Week 17 Player Grid
This Player Grid will hold little value for you without first reading this.
Note: Players in a given tier are not listed in any particular order.
FantasyDraft Players :: I’ve added a FantasyDraft Addendum to the bottom
Patrick Mahomes is the safest, highest-upside option on a weekend with salary available and with other quarterbacks priced close enough to him that you could make a case for just rolling Mahomes and moving on from there; but he’s not the only viable play on the slate, and there are a lot of Tier 3 quarterbacks who will be fun to mess around with in tourneys this week in an effort to gain an edge on the Mahomes-heavy field.
- Patrick Mahomes :: Patrick Mahomes is playing at home in a must-win game against a Raiders defense that has allowed the most passing touchdowns and the ninth most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. The only major concern here is this game getting out of hand early. This spot carries a high floor and a high ceiling.
- Ben Roethlisberger :: Ben Roethlisberger is playing at home in a must-win game against a Bengals defense that has allowed the second most passing touchdowns and the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. The only major concern here is this game getting out of hand early. This spot carries a high floor and a high ceiling.
This is the thinnest running back weekend of the season, with Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, and Alvin Kamara projecting for limited snaps, Todd Gurley out, Melvin Gordon potentially set for another scaled-back-workload, and James Conner not guaranteed a full workload either. Joe Mixon and Nick Chubb are both in really tough matchups. Phillip Lindsay is out. Leonard Fournette is doubtful. Aaron Jones is on I.R. The list goes on and on. You should be willing to make adjustments in play accordingly — recognizing that the lack of lock-and-load running backs creates more opportunities than normal to get creative in the Flex. As best you can: think in terms of salary allocation (“What points am I expecting to get with this salary? — and could I get more points by using this salary in a different way?”), and you’ll be way ahead of the field.
- Saquon Barkley :: I hate to list only one guy in Tier 1, but realistically, Saquon has the fewest question marks on the slate, and he is one of the safest, highest-upside ways to allocate salary this weekend. Because the Cowboys could still play starters for a chunk of this game (and because they are awesome against the run, and are solid against running backs as a whole), it is certainly no guarantee that Saquon just absolutely smashes. But “a disappointing game” would be an outlier event, and he carries as much upside as any player on the slate.
There is more uncertainty than normal at the wide receiver position this week, with injury concerns, playing time concerns, and matchup concerns all wreaking havoc. Be willing to be flexible in this spot — and be willing to take some risks(!). This is the sort of week in which the right moves at wide receiver can be the difference between a disappointing weekend and a monster weekend. Be willing to be creative; be willing to chase upside; and see what happens from there.
- Davante Adams — If :: If Adams is able to play through his knee issue, he’ll step into his typical role as one of the safest, highest-upside wideouts in the NFL. With question marks across the board at the high end of the wide receiver price range, Adams will become one of the sharpest plays if he is out there this weekend.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster — If :: If Antonio Brown misses this week, JuJu will step into the role in this offense that AB himself used to occupy — with a massive target share, a high floor, and a big ceiling. In the same way that Kelce can still be considered a Tier 1 play with the Chiefs expected to blow out the Raiders, JuJu should carry a high floor and a high ceiling even with the Steelers expected to blow out the Bengals. If AB plays, he and JuJu both drop to Tier 3, as it won’t be surprising if one of them posts a disappointing price-considered score; but in that scenario, both would still be high-ceiling plays worth considering in tourneys.
- Travis Kelce :: The Raiders have allowed a league-worst nine touchdowns to tight ends and have picked off only one pass thrown to the position. They have allowed a 74% completion rate on throws to tight ends, and their 998 yards allowed to the position is the fifth worst mark in the league. Kelce sets up for another high-floor, high-ceiling game this week.
