NFL DFS Starting Points Week 17

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  • Arizona Cardinals
    Arizona Cardinals
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  • Cincinnati Bengals
    Cincinnati Bengals
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  • Dallas Cowboys
    Dallas Cowboys
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  • Chase Edmonds
    Chase Edmonds
    American football running back



In this weekly article, we’ll use the early betting lines from Vegas to take a deeper look at which games to target and avoid for NFL DFS. Implied team totals have positive correlations with fantasy output, especially for quarterbacks. Plus, we’ll highlight some potentially under the radar teams with high implied team totals despite a lower over/under. Note that these lines will probably change over the course of the week, which is why we call it ‘starting’ points. This weekly article focuses on the Sunday main slate of NFL games.

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Target:

Arizona at Dallas, Total 51

Cowboys minus-5.5

This is the only game of the week with a total over 50 points. There are a lot of mismatches on the slate (see below), but this is one that should stay relatively close. Normally the team with the higher implied total would be the QB to target, and despite the good DvP Arizona has vs. QB, I’m going to be ok with Dak Prescott this week. Yes, he’s coming off an amazing game, but that was vs. the league’s worst pass defense. Arizona won’t give it up so easily, even on the road, but Prescott has put up impressive numbers against other teams that are good against the pass, including Carolina and New England. He is remarkably better at home, which along with the Dallas D/ST is a big reason for the Cowboys being favored here. Ezekiel Elliott only had nine rushing attempts in Week 16, but he managed a rushing and receiving touchdown vs. the Football Team. With a much healthier slate on tap this weekend, you don’t have to pay up for Elliott, but he makes for an interesting tournament play. CeeDee Lamb was sort of the odd-man-out in Week 16’s huge performance, but he’ll bounce back this week, probably at lower roster percentages than he should be. Amari Cooper and Dalton Schultz remain fine lineup fillers when the price is right.

The Cardinals shouldn’t be counted out entirely; this is going to be something of a shootout if Vegas is right. Kyler Murray isn’t back to his early dominance, but he does have two things going for him this weekend. One is volume; in the past three games, he’s attempted over 40 passes in each. That has resulted in only two touchdowns, so I could see some positive regression happening there. The other is getting more comfortable with Zach Ertz and Chase Edmonds. Both had nine targets in Week 16, along with Christian Kirk, who looks to have passed A.J. Green on the depth chart with 10 more targets in the last two games. James Conner will likely be back for this game, and he’s always a threat to get the goal line work, but I’m not totally fading Edmonds. He was very involved in the passing game last week, and his game complements Conner’s, doesn’t compete with it. All in all, the Cardinals make for a really affordable stack this week with a lot of upside.

Kansas City at Cincinnati, Total 49

Chiefs minus-5

All eyes will be on this game to see whether Joe Burrow can follow up his magnificent game vs. the Ravens in a much better matchup. The Chiefs give up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs, making Burrow’s matchup/salary combination tough to beat this weekend. Sticking with the Bengals for a minute, because both sides of this game will be and should be heavily rostered this week, Joe Mixon looks back to his mid-season dominant form. Even through a couple tough games, he’s caught all but one of his 19 targets since Week 9. With a total of 16 touchdowns and 1159 rushing yards, he’s currently sitting at third in fantasy points (half-PPR) among RBs. He’s one of the safer plays at the position this weekend. Ja’Marr Chase felt like he had a down game despite seven catches on 10 targets and 125 receiving yards, but only compared to Tee Higgins. Higgins isn’t going to score 40 fantasy points every week, but he does rack up the PPR numbers and is still cheaper enough than Chase to be worth your salary dollars. It feels like chasing points a little bit, but the game total, matchup and Burrow’s volume really make any Bengals’ WR (or TE C.J. Uzomah) a viable play this week.

The Chiefs are going to cost a lot more than the Cincy players, and aren’t coming off nearly so good a statistical game. Unless you count Byron Pringle, and I’m not. They should get Travis Kelce back this week, but could be without Clyde Edwards-Helaire. I wouldn’t necessarily go after the run game here, but if CEH is ruled out, Darrel Williams is going to be a huge bargain. This is a wait and see situation for now. Tyreek Hill has three disgusting games to his name this season, none worse than Week 16, with Kelce out. It was the second time this year he saw only two targets as the Chiefs had this game locked up early on. Given his poor performance and high salary, Hill will likely be rostered less than he should be. Use him liberally in GPP lineups. This feels like a classic, core KC game to me, assuming Kelce practices and is good to go. I’m rolling with the big three, with a little Williams if Helaire is out.

