This article is part of our DFS Tournament Guide series.
This guide focuses strictly on the main slate of Sunday afternoon games, with recommendations meant to be used for large-field, GPP tournaments. Player prices will only be mentioned for the two largest DFS sites, though much of what's discussed can be applied throughout the industry.
Variance and low ownership are desirable in large DFS tournaments, but we still need a few building-block players that are strong bets to outperform their price tags even if they don't have the highest ceilings and/or are likely to be popular plays. We'll also want to keep a close eye on injury situations with potential to create value for teammates (this is covered at the bottom of the page).
RB Dwayne Washington, NO (vs. CAR), ($3,000 DK; $4,500 FD)
The Saints seem intent on resting their key players, with Teddy Bridgewater already named as the starting quarterback and Tre'Quan Smith dropping a strong hint that Ted Ginn won't play. Common sense dictates Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will only play briefly if at all, likely leaving Washington as the only backfield option for most of the game. He's never shown much skill as a runner and will now be playing alongside other backups, but it could be a case of scrubs vs. scrubs in the second half with Carolina also giving some thought to resting key players. Priced at the absolute minimum on both major sites, Washington is well positioned for at least 15 touches while playing as a seven-point favorite at home.
Falcons at Buccaneers
This is the only game on the main slate with an over/under above 45 and a single-digit point spread, featuring implied totals of Atlanta 26.75 - Tampa Bay 25.25. Jameis Winston ($6,100 DK; $7,600 FD) typically would be a strong play as a slight home underdog in a potential shootout, but Bucs coach Dirk Koetter mentioned a desire to get Ryan Griffin some snaps. I'm still willing to use Mike Evans ($7,700 DK; $7,300 FD) and Chris Godwin ($4,300 DK; $5,100 FD) in tournaments, as Winston figures to play the first half if not the entire game.
The uncertainty about famous Jameis leaves Matt Ryan ($6,300 DK; $8,500 FD) as the obvious QB choice for this stack, but we also have some uncertainty on the Atlanta side with Julio Jones ($8,500 DK; $8,600 FD) playing just half the snaps on offense. I'm guessing he gets enough work to keep his league lead for receiving yards safe, but it won't come as any surprise if he's a spectator for much of the second half. While I believe the Ryan-Jones-Evans stack is worth a shot for its upside in the event both teams end up treating this as a normal game, it might be better to go with Ryan, Godwin and Calvin Ridley ($5,300 DK; $5,900 FD) if you're expecting the second half to be treated as 2019 prep.
Raiders at Chiefs
Still needing a win to lock down the No. 1 seed, Kansas City easily has the highest implied total of Week 17 at 33.5 points, favored by 14.5 over an Oakland team that's been surprisingly feisty at the end of a miserable season. It's hard to make an argument against the chalk stack of Patrick Mahomes ($7,100 DK; $9,500 FD) and Travis Kelce ($7,200 DK; $7,700 FD), but I actually prefer to use Kelce in a cheaper, lower-owned stack with Derek Carr ($5,100 DK; $6,800 FD) and Jordy Nelson ($4,900 DK; $5,200 FD), particularly at the pricing on FanDuel.
You probably remember Kelce exploding for 12-168-2 when these teams met in Oakland four weeks ago, but you may not remember that Carr threw for 285 and a trio of scores while Jordy Nelson piled up 10 catches for 97 yards in a 40-33 Chiefs victory. I'm not saying the Raiders will keep it that close in Week 17, but it's still an excellent spot for Carr and Nelson to pile up volume. The 33-year-old wide receiver has come on strong in four games this December, catching 29 of 36 passes for 308 yards.
While not nearly as important as quarterback-receiver combos, RB-Defense mini-stacks present another opportunity to take advantage of positive correlations in tournament lineups. We're generally looking for teams that are comfortably favored to win, preferably with a starting running back who dominates goal-line and clock-killing work.
RB Jamaal Williams, GB (vs. DET), ($6,000 DK; $6,800 FD) + Packers D/ST ($2,400 DK; $4,300 FD)
The last man standing in Green Bay's once-murky backfield, Williams piled up 156 scrimmage yards, six catches and a touchdown while handling a 94 percent snap share in last week's win over the Jets. I expect the Packers will get Kapri Bibbs or Lavon Coleman slightly more involved this week, but Williams should still be looking at approximately 20 touches as a 7.5-point favorite at home. The Lions have a measly implied total of 18.75 points, which actually would be the most they've scored since Week 11. With the likes of Zach Zenner and TJ Jones forced into key roles, Detroit has devolved into a complete mess on offense, scoring 22 points or fewer in nine consecutive games.
RB Saquon Barkley, NYG (vs. DAL), ($8,200 DK; $8,500 FD)
Carrying a reduced price after back-to-back down performances, Barkley is the only elite running back that can safely be projected for his usual volume. Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara are already locked into their playoff seeds, while Melvin Gordon may not have anything to play for after halftime, and Panthers coach Ron Rivera has acknowledged the possibility of limiting Christian McCaffrey's workload. Then we have James Conner coming back from a knee injury potentially losing some snaps to Jaylen Samuels, and Todd Gurley (knee) likely being eased back into action if he even plays at all. Things don't look all that much better in the upper price range at wide receiver, where Julio Jones and Mike Evans are the only players that have decent matchups in games with competitive spreads. Barkley doesn't have the best matchup on paper, but there's a good chance he'll face second-team defenders at some point during the contest, as the Cowboys can't go any higher or lower than No. 4 in the NFC playoff picture. Oddsmakers aren't buying Jason Garrett's talk about treating this like a normal game, listing the Giants as six-point favorites with an implied total of 23.75. It would be smart to ease up on Barkley at the end of a busy season, but Pat Shurmur doesn't have the same cushion Rivera has earned in Carolina. We can further take advantage of this rest situation by using the dirt-cheap Giants defense ($2,100 DK; $3,300 FD) to help offset the high cost of Barkley.
