Week 17 is the most important week in all of fantasy football for the waiver wires. The reasoning behind that is simple. Besides the fact that it is for the championship, many teams do not play their starters for the full game (or at all) in Week 17. So for the first time since the draft, owners have to actually study if they want to win this week.
I dislike nothing more than studying tape and players all year long to have some “part-timer” sweep into the playoffs and take me out. That’s why I like Week 17. The average Joe who doesn’t pay that close of attention could never pull out a good week in Week 17. You have to be someone who understands which players are going to be touching the rock in the final week. Week 17, more than any other week, separates the fantasy guppies from the sharks.
Two teams (New Orleans and Dallas) have clinched playoff spots already and will not be able to improve their standing with a win this week. These teams will likely be resting their starters and that means you may need waiver wire help. The key is to figure out whether or not your guy is going to play. Here are a couple of hints for you. If your guy is on a team that has its playoff spot secured, he most likely won’t play. With that in mind, let’s jump in and take a look at what fruit is still out there for the picking, and as always, let’s start with quarterbacks.
Sam Darnold had one heck of a day in Week 16. Going up against Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers, the New York Jets’ quarterback threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns. Darnold is still available in 94 percent of leagues. He should be a quarterback to set your sights on in Week 17, right? No, on second thought Darnold has only recently seen good fantasy numbers and he will be going up against New England in Week 17. New England will be fighting for a first-round bye in the playoffs. It is safe to say that coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will come out with guns a-blazing. Jets fans should be excited about Darnold, but fantasy owners should stay away this week.
Josh Allen, on the other hand, would make a great Week 17 fill-in if you have a need at quarterback.
Allen is available in 62 percent of leagues and actually had a mediocre Week 16 when he only threw for 217 yards and one touchdown against New England. Remember, though, this is a New England team that is fighting for a playoff bye. This next week Allen and Buffalo go up against Miami. The offense will be able to move the ball a little better than last week and I am predicting we will see another Allen rushing touchdown. Allen will have a good week and you can be on the receiving end if you so choose.
Nick Foles went completely crazy in Week 16 and threw for 471 yards and four touchdowns against a very tough Houston defense.
He is available in 79 percent of leagues and faces Washington this week. Philadelphia is playing for a chance to get itself in the playoffs so you can bet that it also will be leaving everything on the field. I’ll take Foles with nothing to lose and everything to gain any day and you should too, if you have a need at quarterback.
Atlanta’s Brian Hill has many owners talking this week, and why wouldn’t he? He is 99 percent available in fantasy leagues and rushed for 115 yards against Carolina on just eight carries in Week 16. He came in when Tevin Coleman left the game due to a groin injury. Now word is coming out that Coleman may not play again, putting Hill in the waiver wire conversation with many fantasy owners. I say pump the brakes, however. Hill may just not be the easy answer to your running back needs. Hill had a big game on Sunday for sure but he did get 60 of his 115 yards on just one carry. If you pick him up you may be holding out for one big play. He is going against Tampa Bay, which is a good thing, but given his very little playing time up until this point and the fact that he only got eight touches last week I believe he is too risky to roll with on championship week.
C.J. Anderson fooled me once but he will not fool me again.
When I saw Anderson warming up for the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday I had flashbacks of Cheesburger Eddy. That’s Eddie Lacy for those of you who haven’t been following me for years. When Lacy went to Seattle it was very obvious that he had put on weight and we all wondered how that was going to affect him. We found out rather quickly that it did not help. So naturally I was worried when I saw Anderson. He then went out and ran for 167 yards and a touchdown. Well shut my mouth. Anderson still has the goods and he is available in 65 percent of leagues and just may be one of the most valuable pickups in this last week. Anderson and the Los Angeles Rams go up against San Francisco in Week 17. San Francisco is not too much tougher than Arizona so I think it is safe to say you can expect great things from Anderson this week.
Darren Sproles is 93 percent available and 93 years old (he is actually 35 years old).
OK, just kidding, he’s not a day over 50, but that doesn’t matter as he keeps on ticking as evidenced last Sunday when he ran for 32 yards and caught three balls for 76 yards and a touchdown against Houston. Now Sproles and Philadelphia are fighting for a spot in the playoffs this week and going up against Washington. I like his chances. If you are in a points per reception (PPR) league this is a no-brainer, but even in standard leagues Sproles can prove to be a sneaky good play.