We’ve reached the end of the road. Some of you are still playing out this week to decide league titles, but for many of us, Week 17 is a hollow week from a seasonal stance.  Luckily, we still have one last full week of DFS before playoff fantasy arrives. With Week 17 being such a weird week in which some games have a preseason-esque vibe and so many leagues being wrapped up, this is always a condensed version of this article. For the final post, we’re just digging right into the player analysis and highlighting a few teams that many not being playing their starters full tilt.

 

For those that are new here, the goal of this article is to provide a top-down, statistical snapshot for each game each week, running down weekly point spreads, team totals, play calling splits, and statistical bullet points on the players and teams involved. Although we’re focusing strictly on PPR league scoring here as a baseline, there’s more than enough to spread around across formats and daily leagues. The reason we’re operating under a PPR umbrella is it allows us to cover a larger portion of the players involved in action weekly.

 

As the author, it’s imperative that I note that this is an expectations-based column over a linear start/sit forum. The labels for each subset of players for each game is simply the vehicle for those expectations and have a different context for each player. I encourage that you use the game by game tables and data points here in conjunction with the Start/Sit column posted weekly by Nick Mensio, Pat Daugherty’s rankings in the Goal Line Stand, Evan Silva’s Matchup’s column, Ray Summerlin’s Waiver Wired and most importantly, your own information and thought process.  Remember, you control your own team. If you are curious as to my personal weekly rankings, they can be found each and every week in the Season Pass section.

 


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All lines are taken from VegasInsider

 

Dolphins @ Bills

 

 

Trust (spike starting production)

 

  • Josh Allen:  He’s at home against a defense that has not traveled at all this season. Allen was the QB2 overall in scoring Week 13 in Miami and now gets them as a home favorite. The Dolphins have allowed at least 15 fantasy points to each of the past four quarterbacks they’ve faced on the road with three top-12 scoring weeks to those passers.

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • Robert Foster: He left two huge plays on the table last week, but that’s just the type of volatility the rookie receiver will have with the types of targets he gets. But those targets carry heavy upside. Since Week 12 when Allen returned to the lineup, Foster leads the league with a 23.1 yard average depth of target while ranking 10th of all wide receivers in air yards (110.8 per game).  Miami has allowed the sixth-most receptions of 20-plus yards and Xavien Howard is still unlikely to suit up to close the season.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Ryan Tannehill: He’s been higher QB15 in just 2-of-10 games this season and has thrown for 200-plus yards in just two of his past seven games.
  • Miami RBs: The Dolphins gave Kenyan Drake 39 snaps last week with Kalen Ballage playing 14 and Brandon Bolden eight. Drake led the team with just 10 touches, turning them into 54 yards, but the touch split of 10 for Drake, six for Ballage and five for Bolden was too packed in to chase any starting aspirations for this backfield as road dogs.
  • Miami WRs: There just hasn’t been any target or passing yardage volume here to pursue. When these teams played in Week 13, Miami wideouts caught 12-of-18 targets for 105 yards combined, leaving you to chase a touchdown. If that’s the case, the player to still make a play for is Kenny Stills.

 

If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play)

 

  • LeSean McCoy: The Dolphins rush defense has been shredded on the road, allowing 148.7 yards per game (30th). McCoy hasn’t been higher than RB33 since Allen returned to the lineup but did manage 19 touches when these teams played back on Week 13. His touch-ceiling is still a question, but he gets one final positive outlook as a home favorite, which keeps him in play as a FLEX option.
  • Zay Jones: He’s averaging 8.3 targets over his past four games with at least nine targets in three of those weeks. With Isaiah McKenzie injured, Jones moved back inside more last week, where he caught three passes for 42 yards and a score. If McKenzie is unable to play, Jones will be back to being the full-time slot option, where he caught two touchdowns against this Miami defense three weeks ago.

 

Falcons @ Buccaneers

 

 

Trust (spike starting production)

 

  • Mike Evans: He has at least 86 yards in five of his past six games with 19 targets over the past two. Evans is averaging 17.7 yards per catch and has caught 61.5 percent of his targets on the season, the highest rates of his career. Although slowed down for a 4-58 line when these teams last played, Evans still has a strong track record against his division rival, averaging 16.9 points per game against them with a touchdown in 5-of-9 games.

