45% of opponents’ drives (47%).
In the same vein, I’m actually into some Jared Goff this week also. The Rams need to win to assure themselves of the #2 seed, which comes along with it a bye and a home playoff game in the divisional round, plus a shot at a home game in the NFC Championship Game should the Saints go full choke-opotamus. Goff is reasonably priced at $6200 DK/$7800 FD/$34 Yahoo and the Rams have a slick 29.5-point implied team total. Most importantly, Goff is at home, where his lowest yardage output of the season has been 295 and he’s averaged 363 yards per game. Game-log surfing squids will see he’s struggled lately and pass on him, but I believe Goff is a great bounce-back candidate while providing leverage on the Rams RB situation, and as such I’ll be overweight on the field in GPPs.
I was hoping that Teddy Bridgewater would be available to us for a song this week since we’re unlikely to see much of Drew Brees, but all of the sites have appropriately priced him up and if the Saints’ other key offensive players sit as well, I don’t see a ton of value in Teddy B. The mega-cheap and mega-contrarian potential QB stand-in I’m going to be following is Ryan Griffin of the Tampa Bay Bucs; he was elevated to the primary backup last week as the Fitzmagic show of 2018 was exposed as a mere parlor trick, and if Jameis Winston sits this week (and he should – an injury to him would automatically obligate the Bucs to pick up his option), Griffin would get an opportunity in a home game against a week Falcons defense at the stone minimum across the industry. However, if I were going to pick one low-priced QB to smash this week, it would be Nick Mullens – he’s actually talented, has an elite weapon in George Kittle, and should have to throw all game long.
The fun part about this week is that paying up for RB is pretty much unnecessary. Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, and Alvin Kamara are unlikely to see much work, and in Gurley’s case, perhaps none at all. I also don’t see why the Giants would ride Saquon Barkley in a meaningless game, although it’s not as if the Giants are known for consistently doing imbecilic things or anything. Of course you can make a case for any of these dudes in GPPs this week, since as of this writing we have no concrete word on their playing time and we’re only making assumptions about reduced workloads.
A couple of interesting cases arise with Melvin Gordon and James Conner. MG3 returned last week but ceded 77% of the team’s backfield targets to Justin Jackson, and with Austin Ekeler likely back in the mix this week it would be optimistic to think MG3’s air game workload would spike here. I will have some Gordon in GPPs this week because he could easily have a monster game, but I doubt I’ll be paying his tag in cash. Conner also looks likely to play as of this writing, but we don’t know what his workload will look like; he could easily be limited, eased in, or cede valuable passing down work to Jaylen Samuels, who played decently well in JC’s absence. Of course, there is a scenario where Conner goes back to playing like 90% of the snaps, and of all the guys I’ve mentioned so far (besides perhaps Saquon), he’s probably got the highest odds of seeing such a workload.
Ok, now for the fun stuff, the guys we’re going to be focusing on in cash games: The low-priced backups who will be elevated into featured roles. I think it’s clear than C.J. Anderson would be the top target if Todd Gurley sits again. We saw him roll like a raver last week, crushing the Cards for 20-167-1, and just as importantly saw him garner 3 of the team’s 4 backfield targets. With the Rams installed as 10-point home favorites with a 29.5-point implied team total, we would likely see another 20+ touches and strong TD equity from CJA if Gurley is out.
Lower down on the want list is Royce Freeman, who should operate as the Broncos’ lead back for just $3500 on DK, $4700 on FanDuel, and $13 and Yahoo. He’s not nearly as enticing as CJA since he’s a 6.5-point home underdog and should cede passing down work to Devontae Booker, but we should still see 12+ carries and goal-line duties out of him for near the stone minimum. As of this writing, Tevin Coleman is also looking dubious for Sunday’s game with a groin strain; Brian Hill would see most of the backfield work for ATL for cheap, and he quietly smashed 115 rushing yards last week against a solid Panthers run defense.
If you buy that the Cowboys take their starters out after a series or two, Rod Smith would become quite appealing in a matchup against the mouth-breathing Giants defense. He’s priced up to the point that I wouldn’t play him on Draftkings ($5500), but he’s much more palatable for just $4500 on FanDuel and $11 on Yahoo. In the same breath, Dwayne Washington could stand to get plenty of run for the Saints, who are locked into the #1 seed in the NFC and are 9-point home favorites against the Panthers. The Saints scheme is basically legal steroids to running backs, and any dude getting bellcow work for them at min price is liquid hot magma, especially considering they have a competent backup QB in Teddy B. Finally, one guy we don’t have to speculate on workload with is Jeff Wilson Jr, who saw 23 and 24 touches in Week 13 and 14 with Matt Breida hurt. We saw him collect 9 targets in a game the 49ers got blown out by Seattle in, so I like him as a guy who should be a strong value even with a negative gamescript. In cash, I’m probably locking in CJA (if no Gurley) and Wilson, and then my third will depend on how much salary I have left after locking in my wants at other positions.
