Onto the next and (can it be???) final battle. Since we're still early in the season, here's a bullet point list of what you'll find in 'Value Plays' article each Friday ...
- Each position features three players that I believe are strong value selections for the upcoming weekend, plus the reasoning behind the choice.
- The price tag indicated in parentheses is what you will find over at DraftKings.com.
- Following a quick write-up of why each particular player is a solid value, I'll offer a suggestion on where you should then take your money savings. This works to provide a run-down of the more highly-priced guys that I do like for the upcoming weekend.
- At each position I will also list the highest-priced player in that spot, alongside a 1-10 score which references how confident I would be in that player earning back their cost (10 being a guarantee).
Of course, when you're dealing with a salary cap structure, a good portion of the players I recommend do not correlate to top-notch starting options in season-long play. About half the time, a DFS recommendation is not a thumbs' up for that same player in your season-long set-up
Before I jump into the Week 17 DFS value plays, here's a look at the Week 16 Report Card ...
- Teddy Bridgewater fell off a cliff against a lousy Giants' defense, but both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston were major hits, both coming in as top 8 plays.
- Week 16 probably goes down as my best RB calls all season. Tim Hightower exploded as the 2nd-best running back in the game, while both Rashad Jennings and Karlos Williams proved to be top 20 at the position.
- Both Ruben Randle and Jermaine Kearse were solid with mid-teens' scoring, but Dorial Green-Beckham was a big, fat zero in a blowout loss to Houston.
- Kyle Rudolph hit the bargain lottery, but Will Tye and Maxx Williams were total misses.
- For the first time in a long time, nothing went according to plan on defense as Miami, Tennessee, and Tampa Bay were all weak outfits.
Overall Week 16 Grade - B-
Eli Manning ($5,600) vs. PHI - If you are like me and watched Eli flounder on the road against the Vikings a week ago, you might be wondering how I still write this column after more than four months. I'll tell you why dear reader ... it's because in the world of DFS, last week doesn't have much to do with this week! A short and finite memory serves you better than ruing over what might have failed seven days beforehand. Manning and the Giants are back home this week and their up against a Philadelphia team that has been plastered on defense in previous weeks. Oh, and did you hear that their head coach just got fired? In effect, this Eagles team is the proverbial dead man walking and Manning is the guy to pull the switch to deliver the jolt. One other thing that might help out the vet after his horrible Week 16? How about the return of a guy named Odell Beckham, Jr.
If you save here, spend here - David Johnson ($6,000) vs. SEA
Matt Ryan ($5,500) vs. NO - Ryan is in a similar spot as Manning. He's got a match-up that just hollers, 'BARGAIN!' The Saints are, historically, the worst pass defense in the history of the NFL. They have allowed not only a league-worst 43 passing TDs ... but, also an all-time NFL-worst 43 passing TDs! Yes, even Ryan has got to be able to take advantage of this matchup. Against the Saints back in Week 6, he had no issues on his way to 295/2/0, so there shouldn't be much fear here. But, in all reality, this head-to-head is just too lip-smacking tasty to say no to.
If you save here, spend here - DeAndre Hopkins ($8,400) vs. JAC
Sam Bradford ($5,300) @ NYG - Didn't I just say that Eli Manning (the other QB in this Sunday matinee) was a great value play? And, now, I'm even including the mediocre Bradford?! I guess that you could say I'm calling for a shootout in the Meadowlands on Sunday. Well, you would be close. I don't think both teams are into the 30s, but one of them could get there. Week 17 marks the final opportunity for Bradford to make an impression for both Philly and any possible free agent suitors in the upcoming offseason. He could not ask for a better opponent than the Giants (OK, maybe the Saints or his own defense) who have allowed 300 yards passing in fully half of their 16 contests this season. Bradford hit for just 280 in his other start versus New York this year, but he's been just under 1,000 yards passing over the past three weeks. I know that some will bail because of the mid-week coaching change, but I see that move as a bonus for Bradford ... no more Chip Kelly to flub things up!
