In Week 17, the main DraftKings slate features 15 games and in order to help navigate your roster options, I’ll provide some data points for a few players at each position that have the potential to return value over their salary implied totals.
It probably goes without saying, but if you are entering Cash contests on DraftKings (or any other DFS website) this week, not only is it important to know which players and teams have positive matchups, it’s also important to be aware of which teams are fully motivated to play and win.
To help sort that out, you can check out all the various playoff scenarios over on NFL.com. However, here is a list of teams that still have potential playoff berths or home-field advantage on the line this week:
Los Angeles Rams
Kansas City Chiefs
New England Patriots
Los Angeles Chargers
While players on the teams listed above can be used in both GPP and Cash contests, in GPPs it might also be worthwhile to potentially target players on teams that don’t technically have anything to play for other than pride. I’m guessing that there will be a lot of GPP entries this week that will avoid teams like Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Green Bay for fear of not getting complete games. If you can stomach the risk, this might be an opportunity to get a return on value at reduced ownership levels.
Long story short, depending on what type of contest you are in, ask yourself what the team’s motivation would be to actually rest a player and then make your roster decisions based on what you believe will happen.
Before reviewing some of the possible roster options for this Sunday, just a couple of quick notes beforehand.
All data and statistics included in this article are provided courtesy of FantasyData.com. All points allowed, points scored, and pricing is based on DraftKings (DK) data. In addition, all positional rankings and rankings for points allowed to each position is based on a points per game basis.
With that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the fantasy relevant running backs on Sunday.
Melvin Gordon, $8400 (RB3)
Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver – Game Total 41.5 (LAC –6.5)
Although the Chargers have clinched a playoff berth, in order to win the AFC West and get a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, they must win against Denver and they need Kansas City to lose or tie against the Raiders. Although both games will be played simultaneously, if the Chiefs were to get out to a big lead early, there is certainly the possibility that the Chargers could pull the plug and ensure that their starters are healthy for their first playoff game in the Wildcard round.
That said, if you firmly believe that will happen, my counter argument would be to forget about DFS and just make a bet on the Chiefs to cover against the spread. It would be a lot easier than trying to hit on all nine roster spots. Personally, I’m not going to worry about what could go wrong and instead, I’m going to focus on what could go right. In the event that he sees his normal workload, Gordon has the opportunity for a big day given the situation and the incentives that are present for the Chargers to win.
In 2018, Gordon has been a beast when healthy and has averaged 15.0 carries, 76.6 rushing yards, 0.91 rushing touchdowns, 4.3 receptions, 5.7 targets, 42.4 receiving yards, 0.36 receiving touchdowns, and 25.3 DK points per game. In the first matchup between these two teams in Week 11, Gordon had a rushing line of 18-69-0 and a receiving line of 6-87-0 for 21.6 DK points. In a game the Chargers will try and win, he should continue to be one of the focal points of the Chargers offense.
While the Broncos run defense hasn’t been terrible, they are currently allowing the 16th most DK points to the position at 25.5 per game. In addition to the aforementioned outing by Gordon, they have also given up solid fantasy performances to Javorius Allen and Alex Collins (34 combined), Kareem Hunt (29.5 and 19.6), Isaiah Crowell (33.1), Todd Gurley (39.5), and Doug Martin (21.6).
Jeff Wilson, $4400 (RB44)
San Francisco @ Los Angeles Rams – Game Total 48.5 (LAR –10)
San Francisco doesn’t have anything in particular to play for, but due to the large number of injuries they have sustained at multiple positions this year, their young players are getting opportunities to play and will be trying to increase their chances of earning a roster spot next season. Lead running back Matt Breida has been dealing with numerous injuries all year long and has already been ruled out for Week 17. As a result, Jeffrey Wilson finds himself as one of the last running backs standing on the 49ers roster and should see plenty of volume against the Rams.
With Breida injured in Weeks 13 and 14, Wilson found himself in a similar position and received the bulk of the 49ers’ workload out of the backfield. In those two games, he averaged 19.0 carries, 75.5 rushing yards, 0.0 touchdowns, 4.5 receptions, 5.5 targets, and 15.5 DK points per game. At a price of only $4400, if he receives that type of volume this week, he could easily return value.
Although the Rams defense has been good this season, it’s not as if it has been impenetrable. On the year, the Rams have allowed the 19th most DK points to opposing running backs at 24.7 per game and have allowed ten different running backs to score 15.0 or more DK points. This includes Jalen Richard (16.9), Melvin Gordon (16.4), Chris Carson (16.7) and Mike Davis (15.5), Aaron Jones (16.6), Alvin Kamara (33.6), Rashaad Penny (19.8) and Mike Davis (18.0), Kareem Hunt (20.1), and Wendell Smallwood (19.7).
Royce Freeman, $3500 (RB65)
Denver vs Los Angeles Chargers – Game Total 41.5 (LAC –6.5)
Although the Broncos don’t have anything to play for, it is rumored that Vance Joseph is on the hot seat and he is likely going to want to try and end the season on a high note. In addition, Denver’s lead back Phillip Lindsay is out this week due to injury which leaves Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker as the only healthy bodies in the Broncos backfield. While Freeman should see the bulk of the carries, Booker’s presence as a change of pace option makes Freeman best suited for use in GPPs.
Lindsay didn’t technically miss any games this season, but he was ejected from the game against Baltimore in Week 3 and he missed part of last week’s contest against Oakland after being injured. In both instances, Freeman saw more of the workload than Booker. Two games isn’t a huge sample size, but the guess here is that the Broncos know what they have in Booker and might want to see what Freeman can do as the lead back. In Week 3 when Lindsay was ejected, Freeman logged a 13-53-1 rushing line and a 1-5-0 receiving line for 12.8 DK points. At a price of only $3500, a similar performance could return 3.5 to 4 times value.
On deck for the Broncos is a Chargers rush defense that is allowing the 13th most DK points to running backs at 26.5 per game. This season, they have allowed several big days to running backs including Todd Gurley (28.6), Dion Lewis (21.5) and Derrick Henry (14.5), Mike Davis (17.7), Phillip Lindsay (26.6), James Conner (22.4), Joe Mixon (27.8), and Damien Williams (30.3).
In the first meeting between these two teams in Week 11, in addition to the 26.6 scored by Lindsay, Freeman posted a 7-23-1 rushing line and a 1-7-0 receiving line for 10.0 DK points.