Well, this was a tough week for figuring out my fantasy football rankings. Week 17 is a crap shoot with teams’ postseason destinations often determined by the time the final week rolls around. That said, here are my Week 17 fantasy football rankings.
Most respectable yearlong fantasy football leagues have concluded their seasons. But I know there are still some owners out there that have to face Week 17 with a championship on the line. There are also daily fantasy sports competitions going on this week as well. This is probably the most volatile time to make calls for your lineup, given that a lot of teams have nothing to play for on Sunday. I’m here to help, however, so here’s who should start—and who you should avoid—in Week 17.
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Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: Cousins doesn’t have much to play for, but he hasn’t for a while. Still, he tossed three touchdowns last week and has a great matchup against the Giants this week.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: The 49ers are looking to get things started on the right foot for next season. Garoppolo showed what he could do against a top defense last weekend and he should do it again against a disinterested Rams team this week.
Case Keenum, QB, Vikings: Though he has a tough matchup against a Bears defense that is good at limiting fantasy scoring for quarterbacks, I expect him to perform well. The Vikings need to win to guarantee a first-round bye and he’s been a model of consistency for most of the season.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers: He has a good matchup against the Lions and scored the last time he faced them. He’s getting a lot of carries, at least 10 in each of the last eight games.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: The last time Drake faced the Bills he rushed 16 times for 78 yards and caught six passes for 35 yards. He also scored in the game, making him a solid start this week against a bad Bills defense.
Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots: The Patriots want home-field advantage and that means Lewis should perform well. Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead will both miss the game and James White is questionable.
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans: It’s unbelievable that the Titans still have a shot at the playoffs. With DeMarco Murray ruled out of action, Henry finally gets a turn to shine. I think he gets the job done against the Jaguars’ run defense.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: With hope of gaining a No. 1 seed and Antonio Brown out, I expect Smith-Schuster to pick up the slack and put in a WR1 type of week against the Browns.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: He faces a Seahawks defense that isn’t what it once was. The last time he faced them he caught 10 of his 14 targets for 113 yards.
Lions receivers: Marvin Jones and Golden Tate should both do well against a Packers defense that gives up a lot of big pass plays.
Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: Hunter Henry is out so Gates has another opportunity to pay off. With the Chargers needing a win for a shot at the playoffs, I expect him to be solid against the Raiders.
STARS WITH SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: He’s gunning for the No. 1 seed in the AFC so he’ll probably put up solid numbers and won’t sit unless the game gets out of hand.
Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin, Seahawks: The Seahawks need to win to get in. Wilson has been great late in the season the past few years and Doug Baldwin has been a big part of that.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: If Pittsburgh wins, they have a shot at the No. 1 seed, but they need the Pats to lose to the Jets. Might be tough to start Big Ben if you’re worried he might be pulled at halftime, but a good first half against Cleveland may be just enough.
Falcons big three: It’s a must-win game for the Falcons. So Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones won’t see any rest.
Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen, Chargers: They’ll need to play well for the Chargers to have a chance at making the postseason.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: The Panthers are in, but they can clinch the NFC South title with a win and a Saints loss.
Saints running backs: The Saints are trying to take the NFC South title and both running backs, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, should do well against the Bucs.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: The Bills will need McCoy to put up a solid game against Miami if they hope to get into the playoffs.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: Getting the No. 1 seed is a long shot, so Bell may sit if the Patriots pull away from the Jets and Mike Tomlin is scoreboard watching. But again, it’s a good matchup against the Browns.
Alex Collins, RB, Ravens: All the Ravens need to make the playoffs is a win. Collins has been solid and is just 105 yards from a 1,000-yard season.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: He’s in the same boat as Brady and should produce like he usually does.
Vikings receivers: The Vikings need a win to get a first-round bye. Case Kenum will do his best to get Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs involved.
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Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: Foles could use the reps, but the last thing the Eagles need is their quarterback to go down with injury. They already have have home-field advantage in the playoffs and a bye week to get him more reps. Even if he starts, he probably won’t stay in there for long.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys: To be honest, I don’t want to start anyone in that Cowboys-Eagles game. The season can’t end soon enough for Prescott, who is in much need of a reset button. He was terrible against the Eagles last time out and Tyron Smith won’t be there to help protect the quarterback.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: The matchup with the Ravens is too tough and the Bengals have had a nightmare of a season. Dalton threw four picks the last time he faced Baltimore.