If you save here, spend here - Antonio Brown ($9,300) @ CLE
Top of the Chart - Cam Newton ($7,500) vs. TB - 7.6
Darren McFadden ($4,900) vs. WAS - At this point in a lost season, DMC is the only feather that the Cowboys offense has left in their cap. Quarterback play was minimal all season. Dez Bryant was a shell and won't be playing in this game. Jason Witten's numbers fell off a cliff. And, none of the supporting cast even bothered to try and step up ... except McFadden. He comes into the final game tilt with Washington having rushed for 99 or more yards in each of his last three outings. And, when all is said and done this year, the perennial disappointment will have finished with a healthy season and more than 1,000 yards on the ground. His price tag is so in the dumper because he has just three scores. Take a chance on him hitting pay dirt for a 4th ... or, even 5th ... time this weekend.
If you save here, spend here - Greg Olsen ($6,800) vs. TB
Jeremy Langford ($3,900) vs. DET - At this point of the dance, Matt Forte has hit the punch bowl and decided to untie his dress shoes. The soon-to-be free agent is dealing with a back injury and is also dealing with a shared role in the Bears' backfield as the team (correctly) prepares for a world without one of their top running backs in franchise history. Langford is the new guy and he has done little to discourage the assumption with the work he's received this year. He's no monster, but he is a solid player who can run and catch and rack up some quantity against the Lions. I don't think we'll see much of Forte on Sunday, but I expect plenty of Langford.
If you save here, spend here - Tom Brady ($7,400) @ MIA
Alfred Blue ($3,700) vs. JAC - Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Texans keep giving the ball to Blue. Since coming back from injury, he has 35 carries in two games. He may not get to that level against the Jags (Brian Hoyer is set to return), but he has a three items in his favor. The first is, indeed, the return of Hoyer ... it should open up some more running games. The second is that the Texans really don't have a competitor for carries, right now ... Blue si the best option. The third is the matchup ... did you see what Mr. Ho-Hum, Tim Hightower, did to these guys last week? The cost here is pennies for the possible pay-off. In closing on the RBs ... I love all three of these guys for this week. I wouldn't have an issue with tag-teaming them as my starting DFS RBs, and then crushing the budget on all the other positions.
If you save here, spend here - Julio Jones ($8,500) vs. NO
Top of the Chart - Devonta Freeman ($7,600) vs. NO - 9.0
Travis Benjamin ($4,100) vs. PIT - Just when you're ready to say that Johnny Manziel has a half-clue as a QB and human being, he gets caught boozing again and them comes down with an out-of-nowhere concussion. That has him sidelined for the final game of the season and it also means that Austin Davis is working the snap count this week. To tell you the truth, that might be a better set-up for Benjamin. At this point in the campaign, he is the best, and maybe even only, option the Browns really have in their throwing attack. In the past three weeks, he's been targeted a robust 17 times in the passing game. Of course, when so many of those 17 seemed to be errant throws from a flustered Manziel, Benjamin only managed nine catches. Davis will give him a better shot and with a game that matches him against the Pittsburgh (7 catches for 113 yards in their first meeting), you can color me interested.
If you save here, spend here - Jordan Reed ($6,800) @ DAL
Nate Washington ($3,600) vs. JAC - Honestly, I don't even feel that great about this selection! But, Cecil Shorts is sidelined (yet again!) and that means that Washington should be given a cursory look. Hey, it is the Jaguars defense we're talking about, too. After DeAndre Hopkins, Washington is the next guy up in the pecking order, so you should be good for a half-dozen targets against a secondary such as Jacksonville's. As noted when I discussed Blue up above, Hoyer's return should lift all of his surrounding ships because he's someone who Houston will allow to drop back for at least 40 throws.
If you save here, spend here - DeAngelo Williams ($7,100) @ CLE
Corey Brown ($3,400) vs. TB - The Panthers are still playing for the top seed in the NFC and the home-field advantage that comes with it. They will not know at the start of their late-window game what their situation is, either (Arizona kicks off at the same time), so they will go all out to defeat the visiting Bucs. Right now, Ted Ginn, is limping around and is questionable to play. In my heart, I think that Carolina knows they are better served by resting their top TD-maker and giving him, in effect, three weeks off before his next game. If that happens, Brown pops up into the conversation. He has yet to post big marks, but he has been seeing plenty of leather head his way in the past few weeks with 16 targets. He is a big-play threat and could turn in a cheap 4/60/1 against Tampa Bay ... especially, if Ginn sits.
