Pretty great that fantasy doesn’t have to be over yet, huh? So take your first look at some Week 17 prices while this weekend’s action is still fresh in your mind – which teams have quit, which seem to think they still have a chance, which at least seem to be playing with some pride. It’s a lot to consider, on top of all the information that goes into the final decision about who makes your lineup.
Tom Brady @ MIA ($7,400) – I would like this pick a lot more if he had either Amendola or Edelman, because he needs that safety valve who can open near the line. But with the running game faltering and the Pats needing this game to secure home-field advantage after yesterday’s loss to the Jets, I would be surprised if Tom didn’t have at least two touchdowns against this Dolphins squad. He’s a very safe cash game play.
Ben Roethlisberger @ CLE ($6,900) – Ben and this entire passing attack are coming off a seriously down day, one that likely ended both the daily fantasy and year-long fantasy hopes and dreams of many a player. And with the loss, the Steelers are now on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, needing help to even get in the door, so let’s throw in the hopes and dreams of the entire city of Pittsburgh. Because, really, no one wants to play these guys in the playoffs. And for them, the playoffs now come down to next week. I wouldn’t want to be Cleveland.
Alex Smith vs. OAK ($5,100) – You have to be careful with these less expensive options next week – I would love to write about Kirk Cousins here, but with the Skins locked in as the 4 seed, you just have no idea how much he plays. I would like Jay Cutler if you could tell me for sure Alshon and some of his other options would be playing, but you can’t (because they probably won’t). Smith is not a sexy pick, but with the AFC West title on the line, you can be reasonably sure they are going to be playing at full tilt, which should make him a consistent option to get you 15-20 fantasy points, a solid cash-game choice.
Brock Osweiler vs. SD ($5,100) – I hate writing about guys before they’ve played, but suffice it to say that whatever happens against the Bengals on Monday Night Football, the game against the Chargers is going to go much differently. Those are two completely different levels of defense. The big question here will be whether Peyton plays – who do they want for the playoffs, and if the answer is Peyton, does he need a game to get warm? Because whatever the decision, the Broncos are going to be serious about winning this one with the division title up for grabs.
DeAngelo Williams @ CLE ($7,100) – As good as Big Ben, Antonio Brown and the other receivers have been for this team, DeAngelo has been perhaps their most consistent performer during the time he’s been installed as the starter this year. He had 100 yards and two scores in this one as the lone bright spot on a down day, and he has only been under 20 fantasy points four times all season long (and only one of those four was under 15).
Adrian Peterson @ GB ($7,200) – This is very clearly the game of the weekend: with both of these squads coming in at 10-5, the NFC North title and a home playoff game are at stake. The loser will still make the playoffs, but the stakes should still make for compelling drama. AP just had 22 carries for 104 yards and a TD in a blowout win agains the Giants, and the Viking will continue to lean on him to try to make a statement against everyone’s preseason presumptive division-winning Packers.
Tim Hightower @ ATL ($5,500) – Forget about his story, the whole “out of football” thing and everything else. He’s proven himself to be a talented guy, still. So forget the name and just know that he is the talented backup to Mark Ingram, who was productive all season long in this offense, and who is now getting all of the touches on a sometimes-explosive offense. He’s had at least 16 total touches in each of the last three games, and well over 20 in two of those, being used as the work-horse runner as well as someone they trust in the passing game. After 122 yards and two scores yesterday, you know the upside is there in a good matchup with the Falcons.
Darren McFadden vs. WAS ($4,900) – The touchdowns have been hard to come by. Obviously, or the Cowboys would be better. But in a divisional matchup, against a Washington team that seems poised to be the unexpected representative of the NFC East in the playoffs, and I think all of that will have this offense sufficiently motivated to keep plugging away, and that has included 100 yard games from McFadden in 3 straight games. If he can break through for that score, you’re getting a great value.
Antonio Brown @ CLE ($9,300) – I just don’t see it happening twice in a row. I get it, the Steelers offense might very well have just cost you a championship. And, I have an urge to just write about four expensive wide receivers right now and leave the values out of it, because so many of these top guys are appealing (you could make a compelling argument for Beckham, Marshall, Hopkins or Robinson). But the Steelers are going to be desperate for the win to at least give themselves a chance at the postseason, and when Ben is desperately trying to make a play, Antonio is always the first place he looks.
