The Hail Mary (NFL DFS): Week 17 WEEKEND UPDATE January 2, 2016  |  Doug Shain


The Huddle – Opening Statement

Welcome to the WEEKEND UPDATE for the Week 17 Hail Mary. I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year and to thank you for your continued support this year. I’ve loved writing this article and interacting with all of you on Twitter and the comments section. I’m glad that I’ve been able to help in some way to make your foray into the 2015 NFL Fantasy Season an enjoyable one. I’ll probably be doing some more work with the cheat sheets for the first couple of rounds of the playoffs and you can find my hockey work over at The Fake Hockey (and I’m sure I’ll be getting into baseball nice and early this year over at The Fake Baseball). I hope our DFS community finds a lot better news in 2016 than we’ve seen towards the end of 2015 and that we can all enjoy this great game by the start of the 2016 NFL season.

You’ll probably notice that the “my guys” section is pretty short this week. I think we’re at the point in the season where we can pretty much settle on a small roster of players and mix and match from there. There’s no need to get too wild with the picks so I’m going to condense and pull from those guys exclusively. I wish you all the best of luck with your Week 17 DFS games. As always, new information and thoughts will be in bolded italics.

Wow, Week 17. It really feels like we just started our journey. There are a lot of teams with a lot to play for this week so I’m going to play my lineups like it was any other week. Normally in Week 17 I’m looking for super uber-ultra sleepers, but I don’t see that being the way to go this week. Don’t get too cute. You know who is good; play those guys. If you’re not sure who to play, just keep reading.

One piece of advice before we get to the picks; just because this is the last week of the NFL season doesn’t mean you have to blow your whole bankroll. The best way to be a winning player is to not get crazy with your money. Don’t forget that there is playoff football, NBA, and NHL to tide you over until the 2016 MLB and NFL seasons. If you’ve never played NHL or NBA go check out our coverage at The Fake Basketball and The Fake Hockey and give it shot. It’s highly addictive and a ton of fun. I’m always around to talk lineups, etc. for those sports as well as your playoff NFL lineups on Twitter (@bankster17).

To take a look at a list of “musts” when building my GPP lineup, click here. Best of luck this week!


The Depth Chart – The Plays of the Week

I’m going to list 3 groups of players for each position (except K). These groups are going to be PUBLIC plays, EXPERT plays, and HuLo plays. For an explanation of what those plays mean, click here. They are not ranked in any order. I’ll give a little analysis after each position section, but I won’t necessarily give a narrative about each player.


Public Plays Expert Plays HuLo Plays
Tom Brady – NE Eli Manning – NYG Brian Hoyer – HOU
Drew Brees – NO Matt Ryan – ATL Ryan Mallett – BAL
Cam Newton – CAR Blake Bortles – JAX Sam Bradford – PHI
Ben Roethlisberger – PIT Ryan Fitzpatrick – NYJ Jay Cutler – CHI
Aaron Rodgers – GB Zach Mettenberger – TEN
Russell Wilson – SEA Alex Smith – KC
Carson Palmer – ARI Austin Davis – CLE


– I have two philosophies about QB this week. One philosophy is “don’t get too cute”. The other philosophy is “get really cute.”

– If I’m not getting too cute then my QB’s are going to be Big Ben, Tom Brady and Cam Newton. All three are coming off terrible performances and they all have major incentive to play well this week. My hope is that, with it being Week 17, the general public is going to get way too cute and I can get these three at a low ownership. Even if their ownership is high, I still want the upside that they bring, and I’ll find other ways to differentiate my lineups. Sometimes the chalk play is the best play.

– I really like Cam as an almost contrarian play this week. I’m not reading anything about him right now, and I think he’s going way under the radar. I get that Jonathan Stewart and Ted Ginn most likely won’t play, but the Panthers are going to go all out in this game and there’s NO WAY Cam is going to put up a stinker like he did last weekend.

– If I’m getting too cute then I’m going to roll out Brandon Weeden this week. The Texans need this game, he looked good last week, and even I could throw on the Jags. You’ll be a nervous wreck all game, but stacking him with DeAndre Hopkins could pay off huge (like it would have last week). Clearly this all changes if Brian Hoyer starts (well, the change would be to play Hoyer…keep an eye out for my weekend update). And now here we are at the weekend update and it does appear as if Brian Hoyer will be getting the start for the Texans. I’m perfectly happy to play him in a GPP, even more so than I was with Weeden. My only concern is that Hoyer will probably be more widely owned that Weeden would have been, but in the long run it’ll still be in a small percentage of GPPs so I’m good to go on him.

– Do you want to get really cute? Then can I interest you in Austin Davis? Pittsburgh’s secondary is suspect and this game does have one of the highest totals on the board. I personally won’t go that far down the rabbit hole, but I can’t blame you if you did in a GPP.