If you save here, spend here - Devonta Freeman ($7,600) vs. NO
Top of the Chart - Antonio Brown ($9,300) @ CLE - 9.4
Zach Ertz ($3,600) @ NYG - It's tough to ignore Ertz anymore. After sleep-walking through 2/3's of the season, we've finally seen the Eagles get him involved in their offense. Amazingly, he's registered an incredible 30 targets (!) in the last two games, turning those into an equally incredible 21 catches, 200 yards, and a score. Still, the price is on the rocks. Need I say more?
If you save here, spend here - Kansas City Defense ($4,000) vs. OAK
Jacob Tamme ($3,300) vs. NO - Tamme has totally failed to take over in the absence of Leonard Hankerson. That early-season storyline is now totally on the skids as the Falcons wrap up their disappointing season against New Orleans. Wait, stop the presses! Did I say New Orleans? I surely did! You know the game by now ... everyone plays against the Saints. Well, of course, not everyone, but, yes, you should get at least a little bit of the action. If you don't find yourself with a Falcon (or, a Saint, for that matter) at the end of your DFS roster, Tamme isn't a terrible cheap slot.
If you save here, spend here - Blake Bortles ($6,700) @ HOU
Owen Daniels ($2,500) vs. SD - We started to see Brock Osweiler turn to Daniels on multiple occasions as the Broncos came back for an overtime win over Cincinnati on Monday night. When the dust had cleared, the vet had totaled five catches for 70 yards. It's nothing spectacular, but it is something that can carry-over to this week's battle with San Diego. The Chargers are not bring safety Eric Weddle to town and that should open up some chances. At the same time, the presence of Vernon Davis isn't even, well, present anymore. The burnout played five snaps against the Bengals. Expect Osweiler to keep Daniels in his plans for Week 17.
If you save here, spend here - Ben Roethlisberger ($6,900) @ CLE
Top of the Chart - Rob Gronkowski ($7,400) @ MIA - 7.0
Minnesota ($2,200) @ GB - Yep, things have gotten so ugly for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense that I now have no qualms taking Minnesota up against them at Lambeau Field. Of course, a relative lack of value options on the defensive side this week is also a reason you could turn to Minnesota as your cheap play. But, in their defense, the Vikes totally emasculated Eli Manning last week and they have turned in fantasy production of seven or more points in four of their last five games. It's not a great bet, but a decent one, for the Week 17 showdown.
If you save here, spend here - Delanie Walker ($5,600) @ IND
San Francisco ($2,200) vs. STL - Sure, the Rams won in Seattle last week, but did you see how many yards winning QB, Case Keenum, passed for in that game? Uh, 103. 103!! That's amazingly horrid and makes the 49ers a solid target this week. We've usually seen teams sell out to stop Todd Gurley and send out party invitations for Keenum to hurt them and ... the defense usually wins. San Francisco still is getting no credit for what they have accomplished as a home defense this year, so I'll say it again. In seven home games, they have a total of 35 fantasy points. In eight road games, they have a total of 6 fantasy points! They're price is based off their road struggles and has nothing to do with what they have done in the Bay Area. And, again, it's against the Rams ... do it.
If you save here, spend here - Todd Gurley ($7,400) @ SF
Baltimore ($2,100) @ CIN - How in the sam hell did Baltimore totally clamp down on Ben Roethlisberger last week? I, and many others, still have no earthly idea, but if a team can do that to the playoff-charging Steelers, then what can they do against A.J. McCarron and the Bengals. Plus, there's a chance that Coach Marvin Lewis plays it safe with his playoff-bound Bengals, and sits some starts (say, the limping, A.J. Green??). I don't love the play of Baltimore here, but I can stomach it, if it allows you to go guns blazing elsewhere with your DraftKings team.
If you save here, spend here - Odell Beckham, Jr. ($9,000) vs. PHI
Top of the Chart - Denver ($4,000) vs. SD - 7.5
You can hear Kyle, Monday-Thursday from 8-10 ET and Friday's from 10-midnight ET, on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive', on Sirius 210, XM 87.