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • Matt Ryan: His yardage has dipped, averaging 215.8 passing yards per game over the past four weeks with a high of 262 yards. He also shouldn’t be expected to have a fully-operational Julio Jones after Jones was used sparingly in Week 16 fighting through injury. The Buccaneers have also not been as giving to opposing passers over the back half of the season, allowing two or fewer touchdown passes in each of their past 11 games.
  • Calvin Ridley/Mohamed Sanu: With Jones not 100 percent last week, Sanu led the team with eight targets while Ridley matched Jones with five targets himself. If Jones is going to be less than his usual self, both secondary options will be elevated again to WR3 status with upside.
  • Austin Hooper: He has just three targets over the past two games but draws a favorable matchup against a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed 10 TE1 scoring weeks on the season, including a 9-71-1 line to Hooper himself back in Week 6.
  • Jameis Winston: He’s had his three toughest matchups all in a row, but now gets one last favorable one to close the year. Winston has had a stellar track record against Dan Quinn’s defense in Atlanta. Winston has finished as a top-12 scorer in five of six career games against the Falcons, passing for three or more touchdowns in each of their past four meetings, including a 395-yard, four touchdown game in Atlanta in Week 6. Winston would be a full tier higher, but Dirk Koetter has potentially been hinting that Ryan Griffin could see time in this game.
  • Adam Humphries:  With Winston under center, Humphries has 72 targets this season, which trails only Mike Evans (73) by one. There’s a wide gap to the next-highest player on the team (Chris Godwin at 52 targets), making Humphries the most bankable option after Evans in a game where we’re inherently high on Winston. It also helps that Atlanta is much worse versus slot options, ranking 27th in points allowed to opposing slot wideouts.
  • Brian Hill: With Tevin Coleman unlikely to practice, Hill may have a chance to build off the 115-yard rushing performance he had last week in just eight carries. Those eight carries were the most Hill has ever had in a game, but he was 4.54 40-yard speed back at the combine in 2017 while amassing 1,763 and 1,927 yards from scrimmage over his final two seasons at Wyoming. The Buccaneers have allowed a league-high 21 touchdowns to opposing backs, so there are worse darts to throw if Coleman is held out.
  • Chris Godwin: With DeSean Jackson looking unlikely to play, Godwin would once again be elevated, this time in a positive matchup for the passing game. If Winston plays the entire game, Godwin could be a value and top-30 wideout, but also stands to lose some shine if Griffin enters the game for an extended stretch.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Julio Jones:  With this game holding no relevance, Jones may not be pressed into playing heavily. In Week 16, Jones played a season-low 24 snaps (50 percent of the team total). Julio has a great track record versus the Bucs and could do something on just a few opportunities, but Jones has been playing through hip and rib injuries the past few weeks and should not be pushed hard here.
  • Tevin Coleman:  He’s scored at least eight touchdowns for the third consecutive season and has a career-high 1,022 yards from scrimmage, but his 2018 season has still been lackluster for the runway that Devonta Freeman’s early season injury created. Coleman hasn’t had more than 11 touches in a game since Week 10 and is dealing with a groin injury.
  • Peyton Barber: He’s averaging 18.8 touches per game over his past six games, so there’s some volume to lock onto. Unfortunately, he’s turned all those touches into 67.8 total yards per game and his fantasy floor is solely tied into him falling into a short-yardage touchdown opportunity.
  • Cameron Brate: He’s always a threat to score in a game in which we’re high on Winston, but Brate can’t be counted on for any type of a floor, catching 11 passes for 91 yards total over his five games with O.J. Howard sidelined.

 

Panthers @ Saints

 

 

  • Rest Alert: The Saints have secured the top seed in the NFC and should be expected to either fully rest starters or limit their snaps in this game. Teddy Bridgewater and Dwayne Washington should play heavily with backups.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Christian McCaffrey: Ron Rivera has already stated the team may shut him down this week as there’s nothing left for the Panthers to push him for. If that’s the case, Cameron Artis-Payne could get the bulk of backfield opportunities to close the year.
  • Kyle Allen: If the Saints rest the core of their defense, this may have a preseason vibe to it, but Allen is being thrown into a tough spot to finish the season. Especially if McCaffrey is held out.
  • CAR WRs: We shouldn’t expect the Panthers to throw 57 more times this week and everyone here has a pedestrian combination of ceiling with a low floor, but if you’re solely chasing volume, Curtis Samuel has the edge on D.J. Moore at this point.
  • Ian Thomas: We were in this same spot with Thomas two weeks ago and he caught two passes for 14 yards. The Saints may sit starters here, but have squished opposing tight ends this season, allowing a season-high of 54 yards to an opposing tight end this season with just four touchdowns.

