Fantasy Football: Start em/Sit em – Week 17

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, December 31st, 2016

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Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em is the ultimate look at the weekly NFL
matchups and how they’ll affect your fantasy football team. All starts
and sits are based on standard scoring leagues. Obvious fantasy
starters like Cam Newton and Antonio Brown will not be featured.

QUARTERBACKS
Start of the Week – Matt Ryan vs. New Orleans Saints
Ryan has been one of the best draft bargains in fantasy footall
this season, and an upcoming matchup against the Saints makes him a
virtual must-start. This figures to be a high-scoring affair, and
Atlanta has everything to play for with the No. 2 seed in the NFC at
stake. Look for Ryan to put up a nice number.
Russell Wilson vs. San Francisco 49ers
Wilson helped a lot of fantasy owners win a title last week,
posting four touchdowns and 33.6 points in a loss to the Cardinals.
Seattle still has postseason stakes on the line against the 49ers, who
have allowed 29 touchdown passes and an average of almost 18 fantasy
points per game to quarterbacks. Wilson should be a top-10 option.
Kirk Cousins vs. New York Giants
Cousins went off against the Bears last week, throwing for 270
yards with three total touchdowns en route to a 30-point performance.
I’d keep him active against the Giants, who have nothing left to play
for in terms of postseason seeding. Washington still has a shot at a
Wild Card berth, so Cousins should be throwing the football a ton.
Matthew Stafford vs. Green Bay Packers
There’s a lot at stake this week in Detroit, as the Lions and
Packers will battle for the NFC North crown and postseason berths.
Enter Stafford, who faces a Green Bay defense that has allowed an
average of more than 17 fantasy points a game to quarterbacks. In what
could be a shootout at Ford Field, Stafford is a nice fantasy choice.
Carson Palmer vs. Los Angeles Rams
Palmer has been tough to trust in fantasy circles this season,
but it’s hard to look past this week’s matchup against the Rams. Over
the last four weeks, their defense has allowed nine touchdowns and an
average of 20.7 fantasy points a game to quarterbacks. While neither
team has anything on the line, Palmer’s matchup is attractive.
Sleeper watch: Blake Bortles at Colts, Jameis Winston vs. Panthers
Sit of the Week – Cam Newton vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Newton has been a massive disappointment for fantasy fans this
season, and it’s unlikely his 2016 finale will be much different. The
veteran quarterback is all banged up, and with nothing on the line
there’s a good chance we’ll see a lot of Derek Anderson. Regardless,
this week’s road matchup against the Buccaneers is not favorable.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Cleveland
Roethlisberger helped countless fantasy fans win a title last
week, and this week’s matchup against the Browns couldn’t be more
favorable. Here’s the problem … the Steelers are locked into the No.
3 seed in the AFC, and Roethlisberger could use a week of rest heading
into the playoffs. We could see a lot of Landry Jones this week.
Dak Prescott vs. Philadelphia Eagles
The theme here is obvious, as countless players could be rested
ahead of the NFL postseason. That’s the case with Prescott, as the
Cowboys have locked up the top seed in the NFC and have nothing to
gain with a win this week. Dallas could very well sit a lot of their
starters, so expect Mark Sanchez to see plenty of action this week.
Eli Manning vs. Washington Redskins
Listed as a sit ’em last week, Manning scored 12.2 fantasy
points in a loss to the Eagles. Next up is a date with the Redskins,
who can still earn a postseason berth with a win against the G-Men. On
the flip side, the Giants are locked into the No. 5 seed in the NFC
and could rest Manning and a lot of their starters. Beware Big Blue.
Joe Flacco vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Flacco has never been a reliable fantasy option on the road, and
this week’s contest in Cincinnati makes him an even tougher sell. Over
the last four weeks, the Bengals have allowed just three touchdown
passes and an average of 13 fantasy points a game to opposing
quarterbacks. Flacco should be on your bench in Week 17.
Owners beware: Colin Kaepernick vs. Seahawks, Philip Rivers vs. Chiefs