Lamar Miller, RB, Texans: Alfred Blue is getting most of the touches in Houston these days. Miller doesn’t look like an enticing play this week against a Colts defense that is decent against the run.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles: The Eagles have nothing to play for and should rest up their top running back.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons: Atlanta is still fighting for a playoff spot, but Coleman has a tough matchup and Devonta Freeman will likely get the higher share of action.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles: Same reason I wouldn’t start Ajayi, plus he hasn’t had the best chemistry with Foles so far.
Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: He’s got a terrible matchup against the Chargers this week. The Raiders have been a major disappointment this season and Cooper has played a role in that. He had five catches for 28 yards the last time he faced the Chargers.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: Why should he start playing well now? With the Cowboys out of playoff contention, it will be interesting to see how Jason Garrett handles playing time for Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Bryant. I don’t expect them to be in harms way for too long.
STARS WITH NOTHING TO PLAY FOR
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: He was given the week off in favor of Patrick Mahomes.
Rams offensive leaders: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and the Rams receivers aren’t likely to play. Goff and Gurley are definitely resting. Cooper Kupp is dealing with a knee while Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins probably won’t see much action.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs: The Chiefs clinched the No. 4 seed and there’s no reason to put Hunt in danger after he’s found a grove once again.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars: The Jaguars can’t improve their spot, so I think Fournette will use the time to heal up.
Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: Sure, his team technically has a shot to win the No. 1 seed, but he’s still recovering from injury and Tomlin won’t risk him being unavailable for the playoffs.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: He’s nursing a calf injury and has no reason to risk playing on Sunday.
Davante Adams, WR, Packers: The newly re-signed Adams suffered two concussions this season and shouldn’t suit up against the Lions.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs: With a locked up seed for the playoffs and Patrick Mahomes starting at quarterback, the Chiefs would do well to sit Hill.
With less than a minute to play, Jake Elliott nailed a 48-yard field goal to put the Eagles ahead of the Raiders on Monday night. That wasn’t the final play of the game, however. The Eagles scored a defensive touchdown on a desperation play by the Raiders to end Week 16’s action and the fantasy football playoffs for most leagues.
It doesn’t take a vivid imagination to realize someone’s fantasy championship contest turned on that final field goal, or that final defensive touchdown.
It’s also probably safe to assume that an extremely high percentage of fantasy champions had Todd Gurley on their rosters.
Gurley has to be the sure fire fantasy MVP, not only given his year-long production, but also due to his performances during the fantasy playoffs. He held his best game for last, gaining 118 yards rushing and 158 yards receiving to go with two scores. It was the first time anyone has gained 100-plus yards rushing and 150-plus yards receiving in a game since Herschel Walker did so in 1986.
Gurley’s performance in Week 16 was highlighted by an 80-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass that he took the distance. That’s the kind of play that makes a quarterback look good.
Jared Goff had the best fantasy performance by a quarterback this week, throwing for 301 yards and four touchdowns. Other than connecting with Gurley on two scores, Goff also hit Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins with touchdown passes. He didn’t hook up well with Robert Woods, who looked like he was going to regain his spot as the No. 1 receiver for the Rams. He had just three catches for 33 yards in a disappointing start.
The biggest disappointments at wide receiver had to be Alshon Jeffery and Michael Crabtree. Each was shut out in the Monday night contest. What a time for that to happen with championships on the line. Nick Foles underwhelmed, after a solid outing last week for the Eagles, and failed to get the ball to Jeffery on two targets. I suggested you sit Derek Carr in Week 16, and he proved me right with a poor performance in which he couldn’t get Crabtree involved at all.
This week’s top receivers, outside of Todd Gurley, were Larry Fitzgerald, Jakeem Grant and Julio Jones. It was a real assortment of talent levels and experience.
