Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 17
Why do you play in fantasy leagues where Week 17 matters?
Playing significant season-long fantasy football in Week 17 is like watching a movie with a blindfold on. It's like opting for a Honda Civic when you could've had a free BMW. It's like going to Popeyes when there's a Bojangles right down the street (people in the south know what I'm talking about with this one).
You're just not getting the best experience out of what you're looking to do. Season-long fantasy football in Week 17 is horrible.
But I know some of you still play it, so here I am, writing about guys to start and sit during the irrelevant week. Let's get at it.
Start Teddy Bridgewater - Teddy Bridgewater's been balling. The rookie has five touchdown passes over his last three games, scoring between 15 and 19 fantasy points in each contest and ranking as the 15th-, 10th- and 10th-best fantasy passer during the stretch. His last two performances have come against top-eight pass defenses, per our adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics, as well.
Bridgewater will face Chicago this week, who have generally been crushed through the air this year, ranking 29th against the pass according to our metrics. Bridgewater went up against them in Week 11 and scored the lowest fantasy point total any passer saw versus Chicago this season, but this game's in Minnesota and Bridgewater's shown improvement since. It all makes him a solid waiver wire start this week.
Sit Kyle Orton - Yes, Kyle Orton had a fantastic Week 16, ranking as the ninth-best quarterback in fantasy. And yes, the Patriots are playing for nothing, having already clinched the top seed in the AFC. But while they may rest starters, I'm not putting my trust in Orton in Foxborough. There are too many question marks surrounding this game for me to be confident with what's going to happen, and the Patriots have the third-best pass defense in the NFL according to our metrics. There should be better options out there.
Start Eli Manning - Since the emergence of Odell Beckham, Eli Manning has five top-five weekly quarterback performances in nine games. He's generally been frustrating to predict, but his rate of having high-end games is just as good as anyone in the league right now.
When the Giants faced Philadelphia back in Week 6, Eli had the worst performance of his season. But we can't ignore that this was one of three games the Eagles played where the opposing passer didn't finish as a top-14 weekly quarterback in fantasy, and Manning's been playing at a much higher level -- thanks to his rookie wide receiver -- ever since their last matchup. He's a strong play in Week 17.
Sit Andrew Luck - The Colts already have the four seed locked up, and while Chuck Pagano has said that he's not going to rest his starters, you have to be nervous about playing a star quarterback with nothing to gain. If Luck plays the first half, he realistically could post strong numbers, making for a serviceable option. But if you're in a shallow league and have choices, consider benching Luck simply because it's difficult to know how much action he'll actually see. Do you want to be burned by some coach speak?
Start Jonathan Stewart - The Falcons can't stop the run -- they rank 30th against ground attacks according to our numbers -- and they haven't been able to stop the run for a couple of years now. The Panthers will face them this week, and with DeAngelo Williams still questionable, J-Stew makes for a good play. After all, he's hit 13 or more PPR points in four of his last six games.
Sit Isaiah Crowell - The Browns offense is a disaster, and there's no telling who will be under center this weekend. Regardless of who it is, it won't be pretty, and that'll negatively effect rookie Isaiah Crowell, who's failed to reach the six-point mark in PPR leagues in each of his last two games. Baltimore's rush defense is no joke, too, making Crowell an obvious bench.
Start Doug Martin - This is somewhat of a reach, but Doug Martin now has 24 carries over his last two games, and saw 18 more four weeks ago when the Bucs played the Bengals. The Saints' rush defense is the worst in the NFL according to our numbers, so the matchup for Martin this weekend is perfect. The problem, however, is if the Saints go up big early -- Martin won't see volume through the air (Charles Sims would), capping his ceiling.
Sit Frank Gore - Frank Gore was fantastic last week, and it was good to see one more great fantasy performance from him before we more than likely retire his fantasy football jersey. This week the 49ers will face Arizona in a game with a 36.5 total set by Vegas. Gore's been wildly ineffective prior to last week, and Arizona has one of the better rush defenses in the NFL -- a top-10 one, in fact. I'd stay away.
