Week 17 brings an end to the 2017 regular season on the same day that we celebrate the end of 2017 altogether. This week’s action includes many of the game’s top players sitting out, while other teams chased their playoff dreams up until the final seconds. Meanwhile, several coaches were leading their team for the final time. Here’s an abbreviated version of the rundown of all the mayhem that was Week 17.
The game had no playoff implications, but featured two teams with a head coach on the hot seat. The Colts leaned on their running game as veteran RB Frank Gore failed to break the 1,000-yard barrier for the tenth time, but did rush for 100 yards. Rookie RB Marlon Mack chipped in 38 total yards and a touchdown. WR T.Y. Hilton (3/14) had another down day as the Colts passing game was invisible, but Hilton did get into things with Texans DB Jonathan Joseph and both players should have been ejected for throwing punches. The way the NFL has handled things this season, I wouldn’t be surprised if the two were suspended for the 2018 season opener.
The Texans had little going on offense as WR DeAndre Hopkins sat out and the team’s other top WR Will Fuller left the game early with a knee injury. It is noteworthy that backup RB Alfred Blue led the team with 18 attempts for 39 yards and a score, compared to 8/37 for starting RB Lamar Miller. Miller has been rumored as a possible cap casualty this off-season.
Following the game, the Colts announced that HC Chuck Pagano had been fired, while the Texans announced GM Rick Smith would be taking a leave of absence and HC Bill O’Brien will head up a search for his replacement. O’Brien had been a rumored candidate for other head coach openings, but a vote of confidence from starting QB Deshaun Watson might have been the difference maker…he’ll be back next year.
New England- 26
NY Jets- 6
The Patriots needed a win to clinch the top overall seed in the AFC and home field advantage through the AFC playoffs. Although QB Tom Brady and the offense started slowly, things eventually picked up and they cruised to yet another win over AFC East foe New York. Brady finished with 190 passing yards and two touchdowns, though his top weapon, TE Rob Gronkowski surprisingly finished the game without a single target. Brady fed WR Brandin Cooks (5/79/1) while RB Dion Lewis did work on the ground. Lewis was the last back left with RBs Rex Burkhead, James White and Mike Gillislee all inactive. Lewis totaled 133 yards and two scores, making him the top-scoring fantasy RB for the week.
The Jets were without veteran RB Matt Forte, but RB Bilal Powell couldn’t do much after the Jets fell behind. He totaled just 56 scoreless yards for the game. Although the Jets media let us know early on not to expect backup QB Christian Hackenberg, it was still a surprise to see QB Bryce Petty play the entire game. Hackenberg, a former second-round pick, has now been in the league for two seasons without taking a snap. It would be a surprise if he is with the team in 2018. WR Robby Anderson (1/2) was forced from the game with a concussion and did not return. Before Sunday’s action even began, the Jets HC Todd Bowles, along with GM Mike Maccagnan, got the ultimate vote of confidence as the team gave each a two-year contract extension. There had been rumors that one or both could be let go, but that won’t be happening now.
The Eagles had already clinched the top overall seed in the NFC and were simply playing out a meaningless game in the final week of the regular season. It was technically meaningless for the Cowboys, too, as they had already been eliminated from playoff contention in their disappointing season. The game was scoreless into the fourth quarter, the first time that had happened in an NFL game in nearly ten years. Dallas broke the tie when a struggling QB Dak Prescott hit WR Brice Butler for a 20-yard score early in the final quarter. RB Ezekiel Elliott rushed 27 times for 103 yards and added 38 yards as a receiver. In what some are predicting could be his final game as a Cowboy, WR Dez Bryant caught just three of eight targets for 24 yards.
There’s not much to take away from the Eagles, who rested many key players and brought in backup QB Nate Sudfeld in place of starting QB Nick Foles after a few series. Neither player looked especially fluid and most of the Eagles key pass-catchers made any impact in their limited work. The team was led by rookie WR Mack Hollins, catching three passes for 25 yards. The Eagles will get to rest next week, but many think they are vulnerable to be upset playing without their star QB Carson Wentz.
