Week 17 is usually a crapshoot, with several teams resting starters or coasting into the off-season. Typical “no-brainer” starters aren’t so obvious this week, while seldom-used backups get their moments in the sun. In short, it’s a terrible week to contest your fantasy Super Bowl.
In my leagues, we play a “Free for All Bowl,” in which everyone except the champ sets one final lineup. The overall points winner gets a token share of the pot.
Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 17 of the 2016 season.
Watch ’em roll
Matt Stafford, QB, Lions vs. Packers. When last these two teams met, Stafford had a huge game and Marvin Jones (205 receiving yards, 2 TDs) became an instant fantasy hero. Since then, Stafford has held up his end of the bargain, while Jones has lost his fantasy relevance. The Lions have everything to play for, so count on Stafford to keep all of his receivers busy (except, inevitably, Jones).
Darren McFadden, RB, Cowboys at Eagles. Ezekiel Elliott is expected to receive only token carries, after which he will yield the backfield to McFadden. Run DMC looked sharp in his first extended playing time of the season during mop-up duty last week, so look for him to use this opportunity to audition for a nice free-agent contract in the offseason.
Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders at Broncos. Oakland is starting Matt McGloin at QB. So do you think they’ll emphasize the run or pass in this pivotal game? Exactly. Though he was out-played by DeAndre Washington last week, Murray remains the starter and the most reliable option in the Raiders backfield. Washington is worthy a flier, too, given the delicious matchup.
Davante Adams, WR, Packers at Lions. This game should be an aerial showcase, as neither team runs the ball consistently. Speaking of inconsistent, meet Adams. Now that he’s put his disastrous Week 15 performance behind him, trust him to hold onto the balls Aaron Rodgers flings his way.
J.J. Nelson, WR, Cardinals at Rams. Neither team has anything to play for, but Nelson will be looking to cement his position as Arizona’s No. 2 wideout heading into 2017. He has established a nice rapport with Carson Palmer, and the Rams are coughing up nearly two passing TDs per game, on average.
More thumbs up: QBs Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson; RBs LeSean McCoy, David Johnson, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Spencer Ware, Jordan Howard, LeGarrette Blount, Bilal Powell, Thomas Rawls, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jonathan Stewart, Derrick Henry, Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Ty Montgomery, Rex Burkhead; WRs Jordy Nelson, Golden Tate, Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, Emmanuel Sanders, T.Y. Hilton, Julian Edelman, Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks, Doug Baldwin, Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, DeSean Jackson, Kelvin Benjamin, Alshon Jeffery, Allen Robinson, Tyrell Williams, Jarvis Landry, Adam Thielen, Cameron Meredith.
Roll ’em back
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers vs. Chiefs. Over the last three weeks, no secondary has been tougher on opposing QBs than Kansas City. The Chiefs need a win for a chance at the division title while the Chargers are already setting their tee times. Don’t expect a rousing performance against this stingy and focused defense.
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams vs. Cardinals. This season’s leading candidate for Fantasy Bust of the Year “honors” has yet to have a 100-yard rushing game and, even worse, has just one 100-combined-yard game in 2017. He managed a better-than-usual 82 total yards (without a TD) the last time he faced Arizona. If you’d be happy with that, go ahead and start him. Otherwise, look to someone with real upside.
Alfred Blue, RB, Texans at Titans. Lamar Miller (ankle) is unlikely to suit up for this pointless affair, leaving the starting role in Blue’s hands again. Though he came through with a solid performance last week, Sunday’s opponent is tougher against the run. Though he may eek in a short TD plunge, don’t expect big yardage from this backup.
Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans vs. Texans. With their playoff seeding set in stone, Houston could sit many of their starters. That’s the good news for Matthews. The bad news is he’ll be attempting to snare passes from Matt Cassel in a game that’s also meaningless for the Titans. This one could get ugly.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles vs. Cowboys. Carson Wentz continues to regress and Matthews is paying the price. Though he had a nice outing the last time he faced Dallas (11 receptions for 65 yards, 1 TD), he’s hard to trust against a secondary that has been playing well and lacks the depth to bench all its starters.
More thumbs down: QBs Dak Prescott, Ben Roethlisberger, Trevor Siemian, Carson Wentz, E.J. Manuel, Andy Dalton, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Colin Kaepernick, Matt McGloin; RBs Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Veon Bell, Melvin Gordon, Jeremy Hill, Lamar Miller, Rob Kelley, Matt Forte, Shaun Draughn, Devontae Booker, Zach Zenner, Terrance West, Chris Ivory; WRs Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Randall Cobb, Cole Beasley, Donte Moncrief, Robby Anderson, Brandon Marshall, Jeremy Maclin, Terrelle Pryor, Mike Wallace, Kenny Britt.
TAKING A FLIER
Steve Smith, WR, Ravens at Bengals. Though Baltimore has been eliminated from the postseason, this game has special meaning as Smith’s swan song. There’s no way this fiery competitor will go out with a whimper. Joe Flacco will do everything in his power to give Smith the victory lap he deserves.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO … assumes your stalwarts will suit up as usual in Week 17. The Steelers have already signaled that they will sit their stars, while the Cowboys’ young guns will likely see only minimal action. The Giants and Texans likewise have nothing to play for. Plan accordingly.