Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 17
Lamar Jackson sitting out a meaningless Week 17 game is a clear reminder of why the final week of the regular season is a dicey way to determine season-long fantasy championships, but that's a conversation for another day if you still have something left to play for on Sunday. With that being said, let's take one final look at some of the difficult decisions you may be looking at this weekend.
Start Carson Wentz (at New York Giants): The injury-ravaged Eagles' offense is running of fumes at this point, and they could be even more short-handed this week if Zach Ertz (ribs) is unable to play. Still, this is a team fighting for a playoff spot, and they've leaned heavily on the pass lately, with Carson Wentz attempting 40 or more passes in six straight games since the bye. Wentz now faces a Giants defense that ranks 28th in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play and 30th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. According to numberFire's model, he projects as a borderline top-10 quarterback this week.
Start Tom Brady (vs. Miami): Tom Brady has been decidedly ordinary this season, but the Patriots' offense showed some much needed signs of life against a tough Bills defense in Week 16, and Brady ought to end the regular season on a high note against Miami. The Dolphins have been routinely shredded by quarterbacks all season, ranking 32nd in schedule-adjusted pass defense and second-to-last in fantasy points allowed to the position. The Patriots clinch a first-round bye with a victory, so they aren't likely to ease up on the gas even if they get out to an early lead.
Sit Philip Rivers (at Kansas City): Philip Rivers has endured some rough outings down the stretch, tossing three or more picks in three of the last six games. One of those multi-turnover performances came versus Kansas City in Mexico City, and now he gets them again in the uninviting environs of Arrowhead Stadium. The Chargers are showing a lackluster 18.25 implied total and are up against a pass defense that ranks third in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Although Rivers practiced in full on Thursday, a thumb injury popping up on the Chargers' injury report doesn't inspire added confidence, either.
Ryan Tannehill has thrown for multiple scores in all but one of his nine 2019 starts and should continue his strong play in a crucial bout with the Texans, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Start Marlon Mack (at Jacksonville): As expected, Marlon Mack came through against Carolina's putrid run defense last week, compiling 97 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 18 opportunities. He could have a similar result in store against Jacksonville, which ranks 31st in both Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and fantasy points allowed to running backs. In this week's projections, Mack ranks as the RB11 in standard formats and RB18 in PPR.
Start Sony Michel (vs. Miami): Sony Michel still hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 7, but he remains the top back for the Patriots in positive game scripts, earning over 20 opportunities in back-to-back wins over the Bills and Bengals. With New England looking at a week-high 30.50 implied total as 16.0-point home favorites over the Dolphins, Michel should have plenty of chances to break his recent scoreless streak. Our projections place Michel in the RB2 conversation, with the usual lean towards standard leagues due to his light use in the passing game.
Sit Devin Singletary (vs. New York Jets): Not only does Devin Singletary get a tough matchup against the Jets, who rank third in schedule-adjusted run defense, but the Bills are already locked in as the AFC's fifth playoff seed, so they don't have much incentive to play their starters a full four quarters. With an 36.5 over/under being given to this contest, this could be an ugly game all around, and you probably want to steer clear of Buffalo's stars this week.
Other running backs to start: Following two straight spike weeks off 28 and 23 opportunities, Kenyan Drake should be locked into lineups against the Rams, especially with Los Angeles likely resting players.
Even with Jordan Howard set to return this week against the Giants, the Eagles are expected to stick with Miles Sanders as the lead back, and he should continue to boast a big role in their injury-depleted offense.
Phillip Lindsay bounced back nicely against Detroit last week with a solid 22 opportunities -- his second-most all season -- and he should be able to find success at home versus Oakland and their 22nd-ranked schedule-adjusted run defense.
If you're in a pinch, Gus Edwards is starting for the Ravens versus the Steelers with Mark Ingram out, and Travis Homer should lead the way for Seattle against San Francisco despite the return of Marshawn Lynch.
Start Michael Gallup (vs. Washington): The Cowboys need a win (and an Eagles loss) to make the playoffs, so they have all the motivation in the world to beat up on Washington, which ranks 29th in schedule-adjusted pass defense. Michael Gallup hasn't seen consistent volume every single week, but he's averaged just over eight targets across 13 games, hitting double-digits five times, including just last week against Philadelphia. Gallup only has three touchdowns on the season, but Washington just got lit up by Daniel Jones for five passing scores, and with Dallas sporting a robust 28.25 implied total, there should be some points to go around come Sunday.
Start Breshad Perriman (vs. Atlanta): Breshad Perriman pretty much delivered as advertised last week, turning 12 targets into a 7/102/0 line, and he's a strong start again this weekend versus Atlanta. As noted earlier, this contest has the looks of a high-scoring affair, and Jameis Winston has averaged 45 pass attempts the past three games. Teammate Justin Watson is also worth considering as a flex after converting 10 targets into a 5/43/1 line himself.
Sit Adam Thielen (vs. Chicago): Sadly, if you've been holding onto Adam Thielen all season, it doesn't look like it's going to pay off for the fantasy playoffs. Thielen has done next to nothing since returning in Week 15, catching a combined 3-of-7 targets for 27 yards and no scores the last two games. The Vikings are locked into their playoff spot, so there's little reason to push Thielen, and Kirk Cousins has already stated he's unsure how much he'll play. Even if Thielen gets the green light, the Bears have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Other wide receivers to start: Despite the obvious limitations of a David Blough-led offense, Kenny Golladay has a 28.8% target share and 42.8% air yards share the past two games without Marvin Jones.
Tyler Lockett continues to be a maddening start, but he still saw seven targets last week, and Seattle has plenty left to play for against a San Francisco team that's uncharacteristically been giving up loads of points the past few weeks.
Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham are banged up, but both players are expected to be out there against a Cincinnati defense that ranks 31st against the pass just allowed four touchdowns to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Start Dallas Goedert (at New York Giants): Beyond the usual crew at tight end, Dallas Goedart is a clear start after tallying a season-high 12 targets last week, and he'll be even more valuable if Zach Ertz can't suit up against the Giants. With Alshon Jeffery suffering a season-ending injury early in Week 14, Goedert is second on the team with an 18.5% target share over the last three games, trailing only Ertz (22.3%).
Other tight ends to start: Even if Jared Goff ultimately doesn't play a full game, Tyler Higbee is a must-start given his recent hot play and a matchup against Arizona's nonexistent tight end defense.
O.J. Howard has seen seven targets in back-to-back weeks, and while he hasn't hit 50 yards in either game, it's still something to latch onto in an aggressive Jameis Winston offense.
Obviously, a matchup against New England isn't ideal for Mike Gesicki, but the Pats figure to focus their efforts on stopping DeVante Parker, so Gesicki is still worthy of a start as Fitzpatrick's second-favorite passing target.