- George Kittle :: The Rams have allowed the seventh most tight end yards this year, and with Kittle seeing recent target counts of 10 // 13 // 9 // 9 // 8 // 12 (and with Dante Pettis now missing in action this week), there is plenty of upside to chase in this spot, while Kittle’s locked-in usage floats his floor as well. He’s a shade behind Kelce on paper this week (even with pricing factored in), but he still shapes up as one of the safer, higher-upside ways to allocate salary this week.
- Zach Ertz :: Originally, I didn’t have Ertz on my list — and on paper, Kelce and Kittle are both better plays this week (there are a few reasons to like the setup those guys have more than the setup for Ertz) — but realistically, Ertz’ role in the Philly offense is reliable and consistent enough, with enough upside in tow, that he still makes a ton of sense from a salary-allocation standpoint, especially when compared to the wide receivers priced around him. (This final sentiment goes double on DraftKings, where the high-end tight ends are just so cheap compared to the high-end wide receivers.) Ertz’ chances of hitting his ceiling are definitely lower than Kelce’s chances, and they’re a little lower than Kittle’s, but he’s still a strong-floor, high-upside option.
- Seahawks :: The Seahawks are not aggressive in getting after the quarterback, but they do have the ability to rack up sacks, and they are fundamentally focused, as a team, on taking away the football — with this being one of the core philosophies that Pete Carroll preaches. At home against Josh Rosen and the incredibly bad, no good Cardinals offense, there is upside to chase.
- Chiefs :: Bob Sutton knows that his Chiefs defense lacks the pieces to shut down opponents — and so, he allows them to fly around the field and try to make plays. This leads to plenty of big plays from opponents, but it also leads to lots of sacks and turnovers. At home (where the Chiefs’ defense is so much better), against Derek Carr and a Raiders offense that has struggled on the road, there is a lot of upside to chase.
- Texans :: J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and the aggressive Texans defense will be playing at home against a mistake-prone quarterback in Blake Bortles, creating plenty of opportunities for sacks, turnovers, and big plays to pile up this week.
- Julian Edelman :: The Jets have faced the most wide receiver targets in the NFL, and only the Saints have allowed more catches to wideouts. The Jets have allowed the second most yards and the 12th most touchdowns to the wide receiver position, and Julian Edelman is really the only reliable wide receiver available on the Patriots right now. The Jets have gotten hit the hardest by slot receivers, giving Edelman a high floor this week.
- Robert Woods :: With Woods’ slot-heavy role and locked-in touch share in this Rams offense missing both Cooper Kupp and Todd Gurley, he once again stands out as one of the safer wide receiver plays on the slate. His chances of a monster game are slimmer than some of the other wideouts available, but as with Edelman above and the old men below: you are not drawing dead for upside here, making Woods an interesting cash game play with still-very-viable tourney appeal.
- Old Men Running :: Jordy Nelson and Larry Fitzgerald are not a fun sexy time for you, but each guy is locked into around seven to 10 targets, providing surprisingly solid price-considered floor. A big game is not “the likeliest scenario” for either guy, but you are not drawing dead in that department — making these guys solid options in cash games, with a decent case available for them in tourneys as well.
- Jameis Winston :: Ryan Griffin could play a series or two late in this game if the Bucs are up by a ton or down by a ton, but if either of those scenarios occur, Jamies is probably either already winning you money or already losing you money. Only three teams are allowing more fantasy points per game to quarterbacks than the Falcons this year, and Jameis should be able to close out the season on a high note in this spot.
- Josh Allen :: This is a middling spot for Allen and his erratic passing — with potential for volume concerns in a Bills offense that prefers to lean on the run when they can, and that will be taking on a Miami team that has faced the third lowest pass play rate in the NFL. But as always with Allen: this spot also carries serious upside. If the Bills are willing to put this game in his hands, he should pay off handsomely in DFS.
- Jared Goff :: The 49ers are tied with the Bucs and Bengals for the most passing touchdowns allowed, and there is a chance the Rams end up going a bit more pass-heavy than normal with Todd Gurley out, and with C.J. Anderson facing a much tougher matchup than he had last week. Goff’s floor is lower than the Tier 1 guys, but there are clear and obvious scenarios in which he could match or even pass what the guys at the top are able to do this week.
