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I like to think that our readers have a certain degree of fantasy acuity before they arrive, so my hope is that this start and sit week 17 list – which avoids the obvious – will be useful for all of you. I’ve made my opinions on start/sit implicitly known via my weekly rankings, so, you won’t see a lot of QBs inside my Top 6, etc. listed here. The idea of this post is to give you some deep names that will yield start worthy value and some entrenched starters that should be riding the virtual pine.
Week 17 QB Starts
Aaron Rodgers at Chicago – Go ahead and throw Rodgers right back out there. The Bears present a fairly challenging matchup, but with Eddie Lacy set to move the ball at will against an overly generous Chicago run defense Rodgers a) will have an opportunity to ease himself in rather than succumbing to concerns about rust but b) should be a part of an offense that is going to put up some points. There is little reason to assume that one of the top QBs in the game can’t throw for a pair of scores or more against Chicago. Randall Cobb‘s return is icing on the cake.
Kyle Orton vs. Philadelphia – Orton will return to face an Eagles D that s allowing an average of nearly 270 passing yards per game over the last four weeks and gives up points at the 6th highest clip on the season to opposing QBs. If you’re looking at a QB in risk of being pulled early (Alex Smith, say) I think you roll with Orton who will be in there until his arm falls off with Jon Kitna as his backup this week. I’m not projecting over the top numbers, but based on volume and opponent alone I think Orton deserves a look as a fringe QB1 this week.
Week 17 QB Sits
Matthew Stafford at Minnesota – QB matchups don’t come much easier than Minnesota (in fact, on the season they don’t come any easier as the Vikes yield a league high in points to opposing QBs) but I don’t trust Stafford this week. He has thrown just one touchdown in his last three outings (as part of a total collapse by Detroit) and hasn’t topped 235 yards during that span. Potentially missing Calvin Johnson for the entire game, and certainly not having him for a full workload Stafford could struggle against the Vikes.
Andy Dalton vs. Baltimore – Dalton is quietly the 5th highest scoring QB in the virtual game but much of his scoring has been the result of a handful of binge games. He’s riding a hot streak, but earlier this year Dalton completed fewer than 50% of his passes and threw three interceptions against Baltimore. I see a Cincinnati victory on the horizon this week, but I think it comes in a low scoring contest against the Ravens.
Week 17 RB Starts
Ryan Mathews vs. Kansas City – We discussed Mathews at length yesterday in our fantasy points per touch projections, but the moral of the story is that he can be expected to run often against a defense that isn’t as strong against the run as we think. Mathews has had more than 28 touches in each of the last three games, and is riding a scoring streak of the same length. Run him out there.
Joique Bell at Minnesota – Bell has gone over 100 total yards in three of his last four games, and was a far more effective rusher than Reggie Bush last week – where Bush was benched for fumbling (despite what Jim Schwartz would tell you). I think Bell takes on more work than Bush again this week, in a meaningless game with the veteran dealing with numerous nicks and bruises. Someone will be doing damage on the ground against the Vikes, and I think it’s Joique this week.
DeAngelo Williams at Atlanta – Williams’ midseason doldrums coincided directly with Jonathan Stewart‘s return to the lineup. Without him, Williams has been running wild all season. Look for more of the same this week in Atlanta. The Falcons are a top 12 matchup for runners both on the season and over the last four weeks, and with Steve Smith out of the lineup I expect Carolina to try to run the ball often. Williams hasn’t topped 20 touches since Week 6 but I think he comes close to the number this week. If so, 100 yards and a score is a reachable target number this week.
Week 17 RB Sits
Matt Asiata vs. Detroit – The Lions are a reasonable matchup on a per touch basis but they’ve allowed the 7th fewest points to RBs on the season and you can’t count on a repeat 3TD performance from Asiata. With Peterson ruled out, and Gerhart questionable Asiata will draw the start but could lose opportunities to Joe Banyard. Even if he doesn’t, his 1.7 YPC effort two weeks ago should have left a sufficiently bad taste in your mouth to stay away, regardless of the 20+ fantasy points he scored.
