Some late jockeying for playoff seeds in the regular season finales this week. The Vikings duke it out with the Packers for the NFC South title, while the Panthers and Patriots hunt for wins to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. While the NFC playoff picture is set, 2 spots remain in the AFC, as the Steelers and Jets vie for the final wildcard slot and the Texans and Colts chase AFC South honors. The fantasy goal of this week is identifying players with playoff/spoiler incentives to better gauge playing time.
Cam Newton, TB @ CAR, $7,500 – Cam has the chance to put an exclamation point on his MVP campaign and guarantee his Panthers home field for the postseason. He leads all QBs with 25.5 PPG and holds the top QB salary this week at $100 more than Tom Brady. Newton also leads the NFL with 41 TDs, with 8 of those on the ground. He’s 1-carry behind his single-season high of 127, and in Week 15 finished with 100 rushing yards for the 3rd time in his career. Now that the burden of the undefeated season has been lifted, Cam can afford to be more aggressive out there. The Panthers still need a win to avoid a potential NFC Championship visit to Arizona, so there’s plenty of incentive to finish on a high note.
Jeremy Maclin, OAK @ KC, $6,400 – The Chiefs could have jumped ahead to 1st in the AFC West if the Broncos didn’t pull out an OT victory on Monday night, but still have a shot at it this week. Maclin has revitalized the WR position in Kansas City that has long been an NFL laughing stock. In Week 3 he broke a 21-game scoreless streak for Chiefs WRs that dated back to 2013, and has added 6 more TDs since then. This is the 2nd consecutive 1,000-yard receiving effort for Maclin, who hit the milestone with the Eagles last season. He has stepped up as a playmaker in the absence of Jamaal Charles, with 36 catches and 5 TDs over the past 5 games. The Raiders allow the 5th most receiving yards to opponents (266 YPG) this year and Maclin should project to get a big chunk of that this weekend.
David Johnson, SEA @ ARI, $6,000 – With higher priced options Todd Gurley ($7,400) and Marshawn Lynch ($6,500) out, Johnson’s value gets a bump this week. He’s gashed defenses for over 120 yards in each of the past 4 games with 5 endzone trips. Johnson faces a Seahawks team on a 5-game win streak but that is already locked into the 6th seed regardless of this outcome. The Cardinals are playing for a chance at the NFC’s top spot, so its likely players will not be rested. Averaging 27 PPG the past 4 weeks, Johnson is a strong bet to produce again in Week 17. He has as much upside as any RB in the Cardinals high-flying offense, as they continue their surge into the postseason.
Danny Woodhead, SD @ DEN, $5,000 – Woodhead ranks 9th against the entire RB field with 15.3 PPG, and has topped 33 points twice this season. His 72 receptions are 4 short of his 2013 career-high, but are still more than any other RB besides Theo Riddick (76). With rookie Melvin Gordon on the shelf for the finale, Woodhead will continue to draw the looks in passing situations. He has executed the role to perfection adding 14 catches and 4 scores the past 2 weeks. The Chargers will look to play spoilers of sorts, with the chance to block the Broncos from earning a bye. Woodhead should be very involved in this effort and is listed affordably with the 16th RB price tag this week.
Tyler Lockett, SEA @ ARI, $4,400 – With counterpart Doug Baldwin likely receiving attention from Patrick Peterson, Lockett should be freed up for opportunities. He has been a dependable target for Russell Wilson in the 2nd half, stepping up as the team lost key players in Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, and Thomas Rawls. Lockett has drawn 7 targets in each of the past 4 games, turning those looks into 289 yards and 3 TDs. The rookie from Kansas State is still priced dirt-cheap at just $1,400 above the position minimum and possesses electric big-play upside.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB @ CAR, $4,200 – It has been a bizarre sophomore season for Seferian-Jenkins who shined in the opener with 110 yards and 2 scores. He went on to miss 9 games with a shoulder injury that didn’t appear to be as severe when initially diagnosed. He has become steadily more involved in the Bucs offense since his return, hauling in TDs in each of his last 2 games. Injuries have limited him to 15 games in his young career, but he seems to be developing chemistry with Jameis Winston and is a massive redzone target. ASJ is a low-cost option priced outside of the Top-10 TEs, who will need to be involved for Tampa Bay to have any shot of an upset in Carolina.
More to Consider
Charcandrick West, OAK @ KC, $5,700
Derek Carr, OAK @ KC, $5,300
John Brown, SEA @ ARI, $5,100
James Jones, MIN @ GB, $3,800
Vance McDonald, STL @ SF, $3,000
Tre Mason, STL @ SF, $3,000