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RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Week 17

Welcome back to 2017’s final edition of “Red Light, Green Light”, which is a matchup guide for all of this weekend’s (and Monday’s) NFL contests. While this piece is not intended to be solely a start/bench list, it can be used for some of those decisions as well.

In each of the NFL Week 17 game profiles below, players mentioned in the green light sections have a great matchup, and can be counted on as rock solid options for the week. Players mentioned in the yellow light sections have just an okay matchup and/or usage concerns, meaning they are passable fantasy options but don’t expect them to set the world on fire. Players in the red light sections have serious concerns, and need to have expectations lowered for the week, and/or should be avoided if possible. Remember, seeing your stud listed in the yellow or red light section isn’t necessarily grounds to bench them, but more of an indication they may not be the guy(s) carrying your team to victory this week.

Week 17 Note: I’ve done my best to indicate which players have already been or could potentially be ruled inactive due to teams resting starters for the playoffs or shutting guys down early due to injury. As always, please be sure to verify a players’ status via the team injury reports prior to kickoff.

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Packers Lions
Quarterback 8th 20th
Running Back 12th 2nd
Wide Receiver 6th 18th
Tight End 29th 10th
Defense/Special Teams 12th 13th (tied)
Vegas Line: Lions -6.5
Vegas Over/Under: 43
Matthew Stafford has thrown multiple touchdown passes just once in his past four games, though he’s facing a Packers that has allowed 10 passing touchdowns over that same span. Congrats to Marvin Jones on his first 1,000 yard season (1,020 to be exact). Jones should have no trouble adding to that total against the Packers’ struggling secondary.
After getting bottled up in three straight contests against some of the NFL’s best run defenses, Jamaal Williams should have easier time against a Lions defense that has allowed the 12-most rushing yards and 2nd-most rushing touchdowns to opposing backfields this season. Further cementing the case for Williams is that fellow RB Aaron Jones re-aggravated his knee injury last Sunday, and appears doubtful to play. Golden Tate has been held to 33 receiving yards or less in four of his last six contests, as Marvin Jones has emerged as the Lions wideout to own this season. Eric Ebron has 210 receiving yards over his past three games while scoring twice. The Packers have played mostly stingy TE defense this season, but have allowed three scores to the position over their last four contests. The Lions D/ST has not been very good lately, but they are still viable as heavy home favorites against a skeleton crew Packers offense.
With Davante Adams (concussion) and now Jordy Nelson (shoulder) out, Randall Cobb figures to operate as the Packers’ top wideout. Cobb has just two games all season where he’s finished with more than 60 receiving yards. Geronimo Allison figures to be next in line as the Packers’ no. 2 wideout, though he’s only caught 12 passes for 92 yards since going 6-122 in Week 3. Brett Hundley threw 6 touchdowns passes over two starts against the Browns and Steelers, and just one over his other six. The Lions appear poised to enter Week 17 with a three-man backfield consisting of Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah, and Tion Green. Riddick is the better bet for receptions, while Green is the better bet for a score, though it’s most likely no Detroit RB receives enough touches to move the fantasy needle.

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Bears Vikings
Quarterback 26th 30th
Running Back 26th 32nd
Wide Receiver 17th 26th
Tight End 26th 32nd
Defense/Special Teams 7th 30th
Vegas Line: Vikings -11.5
Vegas Over/Under:
 39.5
While the Bears have been playing better lately, their offense should be no match for the Vikings D/ST, which has swooped in front of the Jaguars as the NFL leader in points allowed per game.
Adam Thielen has just 5 catches for 54 scoreless yards over his past two games, as the Vikings WR pendulum appears to be swinging back towards Stefon Diggs, who has recorded 10 catches for 90 yards and two scores over that same span. Gameflow and cold weather resulted in one of Case Keenum‘s poorest fantasy outings of the season last week. The Vikings’ QB should be able to post better numbers indoors this week, though the Bears’ hasn’t exactly been a boon to opposing QBs this season. The potential for a positive game script does not make Latavius Murray an auto-roll, as the Bears have been tough against the run this season, and actually limited Murray to just 12 carries for 31 yards back in Week 5. That said, Murray is the one most likely to be on the field for clock-killing duties if the game goes as expected.
Jordan Howard has just 81 yards on 32 rushes over his last two contests (though he saved Week 16 from being a dud by scoring two touchdowns), and faces the NFL’s stingiest defense at limiting fantasy points to opposing rushers. Mitchell Trubisky finished as a QB1 last Sunday for the second time in three weeks, though he will be hard pressed to so again as the Vikings play shutdown pass defense as well. Jerick McKinnon has not gone over 50 rushing yards since Week 6, and has seen his receiving usage decline as well, catching two or fewer balls in three of his past five contests. Kyle Rudolph has just three catches for 23 yards over his past two games as he’s been hampered by an ankle injury. Rudolph is still expected to play, but is touchdown or bust against a Bears defense that defends tight ends well.

