The NFL brought the regular season to a close and began 2021 with a massive 15-game slate for Week 17. DraftKings finished the season with another chance for a $1 Million top prize in this week’s $3M Fantasy Football Millionaire contest. Whether you’re in that contest, a different DFS contest or just hoping your team is headed for the postseason, there should be plenty of drama this Sunday. You can follow along with the highlights and standout performers from the afternoon right here in this post.
You can also find coverage throughout the day on The Dream Stream where Leaderboard Live will keep you up to speed and offer analysis for all the big plays and injuries throughout Sunday.
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Enter now: https://t.co/XjdiEuCWXy pic.twitter.com/eP2oCg36j3
After leading for large portions of the day, the ‘russellcfink’ entry slid to fourth place thanks to late heroics from several players. Brandin Cooks ($6,900; 42.6 DKFP) vaulted an entry from ‘herm023’ into the top spot momentarily, but Jerry Jeudy ($4,200; 30.0 DKFP) caught a late pass while the Broncos were trying to rally that put ‘dthealey7’ in the top spot. That leading entry got monster games from Jonathan Taylor ($7,400; 41.4) and Alexander Mattison ($6,100; 29.5 DKFP) at RB along with Marvin Jones Jr. ($5,100; 41.0 DKFP) from the early wave. The only miss in that lineup was the Jets D/ST ($2,300; 2.0 DKFP), but it ended up being a punt play worth making, as the entry still won by over three points if the results stand.
The entry from ‘herm023’ was built around Taylor and Derrick Henry ($9,400; 39.0 DKFP), who both topped 200 yards on the ground in the late wave. He also got a big game from Justin Herbert ($7,100; 35.98 DKFP), leading to the second-place finish. In an interesting lineup quirk, none of the top 11 teams got more than 5.0 DKFP from their D/ST, although there were some nice cheap D/ST options as discussed below.
Note: Leaderboard standings and results current as of 8:05 p.m. ET
Late Game standouts
Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans, 42.6 DKFP
Although it was a rough way to finish the season for the Texans, Cooks lit up the Titans’ secondary with 11 catches for 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He led the way with the most DKFP of any player on the main slate while drawing 16 targets. Cooks had over 30 DKFP in each of the final two games of the season and at least 9.9 DKFP in 10-straight games to finish his campaign. He and Deshaun Watson ($7,700; 29.8 DKFP) have a strong connection, and you would think that whoever takes over the Texans will build around that combo heading into next season.
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 41.4 DKFP
The second-highest point total of the day came from the Colts’ rookie RB, as Taylor destroyed the Jaguars for 253 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Taylor finished with over 1,100 yards on the ground despite not getting a full workload in many games. He’ll lead the Colts into the postseason, where they’ll take on the red-hot Bills in Buffalo.
Darwin Thompson, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 30.0 DKFP
On a bizarre slate with lots of value play potential, Thompson was one of the few bargains that hit with a huge game. He took most of the work for the Chiefs in the backfield and ran for 45 yards and a touchdown on his 14 carries. In true Andy Reid fashion, though, Thompson did a lot of work out of the backfield as a receiver, catching all seven of his targets for 65 yards and a second score to total an impressive 30.0 DKFP. He’ll likely be buried on the depth chart behind Le’Veon Bell — and possibly Clyde Edwards-Helaire — in the playoffs, but it’s worth noting he has this kind of upside if he finds a way to more work in the future.
Early Game standouts
Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings, 41.0 DKFP
Jones headed into free agency with a monster game against the Vikings’ porous secondary. He hauled in 8-of-11 targets for 180 yards and a pair of touchdowns and finished the early games as the highest-scoring player at any position. His touchdown passes came from Matthew Stafford ($5,600; 23.62 DKFP), and it’s uncertain at this point if either or both of those players will return to the Lions next season since a big offseason of turnover is coming in Detroit.
