10 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Targets Heading Into Week 17
So, your fantasy league still plays in Week 17. There's no shame in living in the Dark Ages, but there is a reason the fantasy industry considers Week 16 "Championship Week."
The final week of the NFL season is always unpredictable, as NFL teams that already have a playoff spot -- or those that are eliminated -- often limit their stars' snaps, expand the roles of some youngsters, or just outright rest their starters. This makes projecting players quite difficult, but it can also create a buying opportunity for savvy fantasy managers in the championship.
This list will look at some assets that are solid starters in all leagues, as well as some speculative adds that could pay off if the depth chart opens up on this wild week. Here are 10 fantasy adds heading into Week 17.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Yahoo! Ownership: 0%
With the Baltimore Ravens locking up the top seed in the AFC -- and Lamar Jackson likely securing the MVP award -- there is nothing left to play for. This should allow Robert Griffin III get the starting nod at quarterback. Coming into Week 16, Jackson led all starting quarterbacks in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back with 0.36. On Griffin's 19 drop backs, he's averaged 0.37 Passing NEP per drop back. Yes, that is a horribly small sample size, but RG3 is obviously a mobile quarterback that has shown the ability to succeed with his arm.
The biggest risk with Griffin is that he may not get the full complement of weapons as Jackson. Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews were already part-time players, so they could have a minuscule role in Week 17. He's also playing a Pittsburgh Steelers that has ranked in the top five in total defense all season when adjusted for strength of schedule, and they also need to win to have a shot at the postseason. But if you're in a tight league where Jackson has carried you to the finals, Griffin is a solid pivot.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Yahoo! Ownership: 9%
Andy Dalton torched the Miami Dolphins, posting his best game of the season. The "Red Rifle" threw for 396 yards, four scores, and no interceptions on a whopping 56 attempts -- his highest total of the season.
While that performance did come against a Dolphins defense that ranks last in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, up next is a matchup with the Cleveland Browns. Coming into Week 16, they ranked 24th in schedule-adjusted total defense, so Dalton should still find success here. He struggled on the road against this team in Week 14, but a home environment should be beneficial in what could be his last game as a Cincinnati Bengal.
Mike Boone, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Yahoo! Ownership: 65%
In case you've been asleep at the wheel or your team is just too stacked, Mike Boone is all the rage in fantasy football. This is being written Sunday night, so Boone could completely bust against the Green Bay Packers on Monday, but that is extremely unlikely. With Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison both unlikely to play the rest of the regular season due to various injuries, the Minnesota Vikings should ride their preseason star until the wheels fall off.
With the Vikings now having wrapped up a playoff slot, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for Minnesota to play injured RB Alexander Mattison. And so with Dalvin Cook out and Mattison hobbled, Monday night figures to be the Mike Boone show.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 22, 2019
The Vikings fed him in Week 15 when Cook went down and he delivered, finding the end zone twice on his 13 carries. The Green Bay defense has been the 31st-ranked run defense in terms of Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play, so Boone should obviously smash. The real question is how he'll perform against the Chicago Bears' eighth-ranked run defense in Week 17.
That would be easier to project in hindsight, but Boone is a 91st-percentile SPARQ-x athlete, according to PlayerProfiler, and is capable of ripping off chunk plays on any given down. Plus, we've seen how fantasy-friendly the Minnesota offense is for running backs with Cook and Mattison both finding plenty of success this season. If Boone fails to impress or sustains an injury this week, Ameer Abdullah would be the next man up.
Jaylen Samuels, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Yahoo! Ownership: 36%
James Conner just can't seem to stay healthy. The third-year back out of Pittsburgh has missed five games so far this season and also missed three games last season. While it has been a committee in his absence this season, Jaylen Samuels has dominated passing down work. The converted college tight end has caught 46 balls this season and has a 13-catch game on his resume.
This obviously offers a nice floor in PPR leagues, but he should also find good efficiency on the ground this week. The Ravens are an elite defense, but they donate extra bodies to pass coverage. That allows them to rank fourth against the pass, but just 26th against the run when adjusted for strength of schedule.
The Vikings are also likely to bench a majority of their team. That would reduce their efficiency on offense as well as on defense, leading to more opportunities for the Steelers backfield. Samuels should lead them in touches, so he'll be the biggest producer this week.