– OK, I lied. There are two guys I’d gladly play that are neither too cute or overly cute. Those guys are Eli Manning and Matt Ryan. Both have nothing to play for, but they also have great matchups. I don’t see any reason for these guys to sit, and I’m excited to stack both with their top targets (Ryan/Julio; Eli/Beckham). They should be very popular plays this week, but the upside is so high that I don’t care. I’m playing them. The more I read, the more I realize that these are the two chalkiest plays on the board this week. That being said, I can’t really get away from either of them. I love Eli this week and will be playing him a ton. Ryan I can back off from a little because he’s done so little this year.

My guys: Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Brian Hoyer, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick


Public Plays Expert Plays HuLo Plays
Todd Gurley – STL Doug Martin – TB Alfred Morris – WSH
Adrian Peterson – MIN C.J. Anderson – DEN Ameer Abdullah – DET
David Johnson – ARI Frank Gore – IND Bilal Powell – NYJ
DeAngelo Williams – PIT James White – NE Darren McFadden – DAL
Devonta Freeman – ATL Charcandrick West – KC DeMarco Murray – PHI
Tim Hightower – NO Rashad Jennings – NYG
Theo Riddick – DET Mike Gillislee /    Karlos Williams – BUF
Danny Woodhead – SD
Jeremy Langford – CHI


– RB is kind of back to being gross this week. For the first time in a long time I actually feel comfortable with some of the bigger name RB. DWill, Gurley, and Freeman all have great matchups and will be worth their high prices. I’m going to fade David Johnson because he’ll be highly owned and his matchup is less than ideal.

– It looks like the injury bug is going to jump up and bite two of my favorite plays this week, Todd Gurley and Bilal Powell. Get them both out of your lineups as I don’t think either are going to play this week. I don’t really like either of their replacements, so you won’t find me rostering Tre Mason or Christopher Ivory.

– If I’m going to pay up for WR (and I’d like to this week), then I need to find some value at RB. The best values are the guys who don’t get a ton of carries but maintain a high floor because of their ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. That means I’m looking squarely at guys like James White, Bilal Powell, and Danny Woodhead for my lineups. I’d rank those three in that order.

– I have no idea who is starting at QB for the Colts this week (Ryan Lindley? Josh fricking Freeman??). What I do know is if they have any chance at winning this game, and a long shot at their division, they are going to have to pound the rock. It just so happens that Tennessee isn’t a great defensive team. Frank Gore has been better than you realize this year. He’s not sexy, but he probably won’t kill you either for what he costs.

– If you want more traditional RB that are at a lower cost then I’m comfortable with Hightower, Rashad Jennings, and Darren McFadden (in that order). Alfred Morris, CJ Anderson, and Frank Gore have limited upside and are boring, but they should also have a low ownership and all three have decent matchups. They’re not guys I’ll be playing because they don’t catch enough passes for my liking. Their scores are going to be valuable if they score, merely OK if they don’t. I don’t want to rely on a TD for a guy to hit value.

– Running against the Jets is a terrible idea. On the other hand, both Mike Gillislee and Karlos Williams have shown flashes this year. They are both super long shots — I won’t play them — but they both have shown the upside necessary to be interesting GPP plays.

– Even if Matt Forte doesn’t play this week I’m still not sure I love Jeremy Langford. I actually can see Ka’Deem Carey getting the majority of the work this week. Langford is the RB of the future in CHI and there’s no reason to risk him in this meaningless game. I’m avoiding this one altogether.

– The most interesting RB this week is DeMarco Murray. He’ll definitely find his way into some of my lineups. With Chip Kelly no longer the coach, Philly may try to get their money’s worth out of Murray this week. His price is so low that he doesn’t need to do much to hit value. I’ll trust his talent and give him a shot here and there….because I’m a fantasy masochist.

My guys: DeAngelo Williams, Tim Hightower, Devonta Freeman, James White, DeMarco Murray, Rashad Jennings, Frank Gore, Theo Riddick


Public Plays Expert Plays HuLo Plays
Allen Robinson – JAX Eric Decker – NYJ Jordan Matthews – PHI
Antonio Brown – PIT Emmanuel Sanders – DEN Dorial Green-Beckham – TEN
DeAndre Hopkins – HOU Randall Cobb – GB Tavon Austin – STL
Calvin Johnson – DET Mike Evans – TB Devin Funchess – CAR
Odell Beckham – NYG DeSean Jackson – WSH Martavis Bryant / Markus Wheaton – PIT
A.J. Green – CIN Golden Tate – DET Rueben Randle – NYG
Amari Cooper – OAK Brandin Cooks – NO Demaryius Thomas – DEN
Julio Jones – ATL Jeremy Maclin – KC John Brown – ARI
Brandon Marshall – NYJ Jarvis Landry – MIA Sammy Watkins – BUF
Larry Fitzgerald – ARI Allen Hurns – JAX
Doug Baldwin – SEA Nate Washington – HOU


As usual, WR is the safest position to spend up on this week. Brown, Hopkins, Beckham, Green, Julio, and Marshall all have great matchups and should continue their excellent play. I’m going to do everything I can to get at least two of those guys into my lineup this week.

