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Week 17 NFL Sunday Instant Reactions & Week 18 Betting Lines Preview




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Welcome to the Week 18 edition of the Instant Reactions and Betting Lines Look Ahead column of the 2021 NFL season. The column will break down key stats and observations from around the NFL and provide tips for NFL DFS players and bettors looking to get an early jump on next week’s betting lines. Let us dive into the all the NFL DFS tips insights.

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Week 17 NFL DFS Sunday Reactions & Week 18 Betting

Ja’Marr Chase Went Berserk

Chase came into the weekend fourth among wideouts in total touchdowns and sixth in yards receiving. But in Week 17, Chase was absolutely unstoppable, earning 11 receptions on 12 targets and accumulating 266 yards receiving, with an absurd 57% of those yards coming after the catch. Chase now ranks 14th among all wideouts in total targets and fourth in yards. Chase won people plenty of money in best ball and season-long fantasy football championships, and with the Bengals playing a possible Baker Mayfield-less Browns team in Week 18, the lines from this game have been pulled. The Bengals should trounce Cleveland with Case Keenum by 15-plus points to close out the season. This could be a line to hop on as soon as it is posted.

Diontae Johnson Led All Players in Targets

Ben Roethlisberger’s last night at Heinz field was not as statistically successful as it was for his team, as the Steelers remain in play for the final playoff spot in the AFC. But while Roethlisberger failed to accumulate any production, he did manage to pepper receiver Diontae Johnson with opportunities. Week 17 marked Johnson’s seventh game with double-digit targets since Week 8, and it was his fifth game topping a dozen looks. Despite playing on a generally unproductive offense, Johnson is fourth in targets, fifth in receptions and eighth in yards receiving at his position. The Steelers open as 3.5-point road underdogs in a must-win Week 18 matchup against the Ravens.

Five players Earned Over 125 Air Yards

DeVante Parker led all receivers in air yards with 156, which accounted for 38% of the Dolphins’ total air yards in Week 17, while Ja’Marr Chase and Darnell Mooney each saw fewer total air yards but received over 50% of their team’s air yards in the process. And despite being considered limited, Mike Evans played on over 75% of the Buccaneers snaps and managed to see 137 air yards on just seven targets for a whopping 19.6 average depth of target. But the most surprising name to top the 125-yard threshold is the Patriots’ Kristian Wilkerson, who had not seen a single target all season. But with multiple Patriots’ receivers sidelined, Wilkerson saw a career-high eight targets on an 83% snap share on a 16.5-yard average depth of target. He caught four passes, including two in the end zone, earning the ninth-most fantasy points of any receiver. New England, who has clinched a playoff spot, opens as 7-point road favorites against the 8-8 Dolphins.

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Two Quarterbacks Topped 400 Yards, No Others Eclipsed 310

In what was somewhat of down week for pocket passers, only two quarterbacks posted superb Week 17 production numbers through the air. Joe Burrow, thanks in large part to the monster performance of Ja’Marr Chase, led the position in yards passing for the second straight weekend, torching the Chiefs secondary for 446 yards in an upset victory. Burrow now has 971 yards passing over the past two weeks, which is more than 300 yards than any other quarterback during that span. Tom Brady, affected by Antonio Brown’s mid-game antics and surprisingly tough fight from the Jets, was forced to pass throughout the fourth quarter in a ferocious comeback effort. He finished with 410 yards, capped by the game-winning 30 yards strike to Cyril Grayson. The Buccaneers open as 8-point home underdogs against the Panthers but have just a 25-point implied total. Smash the over on the way-too-low 42-point total.

Gronkowski Led All Tight Ends in Targets

In order to make a repeat Super Bowl run, the Buccaneers must lean heavily on both Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski in the passing game, as they did in Week 17 against the Jets. Gronkowski bounced back from two down weeks in a row, where he had only earned three receptions over his last two starts. He saw 10 targets, tied with Dalton Schultz for the most targets among all tight ends in Week 17. Gronkowski’s 94 air yards were also the second most of any tight end last weekend. His 115 yards receiving led the entire position. And while the Panthers kept Gronkowski quiet the last time these two teams met, do not expect that repeat in Week 18. As long as the Buccaneers do not opt to rest their starters, Gronkowski should see at least eight looks as Tampa Bay looks to lock in the No. 2 seed in the AFC.

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Penny and Harris Led Running Backs in Opportunities

Only two players topped 27 total opportunities in Week 17, and unsurprisingly, both had monster performances, helping lead their respective teams to statement victories. Najee Harris was absolutely unstoppable on Monday night, earning 6.7 yards per carry on a league-high 28 carries, capping Ben Roethlisberger’s farewell performance at Heinz field with a 37-yard run to close out the Browns. Not to be outdone, Rashaad Penny saw 25 rush attempts and three targets, averaging 6.8 yards per attempt, and finding the end zone twice in the process. While the Seahawks have been eliminated from playoff contention, and their Week 18 matchup at Arizona is far from an easy one, the Seahawks against the spread seems like a savvy bet to start the week. They should not be favored, but they should not be touchdown underdogs either.

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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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