NY Giants- 18
Yet another meaningless game featured a pair of NFC East rivals who won’t be reaching the playoffs this season. Both star quarterbacks could be playing their last game for their respective teams as veteran QB Eli Manning’s future is uncertain with new leadership on the way in, while Redskins QB Kirk Cousins is set to enter free agency once again. The Giants took the early lead and never really let Washington back in the game, though no one seemed too upset by this. RB Orleans Darkwa carried the New York offense, rushing for 154 yards, including a long 75-yard touchdown on the opening drive. Rookie RB Wayne Gallman added 89 rushing yards, as well. The Giants were without WR Sterling Shepard and surprisingly didn’t use WR Roger Lewis, despite making him active for the game.
The Redskins lost rookie RB Samaje Perine early in the game and then leaned on RB Kapri Bibbs, who led the team in both rushing and receiving, totaling 110 scoreless yards for the game. Cousins failed to throw a touchdown and was picked off three times. WR Josh Doctson was once again quite inefficient, catching only four of his 10 targets for 37 yards.
Green Bay- 11
The Lions sure looked like a playoff team on Sunday, crushing the Packers in the season finale. If you leaned on the Lions playmakers in your fantasy matchup, you probably came out ahead. QB Matthew Stafford threw for 323 yards and three scores, while his trio of talented WRs all had nice games, including Golden Tate (7/104/1), Marvin Jones (4/81/1) and rookie Kenny Golladay (2/80/1). The Lions running game was much more suspect, as has been the case all season. Rookie RB Tion Green looked like the leader of the committee, leading the team with nine carries, but he only gained 21 yards. They will continue to look for help in the backfield this off-season.
The Packers were without WRs Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson, along with rookie RB Aaron Jones, so it is no surprise that the offense looked inept for much of the day. QB Brett Hundley struggled again, throwing for 172 yards and a pair of interceptions. WR Randall Cobb was almost the last many standing and he hauled in the one Packers score for the day, among his 4/45 receiving line. Rookie RB Jamaal Williams totaled 113 yards for the game. The Packers already rewarded Adams with a contract extension prior to the game, meaning one of Nelson or Cobb will likely be cut this off-season.
Despite a chance to claim the AFC’s top overall seed with a win and a Patriots loss, the Steelers chose to rest QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le'Veon Bell, among others, as they hosted the winless Browns. The game was more competitive than most expected as the Browns battled to avoid becoming the second team to ever post a regular season 0-16 record. In the end, a soft pass from QB DeShone Kizer was dropped by WR Corey Coleman and the Steelers survived to get the win.
Rookie WR Juju Smith-Schuster was the star of the day for the Steelers, catching nine passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown, as well. WR Martavis Bryant chipped in with a quiet 6/65, while backup RB Stevan Ridley, formerly of the Patriots, rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Kizer had another nice fantasy day, finishing as a QB1 yet again, but it just wasn’t enough. Kizer threw for 314 yards and two scores and also led the team in rushing with 61 yards. WR Josh Gordon caught four balls for 115 yards, his first time over the 100-yard mark since 2014. RB Duke Johnson continued to make his mark as a receiver, catching all six targets aimed his way for 75 yards. He also rushed for 20 yards and a touchdown. WR Rashard Higgins had a big day, catching three passes for 68 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Coleman not only misplayed the final Browns play of the day, but he caught just one of six targets for the game. The Browns will reportedly bring HC Hue Jackson, now 1-31 in his two seasons, back in 2018.
The Vikings needed a win to clinch the second seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. Hosting the Bears and lame duck HC John Fox, the win was never really in doubt. Vikings QB Case Keenum played the entire game, throwing for 189 yards and a score. The Vikes leaned heavily on the running game and RB Latavius Murray delivered, rushing for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns. WRs Stefon Diggs (6/65/1) and Adam Thielen (6/61) were their normal productive selves, although TE Kyle Rudolph caught just one pass for three yards.
The Bears rushing game was once again a major disappointment and is perhaps the one thing that has fans and fantasy players looking forward to a new regime more than anything else. RB Jordan Howard rushed nine times for nine yards, while rookie RB Tarik Cohen actually led the Bears with 13 rushing yards on three carries. There has been no official word yet, but Fox is expected to be relieved of his duties, likely early this week.
The Seahawks needed a win and a loss by the Falcons to make the playoffs. While that was far from a sure thing, it was the Falcons portion of the equation that seemed uncertain as the Seahawks played host to a struggling Cardinals team. Instead, Arizona came into Seattle, playing what appears to be their final game for HC Bruce Arians, and stunned the Seahawks. As is often the case, Seattle fell behind early, trailing 20-7 at halftime, before mounting a comeback and actually taking the lead. QB Russell Wilson finished with 221 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. WR Doug Baldwin finally lived up to expectations, catching four passes for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns. TE Jimmy Graham, potentially playing his last game as a Seahawk, posted a 3/45 line.