 

Lions @ Packers

 

 

Trust (spike starting production)

 

  • Aaron Rodgers:  We can’t expect Rodgers to add another 17 fantasy points from rushing this week, but he’s now thrown 42 or more passes in three of his past four games. Volume isn’t everything, but that type of volume offers a high floor attached to player like Rodgers. Detroit should be expected to shave that volume down, but are a defense to target for efficiency, ranking 31st in yards per attempt (8.2 Y/A) and 31st in touchdown rate (6.4 percent) allowed this season. 
  • Davante Adams: The number one wideout in fantasy has double-digit points in every game this season and a top-10 weekly scorer in six of his past seven games. Adams has double-digit targets in each of his past four games and has at least six receptions in three straight games versus the Lions, including a 9-140-1 line earlier in the season.
  • Kenny Golladay: Even in a tough draw last week, he received a massive 15 targets. Since Week 10, Golladay ranks fourth of all wideouts in target volume (71) and third in air yards. Although he’s still had down moments along that stretch, he gets a favorable outlook this week after three straight tough matchups. Green Bay has allowed the most touchdowns (11) to opposing lead wideouts and allowed Golladay himself to post a 4-98-1 line when these teams last met in Week 5.
  • Jamaal Williams: He’s been the RB11 and the RB2 the past two games, with 97 and 156 yards from scrimmage on 16 and 21 touches. A Packers running back now has a rushing touchdown in seven straight games, giving him scoring upside as well. Without Da’Shawn Hand and Ezekiel Ansah a week ago, Detroit allowed 136 yards on 30 touches to Minnesota backs.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Matthew Stafford:  A throw-away season for him comes to a merciful end. Stafford has been the average QB21 per week this season with just one week higher than QB14.
  • Lions RBs: After Zach Zenner had gotten more opportunity the previous two weeks, LeGarrette Blount received a team-high 11 rushing attempts last week and even had four targets. Blount turned that opportunity into 24 yards.

 

Cowboys @ Giants

 

 

  • Rest Alert: Dallas is locked into the four spot in the NFC playoff picture. Jerry Jones has stated the Cowboys will play their starters, but that should be taken with a grain of salt. In 2016, Dallas had a first-round bye sewn up and played Dak Prescott two possessions in Week 17. In 2014, they did play their starters in Week 17 a full game despite having the division locked up and were playing in Wild Card weekend. Given the workload someone like Ezekiel Elliott has had, it’s hard to believe they’d expose him to much risk here and should use Rod Smith often this week. Expectations should be that Dallas starters begin the game but are questionable to finish it despite what is being sold to us.

 

Trust (spike starting production)

 

  • Saquon Barkley: Barkley may be winding down here with 56 and 77 total yards the past two games, but the Giants still pushed 26 touches onto his plate last week. It would make sense for the Giants to take their foot off the gas, but Barkley is just 114 yards from scrimmage short of 2,000 for the season., a mark only two rookie running backs (Edgerrin James and Eric Dickerson) have ever reached.
  • Evan Engram: His splits without Odell Beckham on the field held true once again as he reeled off his third straight top-12 scoring week. He’s now had his three highest-yardage receiving games of the season over the past three weeks. Opposing teams target their tight ends 24.4 percent of the time against Dallas, the second-highest rate in the league.

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • Sterling Shepard: He has 21.1 percent of the team targets over the three games that Beckham has been absent, giving him WR3 target volume to attach to even if it comes along with a low yardage floor, reaching 40 yards just twice over his past 10 games.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Eli Manning: Perhaps he catches the bulk of the game versus the second unit of the Dallas defense, but the last time that Manning was a QB1 versus the Cowboys was Week 12 of 2014, finishing as the QB24 or lower in six of those seven meetings since.

 

Jaguars @ Texans

 

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • DeAndre Hopkins: He has double-digit targets in each of his past four games and has scored in three consecutive games against the Jaguars, despite totaling just 14 catches for 185 yards over those games.
  • Dede Westbrook: The only floor-based play here from the Jaguars receiving corps, Westbrook has 27.7 percent of the team targets over the past three games. He still comes with a pedestrian yardage expectation, with 45 yards or fewer in nine of his past 10 games.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Deshaun Watson:  As bad as the Jaguars have been in totality this season, they are still not a defense we have targeted for fantasy production coming from quarterbacks or the passing game in general as they allow just 12.2 passing points per game (second) and have allowed just 17 passing touchdowns (second). Watson was the QB22 when these teams last played in Week 7, but that was also right off of his lung injury when he had to be driven to the game. The one out for Watson getting to a safe floor with upside is that the Jaguars have allowed the most fantasy rushing points to opposing quarterbacks this season.
  • Leonard Fournette: He’s carried 43 times for 125 yards (2.9 YPC) over the past three games with this offensive line decimated. The Texans are allowing a league-low 3.2 YPC to opposing backs and 70.4 rushing yards per game to the position (second).
  • Blake Bortles: Likely to get one final start to close the season, the Texans have been hemorrhaging production to opposing passers, allowing quarterbacks to pass for 364.6 yards per game over their past five games. Bortles is unlikely capable of hitting those numbers on the road behind this offensive line, but if you’re daring to chase the matchup, it’s on the table.
  • Texans RBs: Houston’s run game has disappeared. Over the past three weeks, Houston backs have rushed 43 times for 81 yards (1.9 YPC) against the Colts, Jets and Eagles. If Lamar Miller returns, he is still in play as a lower-end RB2 but is a potential “yardage-only” fantasy option.