Julio Jones vs. NO ($8,500) – The Falcons are technically still alive in the playoff race, and Julio is a big part of the reason why, with his 9-catch, 178-yard performance (with a TD) against the Panthers yesterday to get his team a W in a game everyone had checked off as a loss. And, quite obviously, the Saints are a big step backwards from the Panthers. All you really needed to know was that Julio was healthy – which he certainly demonstrated yesterday – for you to be 100% confident getting him in your lineups for this one.
Eric Decker @ BUF ($6,500) – Decker has been the perfect guy this year to just fill in as “Jets receiver” when they have a good matchup and you can’t seem to scrape together the budget to afford Marshall. Decker has been consistent – he now has twelve touchdowns, but spread out almost perfectly, with one touchdown in twelve of fifteen games on the season. He only has one 100-yard game, but in a PPR format, he has eight games with six or more receptions. Six catches and a score is basically his floor, in other words. For $6,500, playing for playoff implications, against a Bills team that hasn’t played a good game in weeks, I’ll take it.
John Brown vs. SEA ($5,100) – There are some risky upside plays pried cheaper than this on the board (think someone like James Jones against Minnesota for $3,800), but Brown is the cheapest receiver I’m actually going to feel confident using next week (at least, potentially). Confident might seem like a strange word to use for a receiver with some drop issues going up against a top-5 defense, but this Cardinals offense is clicking – they’re not all getting shut down. Floyd and Fitzgerald fit much more traditionally into the Seahawks defensive wheelhouse. It’s not easy to just leave a defender locked on him with so many other guys to worry about, and despite his issues with drops, he is a game-breaking talent that could make all the difference in this matchup. The big potential issue, however, is that if the Panthers win at 1:00 against TB, the Cardinals will be locked into the #2 seed, so be sure to check that all their starters (especially Palmer and, of course, Brown) are expected to get their full complement of work.
Rob Gronkowski @ MIA ($7,400) – He’s the only tight end in the top 5 with anything to play for, and if yesterday is any indication, the Pats will need him to perform if they want that #1 seed. With a first-round bye locked up, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Edelman and Amendola were out another week, but the Pats will want to win, which means, logically, Gronk is likely going to be the centerpiece of the offensive gameplan. He hasn’t had the explosive games that win you a week too often this year, but he is always involved and productive, which makes him the safest play on the board, if you can afford him.
Travis Kelce vs. OAK ($4,700) – He got on the board with a touchdown yesterday, his first since Week 12. But he has been battling some nagging injuries all year long, and now with six catches in each of his last two, it appears that he might be getting right at the perfect time for the Chiefs (and for your fantasy team), providing a go-to option at a thin position down the stretch.
Zach Miller vs. DET ($4,600) – The Bears might be out of the playoff picture, but they have not really been a contender for a while, and have still managed to stay competitive, with Cutler having a very solid season. Yesterday, with no Alshon Jeffrey, Miller led the team in targets and receptions, and he now has had at least five catches in each of the last three games. That could easily be the case again next week against one of the worst five defenses at stopping tight ends from scoring fantasy points this season.
Kyle Rudolph @ GB ($3,500) – The Vikings’ passing game is not exactly prolific, but Teddy Bridgewater has been playing much better ball of the past few weeks, and Rudolph is one of their most important targets when their offense is clicking on all cylinders. He is perfectly capable of being a safety valve over the middle capable of catching 5-10 balls almost every game, while also being athletic enough to turn one or two of those into big gainers. Even without a score, he has a good chance to get you 6-9 fantasy points, usable at this price.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. OAK ($4,000) – One of the two most expensive defenses on the board for a reason, you have to love getting one of the hottest teams in the NFL at home, with something to play for, on the last week of the season. Especially matched up against an Oakland offense that is sputtering down the stretch, and prone to both low-scoring games and turnovers lately. It’s the perfect storm, so if you have a little cash left over after looking at the other positions, this is not a bad way to spend it.
St. Louis Rams @ SF ($3,000) – I mean, this almost feels like nothing more than creating a reason to want to watch this game at all. But the Rams always seem to get up for divisional opponents, and if yesterday is any indication, they plan on ending the regular season playing with some pride, no matter the lack of playoff implications. The 49ers offense is, frankly, terrible, and their defense has been playing well enough at home that this will likely be a low-scoring game, with the potential for multiple turnovers. Perfect.