Welcome to the NFL DFS QB Coach, where we identify optimal point-per-dollar quarterbacks for our lineups on DraftKings, FanDuel and SuperDraft.
Before we dive into Week 17, here is a quick review of last week’s NFL DFS results.
Green is a hit, red a miss and grey a push. Roster Percentage (Own%) listed from the DraftKings Millionaire Maker ($20 entry). Also included their point-per-dollar output (DK points divided by DK salary).
Another solid week for the QB Coach, with four of the seven recommended quarterbacks ending up in the top six at the position. Mayfield was the lone disappointment, but almost all of us moved on from him following the loss of his receivers to the Covid IR. I ended up with Watson, Trubisky and Mahomes as my 3-max guys and sadly did not have enough of Dalton. Though, my Dalton teams were double stacked with Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper and ended up as my best ones on the day. Those who rostered him did so under two percent. Rookie Hurts came through with a third straight solid start.
It’s important to note this article is posted mid-week, so injuries and other news can change our reads as we get closer to Sunday. This article is specifically for Sunday’s “Main” slate.
NFL DFS Matchups
The final regular-season slate of the year, and it’s a massive one, as is the case every year in Week 17. Fifteen games total with only one other game this weekend, Washington-Philadelphia in the Sunday night primetime spot.
The main difference between this slate and every other one in a season is the playoff implications. Some teams are still gunning to make the playoffs, and others fighting for seeding. The teams that plan to go ‘all-out’ and have the most to play for are usually the ones we want to focus on for NFL DFS.
All the team’s quarterbacks who need to win are bolded in the chart below, but here is a quick overview:
- Packers (Aaron Rodgers) – Need to win to clinch top seed
- Seahawks (Russell Wilson) – Can land anywhere between #1 seed (first-round bye) or # 3
- Saints (Drew Brees) – Need Packers to lose and need to beat Panthers to get first-round bye
- Buccaneers (Tom Brady) – Either #5 or #6 seed, so Brady should play, and they’ll keep Brady in there if they aren’t blowing the Falcons out since that way they can avoid playing Saints or Seahawks in first round (would get an NFC East team instead, which is a better matchup)
- Rams (Jared Wolford) – Stepping in for Goff; must win to clinch playoff berth
- Bears (Mitch Trubisky) – Will be fighting; need to beat Packers to advance to playoffs
- Cardinals (Kyler Murray?) – Kyler will likely suit up for this important game if he is medically cleared and able to; need to beat the Rams and have Bears lose (likely) to get in; Chris Streveler ($4,700 DK) would sub in for the start if Kyler can’t go
- Bills (Josh Allen) – Possibility of starters getting pulled early, but need to win or Steelers to lose to clinch #2 seed (which doesn’t mean as much with no second league bye)
- Titans (Ryan Tannehill) – Must-win situation to clinch playoff berth; high Vegas total here
- Ravens (Lamar Jackson) – In with a win; Lamar will go all out
- Dolphins (Tua Tagovailoa) – In with a win; Bills might pull starters
- Browns (Baker Mayfield) – In with a win; Steelers resting Big Ben for Rudolph
- Colts (Philip Rivers) – Not guaranteed to get in if they win; would also need a loss by any of TEN, BAL, CLE or MIA, which is certainly possible; Colts are big favorites over the Jaguars
Spots I feel comfortable with include Rodgers (GB), Wilson (SEA), Jackson (BAL) and Tannehill (TEN). Deshaun Watson (HOU) and his squad are out of the playoff race, but he is still a fantastic play against a porous Titans’ secondary. Mason Rudolph (PIT) is a very intriguing play at just $4,300 on DK and will likely draw some of the highest ownership we have seen all season.
Cash plays in gold, GPP plays in blue
Vegas lines as of Wednesday morning
Listed: QB DvP and DVOA; QB’s in must-win or important scenarios are bolded
Cash Game Preferences
- Aaron Rodgers, Packers
The likely NFL MVP will want to put a bow on his amazing season with a big game and a first-round bye. He leads the league in touchdown passes (44) with just five interceptions and provides a solid weekly floor despite not adding much as a scrambler. Rodgers has dipped below 23 DK points in a start just once in his last 10 starts. As he looks to continue padding his stats (and possibly even having a goal of 50 pass TD in mind), you can expect Rodgers to throw a ton whether the team has a big lead or not.
- Ryan Tannehill, Titans
The highest Vegas total (56.5) by a country mile and our first combined total over 55 in six weeks. The Titans need to win in order to make the playoffs and likely won’t take their collective feet off the gas pedal to ensure this against their division rivals, the Texans. Houston has been getting shanked by the run all season and is a bottom-three run defense, but since the loss of their best CB, Bradley Roby, the Texans have been getting shredded through the air, as well. Tannehill may not be very popular only because there are so many games and a multitude of fine options to choose from in NFL DFS. I would expect that Watson and the Texans put up a fight and turn this regular-season finale into a shootout.
- Deshaun Watson, Texans
The other side of this game, where the Texans are 7.5-point underdogs with a 24.5 team total. Thus will expect Watson to slang it for four quarters against a pass defense that ranks 30th in DVOA. The Titans have been getting toasted through the air weekly, having allowed the second-most passing touchdowns (33) this season behind only the Lions. Watson has the league’s best yards-per-attempt rate (8.1) and doesn’t seem to have skipped much of a beat without Will Fuller. He put up a 335-4-0 line (35 DK points) against the Titans in Week 6 and has thrown for over 300 yards in five of his last six.
