Week 17 of the fantasy football season is finally here, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need leave the weekend with a win. Patrick Daugherty answers your lineup questions with his Week 17 Rankings, Nick Mensio tells you who to start and who to fade in Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em, and Evan Silva breaks down every matchup in his award-winning Matchups Column.
As for me, I am here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I also tweet last-minute thoughts at @notJDaigle.
Davante Adams Chasing History
Adams (knee, questionable) needs a mere two catches to break Sterling Sharpe's single-season Packers record (112) and 134 yards to break Jordy Nelson's franchise yardage mark (1,519). Having said that, he was unable to practice with his current knee injury throughout the week and is heading for a game-time decision. Even if he’s able to suit up, it’s a genuine possibility Aaron Rodgers gets Adams the catches record on a couple empty screens only to have the wideout call it a day shortly thereafter. With Randall Cobb cleared and Equanimeous St. Brown (concussion) doubtful, expect Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Jake Kumerow to split reps on the outside with Adams (even if limited) while Cobb mans the slot. Kumerow is an enticing DFS option himself as he produced 68 yards and a touchdown on the third-most routes (39) for Green Bay last week, and dominated with a team-high 190 yards and two scores on just 40 routes and 11 targets in the preseason.
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Jaguars @ Texans (must win to guarantee Wild Card home game)
*Jacksonville’s backfield is currently up in the air. With Leonard Fournette (ankle, foot) downgraded mid-week and doubtful to play, and Carlos Hyde (knee) questionable himself, all duties will likely fall to T.J. Yeldon (healthy scratched last week) and Dave Williams by default.
*With Keke Coutee (hamstring, always questionable) possibly out, expect DeAndre Hopkins to continue shouldering the load against a Jags defensive unit potentially short corners D.J. Hayden (groin, questionable) and A.J. Bouye (toe, out). DeAndre Carter would be a factor if Coutee’s ruled out in the regular season finale, but Hopkins is the only truly fantasy viable option.
Jets @ Patriots (must win to clinch AFC’s No. 2 seed)
*Jermaine Kearse (Achilles’) and Quincy Enunwa (ankle) are both out for the finale, keeping Robby Anderson in play simply because Sam Darnold will have no other option to turn to. Despite his 30% target share (and 475 air yards share) over the last month, Anderson is a skeptical WR2 this week since the underwhelming Patriots are conspicuously favored by a whopping 13.5-points at home.
*Sony Michel needs 119 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. He’s obviously in a prime spot to do so given projected game script and New England’s need to go all out in order to gain that coveted first-round bye.
Panthers @ Saints (guaranteed NFC’s No. 1 seed)
*UDFA Kyle Allen will make his first start with Cam Newton (back) and Taylor Heinicke (elbow) both shut down. It’s still a legitimate question mark whether or not coach Ron Rivera will rest Christian McCaffrey (and others) in this spot, though. Rivera simply noted he “has some plans for some guys” and wants to “evaluate some young players.” You’re on your own trusting McCaffrey’s workload here. Cameron Artis-Payne would be the incumbent winner if CMC’s rested.
*Teddy Bridgewater will start, but he’ll do so without starting tackles Terron Armstead (shoulder), Jermon Bushrod (hamstring), and RG Larry Warford (knee). Expect more dominos to fall (including reduced snaps for Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram) since the Saints have nothing to play for in Week 17.
Cowboys (guaranteed NFC’s No. 4 seed) @ Giants
*The Cowboys can’t move up or down in seeding no matter the outcome. While Jerry Jones came out and said the team will play its starters, history says otherwise. As Adam Levitan noted, the last time the Cowboys were in this situation Dak Prescott played two series and Ezekiel Elliott didn’t play at all. Expect more dominos to fall, as DE DeMarcus Lawrence even told media on Friday that he’s “not playing all four quarters.”
*Not only will the Giants look to feature Saquon Barkley just to prove themselves right in drafting a running back (the most substitutable position on the field) No. 2 overall, the rookie’s also ‘only’ 237 yards short of claiming the rushing title from Elliott. Barkley’s volume makes him a weekly RB1, anyhow, but there are genuine motivational factors in this one that keep him from being rested in the slightest.
Browns @ Ravens (win-and-in)
*John Brown (hamstring) has only caught seven passes in Jackson’s six starts, but his injury is one worth noting, nonetheless.
Raiders @ Chiefs (win in order to clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed)
*Oakland could be extremely thin in their secondary as Gareon Conley (concussion, questionable) adds to the team’s list of corners who have already been designated out.
*Patrick Mahomes needs seven touchdowns to tie Peyton Manning’s single-season record. While that isn’t as obtainable as Travis Kelce’s single-season yardage record (which he’s only 53 yards shy of notching), it is something worth noting. Spencer Ware (shoulder, questionable) practiced in full throughout the week and should be back for this one, settling in as a low-end RB2 given the surrounding uncertainty about his potential timeshare with Damien Williams upon return.
