Week 17 Starts and Sits
Ben Roethlisberger vs Cincinnati
Big Ben had an excellent week 16 in New Orleans, throwing the ball completing 35 of 50 passes for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns against a Saints defense that had been playing very well the past five weeks. He may be the top quarterback in week 17 given the fact that the Steelers have to win to get into the playoffs and the Bengals haven’t been able to stop quarterbacks all season and just surrendered 284 yards and 3 touchdowns to Baker Mayfield and the Browns.
Jameis Winston vs Atlanta
The Buccaneers figure to start Winston in week 17 as they still need to establish if he’s worth a big-time contract. Winston threw the ball 48 times against the Cowboys in week 16, completing 34 of them for 336 yards and a touchdown. While Winston didn’t have any interceptions, he did lose two fumbles, one of which was returned for a score. Atlanta has been one of the worst defenses against opposing quarterbacks this season, but had a solid showing against the Panthers Taylor Heinicke in his first NFL start, allowing 274 yards and a touchdown while generating 3 interceptions. This game will likely be a shootout, giving Winston some big-time upside.
Jared Goff vs San Francisco
Ever since the classic shootout against the Chiefs in week 11, Jared Goff has struggled, generating only 1 touchdown to 6 interceptions. That seemed to change in week 16 against the Cardinals as Goff threw for 216 yards and a touchdown while adding another score on the ground. While it wasn’t a stellar effort, it marked a significant improvement since the past few weeks. The Rams will need to win to maintain home field advantage until the NFC championship game, so they may be airing it out against the 49ers, a defense that has ranked bottom 10 against quarterbacks this season.
Doug Martin at Kansas City
Doug Martin was a key figure in the Broncos Monday Night Football win against the Broncos. Martin carried the ball 21 times for 107 yards and scored a touchdown in an impressive win. Martin routinely gets double digit work in the Raiders offense, and that kind of consistency is what you should be looking for if you find yourself in a week 17 championship game. The Chiefs offense has struggled since the Kareem Hunt suspension, so this game may be closer than people think. The Chiefs rank last this season against opposing fantasy running backs.
Jaylen Samuels at Cincinnati
While Samuels didn’t put up an eye-popping stat line against the Saints in week 16, he was still highly effective against one of the better run defenses in the NFL. Samuels carried the ball 12 times for 53 yards and added 3 catches for 11 yards and a touchdown. He has done admirably filling in for James Conner the past three weeks and rewarded any fantasy players who grabbed him off the waiver wire. He potentially draws a fantastic matchup against a Bengals defense that resides in the bottom 5 in run defense this season and surrendered 19 carries for 112 yards on the ground to Nick Chubb. They also struggled in the passing game against Duke Johnson and Chubb, allowing them to combine for 8 catches for 57 yards. Make sure to monitor the status of James Conner heading into this week 17 tilt.
Peyton Barber vs Atlanta
Peyton Barber struggled against the Cowboys in week 16, gaining only 43 yards on 17 carries and 13 yards with 3 catches without scoring. He has consistently gotten a heavy workload this season, which gives him great upside heading into week 17. He has a fantastic opportunity against the Falcons defense that allowed Christian McCaffrey to gain 101 yards rushing and 12 catches for 77 yards through the air. Given how much he touches the ball in the run game (and the lack of competition behind him), Barber could be a great play to win you a trophy.
Curtis Samuel at New Orleans
With a new QB under center, Curtis Samuel emerged as one of his top targets, seeing 13 targets. He caught 7 of those targets for 41 yards in a solid performance for fantasy players. Given his big-play ability and a great matchup in week 17 against the Saints defense, Samuel should have the ability to make big plays if that workload continues in the passing game.
Jamison Crowder at Philadelphia
Since Josh Johnson took over for the Redskins, Jamison Crowder has quickly emerged as his favorite and most consistent target. In the past three weeks, Crowder has seen 7, 4, and 7 targets. Beyond that, he has at least 4 catches in 5 of his last 6 games and had at least 35 receiving yards in all of them. Against an ailing Eagles secondary, he can do some damage as a high upside week 17 play in your lineup.
Kenny Golladay at Green Bay
With no other options, Kenny Golladay continues to shine as the focal point of the Lions offense. Golladay was targeted 15 times in week 16, bringing in 6 of them for 58 yards. He has great upside from a volume standpoint and should be able to do some serious damage against a Packers secondary that just allowed the Jets to throw for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns in week 16.
Jared Cook at Kansas City
Jared Cook struggled to make a statistical impact against the Broncos on Monday Night, catching only 2 of his 3 targets for 20 yards. It has been two disappointing games in a row for Cook following back to back 7 catch, 100-yard games that undoubtedly caused fantasy players a level of stress. The last time Cook played the Chiefs (week 13), he caught 7 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs are the worst team in the NFL against tight ends, allowing 16.4 points per week to the position, giving Cook upside that is impossible to ignore this week.
Ian Thomas at New Orleans
Ian Thomas continues to flourish in the role vacated by Greg Olsen due to injury. In a great matchup against the Falcons, Thomas brought in 4 of his 5 targets for 48 yards and a touchdown, providing fantasy players a solid stat line. Since Olsen’s injury, Thomas has seen at least 4 targets per game and caught at least 50% of those targets in every game. The Saints have been strong against tight ends, but Thomas should still be a solid play considering his high target totals this season.
Mark Andrews vs Cleveland
Mark Andrews hasn’t had the greatest stat lines the past few weeks, but he is still getting solid work in the Ravens passing game. Andrews caught both of his targets for 83 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers, proving he is still the most productive tight end in the Ravens run-heavy offense. Andrews gets a great week 17 matchup against the Browns, a bottom 5 defense against tight ends that just allowed CJ Uzomah to register a 4/49/1 receiving line.