Fitzgerald, once again topped 100 catches and 1,000 yards this year as he caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. We keep expecting him to fall off after 14 seasons, but he keeps putting up solid numbers.
Jakeem Grant is just in his second year and has now scored twice in the last three weeks after not being a factor all season. He caught four of his six targets from Jay Cutler for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Julio Jones caught seven passes for 149 yards in a bounce back from Week 15’s lackluster performance. If his owners were lucky enough to survive that week, they were rewarded in Week 16.
Outside of Goff, Kirk Cousins and Blake Bortles had he best days for quarterbacks. Both Cousins and Bortles continue to prove that you can get quality fantasy production out of a quarterback who is having a bad game. Cousins hit just 51 percent of his passes but threw for 299 yards and three scores.
I predicted Bortles would help a team win a fantasy championship, and if he was started on Sunday, he probably did. Bortles had three interceptions against the 49ers but also threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns. Add to that his 31 rushing yards and you have great fantasy production.
Also in that game, Jimmy Garoppolo convinced me to never doubt him again. The quarterback, who is now 6-0 as a starter, had 242 yards passing and two touchdowns. He rushed for another touchdown as he didn’t let the league’s top pass defense slow down his momentum.
If you were out of your fantasy playoffs entering the week, these are the kinds of performances you should stow away heading into next season. Fantasy owners tend to forget about the last couple of weeks of action, especially if they’ve been eliminated from contention. It’s a good idea to take notes for next season, though.
Someone you should be paying attention to is Dion Lewis. I had him listed as one of my starts for Week 16 and he delivered by rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown. He added five catches for 24 yards and another score on his way to having the second best day by a running back.
Gio Bernard also had a great day, though his upside beyond next week is extremely limited. He rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown. It was Bernard’s third straight week of scoring in double digits in fantasy points. If Joe Mixon remains sidelined in Week 17, Bernard could start again.
Bilal Powell and C.J. Anderson can also be filed under, “productive running backs on teams with nothing to play for.” Powell rushed 19 times for 145 yards and a touchdown while Anderson gained 133 yards from scrimmage and scored.
Speaking of running backs who no longer have anything to play for, Ezekiel Elliott made his return to the field after his six-game suspension. Things were set up perfectly for the Cowboys, who had a good shot at making the playoffs if they had just won their final two games.
Elliott performed well, even, rushing for 97 yards and catching four passes for 21 more. The Cowboys couldn’t pull off the win, however, and it might make sense to shut down their franchise back in a meaningless Week 17 game with the Eagles.
While Week 17 is meaningless for most of the NFL, it should be meaningless to all season-long fantasy football leagues everywhere. Any fantasy league that has Week 17 as a factor in determining its fantasy champion is doing a tremendous disservice to its owners. Some think a two-week final is appropriate, in which the championship is played across Week 16 and 17. I’m not one of those people, especially given the fact that real NFL teams often have different goals in Week 17.
With that in mind, that’s why I won’t be suggesting waiver wire pick ups for Week 17. Instead I’m providing inexpensive options for those interested in daily fantasy sports and one-week competitions.
DFS targets for Week 17
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: This should be an easy call by now. If he can do what he did to the Jaguars, he can do it to the Rams.
Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars: Though the Jaguars have nothing to play for, as their seeding is locked in, Cole may still end up seeing a lot of action. Jacksonville has injury issues at the position and Cole has been on fire.
Gio Bernard, RB, Bengals: There won’t be a rush to bring Joe Mixon back and Bernard has the versatility to put up nice numbers given the opportunity.
Alfred Blue, RB, Texans: He’s getting more carries than Lamar Miller and is doing more with them. He faces the Colts in Week 17.
Jakeem Grant, WR, Dolphins: Grant is impressing, but he does have a tough matchup with the Bills in Week 17.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars: Jacksonville won’t risk injuring Leonard Fournette before the playoffs. Yeldon gets to face a Titans defense that got killed by Gurley.
It all comes down to this. You’ve been locked in since August, very likely even before that. You followed all of the free agent action in March before turning your attention to the rookie draft about a month later. It’s time for all of your analysis and gut instincts to pay off.
