Fantasy football championships are likely on the line as we approach the last week of the year; there’s no room left for error.
It’s week seventeen and the obvious can’t be overstated; it’s championship week. While some leagues may have already concluded in fear of star players not suiting up for the NFL’s last week in preparation for the playoffs, many other fantasy football leagues are still in play.
Some teams have already wrapped up division titles and wild card berths, while others are battling for their playoff lives. Some teams have nothing left to play for, so it impacts who you should start or sit going into your championship (or avoiding last place in the losers bracket).
Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots
Hogan has been quiet over the past two weeks, but could get back on track in week seventeen. New England is still playing for home field advantage in the playoffs, so don’t expect Tom Brady and company to take their foot off the gas. Conversely, Miami already has a wild card locked up, and doesn’t have much else to play for.
Miami’s middle of the road pass defense (thirteenth in the NFL) merits FLEX consideration for Hogan.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
The chances that you made it to your championship game with Bortles on your roster are slim. However, if you made it with the now injured Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota, you’re in need of a backup plan.
Bortles had one of his best games in a lost season last week, throwing for over 300 yards for just the fourth time all season. Facing an Indianapolis Colts defense that allows over 260 pass yards per game, turn to Bortles to be your week seventeen hero.
Coby Fleener, TE, New Orleans Saints
Fleener hasn’t eclipsed the 30 yard mark since week thirteen, but could be primed for a better game next week. The high powered Saints offense never quits regardless of what their record is, and will face an Atlanta team that ranks 26th against the pass and already has a division title locked up.
All signs point towards a bounce back effort from the former Stanford star.
Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions
Since week six, Tate has produced at least eight games of five catches or more. A forgotten man over the league’s first month, he now is one of the most integral parts of Detroit’s offense.
In a divisional showdown against Green Bay, Tate is positioned well against a Packer defense ranked 29th against the pass.
Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders know they’ll be playing football in January, but still have a chance to grab home field advantage with a win and a New England loss. How does it relate to Murray? Oakland’s number one back should be plenty busy with star QB Derek Carr lost for the season.
Denver’s vaunted defense has stifled the pass, but has allowed the 29th most rush yards per game which is an appetizing match-up for Murray.
Matt Moore, QB, Miami Dolphins
Although Ryan Tannehill isn’t expected back for a few more weeks, Moore isn’t a fantasy darling this week. Those who lost Carr or Mariota last week will need another QB, but Moore isn’t your guy.
The Dolphins don’t have much to play for with a wild card locked up and the division out of reach, so don’t look for Moore to have a big day against a respectable Patriots defense that won’t be making it easy with home field still to play for.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is a situation to monitor. Last week, the Bucs made Martin a healthy scratch with needs for their backup running backs to play special teams. Given his hamstring issues earlier in the season, the move also could have been injury related, although Martin wasn’t ruled out on the injury report.
Whether he plays next week or not remains to be seen. Regardless, he won’t have an easy task against a Carolina team that surrenders the fourth fewest rushing yards per game. You’ll want to monitor his status through the week.
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys
Witten has been in the NFL for a long time. With a division crown already in place, the Cowboys have little to play for in week seventeen. Look for the the 34 year old to get some rest before the Cowboys enter the postseason.
Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders
Crabtree has been a staple in Oakland’s offense all season, but his outlook for week seventeen isn’t great. He won’t have Derek Carr to throw him the ball and faces a Denver defense that allows the fewest yards per game (187.2).
For those of you with good receiver depth, you might want to sit Crabtree next week.
New York Giants Defense
The New York Giants head into week seventeen with little to play for. They’ve locked up the five seed in the NFC, and likely will rest some of their starters next week. Additionally, the Giants are also a much better defensive team at home, holding opponents to under 16 points on four different occasions.
They’ll take on a Redskins team fighting for their playoff lives. Although the much improved Giants defense has been hot lately, they aren’t the unit you want to start for fantasy football purposes.