Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 53 pts, Falcons Total: 28.5 pts, Saints Total: 24.5 pts
Get your exposure to this matchup, but don't expect to be alone. Both of these defenses have considerable weaknesses and both offenses have nothing to lose in a meaningless season-ending game. My degenerate sixth sense is tingling. I suspect this one could go well beyond the over-under of 53 points.
Julio Jones is a set-it-and-forget is cash game play. He's 17 catches away from setting the single-season record against a New Orleans coverage unit that has been gashed by wideouts of every kind in 2015. I'm sure the Falcons coaching staff is aware of Julio's chance to make history. No one should be stunned to see him get 20 targets against the Saints. Julio caught six balls for 93 yards when these teams clashed in Week 6. He's both a cash game and tournament must-have in Week 17.
I think you can deploy Julio and Devonta Freeman in the same lineup. It's not usually ideal to stack a receiver with a runner, but with Atlanta's implied total so ridiculously high and the Saints' defensive deficiencies, it makes sense here. Freeman, who went for 156 total yards and two scores against the Saints in Week 6, always has a nice high floor with his passing game action (72 catches on 89 targets). While stacking Julio and Freeman will consume a hefty chunk of your salary, both could exceed their DFS cost by quite a bit against the lifeless corpse of the New Orleans defense.
No team has allowed more receptions to tight ends than the Saints, making Jacob Tamme a sneaky, bottom barrel tight end play for cash purposes. Tamme has no ceiling. You're not using him in GPPs. Tamme caught all four of his Week 16 targets. He makes sense if you're one to seek tight end punt plays in the week's highest scoring affairs.
Atlanta is fifth worst in schedule adjusted fantasy production given up to enemy running backs. They also allow an inordinate number of running back receptions: 107 on the season, or 12 more than any other team.
Tim Hightower, a fantasy playoff miracle for his owners, played 62.8 percent of the Saints' Week 16 snaps. He's slated to get a good number of touches in a potentially very high scoring game against a defense that has allowed 121.4 rushing yards per game since Week 12. My one hesitation with Hightower: it remains to be seen if his fantasy value can truly withstand negative game script. His DFS price point is low enough for me to want to find out.
Drew Brees had a very ho-hum 312-yard, one-touchdown performance against Atlanta in Week 6. He completed 79 percent of his aimed throws in that one. Not only is Brees a rock-solid cash game signal caller – he's a fantastic correlation stack alongside Freeman or Julio. Brees is on a ridiculous tear, throwing for 755 yards and six touchdowns over the past couple weeks.
I think we'll see plenty of DFS gamers chase Brandin Cooks' Week 16 point explosion like sweet manna in the daily fantasy desert. Cooks' volatility scares me enough to hedge on the receiver as a cash game lock, and Atlanta allows the second fewest adjusted points to wideouts. Falcons opponents find plenty of success attacking the defense – it's just not usually via the wide receiver. I don't think Brees' cash game viability automatically translates to a solid day for Cooks.
Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 43 pts, Jets Total: 23 pts, Bills Total: 20 pts
The Battle of Rex is hardly brimming with DFS appeal, as you might suspect. I think it's important not to write this one off as a daily fantasy fade for Week 17 though.
At least one Bills player has described this game as the team's Super Bowl, so if you enjoy a stroll down Narrative Street, there seems to be good reason to count on effort from both sides. We can't say that about every Week 17 matchup.
Bilal Powell has gotten the majority of Jets' offensive snaps in three of the past four weeks, as we've seen Chris Ivory relegated to role player status. Only the Titans allow fewer receptions to running backs than the Bills, making this a bad matchup on paper for Powell, an excellent pass-catching back. It's critical to take account for his role in Gang Green's offense when it's clicking, however. Powell is the most targeted back in the NFL over the past four weeks (31 targets), with 225 yards and two scores through the air.
Buffalo opponents have not forced the run in 2015. They've mostly been content to pick apart the Bills in other ways. Powell could be a big part of how the Jets do that, making him a justifiable cash game runner on DraftKings. Buffalo allows 22.7 adjusted fantasy points to running backs.
Ryan Fitzpatrick's win-loss splits are altogether startling and hopeful. He notches 25.07 fantasy points in Jets wins and just 17.65 points in losses. Those splits are similar at home and on the road. Vegas has the Jets favored here, so I couldn't blame you for once again investing in Fitz as a cash gamer.
Eric Decker, when these teams met in Week 10, saw more targets and catches than Brandon Marshall. Decker caught six of 11 targets for 85 yards and a touchdown. There's a good bet Decker could become the latest slot receivers to shred the Bills' secondary. Only four defenses have allowed more receptions to receivers in 2015 than the Bills. Decker will have a size advantage of 49 pounds and seven inches on Buffalo safety Nickell Robey.
Brandon Marshall's yards per target has exploded over the past four weeks, jumping from 9 YPT to 12.1 YPT. That's not insignificant. It means that New York is using their No. 1 receiver as more than just a big, heavy possession guy. And while Marshall has been a PPR dynamo in 2015, this change in usage gives him the sort of upside we seek in GPPs. Obviously he's a cash game option. I wouldn't ignore him for tournament purposes either.
