Stefon Diggs Impending Explosion | Everything You Need to Know NFL Week 17

by Matt Babich · Matchups Start/Sit
Stefon Diggs fantasy

This is Everything You Need to Know, Week 17 Edition. In Week 16, we were absolutely DIALED IN. We predicted both the struggle and success of Calvin Ridley, called our shot on a Kyle Pitts home run, correctly faded Jameson Williams, nailed our start recommendations for Adam Thielen and James Conner, and saw the shootout between Green Bay and Carolina coming a mile away. We’ve caught fire at the most important time of the year, and now it’s time to bring home the gold. Without further ado, let’s get right into Everything You Need to Know for NFL Week 17, including fantasy league winners Stefon Diggs, Jayden Reed, Darius Slayton and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Digging up Championships

Before the season started, I never would’ve thought I’d be having to convince fantasy managers to start Stefon Diggs in their championship matchups. Many may not be seriously considering moving Diggs to their bench, but his six-week peak of WR38 definitely has owners concerned. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Patriots defense has allowed at least 60 yards to opposing wide receivers in all but one game this season, mostly to the team’s number one option. They’ve also been burned for big games by playmakers like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Generally, the Patriots defense attempts to stifle explosive plays, which will limit the likes of Gabe Davis in the Bills offense. They’ve also been stout as a rush defense.

All that opens the door for Diggs to have a get-right game before the NFL playoffs. Over his last six matchups against the Patriots, Diggs averages 75 receiving yards and has scored in four of those six games. The Bills love looking to Diggs to beat their division rival, and they’ll be looking to give the squeaky wheel some grease in fantasy Championship Week.

Reed Me an Underdog Story

Jayden Reed missed last week’s contest with a toe injury, but has a juicy matchup just in time for fantasy championships. His opponent – the Minnesota Vikings – are one of the league’s worst defenses against slot receivers. They allow a seasonal average of 16 fantasy points per game to slots (third-most), giving up a cool 12-106-1 stat-line to Amon-Ra St. Brown last week.

The Packers rookie has been heavily involved in the offense down the stretch, and is becoming a reliable producer. Reed posted 15-plus fantasy points in five of his last six games, averaging seven targets per game during that stretch. On the season, he ranks No. 10 among receivers in Red Zone Targets and No. 7 in total touchdowns. Reed’ll be leaned on heavily without fellow explosive playmaker Christian Watson in a must-win game for Green Bay. Reed is a WR2 with top-10 upside in Week 17, and will help bring home fantasy championships to those who start him.

Darius Slay-ing the Fantasy Playoffs

The Giants are amidst a rollercoaster of a season, underperforming vastly from what we saw last season. There have been few fantasy-relevant games from any Giants pass-catcher. Until, that is, the return of Tyrod Taylor. Taylor relieved Tommy DeVito on Christmas Day, and nearly delivered a comeback versus the Eagles, thanks to a 70-yard touchdown to Darius Slayton.

Over the last two weeks, Slayton has been a nearly every-down player, running 95-percent of the team’s routes. That usage bore fruit on Monday, generating eight targets for Slayton. The Giants, who are looking to save face, will line up against a Rams defense that’s been allowing fantasy-relevant performances to the opposing team’s number-one option. 

The Giants’ deep threat currently has the usage to project at least six targets in this contest. Given his big-play ability, his ceiling is worth giving Slayton the nod in deeper-league flex spots. Don’t be surprised when he cashes in on another score and puts up another 10-plus points in Week 17.

Clyde Edwards-Hilariously Back

No, we did not time travel back to 2020. The year is still 2023, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire is officially all the way back. With Isiah Pacheco out in Week 15, CEH returned to fantasy relevance with 101 total yards and a score en route to an RB9 performance. After Pacheco exited Week 16’s contest with a concussion, the 4th-year back returned to a relevant role, catching three passes for 42 yards.

Pacheco, given the average return timeline from the concussion protocol, is unlikely to suit up this week against the Bengals. That gives Edwards-Helaire a golden opportunity to bring home fantasy championships. Cincy has been getting thrashed by running backs as of late, allowing 14-plus fantasy points in eight of their last 10 matchups. They also allow the 5th-most rushing touchdowns to opposing backs on the season.

There’s a solid receiving role for the Chiefs starting running back, as Pacheco has earned 4-plus targets in five of his last seven games. Edwards-Helaire also has a stark history of earning targets from Patrick Mahomes, averaging 3.5 targets per game in his career when logging at least 40-percent of the team’s snaps. There should be plenty of opportunity for CEH in what is a much needed get-right game for the Chief’s offense. I expect him to find the end zone at least once in this matchup and deliver a RB2-or-better performance.

Implied Team Totals (Sunday Main Slate)

Highest Implied Team Totals

  1. San Francisco 49ers (31.25)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles (29.25)
  3. Buffalo Bills (26.25)
  4. Kansas City Chiefs (26)
  5. Los Angeles Rams (25.25)

This week’s slate offers less chalk potential than last week, with only two games with 45-plus point totals and a spread of five or less. The 49ers, Eagles, and Bills are all expected to light up the scoreboard in ultra-positive Game Scripts. That means we should see plenty of points early, but could be disappointed by the overall outputs given how quickly these teams could control their respective games.