The Cardinal offense was quiet in the second-half, but a late field goal was enough to give them the win. WR Larry Fitzgerald led the team with eight receptions for 55 yards and shared his uncertainty about his future following the game. Like his head coach, Fitzgerald has been the subject of retirement rumors even after signing a contract extension earlier this season.
This game was important for both teams, but much more so for the Falcons, who needed a win to earn a playoff berth. The game was close throughout, though the Falcons were seemingly in control from the beginning. QB Matt Ryan threw for 317 yards and a touchdown and RB Devonta Freeman led the team in rushing (11/23) and receiving (9/85/1). The Falcons had to play portions of the game without WR Julio Jones (5/80) and WR Taylor Gabriel, both of whom missed time with injury issues. WR Mohamed Sanu (7/71) tied Freeman and Jones with 11 targets each.
Carolina QB Cam Newton seemingly tried too hard to make the big plays in this one, which resulted in a trio of interceptions. The Panthers were also without starting RB Jonathan Stewart. Newton led the team in rushing with 59 yards, along with his 180 passing yards. WR Devin Funchess bounced back from a quiet couple of weeks, but still only caught two pf his six targets for 48 yards and a touchdown. RB Christian McCaffrey was also held in check with a total of 54 yards. TE Greg Olsen saw a team-high nine targets, but caught just one for ten yards.
San Francisco- 34
LA Rams- 13
The Rams all but conceded this game when they chose to rest many of their key players, including QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley and WR Cooper Kupp. WRs Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods were both active, though didn’t even draw a target. It is no surprise then that the Niners would roll in this one, staying hot as they finish the season on a five-game win streak under new QB jimmy Garoppolo. Things were not all good for Jimmy G though as he tossed a pair of interceptions and lost his top target, WR Marquise Goodwin, after a nasty hit resulted in a concussion.
Garoppolo did finish with 292 passing yards and a pair of scores and RB Carlos Hyde, perhaps playing in his final game as a 49er, rushed for two touchdowns and totaled 100 yards. Rookie TE George Kittle caught all four of his targets for exactly 100 yards. The Niners fans have to be the happiest fans of a six-win team we’ve ever seen.
Tampa Bay- 31
New Orleans- 24
The Buccaneers had nothing riding on this game, while the Saints needed either a win or a Panther loss to clinch the NFC South. The New Orleans offense looked like they often have this season, but it was the Saints defense that failed them, even while intercepting Bucs QB Jameis Winston three times. QB Drew Brees threw for 245 yards and a touchdown, while WR Michael Thomas (6/94) continued to serve as his go-to option in the passing game. RB Alvin Kamara totaled 128 yards and a touchdown and also had a long kickoff return for a 106-yard score. RB Mark Ingram managed just 54 scoreless yards in the game. While the Saints didn’t get the win, they did back into a division title thanks to the Carolina loss.
The Buccaneers offense never gave up and took the lead on a touchdown with under 20 seconds remaining in the game. Winston, along with those three picks, also threw for 363 yards and a touchdown. WR Mike Evans suffered a leg injury and missed some time, but still caught five balls for 55 yards. Rookie WR Chris Godwin, against starting for an injured WR DeSean Jackson, caught seven passes for 111 yards and a touchdown, leading the team. Veteran RB Doug Martin is almost certainly on his way out and lost three yards on three carries.
Kansas City- 27
The AFC West battle was nearly meaningless for both squads as the Chiefs are playoff bound, locked in as the fourth seed and the Broncos are just playing out their season. Rookie RB Kareem Hunt broke his first carry for a 35-yard touchdown, which was enough to earn the NFL rushing crown. That was his only carry of the game, despite injuries to RB Akeem Hunt and WR De'Anthony Thomas. The Chiefs had to rely on FB Anthony Sherman to finish things out. Rookie QB Patrick Mahomes drew his first career start as veteran Alex Smith rested. Mahomes threw for 284 scoreless yards, most often targeting WR Albert Wilson (10/147) and WR Demarcus Robinson (4/31).