Week 16 kicks off on Saturday instead of Thursday this week. The Colts take on the Ravens and the Vikings visit the Packers. One player you won’t be starting is Aaron Rodgers, who has been shut down since the Packers have been eliminated from the playoffs. Case Keenum should be pretty solid against Green Bay, however. Here’s a look at who else you should start, and sit, in Week 16.
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Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Before his ugly game at Kansas City last week he was on a roll. I’m expecting him to bounce back against a bad Jets pass defense. He’ll be highly motivated as the Chargers need a win to stay alive for the playoffs.
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: His first start in relief of Carson Wentz went as well as could be expected as he tossed four touchdowns against the Giants. He’ll face a disappointing Raiders team in Week 16 and if he can put up numbers close to the ones from Week 15 his owners will be satisfied.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: I suggested Bortles as a strong start last week and I think he can come through again this week. His receivers Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook are playing really well right now. It’s a great matchup for Bortles as he faces the 49ers.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: Drake’s had at least 16 carries in three straight weeks and has a nice matchup against the Chiefs this week.
Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots: Lewis gets to face the Bills this week, who are very bad at limiting running backs in fantasy scoring. Lewis has had double digit carries in eight of the nine last games.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos: He’s coming off a game in which he rushed 30 times for 158 yards. Anderson has run the ball at least 15 times in three games in a row and has a good matchup against the Redskins.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: With Antonio Brown out for a few weeks, Smith-Schuster is likely to get more targets. He caught six passes for 114 yards last week against the Patriots. He has a better matchup this week against the Texans.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings: Diggs didn’t play the last time the Vikings took on the Packers, but he should have a nice outing against a bad Packers pass defense.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams: He scored a touchdown in his return in Week 15 and has been targeted at least seven times in the last three games that he’s played in. The Titans are in the middle third in fantasy points allowed to receivers.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks: This is a vote of confidence despite his last two games which have been terrible. If you drafted Graham, you have to start him. Sometimes you have to trust your stars even when they have tough matchups.
Evan Engram, TE, Giants: Engram’s been very impressive this year and it doesn’t look like the Giants are quitting. He’s had at least 54 yards receiving in three straight games.
Bears defense/special teams: They’re facing the Browns and that could end up helping you take the championship.
Lions defense/special teams: The Lions have a good matchup as they face a Bengals team that looks as disinterested as it looks bad.
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Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: He’s been a bust this season and his fumble through the end zone last week with the game on the line shows that he’s willing to make desperate plays. Carr has a tough matchup against the Eagles this week.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers: I think he’ll be really good next season. Heck, he’s been really good this season so far since coming over from New England. But facing the Jaguars and its two pro bowl defensive backs is too tall a task.
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills: Taylor was injured the last time he faced the Patriots and this time he has to go on the road. I can see him having a productive day if the game turns into a high-scoring affair, but I don’t expect a big day out of him.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Packers: He’ll be without his starting quarterback and he has to face a tough Vikings defense. Williams didn’t play against the Vikings in Week 6 but his team was held to just 72 yards rushing.
Buccaneers running backs: Peyton Barber underperformed in place of Doug Martin, who was a healthy scratch, on Monday night. Martin will likely return to the field against the Panthers. Neither is a good start this week.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions: He returned to the field last week, but he had just one rushing attempt. He’s been a real bust this year and can’t be trusted in your lineup.
Robby Anderson, WR, Jets: Anderson was on a roll for a bit, but without Josh McCown in the lineup, he’s not a reliable starting option. He faces a tough Chargers defense this week.
Packers receivers: Davante Adams is in the concussion protocol, and it’s hard to predict whether Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson will have a good day. Most likely, none of the Packers receivers will be very productive against the Vikings defense.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: Like Garoppolo, Goodwin’s run of solid performances will likely come to an end against a dominating Jaguars secondary.
Buccaneers tight ends: O.J. Howard has been moved to injured reserve and it doesn’t help that Cameron Brate has to face the Panthers who are good at defending the position.
Seahawks defense/special teams: It’s not the same defense after all the injuries. They’ll have to face Ezekiel Elliott in his return to action after a six-game suspension.
