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Inside the Matchup
Week 17
12/30/16

By: Steve Schwarz | Jason Katz | Nick Caron | Jake Gordon



NO @ ATL | HOU @ TEN | TB @ CAR | JAC @ IND

OAK @ DEN | ARI @ LAR | KC @ SD | SEA @ SF

NE @ MIA | BUF @ NYJ | DAL @ PHI | NYG @ WAS

BAL @ CIN | CLE @ PIT | CHI @ MIN | GB @ DET

Notes:
- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Saints at Falcons - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Falcons can gain a bye in the first round with a win so fantasy owners should feel fairly comfortable about starting their typical Falcons in Week 17. The Falcons and the Saints feature two of the best scoring offenses in the game so this should be a good one to watch. Matt Ryan has a 7-to-0 TD-to-INT ratio over his last three games to warrant consideration for comeback fantasy player of the year. If you rode Ryan to you league’s title game, he should serve you well one more time. Julio Jones got a game under his belt last week and has a great match up for his final tune up prior to post season action. This is actually the third time these teams will be playing in 2016 (Week 17 last year) and Julio hasn’t scored a touchdown in either of the first two outings so I’m expecting there will be motivation for him to find the end zone and go into the post season on a high note. Mohamed Sanu out performed Taylor Gabriel last week and both are high risk touchdown dependent players this week. There will be plenty of scoring, however, and there is potential for one of these two to end up with multiple touchdowns so the risk adverse owners in deep formats may want to take a stab. This team has refrained from using the tight end and does not offer anything of value to the position for fantasy owners.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: Devonta Freeman and (five touchdowns in five career games) and Tevin Coleman (three touchdowns in two career games) have had plenty of success against the Saints. Coleman is walking a tight rope lately getting timely touchdowns to salvage his fantasy value more often than not so weigh the risks of using a 10-15 touch player when setting your lineup this week. Unless something crazy happens, Freeman will finish the year inside the top ten of fantasy running backs. Coleman’s presence in the passing game has eaten into his passing stats but Freeman is just 79 rushing yards away from posting better rushing stats in 2016 than he did in 2015. That’s impressive for a guy who was the top fantasy running back a year ago. The Saints have given up the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season so the match up only makes starting Atlanta’s pair of horses more appealing.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matt Ryan
RB1: Devonta Freeman
RB2: Tevin Coleman
WR1: Julio Jones
Flex: Taylor Gabriel, Mohamed Sanu
Bench: Aldrick Robinson, Austin Hooper, Levine Toilolo

Passing Game Thoughts: New Orleans has been eliminated from playoff contention but I’d be surprised if they didn’t put up a good effort with Sean Payton and Drew Brees potentially playing their final game together in the bayou. These two offenses have combined to average 48 first rounds a game this season and 77 points were scored the last time these two teams went head-to-head. You want to have guys playing in these types of games. Brandin Cooks is already a fixture in the lineup and is almost a lock for at least eight targets a game. Michael Thomas has a good shot at finishing his rookie year with better numbers than Michael Colston did during his rookie season. That’s a testament to Brees’ ability to make the players around him better and why he has thrown for over 300 yards in every game against the Falcons since 2014. He spreads the ball around so you can’t pencil anyone in for a huge game but guys like Willie Snead should be considered a flex option in deep formats. Coby Fleener had success against the Falcons earlier this season but he hasn’t done anything in months. I wouldn’t consider Fleener over more reliable mid-tier guys like Eric Ebron or Kyle Rudolph but after you get past the top twelve or so fantasy tight ends, Fleener offers fantasy owners a live body in what should be a high scoring affair.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: Mark Ingram has flown under the radar for much of this season despite being a fringe RB1 in 12-plus team leagues. It’s probably because he doesn’t feel like a true RB1 due to his inconsistency week to week where he sandwiches several sub par outings between a few big performances to make him look better than he really is in the fantasy realm. He went through a lull in the middle of the year where his touches were scaled back but it looks like New Orleans is back to giving him about 20 per game. Atlanta hasn’t been the easiest defense for opposing running backs to score against (tenth toughest over the past five weeks) but Ingram’s workload keeps him in RB2 territory. Tim Hightower appeared to be carving out a role for himself midseason but he’s come up on the short end of the timeshare with the team playing in so many shootouts.