- Lamar Jackson, Ravens
A must-win scenario for the Ravens and Jackson has been hitting his stride since a minor leg injury around Weeks 4 and 5 that caused him to be cautious as a runner. Since Week 6 (nine games), Jackson has averaged a whopping 10 carries and 75 rushing yards per game, running in six scores over that span. The Bengals have only allowed 176 rushing yards to opposing QBs (third lowest) but also have had some good luck in that regard. They simply haven’t faced any scrambling signal-callers this season besides Lamar himself in Week 5. And that’s when Lamar was hurting and not running. He should be all systems go, both on the ground and through the air, against a defense that ranks among the bottom five against the pass.
- Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Something tells me Russ steps up to cook in his regular-season finale and makes those who drafted him in season-long curse his name wondering, “where was all this production the last few weeks?” Bottom line, the Seahawks have been a much better squad defensively. Partially because some key guys got healthy, but also the unit just started to gel and hit their stride. The Seahawks also just happened to run into a bad string of matchups with good defensive teams who operate at slow places, so cooking was never really part of the recipe plan. Check out this string of tough opponents since Week 10: Rams, Cardinals, Eagles, Giants, Jets, Washington, Rams. That’s five of the ten most stout pass defenses, and against the Jets, he threw four TD passes in just a couple of quarters before getting pulled.
Granted, the Niners are stingy on defense, as well. They boast a top-ten pass DVOA unit, allowing the fourth-least pass yards per game (211.2) and the fifth-least YPA to opposing QBs (6.7). But the last time these two teams squared off (Week 8), Wilson completed 73 percent of his passes and threw four scores. The Seahawks are still playing for that first-round bye, and my guess is this offense bounces back in a big way this week.
- Tom Brady, Buccaneers
Listed as GPP here because we can’t always take coach Bruce Arians’ word at face value, as he has a history of not always being upfront with his plans. He claims all his starters will play, but there is always that risk, especially if they establish a big, early lead. The Falcons nearly shocked the football world last week by almost beating the Chiefs. Two weeks ago, they hung tight with these Bucs, losing by only four points. In fact, the Falcons have been surprisingly competitive in almost every game. They are just 4-7 in their last 11 games, but in those seven losses, they have been beaten by more than a touchdown just once (Saints 24-9 in Week 11).
This game has a 50-point Vegas total, and Brady faces off against a pass defense near the bottom in almost every metric. He has also thrown for multiple passing scores in 12-of-15 starts and threw for 290 with ease against them two weeks ago. Better recommended for GPP’s, but a viable option nevertheless.
- Baker Mayfield, Browns
The Browns are in a must-win situation, should be getting Landry and all their receivers back, and will face a Steelers team that is not only resting their starting quarterback but likely some stud defensive players, as well. If we get some inactives in that respect ahead of time, we move Mayfield up our list of options even more so, especially at very reasonable price tags across the industry. You know Baker will be motivated after a putrid effort against the Jets last week.
- Mitch Trubisky, Bears
Trubisky has been solid since returning as the team’s starter in Week 12. That just happened to be a 41-25 loss to these Packers, but Mitch still put up 21.78 DK points, as he threw for three touchdown passes despite two interceptions. The Bears are motivated to win even though the likelihood of this is low. What we do know is this pass offense will likely be in catch-up mode early on, which could easily lead to Trubisky’s first 50-attempt outing since Week 15 of last year (ironically, against the Packers). His efficiency may not be there against a stout pass defense, but the volume could help him reach his ceiling.
- Kirk Cousins, Vikings
Moving Cousins up my list with the news that just hit about the unfortunate passing of Dalvin Cook’s father, as Cook will now miss the season finale. The Vikings are out of the playoff hunt and don’t have much to play for, other than to perhaps show off and pad their stats against a defense that allowed Cousins to put up 20.8 DK points (220-3-0) in Week 9. The Lions essentially have backup cornerbacks in this last half-season and allowed 32.9 fantasy points to Brady last week and 37 to Tannehill the week prior.
Without Cook and possibly Alexander Mattison as well, they’ll be relying on Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah to help carry the load in a game plan that may end up being pass-heavy. With two stud wideouts who have had monster years (Thielen: 70-868-15, Jefferson 79-1,267-7) and are among the league’s top 10 in aDOT and Air Yards, the sky is the limit for Cousins to hit yet another ceiling.
- Mason Rudolph, Steelers
A bit of a dicey proposition because if Rudolph has a mediocre outing and ends up with just 13-14 fantasy points, he very much won’t be worth his uber-cheap $4,300 price tag on DraftKings. Nevertheless, Rudolph does have some tremendous weapons at his disposal (JuJu Smith-Schuster, Dionate Johnson, Chase Claypool, Eric Ebron), and the Browns’ defense has surprisingly been a bottom-eight unit against opposing quarterbacks all season. I don’t believe Rudolph is as enticing as he appears to be, as the allure of his price might force our builds into starting with him. But with Vikings’ Cook off the slate and a multitude of value options across all positions in Week 17, we can build around an actually talented QB who has a lot more incentive.
💵Favorite Cash Plays: Aaron Rodgers (GB), Deshaun Watson (HOU), Lamar Jackson (BAL)
💰Favorite GPP Plays: Rodgers, Watson, Ryan Tannehill (TEN), Russell Wilson (SEA), Kirk Cousins (MIN)
🔸MME Considerations: Philip Rivers (IND), Derek Carr (LV), Jared Wolford (LAR), C.J. Beathard (SF)
Reminder: Vlad will be hosting the QB Coaching Session Chat at 10:30pm ET / 7:30pm PT tonight!