The Rams offer high upside in a matchup against the Giants in a game that is expected to stay within one score. Although, the key Rams performers are all priced fairly high given their matchup. Given the price points, the Chiefs are actually my favorite team to gain exposure to on the slate this week. Cincinnati’s defense has been swiss cheese as of late, and KC is begging for a get-right game.

Last week, we nailed the contrarian shootout of the week by pinning the Packers/Panthers matchup as a high-scoring affair. This week, I’m looking to Los Angeles in a game where most are expecting a low-scoring affair between the Broncos and the Chargers. 

Lowest Implied Team Totals

  1. New England Patriots (14.25)
  2. Carolina Panthers (15.25)
  3. Los Angeles Chargers (17)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (17.25)
  5. Washington Commanders (18.25)

Surprisingly, there’s quite a bit of value on the low point totals this week. First, the Chargers are being slightly underrated. In an unexpectedly competitive contest against the Bills, Easton Stick put up a moderately efficient performance, going 15 of 21 for 261 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos’ defense has given up 68 points over the past two weeks. Stick, who’s seen this defense once already, has a chance at correcting his previous mistakes. Keenan Allen and Josh Palmer are values this week.

Secondly, the Washington Commanders’ offense has a decent outlook despite playing the 49ers. Jacoby Brissett, who is definitely better than Sam Howell, will take over the starting QB role. When doing so, Terry McLaurin has been lighting up the field, making him a solid DFS candidate at his price.

DFS Values: Patrick Mahomes ($7500), Devin Singletary ($5600), Ezekiel Elliott ($6000), Rashee Rice ($6900), Zay Flowers ($5600), Adam Thielen ($5900), Dallas Goedert ($4800)

Injury Report

CJ Stroud

After missing two games, CJ Stroud is back at practice. That signals the rookie sensation should return to the lineup this week against a soft Titans defense. He should confidently return to fantasy lineups for Championship Sunday.

Michael Pittman

Michael Pittman has yet to clear concussion protocol, after suffering a setback before last week’s contest. If he returns to practice this week, there’s a decent chance Pittman suits up. Until then, consider Pittman closer to doubtful than questionable.

Christian Watson

Christian Watson has still yet to practice with his hamstring injury. If we don’t see a full practice this week, there’s no chance he suits up against the Vikings. Right now, Watson should be considered doubtful.

Keenan Allen

Keenan Allen has still not been spotted at practice this week. Given the status of the Chargers, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get shut down. Until he sees the practice field, I’m considering Allen doubtful. That won’t change unless Allen gets in a full practice.

Will Levis

Will Levis has yet to log a full practice this week, but Mike Vrabel has gone on the record saying he will not be shut down for the final two games. That is a good sign for his availability this week, but there’s still no certainty he’ll suit up against the Texans.

Hopefully you’re not relying on Levis to win your fantasy championship but, if you are, you should see him return to action on Sunday.

Trevor Lawrence

Trevor Lawrence has now suffered a third injury in consecutive weeks. First the high ankle sprain, then the concussion, and now a shoulder injury. Members close to the Jaguars have said that Lawrence should not play this week, in order to preserve his health for the playoffs. Should he suit up, as much as it may pain you, you can still trust a hobbled Lawrence against a deflated Panthers defense.

Hunter Henry

Hunter Henry returned to practice on Wednesday, a good sign for his availability in Week 17. With Henry’s usage under Bailey Zappe, he becomes a borderline must-start if he suits up against Buffalo. Consider the veteran questionable until he logs another full practice.

Josh Jacobs

Josh Jacobs is still being held out of practice. While that isn’t a good sign for his Week 17 availability, things could turn around quickly. One full practice is all Jacobs needs in order to be activated for this contest. With the Raiders’ playoff hopes still hanging on by a thread, Jacobs will be activated if healthy. By pure volume alone, he’s worth a start if he returns.

Zay Jones

Zay Jones returned to practice on Wednesday. Coach Doug Pederson spoke with optimism that Jones will be able to suit up against the Panthers. Currently, consider Jones questionable. If he’s activated – and with Christian Kirk still sidelined – Jones is a low-end WR2 candidate (if Lawrence also plays).

Jaylen Waddle

Mike McDaniel certainly doesn’t want to rule out Jaylen Waddle too early in the week. The reports are vaguely optimistic, but I’d bet the Dolphins look to preserve Waddle’s health going into the playoffs. I’m considering Waddle doubtful this week. Dealing with a high ankle sprain, his upside could be limited depending on his activity level throughout the week.

Courtland Sutton

Courtland Sutton is currently in concussion protocol. Wheels up if he clears it, even with quarterback Jarrett Stidham set to start. Until we get more information, monitor the progress of the Broncos’ WR1 closely.

Jordan Addison

Jordan Addison is currently considered “day-to-day” with his ankle injury. He may be forced to play this week with the Vikings needing some wins to lock up a playoff spot. Right now he “isn’t being ruled out,” which is not exactly the vote of confidence fantasy managers were hoping for. If he does play, he shouldn’t be hindered too much by the injury, given its grade.

On to Week 17

Week over week, we’ve been paying attention to the right details and will continue to refine our process as we learn lessons from our losses. By continuing to attack the right matchups and following the right usage and efficiency trends, we’ll continue to DOMINATE the fantasy playoffs and DFS lineups. Happy hunting!