RUNNING BACKS
Start of the Week – Bilal Powell vs. Buffalo Bills
Powell has shown some serious signs of potential in the absence
of Matt Forte, and an upcoming matchup against the Bills makes him a
solid starter in Week 17 championships. Over the last four weeks,
Buffalo has allowed seven rushing touchdowns and the most fantasy
points per game (33.7) to the running back position overall.
LeGarrette Blount vs. Miami Dolphins
Blount has scored a ridiculous 17 rushing touchdowns this season
(the most since LeSean McCoy in 2011), and I like his chances to
produce in what is an important game for the Patriots. With a win, New
England clinches the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Dolphins have also
allowed an average of 22.9 points to runners since Week 13.
Latavius Murray vs. Denver Broncos
Murray was overshadowed in the Raiders backfield last week, but
you have to think he’ll see a lot of work with Derek Carr on the
sidelines. The Broncos have been bad against the run this season too,
as Murray beat them for three touchdowns and 30.7 points in their last
matchup. Keep the faith in Murray in your Week 17 championships.
Paul Perkins vs. Washington Redskins
Perkins led the Giants in backfield snaps (50) and touches (16)
in last week’s loss to the Eagles, and I expect him to see even more
work against the Redskins in New York’s season finale. The G-Men can’t
improve their postseason seeding, and Washington has surrendered the
fifth-most fantasy points (23.8 PPG) to backs since Week 13.
Alex Collins vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Seahawks could be without Thomas Rawls, so Collins has
sudden sleeper value in a plus matchup versus the 49ers. The rookie
saw 42 snaps last week, and no team has allowed more rushing
touchdowns (23), total touchdowns (26) or fantasy points (28 PPG) to
runners than San Francisco. Consider Collins as a nice flex option.
Sleeper watch: Chris Ivory at Colts, Kenneth Dixon at Bengals
Sit of the Week – Jeremy Hill vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens and Bengals have nothing to play for but AFC North
pride this week, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Hill’s snaps cut
as he continues to deal with an injured knee. Last week, Rex Burkhead
bettered Hill in snaps (49/13) and touches (16/7). The Ravens have
also been tough on runners this season, so keep Hill on the bench.
Jay Ajayi vs. New England Patriots
Ajayi was a statistical beast one week ago, but you have to
wonder if he sees a full workload against the Patriots. The Dolphins
have already clinched a postseason berth, and Ajayi is dealing with a
sore shoulder. What’s more, the Patriots have surrendered the fewest
fantasy points (15) to opposing running backs this season.
Ty Montgomery vs. Detroit Lions
Montgomery put up a stinker in last week’s win over the Vikings,
and he’ll be tough to trust in an important NFC North matchup against
the Lions. You might not know it, but Detroit has surrendered just
seven total touchdowns and the eighth-fewest fantasy points (15.7 PPG)
to running backs. At best, Montgomery is a viable PPR flex option.
Rob Kelley vs. New York Giants
Kelley is dealing with a sore knee, which could be the reason
his yards-per-attempt average (3.4) has taken a nose dive in the last
five weeks. Even if he suits up against the Giants, there’s a chance
that “Fat Rob” could see his workload decreased since he is at less
than 100 percent. The Giants have been tough on running backs, too.
Alfred Blue vs. Tennessee Titans
Blue put up a nice stat line against the Bengals last week in
the absence of Lamar Miller, but can he do it against the Titans?
Their defense has allowed just six rushing touchdowns to running backs
all season long, and the position has scored an average of just 14.9
points against them. Blue is a serious risk even as a flex starter.
Owners beware: Todd Gurley vs. Cardinals, Shaun Draughn vs. Seahawks
RECEIVERS
Start of the Week – Doug Baldwin vs. San Francisco 49ers
Listed as a start ’em last week, Baldwin went ballistic with 171
yards, one touchdown and 23.7 fantasy points in a loss to the
Cardinals. While he’s been less productive on the road, he’s still a
wideout to start in San Francisco. The 49ers have allowed 21
touchdowns and the fifth-most points (25.7 PPG) to opposing wideouts
in 2016.
Golden Tate vs. Green Bay Packers
Tate has been inconsistent in recent weeks, but I like him to
find success when the Lions host Green Bay in a pivotal NFC North
clash. The Packers have been awful against wideouts this season,
allowing the most touchdown catches (24) and the most fantasy points
(28.4 PPG) to the position. Start Tate in what could a serious
shootout.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Tennessee Titans
The Titans pass defense has been awful over the last four weeks,
allowing four total touchdowns (counting Marqise Lee’s pass to Blake
Bortles) and an average of almost 30 fantasy points to wide receivers.
That’s good news for Hopkins, who could redeem himself (at least
somewhat) for those fantasy fans who have championships this week.
Sammy Watkins vs. New York Jets
Watkins has been up and down in the stat sheets since his return
from an injured foot, but he’ll be hard to bench ahead of this week’s
matchup against the Jets. Gang Green have been less than stellar
against wideouts this season, and one-time shutdown cornerback
Darrelle Revis has shown his age. Start Watkins with confidence.
Tyreek Hill vs. San Diego Chargers
Over the last four weeks, Hill has recorded a modest 119
receiving yards … and he’s still ninth in fantasy points at the
position in that time. That’s due in part to this sudden usage out of
the backfield, as Hill has rushed for a combined 163 yards and two
touchdowns in his last two games. Fire him up against San Diego in
your championship.
Sleeper watch: J.J. Nelson at Rams, Eli Rogers vs. Browns
Sit of the Week – Brandon Marshall vs. Buffalo Bills
The Jets have been in full quit mode in recent weeks, and
Marshall’s lack of snaps and targets are part of the entire mess in
the Big Apple. Last week, the veteran was limited to 28 snaps (he’s
not 100 percent). Regardless of who is under center, it’s near
impossible to start Marshall against the Bills in this AFC East season
finale.
Amari Cooper vs. Denver Broncos
Cooper has seen his numbers tumble in recent weeks, as he’s
failed to score more than eight fantasy points in three straight games
and four of his last five. Things don’t figure to improve versus the
Broncos, who have been the toughest defense in the NFL against
wideouts. It doesn’t help that Matt McGloin will be starting, either.
Terrelle Pryor vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pryor’s totals have tumbled in recent weeks, as he’s failed to
score even four fantasy points in three straight contests. That streak
aside, Pryor is dealing with an injured finger and a questionable
rapport with Robert Griffin III. Even if Cody Kessler is back under
center this week, starting Pryor against the Steelers still isn’t
advised.
Stefon Diggs vs. Chicago Bears
Diggs scored a touchdown last week, but he still finished with
an unimpressive 8.9 fantasy points in a loss to the Packers. He’s now
failed to score double-digit points in five straight contests, and
this week’s matchup against the Bears is not favorable. Their defense
has allowed just one touchdown to wide receivers since Week 13.
DeVante Parker vs. New England
Parker is coming off a solid 14.5-point performance in a win
over the Bills, but I’m not sure he can duplicate it against the
Patriots. This was his first game with more than 70 yards since Week
11, and New England will be far more formidable in what is an
important contest for their postseason seed. I’d bench Parker in this
contest.
Owners beware: Jeremy Maclin at Chargers, Alshon Jeffery at Vikings

