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The Fantasy Matrix – Week 17

Hello and happy holidays to all who are reading fantasy articles in Week 17. If you’re an awesome person who just likes reading these articles, I salute you. If you’re reading this because you have a championship matchup in Week 17, you’re in a league with a bad commissioner and I apologize.

But this isn’t the place for whining and complaining. Let’s save that for after the season. For each matchup, I’m going to analyze the impact that potential meaninglessness will have on the game, and then break it down. Let’s go!

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

Week 17 impact: A win clinches a first-round bye for Carolina. Atlanta has played hard in essentially meaningless games for more than a month. Both teams are playing to win.

Breakdown: Without

Steve Smith

, Carolina’s best receiver is
Greg Olsen

. Blech. Atlanta has a bad enough defense and Cam Newton will do enough with his legs for a solid performance, but it’s hard to like anyone else.
Roddy White

turned some heads with a monster performance at San Francisco, but Carolina’s defense is sick. Nobody is a recommended elite play against them.

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

Week 17 impact: The Bengals have a shot at a first-round bye, and the Ravens need a win with help to sneak in as a Wild Card. Neither squad will hold back.

Breakdown: I don’t have a delicate way to say this, so I’ll just let it out: Baltimore’s offense is bad. Against a good Bengals defense,

Ray Rice

is the safest player by virtue of volume of carries, even though he probably won’t do much with them. For Cincinnati,
A.J. Green

is an obvious start,
Andy Dalton

Marvin Jones

are the high-upside dice rolls they always are, and if anyone can turn in some big plays against Baltimore’s run defense, it’s
Giovani Bernard


Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

Week 17 impact: Both teams are eliminated from playoff contention. I expect both teams to play to win, but personnel usage could be incredibly unpredictable.


T.J. Yates

may be starting this one at quarterback for the Texans. No matter who ends up behind center, you don’t want to use him.
Andre Johnson

has a rough matchup, but I’m not benching him.
Ryan Fitzpatrick

is a good start in two-quarterback leagues. After outscoring
Chris Johnson

in two of their last three games,
Shonn Greene

is more than just a touchdown vulture. With the Titans possibly not bringing Johnson back next year, they may hand a full workload to Greene as an audition for next year.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts

Week 17 impact: The Colts have enough of a chance at a first-round bye to play their starters. The Jaguars will play hard, but it’s very hard to know who exactly will be on the field for a team that is in full-blown evaluation mode.


Andrew Luck

has been unpredictable, but home matchups don’t get much better. Last week
Donald Brown

was more productive on one 51-yard touchdown carry than
Trent Richardson

was the whole game. He’s simply the better player.
T.Y. Hilton

has failed to hit double-digit fantasy points in any of this last six games. Maybe his upside isn’t as high as we thought. For Jacksonville, don’t look now but
Marcedes Lewis

has four straight games with a touchdown. He’s recapturing the ordinary yardage and regular end zone trips that made him a stud in 2010. Starting him wouldn’t be crazy.

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