The most popular pick in survivor pools took a massive L for the second week in a row. The 34% of entries on the Los Angeles Chargers were knocked out, contributing to a total of 41% eliminated in Week 16. There's always next season, unless a 9 kilometer asteroid hurtles into our planet six months from now. Before we forge into this week's picks, let's look back on how we did last week:
Week 16 picks
Best Bets: 1-1 (YTD: 22-7)
Leans: 2-0 (YTD: 17-3)
Traps to avoid: 0 eliminations avoided (YTD: 12)
On to the Week 17 picks!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-13.5) at New York Jets
New York is 0-6 this season against teams who rank in the top half of the league in DVOA, getting outscored 232-93. The better half of the NFL is beating them by an average of 23.2 points per contest, the closest games being 15-point losses to the Colts and Eagles. Tampa Bay ranks second in DVOA and are currently jostling for a high playoff seed. Tom Brady and the Bucs offense will square off against a Jets defense that may as well be dressed like Santa Claus, the way they're gifting more points and yards per game than any other team. Not to be outdone, New York's offense has been in an equally generous mood, their 26 giveaways tying the Jaguars for most turnovers. Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson is a bit of a Fabergé egg: looks nice, sports a band, costs a lot of money and instantly cracks under pressure. No team blitzes at a higher rate than the Bucs. Out of all starting quarterbacks, Wilson ranks last in completion percentage, QB rating and sacks per game.
Just over 12% of entries have locked in Tampa Bay, which has a juicy home matchup next week versus the Panthers.
Buffalo Bills (-14.5) vs. Atlanta Falcons
Bills QB Josh Allen went on the road last week and carved up the NFL's third-best defense in a 33-21 victory over the Patriots. This weekend, he gets a home game versus one of the worst defenses in the league. Atlanta ranks last in QB pressures and sacks, registering a meager 16 over 15 games. The next closest team has 25. Playing against the Falcons' front seven is akin to having a spa day. You can just sit back, relax, and, for 60 minutes, try to forget that you live in Buffalo. Only one of Atlanta's wins is versus a team that has a winning record (the 8-7 Dolphins). Atlanta's seven triumphs this season came against opponents with a combined record of 32-72-1 and all seven were by one score. The Falcons' offense ranks 25th in scoring and yards per game and will be matched up against a Bills defense allowing the third-fewest points and least number of yards per game.
Nearly 9% of picks are on Buffalo, but you may want to save them for their home game versus the Jets next week.
New England Patriots (-15) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are 0-7 on the road, just lost their best player for the season, have the fewest takeaways and the most turnovers, score fewer points than any other team, rely on a rookie quarterback who's thrown six touchdowns and 11 interceptions over his last 14 games, run some of the worst offensive packages you've ever seen, are hoping to stop PFF's highest-graded running back with a defense surrendering 150 rushing yards per game over their last three outings ... are we done here? The one reason you may not want to take the Patriots is the fact that they're by far the most-owned team this week, at a shade under 42%. I recommend looking at what percentage of your pool is able to take them. If you're one of the few people with New England still available, lock them in. If a large number of entries can use them, consider taking a different team and hope that something crazy happens in this game to knock out the majority of remaining players.
Green Bay Packers (-6.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings
Barely 3% of entries are on the Packers this week, so this is a good selection if you're in a large pool and want to root for chaos to befall the seven more popular picks. Minnesota's Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen is done for the year after undergoing ankle surgery, while Green Bay just activated one of the NFL's best cornerbacks from injured reserve. If Jaire Alexander ends up playing on Sunday, it will provide a welcome boost for a Packers defense keen on keeping Justin Jefferson in check. Aaron Rodgers and crew are a perfect 7-0 at home and will face a Vikings defense that ranks 28th against the run and 27th versus the pass.
Green Bay plays Detroit in Week 18 but the Packers will already have the top seed locked up if they beat the Vikings and the Cowboys lose to the Cardinals in Week 17.
OTHER PICKS TO CONSIDER
You may not have the preceding teams left to pick in your pool, so here are some other options:
Indianapolis Colts (-6.5) vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Baltimore Ravens
Matthew Stafford versus a depleted Ravens secondary that was just torched by Joe Burrow for 525 passing yards.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) at Washington Football Team
The Eagles ran for 238 yards against Washington two weeks ago.
TRAPS TO AVOID
Seattle Seahawks (-7) vs. Detroit Lions
The Lions have won two of their last four contests and have lost by more than four points just once in their last seven games. Dan Campbell's team grinds more than his local Starbucks. Star running back D'Andre Swift should be back on the field this week against a Seattle team that's 2-5 at home and has been playing football that's about as inspiring as a Matt Foley speech. Almost 13% of entries have been motivated to take the Seahawks.
Chicago Bears (-6) vs. New York Giants
Here's another team that's 2-5 at home. As bad as the Giants are, the Bears aren't much better. Chicago has won two out of its last 10 outings and ranks 32nd in passing yards per game. This matchup carries the lowest total on the slate, so points are expected to be hard to come by for both teams. I would take my chances elsewhere. Eight percent of entries are staying put on the Bears.
Stats provided by Pro Football Reference, Football Outsiders, PFF, teamrankings.com and nfl.com.