Cam Newton, New England Patriots vs. New York Jets, 38.8 DKFP
The Patriots could have used this kind of performance from Newton all season, as he finished with a great game against the Jets. He’s another free agent in the upcoming offseason who finished on a high note. Cam threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns while also catching a touchdown pass and running for 79 yards. Where he lands in this offseason’s QB carousel will definitely be a story to watch.
Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons, 39.8 DKFP
With Mike Evans (knee) going out with what could be a significant injury heading into the playoffs, the Buccaneers relied more heavily on Brown ($5,500) and Chris Godwin ($6,600; 33.3 DKFP). Brown caught 11 of his 14 targets for 138 yards and two touchdowns and obviously has the trust of Tom Brady ($7,200; 34.26 DKFP) as the Bucs set sail for the postseason.
Fantasy Football Highlights
4 p.m. ET games — Second Half
The final wave of the final main slate of the regular season had plenty of wild twists and turns with unexpected players stepping up with huge performances.
Even a heroic return by Kyler Murray ($7,500; 3.78 DKFP) couldn’t save the Cardinals’ playoff hopes, which came to an end when the Rams scored 18 unanswered points to win 18-7. The Rams D/ST ($3,300; 18.0 DKFP) dominated all day, like they did on this play by Aaron Donald highlighted below. There wasn’t much fantasy production in this game, but John Wolford ($4,900; 13.84 DKFP) did enough to get the Rams into the playoffs with the win.
The Packers wrapped up the top seed in the NFC with a 35-16 win over the Chicago Bears, who backed their way into the playoffs despite the loss. Aaron Rodgers ($7,400; 26.0 DKFP) put an exclamation point on his possible MVP campaign with a four-touchdown, 240-yard performance capped by the touchdown to Davante Adams ($9,200; 16.6 DKFP). David Montgomery ($7,700; 28.2 DKFP) and Darnell Mooney ($4,100; 20.3 DKFP) had big games in the loss for the Bears, but Mooney was forced to leave with an ankle injury.
The Saints cruised to a 33-7 win but finished with the No. 2 seed since the Packers won. Ty Montgomery ($4,000; 14.7 DKFP) stepped in and ran for over 100 yards with Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray and the rest of the Saints’ RBs on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Taysom Hill ($5,800; 11.6 DKFP) had a rushing touchdown and Emmanuel Sanders ($5,500; 21.3 DKFP) hauled in 9-of-13 targets for 63 yards and a touchdown. The Saints D/ST ($3,400; 17.0 DKFP) also had a dominant performance with three sacks and five interceptions.
The Colts needed a win to get into the playoffs after Miami’s loss in the early wave, and they ultimately pulled it off, beating the Jags 28-14 — although Jacksonville did give them a few scares late. The hero for the Colts was definitely Jonathan Taylor ($7,400; 41.4 DKFP), who finished with an immense 253 yards rushing along with a pair of touchdowns including the one below.
The Colts almost ended up winning their division thanks to a huge game from the Houston Texans against the Tennessee Titans, but the Titans got a 54-yard catch from A.J. Brown ($7,200; 34.1 DKFP) to cap his huge game and set up the game-winning kick. Derrick Henry ($9,400; 39.0 DKFP) had an even better game, totalling 250 yards rushing in addition to his two touchdowns, and going over 2,000 yards for the season. In the loss, Deshaun Watson ($7,700; 29.8 DKFP) and Brandin Cooks ($6,900; 42.6 DKFP) had huge games to show they’re a big part of the solution in Houston, whoever the franchise decides to go with at head coach.
The Chargers had a big second half to finish their season strong with a win over the Chiefs’ second unit. It was only Kansas City’s second loss of the season, and it was rookie Justin Herbert ($7,100; 35.98 DKFP) that lit them up. Herbert threw one of his three touchdowns to Mike Wiliams ($5,000; 25.8 DKFP) in the highlight below, and he completed his very impressive rookie season with a great road win.
In the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks held on for a three-point win over the 49ers. Tyler Lockett ($5,800; 33.0 DKFP) was the fantasy standout with 12 catches including the touchdown grab highlighted below.