 

 

Jets @ Patriots

 

 

Trust (spike starting production)

 

  • Sony Michel: As mentioned last week, the games to target the New England running game are when they are large double-digit favorites. Michel had 133 yards on 21 carries against the Jets as the Patriots ran for a season-high 215 yards when these teams last met. New England was in this exact same position in Week 17 a year ago, with the Patriots rushing 38 times for 147 yards and a touchdown.
  • Julian Edelman:  Passing volume may be tempered here, but the Jets are 31st in points allowed to opposing slot wideouts, including a 4-84-1 line to Edelman himself in Week 12.

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • Tom Brady: He’s been a QB1 just once over his past eight games and is in another spot similar to last week where he just typically underperforms from a fantasy stance. He now has been a top-12 scoring quarterback in 12-of-26 games as a double-digit point favorite since the start of 2012 and has reached 20 fantasy points in seven of those games. That said, the Jets defense has been rough, allowing 17-plus fantasy points to 11 of the past 12 quarterbacks they have faced, including 19.2 points to Brady in Week 12. He may get your QB1 output but will unlikely bury you here.
  • James White: Even though we can’t count on passing volume for him, he has been used as a secondary rusher in these games. Last week he carried eight times for 41 yards and a score and carried nine times for 73 yards when these teams met in Week 12. Even without the reception boost, White is a FLEX option.
  • Robby Anderson: He’s scored in three straight games, but more importantly 38 targets over the past four weeks with a low of seven in a game. Anderson has just three catches for 24 yards over his past two games versus the Patriots, but his target volume and upside are too high to weight that heavily into his ranking here.
  • Chris Herndon: Another bright spot for the Jets this season, Herndon has been the TE6 in overall scoring from Week 7 on. Herndon received a season-high eight targets when these teams last played, turning them into a season-high seven receptions for 57 yards.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Sam Darnold: He’s looked the part since returning from injury, completing 65.9 percent of his passes for 7.9 yards per attempt while tossing six touchdowns to one interception. That said, he’s in a similar spot that we mentioned last week as a rookie quarterback playing the Patriots at home. Rookie starting quarterbacks are now 0-13 on the road in New England since Bill Belichick took over in 2000 with the Patriots winning those games by an average of 16.6 points.
  • Rob Gronkowski: He had a 3-56-1 line when these team met in Week 12 on the strength of a 34-yard touchdown if you want to hold a candle. But Gronk has three or fewer catches in six of his past seven games played and likely won’t be pressed if the Patriots get out to an early lead.
  • Elijah McGuire: It hasn’t been pretty, but McGuire has masked his fantasy output with touchdown deodorant. McGuire has just 83, 71 and 85 yards from scrimmage the past three games but has 20, 21 and 17 touches in those games with four touchdowns. As a huge road dog, chasing that touchdown is a tougher task, but McGuire still carries some intrigue as a volume-based FLEX option.

 

Raiders @ Chiefs

 

 

Trust (spike starting production)

 

  • Patrick Mahomes: The quarterback with the highest touchdown rate (8.6 percent) facing the defense allowing the highest touchdown rate in the league (7.5 percent). Mahomes was the highest scoring fantasy quarterback when these teams last played in Week 13.
  • Travis Kelce: Just 53 yards short of the all-time receiving record for a tight end in a season. Kelce has had an amazing floor, catching at least five passes in 14 straight games and in another spot for upside as he melted this Oakland defense in Week 13, catching 12 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • Tyreek Hill: He’s been a WR3 or lower in three of his past four games, but the volume has still been here in the league’s highest-scoring offense. Despite his depressed output, Hill still has averaged 10 targets per game over the past six games with Sammy Watkins injured.
  • Jordy Nelson: He’s been the primary passing game target, averaging 7.3 receptions on nine targets per game over the past four weeks with at least six catches in all four of those games, which includes a 10-97 game when these teams last played in Week 13.
  • Chiefs RBs: With Spencer Ware returning back into the lineup, the Chiefs backfield gets a little muddier and we should expect Ware to get significant touches. This takes Damien Williams from the 16-20 touch player he has been the past two weeks and both backs into the 10-13 touch area. Williams has five touchdowns over his past three games while he still managed 12 touches the last time that he Ware played together in Week 14.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Derek Carr: He has just seven touchdown passes on the road this season while he’s never been higher than the QB19 in four career starts at Arrowhead. Over Carr’s four starts in Kansas City, the Raiders have never scored more than 17 points.
  • Jared Cook: He’s not a clear sit given the tight end position, but Cook’s splits have gone along with Carr’s. Cook has averaged just 29.4 yards receiving per game on 3.1 catches per game on the road with just two touchdowns.