Week 16, championship week in most fantasy football leagues, doesn’t kick off until Saturday. The Colts take on the Ravens before the Vikings visit the Packers. Fantasy owners won’t have Aaron Rodgers available to them after a one-week sighting. Doesn’t make sense to have your franchise quarterback play in meaningless games, so the Packers sent Rodgers to the injured reserve. These games aren’t meaningless if you made your fantasy football championship, however. With that in mind, here are my Week 16 fantasy football rankings.
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Even if you were from a galaxy far, far away, and your first experience watching the NFL was Week 15, you would still recognize how dramatic and crazy the week was.
Football is often called “a game of inches,” but a game of folded sheets of paper? One of those quite possibly helped decide the Cowboys’ win over the Raiders on Sunday night. Head official Gene Steratore used a folded sheet of paper to prove that the football was indeed touching the line to gain on a fourth-and-one quarterback sneak by Dak Prescott in the final quarter.
Another play that helped decide that game was Derek Carr’s fumble into the end zone to seal the win for Dallas. Marshawn Lynch can’t seem to find a quarterback that makes the right decision down near the goal line.
Speaking of plays down near the goal line, how about Big Ben’s decision to go for a fake spike and drill a slant to the middle of the field? Of course, the play ended in an interception by the Patriots to seal the win. That was after an unbelievable 69-yard catch and run by JuJu Smith-Schuster that set the Steelers up in great position. As for New England, sometimes it’s better to be lucky and good.
All this and I’ve yet to mention another superstar going down to injury. Antonio Brown partially tore his calf and will miss the rest of the regular season at least. But he’s out of your fantasy playoffs for sure.
Aside from the crazy endings, there were some big-time fantasy playoff performances turned in this week.
No performance was bigger than the one turned in by Todd Gurley, who helped the Rams decimate the Seahawks. With a young nucleus and a rookie head coach you couldn’t help wonder if this were a changing of the guard. The Seahawks are aging, especially on defense, and it’s been a long time since they’ve been treated the way the Rams treated them.
Gurley rushed for 152 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns, including a 57-yarder to all but end the game in the first half. He also caught three passes for 28 yards and another score. Gurley, who was disappointing last season, has thrived now that Jeff Fisher can no longer stunt his production. He’s definitely a fantasy MVP candidate and will very likely be on most fantasy championship teams.
The next best performance by a running back was the one turned in by Kareem Hunt on Saturday. That made it his second straight great start in a row. His resurgence is coming at the perfect time for fantasy owners in the playoffs. Hunt rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown. He also caught seven passes for 51 yards and another score.
It was a nice week for a lot of the best rushers. Mark Ingram, Melvin Gordon, Le’Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy all put up the types of numbers they were expected to get for fantasy owners.
A few unexpected names led the charge for best wide receiver performances through Sunday night. A pair of Jaguars and another pair of Giants had the biggest days.
Sterling Shepard caught 11 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown as Eli Manning played great against the Eagles. Manning also hooked up with Tavarres King twice for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Manning probably didn’t start for a lot of fantasy playoff teams, but he finished with 434 yards and three touchdowns.
Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens helped Blake Bortles stay on a roll. Bortles was on of my starts of the week and did great against the Texans. He connected with Cole on seven passes for 186 yards and a touchdown. Bortles hit Mickens four times for 61 yards and two more scores. Bortles faces the 49ers and I was serious when I said he could possibly help some owners win their leagues in the playoffs. He was a good pick up for Carson Wentz owners last week.
You didn’t have to go far for another solid choice to replace Wentz. Nick Foles looked like he did in 2013, throwing for 237 yards and four touchdowns passes in his first start in relief of Wentz. I suggested you pick him up last week when Wentz went down, but it looks like he’s still available in a lot of leagues.
Cam Newton also threw for four touchdowns and is looking like his old self again as he added 58 yards rushing on 14 attempts.
Outside of Newton, it was quite a mix of unusual suspects scoring well this week from the quarterback position. Brock Osweiler, Tyrod Taylor and Joe Flacco all had big games.
