I want to thank everyone for reading my article this year. It’s been a great season.
In Week 17 I’m willing to take some shots on teams in games that don’t matter, but I will mainly be focusing on teams with something to play for. It's also extra important to pay attention to the inactive players this week, as there could be an edge to gain on both sides of the ball.
Cash Game Targets
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Cincinnati Bengals
I think it's a good week to pay up for Big Ben in cash games. This is a must win game for the Steelers, and they face a Cincinnati defense that is 28th in DVOA against the pass. The Bengals are also allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and meanwhile the Steelers are throwing the ball 44.5 times per game, which leads the NFL this season. Big Ben is averaging 322.8 passing yards per game, which also leads the NFL. He has a super high floor in this matchup, so I love the idea of paying up for him this weekend.
Lamar Jackson vs. Cleveland Browns
I mentioned above that it's important to target players in games that matter, and Baltimore controls its own destiny this weekend against the Browns. If the Ravens win this game, they make the playoffs, and if they lose and the Steelers win, they're out. In a short period of time as the starter, Jackson leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards and carries per game. He's been a top 15 fantasy quarterback in every start this season. I like his rushing upside in this matchup against the Browns, and it doesn't hurt he's coming off a career-best 204 passing yards against the Chargers last weekend.
Patrick Mahomes vs. Oakland Raiders
It is a gift to fantasy players all over that the Chiefs have something to play for in Week 17. They have to win to lock up home field throughout the playoffs, and they draw an excellent matchup at home against the Raiders, who rank 31st in DVOA against the pass and are allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Mahomes threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns in Week 13 against the Raiders. He was the top scoring quarterback that week, and I wouldn't be shocked if that happens again this weekend.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Detroit Lions
I talked about Rodgers last week, and it certainly paid off with his biggest game of the season. He threw the ball 55 times against the Jets last weekend and matched his season-high of 442 yards that he put up against the Lions in Detroit. Rodgers said he wants to be out there with his team in the final week, and I like the fact that this game is in Green Bay. This hasn't been the best season for Rodgers overall, but this is a great opportunity for him to end on a strong note. The Lions have really struggled against the pass this season, and they continue to rank 32nd in DVOA against the pass.
Cash Game Targets
Saquon Barkley vs. Dallas Cowboys
The Giants don't have anything to play for, but Barkley is in the running for Rookie of the Year and needs a strong performance this weekend. Dallas is locked into its playoff spot, so I'd be shocked if the starters play a lot in this game. Despite the talks of him struggling recently, Barkley has been a top 10 running back in four of the last six games. I think the Giants want him to win Rookie of the Year, and one big game would be beneficial for him to finish the season. All in all, I don't like a lot of the top end running backs this week, so I don't mind paying down at running back either.
Jeff Wilson Jr. @ Los Angeles Rams
Wilson filled in for Breida in Week 14 against the Broncos and had 90 yards on 23 carries. He's averaging 4.1 yards per carry this season and has caught 12 of 15 targets. I don't expect the 49ers to win this game, but I do expect them to keep playing hard. The coach said he was using the last few weeks to evaluate players for next season, and they've generally been playing hard all season. Plus, they have an opportunity to potentially keep a division opponent from locking in a first round bye.
James Conner vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Conner is listed as questionable coming into this game, but after practicing all week, I'd be shocked if he doesn't play his normal role in this offense. There is a lot of risk involved with this pick, but I love the upside in a must win game. He faces a defense that is 28th in DVOA against the run and is also allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. If Conner is active, he will be one of my highest owned running backs this weekend.
C.J. Anderson vs. San Francisco 49ers
I think you can play Anderson in all formats this weekend with the news that Todd Gurley will not play. Anderson made quick work of the Arizona run defense last weekend and finished the game with 167 rushing yards on 20 carries. As for this week's matchup, the 49ers are allowing the 11th-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. The Rams can lock in a first round bye with a win in this game, so expect them to control the clock if they get up in this game.