While the outcome didn’t have any impact on the playoffs, the Broncos and Raiders game did have one of the best highlights of the year. Jerry Jeudy ($4,200; 30.0 DKFP) only had four catches, but one was the longest of the season in the NFL. Drew Lock ($5,00; 26.26 DKFP) also finished with a huge game, while Melvin Gordon ($5,700; 21.0 DKFP) had over 20 DKFP. The Raiders rallied with a last-minute touchdown run on fourth down by Josh Jacobs ($6,200; 20.9 DKFP) and a two-point conversion catch by Darren Waller ($7,100; 30.8 DKFP). It was the last game of the day and it closed out the final Milly Maker of the regular season with some great drama.
The longest reception of the year comes in Week 17.— DraftKings (@DraftKings) January 4, 2021
Jeudy racked up +19.20 on the play pic.twitter.com/lVahNj0PLj
4 p.m. ET games — First Half
There were eight games on the second half of Sunday’s slate, but the biggest one was a “win-and-get-in” matchup out west between the Cardinals and the Rams. After Kyler Murray ($7,500) left early with an ankle injury, he was replaced by Chris Streveler ($4,700), who led the team on a touchdown drive, capped by a touchdown pass to Jonathan Ward. The Rams responded with a field goal and a safety for the unusual score of 7-5. Streveler threw the brutal pick-six in the highlight below, as the Rams took the lead just before halftime.
The Colts needed a win in their game to get into the playoffs after a window opened for them following a loss by the Dolphins in the early game. Jonathan Taylor ($7,400) started fast and already had over 100 yards and a touchdown by halftime, and Philip Rivers ($6,000) also threw a touchdown to T.Y. Hilton ($5,800). Indy led 20-7 after a touchdown to Laviska Shenault Jr. ($4,200) got Jacksonville on the board.
Whether the Colts were in as a Wild Card or division champ depended on the outcome of the game between the Titans and the Texans. Tennessee goth a 52-yard touchdown run from Derrick Henry ($9,400) to start the scoring and A.J. Brown ($7,200) had a touchdown before halftime to expand the lead to 17-9 at halftime.
After an early touchdown from David Montgomery ($7,700), it was all Packers in Chicago. Green Bay opened up a 21-10 lead at halftime after three passing touchdowns from Aaron Rodgers ($7,400), including the highlight below to Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($3,600). The Bears added a field goal just before the half to get within a score at 21-13. If the Bears lose, the Rams would get into the playoffs even if they lose to the Cardinals.
The Saints were hoping the Packers would slip up and they could grab the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They were ahead of the Panthers 16-7 after two touchdowns from Drew Brees ($5,900)— one to Emmanuel Sanders ($5,500) and one to Jared Cook ($4,700).
Darren Waller ($7,100) continued his big season with a touchdown catch from Derek Carr ($5,700) to help the Raiders catch up to the Broncos and tie the score, 10-10, after Drew Lock ($5,000) hit backup TE Troy Fumagalli ($2,500) to give the Broncos the early lead. Carr struck again for a 26-yard score just before halftime to put Vegas up, 17-10.
In the other AFC West matchup, the Chiefs’ second-string trailed the Chargers, 24-14, behind a pair of passing touchdowns from Justin Herbert ($7,100), including the below score to Austin Ekeler ($7,500).
In the other game of the late slate, the Seahawks led the 49ers, 6-3, at halftime in a defensive-focused battle in the NFC West.
1 p.m. ET games — Second Half
The Steelers closed to within a point of the Browns with a field goal in the third quarter, but the Browns got a touchdown from Baker Mayfield ($5,500; 16.24 DKFP) to Austin Hooper ($3,800; 13.7 DKFP). The Browns added a touchdown on a run by Jarvis Landry ($6,500; 16.4 DKFP), but the Steelers made things interesting with touchdowns from Mason Rudolph ($4,300; 22.7 DKFP) to Chase Claypool ($5,700; 24.1 DKFP) and JuJu Smith-Schuster ($6,400; 18.5 DKFP). The Steelers closed to within two points but weren’t able to convert the two-point attempt to tie the game.