Gus Edwards, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Yahoo! Ownership: 10%
From @GMFB: #Ravens RB Mark Ingram suffered what is believed to be a calf strain, but he'll have more tests today to determine the severity. pic.twitter.com/LRXTztvDXD
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 23, 2019
While Hill is a far more dynamic rookie running back, Edwards has doubled his carries and has been far more efficient on the ground (5.2 YPC to 3.7 YPC).
The team also has a solid rapport with "Gus Bus" after 2018, where he averaged 17.4 carries per game over their final seven contests to close out the season. Plus, the Baltimore offensive line has created the fourth-most adjusted line yards this season, per Football Outsiders. While he should be downgraded in PPR leagues, Edwards has shown that he can handle a heavy workload on the ground and should thrive in this offense.
Randall Cobb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Yahoo! Ownership: 30%
Randall Cobb has seen a decent career revival with the Dallas Cowboys, posting his best yardage season since 2015. He should also smash his final game of the 2019 season, as he's set up nicely against the Washington Redskins. They just allowed the Giants slot receiver tandem of Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard to post 12 receptions for 182 yards and a score.
The Cowboys are in need of a win to survive, so they should come out firing on offense. Dak Prescott's shoulder could be an issue on deeper throws, but Cobb has averaged the lowest average target depth among his receiver trio. Given his matchup, Cobb could be a league-winner in Week 17.
Cole Beasley, WR, Buffalo Bills
Yahoo! Ownership: 41%
Cole Beasley has thrown all expectations out the window this season. Not only is he an undersized slot receiver that operates close to the line of scrimmage, but he also has a quarterback with a literal cannon for an arm. But that hasn't stopped him from posting a career-high touchdown total of six along with multiple 100-yard games. He's also on pace to post a career-high in receiving yards, needing just 55 in this final week.
Cole Beasley is doing the damn thing in Buffalo.
Good for him.
— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) December 22, 2019
He should hit that, as the New York Jets rank 24th in schedule-adjusted pass defense and have allowed the eighth-most receptions to receivers this season. Beasley has a solid floor, posting at least 9.0 PPR points in all but two games this season, and he's also shown a great ceiling with three games over 17.0 PPR points. He can be trusted in this matchup.
Justin Watson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yahoo! Ownership: 6%
Turns out we were just a week early on Justin Watson. The former fifth-rounder out of Penn State found the end zone in Week 16 after busting in his previous game. More importantly, he saw 10 targets from Jameis Winston, giving him 20 over the last three weeks combined.
That trend will continue, as the Buccaneers have no weapons left on offense. Winston essentially has no choice but to throw to Watson, and they can easily get down multiple scores with a matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. He's thrown the ball over 40 times three weeks in a row now, so you should want a pass-catcher from this high-volume offense.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Yahoo! Ownership: 60%
According to Pro Football Doc, Zach Ertz could have suffered broken ribs, as he left Week 16 early after taking multiple shots to that area. Dallas Goedert stepped in and the offense didn't miss a beat, as he caught nine balls for 91 yards and scored on his 12 targets.
How did Dallas Goedert catch this?#PHIvsWAS | #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/OKlRvWpNfw
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 15, 2019
That is obviously insanely good volume for a tight end, but it should continue with or without Ertz in the lineup. Goedert has already seen a 13.6 percent target share on the season, and with the Philadelphia Eagles essentially down to free agents getting signed off the street as receivers, the offense should run through their tight ends and running backs.
If Goedert is available, scoop him up just so your opponent can't have him.
Atlanta Falcons, D/ST
Yahoo! Ownership: 23%
The signature league-winning defense this season will be the Atlanta D/ST. Since their bye in Week 9, the Atlanta Falcons have totaled 16 sacks, 11 turnovers, and two defensive touchdowns. They have also scored at least nine fantasy points in five of those seven games.
More importantly, they'll be facing Jameis Winston. He has multiple turnovers in nine games this season and has five games that he's turned the ball over at least four times. The Falcons have a shot at making him the first quarterback ever to total 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions, meaning they can at least salvage a record on this lost season.
You should always target the second division game in a season when choosing a defense, as they are generally scoring fewer points. This is the ideal defense that you should roll with, unless you have the New England D/ST.