It’s Week 17, the last weekend of the NFL regular season. Most leagues have already had their championships, but some have not yet decided their champion. Over the years I’ve played in both ‘traditional’ leagues which decide their champ in Week 16, and a competitive writers league which has always been decided in the final week. I’ve found that the ‘Week 17′ championship league if a lot more challenging, as depth and waiver pick-ups tend to be a lot more important. Some teams elect to rest their starters, especially if they’re locked into a seed for the playoffs, have already secured a first-round bye, home-field advantage, etc. Some unlikely heroes can pull your fantasy team across the line to secure that trophy.
Thank you for reading throughout the season. Good luck in Week 17, and Happy New Year!
Quarterback – surprise start of the week
Michael Vick, Philadelphia (at NYG): Sure, Vick could be a little rusty considering he hasn’t played since Week 10 due to concussion, and then coaches’ decision. However, this is a guy who is auditioning for a job in 2013, so expect Vick to play his heart out against the Giants. In the earlier meeting with New York this season, he completed 19 of his 30 pass attempts for 241 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, and he didn’t fumble either. The big knock was the fact he had been turning the ball over so frequently, but even though the G-Men sacked him twice, he did not have any miscues. He might be good for a pair of scores, a solid amount of rushing yards and perhaps 250-275 passing yards, making for a decent Week 17 stat line. He is a great play in weekly salary cap leagues like DraftKings.com, especially since he has a mid-level salary this weekend.
Other surprise plays: Jake Locker, Tennessee (vs. JAC), Cam Newton, Carolina (at NO), Ryan Tannehill, Miami (at NE)
Quarterback – sit of the week
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (vs. TB): The Falcons have already locked up home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs, so there is no reason to believe Matty Ice will play the entire game in Week 17. In fact, if he plays at all, he is likely to see preseason-type action, handing over the reins to Luke McCown and/or Dominique Davis. There is no sense risking a potential trip to the Super Bowl by having Ryan suffer an injury in a meaningless game. Ryan is way overpriced in sal cap leagues, especially since it is 100 percent expected that he won’t go the distance in Week 17.
Other QBs to sit: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo (vs. NYJ), Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco (vs. ARI), Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (vs. CLE)
Shonn Greene, N.Y. Jets (at BUF): There is a 60 percent chance of snow at Orchard Park with gusty winds in the forecast. It’s your typical western New York weather. The Jets turn back to QB Mark Sanchez for the regular season finale, but the star of the offense is certain to be Greene. With blustery conditions, bad QB play and a rushing defense which ranks dead-last in the NFL by allowing 146.7 yards per game, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and the Jets braintrust would be foolish not to pound the ball with Greene at least 30 times in this one.
Other surprise plays: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati (vs. BAL), Knowshon Moreno, Denver (vs. KC), DeAngelo Williams, Carolina (at NO)
Running back – sit of the week
Trent Richardson, Cleveland (at PIT): Richardson suffered an ankle injury at the very end of the Week 16 game in Denver, and the word out of Cleveland is that there is “no chance” Richardson suits up for the regular season finale. As such, Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya are likely to see extended play, but that’s going against the NFL’s No. 2 ranked rushing offense. Not good. Throw in the fact the Browns are likely to be using QB Thaddeus Lewis in his first NFL start with QBs Brandon Weeden (shoulder) and Colt McCoy (shoulder) nursing injuries, and every single Browns offensive player should be avoided.
Other RBs to sit: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City (at DEN), Darren McFadden, Oakland (at SD), DeMarco Murray, Dallas (at WAS)
Wide receiver – surprise start of the week
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (vs. CLE): The Steelers have ruled WR Mike Wallace (hip) out for the regular season finale, so Brown and Emmanuel Sanders will be the team’s starters against the lowly Browns. Brown missed the first meeting in Cleveland in Week 12 due to injury, but he has managed a touchdown in three straight games coming into this one, and he had a season-best 97 receiving yards against the Bengals last weekend. Look for Brown to push the century mark in yardage to find the end zone yet again. He is a steal at just $5,500 in sal cap leagues like DraftKings.com.
Other surprise plays: Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville (at TEN), Brandon Lloyd, New England (vs. MIA), Santana Moss, Washington (vs. DAL)
Wide receiver- sit of the week
Roddy White, Atlanta (vs. TB): White has missed practice time this week due to his nagging knee injury, and it is unlikely that the team will push him to play considering they have already locked up home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. There is just no reason to potentially damage White’s knee further rather than rest him for a full two weeks between Week 16 and the team’s playoff game. Even if he were to somehow make an appearance, that’s all it would be. If active, I suspect he would only play a few series at best after playing 50-of-57 offensive snaps last weekend in a crucial game.
Other WRs to sit: Josh Gordon, Cleveland (at PIT), Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis (vs. HOU), Kendall Wright, Tennessee (vs. JAC)
Tight end – surprise start of the week: Greg Olsen, Carolina (at NO)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Brent Celek, Philadelphia (at NYG), Benjamin Watson, Cleveland (at PIT)
Sit of the week: Vernon Davis, San Francisco (vs. ARI)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Lance Kendricks, St. Louis (at SEA), Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit (vs. CHI)
Kicker – surprise start of the week: Steven Hauschka, Seattle (vs. STL)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy play: Matt Bryant, Atlanta (vs. TB)
Sit of the week: Rian Lindell, Buffalo (vs. NYJ)
Other who should be riding the fantasy pine: Phil Dawson, Cleveland (at PIT)
Defense/special teams – surprise start of the week: Buccaneers DST (at ATL)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Giants DST (vs. PHI), Steelers DST (vs. CLE)
DST sit of the week: Dolphins DST (at NE)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Rams DST (at SEA), Redskins DST (vs. DAL)
Daniel E. Dobish’s Fantasy Lineup at DraftKings.com
- Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego – $5,800
- Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco – $5,200
- Shonn Greene, RB, N.Y. Jets – $5,600
- Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit – $9,700
- Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh – $5,500
- Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina – $4,400
- James Jones, FLEX, Green Bay – $6,100
- Kai Forbath, PK, Washington – $4,000
- Steelers defense, DST – $3,600