So the Week 16 daily fantasy football (DFS) picks were definitely not a Christmas miracle. Yes, some of my riskier picks like Alvin Kamara and the Jets D hit nicely, but I also picked a lot of Seahawks. Those Seattle picks couldn't have been more off the mark if they had been fired by Imperial StormTroopers! Sorry, I saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker a few days ago and have that on the brain. But I promise, no spoilers. So before getting to the Week 17 DFS picks, let's talk about something else fresh in my head — Christmas music!`
Because Christmas music is a lot like making picks in both fantasy football and DFS. New to the scene or favorites of the past, both players and songs bring smiles to those that love them. Furthermore, no two people have the same set of favorites. And finally, just as many prefer the chalk or "traditional" tunes, I tend to go more off the beaten path. Yes, I do love "The Little Drummer Boy" but like many of our football favorites, I like it because it was one of my Dad's favorites. However, my Christmas song favorites include the more esoteric "Christmas in Hollins," "Christmas Wrapping," "Fairytale of New York," and the Kinks' "Father Christmas" amongst others.
I do have a new favorite though — the Dropkick Murphys' "The Season Is Upon Us." It might not be what you expect. But so too might be the Week 17 DFS picks as well. Remember that Week 17 in the NFL often looks very different than nearly every other week. It's one of the hardest to handicap as many teams rest their starters. Some NFL veterans are just going through the motions while others are trying to hit personal milestones. And some players are trying to save their coaches' jobs, often to no avail.
So take the Week 17 DFS with the appropriate measure. As this might be my last piece for a little bit, I do hope I've helped you win. And if I haven't helped you win, I do hope that you have at least enjoyed my articles. The rise in page views leads me to believe you have, but just like DFS picks, you can never be 100 percent sure! Regardless, I wish all of you a Happy New Year and good luck in Week 17!
Week 17 DFS Picks
Safe QB: Robert Griffin III vs. Steelers (DK $5100, FD $7000)
Yes, RGIII is actually a safe pick this week! And as you'll see below, he's not the only Raven I like this week. Many fear this matchup as the Steelers are the NFL's fourth-ranked defense. However, when these two teams face off you can throw out the rankings. I know many will want to stay away but I see this as a no Lamar Jackson, no problem. RGIII really would have been the next Michael Vick but FedEx Field took care of that. But the point is that RGIII can absolutely run this offense and I think he easily accounts for the two touchdowns it will be necessary to hit value.
High Risk/Reward QB: Deshaun Watson vs. Titans (DK $6700, FD $8000)
Watson and Ryan Tannehill are less than $100 apart on both sites and many will be tempted to go with the other quarterback in this matchup. Tanny is probably a safer bet as Houston is the fifth-most generous team when it comes to fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. But I'll take the upside that Watson brings to every game. Yes, the Titans have a better secondary than Houston, but its not like they are the Patriots or Ravens. And it was against those aforementioned Patriots that Watson most recently had a 3-TD game. I think he gets another three (or more!) here.
Safe RBs: Aaron Jones at Lions (DK: $8200, FD: $8000) or Ezekiel Elliott vs. Redskins (DK: $8000, FD: $8700)
I like both of these players to anchor my cash lineup teams this week. Elliott, however, makes the better play on DraftKings while Jones is the better play on FanDuel. But I wouldn't fault you for pivoting to the other either. Both are studs. I expect both to have monster days. Washington and Detroit have respectively allowed the third and fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this year.
If I had to choose just one, I'd probably choose Elliott, but the only reason is because I was reminded this week of one of my favorite NFL Memes this year:
High Risk/Reward RB: Gus Edwards vs. Steelers (DK: $4800, FD: $6600)
I feel like we might be seeing a lot of Justice Hill in this game. But we know we are not seeing Mark Ingram, which means Edwards is in line to see the bulk of the carries this week. Edwards also is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. The Ravens love to run the ball and if Edwards sees only 15 carries, he should still top 75 yards. And given that Edwards is a bigger player than Hill, we should see "Gus the Bus" get the goal-line work this week as well.
Safe WR: Greg Ward at Giants (DK: $4700, FD: $5600)
Expect Ward to be highly owned this weekend. He is still very cheap and playing for a team that has every incentive to win on Sunday as you can be sure they don't want to allow their playoff dreams to come down to a potential tiebreaker. Ward is coming off two solid weeks in a row and the Eagles seem to be more and more depleted by the week. Zach Ertz, for example, has not practiced yet as of this writing:
The Giants are giving up the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Don't overthink this one.
High Risk/Reward WR: Dede Westbrook vs. Colts (DK: $4200, FD: $5300)
The Jags are a dead man walking. No argument. But the Colts don't have much more life in 'em either. They're middle of the pack in giving up fantasy points to WRs. Westbrook makes for a nice cheap pivot yada yada. But the real reason I'll have shares of Westbrook this week? Because you just know that a player I had on multiple seasonal teams who gave me 44 total yards during the last three FFL playoff weeks will then absolutely go off in Week 17. I'm sure I'm not the only one this happens to either. Don't bet against Westbrook this week!
Safe TE: Austin Hooper vs. Buccaneers (DK: $5800, FD: $6000)
I wouldn't bet against Hooper either. He is still the sixth-best fantasy TE this year despite missing three weeks. He has seen a total of 21 targets over the last three weeks. Tampa Bay is eighth in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. It's not sexy and Hooper is a better play on FD than DK, but Hooper is a set-it-and-forget-it play this week on both sites.
High Risk/Reward TE: Hayden Hurst vs. Steelers (DK: $3200, FD: $4700)
Many have forgotten already that Hurst was actually drafted before Mark Andrews. I think the Ravens try to win this game because they don't want the chance of facing their division rival in the playoffs. It's also highly likely that Andrews, who suffered an ankle injury last week, won't play on Sunday as Baltimore has nothing at stake. Whether Andrews plays or not, Hurst has averaged three targets each of the last four weeks. At these low prices, I think Hurst easily hits value this week.
Safe DST: Packers vs. Lions (DK: $3000, FD: $4000)
This is a safe DST pick either way, but its a far better pick on DraftKings than FanDuel. I'm not sure if I would actually say FanDuel has the Packers overpriced, but DraftKings absolutely has them underpriced. The Packers are absolutely a top-10 DST this week, but DraftKings fails to price them as so. Green Bay is normally just a middle-of-the-pack DST, but Detroit has definitely struggled on offense in recent weeks. Detroit has scored 17 points or less in each of the last three weeks. With Green Bay playing for playoff seeding, expect tons of points from the Packers DST.
And if you haven't realized it, I like to stack an RB with my DST. It's one of the reasons I like the Packers here and Aaron Jones mentioned above.
High Risk/Reward DST: Rams vs. Cardinals (DK: $3200, FD: $3800)
I've said it before — I never know which Rams defense is going to show up! It is the one that held Russell Wilson and the Seahawks to six points or the one that gave up 44 points to Jason Garrett's Cowboys the week after?
And again, I like this play better on DraftKings than FanDuel, but you're often looking for pivots in a GPP and the Rams bring some serious upside to the table. The Rams are the fantasy football's sixth-best DST and are coming off a six-sack and two-interception performance against the 49ers, the NFL's No. 2-ranked offense. The Cardinals are on the other end of the scale at No. 22.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.
(Top photo by Phil Hoffman/Baltimore Ravens, courtesy of baltimoreravens.com)