Whether you’re interested because you play in one of the dreaded 17 week leagues, or you’re in the daily games racket this weekend presents a number of unique situations, as it always does. Let’s take an early week look at some of the players and teams who are likely to see fluctuations in playing time/availability in Week 17.
Tony Romo – QB – Dallas Cowboys
We’ll start with the obvious: Tony Romo won’t be on the field this weekend (regardless of what report you’re reading to the contrary), so Kyle Orton lands on your radar. With the talented lot of skill position players there is an argument to be made that he could offer some value this weekend, but after watching the Philadelphia defense dominate Jay Cutler this weekend and knowing the issues with Dallas’ offensive line I’m not sure he is a player you’ll want to use. Orton has thrown a combined 15 passes since arriving in Dallas last season, and he’ll be asked to win a huge game against a defense that has allowed more than 21 points just once since Week 5.
There are those who would argue that Orton gives the team a better chance to win – including a mall Santa that I met in Syracuse on Monday – but the reality is that he’s a backup (even if one of the better one’s in the league) for a reason, and I think we’ll see that play out on Sunday Night Football. He is a downgrade at the QB position and his presence adversely affects the value of Jason Witten and Dez Bryant as well. While you should expect to see an increase in run/pass distribution, it would be surprising to see DeMarco Murray get much more work. He has been the only back in Dallas to touch the ball over the last two weeks, and while the team will likely lean heavily on him again this week, I’d view the 25 touches he received against Washington as pretty near his ceiling, meaning that you may see Joseph Randle or Patrick Tanner used to spell him a bit.
Calvin Johnson – WR – Detroit Lions
Megatron has been on the injury report all season, dealing with significant knee issues all year. He’s been his typical dominant self (despite some quiet weeks recently, including an uncharacteristic drop-filled performance two Monday’s ago) for most of the season, and while recent lines could suggest that he is starting to feel the ill effects of the injury. At any rate, the suggestion is out there that the team may shut him down this weekend and with Detroit managing to bungle their way out of playoff contention it is hard to see a good reason to run him out there – even if he plays, limited snaps are a true possibility.
Aaron Rodgers – QB – Green Bay Packers
Rodgers watch continues this week, with the status of the Packers’ QB still up in the air heading into the NFC North deciding matchup this weekend. We’ll get word on Thursday, but if Rodgers is back in the game it is an upgrade for all Green Bay fantasy assets. While there may be a small degree of rust, and while Matt Flynn has put up some decent point totals in recent weeks Rodgers is an elite ‘real-world’ and fantasy QB and can be treated as such against the Bears. For Eddie Lacy, the matchup is already a gem but Rodgers’ presence should help create even more holes as Rodgers has the vision to exploit seven and eight man boxes.
Kansas City Chiefs
With playoff seeding locked up and the Chargers on the docket – who are fighting to join Kansas City as an AFC Wild Card representative and could therefore provide some incentive for the Chiefs to go full tilt – coach Andy Reid is acknowledging that sitting his starters is an option it seems unlikely that we see a full workload from Jamaal Charles. You probably don’t have a lot of interest in the other starters, but I wouldn’t expect a lot of work for Dwayne Bowe or even Alex Smith either. Knowing that, Knile Davis has some value play appeal. With a 3.7 YPC average Davis hasn’t overwhelmed when given an opportunity, but he did post over 10 fantasy points in the only game where he has had 10 carries or more this season.
The number one seed in the AFC on the line, you’re going to see Denver’s starters in this game, but with the Oakland Raiders as the opponent it seems at least possible that the Broncos will have the win secured heading into the 4th quarter suggesting that we could see limited work from Denver’s starters. The only player of interest in that scenario is Montee Ball though, as three quarters of Denver’s starters is usually enough to score well, but Ball may find himself with a healthy workload against a Raiders D that has given up 7 rushing touchdowns (and 4 receiving TDs thanks to Jamaal Charles) to RBs over the last month. Pryor, it should be noted, had a solid game against the Broncos last time out – with 317 total yards and a passing TD.