Thursday - Feb 21, 2019

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START/BENCH: Week 17

For most fantasy football enthusiasts, the 2017 season is like Christmas. It’s over. Finished. Kaput. Week 16 brought with it either Championship glory or the bitter taste of defeat.

For this writer, it was a mixed bag of both with far too much of the latter. Stupid Todd Gurley and his stupid big game.

However, just as there are folks who wear light-up sweaters all the way into January, there are some fantasy owners with one week left to go.

They are the Week 17 weirdos.

Actually, having a Week 17 Championship game isn’t quite as weird as it once was. Since the NFL began weighting the schedule with divisional games late in the year a few seasons ago, more and more playoff races and/or seedings have gone down to the wire.

This year is no exception. While seven of the NFL’s eight divisions are decided (the NFC South is the only one up for grabs), as things stand at the moment only Philadelphia is locked in as the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Given how Philadelphia’s offense looked against Oakland Monday night, Philadelphia players sitting isn’t exactly a massive loss fantasy-wise.

On the AFC side it’s a little worse. Jacksonville and Kansas City Chiefs are the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds respectively, regardless of what happens in Week 17. So Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and Leonard Fournette could be limited (or not play at all).

However, the NFL— for the most part — did fantasy owners a solid this week. Most of the “win and in” and big games are at 4:25 p.m. on Sunday – so the player pool shouldn’t have that many more holes in it this week than it would any other.

With that in mind, for one final week in 2017 it’s “Start/Bench” time here at Fantasy Sharks. The Week 17 edition is admittedly abbreviated, partly because there just won’t be that many people reading it and partly because after a long season that ends just as the holidays explode this scribe is three exits past exhausted on the freeway that is life and ready to fall flat on my ugly face.

I hope that my first year handling this detail at Fantasy Sharks was helpful. But if it wasn’t you have no one to blame but yourself …

As my better half will gladly tell you, only a fool would listen me.

I hope the holidays are treating you and yours well, and that the new year brings happiness and success.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Tom Brady, New England (vs. New York Jets)

Russell Wilson, Seattle (vs. Arizona)

Cam Newton, Carolina (at Atlanta)

START OF THE WEEK

Kirk Cousins, Washington (at New York Giants)

Fresh off a solid effort against Denver, Cousins closes the season against a Giants team allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in 2017. And despite the fact that 7-8 Washington has been eliminated from playoff contention, head coach Jay Gruden told the Associated Press there’s been no thought of sitting the free agent to be.

“Kirk wants to finish out the season,” Gruden said. “Got to get us back to 8-8. I think finishing on a three-game winning streak is important to a lot of people here. Finishing strong is what we’ve been preaching here the last 2-3 weeks.”

ROLL THEM OUT

Drew Brees, New Orleans (at Tampa Bay): New Orleans’ mission is simple this week. Beat Tampa Bay, and the NFC South is won. That’s called motivation.

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (vs. San Francisco): 12/28 UPDATE: Goff will not play Week 17.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit (vs. Green Bay): Detroit isn’t playing for anything but pride after being eliminated from playoff contention, but Stafford’s expected to start Sunday in Detroit.

SIT THEM DOWN

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco (at Los Angeles Rams): The Rams are 25th in fantasy points per game allowed to the position and Garoppolo has less than two touchdowns in four out of five starts with San Francisco.

Case Keenum, Minnesota (vs. Chicago): Believe it or not, Chicago has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Minnesota wins a low-scoring affair here.

Marcus Mariota, Tennessee (vs. Jacksonville): If Tennessee beats Jacksonville on Sunday, Tennessee is in the playoffs. The problem is that I don’t expect that to happen against an angry Jacksonville team.

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 a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 2017. 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.