The Ravens had no issue with the Bengals in their win-and-get-in contest. In the third quarter, Marquise Brown ($5,900; 21.1 DKFP) had his second touchdown of the day to extend the Ravens’ lead to 31-3. JK Dobbins ($6,700; 31 DKFP) continued to pile on with the 72-yard touchdown in the highlight below. Lamar Jackson ($8,000; 25.22 DKFP) had a strong game as the Ravens rolled, 38-3.
J.K. DOBBINS ➡️ THE HOUSE— DraftKings (@DraftKings) January 3, 2021
An easy +16.20 on the play.pic.twitter.com/PM0ah1DCbB
The Dolphins were in a win-and-get-in situation as well but trailed 28-6 at halftime. Myles Gaskin ($6,500; 17.7 DKFP) scored to cut the deficit to 28-13, but after Josh Allen ($7,600; 20.26 DKFP) was removed in the third quarter, the Bills’ DST ($3,200; 21 DKFP) stepped up with a pick-six against Tua Tagovailoa ($5,100; 21.24 DKFP). Backup RB Antonio Williams (21.3 DKFP) added two rushing scores as the Bills cruised to a big 56-26 win, ending the Dolphins’ playoff chances and finishing the year as one of the hottest teams going into the postseason.
The Falcons were also trying to rally against the Bucs after trailing 23-10 at halftime. Russell Gage ($5,100; 25.2 DKFP) caught a touchdown from Matt Ryan ($5,900; 23.7 DKFP) to cut the lead to 23-17. After a Falcons’ field goal trimmed the lead even further, Ronald Jones II ($5,900; 13.8 DKFP) scored to put the Bucs back ahead by multiple scores. On a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Hayden Hurst ($3,700; 12.8 DKFP) caught a touchdown from Ryan, but Tom Brady ($7,200; 34.26 DKFP) answered with a touchdown to Chris Godwin ($6,600; 33.3 DKFP) that put the Bucs back up 10 again. Brady wasn’t done, though, hitting Antonio Brown ($5,500; 39.8 DKFP) for a second score as well. Brown finished with 11 catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns, as the Bucs coasted to a 44-27 division win.
The Jets took the first possession of the second half and marched down to take a 14-7 lead over the Patriots after a touchdown from Josh Adams ($4,000; 13.9 DKFP), who was helping to fill in for Frank Gore. The Patriots answered back with a 19-yard touchdown on a trick play with WR Jakobi Myers ($5,000; 18.26 DKFP) throwing the touchdown to QB Cam Newton ($5,500; 38.48 DKFP). After a Sam Darnold ($4,900; 12.94 DKFP) interception, the Patriots got their first touchdown from a TE this season as rookie Devin Asiasi ($2,500; 11.9 DKFP) found the end zone. Sony Michel ($4,600; 22.6 DKFP) also had a touchdown catch as the Patriots finished the season with a win, 28-14.
The Vikings and Lions continued their wildly-entertaining but meaningless game, as far as the playoffs go. Alexander Mattison ($6,100; 29.5 DKFP) had his second score of the day to help the Vikings extend their lead, but Detroit bounced back with a touchdown from Adrian Peterson ($4,000; 12.3 DKFP) and trailed by just two points after a failed conversion. Kirk Cousins ($6,300; 37.3 DKFP) added a running touchdown, but D’Andre Swift ($6,300; 16 DKFP) answered with a touchdown as well. Despite a monster game from Marvin Jones Jr. ($5,100; 41 DKFP), the Lions fell two points short as the Vikings won, 37-35.
In an important NFC East matchup, the Cowboys got a touchdown from Ezekiel Elliott ($6,400; 15.1 DKFP) to cut the Giants’ lead to 20-16 in the third quarter. After some questionable coaching decisions, the Cowboys traded field goals and ended up trailing 23-19 in the closing minutes. The Giants’ DST ($2,700; 9.0 DKFP) stepped up with the interception in the highlight below, and after a bizarre almost-fumble, New York set itself up to win the NFC East if Washington loses in the Sunday Night Football game against the Eagles.
