Welcome to the 17th and final edition of Waiver Wired for the 2015 season. If you are still reading this, you should seriously lobby your commissioner to push the championship game up a week, although this Week 17 should be as normal as they get with many teams still fighting for playoff seeding.
Washington is the only playoff team with nothing left to play for heading into the final week. Jay Gruden has already hinted he will rest his players, meaning we will likely see very little of DeSean Jackson (knee), Jordan Reed (shoulder) and Matt Jones (hip) if the trio even plays at all. Kirk Cousins would also hit the bench if Gruden decides to rest any of his offensive linemen. Playing against a Cowboys squad which likes to slow the pace anyway, there is not enough upside to use anyone other than Reed, and he will only be an option if we get more information on his status later in the week.
The Texans could also theoretically rest some of their players, but Bill O’Brien has said that is not going to happen. Houston has all but clinched the AFC South considering all the results which would have to go the Colts way, but O’Brien confirmed Monday Brian Hoyer will start against the Jaguars if he is cleared regardless of the playoff implications. O’Brien also said he would not rest any of his players, saying there is no “substitute for winning.” O’Brien did fall from the Bill Belichick tree, but there are compelling reasons to take him at his word. Hoyer could probably use a tune-up game after missing the last two weeks, DeAndre Hopkins is within striking distance of Andre Johnson’s team record for most receptions in a season, and the Jaguars should offer a great opportunity to build some confidence before the postseason. I am operating under the assumption Hoyer will start and play a full complement of snaps against Jacksonville.
Here are some other playoff scenarios to chew on:
*Teams eliminated from the playoffs: Raiders, Bills, Jaguars, Dolphins, Ravens, Chargers, Browns, Titans, Falcons, Rams, Lions, Bucs, Saints, Bears, Eagles, Giants, 49ers and Cowboys. The Colts are virtually eliminated as well.
*The final wild-card spot in the AFC will come down to the Jets and Steelers. The Jets control their own destiny and will get in with a win against Buffalo. They will obviously be motivated against their former coach with the playoffs on the line. Pittsburgh needs a win and a Jets loss.
*The Patriots, Bengals, Chiefs, Broncos, Panthers, Cardinals, Packers, Redskins, Vikings and Seahawks have all locked up playoff berths. The Texans are a virtual lock. Every team except the Redskins and Texans has seeding at stake.
*The Patriots could lose the No. 1 seed with a loss and a Broncos win next week. The Bengals could still nab the No. 2 seed with a win and a Broncos loss or a Kansas City win matched with a Denver loss. The Chiefs will lock up the AFC West and No. 3 seed with a win and a Broncos loss. The Broncos can finish anywhere except the No. 4 seed depending on how results fall.
*The Panthers would lock up the No. 1 seed with a win, but the Cardinals would win the tiebreaker if both teams finish at 14-2. The Vikings-Packers matchup on Sunday night will determine the NFC North and the No. 3 seed. The Packers will be the No. 5 seed if they lose, but the Vikings will fall to the No. 6 seed if they lose and the Seahawks win.
Long story short, almost every playoff team still has something to play for Week 17. Hopefully, that will lead to a fun final week of the regular season.
Desperation Station: Assuming Johnny Manziel does not get benched for his Christmas escapades, he would be a decent dart throw against a defense he lit up for 372 yards Week 10.
1. Bilal Powell, Jets – Bilal Powell played more snaps than Chris Ivory, who did miss some time with an injury, for the fourth time in six games. He started against New England and is the best bet for fantasy points in the Jets backfield.
2. Isaiah Crowell, Browns — Isaiah Crowell has averaged over 5.5 yards a carry in three of his last four games. Pittsburgh is a tough matchup, but so was Kansas City last week. Baltimore found quite a bit of success against the Steelers on the ground.
3. Cameron Artis-Payne, Panthers – With Fozzy Whittaker (ankle) out and Jonathan Stewart (foot) extremely questionable, Cameron Artis-Payne could be the clear lead against Tampa Bay. It is a bad matchup, but there is not much out there this time of year.
4. Mike Gillislee, Bills – Mike Gillislee played behind Karlos Williams, but he still saw 11 touches in the Bills’ run-heavy offense. The Jets are a terrible matchup, but Gillislee has shown a knack for the big play.
Desperation Station: Brandon Bolden handled most of the early-down work against Jets, but I have to wonder if Steven Jackson starts to see a bigger role as he feels more comfortable. It is a great matchup against the Dolphins. … Pierre Thomas has taken over the passing-down role. He would be worth a PPR look if Matt Jones sits out again. … Coach Gus Bradley made it seem like they wanted to get a look at Jonas Gray before the end of the season. He could have a bigger than expected role if T.J. Yeldon sits again. … DuJuan Harris was the 49ers’ most effective back Week 16, but Shaun Draughn and Mike Davis could return for the season finale. This is a situation to avoid. … Antonio Andrews was benched Week 16 for fumbling and coughing up the ball on an interception. David Cobb was out-snapped by Bishop Sankey with the Titans down big, but Cobb should handle the early-down work if Andrews’ benching lasts into the season finale. It would be smart for Tennessee to give Cobb a crack at the lead job anyway. … Travaris Cadet played behind Tim Hightower, but he was much more effective in the passing game than C.J. Spiller has been. Atlanta has given up the most receptions to running backs by a wide margin. … Donald Brown was bad against Oakland and gets Denver in the finale.
7. DeVante Parker, Dolphins – DeVante Parker is still working through some rookie kinks, but he keeps making big plays. Has at least five targets in each of the last five games and saw 10 looks last week.
Desperation Station: Roddy White is about as low floor as they get, but Matt Ryan is playing better and the matchup could not get any prettier. … It was garbage time, but Jermain Kearse finally found the end zone. He has 21 total targets the last three weeks. … Dontrelle Inman will likely be shut down by Denver, but he will get the targets if Stevie Johnson remains out. … Dorial Green-Beckham goose egged last week, and Zach Mettenberger is terrible. … Terrence Williams and Brice Butler should get targets, but I do not want to trust anyone in that passing game.
1. Zach Ertz, Eagles – Turns out if you use a good receiving tight end as a receiver he produces.
Desperation Station: Will Tye was not as involved as expected with Odell Beckham suspended, and, Jordan Reed aside, Philadelphia is pretty good against tight ends. … Jacob Tamme has not performed like we thought after Leonard Hankerson was put on injured reserve, but New Orleans has struggled against tight ends. … Ryan Griffin gets a cake matchup, but he has just three targets total the last two weeks. … Vance McDonald got back on the map with a touchdown last week, and the Rams have been vulnerable to tight ends.
1. Indianapolis Colts– Zach Mettenberger is that bad.
2. Washington Redskins– Kellen Moore is too.
3. New York Giants– Eagles have the second-most turnovers. Giants have the fifth-most takeaways.
3. Cairo Santos, Chiefs – Raiders have faced 12 field goals in the last three weeks.
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