Bears (either the NFC’s No. 2 or No. 3 seed) @ Vikings (win-and-in)
*Allen Robinson (ribs) and Pro Bowl S Eddie Jackson (ankle) were both ruled out Friday. Chicago’s situation is touch-and-go since they’re already locked into the playoffs, so it’s possible the team rests more after the half if the Rams are suddenly padding their lead through two quarters against the Niners (see below).
*Premier corner Xavier Rhodes (groin) is questionable, but did get in a limited session on Friday.
Bengals @ Steelers (must win and Ravens lose)
*LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion) is out.
*Antonio Brown is reportedly undergoing tests to his hurt knee, which doesn’t bode well for Sunday. Only 12-of-31 (38.7%) ‘questionable’ players have suited up for the Steelers in that respective week, genuinely keeping Brown off the fantasy map for Week 17. DFSers are best off pivoting to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who recorded 6/75/1 and 9/143/1 in Brown’s most recent missed action at the end of 2017. JuJu quietly saw a 30% target share in those outings. James Conner (ankle) is questionable, too, but he at least got in a full week of practice. Coach Mike Tomlin also confirmed Conner would play. He’ll be an RB1 per usual, with Jaylen Samuels shifting back into a strict (and lesser) passing-down role.
Eagles (must win and Vikings lose) @ Redskins
*Josh Doctson (illness) is questionable for Sunday, which only heightens Jamison Crowder’s DFS appeal. Crowder’s benefitted with a team-high 24% target share (18 targets) from Josh Johnson the past three games, locking him into a high-floor low-end WR2 role is Doctson does happen to sit this one out. Note that the Eagles have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts.
Chargers (must win and Chiefs lose to get AFC’s No. 1 seed) @ Broncos
*Keenan Allen needs only seven catches to reach 100 on the year, so fortunately he’s cleared to go. Austin Ekeler (neck) got in a full practice on Friday and should also return to his usual role behind Melvin Gordon in an 80-20 timeshare. Justin Jackson will go back to riding the pine and is unusable until further notice.
*Phillip Lindsay (hand) was moved to injured reserve mid-week, ensuring both Royce Freeman and Devontae Booker one last game of work before the season halts. Booker has the higher floor given that he’s doubled up Freeman on routes (198 to 96) and catches (33 to 6) this year, but the latter will remain soaking up fruitful early-down/goal line reps. Both qualify as RB3s stuck in a true timeshare.
49ers @ Rams (must win to clinch NFC’s No. 2 seed)
*Matt Breida (knee), Dante Pettis (knee), Marquise Goodwin (calf), and Garrett Celek (concussion) were all ruled out, and not for resting purposes. San Francisco is motivated to both play spoiler and get George Kittle the single-season receiving yardage record for a tight end, which he currently sits only 99 yards shy of (with Kelce only 46 yards ahead of him). Celek is the most impactful injury of that group since that leaves only backup TE Ross Dwelley, who’s run six routes all year, behind Kittle. The second-year pro is a TE1 on equal ground with Zach Ertz and Kelce this week. Same goes for Jeff Wilson at his position since only Alfred Morris and Matt Dayes will be available behind him.
*Todd Gurley (knee) was already ruled out, locking in C.J. Anderson for one last spot-start. He got 20 carries on 51 snaps in Week 15 as backup John Kelly was only involved come mop-up duty. Anderson is legitimately an RB1 in this one.
Cardinals @ Seahawks (either the NFC’s No. 5 or No. 6 seed)
*Ricky Seals-Jones (shoulder, out) wraps up what was supposed to be a breakout season with just 34/343/1. Veteran Jermaine Gresham should be an every-down player in Arizona’s regular season finale, but he’s not on fantasy radars for Week 17.
*Doug Baldwin was surprisingly removed from the injury report on Friday, but Seattle’s motivation is still unclear. The team could play to win and potentially travel to Dallas, or rest skill players and lose and simply travel to Chicago. It’s enough uncertainty to stay weary if starting any Seahawks in DFS. Note that Rashaad Penny (ankle) is listed as questionable, but he practiced in full throughout the week and should be good to go.
Colts (win-and-in) @ Titans (win-and-in)
*T.Y. Hilton didn’t practice at all throughout the week, which is what we’ve come to expect despite his late-season heroics. He’ll play. Perhaps even more impactful is the absence of center Ryan Kelly, who’s essentially transformed Indy’s offense when healthy. Indy has averaged 4.5 yards per carry with Kelly in the lineup this year compared to only 3.2 without him.
*In a true to form high-stakes Loser Goes Home match, Marcus Mariota (stinger) reportedly “stayed the same” throughout the week and remains questionable. Tennessee’s playoff hopes legitimately lie in his shoulder, so expect him to play even if limited. Fortunately for the team, Corey Davis (hamstring) was removed from the injury report Friday.