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SNF DFS Preview, Week 17: Steelers at Ravens

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Week 17’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens might not feature the most offensive fireworks ever, but the game still matters to each team. It’s an AFC North battle, and there is still DFS money to be made for us. Let’s break it all down. 

 

Be sure to check out David Jones’ “General Rules” article for Showdown Strategy and his piece for each game, along with the DFS Showdown Strategy articles for each slate. Additionally, the FTN Livestream every game night will provide the latest insight for each slate. 

NFL DFS Sunday Night Breakdown: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens  

Ravens -2.5, O/U 35 (Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook)

Pittsburgh Steelers Plays for Week 17 DFS – SNF Showdown and Primetime Slates

Notable Injuries – LB Myles Jack, DL Larry Ogunjobi

Quarterback 

Kenny Pickett continues to flash some potential for the Steelers, capping last week off with a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. We shouldn’t confuse that with fantasy scoring since he finished under 14 DK points again, and this is not going to be an easy spot. Going into Baltimore is a tough ask for anyone, and the Ravens boast a defense that is 12th in DVOA against the pass along with ranking 16th in points per game allowed. They also blitz at the seventh-highest rate, but Pickett has handled that all right so far with an 86.8 passer rating. That’s not spectacular but it bumps up over his seasonal mark of 75.7 while the Ravens are also prone to the deep ball. They have allowed the highest completion rate and the fourth-most yards but it is a big question if Pickett can exploit that with a 39.4% completion rate and a 14.3 passer rating on the deep pass this year. Since he ranks 29th in both points per dropback and points per game, he’s on the board, but I’m not sure if either quarterback must be played in a low-total defensive battle. 

Running Back 

The Ravens do drive production to running backs through the air, because Najee Harris had nine targets last week, a season-high. Baltimore is 23rd in receptions allowed to the position although Harris only has a 10.0% target share. He’s also 15th in rushing yards, 20th in points per game, 19th in targets and seventh in carries. The Ravens have been a tough squad against running backs this season since they are seventh in points per game allowed, fourth in DVOA against the run, third in yards per attempt allowed, and fifth in gash rate allowed. Harris scored in the first matchup but has not had a banner season and at the highest salary for an active player, I’ll have a tough time clicking that button. Jaylen Warren is swiping some work here and there but has generally been mostly just a change of pace back. He hasn’t been worth playing on his own very often. 

Wide Receiver 

The only folks who can’t seem to figure out that George Pickens should get the ball more are his own team, because Ravens corner Marlon Humphrey had some very high praise after the first matchup – 

Pickens is still languishing at 51st in points per game, 38th in yards and 48th in receptions since he only has a target share of 15.3%. That’s very frustrating to see every week but he made the most of his targets last week with 5/57/1. Pickens should square off with Humphrey again this week quite a bit and I’m excited to see this matchup. Humphrey may have been kind in praising him after the last game, but he’s going to bring his best effort to not get shown up by the rookie. The veteran corner is allowing a 65% catch rate but only has allowed 0.16 points per route, so the production for receivers hasn’t been there a lot. 

Diontae Johnson Week 17 Sunday Night Football DFS Showdown Breakdown

The safer play in the corps (especially in PPR formats) is Diontae Johnson, and he has the highest-graded matchup in the WR/CB Matchups Tool this week. He’s been dominating the target share in the offense at 26.6% and he’s produced 82/799 so far this year. That’s been enough to put him 10th in receptions and he’s fourth in unrealized air yards, not to mention he’s 11th in red zone targets. If he ever finds the end zone, he could have a monster game, but that has held him to being just 42nd in points per game. The matchup with Brandon Stephens is not that worrisome since he’s allowing 0.27 points per minute and a 62% catch rate. The salaries are very close for these receivers and I would give a slight lean to Johnson just because I don’t believe he can go a full season without scoring. Steven Sims has been running from the slot but he’s only cleared three targets once since the Chase Claypool trade, leaving him as a mix-in for MME and nothing else. 

Tight End 

If it wasn’t for a bizarre Week 15 game where Pat Freiermuth was simply not targeted, I’d say he’s the safest option of any pass catcher in this game. He has continued the trend of being the second-most targeted player since Claypool was dealt and he’s taken up a 28.6% share of the red zone targets as well. The 8.6-yard aDOT is a solid middle-of-the-road in the offense and that’s not a bad way to describe the matchup either. The Ravens are 13th in points per game allowed to the position and he did get them for a touchdown in the first game, albeit that came with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. Fantasy production might be hard to come by in this game so a player at this salary that has this size of a role is an appealing option. 

Defense/Special Teams 

The total in this game is going to drive some rostership for both defenses on this slate and both are in the top 12 in total DVOA. The Steelers are 12th and they have climbed to 13th in points per game allowed with 20 takeaways. They’ve been a solid defense through most of the season but Baltimore has the second-fewest giveaways on the year and have the seventh-lowest pressure rate allowed. They are also 15th in scoring per game on the year but have fallen to 30th in the past three games at just 12.0 points per game in the past three. Both units are a little more expensive than defenses normally are, but it’s very understandable why that is. 

Kicker 

You probably don’t want to load up on both kickers and both defenses, but both kickers should have work to do. Chris Boswell has missed time but has 22 attempts in 10 games and has hit just 15, but 10 of those made field goals have come from at least 40 yards. Mike Tomlin is almost always going to take the points if they get close enough although Baltimore is only 10th in yards allowed. Points should be at a premium and Boswell is at a very reasonable salary for a kicker, even in a challenging season for him. 