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Texans Colts
Quarterback 3rd 7th
Running Back 27th 6th
Wide Receiver 3rd 7th
Tight End 6th 9th
Defense/Special Teams 5th 3rd
Vegas Line: Colts -5.5
Vegas Over/Under:
 40
It’s probably too little, too late for most T.Y. Hilton owners, but the Colts wideout faces a burnable Texans secondary that he scorched for 5-175-2 back in Week 9. DeAndre Hopkins (calf) is looking like a game-time decision. If Hopkins plays, he will be facing a Colts secondary that hasn’t been able to stop anyone this season, let alone one of the best receivers in fantasy football, as Hopkins is currently second in NFL receiving yards and first in receiving touchdowns.
Jacoby Brissett is obviously not putting up the numbers Andrew Luck would have had the Colts’ franchise QB been healthy this season, but Brissett has played scrappy enough to take advantage of good matchups, and the Texans have allowed more touchdowns to QBs than every NFL team except the Giants. I keep doubting Frank Gore each week and he continues to prove me wrong with at least 61 rushing yards or a touchdown in four of his last five contests. Meanwhile, the usually stout Texans defense has given up the 5th-most rushing yards and five touchdowns to opposing backfields over their past four contests. Jack Doyle has caught at least 5 passes in five of his last eight contests, and remains a low-upside yet reliable option against a Texans defense that has allowed the 7th-most receiving yards to opposing TEs this season.
Lamar Miller has been out-touched by teammate Alfred Blue in each of the Texans’ last two contests. It’s unclear what sort of backfield distribution the Texans’ have in mind for Week 17, so it’s best to steer clear altogether despite the cushy matchup. Will Fuller will presumably slide into Houston’s no. 1 wideout if DeAndre Hopkins ends up sitting out, which could result in a smattering of targets for Fuller. Regardless, there’s no guarantee Fuller will be able to do anything with the expanded usage.

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Browns Steelers
Quarterback 4th 27th
Running Back 19th 13th
Wide Receiver 20th 21st
Tight End 3rd 31st
Defense/Special Teams 1st 26th
Vegas Line: Steelers -7
Vegas Over/Under:
 38
None of note.
This contest represents the last opportunity for the Browns to avoid being the second team in NFL history to finish 0-16. Isaiah Crowell has at least 72 rushing yards in four of his last seven games, while the Steelers have given up the the 6th-most rushing yards and six total touchdowns to opposing backfields over their last four. Having caught at least 4 passes in each of his last three games while adding two scores over that span, Duke Johnson is back in as a viable fantasy play in a contest that figures to see his team down early and throwing.
Josh Gordon has just 66 yards over his last two games after amassing 154 in Weeks 13 and 14 as he’s been a victim of Browns QB DeShone Kizer‘s erratic play. Corey Coleman (two catches for 22 yards since the start of Week 15) has fared even worse than Gordon. Even without Antonio Brown in the lineup, Jesse James‘ usage is still too inconsistent to trust, even against the Browns defense that has hemorrhaged fantasy points to opposing TEs all season long. Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell are expected to be rested during Week 17 so as not to risk injury going into the playoffs. Playing without their starting QB (and possibly getting limited playing time themselve), Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster are off the radar for the Steelers’ season finale.

About Will Weiler

An NFL Red Zone addict and all-around data nerd, I've been obsessed with the NFL and stats ever since I started playing the virtual pigskin game in 2005.