Some leagues may be finished, but there are still a lot of leagues with one more week to play. Daily Fantasy leagues like FanDuel are still looking to give people one more chance to win, while some Yahoo and ESPN leagues have one more week to go before a champion is crowned. I'm personally in a few leagues on each site that are still playing, so I have a horse in the game just like some of you.
What makes Week 17 different than other weeks is some NFL teams will rest their starters for the playoffs, some will rest players because they are out of the playoffs and need to see what they have in younger players, and still some others are playing this week as if it were the first week of the playoffs. That means you can't just plug and play people like you have the previous 16 weeks.
What's more, you have to pay attention to the injury updates because teams are putting guys on the I.R. to heal them up for next year. Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffery, Vincent Jackson, and Charles Clay have all been put on the I.R., so be aware and beware.
Ben Roethlisberger – Steelers: Big Ben is one of those QBs you love to hate in fantasy football because he either puts up elite stats and helps you win, or he is a total bust and kills you at QB and WR when you pair him with Antonio Brown.
This week, however, he gets a Browns secondary that has given up 20-plus fantasy points to QBs in 7 of their last 8 games. The Steelers still have a small chance to make it to the playoffs, so you can be sure Roethlisberger will do all he can to make that happen. I'd putting him as a top-3 QB option in fantasy football.
Eli Manning – Giants: Here's the deal with Eli Manning: he's a risk/reward type of QB this week. He's a risk because the Giants have nothing to play for with a 6-9 record heading into Week 17. But there is some reward with the Eagles being in a transitional phase after Coach Chip Kelley was fired on Tuesday, and with Odell Beckham likely to want to end the season with a boom after being suspended in Week 16.
I'd consider Manning more of a low-end QB1 because of the risk, but one that could pay off huge if you get him at a discount in DFS leagues. Depending on who your QB is in standard roto leagues, I'd have to weigh it on a choice-by-choice basis.
Charcandrick West – Chiefs: West had a good run of fantasy games from Weeks 7-10, scoring an average of 34.2 in those three games. Since then though, he has been a bust for fantasy purposes, scoring just one TD and reaching 75 rushing yards just once.
The good news for him this week is the Raiders are heading to Kansas City along with their 16th-ranked fantasy RB defense. The Chiefs have everything to play for, while the Raiders are looking for a better draft position. I'd put West back in the RB2 discussion this week.
Jeremy Langford – Bears: There is little doubt that the Bears are grooming Langford to take over as their feature back next year. With that, his touches have remained fairly steady following the Bears' Week 7 bye. And with them having nothing to play for this year, I expect them to pound him all game long to finish out the season.
Matt Forte is dealing with a back injury, which puts Langford in the driver's seat to finish out the season. He is more of an RB2 than an RB1, but there is real upside here with Eddie Royal, Marc Mariani and Josh Bellamy as the Bears' top three WRs this week.
Allen Hurns – Jaguars: Can you name another player you grabbed off the waiver wire for free, but is ranked in the top 45 players in ALL fantasy football as we head into the final week of the NFL season? Probably not, because Hurns is the only one I can think of!
While the Texans did hold him to a 2/30/1 line back in Week 6, Hurns has proven since then that he will produce week in and week out. He has now racked up 100-plus yards in two of his last three games, and has scored 3 TDs in that span.
I am looking for Blake Bortles, Hurns, and Allen Robinson to finish out the season on a high note. I would have no problems putting Hurns in my WR2 spot, and neither should you.
Golden Tate – Lions: When you think of the Lions passing game, you think of Calvin Johnson, not Golden Tate. But did you know that Tate has 8 more receptions on 12 fewer targets than Johnson? There is a difference of 298 yards in their stats, but just 2 TDs separate them.
The Bears are surprisingly good against fantasy WRs, giving up the 8th-fewest points to them this season. And with Megatron drawing all the attention, I am looking for Tate to be a TD vulture with somewhere between 60-75 yards. Don't sleep on Tate, because he has sleeper value.
Zach Ertz – Eagles: Ertz had a big game last week, racking up 17 targets, which he turned into 13 catches for 122 yards. This week he gets a Giants defense that gives up the 2nd-most fantasy points to TEs at 10.9 PPG.
There isn't much to say about this one other than the Giants cannot cover tight ends. Ertz should be available in most leagues, and will come at a discount in DFS leagues. Consider him if you stream TEs this season.
Kansas City Chiefs defense: Yahoo has the Chiefs as their #2-projected defense for Week 17, which normally worries me since they are SO wrong. But this is one of those weeks when I happen to agree with them. The Chiefs are 5-2 at home this season, and are sitting on a 9-game winning streak.
