Demos: Week 17 daily fantasy outlook

Khari Demos

Week 17 is one of the weirdest of the NFL season, as team's either prep for the playoffs, push to sneak in as wild cards or pack it up for the offseason. With the traditional fantasy season wrapping, we're shifting to more of a focus on daily fantasy projections.

The lists will be of my guys to target on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, which allow you to build weekly lineups with a salary cap. So this will be how things look for us as we gear up for the postseason.

I'll give a list of who to target, as the emphasis here is on value. It's great to pick names like Aaron Rodgers or Derrick Henry, but with their asking prices, it's hard to build a full roster compliment around them.

Player salaries and rankings below are via DraftKings.

QB

Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys (21st ranked salary — $5,600)

Dalton has lifted America's Team after a rough first half stretch. With a chance to clinch the NFC East with a win and some help from Philadelphia against Washington, the TCU product enters this second New York Giants matchup playing his best ball of the season.

Dalton has led the Cowboys to three straight wins, accounting for seven touchdown passes and one interception in the stretch. Averaging a 118 passer rating in the winning streak, the 10-year veteran has also had a 70-plus QBR in two of the three outings (league average is 50).

Dalton finally seems to be on the same page with one of the deepest receiving corps in the league, including Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. Just last week, the Red Riffle passed for 377 yards, his first 300-yard game since December 2019.

The Giants defense has fallen on hard times since knocking off Seattle in Week 13. Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson have all done damage against Big Blue in the last three weeks, as they averaged a 111.8 passer rating against them.

Dalton also had success against NYG when he replaced Dak Prescott in Week 5, as he went 9 for 11 with 111 passing yards.

RB

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings (19th ranked salary — $6,100)

Unfortunately Dalvin Cook will miss Week 17 as he and his family mourn the loss of his father. So the Vikings will turn to Mattison, the second-year runner who has shown flashes behind the All-Pro back.

The Boise State product has been serviceable this season, tallying 339 rushing yards and 4.5 yards per carry. Mattison has shown he can carry the load as a workhorse as well, as he rushed for 112 yards when he filled in for Cook against the Seahawks back in October.

Mattison could beat up on a struggling Detroit defense, as the Lions have allowed the most rushing TDs in the league (25) as well as allowing the fourth-most rushing yards all season (2,033).

Cook (252 yards from scrimmage, 2 rushing TDs) and Mattison (69 rushing yards, 5.8 yards per carry) both shredded the Lions in Week 9, as the Vikings totaled 275 rushing yards in the game.

WR

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens (23rd ranked salary — $5,900)

Brown has been a significant factor in Lamar Jackson's return to MVP form. Hollywood has scored a TD in four of the last five games and has two games with over 85 receiving yards in the stretch.

Brown put together a strong outing against Cincinnati in the first matchup, totaling six receptions, 77 yards and a score.

The Bengals have won the last two games, but that doesn't mean their pass defense is top tier. Cincy has allowed the 10th most passing yards in the league (3,738) and 29 TD passes — eighth most in the NFL.

Look back to Week 16 to see how the Bengals' secondary handles a speedy receiver, as Brandin Cooks had a field day (seven receptions, 141 yards, 1 TD).

TE

Irv Smith, Minnesota Vikings (12th ranked salary — $3,900)

We're rolling with another Viking, as the Alabama product has become a Kirk Cousins favorite. As Kyle Rudolph seems to be in his twilight, Smith is blossoming, scoring five TDs in the last five games.

The second-year pro has been a factor all season, though, recording four games with over 50 yards receiving.

We already talked about the Detroit defense and its deficiencies, as it's yielded a league high 35 TD passes and the third-most passing yards overall (4,175).

Two of those TDs came from Smith, as he hit paydirt twice in the Week 9 matchup.

D/ST

Cleveland Browns (21st ranked salary — $2,500)

The Browns have had a respectable defense this year, as it currently ranks No. 15 in ESPN leagues. The Cleveland D's calling card has been getting after quarterbacks, as Myles Garrett headlines a group that ranks 13th in sack rate (6.4%) and 14th in total sacks (37).

I do have some concerns about the Browns defensive unit — I mean, they did just lose to the Jets — but this is more about the matchup ahead. Cleveland should be licking its chops seeing Mason Rudolph start under center for Pittsburgh while Ben Roethlisberger rests ahead of the playoffs.

Obviously, everyone remembers Garrett and Rudolph's last interaction, when the former infamously rocked the latter with his own helmet after ripping it off his head. But what is often lost is how subpar Rudolph was in the game, as he threw four interceptions, completed 52.3% of his passes and was sacked four times.

Plus, it's not like the Steelers offense has been setting the world on fire. Pittsburgh scored 28 points in its comeback win over Indianapolis in Week 16 — the first time it had scored over 20 points since late November.

BILLS OUTLOOK

vs. Miami

This one is very interesting because it's not clear how either side will play the game. Even with how strong Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs have been this season, they're two targets I'd steer clear of.

Not only are they on the more expensive side (Allen is fourth for QBs; Diggs is also fourth for WRs), neither may finish the game even if they do start. Three names I'd look to would be John Brown, Gabriel Davis and Devin Singletary.

Brown and Davis are slotted together at 75 and 76, respectively. Although Miami has the league's top scoring defense, and arguably the NFL's best corner tandem with Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, both wideouts had success against the Dolphins in Week 2.

Brown recorded four catches, 82 receiving yards and a score while Davis caught his first career TD. I'm not saying these should be your go-to targets, but they are two names to add if you need WR3s or a FLEX.

Singletary is actually ranked behind Zack Moss, with the rookie back at 46th and the FAU product at 49th. But I'd roll with the second-year pro on this one, as Singletary closes in on 1,000 yards from scrimmage (680 rushing, 263 receiving).

While Singletary has just two TDs this season, he's produced yardage-wise, notching seven games with 70 or more scrimmage yards.

Miami's skill group took a hit once it was announced that Tua Tagovailoa would start at QB, as well as Ryan Fitzpatrick being out on the COVID list. The only two names to consider here should be Myles Gaskin and Mike Gesicki.

Since returning from injury, Gaskins has been a dual-threat back, as he's averaged 155 scrimmage yards per game over the last two weeks. Gesicki has been a consistent target all year, with five games over 50 yards receiving, as well as four TDs in his last four games.

Both are on the relative cheap for their positions, with Gesicki's salary coming in at 10th among tight ends and Gaskin 13th at running back.

Seeing how well both defenses have played, I'd advise staying away as well, as Buffalo (ninth) and Miami (13th) are on the more expensive end. That being said, this game could be as unpredictable as they come, seeing as both squads could be scoreboard watching and may possibly face off again Wild Card weekend.

Respond to sports reporter Khari Demos on Twitter @riri_demos or at khari.demos@gnnewspaper.com. Also, be sure to listen to the GNN Sports Podcast, on Spotify, Anchor, Apple Podcasts and more.

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