The Week 17 daily fantasy football (DFS) picks will likely be my last DFS article for AthlonSports.com until next season. I know I've had some fun, I hope you have too. I know I have some misses (Why do you torment me so Irv Smith?!?!?!) and I've had some very nice hits (how many others called Collin Johnson on his big week?). I'd argue more hits than misses. And given the minuscule amount of complaints in both my Inbox and on Twitter, I'll assume most will agree.
Week 17 is always a strange week in the NFL and this year is no different. Perhaps it is proportionally less strange this year compared to other weeks this year, but this year's Week 17 is like others. We know, for example, already that a stud like Patrick Mahomes is out because the Chiefs are locked into the No. 1 seed in the AFC. And while the Steelers can still impact their seeding, Ben Roethlisberger is not playing either because his team wants to rest him for the playoffs next week. But Week 17 is one of the most important weeks to double-check your roster shortly before lineups lock. I like the picks below, but be sure they are playing about 15 minutes before kickoff!
Even more than the warnings, however, I want to wish y'all a happy new year! No more kvetching about 2020 and let's make 2021 a great year. I know 2021 is going to be a big year for my family personally. The kid most like me will be going off to college in the fall and the kid most like my wife will be getting her driver's license. And that's just the start! So I know 2021 will be a big year for me.
So yup, I could obviously use some extra funds in the ol' bank account and no time like the present!
Nailing my Week 17 DFS picks obviously wouldn't hurt, so hopefully, some of these can help provide both you and me some additional funds!
Safe Quarterback Week 17 Pick
Lamar Jackson, Ravens at Bengals (DraftKings $8000, FanDuel $9000)
A month ago, this might have been a bit of a risky pick. Yet Jackson has ratcheted it up a notch. Baltimore has a four-game winning streak with Jackson averaging more than 29 fantasy points since Week 13. Since that time he has 45 rushing attempts which have resulted in 333 rushing yards, giving us a very nice floor once again in a game that Baltimore must win. I think Jackson also will throw for a couple of TDs in this one as Cincinnati was recently torched by another rushing QB, Deshaun Watson. Grab Jackson for the floor but enjoy on Sunday as he creeps toward his ceiling.
High Risk/Reward Quarterback Week 17 Pick
Sam Darnold, Jets at Patriots (DK $4900, FD $6600)
Darnold might not seem like that much, but don't tell that to the Browns and Rams. Darnold and the Jets surprised both of these teams, putting both on the playoff bubble. If we're not careful, we might miss out on the fact that Darnold is starting to look competent. He has not thrown a pick in his last three games. And Darnold has done this despite the fact that his wide receivers are not always the most dependable:
Furthermore, can we stop pretending that the New England secondary is any good this year? They got absolutely torched last week to the tune of nearly 350 passing yards. The reason they are not giving up more passing yards is they are getting steamrolled by the run as well -- 566 rushing yards allowed over the last three games. With both Frank Gore and La'Mical Perine out, I expect the Jets to pass quite a bit this week. And at this low price, Darnold presents a wealth of profit opportunity.
Safe Running Back Week 17 Pick
Derrick Henry, Titans at Texans (DK $9400, FD $10,200)
This is starting to get old, but Henry once again occupies this spot. With the Titans needing to win to make the playoffs, I see Henry getting plenty of carries. Will he get the 223 rushing yards he needs to hit 2,000? Maybe. Don't forget he already rumbled for 212 yards and 2 TDs against Houston back in Week 6. He's a good bet to easily top 150 against a Houston team giving up more than that per game. The Texans are allowing the second-most rushing yards this season. They also have surrendered more rushing TDs than all but three teams.
It's an obvious play, but expect a huge day for King Henry. And I've said this before, but all I can think of when it comes to King Henry again this week is:
High Risk/Reward Running Back Week 17 Pick
Malcolm Brown, Rams vs. Cardinals (DK $9400, FD $4300)
With Darrell Henderson Jr. definitely out and Cam Akers a game-time decision (but likely limited even if he plays), the Rams' backfield will default to Brown. And with both Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp also out, I would not be surprised to see the Rams go with a run-heavy approach on offense.
Furthermore, the matchup is a decent one as Arizona is in the top half of the league when it comes to most fantasy points allowed to RBs. Finally, we also know Brown can be a viable fantasy asset. I remind you back in Week 1 when we thought he was "the guy" after running 18 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns. So the potential is there. And especially on DraftKings, he makes for a great Week 17 value.