Someone we’re used to having good numbers is Aaron Rodgers. He had a nice return, but he may get shut down since the Packers have nothing to play for anymore. Rodgers’ game benefited Randall Cobb more than Jordy Nelson.
Case Keenum, Ben Roethlisberger and Alex Smith all had solid weeks as well.
Another quarterback that I have to mention is Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s picked up Kyle Shanahan’s offense in mere weeks and looks great moving around the pocket. Garoppolo already has good chemistry with his receivers, especially Marquise Goodwin. It’s early, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns in QB1 numbers next season.
As far as tight ends go, it’s been a tough road for the position this season. This week they scored in droves, but no tight end had a bigger week than Rob Gronkowski. He caught nine passes for 168 yards.
Greg Olsen also had a great week, his first one of the season, catching nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.
On the dark side…
Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers and Andy Dalton probably knocked a lot of owners out of the playoffs.
Dalton, A.J. Green and the Bengals have been huge disappointments. It’s one thing to be untalented and bad, but this team is talented and terrible.
Running backs that probably cost owners wins this week were Jonathan Stewart, Jamaal Williams, Lamar Miller and Carlos Hyde.
Of course, Week 16 is championship week so these waiver wire suggestions are obviously if you’re desperate at this point.
Top waiver wire picks
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: 237 yards, 4 TDs.
Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars: 7 rec., 186 yards, TD. I thought Dede Westbrook was the better add of the two last week, but Cole is still putting up bigger numbers.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers: 4 rec., 59 yards, TD. With Antonio Brown out, Bryant will likely see more targets and he’s available in a decent amount of leagues.
Kapri Bibbs, RB, Redskins: He caught four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown and could be utilized the way Kirk Cousins used Chris Thompson earlier this season.
Wayne Gallman, RB, Giants: He totaled 79 yards from scrimmage and is proving to be a pass option out of the backfield.
Kerwynn Williams or Elijhaa Penny, RB, Cardinals: Williams suffered a quad injury, but whomever starts next week will have a good matchup against the Giants.
Week 15 kicked off Thursday, but there was action Saturday as well. Kareem Hunt had a big day while Philip Rivers was a real disappointment in the game on Saturday night. Other than the players that had games on Thursday and Saturday, the following rankings are updated through early Sunday morning.
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In fantasy football you just have to trust your best players. If you were a Tom Brady or Alvin Kamara owner in the first round of the playoffs, it may have been your last week in the postseason. If you survived, however, count your blessings. Either way, you can’t blame yourself for starting those guys.
Thursday’s action pits the Broncos against the Colts. You won’t want to start either quarterback and the running backs are low-end flex options at best. You might get lucky with C.J. Anderson or Frank Gore plunging into the end zone on a goal line situation. Otherwise, the only real decent players to start are T.Y. Hilton and Demaryius Thomas. Hilton is definitely a boom or bust type player. Like I said, though, sometimes you have to trust your best players. Here’s who else you should start, and sit, in Week 15.
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Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: He’s been fully cleared to return to action and if you held him on your team this whole time then now’s the time to insert him into your starting lineup. Don’t worry about rust. He has a tough matchup against the Panthers, but he was a QB1 in every week but the one in which he was injured. Relax.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: The last time he faced the Texans he wasn’t very special. The Jaguars leaned on their running attack in that contest. In his last six games, however, Bortles has attempted at least 27 passes in each of those contests. He has six touchdowns and just one interception over his last three games.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins: He’s had to face tough pass rushes in each of his last three games and it’s shown up in the box score. Cousins should have a decent game against the Cardinals this week. He’s only had one game in which he didn’t throw a touchdown pass.
Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers: Hyde has been a consistent, although quiet, scorer all season long. The amount of touches he gets provides for a nice minimum score every week. Though he has a tough matchup against the Titans, the emergence of Jimmy Garoppolo can open things up for the running game.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins: He’s had two straight 100-yard games and has a great matchup against the Bills this week. Weather may be a factor, so he may end up with more carries than usual.