Value Meter:
QB1: Drew Brees
RB2: Mark Ingram
WR2: Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas
TE2: Coby Fleener
Flex: Willie Snead
Bench: Tim Hightower, Brandon Coleman

Prediction: Saints 33, Falcons 27 ^ Top

Texans at Titans - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: In case you missed it, the Texans won ugly again. That means that Houston clinched the division last week and will enter the post season as the No.4 seed in the AFC. It also means that the passing attack remains a giant albatross for DeAndre Hopkins owners. Savage could revert to chucking it to Hopkins on two out of every three passes but those chances remain slim especially considering they have nothing left to gain from winning this game. More likely, Houston will treat this game like the fourth game of the preseason to rest guys and give a few backups some experience. There is only one strategy to consider for any of the pass catchers in Houston and that is to punt. Houston has a recipe for success and it doesn’t involve throwing the ball all over the field. If the passing game struggles when there is meaning to the game I have a hard time envisioning a lot of success when the opposite is true. It’s possible that Tennessee’s secondary will have packed up shop for the season considering the bitter pill they swallowed last week but I suggest keeping Will Fuller and C.J. Fiedorowicz on the couch with Hopkins and Savage this week.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: Lamar Miller is questionable and his team doesn’t stand to gain anything with a win this weekend. Considering the importance of Miller in the Texans’ offense, they have more to gain by resting him in a meaningless game so that he is fresher for the ones that do matter. Can Alfred Blue be a Week 17 darling if called upon? Probably. Blue has done a good job as a spot starter in the past and Houston’s passing game isn’t going to light the way anytime soon. Jonathan Grimes should get some work on passing downs but I still wouldn’t trust him in PPR formats. Meanwhile, Akeem Hunt will likely be the primary backup to Blue when he needs a breather. It’s tough to make a strong case for any of Houston’s running backs this week so take a cue from the passing game and keep everyone other than Nick Novak benched.

Value Meter:
Bench: Everyone

Passing Game Thoughts: A week of practice won’t be enough to ease the pain of a team that lost its quarterback and its playoff hopes in one game. The broken leg suffered by Marcus Mariota last week took the sails out of the Titans passing attack and fantasy owners need to think twice about using Delanie Walker and company this weekend. Matt Cassel is stepping in to play the final game. Cassel wasn’t horrible in relief of Mariota but he wasn’t great either throwing for 124 yards and a score on 24 passing attempts. Outside of one quality game against the Eagles last season, he has been more below average than average. The Titans will lean heavily on the ground game this week making the entire passing game a tough start for fantasy owners. Walker and Tajae Sharpe may be the best options for anyone thinking about swimming against the current. Both players have good hands that can be used in the short passing game to be effective on short quick throws needed for a backup quarterback to be effective in keeping the chains moving. Since I don’t think they will be throwing the ball much outside of third and long, everyone carries a great deal of bust potential.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: Tennessee will finish the year the same way it started. They are going to run the ball until the other team proves that they can stop it. Armed with a two-headed backfield, the Titans have the skill to be successful on the ground against a team like the Texans. For the first time this year, DeMarco Murray owners have felt the pain that most every other fantasy manager has felt this year…to see their top running back go without a touchdown in back-to-back weeks. For only the second time all year, Murray failed to rush for 100 yards or score a touchdown costing more than a few fantasy GMs the championship. Murray may not be the powerhouse RB1 option he was most of the year but he can’t be overlooked as a starter for Week 17 either. The Titans have clearly brought Derrick Henry into the backfield rotation but he remains entrenched in a timeshare and Houston’s 13th ranked defense (allowing 99.5 yards per game) will likely stack the box throughout this game. I’d be ok with starting either player as my RB2 knowing that they should get plenty of work running the ball for a team that ranks third in the NFL with 4.7 yards per carry.

Value Meter:
RB2: DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry
TE1: Delanie Walker (low end)
Flex: Tajae Sharpe, Rishard Matthews
Bench: Kendall Wright