Sammy Watkins has been one of the best DFS value plays over the past month and a half. His DFS price has slowly risen, however, and this matchup plainly and simply stinks. Darrelle Revis and the Jets' secondary held Watkins to three grabs for 14 yards in their last meeting. I'm not inclined to have Watkins in cash lineups because I fear his floor. His ceiling remains intact as a receiver who could easily get 10 looks from Tyrod Taylor, who really has no other viable targets.
Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 45.5 pts, Lions Total: 22.75 pts, Bears Total: 22.75 pts
Matthew Stafford, when these teams squared off in Week 6, was the ultimate contrarian play coming off one of the worst outings in recent memory. Stafford threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns.
While Chicago's secondary was solid in the weeks following Stafford's explosion, they've been exploitable of late, giving up big stat lines to Jameis Winston and Teddy Bridgewater, both who lead conservative offenses predicated on the run. The Bears, allowing a 71 percent completion rate since Week 14, make for a solid matchup for Stafford. I'm once again comfortable with Stafford in cash lineups against a Chicago secondary that has picked off all of eight passes all season. Stafford is scoring 29.2 fantasy points per game against bottom-half coverage units this year.
I like Calvin Johnson fine, though I'm hardly wild about him given his price and much more reliable receivers with plush matchups. Chicago has been stingy against opposing wideouts, giving up the sixth fewest schedule adjusted fantasy points to the position. Megatron's upside makes him a better GPP option. He roasted the Bears for 166 yards and a touchdown in Week 7.
Golden Tate has gone full Jarvis Landry since just before Thanksgiving. Tate, the WR9 since Week 11, is notching a meager 7.3 yards per target, but has caught 42 of his 48 targets over that stretch. Tate has become the team's main red zone threat, drawing seven red zone looks over the past three weeks. I see him as a safe PPR option who doesn't require a good matchup to post a solid line.
Jay Cutler is nothing but a middling fantasy option with a scary floor when Alshon Jeffery is on the shelf, as he'll likely be in Week 17. Cutty averages 17.3 points in those contests. You can do a lot better in Cutler's price range.
Zach Miller certainly deserves DFS gamers' attention in Week 17. Expected to absorb at least some of Alshon's targets, Miller saw eight targets last week against Tampa, catching seven for 69 yards. No Chicago pass catcher saw more looks. Miller gets a sweet matchup in the season's final week, drawing a Detroit defense that allows 16.4 schedule adjusted fantasy points to tight ends. Tight ends have scored a touchdown in four of the past five games against Detroit. Miller's floor in this one is attractive, and his upside is worth a good look in your GPP lineup making.
My favorite correlation stack in this one – a sneaky play considering the fairly low Vegas total – is Miller and Tate. Both would benefit tremendously from a high-scoring back and forth.
The Bears' backfield is far too muddled to trust in Week 17, even in a mouth watering matchup against the Lions. Matt Forte reported that he had “a little nick” after last week's tilt in Tampa – an injury that led to 19 carries for rookie Jeremy Langford. Should Forte be held out in Week 17, be sure to get exposure to Langford, who could see 20 touches. Lions opponents have hammered that defense in the red zone, piling up 15 rushing touchdowns in 15 games.
Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 47 pts, Dolphins Total: 18 pts, Patriots Total: 29 pts
The collapsing Dolphins are allowing the fifth most adjusted fantasy points to quarterbacks. Signal callers threw for 12 touchdowns against Miami from Week 12-15. Tom Brady threw for 356 yards and four scores in his Week 8 matchup against the Dolphins. Needless to say, he's an ultra safe cash contest play in the season's final week.
Dion Lewis, the Patriots' passing down back, saw eight targets when these teams met at midseason. James White occupies Lewis' role now, and without one or both of Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, he's bound to see a good number of looks here. It all hinges on the availability of Edelman and/or Amendola, but White has a nice PPR floor against Miami, which allows the most adjusted fantasy points to enemy runners.
Rob Gronkowski had a very Gronk outing against the Dolphins in Week 8: six catches, 113 yards and a touchdown. I don't usually have much cash contest exposure to Gronk because his price point is so limiting for the rest of your roster. I can't blame you for deploying him in cash. As always, he comes with a monster ceiling for GPP purposes.
Ryan Tannehill threw for 300 yards on 44 attempts in Week 8 against New England. It's interesting that Tannehill still manages 19.7 fantasy points in losses, but he's nowhere close to a cash game guy here.
Jarvis Landry sees 12.2 targets when Miami loses by more than a touchdown, as they're likely to do here against New England. Landry becomes a PPR terminator in garbage time with very few viable options available for Tannehill. I think Landry is a DraftKings cash game consideration because he could fall out of bed and see 12-15 targets in what could be a blowout.
The Patriots' defense has a fairly safe floor against the Dolphins in large part because Miami's offensive line has collapsed in recent weeks, allowing 10 sacks over the past couple. The Pats, 12th in quarterback hits, got to Tanny five times in Week 8. That could certainly happen again with Tannehill almost certain to drop back 40 times in this matchup.