Analysis Paralysis: Week 17 Start & Sit
I know most of you have either won or lost your fantasy championships by now, but for those of you who play in a weird (let's be honest, it's weird) league that likes to base it's champion on a bunch of meaningless Week 17 games, here's one last go at what I like to call Analysis Paralysis (or Sit/Start).
Since it's such a weird week of resting players, my biggest piece of advice for those of you still playing this week would be to target teams who are still playing for something. I'd much rather rely on Jay Cutler (who is trying to win the NFC North) than risk starting Matthew Stafford (who has a good matchup, but has nothing to play for). Trust me, there's nothing worse than having a player you're relying upon be removed in the third quarter of his game just because his team has nothing to play for.
It's been a crazy (and fun) season and I'd like to thank all of you for sticking around here and reading my ramblings. I won't sit here and claim that I hit on 100 percent of my Start/Sit recommendations (no one does), but I hope you've found some helpful nuggets of advice and/or entertainment in these last 17 articles. Thank you all again and good luck this week!
As always, here are the Week 17 players who I think deserve to be in your lineup (or on your bench):
The Championship 10
(10 non-obvious players who can help you bring home your league title)
Terrelle Pryor: Pryor hasn't started since Week 10, but he'll get the call against the Broncos this week. While the Broncos are still trying to lock up the top seed in the AFC, they're missing Von Miller and should give up plenty of fantasy points to Pryor, as he brings an added rushing ability to this matchup with his 7.1 YPC average. When Pryor was starting, he was consistently putting up around 15 points per week and should be able to duplicate that again this weekend.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: Over their last eight games, the Texans defense has allowed 2.25 passing touchdowns per game (that's not good) and Fitzpatrick is the quarterback who gets to benefit from that matchup in Week 17. He's basically stunk in two of his past three games (full disclosure alert!), but he did put up 30 fantasy points against a tough Cardinals defense two weeks ago, so I wouldn't mind rolling the dice on him on him this weekend if I were in a pinch.
Knile Davis: Have you been jealous watching Jamaal Charles wreak havoc on someone else's team all season? Well go pick up Knile Davis and watch him fill in for Charles (the Chiefs have nothing to play for this week) against a Chargers defense that has given up 10 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs in their last eight games. And the best part is that Davis is still available on most waiver wires.
Edwin Baker: An unstoppable force (term used loosely) meets a moveable force. Baker has scored a rushing touchdown in each of his last two games, and the Steelers have allowed five rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs. Baker is likely available on most waiver wires and his 4.02 YPC average should be able to do some damage this weekend.
Jarrett Boykin: Boykin is trending upward as the season comes to a close, and Aaron Rodgers is back just in time to help him capitalize on a juicy matchup against the Bears (who have allowed five touchdowns to opposing receivers in their past five games). Starting a Packers receiver is risky as one of the three (Boykin, Jordy Nelson, James Jones) will probably be disappointing, but Boykin has just as good a chance as any of the three to have a big game this weekend and comes at a much cheaper price on daily sites.
Brandon LaFell: LaFell has been disappointing as of late, but someone has to catch the ball with Steve Smith out this weekend. I wouldn't go betting my mortgage on LaFell having a big game, but he has a great matchup against Atlanta and should see at least a few targets with Smith out. There are safer options, to be sure, but we're looking for under-the-radar options here.
Martellus Bennett: The Bears are one of a few teams who are still playing for something, and Bennett has the added benefit of playing a Packers defense that has allowed a touchdown to opposing tight ends in three consecutive games (and four of their past five). Bennett hasn't found the endzone since Week 12, but I think we should see that change this weekend.
Marcedes Lewis: Outside of having one of the best names in sports, Lewis has caught a touchdown in four straight games (bet you didn't know that little tidbit). With Cecil Shorts out for the season, Lewis is arguably the best target that Chad Henne has, so Lewis should get plenty of chances to make it five straight games with a touchdown.
New England Patriots: The Patriots are one of the most depleted defenses in the league, but they still have something (a lot) to play for and are hosting the Bills at home, and they haven't lost to the Bills at home since World War II (OK, not really, but close). With Thad Lewis at the helm for the Bills this week, I like the Belichickians to do some damage.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are still battling for the sixth seed in the AFC and get to play a home game against the second-best offense a fantasy defense can play against. The Dolphins put up 17 fantasy points the last time they played the Jets, and I'd be surprised if they don't at least equal that this week.
The Consolation Five
(Five players who could help end your season with a loss)
Matt Ryan: Matty Ice has found his way onto this list a few times this season, so why should Week 17 be any different? He's playing without a full arsenal of weapons, he's struggled the entire second half of the season, and he's playing a Carolina defense that still has something to play for and has only allowed 10.7 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks (second-toughest in the league). Ryan should (keyword: should) be able to post more than the six fantasy points he put up against the Panthers the last time he played them, but do you really want to bank on that? I don't.
Ray Rice: Rice only topped 100 rushing yards once all season. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 11. And Bernard Pierce actually played more snaps than Rice in Week 16. To add insult to injury, the Bengals have only allowed three rushing touchdowns all season and are the third-toughest team for a fantasy running back to face. Stick a fork in 2013 for Ray Rice. He's done.
Hakeem Nicks: Have those of you who have stuck with this column for 17 weeks noticed my disdain for Hakeem Nicks yet? In case it wasn't obvious, here's one last recommendation to sit him. His next touchdown this season will be his first on the year, he did NOTHING in a GREAT matchup last weekend, he's really only had three good games all season, and he was out-targeted by Jerrel Jernigan last week. No thanks.
Antonio Gates: The name-brand value is here, but that's about it. Gates hasn't scored since Week 11 and actually hasn't put up more than 50 yards since then either. He's basically become the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, as he's regressed back to being a fantasy baby as we've approached the end of the fantasy season AND has to face the toughest defense a fantasy tight end can face. Stay away.
Kansas City Chiefs: The San Diego Chargers have let opposing fantasy defense score a "whopping" 2.6 fantasy points per game against them over their past five game. While the Chiefs may still be the highest scoring defense in fantasy for the season (tied with the Seahawks), this isn't the week to start them as they have a tough matchup and will mostly likely be resting starters since they have nothing to play for.
That's it for this week (and the season), but leave any start/sit questions you have in the comments section below, and I'll make sure to get back to you before Sunday. Good luck in your finals matchup this weekend if you're still playing and thanks for a great season, everyone!