Around the League
It’s going to be very tough to start any player on the Atlanta Falcons this weekend, and that hurts those in championship games immensely. The Falcons are loaded with fantasy studs and have an awesome matchup in Week 17 against Tampa Bay, but I recommend benching all options here. They have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC so they have nothing to play for. This means that if you own Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones or Michael Turner, I would put them on the bench. Look for replacements on teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, as they are all fighting for their playoff lives.
The Seattle Seahawks are peaking at the right time, and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson is one of the main reasons for this. He is playing at an extremely high level over the last five games, throwing 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions in that span. He has also rushed for three scores and is averaging more than 200 yards passing per game. He is a must-start this weekend against the St. Louis Rams, so give him a look since he’s widely available in fantasy leagues.
Two players are chasing 2,000-yard seasons in Week 17, and both have a very good shot at reaching them. Calvin Johnson is looking to become the first wide receiver ever to have a 2,000-yard receiving season. He already took down Jerry Rice’s single season receiving yards record last week, but wants to get to 2,000. He is sitting at 1,892, but has a tough matchup against Chicago. Johnson is on a mission, though, so be prepared for another huge game if you’re going up against him. Adrian Peterson is chasing 2,000 yards on the ground. He may not break Eric Dickerson’s rushing record of 2,105, but he only needs 102 yards for the coveted 2,000-yard mark. Obviously, both are must-starts who will have huge games.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee
Britt hasn’t had more than three receptions in five of his last six games, but has slowly seen his targets increase over the year. He does have three touchdowns in his last five games and has a great matchup against Jacksonville coming up. I wouldn’t call Britt a must-start, but he certainly has a chance to do some serious damage this weekend and is a solid flex play and maybe even a WR2 option if you have some holes in your lineup due to teams resting their players to get ready for the playoffs.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta
With the Falcons already having clinched the top seed in the NFC, they really won’t play their starters too much in Week 17 against Tampa Bay. That being said, Rodgers could see an increased role. Michael Turner will surely get a good chunk of rest, so it’s possible that Rodgers will see anywhere from 12-18 carries. The Buccaneers defense is allowing a ton of points right now, and Atlanta will be looking to keep the ball on the ground in this game. Rodgers also has added value because of his great pass catching abilities, so take a look his way.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia
Nick Foles is out for Sunday’s game with the New York Giants, so Vick gets to end the season as he began it: starting for the Eagles. This is very intriguing to say the least, as Vick was the best fantasy player in the league in 2010. He had a rough 2011 and 2012, but he has the skills to have a huge game any week. If the Philadelphia offensive line can actually protect him this week, Vick could have quite a sendoff to the season. He has had good games against the Giants in the past, and even though Philadelphia is out of the playoff hunt, you know they would love to spoil New York’s chances. Vick could sneakily put up more than 20 points in Week 17, so take a look if he’s not owned and you have a guy like Matt Ryan currently starting.
Lock of the Week
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
Nicks has had a very inconsistent season for New York in 2012. He’s battled injury and hasn’t been 100 percent all season, but he is capable of a big game every week and will have that on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Nicks didn’t play in the first matchup against Philadelphia and was shut out in Week 16 against Baltimore, but he isn’t hurt and should see way more targets this weekend. Start Nicks with confidence as the Giants are playing for a playoff spot and Philadelphia’s defense has been less than impressive this season. New York will rely on the arm of Eli Manning down the stretch as they always do, so all receivers will be busy.