TIGHT ENDS
Start of the Week – Zach Ertz vs. Dallas Cowboys
Ertz didn’t pan out as our start of the week, as his 3.3 fantasy
points against the Giants was his worst stat line since Week 12. I
like him to rebound against the Cowboys, who have allowed six scores
and more than nine fantasy points a game to toght ends this season.
Dallas might also be resting some defensive starters in this game.
Vernon Davis vs. New York Giants
Davis put up a stinker in last week’s win over the Bears, but
he’s still in the No. 1 tight end conversation with Jordan Reed
injured and a matchup against the Giants next. Big Blue could decide
to rest some of their defensive starters, and this unit has allowed
over eight fantasy points a game to opposing tight ends in the last
four weeks.
Martellus Bennett vs. Miami Dolphins
Bennett might have produced just 19 yards in last week’s game
against the Jets, but he did score a touchdown for the second time in
his last three games. I’d keep him active against the Miami Dolphins,
who have surrendered four touchdowns and an average of more than 12
fantasy points a game to tight ends over the last four weekends.
Charles Clay vs. New York Jets
Do I fear that starting Clay might be a case of chasing fantasy
points? Yes, but he has found the end zone four times in his last
three contests. What’s more, he’s facing a Jets defense that has
surrendered seven touchdowns and the most fantasy points (16.2 PPG) to
tight ends. I’d still fire up Clay in this AFC East contest.
Coby Fleener vs. Atlanta Falcons
This might not be a popular choice, but Fleener is a streamable
option if you’re in need at the tight end position. That’s due to a
fabulous matchup against the Falcons, who have allowed eight
touchdowns and the fifth-most fantasy points (9.7 PPG) to tight ends.
Fleener also beat them for 109 yards, one score and 16.9 points in
Week 3.
Sleeper watch: Jared Cook at Lions, Jesse James vs. Browns
Sit of the Week – Jason Witten vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Witten scored a touchdown last week on a pass from Dez Bryant,
but it was his first visit to the end zone since Week 9. He is also
one of several Dallas starters who could see limited snaps in a
meaningless game against the Eagles. Even if he sees a full
complement, Philadelphia has not been too kind to opposing tight ends.
Gary Barnidge vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Barnidge put up a respectable 8.3 fantasy points the last time
he played the Steelers (Week 11), but that was because he scored his
only touchdown of the year in that game. The Steelers defense has
allowed just 6.4 points to tight ends since Week 13, and Barnidge’s
best scoring output in that span is 4.2. Leave him on the bench.
Hunter Henry vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Henry put up a big fat goose egg in last week’s loss to the
Browns, and things don’t figure to get much better when the Chargers
host the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City is playing for a division
title and a potential No. 1 seed in the AFC, and their defense has
given up the third-fewest fantasy points (4.6 PPG) to opposing tight
ends in 2016.
C.J. Fiedorowicz vs. Tennessee Titans
Fiedorowicz was a fantasy “thing” earlier in the season, but the
bloom is now off his rose. He’s scored fewer than five points in each
of his last four games, and Ryan Griffin has seen more work at the
position in recent weeks. Fiedorowicz also has a tough matchup against
the Titans, who have allowed just four touchdowns to tight ends.
Dion Sims vs. New England Patriots
Sims, listed as a sit ’em last week, posted one fantasy point
after scoring at least one touchdown in three of his previous four
contests. Fantasy fans should keep him on the bench against the
Patriots, who have surrendered just three touchdowns and an average of
six fantasy points per contest to opposing tight ends this season.
Owners beware: Kyle Rudolph vs. Bears, Dwayne Allen vs. Jaguars

