Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 17
There's just something that's not quite right about settling your fantasy football championships in Week 17. In fact, it can feel annoying and a bit demoralizing.
It's kind of like when you have a final exam on the Friday afternoon before Christmas break and you just have to wait around on a barren campus and hope for the best.
Or like remembering that you still have to file your local taxes after finishing your federal and state taxes.
Or like voyaging through the variance-driven head-to-head format of a 16-week fantasy football league on the back of Todd Gurley and finding out that he's not going to play when you need it most. Yeah, kind of like that.
If you're reading this, you're either in your fantasy championship, you're looking for any available info for daily fantasy preparation you can find, or you just like reading about season-long fantasy football for no particular reason.
After filing a complaint with your league's commissioner, consider starting and sitting the following options in Week 17. I'll get a little creative with the formatting here, as no start/sit decision is cut-and-dried. In fact, in Week 17, with so many unknowns, every start/sit question is a loaded one. Players are sorted in rough order of confidence.
Teams to Sit
The Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Kansas City Chiefs are locked into their playoff seeds, and you can't fully trust any of their starters, if they even play. The Los Angeles Rams will also sit starters, most importantly Jared Goff and Todd Gurley.
- Cam Newton: Newton hasn't thrown for 255 yards in 10 straight games but faces a middling Atlanta pass defense (14th since Week 10 by our metrics) and has 60.5 rushing yards per game in those past 10. Carolina has clinched a playoff berth but can move up to the 2 seed if things go well, so they'll want to win.
- Tom Brady: The Patriots need a win to secure the 1 seed and home-field advantage. The New York Jets are 25th against the pass since Week 10, giving Brady a chance to bounce back after four straight games with fewer than 17 fantasy points.
- Ben Roethlisberger: Pittsburgh can earn the 1 seed and faces Cleveland's 29th-ranked pass defense since Week 10. Just monitor whether they decide to rest starters, a situation on which Mike Tomlin is undecided.
- Russell Wilson: Arizona is second defensively since Week 10, but Seattle needs a win (and help) to make the playoffs. Wilson has cooled down with fewer than 15 fantasy points in two straight games, but the matchup is still solid enough for him to produce.
- Philip Rivers: Rivers' Chargers can reach the postseason and will need to topple a Raiders team that is 12th against the pass since Week 10.
- Drew Brees: New Orleans is a top-five passing offense since Week 10; Tampa Bay ranks 22nd defensively in that split. Brees has at least 11.76 fantasy points in every game, so he's a safe start.
- Jimmy Garoppolo: Garoppolo put up 22.98 fantasy points against the league's best defense a week ago and is the best quarterback in football by our metrics. To top it off, the Rams are resting some defensive starters.
- Matthew Stafford: The Detroit Lions' starters should play, giving Stafford a go at Green Bay's pass defense, which ranks 23rd-ranked by our metrics and 32nd in passing FanDuel points per attempt since Week 10.
- Tyrod Taylor: Taylor is always a better play at home but did put up 23 fantasy points against Miami two weeks ago, and the Dolphins have allowed eight different passers to top 17 fantasy points this season.
- Matt Ryan: If the Falcons win, they're in the playoffs. However, Ryan has averaged fewer than 14 fantasy points since Week 10, and the Panthers are 10th against the pass in that split.
- Blake Bortles: Bortles would be a surefire start if not for the seeding issue, but Jacksonville will play their starters. Tennessee is 28th against the pass since Week 10, and Bortles has 23.52 fantasy points per game over his past five.
- Joe Flacco: Baltimore is in with a win. Flacco has averaged 18.88 fantasy points per game over his past four, and Cincinnati has allowed 17.64 per game since their Week 6 bye.
- Kirk Cousins: Washington can't make the playoffs, but the New York Giants are 30th in FanDuel points per attempt to quarterbacks since Week 10, as well as 27th against the pass by our metrics.
- Jacoby Brissett: The Houston Texans are 30th against the pass since Week 10, but Brissett has averaged only a touch more than 11 fantasy points per game in his past five.
- Brett Hundley: Hundley faces a Lions pass defense that's 26th by our metrics since Week 10. Green Bay's implied total is only 18 points, but you can do worse at quarterback this week.
- Jameis Winston: The Saints are top-10 against the pass since Week 10 and on the full season, but Winston has an okay 17.51 fantasy points per game in four games since returning from injury.
