Well, folks. It has come time to crown a winner of your fantasy football leagues. While some leagues don’t commence until Week 18 (for some outrageous reason), every player named in today’s article can make or break your roster this week. Just remember to be extra vigilant this week with news on your players. You never know when a surprise injury or COVID-19 can knock a player out of his game. That’s part of the reason why I include multiple players for you to consider at each position.
Start: Matthew Stafford at BAL
I’d say there are 8-9 quarterbacks you can start every week in fantasy. Stafford should be one of them, but he only scored 6.7 points in what should’ve been an easy matchup against the Vikings. It also came a week after a so-so performance versus the Seahawks. Despite the underwhelming string of games, you can confidently fire up Stafford in your starting lineups this week. He faces a Baltimore defense that’s allowed the most points to quarterbacks this season. They also just got cooked by Joe Burrow and the Bengals. Need I say more?
Other Players to Consider: Trey Lance vs. HOU, Justin Fields vs. NYG (if he plays)
Sit: Ryan Tannehill vs. MIA
Tannehill isn’t one of those quarterbacks who’s a must-start every week. He usually teeters on QB1 territory, though. If you’re deciding on starting Tannehill this week, you should strongly reconsider. Forget the fact that Tannehill’s hit 20 points just two times. He faces a Dolphins defense that’s allowed the fourth-fewest points to quarterbacks this season. That includes holding Lamar Jackson to just 15 points a few weeks ago—Jackson has averaged 20 points per game. In a week where most quarterback decisions seem pretty easy, look elsewhere if you have Tannehill. Trey Lance and Justin Fields (if he plays) are much better options.
Other Players to Consider: Tua Tagovailoa at TEN, Kirk Cousins at GB
Start: Damien Harris vs. JAX
I know sometimes I tell you to be cautious about one huge game, but after Harris dropped 28.3 points on Buffalo, he deserves to be started in all formats. The reason: He’s the go-to running back in New England. Aside from seeing more overall work than Brandon Bolden and Rhamondre Stevenson—both of whom have missed time recently—Harris has seen the sixth-highest percentage of runs within the 10-yard line. So he’s a real threat to score every game. No wonder he’s found the end zone in all but one game since Week 5. It doesn’t even matter that the Jaguars have allowed just three running backs to score since Week 11. Expect the Patriots to hand the ball off often in this matchup. That’s music to the ears of Harris’ fantasy managers.
Other Players to Consider: Darrel Williams at CIN, Devin Singletary vs. ATL, Rashaad Penny vs. DET
Sit: Michael Carter vs. TB
Carter looked pretty good against the Jaguars in Week 16. He ran for 118 yards and scored 14.4 points. With how scarce reliable running backs are at this point in the season, I don’t blame you for considering starting Carter again. Here’s the thing: The Jaguars are a bad team. The Buccaneers are not. Shocking, I know. Relying on garbage time production or a massive upset isn’t a sound strategy, either. This is still a Tampa Bay defense that’s eighth in FPA (Fantasy Points Allowed) to running backs. Even if Carter sees 74% of the Jets’ snaps again, don’t expect a huge game from him. If you don’t have a rock-solid RB2 or flex in your roster, you’re still better off targeting players with higher upside.
Other Players to Consider: Devonta Freeman at LAR, Rex Burkhead at SF, Cam Akers at BAL
Start: Odell Beckham Jr. at BAL
Breaking News: Odell is back. He’s scored four touchdowns in the last five games and has been WR17 in that span. Now, Beckham has only seen a few more targets than Van Jefferson. Luckily, it doesn’t matter. The Rams’ passing offense is too efficient to outcast any of their three main receivers. And who do they have on deck in Week 17? The worst passing defense in football in terms of fantasy points. Expect Los Angeles to throw all over Baltimore and for Beckham to be a huge benefactor. He’s someone who should be in your lineups.
Other Players to Consider: Brandin Cooks at SF, Christian Kirk at DAL, K.J. Osborn at GB
Sit: Chase Claypool vs. CLE
As the NFL season winds down, a player’s name value should hold less weight. That’s especially true in Week 17. (Remember when I said you should cut Terry McLaurin?) Claypool’s had a few nice games in the last couple of months, but generally, he’s been far too shaky to start each week. Interestingly enough, Claypool hasn’t scored since Week 5, which is his lone touchdown in 2021. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t doing Claypool any favors, either. Neither is his matchup this week. The Browns are fifth in FPA to wideouts, so it’s best to keep Claypool firmly on your bench. I can’t see this being one of his ‘boom’ weeks.
Other Players to Consider: Russell Gage at BUF, Broncos WRs at LAC
Start: Gerald Everett vs. DET
If you’ll allow me, I’d like to share what I wrote about Everett in my waiver column earlier in the week: “When I think of Everett, I think of his three infamous turnovers in Week 13. What we should think of Everett, though, is that he’s a TE1. After all, that's what he's been since Week 10. I know D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett haven’t been the healthiest duo in recent weeks, but even with both of them on the field Sunday, Everett still managed to see the second-most targets on the team (tied with Metcalf). If he’s still available, he’s an easy pick-up-and-start for the rest of the season.”
Other Players to Consider: Foster Moreau at IND, Tyler Higbee at BAL
Sit: Evan Engram at CHI
Tight ends… they can be quite the headache. Oftentimes, you can feel inclined to ride the hot hand with the position. With how thin the position is, I use the term “hot hand” loosely. Engram’s 11.7 points made him TE7 in Week 16. I know I say this every week, but yuck. It doesn’t help that the Bears have allowed the fifth-fewest points to tight ends this season, either. Unless you have one of the top tight ends (there’s like, seven of them), find a new tight end to start. Engram isn’t going to cut it, especially since he’s been a TE1 just twice in the last six games.
Other Players to Consider: Tyler Conklin at GB, Jared Cook vs. DEN