This week’s against-the-spread picks noted how wild Week 17 tends to be with the amount of teams potentially resting their players, but it is amplified further when we approach this slate of games from a fantasy perspective. Thankfully, all 16 games are being played on Sunday, leaving more-than-enough matchups to provide value.
Sporfolio’s NFL Daily Fantasy Sports game-by-game analysis columns are driven by expected game flow. Based on a combination of our Week 17 NFL picks against the spread and our expectations for a given game, we project the actions necessary to make these picks come to fruition. We aim to pinpoint players integral to our predicted game flow for each game of the week.
Luke May is Sporfolio’s NFL DFS expert, and Mario Mergola operates Sporfolio as the expert for NFL Picks Against the Spread.
New York Jets at New England Patriots
Luke’s DFS Take: The Patriots have locked up yet another first round bye this season, but will need a win this week to secure the top seed in the AFC. The Jets should be a no-doubt win based on the difference in talent, but for whatever reason, the Patriots always seem to have their hands full with the Jets, so this week should be no different. This could be a good week to jump back on Robby Anderson who as expected has seen an impressive 19 targets in Bryce Petty’s two starts. The Jets will likely be playing from behind for at least a decent portion of this game, making extra pass attempts nearly a sure thing. Anderson is only 61 yards shy of a 1,000 yard season, and I’m sure his teammates would love to see him get there in the last game of the year. The feeling towards the Patriots is the same as always; go for it. Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks and Dion Lewis – depending on Rex Burkhead’s status – should all be able to produce against this beatable Jets defense. Cooks is especially appealing coming off a 19 yard performance last week; he is a prime bounce-back candidate this week.
Mario’s DFS Take: I’m always careful when calling for a blowout between familiar opponents with a history of playing close games, but Week 17 is looking like an unfairly one-sided contest. Everyone from New England is in-play as the Patriots try to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs and send a message to the league. Believe me, we’ve heard the message. It is the same that gets repeated every year. The Patriots are currently the Super Bowl favorites, and they will show it on Sunday. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, as usual, are my top-two plays. Brandin Cooks slides in next, followed by Dion Lewis, and then Mike Gillislee. The Patriots’ defense is also a great play.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons
Luke’s DFS Take: This game has the potential to be one of the most competitive games of the week, but the 4:25 kick off time could impact that. The Panthers can technically finish as the second seed in the NFC with a win and a Vikings loss. The reason the 4:25 start time is important is because the Vikings play at 1:00 o’clock, so by the time the Panthers game starts, they will know if they have any chance of securing a bye. If Minnesota wins, there is a chance that Carolina doesn’t play their starters all game because their playoff implications will be limited. While that may be true, they do still have reason to play, and a chance to win the division is still within reach, so I am expecting a full game from them. Their offense has been consistently productive, and there is no reason to expect any different this week. Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and Greg Olsen are all in-play. The Falcons are in essentially a must win game: if they won, they make the playoffs, if they lose and Seattle wins – which they should – they are out. Desperation time for the Falcons means one thing in my mind, and that is Julio Jones. The Falcons are at their best when Jones is the focal point of the offense and is seeing a ton of targets. I fully expect him to be peppered with targets all game in this crucial matchup making him a top play.
Mario’s DFS Take: Arguably the game-of-the-week, the matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons has the potential to produce a thriller. Unfortunately, there is a slight chance that, if everything is decided for Carolina midway through its own game, the Panthers might start pulling back players. They won’t get the bye unless a handful of unlikely events all go in their direction, and the Panthers have not shown the ability to play hard throughout any circumstance. I will probably avoid all players from Carolina. Atlanta, however, needs the win no matter what happens to any other team, and it will undoubtedly lean on wide receiver Julio Jones. Not only is Jones one of the most talented players in the league, but he has torched Carolina in the past. In his last four games against the Panthers, Jones has amassed a ridiculous 656 receiving yards. Granted, 300 of those yards came from the same game, but that, alone, is noteworthy. Put differently, he averaged at least 100 yards over the other three games and tallied 300 in one of them! Jones is a must-start at any price. Of course, pairing Matt Ryan with Jones would make sense as a nice way to piggyback on the production from his skill position players.
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Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, C.C 2.0