Prediction: Titans 14, Texans 12 ^ Top

Panthers at Buccaneers - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: Carolina has been so bad that fantasy owners can’t even expect Greg Olsen to give them a decent outing these days. Even with 12 targets last week, the Panthers tight end was only able to catch half of those passes for a mere 59 yards. It was also his seventh game without a touchdown. Olsen isn’t alone in the underachieving department. Kelvin Benjamin’s last four outings COMBINED amount to nine receptions for 112 receiving yards and one touchdown. He’s barely a top 50 wideout these days and hasn’t found the end zone in two career games against the Bucs. The whole offense is stuttering and it starts with Cam Newton. The reigning league MVP is playing at such a low level it’s hard to find anything good to say. He is lucky to complete 50 percent of his passes lately and has only one game with multiple touchdown passes over the past month. Conversely, the Bucs may have been bad against the pass earlier in the year but they have been pretty good over the past month or so; holding Drew Brees to one passing touchdown in two games and preventing Seattle and Dallas from scoring via the pass. This ship has sunk and if you stayed on too long your season is already over.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: Jonathan Stewart hasn’t scored on the road since Week 12. Making matters worse, the Panthers’ lead back has missed practice with a bum foot (again). You may remember that Stewart had a similar issue around this time of the year in 2015. The difference then was that the Panthers were getting ready for their eventual run to the Super Bowl. All signs point to Stewart being inactive or ineffective so adjust your plans accordingly. Which backup option will be inserted into the starting role remains unclear. Regardless of who starts, Fozzy Whitaker should see more action in the offense. Mike Tolbert and Cameron Artis-Payne may also get mixed in but none qualify as backups that will shine with an opportunity. Whoever lines up in the backfield will have a tough time getting anything going with the way Carolina has been playing. If you are still in the hunt for a fantasy title you haven’t been relying on the Panthers ground game.

Value Meter:
QB2: Cam Newton
TE2: Greg Olsen
Flex: Kelvin Benjamin, Ted Ginn Jr.
Bench: All RBs, Devin Funchess

Passing Game Thoughts: If you like interesting playoff scenarios check out the Bucs chances. There is still a way for Tampa Bay to get into the post season and it starts with earning a victory against the Panthers. They will surely be playing at max effort for the whole game so the typical guys are on the fantasy radar heading into this weekend. Mike Evans (one of several misses for me a week ago) tops the list of fantasy starters for the passing attack and he also ends it. The lack of depth at the wide receiver position was a clear weakness coming into the year and group of Russell Shepard, Adam Humphries and Josh Huff haven’t been able to find much success after Vincent Jackson was placed on IR. The lone bright spot has been TE Cameron Brate. With touchdowns in three of the last four games, he’s been the third best fantasy tight end over the past five weeks but he was placed on IR earlier this week with a back injury. As for Jameis Winston, this isn’t a great game to deploy him. Both teams will be running and that will shorten the game and lead to less passing attempts than normal.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: This just wasn’t a good year to be a running back in Tampa Bay. The changeover over at the position took another turn this week when Doug Martin left the football field to seek help for the same issues that got him suspended for four games. It was against the Panthers in Week 5 that Jacquizz Rodgers got his first chance to start and it looks like he’ll be the guy to lead the way against them in Week 17 as well. HC Dirk Koetter had no reservations grinding it out on the ground with Rodgers as a starter earlier in the year. The added depth shouldn’t scare away anyone thinking of starting Rodgers as a RB2 this week because he still has a shot at seeing 20 carries. Charles Sims has been placed on IR so he won’t be stealing any touches.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jameis Winston
RB2: Jacquizz Rodgers
WR2: Mike Evans
Bench: Adam Humphries, Russell Shepard, Cameron Brate

Prediction: Buccaneers 27, Panthers 10 ^ Top

Jaguars at Colts - (Gordon)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Jags made me eat some crow last week and it tastes a little bitter considering I was rather optimistic about this team coming into the year. I’m not sure what to expect from this team going into Week 17 but there is renewed hope that Allen Robinson and company could put up respectable fantasy numbers against a defense surrendering 260 passing yards per game (9th worst in the NFL). That’s a little generous considering they haven’t exactly faced a decent passing team since Green Bay in Week 9. Nonetheless, this is a tough spot for fantasy owners because we’ve now seen the Jags play horribly (Week 15) and excellent (Week 16) but they have burned fantasy owners far more often throughout the year. I’d steer clear of counting on anyone producing this week but the passing game appears to have some new life going into the final week of the year making Robinson and Marqise Lee WR3/Flex options for deep leagues (Robinson’s the better option of the two based on expected targets).

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: T.J. Yeldon’s career has had a rough start to say the least. An ankle injury has landed him on the IR for the second straight season. That should allow Chris Ivory to get almost all of the carries for the Jags on Sunday. Breaking free of the timeshare should allow Ivory’s owners enough confidence to make him a low end RB2 against the Colts. Denard Robinson is also on IR, leaving the team with little in the way of alternatives and no more games left so I expect Ivory to be on the field all day. His 3.8 yards per carry average this season is the lowest mark in his career but adding a few carries and a handful of receptions should get him to at least 20 touches with 30 a realistic possibility if the Jags can keep the game close on the scoreboard.

