When researching DraftKings, I usually end up with a set of core players that end up running through all of my lineups. Typically, they are consistent fantasy producers in good matchups or have value due to an injury. You will likely see them across the fantasy football blogosphere because, well, they’re core plays for a lot of people. We could probably call them chalk plays too, so there is a good reason to lean toward cash games with these types of players, but even in GPPs, I want consistent and high-upside plays, and sometimes my core players might not be fully in the chalk column. Let’s get to it.
This is a tough week for picking a quarterback, as Lamar Jackson will rest, DeShaun Watson should rest, Winston doesn’t have his top receivers, Dak Prescott is hurting and Patrick Mahomes has a toughish matchup. Those problems have landed me on Ryan Tannehill in a game where a win gets them into the playoffs. The Texans are a good matchup even when they are motivated to win and this week, they likely won’t be, unless the Chargers can upset the Chiefs in the early game.
There is a chance this turns into the Derrick Henry show, but Tannehill has put up numbers even when Henry dominates. Tannehill’s consistency and motivation are what draw me to him this week.
Christian McCaffrey ($10,000), Saquon Barkley ($8,700), Aaron Jones ($8,200), Ezekiel Elliott ($8,000), Alvin Kamara ($7,800), Marlon Mack ($6,900), Austin Ekeler ($6,200), DeAndre Washington ($5,200), Sony Michel ($4,900), Damien Williams ($4,700), Ryquell Armstead ($4,400)
McCaffrey will likely be on a majority of cash lineups due to his OC saying they will get the ball to him any way they can in Week 17 to help him with his pursuit of a 1,000/1,000 yard season. He only needs 67 receiving yards to hit that mark, so there is a chance he gets that and is done but the odds are that they’ll let him go for as many records as possible, which could push him up and up.
When I pivot from McCaffrey, it will be for Jones, who gets a good matchup without Jamaal Williams taking away work. His price has skyrocketed but that may keep his ownership down in a smash spot. The last time Williams was out, Jones went for four touchdowns against the Cowboys and now he faces a weaker run defense in Detroit.
Leonard Fournette is out with the flu and Armstead will take his place. The Colts aren’t an easy matchup but Armstead should have fresh legs and be out to prove he can be a starter and when you add in his $4,400 price, he shouldn’t have much trouble hitting value, especially if they use him in the passing game anywhere close to how they use Fournette.
Williams is set up well this week, as he’s the lead back in a game the Chiefs are heavily favored. In his return from injury last week, he got 19 touches as K.C. rolled over the Bears. I expect a similar game this week and a full workload for Williams at a discounted price.
Ekeler should be the preferred back against the Chiefs, as Kansas City will likely get a lead and Ekeler will be needed as a receiver much like he was earlier in the year when he caught 8-of-12 targets for 106 yards against Kansas City in Week 11. The Chiefs have allowed the second-most receiving yards to running backs and there’s no reason Ekeler won’t see a bunch of targets again this week.
Julio Jones ($8,500), Julian Edelman ($7,300), Allen Robinson ($7,200), A.J. Brown ($7,000), Robert Woods ($7,000), Tyler Boyd ($6,700), Breshad Perriman ($6,700), Courtland Sutton ($6,400), Sterling Shepard ($6,200), Justin Watson ($4,900), Darius Slayton ($4,900), Steve Sims ($4,700), Greg Ward ($4,700), John Ross ($4,500), Kelvin Harmon ($3,900)
His price has gone way up but his role as the No. 1 target in a prolific passing offense is one that still makes him a value at $6,700. Atlanta’s defense has improved but Winston lit them up not long ago for three touchdowns and he will likely throw the ball 40+ times at home in the finale. Perriman will look to end this season on a strong note as he goes into free agency.
Ward’s price keeps rising but it still is low enough to give him value in a game he should see a ton of work with Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery all out. The Eagles face a Giants pass defense that ranks third-worst in giving up DK points to wide receivers. They are also in a must-win situation and will go all out to make the playoffs by securing a win.
Slayton had to leave last week’s game early to a knee injury but he practiced this week and wasn’t on the injury report. He’ll get a great matchup against the Eagles this week, as they are good against tight ends and slot receivers but awful against outside receivers like Slayton and Sterling Shepard. Slayton’s down game last week helped drop his price and the Eagles rank dead last in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers that lineup right of formation.
Robinson gets a nice matchup this week against the Vikings. He has mostly been overlooked this season due to the Bears being a bad football team, but he’s played great and put up top numbers, especially when you consider the offense as a whole. Over the last five weeks he’s averaged over 10 targets and caught 6.4 passes per game while accumulating four touchdowns and averaging 88.6 yards. Since Week 7, the Vikings have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers and they haven’t gotten any better of late.
Travis Kelce ($7,000), Austin Hooper ($5,800), Tyler Higbee ($5,600), Darren Waller ($5,400), Dallas Goedert ($4,900), O.J. Howard ($4,300)
Dallas Goedert/Tyler Higbee
This week looks like a choice between the two chalk plays, Dallas Goedert and Tyler Higbee. Travis Kelce is safe and worthy of course, but I see no reason to pay up for him with these two guys saving you money and bringing similar upside.
Higbee faces the Cardinals awful tight end defense at home as he comes off his fourth straight 100+ yard game. Goedert comes off a huge game himself, which was facilitated by Zach Ertz’s in-game injury. This week Ertz is out and the Eagles are in a must-win situation without Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery or Ertz. I’ll likely go with Goedert due to his cheaper price but Higbee will make it on quite a few lineups as well.
There are a lot of good defenses to choose from this week, but I’ll be going as cheap as possible with the Bears, who take on a Vikings team that likely will rest starters and give Sean Mannion plenty of work at quarterback.
I am an avid fan and user (my username is cogresha) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.