- Derek Carr: Carr has been a tough start of late with 13.9 fantasy points per game since the Week 10 bye, but the Chargers have given up just 10.96 fantasy points per game in their past five.
- Dak Prescott: There are rumblings that Cooper Rush will play. Don't trust Dak.
- Case Keenum: Keenum has turned into a game-manager with just 48 attempts the past two games. The Minnesota Vikings need to win to secure a first-round bye, and they face a Chicago Bears team that has limited opposing passers all season.
- Andy Dalton: Even since Week 10, the Ravens are fifth against the pass by our metrics, and Dalton has put up 7.86 fantasy points per game over his past three.
- Marcus Mariota: Even if the Jaguars rest starters, Mariota's been dreadful, with 12.79 fantasy points per game in his past five.
- Eli Manning: Manning isn't a guarantee to play the full game, so he's automatically difficult to trust. Combine that with Washington's sixth-ranked pass defense since Week 10, and Manning is unplayable.
- Ezekiel Elliott: Elliott handled 28 touches in his return, including 24 carries for 97 yards. He needs 120 yards to get to 1,000, and that narrative should carry him to a usable game provided he's expected to play into the second half.
- Le'Veon Bell: Pittsburgh is favored by 10, and there's a real chance they play to win this week to nab the 1 seed.
- Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram: New Orleans still benefits from a win, so they're good to go this week, as each played at least 49% of snaps last week.
- LeSean McCoy: Buffalo needs a win and some help to make the playoffs, so lock in McCoy, who has 69 carries over his past three games.
- Derrick Henry: Henry is a plug-and-play this week, as DeMarco Murray is shaping up to be a game-time decision. The Jaguars are just 22nd against the rush since Week 10, as well.
- Dion Lewis: Lewis' snaps are juicy (55% and 72% the past two weeks), and the Pats are massive 15.5-point favorites. Lock in Lewis.
- Kenyan Drake: Buffalo is 32nd against the rush since Week 10, and Drake has played 90% of snaps or more in three straight games.
- Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon: The Vikings are 12-point home favorites in a near must-win game, and Minnesota runs at the second-highest rate at home in the league.
- Christian McCaffrey: McCaffrey has nearly a 23% target market share over the past five games and faces an Atlanta team that has faced 60 targets to running backs since Week 10, second-most.
- C.J. Anderson: Kansas City is 23rd against the rush since Week 10 and will sit starters. Anderson has 46 carries the past two weeks.
- Jamaal Williams: Williams played 93% of snaps last week, which should lead to better results on his touches than he had last week (15 carries for 58 yards), given the matchup against Detroit's 29th-ranked rush defense since Week 10.
- Duke Johnson: Cleveland's implied total is only 14, as they're 10-point underdogs, but Johnson has 14 targets and 12 catches the past two games.
- Leonard Fournette: Fournette should get rested against the league's best run defense in the second half, but he did play 56% of snaps last week. Monitor the news closely.
- Devonta Freeman: Freeman saw just 13 touches on 66% of snaps last week, as Tevin Coleman stole 7 and 35%, respectively. Carolina has given up more than 12 half-PPR points to just three running backs all season.
- Carlos Hyde: Hyde played 65% of snaps and had 24 touches last week. He may get limited in favor of Matt Breida, but if you have Hyde, you'll want to play him based on last week's workload.
- Marshawn Lynch: Oakland is an 8-point underdog with a 17.5-point total, but Lynch has still had 16-plus carries in four of his past five games.
- Alex Collins: Collins has 17-plus opportunities in all six post-bye games, and Baltimore is a 9.5-point favorite.
- Giovani Bernard: Bernard has played 84% of snaps or more in three straight games, but the implied total of 15.5 hurts his ceiling.
- Mike Davis: Davis played 75% of snaps last week and had 19 touches. Arizona has stifled running backs lately, but Seattle is a 9.5-point home favorite.
- Samaje Perine: Perine faces a Giants team that's 20th against the rush since Week 10 and has had 15-plus touches in six straight games. He was, however, out-snapped by Kapri Bibbs, 35-34, last week.
- Branden Oliver: With Melvin Gordon hurt, Oliver should handle a heavy workload against an improved Raiders defense, but Austin Ekeler did get in a full practice Wednesday.