- Nick Mullens :: If Goff and the Rams’ offense smashes, Mullens will have a chance to be one of the better point-per-dollar quarterbacks on the slate while chasing points on the road; with limited weaponry, there are obvious risks involved here as well, but especially on DraftKings (where he costs under 10% of the salary cap), he could provide nice value from a salary-allocation perspective.
- Aaron Rodgers :: The Lions are allowing the most yards per pass attempt in the NFL this year, and the Packers are likely to lean pass-heavy in this spot regardless of the tendencies other teams typically show against the Lions, as Rodgers prefers to win games through the air over leaning on the ground game. As long as Davante Adams is healthy, Rodgers will have a shot at closing out the season on a high note with a strong score in this spot.
- James Conner :: It is not a certainty that Conner will see all the snaps in this spot, but it still seems likely that he is a 70% snap rate, 18-touch back (with plenty of yardage and touchdown upside) even if Jaylen Samuels mixes in — and there is still a chance he is more like a 25-touch back this week. The question marks take him out of Tier 1, but don’t sleep on his upside — which is still near the top of the slate.
- Sony Michel / Rex Burkhead :: It should not go overlooked that Burkhead touched the ball 17 times last week to Michel’s 18, with the two playing essentially the same number of snaps as one another. The presence of James White (who touched the ball 10 times himself and played just as many snaps as the other two) turns all these guys into tourney-only options; but all three backs — and Michel and Burkhead in particular — have a good shot at a strong price-considered score this weekend. Burkhead, it should be noted, is going overlooked for his locked-in 12 to 18 touch role in this high-scoring offense; he has not yet popped for red zone usage, but he was used in the red zone plenty last year, and he still has multi-touchdown upside.
- Jamaal Williams :: Williams does not have a good matchup on the ground, but he should see three to six catches in this spot, and he will have a shot at finding the end zone in what should be a solid offensive day for the Packers. If Davante Adams misses, Williams may pick up a few more receptions as well, and he will be forced into a larger red zone role — pushing him to the Tier 1 borderline in that scenario.
- Cheap Ground-And-Pound Backs :: Peyton Barber, Lamar Miller, Jeff Wilson, and C.J. Anderson are all 18- to 22-touch backs who will see almost all of their work on the ground — leaving them reliant on yardage and touchdowns for their production. This lowers the floor on all these guys, but there are some things to like from an “upside” perspective on each as well: Barber should actually see two to four catches, and he’ll have a strong shot at a touchdown // Miller has been consistent enough in this role/offense lately that another solid game is firmly in play in a must-win game // Wilson has a good yards-per-carry matchup, and the 49ers tend to lean on the run regardless of score, opening a path to a solid-yardage game, which would become a strong overall day with a touchdown // Anderson plays for a Rams team that is going to score touchdowns, and he’ll have a strong shot at being part of the scoring. With pricing considered, my order of preference on DraftKings goes Barber // Miller // Anderson // Wilson; on FanDuel, it’s Barber // Anderson // Miller // Wilson (and I would be totally fine swapping the order on the top two guys on FanDuel, as most of you would probably prefer to do).
- Cheap Pass-Catching Backs :: Jalen Richard and Devontae Booker both have a clear pass-catching role on their team, and both teams should be chasing points this week. Expect four to eight carries and three to seven targets for each guy (with wiggle room for more work than that if you get lucky), creating opportunity for a big play or a touchdown, while providing a decent price-considered floor.
