Welcome to the Daily Fantasy Roundup where we'll cover every inch of what you need to set a great lineup every week. Here we are, the end of the regular season slate for NFL DFS. It's a sad time, but it is was a fun ride this year. The 2015 season seemed to be almost a compilation of mini-series, rather than a ton of sustained occurrences stretched out for the entire season.
While the public will pitch Week 17 DFS as a great way to get your fantasy fix in with your redraft championships likely in the books, the final week of the NFL season presents just as many dilemmas for daily players as it does season-long gamers. We're stuck projecting which teams have motivation to win, who might rest their starters and who out of the players on teams with nothing to play for will give maximum effort. It's a little more than your average headache.
As such, you'll see plenty of guesswork with narratives in the Week 17 DFS roundup. If we can nail these projections, it will create some great advantages for us in tournaments. And that brings me to my last point. I would advise going mostly tournament-heavy in Week 17. It's a way to steer into and embrace the variance this week brings.
Since there is no Thursday night game, we will once again be without the assistance of projected Sunday ownership percentages as the we had prior to Week 16. You'll once again have to deal with my guessing on the matter.
Top quarterback plays
Cam Newton - The Panther lost their first game in Week 16, and Newton recorded his lowest fantasy point total since Week 7. You might get him at a lower ownership percentage as a result, and in a better spot at home. The Bucs come in as the 25th ranked pass defense unit in Football Outsiders' DVOA. The Panthers have to win in order to secure home field advantage in the playoffs, and should play with full intensity for 60 minutes. The only occurrence that may change that is if they build a big lead, which Newton would of course cause.
Eli Manning - After a dreadful showing on national television without Odell Beckham, Manning might clock in at a less than three percent ownership figure, which is not a fair assessment of his season at all. Manning has a 5.7 touchdown rate, the second-highest mark of his career trailing only the 5.8 rate from 2010 where he led the league in interceptions. Manning finished with and 8-1 touchdown to interception ratio, and a 75.07 completion percentage in the two games prior to Beckham's suspension. He's a no-brainer upside play in an easy to stack game that might turn into a shootout.
Top running back plays
Devonta Freeman - The Saints defense carries the 29th ranked run-stopping DVOA and ranks dead last at defending running backs through the air according to Football Outsiders. Freeman might get overlooked with the public wanting to roster Julio Jones first and foremost. It won't be easy to fit them both in, but they own such a high percentage of the Falcons' touches that you can play both in the same lineup for a unique combination.
Todd Gurley - Going against the 49ers could make for one last blowup game for Todd Gurley, who has 5.17 yards per carry and four touchdowns over the last three games. The 49ers defense was absolutely decimated over the last month on the ground, allowing the most yards (511) and touchdowns (seven) in the NFL. Even if their home/road splits look a bit daunting, Gurley can beat this defense. The Rams certainly want Gurley to come away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, and will feed him accordingly.
With news that Gurley is out, Tre Mason becomes an elite must-play in non-tournament games at a bargain value.
Frank Gore - His ownership might be shockingly high after a two touchdown effort last time out, but Gore is once again worth a look as a value play in DFS. Someone from Indianapolis will get over on a Titans defense that looks as if it has all but laid down over the last month. Ryan Lindley or Josh Freeman could lead the passing game on Sunday, so Gore is the safest place to look to exploit Tennessee, who allowed 677 total yards to running backs over the last four weeks. Gore is just 109 yards shy of his fifth straight 1,000-yard season. In what looks like his last game as the Colts coach, longtime Gore fan Chuck Pagano could give the veteran the touches needed to get there.
Rashad Jennings - After a year mired in a gross committee, Jennings has 345 total yards in his last four games. Suddenly, the Giants seem inclined to feature the veteran runner, a plan that made sense from the start. The Eagles have the 26th ranked run defense DVOA, and can't stop bleeding yards to running backs with 481 allowed over the last four weeks.
Danny Woodhead - With touch totals of 14 and 19 the last two weeks, after a long stretch of a lack of involvement, Woodhead appears to be back to a role with the base offense now that Melvin Gordon is on IR. The Denver defense is tough up front, but receiving backs got over on them at times this season, with 86 running back catches allowed. Look for the Chargers to fall behind early and feature Woodhead in chasing mode.
Top wide receiver plays
Golden Tate - He posted a solid, but unspectacular game as last week's 100-percent exposure player. Tate still leads the NFL in catches inside the 10-yard line, and is a threat to score every week with that usage.
Jordan Matthews - The Giants slot cornerback, Trevin Wade, is the clear weak link of the corner rotation. Provided Matthews plays the same positon where he took 94 percent of his snaps this season with Chip Kelly now gone, he has a clear matchup advantage. Matthews has over 100 yards and a touchdown in each of his last two games. If this contest turns into a shootout as some project, Matthews is the clear tournament play here.