1 p.m. ET games — First Half
Sterling Shepard ($5,200) got the first touchdown of the day, putting the New York Giants up 6-0 over the Dallas Cowboys in an important matchup to see who will go to the postseason if the Washington Football Team slips up on Sunday Night Football. After a Cowboys’ field goal, Shepard had his second touchdown of the day to put the Giants up 13-3. With under one minute left in the first half, Daniel Jones ($5,100) threw his second score of the day, connecting with Dante Pettis ($3,000) on a 33-yard strike, and then Greg the Leg got a long field goal for the Cowboys, cutting the lead to 20-9.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers jumped out to an early lead with a touchdown from Tom Brady ($7,200) to Chris Godwin ($6,600). While Mike Evans was ruled out with a leg injury, Brady hit Antonio Brown ($5,500) in the highlight below, but Matt Ryan ($5,900) snuck in for a one-yard touchdown in the second quarter to help the Falcons close to 23-10 at halftime.
Vintage AB showin' through with his 3rd straight game with a TD.pic.twitter.com/2BOVoZcZuS— DraftKings (@DraftKings) January 3, 2021
Brady’s old team got on the board just moments after his new team, when his replacement Cam Newton ($5,500) hit James White ($4,500) to put the New England Patriots up 7-0 over the New York Jets. Just after the two-minute warning, the Jets got a touchdown catch from Chris Herndon ($2,800) to tie the game, 7-7.
With the Patriots eliminated, the AFC East matchup that still mattered for the playoffs was in upstate New York where the Buffalo Bills hosted the Miami Dolphins, who needed a win to get into the playoffs. Miami scored a field goal early, but the Bills took the lead on the pass highlighted below from Josh Allen ($7,600) to Isaiah McKenzie ($3,000). With a big first half, Allen also set the franchise record for most passing yards in a single season, passing Drew Bledsoe, who had 4,359 in 2002. In the second quarter, McKenzie grabbed his second touchdown of the game, putting the Bills up 14-3 and later completed the hat trick with the punt return in the touchdown highlighted below. The Dolphins settled for another FG just after the two-minute warning, but Josh Allen kept the pedal to the metal, hitting John Brown ($3,600) for the touchdown to go into the break leading, 28-6.
HAVE A DAY, ISAIAH MCKENZIE!— DraftKings (@DraftKings) January 3, 2021
27 FPTS & 3 TOUCHDOWNSpic.twitter.com/BOlN9Z5F34
The Baltimore Ravens were well on their way to taking care of business against the Cincinnati Bengals, building a 10-0 lead after a touchdown strike from Lamar Jackson ($8,000) to Miles Boykin ($3,000). Marquise Brown ($5,900) had an 18-yard score with under five minutes left in the first half to put Baltimore comfortably ahead, 17-3, at halftime.
Nick Chubb ($7,600) scored a 47-yard touchdown to put the Browns up early as they tried to beat their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and also secure their playoff spot. The Steelers had a couple of field goals, while the Browns added a field goal just before halftime to increase their lead to 10-6.
NOBODY COULD CATCH NICK CHUBB ♂️pic.twitter.com/2G7S5DCvRt— DraftKings (@DraftKings) January 3, 2021
In an NFC North game without playoff impact, the Detroit Lions took a lead on the touchdown in the highlight below as Matthew Stafford ($5,600) hit Marvin Jones Jr. ($5,100), who had over 100 yards before halftime. The Minnesota Vikings answered back with a touchdown catch from Alexander Mattison ($6,100), but Stafford answered back with a touchdown to rookie WR Quintez Cephus ($3,000) to put the Lions up, 13-7. The Vikings went back to former-Lions RB Ameer Abdullah ($4,000) for his second touchdown of the season against his former team, and Minnesota took a 14-13 lead. Matt Prater kicked a 54-yard FG to put the Lions back in the lead, but Kirk Cousins ($6,300) threw his third touchdown of the game just before halftime, hitting Chad Beebe ($3,000) on a 40-yard touchdown to put Minnesota back ahead, 21-16.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) 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.