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Avoid:

NY Giants at Chicago, Total 38

Bears minus-6

The Bears D/ST and David Montgomery, who gets a nice on-paper matchup with the Giants defensive front, make for a nice mini-correlation play this week. The overall game total is low and the Bears are big favorites, giving New York one of the lower implied team totals. It makes sense as they are the third-lowest scoring team in the league tied with the eighth-most turnovers (23). Everyone else is a fade.

Carolina at New Orleans, Total 38

Saints minus-7.5

After watching the Saints lose so badly to Miami Monday night, this line is a little hard to swallow. Vegas assumes Taysom Hill will be back, of course, and maybe that Alvin Kamara can be more effective? Carolina is still a really good run defense, though, and they shouldn’t have a problem keying in on the one offensive light in the Saints’ offense. I would be ok with using either D/ST from this game, but have better options on offense. Carolina provides some optimism for the Saints in particular; they are tied for the fifth-highest QB sack rate (2.9 sacks per game) and turn the ball over at the third-highest rate (25 total this season).

Consider:

Buffalo vs. Atlanta, Total 44.5

Bills minus-14.5

As a Western New Yorker, I wish the Bills were a little less Jekyll and Hyde, but when they’re good, they’re so very good. That’s the personality we’re expecting to see against a lackluster Falcons’ defense this week. Put away your nightmares about the Jacksonville debacle and focus on the facts. Atlanta is the third-best QB matchup, fourth-best WR matchup, ninth-best RB matchup, and gives up the fifth-most real and fantasy points to opponents. There are any number of ways to tackle this, from a simple solo Josh Allen strategy to a full team stack with Stefon Diggs, Devin Singletary, and the D/ST to go with him. This is also a chance for Dawson Knox to rebound from a couple of tough outings. Both Gabriel Davis and Cole Beasley could be off the COVID list for this game, but I’d watch to see who practices and how much before trusting either. It’s a low investment on either, but we’ve seen some disappointing performances from guys coming off protocols with no practice. The Bills D/ST actually qualifies as a bargain on DraftKings, and nearly so on FanDuel. It’s ok to have 100 percent exposure.

Tampa Bay at NY Jets, Total 45.5

Buccaneers minus-13

The Bucs are big favorites again despite again being without three of their key players (probably, Mike Evans is still uncertain). No team allows more real points per game than the Jets, giving Tampa a chance to regain their scoring title. Tom Brady relied on Antonio Brown almost exclusively in Week 16 (15 targets!), and Ronald Jones picked up right where Leonard Fournette left off, scoring on 20 carries and catching two passes. Which brings us to the part of the broken record where I note that the Jets are the league’s worst run defense in reality, and best for fantasy RBs, maybe of all time. Jones will be popular again even though his price is now a lot higher and deservedly so. Cameron Brate out-scored Rob Gronkowski, but this isn’t something to take to the bank. Neither saw a lot of targets, and Brate was just super open for his touchdown grab. Keep it simple with Brady, Jones and Brown if you’re attacking this game. Alternatively, you could skip the pass game and use Jones with the Bucs D/ST in a very friendly spot. New York is tied with Jacksonville for the most turnovers in the league (26) and tied for the fifth-highest sack rate (2.9 per game).

San Francisco vs. Houston, Total 44

49ers minus-13

There are a lot of question marks here, so just put this team on your radar, and we’ll examine exactly how to take advantage of the line as the week goes on. It looks like we could see Trey Lance starting this week, which would be a nice fit for Houston’s leaky run defense. Elijah Mitchell could also be back, which would cloud the backfield enough that none of the three (Mitchell, Trey Sermon and Jeff Wilson Jr.) would be very exciting plays. Normally, I’d love George Kittle here, but he hasn’t played with Lance yet (missing Lance’s only start of the season in Week 5), which gives me a little pause at his high salary. The 49ers’ D/ST is yet another one to get some exposure to. Houston is the second-lowest scoring team in the league, though they aren’t as sack- or turnover-friendly as the Jets or Panthers.