Value Meter:
QB2: Blake Bortles
RB2: Chris Ivory
WR3: Allen Robinson
Flex: Marqise Lee
Bench: Bryan Walters

Passing Game Thoughts: The injury to Donte Moncreif is big blow to many championship squads. The touchdown monster of the Colts receiving game still managed to catch his seventh of the year before exited with a shoulder injury. Phillip Dorsett hasn’t exactly done well with extra chances this season and fantasy owners shouldn’t expect him to do too much in Week 17. Chester Rodgers has flashed some potential but is still too risky as the fifth or sixth best option in the passing game. That means all eyes are on T.Y. Hilton who has been nothing short of excellent this year. Hilton has notched 100 yard receiving games in three of his last four outings and should be a lock for double digit targets with Moncrief out of the picture. Hilton has amassed over a 100 yards in each of the last four games in which he has seen at least 10 targets so figures to be one of the strongest plays at the WR position this weekend. Andrew Luck has been a high floor fantasy starter this season and that’s where he finds himself again in the season finale. In a pass first offense he has been able to consistently throw multiple touchdowns each game but his chances of ending the year with an eye-popping fantasy line are not likely. Dwayne Allen hasn’t done anything notable since his three touchdown performance on Monday night a few weeks back. Jack Doyle has been the more consistent fantasy performer but remains a second grade option for very deep leagues.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: Frank Gore sits only 36 rushing yards away from the century mark and I wouldn’t bet against him getting reaching that plateau for ninth time of his career. He’s good for 60-80 yards and a score more often than not. He actually has more receiving touchdowns (2) than rushing touchdowns (1) while playing at home this year but I like his chances of getting in on the ground this week considering the Jags have allowed four of their last five opponents to score at least once rushing touchdown. Somehow Robert Turbin has seven total touchdowns this season on 68 touches for the year. That’s better than a touchdown per ten touches and good enough to make him a top 50 running back entering this week’s slate of games. You can’t really rely on Turbin for a fluky touchdown but it does make you wonder just how good Frank Gore could have been with a few more scores under his belt.

Value Meter:
QB1: Andrew Luck
RB2: Frank Gore
WR1: T.Y. Hilton
TE2: Jack Doyle
Bench: Dwayne Allen, Phillip Dorsett, Chester Rogers

Prediction: Colts 26, Jaguars 21 ^ Top

Raiders @ Broncos - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: From MVP candidate to IR, Derek Carr will miss Week 17 and require a long off-season layoff after breaking his fibula in the Raiders’ Week 16 win over the Colts. Oakland will now be forced to turn to backup Matt McGloin, who has not seen a start since his rookie season of 2013. McGloin is certainly not an MVP-caliber quarterback and thus absolutely cannot be trusted to go up against the NFL’s best fantasy pass defense in Week 17. The Broncos have allowed just one total touchdown pass over their past four contests combined and while they don’t have much to play for aside from pride at this point, that could be enough to shut down this sure-to-be-underwhelming Oakland passing attack. Receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, who are typically borderline WR1’s, now both become WR3/Flex plays in this contest with McGloin at the helm and a lockdown Denver secondary across the line of scrimmage.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: The Raiders’ running game is in an interesting situation this week. The team’s best chance to defeat the Broncos right now is obviously to control the clock and run the ball down their throats. However, the team is also looking toward the playoffs and they need their new quarterback to get clicking with his wide receivers. Murray struggled this past week in what should’ve been a great matchup against an underwhelming Indianapolis defense, so there’s some risk in this contest. Still, the Raiders aren’t likely to sit him in this game as the team needs to win in order to secure a first round bye in the playoffs, so look for a good number of carries from Murray yet again with a decent shot at a touchdown.

Value Meter:
RB2: Latavius Murray
WR3: Michael Crabtree
Flex: Amari Cooper
Bench: Matt McGloin, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, Seth Roberts, Clive Walford, Mychal Rivera

Passing Game Thoughts: With the Broncos officially out of playoff contention, the Broncos have now entered into the “early preparation for 2017” mode. That starts at the quarterback position where starter Trevor Siemian is entrenched in what is sure to be an interesting battle against 2016 rookie Paxton Lynch. While Siemian is expected to start this week, it would not be at all surprising to see Lynch get some playing time, especially if the Broncos fall behind on the scoreboard. This means that the Denver quarterback situation should be avoided for fantasy purposes, even though Siemian did throw a pair of touchdown scores when these teams met earlier this season. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are the only players in this passing game who should garner any fantasy attention, but even they have been disappointing in recent weeks. Both receivers have to take a bit of a downgrade this week due to the unpredictable quarterback situation and their own recent lack of success, but they should be solid WR2’s in Week 17.