- Frank Gore: Gore has topped 74% of snaps in two of his past three, and Houston is 24th against the rush since Week 10.
- Wayne Gallman: Washington is just 31st against the rush since Week 10, and Gallman has 30 carries plus 19 catches in his past three games, with snap rates reading 46%, 41%, and 72%.
- Bilal Powell: Powell has played 40% of snaps or more in three of his past four games, and the Patriots have allowed the fourth-most targets to running backs since Week 10.
- Jordan Howard: Howard's a one-dimensional running back, the Bears are 12-point underdogs, and the Vikings are the league's best defense since Week 10.
- Lamar Miller: After a 50/50 split in snaps two weeks ago, Alfred Blue held a 55% to 36% split over Miller last week. Indianapolis is a top-half rush defense.
- Isaiah Crowell: Crowell's a game script nightmare as a 10-point favorite with just a 14-point total. Crowell has -8 receiving yards on 9 targets in his past two games.
- Mike Gillislee: If the Pats make good on the huge point spread, Gillislee, who played just 15 snaps last week, could see a goal line carry or two.
- Julio Jones: You're starting Julio, who is second among all wideouts in target market share over the past five games.
- DeAndre Hopkins: Nuk, who is first in target market share in the past five, has fallen shy of 10 half-PPR points once this season: 8.9 in Week 6. The Colts are the worst pass defense in football. Lock him in.
- Keenan Allen: Allen has eight or more targets in six straight games, which helps make up for a tough slot matchup. But if you have Allen, you're playing him with confidence.
- Larry Fitzgerald: Fitz has 32% of Drew Stanton's targets this season (40 in total). Seattle is just 20th in fantasy points per target to wideouts since Week 10, too.
- Marvin Jones and Golden Tate: Assuming the Lions do play their starters, we can trust Jones and Tate, despite just 10 and 11 targets, respectively, over the past two weeks. Green Bay is 28th in receiving FanDuel points per target to wideouts since Week 10.
- T.Y. Hilton: Hilton had 12 targets last week for 100 yards and faces a bottom-three pass defense. In Week 9, he had 175 yards and 2 touchdowns against Houston.
- A.J. Green: Green has a sticky matchup even without Jimmy Smith, but he has 10-plus targets in three of four games, and the Bengals will have to throw.
- Jarvis Landry: Landry has 27% of Jay Cutler's pass attempts this season and was targeted 13 times for 99 yards against Buffalo two weeks ago.
- Marquise Goodwin: He's got 39 of Garoppolo's 145 attempts (27%) even after getting limited to 6 targets last week. This week, he goes from Jaguars starters to Rams backups.
- Michael Thomas: Monitor his status, as he played just 62% of snaps last week, a season low. Tampa is 26th in fantasy points per target since Week 10.
- Doug Baldwin: Baldwin will avoid Patrick Peterson in the slot and put up 95 yards on 6 targets in their first meeting. He's had seven or fewer targets in seven straight, though.
- Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen: Diggs and Thielen each have 24 targets over their past three games, and Minnesota has something to play for. The Bears are just 19th in receiving FanDuel points per target allowed to wideouts since Week 10.
- Brandin Cooks: Cooks has just 22 targets over his past four, and the bottom has fallen out, as he's had fewer than 4.5 half-PPR points in three of those four. However, the Jets' defense should funnel targets his way.
- Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole: Tennessee is torchable through the air, and they are still just 22nd in receiving fantasy points per target against wideouts since Week 10. Cole has 22 targets over the past two games, too.
- Demaryius Thomas: Emmanuel Sanders didn't practice Wednesday, and Thomas had 5 of Paxton Lynch's 14 targets back in Week 12 (Lynch's lone start this year). Thomas will face Kansas City's backups, and the Chiefs are already just 20th against the pass in the second half of the season.
- Jamison Crowder: Crowder's snap rate was just 45% last week and was bailed out with a touchdown, as he had just four targets. The Giants, though, are 32nd in receiving FanDuel points per target to wide receivers since Week 10.
- Devin Funchess: Funchess has just 4 catches on 8 targets for 30 yards the past two weeks, but Atlanta is 21st in receiving fantasy points per target to wideouts since Week 10.
- Mike Wallace: Wallace has 7.3 targets and 10.6 half-PPR points per game since their bye. Baltimore's 25-point total is fifth-highest this week.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster: JuJu had 7 for 75 and a score last week without Antonio Brown, but Cleveland is a top-half pass defense against wide receivers since Week 10, and JSS had just 23 air yards last week.