- Cheap Upside Plays :: With the Cowboys not expected to play Zeke for much of their game, there is a chance that Rod Smith is the Cowboys’ workhorse in this game, which would lead to plenty of opportunity for upside (of course, there is also a chance Zeke sees some work, and that Smith is not the only back who sees work behind him, introducing some risk) // with the Seahawks locked into the 5 or 6 seed and likely to put away this game against the Cardinals early, we could see Rashaad Penny handle 15+ touches (of course, he could also end up seeing only his typical eight touches, and he has almost no role in the pass game) // with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram likely to play very little, and with no other running backs on the roster at the moment, Dwayne Washington has a strong shot to be a 15-carry, three- to five-catch back; it would be irresponsible to break him out of this group and list him on his own, as this play carries too much speculation to be considered safe, but it would also be irresponsible to gloss over him, as I like this play quite a bit from a price-considered, expected floor/ceiling perspective.
- Tyreek Hill :: As explored in the NFL Edge this week, there are reasons to be a bit concerned about Hill’s floor this week — but as always, he remains one of the highest-ceiling plays on the slate. If things click in place for him, he can post a score that no one else can match.
- Kenny Golladay :: Since Marvin Jones went down late in the Lions’ Week 10 game against the Bears, Golladay has target counts of 13 // 15 // 8 // 8 // 4 // 8 // 15. In these seven games, he has topped 100 yards twice and has gone for 78 or more yards four times, with two touchdowns added along the way — speaking to his ceiling. He has also gone for 58 or fewer yards three times, speaking to his floor. He’s a risky, but high-upside tourney play in a good matchup this week.
- Bucs Trio :: The Bucs are in good shape for three to five touchdowns on offense this week, and with DeSean Jackson joining O.J. Howard on the sidelines, the distribution of work on this team is much narrower than it was early in the season. None of Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, and Chris Godwin carry a high floor, but all three guys carry big price-considered ceiling, making them strong tourney targets this week.
- Saints’ Backups :: If the Saints run a standard 60 to 63 plays this week and play Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram on zero to 13 of those plays, we should have a good 50 to 60 plays of Keith Kirkwood and Tre’Quan Smith on the field in a well-schemed offense with a good quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater at the helm — against a Panthers defense that has allowed the third most yards and the most touchdowns to wide receivers throughout the second half of the season. I’m placing these guys in Tier 3 because some faith is required, but the potential floor and ceiling on these Saints pieces (Washington included) is a lot higher than most will likely assume. If Washington // Tre’Quan // Kirkwood combined for even just 200 total yards of offense, 10 total receptions, and one touchdown, that’s 36 DraftKings points and 31 FanDuel points at $10k of DraftKings salary and $13.9k of FanDuel salary. If these guys push for some upside from there (say 250 combined yards, 14 combined receptions, and two scores), they could be an absolute smash from a salary-allocation perspective (5x on DK // 3x on FD). These guys can also be isolated in tourneys in one- or two-man plays that try to guess right on where these points will be most concentrated (for this approach: I like Washington first as a solo play and Washington/Kirkwood first as a pairing, though any combination has a shot at paying off). There is definitely some risk here, as the Saints could play starters a bit more than expected, and/or this team could dig deeper into the bench than expected, giving Simmie Cobbs and Tommylee Lewis more run in the second half at the expense of Kirkwood and Tre’Quan (hence Washington being my favorite one-off play of the bunch); but if things go according to plan, these guys could become strong tourney pieces at the difficult-to-nail “salary saver with upside” roster spots.
- Robert Foster :: I could just about leave this space blank at this point, as we’ve been on Foster since the beginning, and you’ve read all the data points (and probably made plenty of money off this guy) by now; but just to recap, his recent yardage totals are 105 // 94 // 27 // 104 // 108 // 52 — and the 52-yard game would have been 134 had he not lost a deep ball in the sun. This guy is a legitimate force, and while the nature of his role still gives him a low floor, his price-considered ceiling is tremendous.
- Isaiah McKenzie :: Since Kelvin Benjamin was cut loose, McKenzie has target counts of 7 // 7 // 8, and he missed about two quarters of play across the last two weeks due to in-game injuries. His ceiling is so much higher than his price accounts for right now, and his likeliest-case floor is honestly much higher than most are seemingly giving it credit for as well. He can be played alongside Foster, but he can also be played independent of Foster as a high-upside way to save salary this week.