OAK FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
OAK FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
OAK FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
OAK FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: The Denver running game continues to be in flux, but with the team now looking forward to next season, it seems likely that the coaching staff will do what they did this past week and lean heavily on Devontae Booker – not veteran Justin Forsett – in this contest. Neither player has been particularly effective as of late, but Booker was surprisingly targeted 10 times this past week in the passing game – a number which certainly should draw some attention from fantasy owners in PPR formats. Both players will likely see touches which limits their upside and neither make for strong plays against an Oakland defense that has given up just one touchdown and zero 100-yard rushers over the past three weeks, but Booker is the guy to take a chance in if you’re in desperation mode.

Value Meter:
WR2: Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders
Flex: Devontae Booker
Bench: Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Justin Forsett

Prediction: Raiders 20, Broncos 17 ^ Top

Cardinals @ Rams - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: Coming off of a surprisingly acceptable start against the Seahawks in Week 16, Carson Palmer looks like he might be a decent start this week against a struggling Rams defense that has given up a whopping 13 touchdowns over their past five contests, including a 266-yard, two touchdown performance to Colin Kaepernick this past week. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has taken a step back in both yardage and receptions as of late, but he is still the team’s top target in the passing game and thus has to be considered a WR2 in this contest. Meanwhile, fellow wide receiver J.J. Nelson has really stepped up as of late, catching touchdown passes in four straight contests, including his best performance of the season this past week when he went for 132 yards and a score. Nelson’s big play ability makes him an intriguing option, but his floor is also very low as he’s just not being used as heavily as his recent final point totals might indicate. He’s a high risk, high reward play who does have the potential to get into the end zone for the fifth straight contest. Finally, wide receiver John Brown should be on fantasy benches this week as he remains limited in practice and his snap counts have varied wildly since being diagnosed with the sickle-cell trait back in Week 7.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: The unbelievable season for David Johnson continues to roll on as the second-year back has now topped 100 total yards in every contest this season – a feat that many believed not to be possible in this pass-happy era. Johnson has scored an impressive five touchdowns over his past two contests and now leads all running backs with 20 total scores and 77 receptions on the season. He failed to get into the end zone when these teams played earlier this season, but the Rams were a much different team at that point and he still went for 124 total yards. Look for plenty of usage from him again this week, making him a high-end RB1 option once again.

Value Meter:
QB1: Carson Palmer
RB1: David Johnson
WR2: Larry Fitzgerald
Flex: J.J. Nelson
Bench: John Brown, Jermaine Gresham

Passing Game Thoughts: Rookie Jared Goff continues to struggle mightily, further limiting what is already a mediocre Los Angeles passing game. The quarterback has not thrown for more than 250 yards in any game this season and he had arguably his worst performance of the season this past week when he threw for just 90 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in what was, at least on paper, a very favorable matchup against the 49ers. With Kenny Britt possibly out this week, there really isn’t much to like in this passing game at all.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: If you held on to Todd Gurley all this time and finally inserted him into your lineup against the 49ers in Week 16, you were likely fairly happy with the results as the second-year runner got into the end zone for the second time in three weeks. Unfortunately, his yardage was again subpar as he rushed for just 67 yards on 23 carries. Sadly enough, this measly performance was Gurley’s fourth-best rushing yardage day of the season, further highlighting why he should absolutely not be trusted Arizona’s top-five fantasy run defense. Gurley was held to just 33 rushing yards on 19 carries when these teams met back in Week 4 and while he saved an otherwise horrendous fantasy day by making some plays in the passing game, his upside is very limited in this matchup. Still, due to the high number of players who will be limited or inactive this weekend, Gurley projects as a middle-of-the-pack RB2.