Safe Wide Receiver Week 17 Pick
Davante Adams, Packers at Bears (DK $9200, FD $9300)
Aaron Rodgers is half a dozen TD passes short of 50, but I don't see him staying in this game just to try to hit that number. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Rodgers tries to toss three touchdowns to fellow stud Adams to get him to 20. That would be an amazing feat, but it is even more impressive when we recall that Adams missed two games earlier this year. Yet, it's not just the touchdowns. Adams has a tremendous 44 catches over his last four games, enabling him to surpass the century mark for the first time in his career. Sitting currently at 1,328 receiving yards, I do expect Adams to set a new career high (currently 1,386 yards) in that category as well. Adams is one of the more expensive players on the slate, but for good reason. And that also should help diminish his ownership, giving him an even higher probability of being a "slate-breaker."
High Risk/Reward Receiver Week 17 Pick
Laviska Shenault Jr., Jaguars at Colts (DK $4,200, FD $5,500)
Shenault was not originally a consideration for this space. But then I learned that Jacksonville announced that both DJ Chark Jr. and Collin Johnson will not play on Sunday. Shenault's six or more targets in three straight weeks should only rise this week. In addition, he has scored nine or more fantasy points in four straight games.
As I began to look into Shenault's situation closer, I also learned this matchup is not one to avoid either. Indianapolis' secondary ranks 29th versus wide receivers over the last four weeks. They are allowing more than 45 fantasy points to the position. In other words, the Colts are looking like an easy ride for Shenault. Giddyup!
Safe Tight End Week 17 Pick
Mark Andrews, Ravens at Bengals (DK $5800, FD $7200)
Andrews was pretty quiet the first couple of months of the season, but his Week 5 tilt against Cincinnati was one of his better performances. He hauled in six of nine targets for 56 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, he's begun putting up those kinds of numbers frequently in the more recent weeks.
The Bengals have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, so Andrews at the very least should match his recent production.
High Risk/Reward Tight End Week 17 Pick
Donald Parham Jr., Chargers at Chiefs (DK $2900, FD $4200)
I love me some Justin Herbert this week, but I like Lamar Jackson a little more. And I like Mark Andrews, but if I need to save a bunch of salary, I will gladly swap Andrews out for Parham, who at 6-foot-8 will tower over the Chiefs' DBs. Kansas City is ranked 24th versus tight ends over the last four weeks. Opposing TEs are catching at least five passes on their way to nearly 15 fantasy points per game over that stretch.
Hunter Henry is out this week for the Chargers, and Keenan Allen probably is too with both going on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Parham is not a substitute for Allen. However, Parham is a pretty strong fill-in for Henry!
Safe Defense/Special Teams (DST) Week 17 Pick
Colts vs. Jaguars (DK $3900, FD $5000)
Yes, I told you earlier that the Colts are not great against WRs. But that's because they're often aggressive, which has helped them lead the league in interceptions returned for a touchdown. But it's not just the secondary, Indianapolis also leads the league in safeties. Both of those represent the high end of potential outcomes, but the Colts are 15th in sacks and third in takeaways, two key scoring categories.
And you are not really afraid of Jacksonville, who is tied for the sixth-fewest touchdowns, are you? I will remind you that the Jaguars not only have quarterback issues and a depleted receiving corps, they also will be without the services of rookie phenom running back James Robinson. The Colts have to win to have any hope of making the playoffs. I don't foresee their defense being the reason they don't get in.
High Risk/Reward Defense/Special Teams (DST) Week 17 Pick
Jets at Patriots (DK $2300, FD $3500)
I've been picking against the Jets all season long. But perhaps this will bring a little balance to the world as yes, I actually am picking the Jets this week to be a worthwhile DST! Hear me out.
I'm going to assume Cam Newton, who has thrown twice as many INTs as TDs this year is not going to start. If I'm wrong, I'm just as excited about starting the Jets DST! But presuming the Patriots give Jarrett Stidham the start, that is still pretty mouth-watering. Over the last three weeks, Stidham has completed fewer than half of his passes and is averaging 3.7 yards per attempt.
And if the Patriots decide to run the ball? The Jets are actually allowing just 3.9 yards per carry, better than all but four teams in the league. We know the Jets have been near the bottom of the league in scoring, but did you know that the Patriots are in the bottom five in scoring also? This could definitely be a very sneaky play.
Good luck with your Week 17 DFS picks!
— 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.