Welcome to the Week 17 FanDuel Primer, brought to you by RotoGrinders. I’ll be breaking down a number of our stat pages/tools that we feel are solid predictors of success from a daily fantasy standpoint. It’s the final big NFL weekend of the regular season and with some teams not having much (or anything) to play for, make sure to look closely into what teams do and do not have incentive to push the starters for a full workload.
Before we get into the targets/percentage of workload analysis, let’s start things off with our Defense vs. Position page. This page gives you an idea of how each team defends a particular position. This is one of my favorite tools to use each week, and I rely on it more each week as the sample size continues to grow. All player salaries listed below are from FanDuel.
Quarterback – Eli Manning ($7,500) vs. Philadelphia (31st vs. QBs)
The Eagles season basically ended in Week 16 and with Chip Kelly now out of town, it’s anyone’s guess as to how they’ll come out in Week 17. The defense has been a sieve to opposing QBs all year and are behind only the Saints in terms of fantasy points allowed to the position. With Odell Beckham back from suspension, Eli Manning’s outlook improves considerably since Beckham is the focal point of the Giants Offense. The Eagles have given Manning fits in the past and he posted 10 FanDuel points the first time these teams met this year, but Philly’s defense isn’t worth shying away from and Manning’s $7,500 price tag is very appealing. New York has utilized their running game more in recent weeks, but a lot of that is game flow dependent and the best way to attack the Eagles is through the air (although they’ve struggled mightily against the run in recent weeks as well). I’ll have a few Manning/Beckham stacks in tournaments this weekend.
Running Back – Chris Ivory ($6,500) vs. Buffalo (20th vs. RBs)
While the Bills are sitting more towards the middle of the pack in terms of FPPG allowed to RBs, they are 31st in DVOA against the position. Also working in Ivory’s favor is Bilal Powell’s likely absence, which opens up the door for Ivory to see a lot of work on Sunday. The Jets backfield has become a true timeshare when both backs are active and Powell has actually outscored Ivory in each of the last four weeks. Without Powell to worry about, Ivory should see upwards of 20-24 touches and he’s among the best bets to find the end zone this weekend. His touch totals in games that Powell has sat are 19, 18, 26 and 20, and he’s already gashed the Bills for 135 total yards in the prior meeting between these teams. Ivory hasn’t been a viable cash game play for a few weeks, but he’s very much in that discussion this week and can be targeted with confidence in tournaments.
Wide Receiver – Julio Jones ($9,300) vs. New Orleans (26th vs. WRs)
After burning Josh Norman and the Panthers for 9-178-1 last weekend, Jones will now do battle with an atrocious New Orleans defense on Sunday. Jones didn’t put up big numbers when these teams met earlier this season (6-93-0), but the matchup couldn’t be much better. Let’s hope the Saints keep rolling Brandon Browner out there to finish off the season, as Jones is set to run most of his routes against him unless they decide to shadow with Delvin Breaux which is certainly possible. Browner is PFF’s lowest rated defender at any position, and he’s been burned repeatedly this season. It’s a miracle he still has a job. Breaux on the other hand is playing great football this year, and has the third-best competition percentage against among CBs per PFF. However, after coming off a game against a much tougher pass defense, Breaux’s presence is not nearly enough to prevent me from targeting Jones in all formats.
Tight End – Zach Ertz ($5,700) vs. New York Giants (30th vs TEs)
With such a weak group of wide receivers on the roster, it’s odd that the Eagles haven’t tried to involve Ertz more until very recently – he’s now been their most heavily targeted pass-catcher in three straight games. After an underwhelming first three quarters of the season, he’s starting to put things together and is looking to post double-digit FanDuel points for the fourth straight week. His price tag is beginning to catch up to his production, but he’s worth every penny against a Giants Defense that has really struggled to contain TEs. They’ve given up big games to Jordan Reed, Greg Olsen and Kyle Rudolph recently and their DvP ranking is even more eye-opening considering they haven’t faced a murderer’s row of TEs throughout the season. If you are looking to go cheap at TE this week, Ertz is a great option.
Let’s transition to the Targets page, where you’ll find a breakdown of touches, targets, red-zone targets and percentage of workload, among other. It’s an invaluable tool that can help you find players who are in the best positions to succeed; it’s no secret that you want players on your fantasy team who are heavily involved in the offense, especially those that are also key cogs in the red-zone. Instead of the usual targets breakdown, I’m going to list some players at WR and TE that I think will see a notable uptick in targets on Sunday relative to their season average.
Julio Jones (averaging 12.8) – I’ve already commented on him but I wanted to point out that as noted by Evan Silva, he’s 16 receptions away from setting the NFL single-season record and it’s not insane to think the Falcons try to get him to that number. He’s seen 17+ targets in four games this season. Certainly not a reason to go all in, but it sure doesn’t hurt his upside.
Odell Beckham (averaging 10.8) – Beckham is another elite option at the WR spot and pairing him with Julio gives you quite a ceiling if you can find value at other spots. A week after his suspension, Beckham will come out fresh for his last hoorah this season. I’d peg him for 12-14 targets against an Eagles Defense that isn’t tough to beat through the air.
Antonio Brown (averaging 11.7) – With DeAngelo Williams likely to be very popular, we might actually be able to get Brown at a relatively low ownership compared to his norm (it doesn’t hurt that the Steelers burned a lot of people last week). The Steelers aren’t in playoff contention so they have no reason to hold anyone back – expect Brown to see a big target total against a Cleveland defense he lit up for 10-139-2 earlier this year. His targets per game total would be higher if not for Ben Roethlisberger missing some time earlier in the year.