 

If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play)

 

  • Doug Martin: The matchup is strong as the Chiefs have routinely been a target for us with running backs all season long. Kansas City is 28th in rushing points allowed per game (18.0) to opposing backs. The one rain cloud is we had Martin in a similar strong matchup two weeks ago in Cincinnati, but the because the Raiders have played so poorly on the road this season, Martin was phased out of the game early on, racking up just nine total touches.
  • Jalen Richard: Given that Richard can be effective regardless of game script here in a positive matchup for rushing and receiving output allowed to backfields, he should be the best Oakland running back for fantasy. Richard posted a season-high 126 yards from scrimmage when these teams last played and the Chiefs are 30th in receiving points allowed (15.3) per game to backs.

 

Browns @ Ravens


 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • Lamar Jackson: He’s strictly been a floor play for fantasy, scoring 16-plus points in all six of his starts, but hitting 20 points in just one.
  • Gus Edwards: He has 100-yards from scrimmage in four of the six games with Jackson under center but has been higher than RB24 just twice over that span since he has just one reception in those games. He’s in play as a yardage-only FLEX but needs a touchdown to get higher.
  • Nick Chubb: 28 rushing yards short of 1,000, Chubb will surely get there, joining Kevin Mack as the only Browns rookies to hit that plateau in their first season. The Ravens are allowing 103.1 total yards per game to opposing backs (second), but Chubb has solidified himself as a bankable floor option with 20.6 touches per game in his nine games as starter.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Baker Mayfield: His QB1 games have all come versus cupcakes (Bucs, Bengals x 2, Falcons) while that is not the case here visiting Baltimore. The Ravens have allowed more than two touchdown passes just once this season and have crushed rookie passers in their house. Rookie quarterbacks in Baltimore are 1-10 with 4 passing TD to 13 INT since John Harbaugh got there in 2008 and a 2-18 record all-time since 1999. Mayfield threw for 342 yards when these teams played in Week 5 but play volume should be depressed here with Jackson under center for Baltimore and Mayfield himself had 80 of those passing yards come in overtime of that first meeting.
  • Jarvis Landry: He’s averaged 49.7 yards per game in the 12 starts Mayfield has made while finishing as the average WR39 over those weeks. Landry managed a 5-69 line when these teams first met, but we can’t count of the Browns throwing 43 passes or amassing 342 yards through the air in this second meeting in Baltimore.
  • David Njoku: His two TE1 games since the coaching shakeup have come against the Bengals and has been the TE15 or lower in the other five games. Njoku has had more than three catches in just two of his past eight games.
  • BAL WRs: Same story since Jackson has taken over as the starter, this unit has had no upside since Jackson has been so limited throwing outside. Jackson has connected with his wideouts on just 39-of-80 targets as a starter with just three touchdowns.

 

Eagles @ Washington

 

 

Trust (spike starting production)

 

  • Zach Ertz: Fresh off setting the record for most receptions in a season by a tight end, Ertz draws a Washington defense he has tormented. Ertz is averaging 7.9 receptions for 80.8 yards per game over his past eight meetings with Washington.

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • Nick Foles: He’s completed 59-of-80 passes (73.7 percent) over the past two weeks for 9.3 yards per pass attempt. Washington isn’t as strong as a matchup as the one he had last week, but Washington had allowed three consecutive QB1 scoring weeks to Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz and Eli Manning prior to facing Cody Kessler and Marcus Mariota/Blaine Gabbert.
  • Alshon Jeffery:  He’s totaled 35 percent of the air yards with Foles under center the past two weeks on the strength of a gaudy 17.9 average depth of target. Washington ranks 21st in points allowed per game (16.2) to opposing lead wideouts.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Adrian Peterson: Coming off his first 100-yard rushing game since Week 8, Peterson gets an Eagles defense that has righted the ship the past weeks against the run, allowing opposing backs to gain just 65 yards on 26 carries. The true downside here stems from potential game script as Peterson tallied just nine touches the last time these teams met and has consistently needed Washington to stay in neutral or positive game script to be an effective fantasy option.

 

If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play)

 

  • Eagles RBs:  This is back to being a timeshare as Darren Sproles led the team with 38 snaps played last week ahead of Josh Adams (25) and Wendell Smallwood (16). Things could swing back in Adams’ favor this week if game script plays out accordingly, but he also caught a pass in a game since Week 11. Both Adams and Sproles are stuck in FLEX territory.
  • Josh Johnson: He’s yet to throw for even 200-yards in any of his three starts but is on the QB2 board this week because the Eagles have struggled versus mobile quarterbacks given their style of defense. DeShaun Watson (8-49-2), Blake Bortles (8-43), Cam Newton (7-49), and Marcus Mariota (10-46-1) have all added the equivalent to a passing touchdown through rushing yardage against the Eagles.
  • Jamison Crowder: He’s provided WR3/FLEX output in all three of Johnson’s starts, catching 11-of-18 targets for 211 yards and a touchdown in those games. There’s a limited ceiling here, but Crowder is in play for those desperate for a floor.

