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START/BENCH: Week 17

It has been quite the wild season in 2021 — a season that is concluding with a championship week unlike any in recent memory.

Fantasy mangers are dealing with all the regular issues that they do every year. Key players like Jacksonville running back James Robinson and Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen suffered injuries in recent weeks. Week 16 saw players like Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts, New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara and Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenen Allen all post dud stat lines.

But there’s another issue. A massive, potentially season-wrecking issue.

Stupid COVID-19.

The number of players who have landed on the COVID-19 list in recent weeks is equal parts staggering and depressing. Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler missed last week’s loss to Houston, and Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook and Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce were also sidelined.

Generally speaking, this is a week where the smart play is to jettison backup quarterbacks and tight ends, whether it’s for upside waiver plays or simply to prevent your opponent from adding a guy.

Hey. Fantasy football can be a cutthroat business.

However, this season it’s wise to have at least some depth at every position — a Plan B in case one of your starters lands on the COVID-19 list.

In 2021, having the healthier roster is more important than having the “better one.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (at Cincinnati)

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay (at New York Jets)

Josh Allen, Buffalo (vs. Atlanta)

Kyler Murray, Arizona (at Dallas)

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (vs. Los Angeles Rams) [INJURED]

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Denver)

Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (at Washington)

ROLL THEM OUT

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati (vs. Kansas City): All Burrow did last week was set a new franchise record with 525 passing yards against Baltimore. Kansas City has surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2021.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (vs. Minnesota): Yes, Minnesota put the clamps on Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams last week. But this remains a bad defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2021.

Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams (at Baltimore): Stafford posted a major clunker last week, tossing three interceptions against Minnesota. But this week’s matchup with Baltimore’s injury-ravaged defense is favorable enough to make a second chance a feasible proposition.

Tua Tagovailoa, Miami (at Tennessee): Among potential streaming/matchup options, Tagovailoa is the best bet in Week 17 against a Tennessee defense giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to the quarterback position this season.

SIT THEM DOWN

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Denver): Herbert is a hard quarterback to sit. But fantasy managers starting him this week need to do so with the knowledge that his matchup is bad and Denver held the second-year pro to a so-so stat line in Week 12.

Dak Prescott, Dallas (vs. Arizona): Prescott went ballistic last week against Washington’s poo pass defense. But prior to that he had been mired in a slump that saw him fail to hit 15 fantasy points in four of the preceding five games.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta (at Buffalo): Ryan probably isn’t even under consideration except in superflex and two-quarterback formats, and even there the veteran signal-caller draws a brutal championship week matchup with the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense.

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee (vs. Miami): Tennessee may be on the verge of another AFC South title, but Tannehill’s fantasy numbers have been mostly pedestrian and this week he draws a Bottom 10 fantasy matchup for quarterbacks in surging Miami.

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 four times. 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.