Targeting Games for Week 17 DFS Matchups

by Chase Vernon · Strategy

The behemoths of all behemoths. There are a plethora of options to choose from the matchups on the Week 17 DFS slate. 14 games are upon us with no byes and no games on Thursday or Saturday. As a result, there’s little reason to fade players due to the spread of ownership projections. However, keep in mind the vast landscape also creates high levels of volatility, and aiming for the ceiling is a must.

On the Tuesday show for Fantasy Intervention, I discussed with Jakob Sanderson which routes we would head for the Week 17 DFS matchups to attack. We came across a multitude of different perspectives on certain players, such as Tony Pollard, Cooper Kupp, and Devin Singletary. However, we came to one solid conclusion: leverage should only be used against elite players.

There are far too many options at the lower price points to be concerned about chalk.

Even with the elite players, are there going to be a ton of players rolling out Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill and/or Travis Kelce while you have so many cheaper options on the slate? The only significant chalk – which is wildly apparent – will center around Tyler Huntley with Mark Andrews, Josh Allen with Stefon Diggs, and Trey Lance. However, with thousands of combinations added to the slate from the additional games, the likelihood of seeing similar lineups is almost non-existent.

Oh, the fun we are going to have. Let’s dive into the matchups to target for Week 17.

Games to Target in Week 17 DFS Matchups

Cardinals @ Cowboys

Over/Under: 52
Weather: Dome

Fact to Know: From Weeks 13 through 15, Dak Prescott went three straight games without multiple passing touchdowns. It’s was the first time he had done so since the start of 2018.

Side note: Prescott didn’t complete 20 or more passes until Week 7 of 2018.

Players to Attack in Week 17 DFS Matchups

Amari Cooper $6,600

Dak Prescott $6,700

Christian Kirk $5,800

Tony Pollard $5,900

Zach Ertz $5,200

Antoine Wesley $3,600

If you listened to the First Movers Podcast with Josh Larky, he mentioned how quarterbacks and running backs do correlate. I did a study back when I used to take handwritten notes and discovered it led to over a 20-percent success rate. This is just a piece of advice for those starting in this industry: Don’t use handwritten notes. Anyway, I love the Cowboys quarterback-running back stack for Week 17.

As Jakob brought up in our conversation, there are so many great options surrounding Tony Pollard at his price. D’Andre Swift, Antonio Gibson, and Sony Michel are just a few of the names people will pivot to instead of Pollard. I will likely have all three in some form of my lineups.

However, we know two things about the Cardinals, which make me want to stick with Pollard.

The first is Cardinals the are allowing a 15-percent (No. 1) Explosive Run Rate. The second is the Cardinals don’t give up explosive passing plays when they are able to play nickel. About to dive into some numbers here, so stick with me.

Not only have the Cardinals been dealing with injuries in the secondary since Week 11, they have also faced an increase of two-tight end sets. The combination has forced Byron Murphy to move from the slot to the outside. With Murphy in the slot, he’s one of the best in the league.

Since Week 11, his opponents have snagged ten receptions on 14 targets for only 45 yards and no touchdowns with one interception. While on the outside, Murphy has allowed six receptions on ten targets for 108 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Needless to say, he belongs on the inside.

The Cowboys play with only one tight end on 77-percent of the snaps, which would mean Murphy gets to return to his home. CeeDee Lamb is a great receiver but could be limited by Murphy. To put into perspective, Murphy limited Cooper Kupp – the best receiver in football – to just five receptions on nine targets for 97 yards and no touchdown in two (!) games. So if you’re aiming for 7.4 points, be my guest.

Back to the point, Michael Gallup won’t see many deep opportunities, but he will be running the routes. He will pull defenders off, allowing looks underneath. Lamb won’t see many of those opportunities because he will have his hands full with Murphy. Meanwhile, Amari Cooper will likely be destroying these backup corners 12 to 15 yards downfield the entire game.

The Game Script and defensive looks will allow the running backs to torch a team with a 5.42 (No. 19) DOCE Score.

The DOCE score is even giving the Cardinals too much credit because they haven’t played any great pass-catching running backs outside of Christian McCaffrey.