Jeremy Maclin (averaging 8.6) – The Chiefs still have incentive to play their starters (they could win the division with a win and Broncos loss) and Maclin is in a very nice spot against an Oakland defense that’s easier to beat through the air. He’s lit up Oakland less than a month ago (9-95-2 on 10 targets) and I’d expect him to see around the same number of looks this time around.
Doug Baldwin (averaging 6.4) – With how much he’s been producing lately it’s surprising to see his target totals aren’t higher, but Baldwin runs shorter routes and catches a very high percentage of his looks. I’ve admittedly been well late to the party with Baldwin as I did not think his touchdown production would continue, but he’s going to have one of the best matchups on Seattle’s side. He’ll run most of his routes against Jerraud Powers, who has been the weak link in Arizona’s secondary. Powers is one of PFF’s lowest rated CBs.
Michael Floyd (averaging 6.1) – Floyd’s workload has continued to pick up throughout the course of the season while Larry Fitzgerald’s has dropped off. He’s now seen at least eight targets in his last four games and he’s a decent bet to keep that up this week. He’ll face off with a variety of corners and will see some Richard Sherman, but that wasn’t a problem earlier this year and Seattle’s pass defense isn’t quite as scary as some make it out to be. A Palmer-Floyd stack in GPPs is a nice way to get some under-owned upside.
Rob Gronkowski (averaging 8.1) – The Patriots still have plenty to play for on Sunday (home field advantage) and with Julian Edelman ruled out again, Gronk should see ample usage against a Dolphins team that has allowed the fourth-most FPPG to the position. Double-digit targets seems like a good possibility in this spot. He’s an excellent play in all formats if you can fork up the cash for him.
Julius Thomas (averaging 6.7) – Houston boasts a really nice set of corners and that might be a problem for the Allen’s, which is good news for Julius Thomas’ target numbers. They’re middle-of-the-pack in terms of defending TEs and Jacksonville picks up a huge percentage of their touchdowns through the air. Somewhere around 8-9 targets seems realistic.
Austin-Seferian Jenkins (averaging 5.3) – With Vincent Jackson out and Mike Evans having to deal with Josh Norman, Seferian-Jenkins may be a bigger part of the Bucs game-plan for the season finale. Without any real depth behind Evans at WR, ASJ is the #2 target for Jameis Winston and its possible the Bucs have to go more pass-heavy if they fall behind to a Panthers team coming off its first loss.
Vance McDonald (averaging 3.2) – McDonald’s target average is skewed because he wasn’t seeing anywhere close to the snap rate he’s seeing now at the beginning of the year. Still, he’s very cheap across the DFS industry and is playing a fairly big role for the 49ers when he’s been healthy. He led the team in targets last week and with Blake Bell being the only other healthy option, McDonald’s playing time shouldn’t be an issue.
Welcome to Value town, parts unknown. I won’t be recommending the Tom Brady’s of the world here, but instead will highlight a few players with price tags that don’t add up to their level of talent, opportunity and/or matchup. The ultimate goal is to find players at the bottom of the salary chart who have the upside to produce at an elite level.
Quarterback – Sam Bradford ($6,700)
This game has some shootout potential with the state of both defenses, which makes Bradford an interesting GPP target to pair up with a guy like Zach Ertz (and/or Odell Beckham if you think this turns into a shootout). I’d feel better about paying an extra $800 for Manning’s services, but I’ll have some shares of both players and Bradford’s price does make him more appealing. The Eagles have thrown a ton over the past few weeks (mostly because they’ve been constantly playing from behind) and with him seeming to develop some chemistry with Ertz, there is GPP appeal here. It doesn’t hurt matters that this is a contract year for him and he’ll want to go out on a high note.
Both of these backs have price tags below $6K, and it wouldn’t be that surprising to see either of them end up as a top 8 RB this week. Jennings has the much better draw – the Eagles have taken a huge step back against the run over the past month. He’s also seemingly taking on more of a lead back role with Shane Vereen still helping out on passing downs. His usage has been consistently high over the past three games (he’s seen at least 16 touches and had 24 against Miami three weeks ago). I prefer him to Karlos Williams if I can only choose one, but Williams will come at a lower ownership percentage due to the matchup. He’s very likely to lead the backfield in touches again this week and while the matchup is tough, the Bills did have success on the ground when these teams met earlier in the year.
Wide Receiver – Randall Cobb ($6,600)
It’s been a really tough year for the Packers passing game and you can’t say any different for Cobb. He’s been a major disappointment on the year and his price is now beginning to reflect that. It’s hard to ignore the $6,600 price tag on him and while he doesn’t have a great matchup (he’ll run a lot of routes against Captain Munnerlyn, who has graded out very well in coverage), the Packers need to win and Cobb is one of their best playmakers. If you’re looking for other cheap options – Michael Floyd, Kamar Aiken, Willie Snead, Markus Wheaton (if Martavis Bryant sits), and Philly Brown are viable options.
Tight End – Zach Miller ($5,900)
Miller’s price has flown up over the past few weeks, but he’s still worth the $5,900 price tag with Alshon Jeffery on IR. With Jeffery out, Miller lead the Bears passing attack last week in yards, catches and targets, and he’s been playing nearly every offensive snap since Martellus Bennett left the field. Detroit has allowed the most TDs to the TE position this season and rank 30th in DVOA (per Football Outsiders). Fire Miller up confidently in any format on Sunday.