The Raiders are playing for 2016, and the Chiefs are fighting for playoff seeding. I have the Chiefs as a top-3 fantasy defense in Week 17.
Derek Carr – Raiders: Carr had some big games early on in the season, piling up five 300-yard games in his first nine games this season. What's more, over that span he had a 21:6 TD-INT ratio. The problem I have with him is over the next six games he has managed just a single 300-yard game, and has managed to put up a 10:6 TD-INT ratio.
The Raiders finish their season on the road in Kansas City, a stadium that is traditionally tough for visiting teams given the Chiefs' crowd. I'd consider Carr a QB2 that I would prefer to avoid if at all possible. If you must start him, expect stats consistent with the previous six games versus the first nine games.
Jameis Winston – Buccaneers: Winston has shown he can play on this level, and will be a fantasy factor for years to come if he can stay healthy. Mike Evans is good, but inconsistent; Doug Martin is in contention for the rushing title; Austin Seferian-Jenkins is TD-or-bust on his 4-6 targets each week. Factor it all in, and Winston has the cards stacked against him before he steps on the field.
However, you still have to factor in the Panthers. They got popped in the mouth last week by the Falcons, and now are in danger of losing the No. 1 seed in the playoffs because of it. I'm looking for the Panthers to step up on defense and give the Bucs real problems all game long. With Josh Norman taking Evans out of the equation, Winston will have a hard time finding fantasy success in Week 17.
Matt Forte – Bears: As I stated above with Langford, there is just nothing left for the Bears this season, and Forte is as good as gone the second the final whistle blows. If the Bears were smart, they would just use Langford and Ka'Deem Carey, with Forte being active for depth chart purposes only.
If you MUST play Forte this weekend, you need to lower your expectations.
Cameron Artis-Payne – Panthers: It sounds more and more like Jonathan Stewart (foot) will miss another week, and Fozzy Whittaker is pretty much a lock to miss the finale after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 16. That puts Artis-Payne next up on the RB depth chart.
The problem I have with him though is the Panthers barely used him last week when Whittaker went down. They needed to win, but he was just another man on the field for them. This week they need to win just as bad, and the Bucs have the 13th-best fantasy defense against RBs this season.
I would put him more as a flex player, and would prefer not to use him as the Panthers playbook is centered around Cam Newton, not their running back corps.
Tyler Lockett – Seahawks: Lockett had a big game in Week 14 against the Ravens, when he logged 7 targets, 6 receptions, 104 yards and 2 TDs. After that, those big box websites went crazy over him, almost anointing him the next great WR. How did he repay them for that confidence? By managing just 8 receptions, 88 yards and 1 TD over the next two games.
Lockett isn't on the same level as Doug Baldwin, and fantasy owners were too quick to try and put him there after just one good game. Lockett is far too TD-dependent to play in the final week of the fantasy season outside of the deeper 14 and 16-team formats.
Stefon Diggs – Vikings: Diggs hit the scene back in Week 4, and immediately became an impact player you could grab off the waiver wire in a thin WR market. However, that fantasy lasted until Week 8, and it has been all downhill since. Diggs has topped 50 yards just twice since then, and both of his TDs since came in Week 15.
Green Bay's defense hasn't been anything to write home about this year, but then again, neither has Diggs' number the past eight weeks. The Vikings are playing outside, in Green Bay, with an expected temperature of around 22 degrees at game time on Sunday. Diggs is a low-end WR3 for fantasy purposes.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins - Buccaneers: There has been a lot of hype surrounding ASJ, but not much production to back it up. He burst out of the gate, putting up a 5/110/2 line in Week 1. Then he got hurt in Week 2 and missed Weeks 3 – 12. Since that return, he has topped 32 receiving yards just once in four games, with the one game coming last week when he put up 60 yards.
The Panthers give up the 13th-fewest fantasy points to TEs (7.1 PPG), and they are sure to come out aggressive after last week's debacle. I would look elsewhere for a TE this week if you can.
Minnesota Vikings defense: The last time these two teams faced off in Week 11, the Packers put up 30 points and allowed just 2 sacks on the day. Now we are six weeks later and these teams both have a 10-5 record, and the winner of this game wins the division title. There is a lot at stake for both teams here.
I don't expect this to be a defensive, low scoring battle. The Packers have locked up a post-season spot, and they have just this one game to get their offense clicking before the playoffs. I am looking for Aaron Rodgers and company to pick up the pace and move the ball at home. I would find a different fantasy defense to use this week, perhaps the Steelers, Colts or Redskins.