Top tight end plays
Zach Ertz - The Eagles tight end was their best player on offense over the last month, and his effort culminated with 30 targets the last two games. The Giants' poor safeties and slow-footed linebackers are a matchup to exploit for tight ends. New York allowed the second-most yards and a 7.8 touchdown rate to the position so far this season. Just be careful, as his low value could make him the highest-owned tight end on the slate this week.
Top defense plays
Washington DEF - Kellen Moore continues to show no ability as an NFL caliber quarterback. After throwing three interceptions on 25 pass attempts in his debut, he completed 41.94 percent of his passes in Week 16.
Stack(s) of the week
Brian Hoyer/DeAndre Hopkins and Nate Washington - Normally I hate using players coming off an extended injury absence in their first week back. Yet, with Hoyer cleared to play it's tempting to get on him as a value play at quarterback. The Texans offense keeps churning out passing production, vaulting even Brandon Weeden to a three-score game in Week 16. The Jaguars pass defense ranks 30th in pass defense DVOA, and the Texans should give maximum effort in this spot to ensure they win the AFC South. The best way to unlock Hoyer's upside is to pair him with both of his starting receivers. With Cecil Shorts out, the Texans become a highly concentrated offense, with Nate Washington averaging 11 targets and 1.5 touchdowns per game when Shorts sits. Even consider throwing a Jaguars receiver to maximize the lineup's upside.
Ryan Fitzpatrick/Brandon Marshall and/or Eric Decker - The Bills pass defense is suddenly vulnerable, giving up 746 yards to wide receivers in the last four weeks. With Stephon Gillmore on IR, and Ronald Darby nursing injuries, it only makes sense the secondary is struggling. The Jets come in with one of the league's most concentrated passing offense, with Decker and Marshall combining for over 50 percent of the team's targets. The Jets need to beat the Bills and their former head coach Rex Ryan to get into the playoffs. Ryan Fitzpatrick and his wide receivers will be a big part of the plan in doing so.
Best contrarian play(s)
Steelers passing game players - Without the benefit of a Thursday night contest, we can't project with 100 percent certainty that any combination of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown or Martavis Bryant will be under-owned in Week 17. However, given the way they burned so many people last week with just 11.6 combined points between them at high ownership percentages, it's more than plausible. Pittsburgh desperately needs to win this game against Cleveland, and the Jets to lose, to get into the playoffs. Perhaps Mike Tomlin will actually prepare his team to try and beat an inferior opponent this time around.
Michael Crabtree - The Chiefs allowed just 42 catches and two touchdowns to wide receivers over the last four weeks. Their defense is ferocious, despite missing Justin Houston and Tamba Hali from the pass rush in multiple games this month. However, Andy Reid believes in resting players historically, and the Chiefs could conceivably play this game slow despite a shot to win the division if Denver loses. Either way, Crabtree makes for an interesting play, despite a quieter stretch precipitated by an under-discussed regression period from Derek Carr. He led the Raiders in targets with 9.27 per game, and red zone looks with 13, all season. Just under 120 yards away from 1,000 for the season, perhaps the Raiders look to get him that mark here.
Best obvious play
Julio Jones - Without anything else to play for in Week 17, the Falcons might be interested in rewarding their best player with a few accolades. Julio Jones could break the record for most receptions in a season, which is currently held by Marvin Harrison with 143 in 2002, if he snares 17 catches. Against a New Orleans secondary that is on a record pace in terms of touchdowns allowed, and ranks 32nd in Football Outsiders' DVOA, it's far from an impossible goal. People will fall all over themselves to get Jones in their DFS lineup in a home spot against the Saints, so make sure to be a little contrarian elsewhere if you go with him.
My near 100 percent exposure player
Odell Beckham - Coming off a suspension, there's all the narrative reason in the world to think Odell Beckham goes off in this game. While he was away in Week 16, Chris Colinsworth alluded on the broadcast that the Giants do all their film study during the week to identify which receiver position can best exploit their upcoming opponent, and then just put Odell Beckham in that spot. Expect the Giants, whose offense collapsed under the weight of missing Beckham, will do all they can to get him the football. However, the matchup is an even bigger kicker. The Eagles were the worst team in terms of allowing fantasy points to wide receivers, and the Cardinals and Washington receivers got open at will against their injury-replacement corners the last two weeks. As you see in this post, all the elite level receivers are in tremendous spots. Beckham is the most enticing with this a projected shootout between two teams with no reason to rest players, but each side motivated to send their coach off in style (New York) or put good tape out for a new head-man (Philadelphia).