Mike Davis, RB, Seahawks: It looks like the Seahawks have finally found a running back they can trust. The Rams give up a lot of points to running backs. Davis has 36 touches over his last two games. He’s dealing with a rib issue, but if he practices near the end of the week, you should start him.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: Nelson hasn’t been even a good flex option since Week 6. With the return of Rodgers, Nelson’s value get a big boost. The Panthers are tough, but Rodgers-to-Nelson is often matchup proof.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders: The Cowboys’ defensive backfield has started playing better lately, but Crabtree should have a decent game Sunday night. Amari Cooper is in danger of missing the game with an ankle injury so Crabtree could end up getting more targets than usual.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers: The rookie returns from his one-game suspension and Martavis Bryant didn’t do enough last week to supplant him as the No. 2 receiver on the team. Smith-Schuster has a nice matchup against the Patriots this week.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals: He had just one catch last week, but it went for 20 yards. I’d expect him to continue to be targeted on deeper routes. Seals-Jones has a nice matchup with the Redskins.
Lions defense/special teams: The Lions are coming off a nice game and scored a touchdown the last time they faced the Bears.
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Jared Goff, QB, Rams: He had a tough time the last time he faced the Seahawks, throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns in Week 5. There are better options than Goff this week, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if he comes out with a decent game as Robert Woods returns.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans: Mariota has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in each of his last three games. His mobility may suffer as well as he deals with a minor knee sprain. With not a lot of reliable receiving weapons, I don’t like him in a good matchup with the 49ers.
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: The Bengals are in a tailspin so I probably don’t have to tell you to sit Dalton. Have no doubt that he’ll have a rough day against a very good Vikings defense.
Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers: He scored two touchdowns against the Falcons the last time he faced them. That was on just five carries. I wouldn’t bank on him having that kind of success again this week. The Falcons are in the top third in limiting running backs in fantasy scoring.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions: Abdullah is still dealing with a neck injury, but it’s apparent that his poor play is part of the reason he’s not being rushed back into action. He may be active this week, but don’t insert him into your lineup with Theo Riddick having a bigger impact recently.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles: Though he has a good matchup this week, it’s starting to look like Jay Ajayi will be a bigger factor for Philly. Blount has 15 carries over his last two games while Ajayi had 15 last week.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: He hasn’t had a decent game since Week 11 and the Falcons are a tough matchup this week. If any receiver has a good game this week for the Bucs, it will be Mike Evans.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams: The Rams face the Seahawks and Robert Woods is likely returning to the field. With Cooper Kupp and Woods in the picture, I think Watkins will be the odd man out.
Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens: He’s been hot as of late, but the last time he faced the Browns he was targeted just three times and made one catch for seven yards.
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: Though he’s healthy enough to play, he hasn’t looked like the player we’re used to. He hasn’t had a good game all year, even before his injury.
Trey Burton, TE, Eagles: He was great with a healthy Carson Wentz and an injured Zach Ertz last week. Those circumstances have changed, obviously.
Week 14 was rough for Carson Wentz owners. Luckily, he wasn’t injured until he posted a solid fantasy score. If you survived this week there’s still hope. With that in mind, have a look at these early fantasy football rankings for Week 15.
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A bit of a sibling rivalry is developing between the City of Brotherly Love and Sixburgh, Pa. The teams from Pennsylvania won their divisions Sunday but are heading in two different directions. The Eagles are the NFC East champions while the Steelers are kings of the AFC North. The Steelers are firing on all cylinders offensively, but the Eagles just lost their MVP candidate, Carson Wentz, to a torn ACL.
Ben Roethlisberger and Wentz had a couple of the best fantasy performances for quarterbacks in Week 14, typically the first round of playoffs for fantasy leagues. Roethlisberger looks to gain a first round bye while Eagles fans are hoping Nick Foles can do enough to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive.
Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards and two touchdowns in a big comeback win over the Ravens on Sunday night. He had a lot of help in the process. Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards. Fantasy owners will forgive him for not scoring a touchdown.
Le’Veon Bell also put up big numbers, catching one of Roethlisberger’s touchdown tosses while gaining 77 yards receiving. He also rushed for 48 yards and scored twice on the ground. It was Bell’s fourth time scoring a rushing touchdown and catching a touchdown pass in the same game. That’s tied for most since he entered the league in 2013, according to NFL Research on Twitter.