KICKERS
Start of the Week – Matt Bryant vs. New Orleans Saints
Did you know that Bryant has scored more fantasy points than
Julio Jones, Todd Gurley, DeAndre Hopkins and Amari Cooper (among
countless others) … and he’s still owned in fewer than 40 percent of
NFL.com leagues? He needs to be in fantasy lineups for a Week 17
championship against the Saints in what figures to be a shootout.
Adam Vinatieri vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Vinatieri has been up and down in the stat sheets in recent
weeks, but he’s a virtual must-start among kickers based on this
week’s matchup against the Jaguars. Their defense has allowed 37
field-goal conversions and the most fantasy points to kickers (10.3
PPG) in 2016. He also put up 11 fantasy points against them in Week 4.
Steven Hauschka vs. San Francisco
Hauschka’s performance last week was forgettable for a few
reasons, one of which was his five-point stinker in fantasy
championship week. However, if your league is still active the veteran
should rebound against the 49ers. Their defense has been one of the
most generous to kickers, and Hauschka beat them for 13 points in
Week 3.
Cairo Santos vs. San Diego Chargers
Santos has struggled in recent weeks, but he did score nine
fantasy points in last week’s win over the Broncos. I think he’ll be
in that same point range against the Chargers, who have allowed 30
field-goal conversions and an average of 8.7 fantasy points per
contest to kickers. That ranks as the sixth-most allowed to the
position.
Sleeper watch: Kai Forbath vs. Bears, Jason Myers at Colts
Sit of the Week – Chandler Catanzaro vs. Los Angeles Rams
Catanzaro surprised everyone with an impressive 10-point
performance in last week’s win over Seattle, but can he did it again
… this time in Los Angeles? For as bad as the Rams have been this
season, kickers have scored the second-fewest fantasy points (5.2 PPG)
against them. Look elsewhere if you’re streaming kickers.
Brandon McManus vs. Oakland Raiders
McManus, listed as a sit ’em last week, scored fewer than seven
fantasy points for the third-straight week in a loss to the Chiefs.
He’ll fare no better against the Raiders, who have surrendered just 21
field-goal conversions and an average of fewer than 6.5 fantasy points
a game to kickers. You can find far better options on waivers.
Chris Boswell vs. Cleveland Browns
Boswell has scored a combined 34 fantasy points in his last
three games, and an upcoming matchup against the Browns looks great on
paper. However, their defense has allowed just 19 field-goal
conversions this season. That’s because Cleveland gives up a ton of
touchdowns (46 extra points), making Boswell a sit ’em.
Josh Lambo vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Lambo was a viable fantasy starter earlier this season, but he’s
taken a statistical tumble with five or fewer fantasy points in each
of his last five contests. His fortunes don’t figure to improve
against the Chiefs, who have surrendered just 23 field-goal
conversions and 6.8 fantasy points per game to opposing kickers
overall this season.
Owners beware: Caleb Sturgis vs. Cowboys, Phil Dawson vs. Seahawks

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