Fading The Field
Every week we see at least one or two players carrying high ownership without the backing of a top point-per-dollar projection. Recency bias is often the motivating factor, as many DFSers subconsciously overestimate the predictive value of recent results.
WR Robby Anderson, NYJ (vs. GB), ($5,600 DK; $7,000 FD)
Anderson made me look like a fool for listing him in this space last week, though my pain was lessened by heavy reliance on teammate Elijah McGuire, who hit paydirt twice in a shootout loss. Week 17 likely will fall on the other end of the scoring spectrum, with the Jets carrying an implied total of 15.5 as 13.5-point underdogs at New England. In addition to the obvious concern about his team's ability to put up points and yards, Anderson draws a nightmare individual matchup against Stephon Gilmore, owner of the highest Pro Football Focus grade among NFL cornerbacks. Anderson is a talented player who was long overdue for the recent hot streak, but he's still liable to pull a disappearing act and no longer comes at a bottom-barrel price. He's someone to target during season-long drafts in August, rather than in DFS this weekend when ownership will be high and the matchup is tough. I also need to give an honorable mention to Tyreek Hill ($8,400 DK; $7,800 FD), simply because he hasn't looked the same since injuring his foot in a Week 14 win over Baltimore. Travis Kelce ($7,200 DK; $7,700 FD) is the Kansas City pass-catcher to roster.
The Bargain Bin
QB Derek Carr, OAK (at KC), ($5,100 DK; $6,800 FD)
QB Nick Mullens, SF (at LAR), ($4,700 DK; $6,700 FD)
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (at HOU), ($4,000 DK; $6,000 FD)
RB Jeff Wilson, SF (at LAR), ($4,400 DK; $5,800 FD)
RB Brian Hill, ATL (at TB), ($3,900 DK; $5,300 FD)
RB Kenyan Drake, MIA (at BUF), ($3,700 DK; $5,800 FD)
RB Josh Adams, PHI (at WAS), ($3,700 DK; $5,700 FD)
RB Peyton Barber, TB (vs. ATL), ($4,500 DK; $5,500 FD)
RB Royce Freeman, DEN (vs. LAC), ($3,500 DK; $4,700 FD)
RB Devontae Booker, DEN (vs. LAC), ($3,200 DK; $4,500 FD)
WR Chris Godwin, TB (at ATL), ($4,300 DK; $5,100 FD)
WR Zay Jones, BUF (vs. MIA), ($4,000 DK; $5,300 FD)
WR Kendrick Bourne, SF (at LAR), ($3,800 DK; $4,900 FD)
WR Isaiah McKenzie, BUF (vs. MIA), ($3,700 DK; $5,100 FD)
WR Tre'Quan Smith, NO (vs. CAR), ($3,700 DK; $4,600 FD)
WR Keith Kirkwood, NO (vs. CAR), ($3,300 DK; $4,800 FD)
TE Gerald Everett, LAR (vs. SF), ($2,800 DK; $4,800 FD)
D/ST New York Giants, (vs. DAL), ($2,100 DK; $3,300 FD)
Pricing Discrepancies Between FD and DK
The FD list consists of RB Dalvin Cook ($6,700), WR Stefon Diggs ($6,700), WR Sterling Shepard ($5,500), WR DaeSean Hamilton ($5,400), WR Randall Cobb ($5,000), WR Chris Conley ($4,700) and TE Jared Cook ($6,000).
Injury Situations to Monitor
I liked the idea of stacking Aaron Rodgers with Adams (knee) and Golladay (chest) at the beginning of the week, but concerns about the injuries and wind have me leaning in a different direction. I tentatively expect both wide receivers to play, but will the Packers really force the ball toward Adams if he's playing with a sore knee in a meaningless game? I wouldn't be surprised to see Randall Cobb ($5,000 DK; $5,000 FD) come through with a big performance in what might be his final game for the Packers, though he's really only playable at the FanDuel price. The Detroit side isn't even worth taking a stab at if Golladay sits out, as the team likely will be content to grind things out at a dreadfully slow pace. There's also a decent case for going chalk with Jamaal Williams ($6,000 DK; $6,800 FD), but the Lions have been solid against the run ever since trading for DT Damon Harrison (ankle). I'll wait until Sunday morning to make any decisions about this Lions-Packers game.
A mid-week addition to the injury report, Brown (knee) undoubtedly do everything in his power to suit up for Sunday's must-win game against the Bengals, even if he's merely a decoy or can't handle his usual snaps. Enter JuJu Smith-Schuster ($8,300 DK; $7,900 FD), who is already 92 yards ahead of Brown on 12 fewer targets. Any concern about the latter makes the former an excellent DFS option, particularly against a lifeless Bengals defense that uses Darqueze Dennard in the slot. Smith-Schuster burnt Cincinnati for 111 yards earlier this season
I'm not sure what I did to anger the football gods, but apparently it was pretty bad. My love for safeties and snow games has gone unrewarded, with the 2018 campaign featuring 10 of the former and none of the latter. The Week 17 weather reports is shockingly mild for this time of year, featuring just one game with a projection for precipitation (light rain in Houston) and two that may be impacted by wind (17 mph in Green Bay, 13 mph in Kansas City). We'll need to keep a close eye on the windy games Sunday morning, as the Raiders-Chiefs and Lions-Packers contests feature a number of worthy DFS targets. I'm worried about Rodgers, Adams and Golladay more so than Mahomes, Kelce and Nelson.