A few cheaper non-injury fill-in backs I like: Both backs in the NYJ/NE game – I like Elijah McGuire for cash and Sony Michel for GPPs, since EMG has a solid passing game role (4.3 targets per game as the starter) which gives him a stronger PPR floor, and Michel has multi-TD upside as a 13-point home favorite. Also, Gus Edwards is a discount Michel play, and with his lower price comes lower workload projection and touchdown equity. Adrian Peterson would slot in between them in the “2-down banger who could score a TD or two” GPP tier. Better than all of them is Chris Carson, who’s price is may be higher than I’ll go for in cash, but has enough upside to fill Andy Reid’s girdle: The Cardinals have allowed 2,011 rushing yards to villain RBs (the next-closest team is the Dolphins at 1,778) and Carson has 20+ carries in three straight games.
With all the value available at RB, we should be able to jam in plenty of high-priced WR goodness this week. First off, we have our #TeamRecordNarrative with Davante Adams, who needs 134 yards to break the Packers season record. Even if Aaron Rodgers wasn’t petty enough to care about such things (hint: he is), Adams is the highest floor cash game receiver in the game this season. As of this writing he still hadn’t practiced this week, but if he’s in Sunday, he’s in my cash game lineup.
I definitely want Steelers exposure this week, and it’s kind of become a weekly crapshoot whether it’ll be Antonio Brown or JuJu Smith-Schuster who crushes. AB has been hampered by a knee injury this week, but his touchdown equity is so obscene that he’s my preferred play. I’m also all about Tyreek Hill in GPPs; he’s so boom or bust, but he’s been quiet lately and that could depress his ownership here. He’s also leverage off of Travis Kelce as Mahomes’s stacking partner, who should be more popular as people will have room to pay up at TE with all the RB value available.
For value, I’m definitely a fan of throwing some more ungranted wishes into the Chris Godwin well; in the three previous games that DeSean Jackson missed, Godwin saw a 21% team target share and a .52 weighted opportunity rating. If he actually decides to catch some of those targets, he could be a massive bargain across the industry. I’ve also latched onto Jay Jones as my favorite Bills receiver; Robert Foster certainly has plenty of big play upside, but it’s Zay who leads the team in both target share (24%) and air yards share (31%) over the past four weeks. The Dolphins are legitimately pathetic and should be on the short list for NFL contraction; I have no clue how they’ve won seven games this season. They’ll likely be missing #1 CB Xavien Howard which should let Zay eat one last meal before the league executes their heinous 2018 season. If you’re looking for a shot in the dark, let’s throw out some Jake Kumerow at minimum price. He’s big, he’s fast, and he should see some Aaron Rodgers YOLO balls if Randall Cobb doesn’t suit up.
This is a week we can definitely pay up at TE if we want to. Travis Kelce has everything going for him: He’s chasing the all-time TE yardage record, the Chiefs need to win this game, and he’s facing a defense so horrific people will dress up as Raiders DBs for Halloween next year and little kids will scream. He’s a smash and there’s really no two ways about it. Obviously George Kittle and Zach Ertz are awesome and could also have great games, so don’t think I’m hating on them. It’s just that Kelce is the man.
Jared Cook is strong play that can be used in lieu of Kelce at TE to make a more unique construction for a Chiefs/Raiders game stack. He’s been quiet lately but is still the best receiving option on this team of scallywags and went 7-100-1 the last time these teams faced off (though in fairness, the Chiefs didn’t have Eric Berry then). For value, I have zero issue chasing Chris Herndon’s points from last week; the reality is that Herndon has a solid 15% team target share over the past four weeks and the Pats will likely make it a priority to contain fantasy playoff GOAT Robby Anderson.
Play the Steelers against the pitiful Bengals. Play the Seahawks against the sorry Cardinals. Play the Chiefs against the neutered Raiders. In GPPs, don’t be afraid to play the Giants for close to the stone minimum at home, likely against the Cowboys backups. Go crush, make money, buy a boat. Thanks for everything this season, can’t tell you how much I appreciate y’all.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Let’s go make some money in Week 17.