 

Baltimore Ravens Plays for Week 17 SNF DFS – SNF Showdown and Primetime Slates 

Notable injuries – QB Lamar Jackson, CB Marcus Peters (O), DL Calais Campbell (Q)

Quarterback 

He’s certainly not working with a cadre of strong weapons, but Tyler Huntley has not been able to be much of an asset for fantasy since taking over for Lamar Jackson, who remains out. Pittsburgh is only 17th in DVOA against the pass and 20th in points per game allowed, but there has been a lot of production that came when the defense was missing T.J. Watt or they faced an elite option like Josh Allen or Joe Burrow. Neither of those scenarios is the case this week and we had hoped if nothing else, Huntley would run. That is happening to some extent since he has 10, nine, six, and 11 carries in the past four games but the yardage has topped out at 41 and the highest DK points were 16.6.  

In this projected game environment, that might be enough to be the top-scoring player, and the Steelers have been bitten by the deep ball this season. They have allowed the ninth-most yards when defending the deep pass but much like Pickett, it remains to be seen if Huntley can make that aspect of the game work for him. He’s only at a 69.2 passer rating and neither team is higher than 18th in pass rate in neutral scripts. I think Huntley’s production on the ground gives him the better floor/ceiling combo in this game and he would be my choice if playing one quarterback. 

Running Back 

J.K. Dobbins Week 17 Sunday Night Football DFS Showdown Breakdown

Since J.K. Dobbins has come back from his injury, he’s led Gus Edwards in carries 40-31 and red zone carries 7-3. We really don’t have to worry about who’s getting the passing work, because there isn’t any in the Baltimore offense. Only four teams target their backs at a lower rate than the Ravens do. Dobbins has run for 304 yards while Edwards has tacked on 220. Dobbins has the only touchdown in the last three games, and even though the Steelers’ run defense looks strong, they can be had in certain spots. They’re sixth in DVOA against the run and 10th in points per game, and that includes the fifth-lowest yards per attempt. However, these backs combined for 186 rushing yards in the first matchup. When the Baltimore running game is humming, there isn’t a defense that’s going to have many answers and I think this is an environment where both backs together work if you would like. They should combine for 26-30 carries in this spot while Dobbins is eighth in yards per touch and has 15 red zone touches in his limited playing time. Edwards is only 0.5 yards behind in yards per touch so both backs make sense at the salary involved. 

Wide Receiver 

There might be a receiving corps with less talent in it, but I’m not sure of one off the top of my head. A team running both Sammy Watkins and DeSean Jackson in its rotation has some serious issues, and even Demarcus Robinson cut back to under 54% of the snaps last week. This team is a little harder to grasp in the corps, especially since they have locked a playoff spot but I would expect Watkins and Robinson to play the most snaps. Robinson has a matchup against Cam Sutton waiting for him and Sutton has only allowed a 51% catch rate and 0.20 points per route while Watkins would face more of Levi Wallace and his 0.30 points per route with a 56% catch rate. 

Robinson can fall back on a 21.5% target share since Rashod Bateman has been out, even though he only had one look last week. The Ravens only asked Huntley to pass the ball 17 times and he had just nine completions. We should probably be very careful with both Robinson and Watkins if the Ravens don’t want to throw the ball and they’re going to play under 60% of the snaps. Jackson has the highest grade in the WR/CB Matchups Tool and he’s been out of the slot a little bit. That puts him on Arthur Maulet, who has allowed the highest catch rate in the secondary at 71%. I suspect that the Ravens will be able to run the ball mostly successfully, so I will be light on the receiving options here. Given the salaries, Jackson is my favorite followed by Watkins and then Robinson. 

Tight End 

Most showdown slates that involve Mark Andrews make him nearly a must play, but my goodness has this season been tough on him. He’s only the TE5 in points per game, fifth in receptions, third in yards and sixth in touchdowns. Sure, those are very good numbers for a typical tight end, but Andrews has not been the game-changer that we’ve come to know and love and there have likely been a lot of factors going into that, including his own injuries. He’s been banged up for weeks and even though he’s second in unrealized air yards, that’s not the only reason that the production hasn’t been there. He showed chemistry with Huntley last year but that hasn’t carried into this year with four straight games under 9.5 DK points. He still leads in target share at 23.3% and has the second-most red zone targets among the position, but he’s just an average target as the Steelers are 10th in points per game allowed. 

Defense/Special Teams 

Pickett has cut down on his turnovers in a drastic fashion since his bye week but Baltimore forces plenty of turnovers at 24 on the season. That goes hand-in-hand with the fourth-most sacks and the third-fewest points, so it’s reasonable that they are $5,000 on DK. The Steelers struggle to score since they are only 29th in points per game and they have coughed up the ball 18 times, which is only the fourth-fewest. I don’t think the Pittsburgh offense is one to be scared of heading into Baltimore. 

Kicker 

Justin Tucker Week 17 Sunday Night Football DFS Showdown Breakdown

Justin Tucker feels like a cheat code, and it’s a testament to how good he is that he’s missed three field goals in the past two weeks and people wonder what’s wrong with him. He’s leading the league in attempts by three and he’s cashed in with seven makes outside of 50 yards, plus hit all of his extra points except for one. The Steelers will give up some yards at 18th in yards per game, but they are 10th in red zone conversion rate allowed. That may give Tucker even more chances in this contest. 

Core Plays 

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