– If I’m not spending at a premium level at WR, then I’m going to take a step down and look at Decker, Sanders, Maclin, and Matthews. Three of them have something to play for and the one who doesn’t (Matthews) will want to end the year on a high note with his coach just fired. The upside isn’t nearly as high as some of the more elite names, but neither is the price.

– I like Martavis if he’s 100% this week, but as of right now he’s only practiced once all week. If he’s limited or out then I really like the matchup for Markus against a Browns team that’s going to lay down this week.

– As much as I love my high end WRs this week, I almost equally love some of the less expensive WRs as well. There’s a ton of upside in plays like DGB, Bryant, Austin, and Randle. They all have good matchups and just need one big score to make them worthwhile. Bryant is particularly interesting to me as he had a terrible game last week which should keep his ownership down. He won’t do that again this week.

– You know who might be the biggest beneficiary of Todd Gurley’s absence this week? Tavon Austin, that’s who. Just a hunch here that he kind of goes off against a weak SF defense this week.

– There are actually some high end guys who should see a lower than usual ownership (Demaryius, Brown, and Watkins). While there is some risk in their matchups, sometimes talent just wins out. Look at what Julio Jones did with the worst possible matchup last weekend. I wouldn’t play any of these guys in my main GPP’s, but in secondary lineups it could be beneficial to sprinkle them in there.

– Cam has to throw to someone this week; with Ginn most likely not playing, I’m going to throw Funchess out there. I’ll also be playing Nate Washington with Cecil Shorts out. In the 3 games Shorts has been out this year Washington has scored 4 TDs. Anyone can throw on Jacksonville and there should be plenty of action to keep both Hopkins and Washington happy.

My guys: Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, Nate Washington, Markus Wheaton, Devin Funchess, Brandon Marshall, Dorial Green-Beckham, Tavon Austin


Public Plays Expert Plays HuLo Plays
Greg Olsen – CAR Travis Kelce – KC Zach Miller – CHI
Rob Gronkowski – NE Ben Watson – NO Vance McDonald – SF
Gary Barnidge – CLE Julius Thomas – JAX Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TB
Jordan Reed – WSH Delanie Walker – TEN Zach Ertz – PHI


– TE is a really wonky position this week. The best player is going to be Gronk, but do you want to spend up to get him? I’m not sure I do. Olsen, Kelce, and Walker should all be solid at a step down in price. I won’t touch Jordan Reed as Washington has nothing to play for.

– I know it’s super chalky but this week it’s Zach Ertz or bust for me at TE.

– Some of my favorite plays are on the cheaper end of the spectrum. Miller, McDonald, and Ertz all have plus matchups and they won’t cost you anything to roster them. Even a game of 4-50 pays off if they can get into the end zone. Look at what Ertz or Kyle Rudolph did last week to get an idea of what the upside of a cheap play can be. Your key is just to find the right cheap play.

My guys: Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, Gary Barnidge, Vance McDonald


Public Plays Expert Plays HuLo Plays
Carolina Panthers New York Jets Pittsburgh Steelers
Kansas City Chiefs Cincinnati Bengals San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals New England Patriots Washington
Denver Broncos Houston Texans


– The chalk play this week is the Broncos against SD, and I’m not opposed with rolling them out in a GPP. Carolina should bounce back nicely this week as well against Tampa. I’m not so sure I’m interested in playing ARI or KC this week, though.

– One of my favorite plays is the New England Patriots. They aren’t really known for their defense this year, but they are opportunistic and Miami is a mess. NE needs this game for home field advantage and Belichick is going to go all out. Houston has a ton to play for and plays well at home, but has a tougher-than-you-think matchup against the Jags. Jacksonville should put up some points, but they’ll also turn the ball over. I’m wavering back and forth right now on the Texans.

– My favorite under the radar play this week is the 49ers. STL’s offense is so bad and mistake prone. Even if they put up some points — and I think Gurley and Austin will — you can’t expect Case Keenum to keep a clean sheet. I expect enough sacks and turnovers to make SF’s meager price a good value.

My guys: Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots

Check out the Fake Football Cheat Sheets for my sample lineups. I do the DraftKings section, but the process of selecting the lineups is the same on all the sites.

Follow me on Twitter @bankster17 and good luck with your Hail Mary!

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