Thursday - Mar 4, 2021

Home / Injury / ON SECOND THOUGHT: Week 17


It’s the last week of the fantasy season and it is not going to disappoint. There are so many injury and personnel changes to major positions you would think that this is Week 2, and of course, there is the added Week 17 obstacle of who will play and who won’t.

This is not to say that every person playing in the NFL next week won’t be giving it their all but some of the bigger name players might not be out there due to the fact that their team has nothing to play for.

Sometimes those big name players are out there but only for a few series or quarters. Often for teams that do not have any sort of playoff implications in Week 17 it is like Week 3 of the preseason. The main players go out there and play 2 or 3 quarters then the backups come in for 1 or 2 quarters, so you can’t rely on a big game from your big guys unless they are on a team that needs to win this week. What makes a team “need to win” this week? Simple. If by winning they help there position in the playoffs then they will feel the need to win.

No, I cannot guarantee that all games will go this way and many former football players would strongly deny what I am saying and state that it is absurd that I would dare say this, but I don’t care for their rhetoric as I have watched these games for almost half a century and I know what I see every Week 17 of every year. And that is, the teams who don’t have “have too win” typically don’t play all of their big guys for the entire game. Or if they do, the big guys treat it like the Pro Bowl and do not give it 100%.

So which teams are involved in games that have meaning? I simply looked at which games involved one or more teams that still can help themselves by winning. And those games are as follows:

New England vs. Miami

Houston vs. Tennessee

Denver vs. Oakland

Kansas City vs. San Diego

New York Giants vs. Washington

Detroit vs. Green Bay

Carolina vs. Tampa Bay

Seattle vs. San Francisco

If one team has to play hard then both teams will most likely play hard because nobody wants to be beat 50-0. So players from these teams should see a normal week of action and production. The following is a list of games where both teams have nothing, but pride, to play for which often means less productive games.

Buffalo vs. New York Jets

Baltimore vs. Cincinnati

Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh

Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville

Dallas vs. Philadelphia

Chicago vs. Minnesota

Atlanta vs. New Orleans

Arizona vs. Los Angeles

This is not to say that there won’t be big games from this selection. In fact, I promise there will be some great games out of these eight, but I just want to caution you that players in these games run a higher risk than normal of having low numbers due to lack of playing time or poor play due to their teams Week 17 game plan.

With that in mind, the goal this week would be to find you replacements for your injured players or streaming players that are in games that matter. I’m confident we can accomplish this for you, so let’s get started and as always, let’s start with quarterbacks.

Marcus Mariota went down with a season-ending injury when he broke his leg on Saturday which opens the door for Matt Cassel to come in and finish up the season for the Titans.

Cassel, who is available in 100% of leagues, has had big games in his career as a backup and has a pretty good offense to work with. His predecessor, Mariota, has had a very nice season so it figures to reason that Cassel might be a good pickup off of waivers this week, especially if you had Mariota, right?

On second thought, no. Cassel is in a big game with Houston, who is jockeying for playoff position, and he is going to want to play well for his own sake in keeping his career going in the NFL, but the Tennessee Titans have two very good running backs in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. So it seems that a head coach who is game planning for the last game of the year with little significance, a good running game and is starting a back-up QB, would game plan to run the ball a lot.

In fact, I would be surprised if the game plan was anything but to run, run, and run some more. If you want a quarterback who is going to give you a better chance for some nice production, then you should look to Oakland where they also lost their QB for what appears to be the rest of the season as well.

Similar to Mariota, Derek Carr broke his fibula as well and is out for the rest of the year. That makes way for Matt McGloin to come in a finish out the season.

The good news is that McGloin takes over a very powerful offense and this week’s game does have playoff positioning implications and they play against a very tough defense in the Denver Broncos. McGloin is also available in 100% of leagues.

The last time these teams played the Raiders lost 30-20. These teams have a long heated history which means there is going to be a very good chance the score will be high again. And with the Broncos defense there is a good chance the Raiders will be playing from behind. Hello garbage time. Nothing is a given in this league, but I really feel you could see some nice garbage time points coming from McGloin.

Sam Bradford goes against my original rule I set up for this week. He is not playing in a game that matters. Sometimes however, you have to go with the hot hand and Bradford has thrown for 965 yards and 4 touchdowns in his last 3 games, it doesn’t get much hotter than that.

Couple that with the fact that he is playing against Chicago and does not have a very good run game to back him up and you seem to have a recipe for a very nice game. Bradford is still available in 91% of leagues and could really help your team this week if needed.

The running back choices are a little tougher this week as they tend to be the most unavailable position in fantasy football. None-the-less, Mike Gillislee has looked very good this season in the backup role for LeSean McCoy.

Last week, Gillislee ran for 91 yards on just 11 carries in the reserve role which has seen him post a very nice December in which he has also scored 3 times. At 72% available, he should be a target on this week waiver wire, right?

I would have to say pass on Gillislee this week. I liked him over the last few weeks but this week is different. You still have a healthy and very hot McCoy in front of him in a week that does not have a lot of meaning. This just feels like a bust type of game for Gillislee.

You should really be looking to someone who is guaranteed action like Shaun Draughn of the 49ers. Carlos Hyde sprained his MCL this week and is done for the year. Enter Draughn, who is available in 98% of leagues and has served very well as Hyde’s back-up this season.

They face the Seattle Seahawks who are scrambling for a home field game in the playoffs after a bone-headed loss to the Arizona Cardinals this last week. The game will be intense as the Seahawks have something to play for and the 49ers hate the Seahawks. Expect a lot of opportunities for Draughn who will face tough sledding against the Seahawks defense, but touches are touches and since he is getting the lion’s share you have to figure he will give you some solid points.

Alfred Blue is another backup who has been playing well lately. He ran for 73 yards and 1 touchdown and added 4 catches for 17 yards in last week’s victory over the Bengals. Houston did clinch the AFC South and is playing for playoff position but they also have the opportunity to let a banged-up Lamar Miller heal up for another week before going into the playoffs, and I firmly believe they will do exactly that.

This means that Blue could be the main back once again in Week 17 against the Titans which could mean some very nice points for anyone starting him. If you have a hole in your RB position, Blue could be the very nice plug and play you need for week 17.

About Rick Olson

Rick joined FantasySharks,com as a staff writer in 2013, though he fell in love with fantasy football in 1988 with the first league he played in. In his articles he tries to feature players off the radar or deeper than most since, in his experience, by the time a player is a waiver wire "must have" they are not usually available in most leagues.