Daily fantasy (DFS) brings a breath of fresh air to the industry, with an emphasis on the excitement of drafting a new team every week. We all know that the late summer drafts and the thrill of analyzing the weekly matchups are the best part of playing fantasy football. The daily game merges those two together to form the newest wave rocking the fantasy world.
Here in the weekly daily fantasy roundup column, we'll break down everything you need to know to pick the best plays on the Week 17 slate. If any of the terminology goes over your head. Please refer to the "what you need to know" preview of the roundup.
Top quarterback plays
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers - The Packers and Lions tilt should be one of the heaviest played games on the slate. There are stakes for both teams and plenty of high-end offensive pieces to deploy. Aaron Rodgers has a 14-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio the last six games, and that includes an unlucky zero-touchdown spot against the Bears. The Lions are on pace to finish with a plus 70-percent completion rate allowed on defense, which is remarkably poor.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints - Matt Ryan is sure to be more popular, if not simply because he is at home, and he makes for a fine play too. However, Brees should have just as a good of an outlook with the game taking place indoors. The Falcons pass defense stats look good lately on paper, but make sure to take into account that they've played a hobbled Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Jared Goff and Alex Smith in their last four games. Brees should be able to pick on this secondary that is filled with backups.
Top running back plays
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints - With a number of incentives in his contract and the ever elusive 1,000-yard season on the line for Ingram, he should get plenty of work in Week 17. He seemed to dispel of the committee that existed between he and Tim Hightower heading into last week, as he was on the field for 31 more plays than his counterpart.
Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons - It's a long shot for upside on limited touches, but Coleman has shown big-play upside all season. Three of his touchdowns this season have come from 30 or more yards away. All the others (outside of a 13-yarder) have come from inside the 10-yard line. That sort of multi-faceted scoring path makes him a valuable play in a shootout-type game script.
Rex Burkhead, Cincinnati Bengals - With Jeremy Hill likely out for this game, Burkhead makes for a fine fill-in play. He saw 16 touches in relief of Hill last week, and has a shot to push for 20 in this game. The Ravens are a tough front, but if they get a lead on the Bengals that will only force the capable Burkhead to chip-in as a receiver.
Top wide receiver plays
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers - He's bee incredible all year, and there is no reason to expect him to slow down now. If Cobb is out again, Nelson will shift into the slot and face cakewalk matchups against the Lions pass defense. Nelson accumulated 53 percent of his yards when lined up in the slot last week. That was also with Cobb out.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills - EJ Manuel starting will (perhaps rightly) scare most owners away from Watkins. But he was back to playing a full complement of snaps in Week 16 and showed his upside with 154 yards and a touchdown against Miami. No secondary has been as burnable as the Jets this year and they gave up an NFL-high 12 passing touchdowns on just 68 completions over the last four weeks.
Cameron Meredith, Chicago Bears - It's more than okay to continue riding this gravy train. Meredith has 13 and 12 targets over his last two games, holding strong to his role as Matt Barkley's preferred target. He sees over 70 percent of his targets from the slot, and Jordy Nelson was able to make most of his big plays against the Vikings by working the interior last week.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins - It's clear the public and most fantasy sites have not caught up to Pierre Garcon's steady role in Washington. He has 70 yards and/or a touchdown in all but one of his last seven games. He has a steady target load of 7.8 per game over the last month, as well. Washington badly needs to win in Week 17 and the Giants top corner, Janoris Jenkins, should get matched up with DeSean Jackson more than Garcon (if Jenkins is healthy and active).
Chris Hogan, New England Patriots - If Malcolm Mitchell misses this game, which he likely will, newcomer Michael Floyd will be the only outside receiver to compete with Hogan for targets. The Dolphins gave up a number of long plays to Tyrod Taylor and the Bills last week, and deep plays have been Hogan's specialty this year.
Top tight end plays
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs- He's the best tight end in the NFL with Rob Gronkowski on IR and continues to amass 100-yard games. The Chargers have struggled against tight ends in each of the last two seasons. Casey Hayward is their only true starting-caliber player in the secondary and he will likely be busy tracking Jeremy Maclin around the field. It's worth going nearly all-in on Kelce this week.
Stack(s) of the week
Blake Bortles/Allen Robinson/T.Y. Hilton - Jacksonville's top duo got back on track last week in a dream spot against a withering Titans pass defense. While both the Jaguars and Colts are out of the playoff race, both teams are looking to finish the year strong. For the Jaguars, they want to make a strong impression for 2017 and balled out in interim coach Doug Marrone's first game. With the Colts, apparently they want to get to 8-8 and "just love football" enough to play hard in this spot. This game has shootout potential, and nothing in the Colts secondary is worth worrying over. Blake Bortles averaged 251.7 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions per game in his last three meeting with the Colts. T.Y. Hilton has a tough matchup with Jalen Ramsey, but he has such a great opportunity outlook with Donte Moncrief likely to sit out. Hilton averages 10 targets and 102.3 yards in games where Moncrief did not play the last two years.
Tom Brady/LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots - The Patriots have plenty to play for as a win wraps up the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The Dolphins just got shredded for 589 yards by the Bills in Week 16. Stacking Brady and Blount together is a unique formation that helps you hoard all the touchdown opportunities for New England against Miami.
Best contrarian play(s)
Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs - It's been a while since Ware has brought value to our DFS lineups and he's on the injury report this week as a game-time decision. However, the Chiefs are favorites over the wilting Chargers in their quest to chase the No. 2 seed in the AFC. Ware should get fed here.
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks - Graham averaged 7.4 targets per game from Weeks 3 to 13 before seeing totals of four, two and three the last three weeks. His dip in volume certainly dipped with Tyler Lockett fully healthy off his PCL injury and back making plays. With Lockett on IR to end the season, Graham should be in focus this week. The 49ers are certainly exploitable through the air, and Graham re-announced his presence to the NFL against San Francisco in Week 3 with nine catches for 100 yards and a score. He makes for a perfect pivot off the certain to be popular Travis Kelce.
Best obvious play
Near 100 percent exposure player
David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals - David Johnson is chasing multiple franchise records, and wants to be one of the rare running backs to snag 1,000 receiving yards to go along with 1,000 rushing yards. He needs over 150 to do so, but don't rule out the Cardinals force-feeding him to try and get there. Oh, and the Rams are quite bad.
Cheat code of the week
Paul Richardson, Seattle Seahawks - Tyler Lockett has six, six, six and eight targets in the four games leading up to his horrific broken leg last week. Paul Richardson is likely to inherit some of the volume Lockett left behind as the No. 3 receiver behind Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. Richardson is a speed receiver who ran a 4.4 coming out of college and averages 9.3 yards per target in his career. The 49ers have given up 16.4 yards per reception over the last month. It's a total Hail Mary, but at the minimum value Richardson could surprise, especially if he returns kicks and punts in Lockett's absence.