 

Bears @ Vikings

 

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • Stefon Diggs: He’s averaging just six targets per game over his past four games with just a total of 184 yards. Still, he’s managed to find the end zone twice over that span. Diggs stacked a ton of late production against the Bears in jailbreak offense when he tallied 13 receptions for 126 yards when these teams last played. That can’t be counted on again, but Diggs has now found the end zone in five of six career games versus the Bears.
  • Adam Thielen: His slot usage has dipped, running 40 percent of his routes from the inside since the offense has been run by Kevin Stefanski, but the Vikings have also run the ball more traditionally over those past two games, meaning they’ve used fewer three-plus sets in the first place. But Thielen has moved more into a safe-floor option than the top-end receiver he was over the front half of the season. Thielen has still been a top-30 scorer in every game but one on the year but has been higher than WR21 just once over his past seven games.
  • Tarik Cohen:  The signal for potential game script favors Cohen over Howard and Cohen has already been the player with the safer fantasy floor. Despite a low-usage game a week ago when Chicago controlled the script, Cohen has still been a RB2 or better in nine of his past 12 games played.
  • Dalvin Cook: He’s gone over 100-yards from scrimmage in three of his past four games and has accrued at least 17 touches in each of those games. Chicago is not a run defense to target, but they have been more giving on the road. The Bears allow 97.1 rushing yards per game on the road as opposed to 67.1 per game at home. Factoring in potentially neutral game script and Cook’s receiving ability, he is not a RB1 this week, but is still a top-24 option.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Mitchell Trubisky: He’s been a different player on the road for fantasy, averaging just 13.4 fantasy points per game with just one start closing a week higher than QB17 away from home. The Vikings haven’t allowed a QB1 since Week 5 while allowing a league-low 15 passing touchdowns on the season.
  • Chicago WRs: Minnesota is second in the league in fantasy points allowed per game (29.0) to opposing wideouts with just nine touchdowns allowed to the position (second). When these teams met in Week 11, Chicago wideouts combined for 14 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown, with Taylor Gabriel leading the way with a 7-52 line.
  • Kirk Cousins: Narrative aside that Cousins shrinks in these games, this also just isn’t a favorable draw. The Bears haven’t allowed more than two touchdown passes in a game since Week 7 and have allowed just one touchdown pass over the past five games.
  • Jordan Howard: He’s found the end zone in each of the past two weeks, but as a road underdog in a tougher matchup, you’re only chasing a touchdown here.
  • Kyle Rudolph: We should’ve played the narrative that of course Rudolph would hit for Christmas, but those two scores last week were his first touchdowns since Week 3 while he had averaged just 35.2 receiving yards per game prior.

 

Bengals @ Steelers

 

 

Trust (spike starting production)

 

  • Ben Roethlisberger:  At home as a huge favorite in a must-win game against a defense that has packed things up a long time ago. The Bengals have allowed 286.7 passing yards per game (28th) this season to opposing passers while ranking 31st in passing points allowed per game (18.3).
  • Antonio Brown/JuJu Smith-Schuster: This is a good spot for both Pittsburgh wideouts to go along for the ride with their quarterback. Both players posted over 100-yards receiving when these teams last played back in Week 6 and both run into strong matchups once again with the Bengals playing out the string to close the season.

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • James Conner: Expected to be a full go after practicing so far this week. While we can’t 100 percent be sure what type of split we see with backfield touches, we should expect Conner to reclaim the majority of touches in this backfield based on how the Steelers have used just one back over the past few seasons, regardless if it was Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Conner or Jaylen Samuels.  The Bengals are surrendering a league-high 185.4 yards from scrimmage to opposing backfields to go along with 20 total touchdowns allowed to the position (tied for second-most). When these teams met earlier in the season with the Bengals still formidable opponents, Pittsburgh backs totaled 131 yards on 24 touches with two scores.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Joe Mixon:  He’s all the Bengals have left and has at least 19 touches in each of his past three games, but there’s some strain here on his performance when the Bengals get blown out. In his past two games in which Cincinnati has trailed by multiple scores throughout, Mixon has been the RB29 and the RB34. A player with his talent level getting a high amount of touches always keeps him in play for upside, but if the Bengals no-show here, Mixon could once again sag down to RB3 territory.
  • Jeff Driskel: It’s not entirely his fault that he’s struggled due to offensive play and lack of surrounding passing targets, but he’s thrown for 170 yards or less in each of his past three starts.       

 

If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play)

 

  • Vance McDonald: The last time that McDonald reached 50-yards receiving in a game was all the way back in Week 6. That 7-68 game came against this Bengals defense, one that has struggled all season versus opposing tight ends. The Bengals have allowed a league-high 10 touchdowns to opposing tight ends on the season.
  • C.J. Uzomah: He saved his game last week with a late score, but still managed 26.3 percent of the team targets with Tyler Boyd out of the lineup. Driskel has targeted Uzomah a team-high 29 times while Uzomah managed a modest 6-54 line when these teams last played.

