Welcome to the Week 17 edition of the RotoGrinders Primer! The last week of regular season football is upon us, and it’s not nearly as straight-forward as most. Teams have varying degrees of interest in winning – some are fighting for playoff seeding, others for playoff berths and with the others simply playing for pride. Now I obviously expect every team to go out on Sunday with the full intention on winning but playing time for teams without a ton on the line is a key factor in Week 17. The idea of teams “resting” players is probably overblown for those out of playoff contention entirely, but players on those teams may get a quicker hook in the event of anything wacky happening.
There are also statistical milestones some players are shooting for along with award races (a big performance Sunday has to go a long way for Patrick Mahomes’ MVP case), so given the slew of differences, the Week 17 Primer for FanDuel and DraftKings is going to be unique. I’m going to break down what each team has on the line and dive into a few notable situations that may not be on the casual players' radar. Let’s get into it…
Teams Without Anything on the Line
New Orleans Saints – They have the NFC’s top spot locked up, and we’ve already heard that we’ll see at least some Teddy Bridgewater Sunday, a good indication the box score will mostly be filled by backups. If Bridgewater manages to start and play a full game, he’d be a DFS option as a punt play at QB, but if it doesn’t look like he’s going to play four quarters, I won’t be going there. Dwayne Washington could get some extended run with Kamara and Ingram unlikely to play much, but it’s possible the two see limited snaps. This one is worth tracking through the weekend.
Dallas Cowboys – Dallas cannot move from the four seed. Jerry Jones did state that the Cowboys would still roll their starters out on Sunday, but it still seems unlikely that comes to fruition. It seems plausible that they’ll come out for 2-3 series before giving way to the backups, which makes this a situation to avoid unless you want to throw GPP darts at minimum priced backups.
Seattle Seahawks – They don’t technically belong here because they can end up with either the fifth or sixth seed, but that doesn’t give them a ton of incentive to run their starters into the ground. If they can build a lead, there is little shot we’ll see a full workload from Chris Carson and it would be a surprise if they didn’t ease up on starters at that point. Arizona has put forth a pathetic show of offense this year and don’t figure to lead to a high-output game from Russell Wilson. The Seahawks are a team I’m avoiding across the board.
Teams Playing for Playoff Berths/Seeding
Los Angeles Chargers – I considered putting them in the section above given the possibility they go easy on starters late in the game. However, the AFC West is still on the line and can be acquired with a win and a Chiefs loss, but unfortunately the Chiefs will have their foot on the pedal against a leaky Oakland defense. If they see KC pull ahead, it’s possible they ease up on their veterans, especially given the injury situations surrounding them. Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler have all missed some game action of late and the Chargers cannot afford to have anything happen to Phillip Rivers, so it’s a shaky situation to say the least. I don’t have any of the Chargers core players in my builds at this point and the backups aren’t worth throwing darts at either.
Kansas City Chiefs – While they also could figure to limit starters if they pull way ahead, there is still plenty of reason to target the Chiefs. First, they win the AFC West with a win. In order to actually be able to sit guys, the starters would need to put a big number on the scoreboard. Second, Patrick Mahomes’ MVP case is still up in the air and another big stat line Sunday could push Mahomes over the hump. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are also squarely in play, but the backfield is a little murky with Spencer Ware due back.
New England Patriots – The Pats have a shot at home field advantage throughout the playoffs but would need to win and see both the Chiefs and Chargers lose. That’s unlikely, but they also clinch a first-round bye with a win of their own, giving them plenty of motivation. I like Sony Michel as a GPP play on sites that don’t weigh receptions as heavily and will also have exposure to Julian Edelman.
Houston Texans – There probably isn’t a team with more scenarios at hand than the Texans. In short, they will have their foot firmly on the pedal. Watson to Hopkins is a perfectly suitable GPP stack.
Baltimore Ravens – They are right up there with the Texans in terms of outcomes. Lamar Jackson is still priced fairly enough to target in all formats.
Indianapolis Colts – Win and they’re in. The Colts can also win the AFC South with a win and a Texans loss. This one isn’t on the main slate.
Tennessee Titans – Win and they’re in. If you are playing the Sunday Night Showdown slate, check out all the Showdown content available on RG before the postseason arrives.
Pittsburgh Steelers – There are a few scenarios at play here, but they need to win and have no reason to go easy on anyone unless they fall into a huge hole. That doesn’t seem likely in a matchup with Jeff Driskel. The passing attack is a full green light, but the running game is a little unclear. James Conner is practicing and there hasn’t been word that he’ll be limited, so there is GPP appeal here in a game the Steelers should control.
