The season finale is upon us.
2017 has been an odd fantasy season for a multitude of reasons. The injury angle has been covered extensively, but over one-quarter of the NFL’s starting QBs coming into Week 1 have missed significant time or the entire season. Meanwhile, Todd Gurley likely led millions of less competitive rosters to rings, too, as his 123.1 PPR points scored during Weeks 14-16 are the most all-time. There are layers of analysis yet to do this offseason, but the 2017 fantasy year genuinely looks like an outlier from various viewpoints.
We still have Week 17 to play, though. If you're still vying for a championship of your own or are just swimming in the DFS waters for one last taste of a full 16-game slate, let's hit the news.
Perhaps the biggest storyline of the Week 17 fantasy slate is Melvin Gordon's (ankle) status. Gordon was apparently around the ‘Bolts facility in a walking boot over the Holiday weekend, and he did not practice on Wednesday. If he can't suit up for the Chargers’ Week 17 home game against the Raiders, Los Angeles will turn to Branden Oliver for most of their RB duties. Austin Ekeler practiced in full on Wednesday, but he's still dealing with a broken hand. It is obviously an attractive spot regardless of who starts at running back for the ‘Bolts this weekend. The Chargers are one of few teams in Week 17 with a clear motivation, as they need a win and a Titans loss versus the Jags' to get into the dance via the Wild Card. Plus, Oakland has allowed a top-24 (RB2 or better) scoring week 13 times in 15 games this year. Branden Oliver will be a floor RB2 at worst attached to a high-upside offense if Gordon misses Week 17.
Another main story this week is whether Mike Mularkey will push veteran RB DeMarco Murray through injury yet again. Murray could not walk off of the field under his own power after sustaining a sprained MCL (knee) in Week 16, but Mularkey hinted that the Titans are holding out hope that Murray can play in Week 17 against Jacksonville. It's a long shot. Meanwhile, Henry has unquestionably been more efficient, explosive and effective this year on his workload. The Jaguars’ run defense has undoubtedly stiffened when compared to their season-long figures, but they have still allowed 4.33 YPC over the last five weeks (14th-most). If Murray misses, Henry will be a high-upside RB1 attached to a home-favorite in Week 17 and will be one of few plays at the postion where his team's playoff motivation is transparent.
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In other running back news, Joe Mixon (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday and is in deep jeopardy of missing Week 17. Mixon missed Week 14 and 15, too, in which Gio Bernard dominated the Bengals' team share of RB carries (76%) and snaps (87%). When Mixon left early in Week 16, Bernard resumed his dominate role, playing on 85% of snaps and logging a season-high 30 opportunities (attempts plus targets) and 168 yards from scrimmage. Bernard and the Bengals are 10.5-point underdogs in Week 17, but the Ravens have allowed the eighth-most receptions, fifth-most PPG and the most PPR points per RB touch to the position over the last five weeks. If Mixon misses, Bernard is a locked-in, high-end RB2.
In more predictable news, HC Andy Reid confirmed Patrick Mahomes will start in place of Alex Smith in Week 17 as the Chiefs rest most of their key starters in a meaningless game versus Denver. Kansas City is locked into the No. 4 seed and can't advance past Jacksonville (No. 3 seed) in the AFC playoff hunt. Mahomes owned PFF's No. 2 overall QB Rating in the preseason when the pocket was kept clean (128.3), and we all know his added rushing value as he ran for 845 yards and 22 TDs in three years at Texas Tech in college. Against a Denver side that has been drawing dead toward the playoffs since November, Mahomes is an intriguing fantasy play in Week 17, especially at the minimum price on FanDuel.
As expected, HC Sean McVay said that Todd Gurley and Jared Goff will not play at all in Week 17 versus the 49ers. It makes sense. The Rams can't advance their seeding since they have locked up the NFC West. Goff's absence will lead to a spot start from Sean Mannion, while Gurley's workhorse role will likely lead to Malcolm Brown getting the starting nod, but the Rams could very well get an extra look at Justin Davis and Lance Dunbar, too. While the young, innovative HC Sean McVay is adamant that the Rams will not play their starters in a game in which they can't achieve anything, the Jaguars find themselves in a similar situation. However, "Football Man" Doug Marrone remains steadfast that the Jags will not rest starters in Week 17 versus Tennessee, even though Jacksonville is locked into the No. 3 seed in the AFC. It's tough to buy, especially for a key starter like Leonard Fournette, who has been banged up all year with ankle and quad issues. Coach-speak aside, it'd be shocking if the Jags did not rest at least a few key starters in Week 17.
Offensive Quick Hits
Giants TE Evan Engram escaped Week 16 with just bruised ribs. He didn’t practice Wednesday. Sterling Shepard (neck) also did not practice Wednesday. … Jordy Nelson (shoulder) did not practice on Wednesday. … Davante Adams remains in the league’s concussion protocol… Meanwhile, Aaron Jones (knee) is not expected to play in Week 17. … DeSean Jackson (ankle) returned to practice Wednesday. Cameron Brate (back) DNP. ... Mike Gillislee (knee) did not practice Wednesday. Also, Rex Burkhead (knee) remained sidelined at Wednesday's practice. … HC Jack Del Rio said Michael Crabtree injured his hamstring Week 16 against the Eagles. … Dolphins placed WR Leonte Carroo on reserve/NFI, ending his season. … Emmanuel Sanders (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. … Jeremy Maclin (knee) remained sidelined at Wednesday's practice. … Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ribs. foot) did not practice Wednesday. … Jermaine Kearse (ankle) is not practicing Wednesday.
Defensive Quick Hits
According to the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud, teammates and coaches believe Bucs DT Chris Baker's effort has been poor since signing with the team. … Giants placed MLB B.J. Goodson on injured reserve with a leg injury, ending his season. … Colts placed CB Rashaan Melvin on injured reserve with a hand injury, ending his season. … Giants CB Eli Apple is suspended for Week 17 against the Redskins.