 

Cardinals @ Seahawks

 

 

Rest Alert: Seattle can only move between the fifth and sixth seed this week. They have stated they will play their starters, but if they build a lead or pull far out in front of the Cardinals, they could ease up and rest players at some point.

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • Chris Carson:  He’s been a top-20 scorer in six straight games while the RB6 and the RB5 the past two weeks. Arizona faces a league-high 34.8 backfield touches per game and just allowed C.J. Anderson to come off the street and dominate. When these teams last met, Seattle ran wild, rushing 34 times for 171 yards and two scores on the road.
  • Russell Wilson: Passing volume will once again likely be an issue here as Wilson threw just 26 times when these teams last played, but Arizona has allowed a string of modest fantasy floors, allowing 15-plus points to six of the past seven quarterbacks they’ve faced with only one of those passers (Matthew Stafford) finishing in the back-half of weekly scoring.
  • Doug Baldwin: He’s scored in three games in a row and has found the paint in four of his past five games. Coming off a season-high 41.4 percent of the team targets, Baldwin has at least five receptions or a touchdown in eight consecutive games played against the Cardinals.
  • David Johnson: It’s been a disappointing for Johnson in terms of meeting expectations, but he’s been productive when the matchups provide a positive signal. Seattle has allowed 157.3 yards from scrimmage to opposing backfields over their past nine games with over 100-total yards to six different backs and at least 90 yards to eight backs. Even Johnson himself managed 112 total yards on 25 touches when these teams met in Week 4.
  • Larry Fitzgerald: He has at least 20 percent of the team targets in eight of his past nine games with at least five or more receptions in each of his past three games. Seattle has allowed the fewest points to opposing slot receivers on the season, but volume should keep Fitzgerald in the WR3 conversation as a floor play in what could be his final game with Arizona, if not entirely for his career.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Tyler Lockett:  Arizona is strong against boundary wideouts, ranking eighth in points allowed on the outside while 22nd against slot options. While Lockett does get in the slot a bit, running 47 percent of his routes from the inside with Baldwin active, but he’s managed just 188 career receiving yards in seven games versus Arizona with zero career touchdowns.
  • Josh Rosen: It’s been a tough rookie year as Rosen hasn’t even finished each of the past two games, while both Fitzgerald and Mike Glennon have more passing touchdowns over the past four weeks.

 

49ers @ Rams

 

 

Trust (spike starting production)

 

  • Jared Goff: He looked more like himself last week when the Rams were able to have a balanced offense and this week he’s at home, where he’s played better all season long. In Los Angeles, Goff has thrown 18 touchdowns to three interceptions while averaging 362.6 passing yards per game.
  • Robert Woods: He has at least 60-yards receiving in every game since Week 1 while he’s been a WR2 or better in seven straight games. Playing in the slot or at left wide receiver is where we’ve annually attacked San Francisco, spots where Woods will run over two thirds of pass routes.
  • Brandin Cooks: Cooks will avoid Richard Sherman even more than Woods -running 83 percent of his routes at left wideout or in the slot – while he was the highest scoring Rams wideout when these teams played earlier in the season (4-64-1).
  • George Kittle: The league’s best tight end after Kelce and Ertz, Kittle has been as steady as they come through three different quarterbacks. With Mullens under center, he’s stockpiling target volume, receiving 28.8 percent of the targets from Mullens after 21.7 percent from C.J. Beathard and 22.9 percent from Jimmy Garoppolo.

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • C.J. Anderson: With Todd Gurley expected to be sidelined one more week, Anderson will once again be the bellcow in the NFC’s best offense. Anderson carried 20 times for 167 yards off the street a week ago, handling 19-of-22 running back carries prior to the 4th quarter. San Francisco is better against the run than the Cardinals, so we shouldn’t expect another game in which Anderson flirts with career totals but will once again have the keys to the backfield in a stellar offensive climate at home.
  • Jeff Wilson: With Matt Breida out, Wilson will once again carry lower-end RB2 appeal. Wilson managed 24 touches for 96 yards in his game without Breida active two weeks ago. Game script should be considerably worse here than it was in that home victory, but the 49ers backfield has consistently produced usable lines as a group this season no matter who is getting touches.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Nick Mullens: A road dog and now without Dante Pettis, Mullens is only a lower-end QB2 option this week while the Rams haven’t allowed any passer to finish higher than QB21 since returning from their Week 12 bye.

 

If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play)

 

  • Kendrick Bourne/Marquise Goodwin:  With Dante Pettis out to close the season, Bourne and Goodwin will be elevated in the passing game behind Kittle. Last week, Goodwin received a season-high eight targets while Bourne and Mullens have some established chemistry, with Bourne catching 20-of-31 targets (64.5 percent) from Mullens, a higher rate than he had from Beathard or Garoppolo.