Not to be completely outdone on Sunday night was Alex Collins. He’s been fantastic for four straight weeks. Collins rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown. He’s currently riding a four-game scoring streak and faces the Browns and Colts in the next two weeks. Collins could end up being a playoff MVP for a lot of owners.
Bell wasn’t the only player to rush for a touchdown and catch another this week. Two other running backs, Rod Smith of the Cowboys and the Packers’ Jamaal Williams, completed that task.
Smith rushed for 47 yards, at 7.8 per carry, and scored on the ground before he caught a game-breaking 81-yard touchdown reception. He totaled 115 yards receiving on five catches.
Williams totaled 118 yards and scored twice in the Packers’ comeback victory over the Browns.
Jonathan Stewart had one of the biggest weeks as well, scoring three touchdowns as he rushed for 103 yards. He’s on a three-game scoring streak as the Panthers seem to be picking up steam.
Week 14 was a resurgent week for a couple of players. Kareem Hunt finally rushed for more than 100 yards again and Dak Prescott finally rid himself of his month-long funk. Hunt gained 116 yards on the ground and scored while adding three receptions for 22 yards. Prescott threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns. It was the first time he threw for at least 300 yards this season. In fact, he hadn’t thrown for at least 200 yards since Week 9.
This week’s list of quarterback duds is very long. Most of these guys lost playoff games for fantasy owners: Josh McCown, Derek Carr, Alex Smith, Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton and Marcus Mariota.
A surprising performance came from DeShone Kizer. He threw three touchdown passes as the Browns came up just short of their first win against the Packers. I wouldn’t recommend picking him up now, as he has a tough schedule coming up.
Another QB1 performance came from Brett Hundley, though you shouldn’t pick him up with Aaron Rodgers likely to return in Week 15.
The injury to Wentz wasn’t the only one with fantasy impact. What happened to Alvin Kamara can’t be overlooked. He suffered a concussion Thursday night. Most owners who had Kamara likely had byes this week, so they could at least adjust or work on a contingency plan for Week 15. If they had to play this week, it’s very likely they didn’t make it out of the first round.
Owners of injured tight end Zach Ertz were worried about not advancing beyond the first round. All they had to do was pick up Ertz’s teammate Trey Burton by Sunday to save the week. Burton caught five passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
With Wentz out, Foles might be a decent waiver wire pick this week. Here’s who else you should look into picking up off the wire.
Top waiver wire picks
Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars: 268 yards passing, 2TDs. He’s still available in some leagues and, with matchups against the Texans and 49ers, he could very well be a fantasy championship quarterback for Wentz owners.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: 6 rec., 106 yards. Goodwin is still available in a lot of leagues despite his solid play the last few weeks. He’s a decent start in Week 15, but that may be it since he faces Jacksonville in championship week.
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles: You could do a lot worse in terms of streaming a quarterback to replace Wentz. Foles has been relegated to backup roles in recent years, but in 2013 he threw 27 touchdowns against just two interceptions.
Rod Smith, RB, Cowboys: If you need help at the position, this isn’t a bad addition. He’s on a three-game scoring streak and is effective catching out of the backfield. Plus there’s one more week before Ezekiel Elliott returns.
Tyrell Williams, WR, Chargers: 4 rec., 132 yards, TD. With Keenan Allen having a lot of success, things opened up for Williams. He’s not a consistent receiver, but he can have big days. If you’re looking for a glory play in the next couple of weeks, he’s got great matchups.
Theo Riddick, RB, Lions: 29 rushing yards, 2TDs, 6 rec., 64 yards. Ameer Abdullah isn’t in good standing with the Lions so Riddick is benefiting from the extra touches.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: 269 yards passing. He’s had two good games in a row and faces the Browns next week.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks: 4 rec., 90 yards, TD. If you’re confident about your matchup this week, you may want to stow Lockett away for his matchup in Week 16 when he faces the Cowboys.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars: 5 rec., 81 yards, TD. He gets to face the Texans and the 49ers in the next two weeks. Adding him would be a luxury and a backup plan if you have injury concerns with your regular starters.