- Robby Anderson :: Anderson has a 32% target share across the last three weeks — and while the Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL at defending the deep ball on a per-pass basis, their lack of pass rush has also led to them facing more deep balls than any team in the NFL. Anderson still comes with a lower floor than we would love, but the ceiling remains intact this week with a locked-in workload and clear opportunities to hit.
- Kendrick Bourne :: With no Dante Pettis, Bourne will step into a five- to seven-target role against a Rams defense that has allowed the second highest catch rate and the seventh highest YPA mark to wide receivers throughout the second half of the season. The Rams have been especially susceptible in the short areas of the field, where Mullens and the 49ers primarily focus — allowing a monstrous 78% completion rate to wideouts on short passes since Week 9. There are certainly paths to a disappointing game here, but Bourne should have a locked-in workload, and he will be given opportunities to hit this week.
- All the rest :: Curtis Samuel should once again see heavy targets, and he has the speed to post a huge day against backup corners in New Orleans, even with a third-string quarterback under center, giving him some boom/bust to his game this Sunday // Trent Sherfield continues to see five to seven targets every week — and while he is attached to the low floor of Josh Rosen and this poor Cardinals offense, he does still carry strong upside for his price // Jake Kumerow and/or Marques Valdes-Scantling will have a shot at production this week opposite Adams, though nothing (including the playing time split between these two) is guaranteed; if Adams happens to miss, these guys will both gain quite a bit of value, with a good 10 to 13 targets projected to be divided between them, and with one of them likely to post a strong game along the way.
- Jared Cook :: Cook has finished with fewer than 35 receiving yards a ridiculous eight times already this year, which takes him far out of the Tier 1 discussion; but from a pure Upside perspective: he has four games of 100+ yards, including his last game against these Chiefs. He will be one of the best ways for the Raiders to move the ball, giving him a shot at a big score this week.
- All the rest :: Chris Herndon, C.J. Uzomah, and Gerald Everett all have target projections in the “five to seven” range, and all three have solid floors of around 3-30-0, with upside for something like a 5-60-1 line if everything goes right. These guys are more valuable on DraftKings than on FanDuel, as tight end pricing is more condensed on FanDuel, but they can very much be considered in tourneys on all sites.
- All the rest :: With a 53-man roster, teams can only rest so many starters during the regular season, and the Saints will still have enough pieces to potentially wreak havoc on raw third-stringer Kyle Allen // With the Cowboys likely to play Cooper Rush and a poor group of wide receivers for much of the day, the Giants’ turnover-forcing defense carries some sneaky upside // The Packers have a strong pass rush in a home game against a bad Lions offense that can allow sacks to pile up // The Bills are not a particularly aggressive defense, but they are a very good defense playing at home against a bad offense; the Bills’ home splits vs the Dolphins’ road splits provides a nice boost to expectations in this spot // The Rams are playing at home against a raw quarterback in Nick Mullens who is prone to mistakes, and whose short-area throws can open opportunities for pick-sixes; with the 49ers likely to be playing from behind, there is a chance the Rams will be able to tee off against the pass.
Hopefully this gives you a great opportunity to compare your thoughts against my own.
I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend; and I’ll see you on the site next Wednesday night for the Week 1 Playoff Edition of the NFL Edge!
The only players who really catch my eye in the night game — from a full-Sunday perspective — are Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton. There are plenty of reasons to fear what the Titans’ defense can do at home, but they are most susceptible to wide receivers (it’s not particularly close), and even away from the fast track in Indy, you could make a strong case for Hilton as a Tier 1 play. I’ll slide Luck into Tier 3, simply because there are some paths to a disappointing game for him (same as most of the quarterbacks playing earlier in the day), but he’s very much in the conversation as well.
I wouldn’t have heavy interest in anyone else from this game, but Eric Ebron and Derrick Henry could obviously both have a case made for them. There are, of course, plenty of additional ways to consider moving around pieces from there.