Los Angeles Rams – The Rams clinch a first-round bye with a win. Todd Gurley’s status is still up in the air as of this writing, but CJ Anderson would become a viable mid-range/punt play if he sits. Jared Goff and Robert Woods are also squarely in play.
Chicago Bears – The Bears can secure a first-round bye with a win and a Rams loss. I don’t have any interest in the Chicago side given the matchup and the off chance that they go easy on starters late if the Rams get up early.
Philadelphia Eagles – They need to win and have the Vikings lose to secure a playoff spot. Nick Foles and Co. will look to keep rolling against a Washington team that was just knocked out of playoff contention last week. Foles is still cheap enough to ride for DFS purposes and is stacked best with Zach Ertz, but Alshon Jeffery is also on the radar. The Eagles D/ST unit is also way too cheap on a few outlets and deserves plenty of consideration in all formats.
Teams Playing for Pride
Atlanta Falcons – It’s been a sad season for the Falcons but they are in a nice spot to end the season in Tampa. It’s worth noting the Bucs defense has stiffened since the switch at Defensive Coordinator, but Julio Jones is still an upside option and Austin Hooper is a viable mid-range TE play for those rolling out multiple GPP lineups.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – It’s looking like DeSean Jackson is going to sit Sunday, and if that’s the case Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries both step right back onto the DFS radar. Jameis Winston is an option in GPPs and Peyton Barber has some mild punt play appeal on DraftKings only.
New York Giants – Saquon Barkley is a really appealing high-end play at RB, but he’s the only Giant I’m looking to roster.
Carolina Panthers – There has been chatter that the Panthers may go easy on or rest a few key players Sunday, so this is a no go for me at the moment. That could change if we get a clearer picture regarding playing time, but my only exposure would likely be with minimum-priced backups if anything.
New York Jets – You know they’ll want to take a chance to spoil anything they can for the Patriots. It’s also likely Todd Bowles’ last game as the Jets head coach if that has any significance. Robby Anderson is still a fine option with a slew of injuries to other receivers.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles is back under center, but who knows what that’ll bring. Do they even want him to do well? I have no interest in the Jags.
Detroit Lions – It’s been a miserable year for Matthew Stafford and he’ll conclude it on the road in Green Bay. No thank you. Kenny Golladay is on the GPP radar thanks to volume but he’s the only Lion that should come anywhere near your lineups.
Green Bay Packers – There is little reason to expect Rodgers to go easy after blowing up against the Jets last weekend. The Packers still have nothing on the line, but Davante Adams can continue to gain statistical accolades with a robust performance to close the year. He’s broken/on the cusp of breaking a few Packers records. He is arguably the top play at the WR spot.
Miami Dolphins – Nope.
Arizona Cardinals – Absolutely not.
San Francisco 49ers – A loss would help their draft prospects, but Kyle Shanahan is going to try to knock the Rams off to end the year on a high note. Jeff Wilson is a strong value with Matt Brieda already ruled out and Marquise Goodwin has viability thanks to Dante Pettis’ injury. Kendrick Bourne is also on the radar as a result of that, but George Kittle could certainly absorb an even higher target share in the season finale. He’s a strong play in all formats along with Wilson.
Denver Broncos – Coming off an ugly road loss to the Raiders on Christmas Eve, the Broncos will want to right the ship heading into the offseason. They have a tough test with the Chargers on deck, but there is value available here. All of it carries risk, but Royce Freeman figures to head the backfield with Phillip Lindsay out of action, with Devontae Booker holding some GPP appeal given that he’s the better passing game option in a spot where the Broncos should be trailing. The receivers here also have some modest GPP punt play appeal.
Cincinnati Bengals – It’s a chance to put the Steelers season in ruins, so they’ll be gunning. Joe Mixon is their only real shot of taking control, so he’s on the GPP radar.
Oakland Raiders – Of course they’ll play hard to try to knock off the Chiefs. The problem is they don’t have many appealing DFS plays. Jordy Nelson has come on of late and does have some appeal as a salary saver.
Cleveland Browns – They’ll be playing all out but are in a really tough spot in Baltimore.
Washington Redskins – Freshly eliminated from playoff contention, the Redskins will continue to roll out Josh Johnson against a hungry Eagles Defense. Unless you are building tons of lineups, you can ignore the Washington side.