Start Matt Asiata - Matt Asiata has over 55 PPR fantasy points over the last two weeks, catching 10 passes and scoring 3 times. He's clearly going to be involved for Minnesota, and that's a good thing as they take on a Bears team that, as I mentioned earlier with Bridgewater, have struggled defensively this year. Asiata's floor is great in PPR formats given he's seen at least four targets per game in every contest since Week 8, and his ceiling is high as well due to his goal-line potential.
Start Kenny Stills - I've been a pretty big Kenny Stills backer all season long, and I still think he's not getting enough credit. Stills has scored 11.7 PPR fantasy points in all but one game since Week 11, which coincides with when rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks left the team with a season-ending injury. Without Cooks, Stills is averaging 6.8 targets per game, and gets a juicy matchup against the porous Bucs secondary this week. I still like him as a high-floor option that's capable of making a big play.
Sit Pierre Garcon - Anyone want to guess when the last time Pierre Garcon finished as a top-10 fantasy option in PPR leagues was? Week 3. It happened in Week 3, when he saw 16 targets.
The truth is, Garcon's been awful this season from a fantasy perspective, thanks to DeSean Jackson's arrival and ineffective quarterback play. He's hit the double-digit mark just twice in PPR leagues since Week 7, and even in a relatively decent matchup, he can't be trusted.
Start Mohamed Sanu - It looks as though AJ Green's going to play in the big Sunday night showdown against the Steelers, but his injury could make room for Mohamed Sanu to see more volume than usual. The Steelers secondary is one of the worst in the NFL, and while Sanu's been mostly worthless in fantasy since AJ Green returned from his injury, an uptick in targets could help. He's mostly a deep-league play though.
Sit Larry Fitzgerald - Rookie Logan Thomas will be at quarterback against a San Francisco secondary that ranks 11th against the pass according to our numbers. Fitzgerald will more than likely see a lot of volume, but he's still a risky play in such an ineffective offense.
Start Jarvis Landry - Landry owners had to be disappointed last week watching the Dolphins offense move the ball up and down the field against Minnesota, only to see Landry finish with fewer than 10 PPR fantasy points. But the volume is there -- he's seen 10 or more targets in four of his last seven games -- and the matchup is good, too. The Jets rank 22nd against the pass per our numbers, allowing the 12th-most points to the wide receiver position.
Start Mychal Rivera - Rivera saw just 4 targets in the Raiders win over the Bills last week, down from the 8, 7 and 12 he saw the three weeks prior. I think he'll bounce back in Week 17 versus the Broncos though, as the Raiders' game script will almost certainly be a pass-happy one, at least in the second half, which favors Rivera, who's become one of Derek Carr's favorite targets.
Sit Luke Willson - It took just three targets for Luke Willson to be the best fantasy tight end last week, but don't let that recent performance overshadow what he's done this season. Willson's seen more than three targets in a game just once since Week 9, and the Seahawks' opponent this week, the Rams, have allowed the fourth-fewest points to the tight end position this year.
Start Delanie Walker - This is just your friendly reminder that Delanie Walker is the only guy you can trust in the Tennessee Titans offense. Walker's seen five or more targets in eight of his last nine games, and will face a Colts team that ranks 27th against tight ends in terms of fantasy points against. Yes, please.
Start the Houston Texans - As I've talked about all year, anytime a defense faces Jacksonville, you start them. All but four defenses have finished as top-10 weekly fantasy options against Jacksonville this season, while no defense has scored fewer than four points. The Texans are as safe of an option as you can find.
Sit the Cincinnati Bengals - The Steelers offense is rolling, and the AFC North battle will between the Steelers and Bengals will be in Pittsburgh. The Bengals defense has been strong this year, but the Steelers have allowed just two top-10 defensive performances this season. It's not worth it.
Other Defenses to Start: Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos
Other Players to Sit: San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions