Fantasy football: Who to start and who to avoid in Week 17

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.

START THESE GUYS

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.

Jamaal Williams #30 of the Green Bay Packers runs for yards during the second half against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on December 23, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Vikings won the game 16-0. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) during an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 23-0. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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.

Saints cornerback P.J. Williams upends Falcons running back Devonta Freeman during the second half Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, in New Orleans. The Falcons won, 23-13. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

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.

Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots catches a touchdown pass as he is defended by Micah Hyde #23 of the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter of a game at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) ***BESTPIX***

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.

AVOID THESE GUYS

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.

Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) carries the ball as Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Sean Davis (28) defends during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Mike Marshall)

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.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt (27) runs against the Miami Dolphins during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

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.