If you had / One Shot / Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted / In one moment
Would you capture it?
Or just let it slip?
Championship Week has arrived. You have reached your final hurdle —
[Your] palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on [your] sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
[You’re] nervous, but on the surface [you] look calm and ready —
You’re on the verge of hitting “submit” on that Championship-winning lineup —
[You] open your mouth, but the words won’t come out
You start to tinker, looking for better matchups to exploit —
[You’re] chokin’, how, everybody’s jokin’ now
The clocks run out, times up, over, blaow! —
But wait! There’s no Thursday night game this week! We have until 1p EST on Sunday to lock in!
[You’re] so mad, but [you] won’t give up that easy? No
[You] won’t have it, [you] know [your] whole back’s to these ropes
It don’t matter, [you’re] dope, [you] know that —
So you sit down to read your favorite start/sit columns, and you’re raging with confidence —
Better go capture this moment and hope it don’t pass —
For those that don’t know, these lyrics are borrowed from Eminem’s Grammy and Academy award-winning song, “Lose Yourself.” They felt pretty inspirational to what you’re staring at this weekend.
You’ve played 17 weeks for a chance to hoist this fantasy football championship over your head and gloat amongst your league mates.
All you have to do is set the winning lineup.
Let’s get it!
For as great as Week 15 was, Week 16 took it all away. Just under .500 for the week, with many calls that almost worked in my favor. But we don’t play for almosts. We play for absolutes! Only 14 correct last week, seven Plays and seven Fades. So while still over .500 on the season (51.9%), I need to blow these picks out of the water, so you’re not vomiting mom’s spaghetti all over your sweater.
A quick reminder of what Play and Fade mean: Play simply means players that I love based on matchups and my expectation that they’ll finish with more points than projected. Fade indicates players that I think will underperform their projections/consensus weekly rankings. It doesn’t mean I’m outright benching them, but I’m likely not rushing to put them in any DFS lineups either. Onto Week 17!
Week 17 Fantasy Football Confidence Plays
QB Jalen Hurts (PHI) at WAS
Was last week a bit of a letdown for Hurts? You could say that. He had only two touchdowns (both passing), and the Eagles settled for three FG attempts (two in the red zone). The really disappointing part? Hurts had only seven yards rushing. SEVEN! Hurts is second only to Lamar Jackson in rushing yards among QBs, and it was BY FAR his lowest total as a starting QB. In fact, he’d never rushed for less than 30 yards as a starter. So why do I love him this week? Despite the low rushing total, Hurts was still QB11 on the week. This means he remains the safest start among QBs, with 12 QB1 weeks this season.
More to the point, Washington is spiraling. They still allow the most fantasy points to QBs, especially after Dak Prescott hung four TDs on them in the first half on Sunday night. Hurts just proved he doesn’t need to win with his legs for you to win your fantasy football championship. But he’ll add the rushing yards this week because pouring salt on the wound of his division rival while he marches toward the playoffs is the level of petty I’m here for.
Other QBs with good matchups: Tyler Huntley (BAL) vs LAR and Derek Carr (LV) at IND
RB Ronald Jones (TB) at NYJ
Look, it really isn’t that complicated. The Jets allow the most fantasy points to RBs, and it’s been consistent throughout the season. RoJo is a smash start against the Jets. Don’t overthink it.
RB Devin Singletary (BUF) vs ATL
Over the last three weeks, Devin Singletary has played on 82.1%, 92.9%, and 68.4% of the team’s offensive snaps. In those three weeks, his weekly fantasy finishes were RB14, RB7, and RB10. We always preach to chase volume, and Singletary is receiving it at the moment. Atlanta has allowed the 9th most fantasy points and the 8th most receptions to RBs on the season. It’s expected to be cold in Buffalo (low 30s) with potential for snow. This game has Singletary’s name all over it.
Other RBs with good matchups: Javonte Williams (DEN) at LAC, Damien Harris (NE) vs JAX, and Michael Carter (NYJ) vs TB
WR Jaylen Waddle (MIA) at TEN
Well, you can’t run on Tennessee, which is fine because the Dolphins can’t run the ball. But you can certainly throw on Tennessee, which is excellent because that means lots of Jaylen Waddle. The Dolphins rookie has 10 or more targets in three straight games, and the Titans allow the most receptions, the most receiving yards, and are tied for the 7th most TDs allowed to WRs on the year. When an unstoppable force encounters a very moveable object, force tends to win. Waddle has top 10 upside this week.
WR CeeDee Lamb (DAL) vs ARI
The Cardinals have allowed the most TDs to WRs on the year. Their CBs have given up six alone over their last six games. They’re now facing a Cowboys offense that finally got back on track last week against Washington. Lamb leads the Cowboys in targets, receptions, and yards. This matchup is an all-you-can-eat buffet for Dallas, and Lamb will be a big beneficiary.
Other WRs with good matchups: Odell Beckham Jr. (LAR) at BAL, DeVonta Smith (PHI) at WAS, and Jakobi Meyers (NE) vs JAX
TE Rob Gronkowski (TB) at NYJ
In 15 career games against the Jets (and one playoff game), Gronk has nine career TDs. The Bucs have had injury after injury at WR, and in a matchup that should serve as a playoff tune-up, I think Tom Brady will look to Gronk quite a bit to make sure they’re ready for the playoffs. Before last week, Gronk had five straight games with eight or more targets. He had 11 two weeks ago, and it led to only two catches. So yeah, they need a tune-up. It also helps the Jets suck at covering TEs. Win-win for Brady, Gronk, and the Bucs.