- Josh Gordon: The low total and return of Joe Haden (98% of snaps last week) hurts Gordon, but he still has 9.0 targets per game this season.
- Mohamed Sanu: The Panthers have allowed 14 receivers to get to 12.5 half-PPR points, second-most this season. Sanu (6.3 targets per game in his past three) is a low-end option as a result.
- Mike Evans: Marshon Lattimore is for real, and the Saints have allowed just two boundary wideouts to top 12 half-PPR points since their bye in games Lattimore played in (8 contests).
- Dez Bryant: If there's talk of Dak Prescott getting shut down, that's worrisome for Bryant, who has maxed out at seven targets in his past five games.
- Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree: The Chargers have allowed a wideout to top 14.5 half-PPR points only twice since Week 6.
- Jordy Nelson: Nelson is shaping up to face Darius Slay, given Davante Adams' injury, and Nelson has just an 18% market share from Brett Hundley this season.
- Sterling Shepard: Shepard sustained a neck injury in Week 16, and the Giants have nothing to play for. You cannot feel comfortable with him, despite 24 targets in the past two games.
- Corey Davis and Rishard Matthews: If the Jaguars do stick with starters, bench these two, as the Jaguars have given up 15 half-PPR points only five times to a wideout.
- Kelvin Benjamin: He's caught 10 of 17 targets the past three weeks and had just 20 yards on 2 targets against Miami two weeks back.
- Paul Richardson: Richardson will face Patrick Peterson this week. He drew just 2 targets (but caught 1 for 43) in their first matchup.
- Martavis Bryant: Bryant can always cash in on a deep target (he had a team-high 63 air yards last week) but had just 4 targets despite Brown's absence last week.
- Kendall Wright: Wright has 30 targets the past three games (11, 13, 6) but faces the top pass defense in the league since Week 10. Plus the Bears have an implied total of only 13.75 points.
- Rob Gronkowski: Not that you were worried at all, but just know that the Jets are 27th against tight ends on a per-target basis since Week 10.
- Greg Olsen: Olsen has played 92% of snaps or more in three straight games, with 18 targets in the past two. His floor is low, but the matchup is strong (Atlanta is 23rd against tight ends since Week 10).
- Eric Ebron: Ebron has 26 targets in his past three games, as well as 11.8 or more half-PPR points in each. Green Bay has been roasted by tight ends, ranking 29th in fantasy points per target against the position since Week 10.
- Jack Doyle: Doyle has 18 targets over his past two games and has played 100% of snaps in three straight games. Houston is 32nd in fantasy points per target to tight ends since Week 10.
- Vernon Davis: Davis has played at least 85% of snaps in seven straight games (97% last week) and faces a Giants defense that is vulnerable against opposing tight ends.
- Charles Clay: Clay has 19 targets in his past two games, including 68 yards on 9 targets against the Dolphins two games ago.
- Jimmy Graham: Graham has six targets for two yards in his past three games. Arizona is also 10th on a per-target basis against tight ends since Week 10.
- Delanie Walker: Walker has had 63 or fewer yards in five straight games, making him a touchdown-dependent option. Tennessee's total is a usable 22.5, but Walker can also sink your lineup if he doesn't score.
- Antonio Gates: Gates played 77% of snaps last week and drew 8 targets (81 yards and a touchdown). He gets a red zone upgrade if Gordon can't play.
- Vance McDonald: He's got consecutive 4-catch, 52-yard outings but hasn't topped 50% of snaps yet this year. The matchup is ripe, as Cleveland is 28th against tight ends on a per-target basis since Week 10.
- Jared Cook: Cook has only 6 targets, 3 catches, and 32 yards over the past two games, and the Chargers are top-10 against tight ends over the past seven weeks.
- Kyle Rudolph: Rudolph has played just 31% and 54% of snaps the past two weeks with 3 total targets and 23 yards.
- Evan Engram: Engram is banged up, and the Giants have no incentive to push him. That's enough to try to sit him where possible.
- Jason Witten: Witten has topped 10 half-PPR points just once since Week 2, and the Cowboys may turn to a backup quarterback.
- Cameron Brate: Brate has maxed out at six targets since Week 9 and hasn't cleared 50 yards since Week 8.