Friday - May 14, 2021

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START/BENCH: Week 17

There has long been one primary criticism of playing fantasy championships in Week 17— whether it’s playoff teams who are locked into certain seeds or non-playoff teams who decide to give youngsters a look and/or shut down banged-up veterans, so many players sit out the week that it completely gums up lineups. What’s the point of riding a star running back this far if he’s unavailable for the biggest game of the season?

There’s some validity to that criticism. But in 2020 at least, we appear to have dodged much of the chaos that can plague fantasy leagues in Week 17.

With two divisions and five of the NFL’s six Wild Card spots still up for grabs entering Week 17, there’s just one team that is all but guaranteed to sit starters this Sunday — Kansas City, who is the No. 1 seed in the AFC seed no matter what happens at Arrowhead Stadium against the Los Angeles Chargers.

That’s right — likely no Patrick Mahomes. Or Tyreek Hill. Or Travis Kelce.

That about covers it.

There are other teams who could ostensibly sit some players. Pittsburgh has been coy about its plans for Week 17, but the team had an early bye thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and has more than a few injuries up and down the roster. There have been rumblings that Buffalo could sit some players this week. And depending on how this week’s backloaded 4 p.m. slate plays out, quite a few players could be making an early exit from games.

If your league is playing its title game in Week 17 and you got this far, there’s only one thing to do — make the best of the hand you are dealt and try to get one final victory this season.

So, for the last time in 2020, let’s shuffle up the deck and get to work.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (vs. Los Angeles Chargers) [RESTING]

Russell Wilson, Seattle (at San Francisco)

Kyler Murray, Arizona (at Los Angeles Rams) [INJURED]

Josh Allen, Buffalo (vs. Miami)

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (at Chicago)

Deshaun Watson, Houston (vs. Tennessee)

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (at Kansas City)

ROLL THEM OUT

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota (at Detroit): It’s Cousins who gets that eminently torchable Detroit secondary in the regular season finale. He has also been a Top-10 fantasy quarterback in Sharks League Scoring since the fantasy playoffs began in Week 13.

Philip Rivers, Indianapolis (vs. Jacksonville): Fantasy managers looking for a spot-start replacement for Patrick Mahomes might want to turn to Rivers in a must-win game against a Jacksonville team giving up the second-most fantasy points to signal-callers this year.

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee (at Houston): Tannehill was bailed out last week against Green Bay by a long scoring run, but he should rebound Sunday against a Houston team surrendering the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2020.

SIT THEM DOWN

Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (vs. Washington): Since the fantasy playoffs got underway, Hurts has been a Top 5 fantasy option at his position. But this week Philadelphia’s terrible offensive line has to try to hold up against Chase Young and arguably the best front four in the NFL.

Baker Mayfield. Cleveland (vs. Pittsburgh): Mayfield came crashing back to earth last week against the New York Jets thanks to his entire wide receiver corps landing on the COVID-19 list. Even if Jarvis Landry and company can play in Week 17, he’ll be hard to trust in the worst fantasy matchup in the AFC for quarterbacks.

Kyler Murray, Arizona (at Los Angeles Rams): Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury is optimistic that Murray (leg) will be able to give it a go in a must-win game Sunday against the Rams — but he’s a banged-up quarterback in the worst fantasy matchup for quarterbacks this season.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an nine-time FSWA Award finalist and three-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last four years. He won the honor in 2017 and 2019. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.