When I go with the Prescott-Cooper-Pollard stack, I’ll run it back with Christian Kirk in the slot against (hopefully) Jourdan Lewis. Trevon Diggs doesn’t travel to the inside and will likely line up on A.J. Green throughout the game. Zach Ertz makes sense as well, and don’t sleep on Antoine Wesley.

Antoine Wesley Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Antoine Wesley Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Wesley is a 6-4, 206-pound freak, with a 34-inch (95th-percentile among qualified wide receivers) arm length. He will see coverage from the 5-11, 196-pound Anthony Brown. Over the past two games, Wesley has been targeted four times in the red zone. He’s likely to see a few more in this matchup.

Texans @ 49ers

Over/Under: 44
Weather: 53f

Fact to Know: Deebo Samuel saw more targets (17) in six consecutive quarters from Trey Lance than he’s seen from Jimmy Garoppolo in six consecutive quarters this entire season. Samuel also had zero carries in that span.

Players to Attack in the Week 17 DFS Matchups

Trey Lance $4,800

Deebo Samuel $8,700

Davis Mills $5,500

Brandin Cooks $6,000

Nico Collins $4,000

George Kittle $7,100

Brevin Jordan $2,800

Jeff Wilson $5,600

Elijah Mitchell $6,000

Brandon Aiyuk $5,900

Jauan Jennings $3,800

This section will be relatively short based on trying to leverage the field. Trey Lance and Deebo Samuel are apparent plays. They will likely get runbacks from Brandin Cooks and some Nico Collins. Trying to differentiate your lineups with Elijah Mitchell or Jeff Wilson will likely lead to the entire lineup failing. For Lance to be successful, he will have to run, and he only targeted the running back on four percent of his attempts on the season.

Instead, you can try to roll out a lineup with Jauan Jennings in hopes of a red-zone target, and try to get different throughout the rest of your lineup. Also, consider a Davis Mills stack.

Mills has been extremely efficient over the past three games is coming off one where he picked apart the Chargers. Brandin Cooks is back in action after spending time on the COVID list, while Nico Collins and Brevin Jordan are making strides in the receiving game. The offense is hitting on all cylinders, and the 49ers defense is falling to pieces.

If the Texans-49ers matchup was any other week where the slate wasn’t so vast, I would have around 30 to 40 percent of my lineups focused on a Mills stack. However, for the Week 17 DFS matchups, I’ll be rolling out around 20-percent.

Other Sneaky Skinny-Game Stack

Russell Wilson $6,200

D.K. Metcalf $6,500

D’Andre Swift $6,000

One game back from injury, Swift could make for an interesting case. On one side, I could see him as top-five back in terms of ownership. On the other, people could be afraid of a running back who will see limited touches in hopes he gets healthy.

Regardless, Swift is someone I’m targeting heavy due to Seahawks inability to stop pass-catching running backs. The Seahawks allow an 8.36 (No. 32) DOCE Score and have only allowed one team to have less than four completions to their backs in 2021. At 14.4 points per game, they have allowed 3.1 points more to pass-catching running backs than any other team in the NFL. In comparison, the Panthers are only allowing 4.9.

Fire up Swift while including the Russell WilsonD.K. Metcalf stack. I don’t mind Tyler Lockett. He should likely be thrown in lineups as well. However, the Lions have struggled with deep receivers on the outside in particular and Metcalf will likely have lower roster percentages.

Couple of Week 17 DFS Dart Throws

Foster Moreau $3,800

Foster Moreau could see a ton of targets in a matchup against the Colts. The Colts have been a bottom-three team against the tight end and have allowed seven of the past eight tight ends to grab double-digit fantasy points. Moreau is priced outside the top 15 after finishing with double-digit points in his past two matchups.

Derek Carr has only attempted 3.4 red zone passes over the past seven games compared to 6.4 over his first eight. The Colts allow the second least amount of rushing touchdowns inside the 20, so I expect Carr’s attempts to be closer to the start of the season.

Derrick Gore $5,100

I can’t remember the last time a player produced better than the starter at the running back position every time they saw an opportunity but was still sent back to the bench. We won’t have to worry about the Week 17 matchups for DFS. Derrick Gore will see secondary snaps against the Bengals, who have been very hit or miss. At 0.99 Fantasy Points Per Touch, Gore ranks just outside the top ten.