Giovani Bernard vs. Baltimore – Bernard has just 53 rushing yards on 26 attempts over his last two outings and will face a Baltimore defense that yields just 3.8 yards a pop. Bernard managed 95 total yards and a score against Baltimore in November, but an encore isn’t in the offing. I like BenJarvus Green-Ellis more this week.
Don’t forget: it is very unlikely that Jamaal Charles sees a lot of opportunity this week. While he’s a threat to break one on every play, it’s tough to use a player like Charles knowing that he may have as few as five carries before departing.
Week 17 WR Starts
Roddy White vs. Carolina – White has sandwiched a 50 and 70 yard receiving game with two 140 yard efforts, and found the endzone last week. He looks like a different player over the last month after finally returning to health and Matt Ryan has been looking his way. With 15 targets last week and 45 over the last month, he’s a good bet for high volume and should be able to produce against the Panthers’ secondary indoors.
James Jones at Chicago – Rodgers’ return gives a boost to all GB receivers, and while I have Jarrett Boykin ranked as uninteresting, given Randall Cobb’s return this week, I think Jones should play as a solid WR2/3. Jones had two 100 yard outings with Rodgers earlier this season.
Jerrel Jernigan vs. Washington – Manning the slot for Manning last week in lieu of Victor Cruz, Jernigan drew 10 targets, made seven catches and scored a touchdown. This week, the Giants face a Washington defense yielding just shy of 250 passing yards per game. Jernigan did enough to earn a similar share of the workload this week and should see opportunities against a defense that has given up 15 wide receiver TDs this year.
Week 17 WR Sits
Jarrett Boykin at Chicago – We mentioned Boykin above, and while I’m unsure if Randall Cobb will play a full complement of snaps this week (unlikely) I’m certain that whatever playing time he gets will come at the expense of Boykin. Boykin has been productive for Green Bay, but he is no Cobb and with a cap on his opportunities it is hard to trust him this week in even the deepest of settings.
Calvin Johnson at Minnesota – Speaking of limited opportunities, this piece is here simply as a warning… if Johnson dresses, I wouldn’t count on him playing his normal snap count. Johnson has had a significant injury all season and with this game rendered meaningless, I don’t see him going full out. Even if he does, Johnson has scored fewer than 10 fantasy points in each of the last three games.
Week 17 TE Starts
Greg Olsen at Atlanta – With Smith out, Olsen is in for an uptick in work alongside DeAngelo Williams. He’s already the 5th most targeted TE in the league, and could draw north of 10 looks this week. Atlanta gives up the 13th most points to TEs this year, including 10 touchdowns.
Joseph Fauria at Minnesota – With Brandon Pettigrew placed on injured reserve this week after having missed the Week 16 contest Fauria will see a lot of looks from Matthew Stafford, especially if Johnson does sit this one out. Last week’s line wasn’t astounding (four catches and 43 yards) but with eight targets Fauria now has a fairly low floor and maintains his TD upside.
Week 17 TE Sits
Marcedes Lewis vs. Indianapolis – Lewis is riding a four game scoring streak, but those are his only TDs since of the season and the run has to come to an end at some point. While it coincides with the loss of Cecil Shorts and is therefore a somewhat logical increase in production, the Colts have allowed the 5th fewest fantasy points to TEs this season, including just three scores by the position.
Week 17 DST to Stream
Miami Dolphins – 35% owned – vs. New York Jets – Geno Smith seems to have calmed down coming out of a turnover riddled stretch, but the Jets are still the 3rd most generous opponent in terms of defensive scoring against this season. Smith has been sacked in every game but two, and produced a turnover in every game but one this season so it is still a beatable matchup.
San Diego Chargers – 23 % Owned – vs. Kansas City – No one is expecting to see much of any of the name brand guys in Kansas City this weekend, meaning that at some point Chase Daniel (he of 17 career pass attempts) is going to take the reigns with a bunch of scrubs on offense. San Diego sits outside the top 25 of fantasy defenses heading into the closing week but should have an opportunity to produce turnovers and keep scoring in check at home against Kansas City’s B team.