Other TEs with good matchups: Foster Moreau (LV) at IND and Brock Wright (DET) at SEA
QB Trey Lance (SF) vs HOU
With news of Jimmy Garoppolo’s sprained thumb, the fantasy football community is up in arms about Trey Lance’s second career start. But is it Lance we’re excited about? Or the matchup? Because on the surface, Houston hasn’t been the cupcake this year, many might think. They’re actually tied for the 6th most INTs on the season (16) and allow only 239.7 passing yards per game (14th most; one yard per game less than the Dallas Cowboys). But we’re hyped for Lance because of the rushing upside, right?
I mean, he had 89 rushing yards in his only start this year back in Week 5. So hey, great! But he was QB23, so not great. The Texans are tied for the most rushing TDs allowed to QBs (5) but allowed the 2nd fewest rushing yards to QBs on the season. And they have faced four of the top nine QBs in rushing yards this year. Only Josh Allen topped 25 rushing yards.
The 49ers as an offense have the 6th fewest pass attempts in the NFL. They want to run the football and will do just that, especially when they’re winning. And that’s something, even with a rookie QB, they should do against Houston this week. But if Lance has to throw, the bottom could fall out quickly. Garoppolo has been efficient in his passing, completing 68% of his passes. Lance on the year? 51%. That’s how you find yourself in a hole very quickly in the NFL.
So the reason I’m giving you both the good and bad when it comes to Trey Lance is because I understand why people like him and may want to stream him this week. What I don’t want to see happen is you sit someone like Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, or even Kyler Murray because of one down week during the fantasy football playoffs. Stick with the studs that got you there. Trust me.
Other QBs with bad matchups: Ryan Tannehill (TEN) vs MIA and Matt Ryan (ATL) at BUF
RB Saquon Barkley (NYG) at CHI
After the Giants lost to the Bucs, many, myself included, felt we were about to see the return of the real Saquon Barkley. You know, pre-injury Barkley. And he had a remaining schedule ripe with matchups to exploit. Since Week 12, he’s RB20 in PPR with only one RB1 week. Suffice it to say, no good. He’s also playing with a 2nd string QB (or 3rd string, depending on the week) and a terrible offensive line, so that doesn’t help matters any.
If you made it to your championship with Barkley on your team, you likely did it in spite of him. The Bears are hit or miss against the run, but with how bad the Giants QB play is, I have to think they’ll stack the box to stop Barkley and force a bad QB to beat them instead of the Giants’ best offensive weapon. Easy fade this week.
RB Josh Jacobs (LV) at IND
With Jacobs being the ultimate fantasy football RB2 — only two weeks outside the top 24 and only one week as a top 10 RB — this pick makes me nervous. But the Colts play RBs well. They’ve allowed the 5th fewest fantasy points to RBs and allowed over 50 rushing yards only once in the last three weeks. In fact, the only reason they allowed Chase Edmonds to finish as an RB1 was because of his receiving work (8-71 last week).
While Jacobs targets began to spike after the season-ending injury to Kenyan Drake, they’ve since heavily decreased the previous two weeks, making him more reliant on TDs to keep his fantasy value afloat. And the Colts have allowed the 9th fewest rushing TDs to RBs. So I wouldn’t hate sitting Jacobs to chase upside this week.
Other RBs with bad matchups: Myles Gaskin (MIA) at TEN, Chuba Hubbard (CAR) at NO, and Rex Burkhead (HOU) at SF
WR Ja’Marr Chase (CIN) vs KC
The Chiefs’ defense has played well of late, but they’re still vulnerable. That vulnerability lies in the slot. Keenan Allen and Hunter Renfrow have torched them in recent weeks. Chase has been awfully quiet the second half of the season outside of last week’s game against Baltimore. With a game-breaking WR on their own offense, one has to think the Chiefs will know what to do to slow down Chase.
I’m not going to pretend to have stats to back up this call. This is strictly a hunch. Tee Higgins has been a beast of late, and Tyler Boyd has 85 or more yards in three of his last four games. I know everyone thinks this will be some 49-46 shoot-out, but the Bengals actually know how to run the ball. I think that hurts Chase in this matchup.
WR Terry McLaurin (WAS) vs PHI
We know how much talent McLaurin has, but man, his QBs suck. The Eagles’ defense has been awesome over the second half of the season, and Darius Slay is finally showing Philly the type of shut-down corner they thought they were getting last year. McLaurin might haul in one big catch, just as he did last week, but I’m not expecting much else. He’s had less than five catches and no more than 51 receiving yards in five straight games. So don’t fall for name value. McLaurin hasn’t helped you win in over a month.
Other WRs with bad matchups: Russell Gage (ATL) at BUF, Marvin Jones Jr. (JAX) at NE, and Marquez Callaway (NO) vs CAR
TE Dalton Schultz (DAL) vs ARI
You know who’s really good at covering TEs? Arizona’s Budda Baker. The Cards have allowed the third-fewest receptions and second-fewest TDs to TEs on the season. Dalton Schultz has scored in back-to-back weeks, and I wouldn’t bank on that happening this week. As I mentioned above, this is a WRs game for the Cowboys. Schultz is taking a backseat this week.
Other TEs with bad matchups: Kyle Pitts (ATL) at BUF and James O’Shaughnessy (JAX) at NE
Every week, we also throw together a DFS Matchup Report that breaks down the teams with the best and worst matchups at QB, RB, WR, and TE!