 

Chargers @ Broncos

 

 

Rest Alert: The Chargers can win the AFC West still, but are relying on a home loss by Kansas City to Oakland to get there along with their own victory. Players like Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen have been banged up down the stretch, so if they are scoreboard watching and see the Chiefs way out in front, they may down throttle here.

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • Philip Rivers: Coming off his worst game of the season, Rivers has thrown multiple touchdown passes in each of his past five games in Denver while the Broncos have allowed 7.9 yards per pass attempt since their Week 10 bye.
  • Keenan Allen: Allen got through last week’s game with no ill-effects from his hip-pointer injury and still managed double-digit points for the 11-straight full game he’s played in. He had 9-89-1 against this Broncos defense back in Week 11 when he had to work against Chris Harris all game, opening the door for an improved performance here with Harris sidelined.
  • Melvin Gordon:  In his first game back from a three-game absence, Gordon saw a reduced workload, playing 66.7 percent of the team snaps. Where he was significantly reduced was in the passing game, running just 16 pass routes. I’d anticipate him to build off that game and extend his usage more towards his early season workload while the Broncos were just smashed by the Raiders backs for 167 total yards and two scores.
  • DaeSean Hamilton: Hamilton has nine or more targets in each of the past three games and although the yardage hasn’t been exciting (47, 46 and 40 yards) he does have two touchdowns over that span to make up for it. The Chargers are one of the league’s best exterior pass defenses, but also are allowing the fewest points per game to opposing slot wideouts, making Hamilton a low-floor option.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Case Keenum: He hasn’t finished in the top-half of weekly quarterback scoring since Week 6, passing for just 5.1 yards per attempt over his past three games.
  • Courtland Sutton/Tim Patrick: The Chargers are strong on the exterior and allowed Denver wideouts to catch just 4-of-10 targets for 76 yards on the outside when these teams met in Week 11. Everyone in the Denver passing game has a low floor here.

 

If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play)

 

  • Royce Freeman: With Phillip Lindsay out, Freeman will have a shot to show Denver what he can do as the lead back in this offense to close the season. Devontae Booker should be expected to still be an option in the passing game of a game that should feature negative script for the Broncos, while the Chargers are 11th in rushing yardage allowed per game (92.9) to opposing backs while ranking 15th in yards per carry (4.4 YPC).

 

Colts @ Titans

 

 

Trust (spike starting production)

 

  • Andrew Luck: The Colts are 10-0 versus the Titans with Luck under center while Luck has thrown multiple touchdowns in each of the past seven meetings between these teams, including a 297-yards, three score game when these teams met in Week 11.
  • T.Y. Hilton:  Hilton has been the WR4 in overall scoring since the Colts returned from bye in Week 10 despite playing through a plethora of ailments. Over that span of seven games, he’s led the league with 856 yards receiving -139 more yards than the next closest wideout – with at least 77 yards in all of those games. We always like Hilton more indoors, but his target volume and receiving floor has been to high to discount.

 

On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline)

 

  • Derrick Henry: The highest-scoring running back for the fantasy playoffs, Henry has scored 12 touchdowns over his past nine games. His overall yardage has decreased each week since his 238-yard performance against Jacksonville and the Colts have really ramped things up defensively against the run to close the season. Since the Colts returned from bye in Week 10, they’ve allowed opposing backs to rush for just 71.6 yards per game on 3.2 yards per carry. They have allowed five rushing scores to backs over that span, however, keeping the lights on for Henry to find the paint even if his yardage dips once again to close the season.
  • Marlon Mack: The volatile runner has been under 3.5 yards per carry in three of the past four games, but still has found the end zone in three consecutive weeks. Tennessee has had their hiccups versus backs of late, allowing over 100-yards from scrimmage to Lamar Miller, Isaiah Crowell and Adrian Peterson in three of their past five games.

 

Bust (underperformance)

 

  • Eric Ebron: He’s had back-to-back quiet games, catching just four passes for 32 yards over the past two weeks while seeing just 10.8 percent of the team targets. Colts’ tight ends always carry weekly scoring upside, but the Titans are the only team in the league that has yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing tight end this season while allowing Colts’ tight ends to catch just 4-of-5 targets for 43 yards combined when these teams last played.
  • TEN QB: Even if Marcus Mariota starts, he can’t be trusted when he’s already claimed that the latest nerve injury he suffered last week forced his entire arm to go numb. No matter if we get Mariota or Blaine Gabbert, they are each bottom-rung fantasy options that will need to provide scoring with their legs.
  • Corey Davis: He may be saddled with Gabbert once again while the Colts have limited opposing receiver play, allowing just 43.7 percent of the receptions completed against them to go to wideouts, the lowest rate in the league.

Source Article from http://rotoworld.com/articles/nfl/85180/478/the-nfl-week-17-worksheet

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