Beware of Week 17 (Non) Starters as Teams May Rest Key Players
Week 17 is like a chance meeting with an ex: it’s awkward, likely has no meaning toward your bigger goals along with the chance someone else is filling the role you once did.
Granted, there are meaningful games, but if you’re a Todd Gurley owner your Fantasy world feels pretty damn empty. After all, you probably would not be there without him. The same emotions can also be applied to DeAndre Hopkins and Kareem Hunt owners, as they will spend Sunday scoring just as many points as you will watching and cursing in front of your television.
You can still win this week. You just have to know which role players have the potential to step to the forefront and deliver. That’s where I come in.
Yes, No, Maybe (Subtitle: See Ya 35 Weeks From Now)
[caption id="attachment_262043" align="alignright" width="399"] Derrick Henry could be in for a monster game, especially if the Jaguars rest their starters for the playoffs. Credit: AP Photo/Michael Conroy[/caption]
Yes: More like yes, please and thank you when it comes to LeSean McCoy, who has three games of better than 21 Fantasy points in the last six weeks and faces a Dolphins run defense that is 29th in average Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs. With the Bills vying for a playoff spot, expect Shady to break off over 100 yards from scrimmage for the fourth time in the last five weeks.
No: Colts running back Frank Gore has some RB2 appeal, but not here. As putrid as the Texans’ defense has been this season, they still do a good job of putting the kibosh on opposing running backs. H-Town is seventh in fewest average Fantasy points per allowed to their opposition’s lead back and held Gore to just 51 yards on 17 carries in a Week 9 loss. Besides, don’t be shocked if the Colts use this game to give potential future back Marlon Mack a glimpse into his 2018 season.
Maybe: With DeMarco Murray out, Derrick Henry gets the bulk of the carries for the Titans in a must-win game against a Jaguars team that may or may not mail this one in. J-Ville is 14th in fewest average Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing backs, yet, they allowed the 49ers to tally 131 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns last week. If the Jags are sitting out their starters, then plug Murray into your lineup.
Come On, Come On, Come On and Touch (and Target) Me, Baby (One More Time)
Michael Thomas, WR, Saints: Trust me, he’s going to get more than the five targets he received last week. The Buccaneers are dead last in Fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers and it also stands to reason that in a must-win scenario for the Saints, Thomas will do much better than the eight-catch, 65-yard effort he had against Tampa Bay in Week 9.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos: The Chiefs’ pass defense was Fantasy-friendly in games that mattered. With Kansas City having little to play for, this should be a heck of an opportunity for Thomas, who has managed just one game of double-digit Fantasy production over the past five weeks, to end the season on a positive note.
Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: He’s caught touchdown passes in each of his last two games and ends the season (and perhaps his career) against a Raiders team that is 27th in average Fantasy points allowed per game to tight ends. The Bolts are playing for the last playoff spot in the AFC, so if Gates is involved early into the flow of the game, he could deliver one more gem in what has been a Canton-bound career.
Alex Collins, RB, Ravens: The last two weeks have produced a combined 10 Fantasy points from Collins, but a strong end is in the offing against a Bengals defense that is 30th in Fantasy points allowed to opposing runners. Baltimore is bidding to host a wild card game next week and will look to give Collins at least 17 touches for a sixth straight week.
Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers: Whether he’s keeping the seat warm for Saquon Barkley is a subject for another day. For now, Hyde comes into the finale against the Rams having scored touchdowns in two of his last three games. Did we also mention that the Rams are a mere 27th in average Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs?
JuJu Smith Schuster, WR, Steelers: In his last two games, Schuster has caught 12 of his 13 targets for 189 yards and a touchdown. With home field throughout the AFC playoffs still a possibility, the Steelers aren’t going to ease up on a Browns team destined for an 0-16 season.
Gimme a Sleeper (Bonus Edition)!
Mack Hollins, WR, Eagles: Expect to see him get a fair share of targets once Philly sits their starters. Hollins averages 15.5 yards per catch and has three receptions of better than 20 yards among his 13 receptions.
Malcolm Brown, RB, Rams: Brown has just 49 carries this season but should be a strong Flex option considering he’s facing a 49ers defense that is 28th in average Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing backs.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: Dallas will do all they can to pair him against beleaguered corner Jalen Mills. If this, as some believe, is Bryant’s final game with the Cowboys, it will be a memorable one if Mills is chasing him all day.
Stephen Anderson, TE, Texans: I get the sense Anderson could be a 2018 sleeper. With Hopkins out of the lineup, Anderson should give us a sneak preview as he faces a Colts defense that is 24th in Fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends.
Josh Doctson, WR, Redskins: He had a season-high 13 targets in last week’s loss to the Broncos but gets a friendlier secondary in the form of the Giants, who are 23rd in Fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts.
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