Ryan Tannehill at Buffalo
After a few weeks of solid performances coming off his injury, Ryan Tannehill has returned back to earth against two stellar pass defenses. Tannehill was only able to throw for 146 yards and a touchdown (with 1 interception) against the Jaguars week 16 in a disappointing loss. Unfortunately for Tannehill, week 17 poses the toughest challenge against the Bills, the best defense against quarterbacks in the NFL. They also held Tom Brady to 126 yards and a touchdown and 2 interceptions week 16, making Tannehill’s prospects a starting quarterback look way worse.
Kirk Cousins vs Chicago
After several underwhelming weeks, Kirk Cousins seems to have found his stride to close out the 2018 season. Cousins completed 21 of 28 passes for 253 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Lions, keeping the Vikings firmly in playoff contention. Despite that, Cousins has a very difficult matchup in week 17 against the Bears defense. The Bears allowed only 241 yards against the 49ers in week 16 and no touchdowns, and they generated another interception. A lot will depend on if the Bears choose to sit any starters before the playoffs but be wary utilizing Cousins if they choose to go for the 2 seed.
Baker Mayfield at Baltimore
Baker Mayfield has been phenomenal as the Browns starting quarterback, more than justifying his status as the number 1 overall pick. That continued in week 16 against the Bengals with Mayfield accounting for 284 yards and 3 touchdowns. As great as he’s been, Mayfield faces a daunting challenge in week 17 against the Ravens, a team that has to win to get into the playoffs and has been stellar against quarterbacks. The Ravens just held Philip Rivers, one of the most consistent quarterbacks this season, to just 181 yards and 2 interceptions in week 16.
Marlon Mack at Tennessee
While Marlon Mack did find the end zone in week 16, he had a pretty ineffective day collecting only 34 yards on 12 carries in a win against the Giants. The Colts were down most of the game, which definitely ate into his work. He gets a difficult week 17 matchup against the Titans, a defense that despite allowing Adrian Peterson to run for 119 yards, still ranks in the top 5 against running backs this season.
Lamar Miller vs Jacksonville
If Lamar Miller is healthy and good to go in week 17, he carries significant risk. The Jaguars run defense showed up against the Dolphins in week 16, allowing Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage to combine for 10 carries for 33 yards in their winning effort. If Miller isn’t healthy, there isn’t a backfield option worth starting in Houston either, considering both Alfred Blue and D’onta Foreman both struggled to get anything going against the Eagles.
Joe Mixon at Pittsburgh
While Joe Mixon is going to get work as long as Jeff Driskel, he has a daunting matchup in week 17. Against the Browns, Mixon carried the ball 17 times for 68 yards and caught 2 passes for 10 yards. The Steelers have been strong against running backs this season and that trend continued against the Saints, allowing Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara to combine for 18 carries for 58 yards, although they did find the end zone 3 times. Be wary of Mixon if you need someone to carry you to the top of the podium in your fantasy championship.
Anthony Miller at Minnesota
Anthony Miller found his way back on the fantasy radar in week 16 against the 49ers, catching all 3 of his targets for 24 yards and a touchdown. While he hasn’t been reliable this season, he still has found ways to be productive as he’s scored 7 times this season. Odds are the Bears will rest Allen Robinson in week 17 since he is coming off an injury last season and hasn’t been completely healthy this year, meaning Miller will have a greater role in the Bears offense. He draws a very difficult matchup against the top 5 Vikings defense and should struggle to find space to operate.
Sterling Shepard vs Dallas
Sterling Shepard emerged in a big way against the Colts, using the Odell Beckham Jr. injury to his advantage to compile a 6 reception (7 targets) 113-yard day. Assuming Beckham is shut down for the season as the Giants have nothing to play for, Shepard is going to have tough sledding in week 17 against the Cowboys top 3 pass defense. Odds are he will get a healthy dose of Byron Jones in the Cowboys secondary, further limiting his upside.
Jarvis Landry at Baltimore
Jarvis Landry continued to see consistent targets for the Browns, collecting 4 of 8 targets for 47 yards. He also added another carry for 6 yards. The target share has been fantastic for Landry this season, but he has consistently struggled to produce high yardage games. This bodes poorly for him against the Raven’s top tier defense against wide receivers. Be wary utilizing Landry to get you your fantasy crown in week 17.
Eric Ebron at Tennessee
Eric Ebron has been one of the most consistent tight ends this season, but he carries considerable risk heading into your fantasy championship. Ebron caught 3 of his 5 targets against the Giants for 28 yards but had to leave the game early due to a concussion. While he will have a full week to escape the concussion protocol, he finds himself in a difficult matchup against the Titans, the top defense in the NFL against tight ends this season.
Rob Gronkowski at NY Jets
Gronk has disappointed fantasy players that spent a top 3 pick on him this season, but week 16 was the most jarring experience for anyone rostering him. Gronk drew 0 targets against the Bills, the first time he has started a game and had less than 4 targets this season. The Jets are a top 5 defense against tight ends, and given how bad Gronk has looked the past few weeks, he should probably get comfortable on your bench.
Nick Vannett vs Arizona
Nick Vannett has been inconsistent this season, but he did see 2 targets against the Chiefs, catching both of them for 11 yards and a touchdown. However, Vannett can’t be trusted to continue this production as he isn’t a featured player in the Seahawks offense. He draws a matchup against a top 5 defense versus tight ends in the Cardinals which should suppress his already limited value.