The Broncos stayed in the game until the end, but fell short at home. QB Paxton Lynch was back under center, but the team can’t be confident in any of the signal callers currently on the roster. Lynch threw for 254 yards and a pair of scores, along with two interceptions. WR Demaryius Thomas led the team with six receptions, earning 57 yards and a touchdown, while WR Emmanuel Sanders missed the game.
LA Chargers- 30
The Chargers had an outside chance at making the playoffs, but needed help from other teams. They did their part, easily dispatching of the Raiders behind a huge game from veteran QB Philip Rivers, who threw for 387 yards and three touchdowns. RB Melvin Gordon was iffy to play in this game, but totaled 124 yards from scrimmage. Rivers tossed touchdowns to WRs Keenan Allen (9/133/1), Travis Benjamin (4/96/1) and Tyrell Williams (3/67/1) as the Chargers dominated the Raiders.
Amidst reports that the team planned to cut veteran WR Michael Crabtree, WR Amari Cooper played one of his best games of the season, catching three passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Crabtree, who failed to record a catch last week, caught two passes for 17 yards, and was often watching from the sidelines as the offense worked.
The big news for Oakland came after the game when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that John Gruden would be the team’s next head coach. Gruden has not coached in eight years and was reportedly considering returning to either the Bucs or Raiders, both the teams he has previously coached. The deal has not been officially announced yet, but could be at any time.
The Titans simply needed to win to get into the playoff, facing a Jaguars team that had little to play for having already wrapped up the AFC South. The Jags didn’t roll over though as their starters played virtually the entire game. In the end, the Titans were victorious and will be in the playoffs. QB Marcus Mariota had another frustrating game for fantasy players, throwing for just 134 yards and a touchdown, though he did add 60 yards on the ground. The Titans were without veteran RB DeMarco Murray, leaving the backfield to RB Derrick Henry. He managed just 51 yards on 28 carries, but did lead the team with 66 yards receiving on his only catch of the day, a touchdown.
Jaguars QB Blake Bortles looked like the Bortles of old, throwing for 158 scoreless yards and two interceptions, including one to seal the game. Rookie RB Leonard Fournette led the team in rushing and receiving, totaling 136 yards on 23 touches. WR Keelan Cole, entering the game as one of the hottest receivers in the league, caught four passes for 33 yards. The shine is coming off rookie WR Dede Westbrook, who caught just one of nine targets and dropped a sure-fire touchdown.
At this point late in the day’s action, nearly all playoff spots were locked up with one final AFC wild card spot up for grabs. The Bills had to win to even have a chance and after making easy work of the Dolphins for much of the game, Miami came back at the end, scoring a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to make things interesting. The Bills lost B LeSean McCoy to an ankle injury early in the game and used a committee attack moving forward. Veteran TE Charles Clay (6/64) was the leading receiver for QB Tyrod Taylor, who threw for just 204 yards and a score.
Although veteran Jay Cutler started the game, he was quickly replaced by QB David Fales, who finished with 265 yards and a touchdown, thanks to the late-game garbage time. Like all Dolphins QBs have, Fales leaned on WR Jarvis Landry, who caught nine passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. It was after Landry’s score that a fight broke out between the teams, resulting in multiple ejections, including Landry and Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake. Landry now enters free agency, while Drake has to be viewed as the favorite to be Miami’s starting RB in 2018.
To make the playoffs for the first time since 1999, the Bills would need the Bengals to upset the Ravens.
All that was left in the Bengals disappointing season was the chance to play spoiler to their division rival Baltimore. The back and forth battle swung to the Ravens late when QB Joe Flacco hit WR Mike Wallace for the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. After the teams traded unsuccessful drives, the Bengals got the ball back with one final shot. QB Andy Dalton hit WR Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard score to give the Bengals the lead and put the Baltimore season on life support. A final minute drive was unsuccessful as TE Benjamin Watson fell short of the first down marker and the Bengals helped the Bills to make the playoffs.
Dalton finished with 222 yards and three scores, while RB Joe Mixon rushed for 96 yards. WR A.J. Green had another disappointing day, catching just two of ten targets for 17 yards. TE Tyler Kroft carried the Bengals offense early, posting a 6/53/2 line for the game.
Although the fell short, the Ravens have found their RB of the future in Alex Collins, who totaled 96 yards and a touchdown, including an amazing run to convert a fourth-down and keep the Ravens season alive, at that point. Watson led the team with seven grabs for 61 yards, while Wallace caught five passes for 40 yards and a score. The Ravens season is over while the Bills are in the playoffs.