Value Meter:
RB2: Todd Gurley
Bench: Jared Goff, Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Pharoh Cooper, Lance Kendricks

Prediction: Cardinals 24, Rams 16 ^ Top

Chiefs @ Chargers - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: Rushing touchdowns in back-to-back weeks make Alex Smith’s fantasy numbers look pretty good as of late, but the stark reality is that the Chiefs’ quarterback has not thrown for multiple touchdown passes in a game since all the way back in Week 7. To make matters worse, the Chargers themselves have not allowed more than one passing score in a game since Week 10. If you’re looking for the bright spot, it’s worth noting that Smith did light this defense up for 363 yards and a pair of touchdowns back in Week 1 – his best fantasy day of the season, but things have changed quite a bit since then. Smith is a decent QB2 option, especially because so many other starters will be sitting this week. The best player in this passing game continues to be tight end Travis Kelce who has distanced himself from the rest of the tight end pack. He’s the best in the league from a fantasy standpoint and is a no-question top option this week. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has been held without a catch in each of his past two games, but continues to find ways to put up fantasy points, whether it be as a runner or a returner. This means he continues to be a risky fantasy option, but a player who has the potential to put up some nice fantasy points should the Chiefs make it a point to get the ball in his hands.

SD FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
SD FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
SD FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
SD FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Running back Spencer Ware was taken out of this past week’s victory over the Broncos and while he did not get back on the field, the Kansas City coaching staff has made it clear that he would have be able to return should the team had needed him. With the Chiefs still in the battle for the AFC West division championship, look for Ware to play this Sunday despite being limited in practice this week. The Chargers’ run defense hasn’t been bad this season as they’ve given up the eighth-fewest rushing yardage, but Ware continues to get just enough touches to remain a decent RB2, even if his upside is fairly limited.

Value Meter:
QB2: Alex Smith
RB2: Spencer Ware
TE1: Travis Kelce
Flex: Tyreek Hill
Bench: Charcandrick West, Jeremy Maclin

Passing Game Thoughts: It’s been a lost season for the San Diego Chargers, but there’s no question that Philip Rivers is still putting up the numbers to make him a respectable QB1 most weeks. The veteran passer has thrown multiple touchdowns in eight straight contests and while he has been turning the ball over too often, his fantasy points totals have remained solid. Wide receiver Tyrell Williams has been the team’s most consistent target in the passing game, having caught five touchdown receptions over his past eight games, but tight end Antonio Gates is also seeing plenty of attention from Rivers in what could end up being the final stretch of what is surely a Hall of Fame career.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: The train of injured San Diego running backs continued this past week as Kenneth Farrow went down, now leaving the team in an even tougher situation than they have been throughout the season. Melvin Gordon has the possibility of returning this week, but he’s been limited in practice for a few weeks now and his status will be a true game-time decision, making him an extremely risky play in Week 17. If Gordon doesn’t play, the team will presumably turn to backup Ronnie Hillman. Gordon could be a RB2 if he plays, but don’t look to Hillman to do much in what will likely be a pass-heavy gameplan.

Value Meter:
QB1: Philip Rivers
RB2: Melvin Gordon
WR2: Tyrell Williams
TE1: Antonio Gates
Flex: Dontrelle Inman
Bench: Ronnie Hillman, Hunter Henry

Prediction: Chiefs 24, Chargers 20 ^ Top

Seahawks @ 49ers - (Caron)

Passing Game Thoughts: After a terrible stretch prior to this, quarterback Russell Wilson has now thrown seven touchdown passes over his past two games, including a huge four-score game this past week against an excellent Cardinals defense. The Seattle offensive line has struggled, but they performed better in the second half against Arizona, thus giving plenty of reason to like Wilson and the Seattle passing game on the road against the 49ers this week. Seattle has already locked up their division so there is risk of the team opting to rest their starters late in the game, but they still have the possibility of earning a first round bye with a win and an Atlanta loss. The 49ers defense isn’t likely to put up much of a challenge, so feel free to deploy Wilson and Doug Baldwin. Tight end Jimmy Graham isn’t very exciting, but given the lack of talent at the position, he appears to be a viable TE1.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: The 49ers run defense continues to be historically bad and while the Seattle running game has been pathetic itself this season, there’s certainly an opportunity for fantasy production in this contest. Even Todd Gurley and the Rams were able to have a decent day against this defense in Week 16, so Thomas Rawls – who appears to be set to go after suffering a shoulder injury last week – could be in line for a nice fantasy day. If Rawls does sit, Alex Collins appears to be next in line, but he could also see some touches this week, especially if the Seahawks get ahead by multiple scores and the team opts to rest Rawls for the playoffs.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson
RB2: Thomas Rawls
WR1: Doug Baldwin
TE1: Jimmy Graham
Flex: Alex Collins, Jermaine Kearse
Bench: Paul Richardson

Passing Game Thoughts: He’s coming off of one of his best fantasy days of the season, but Colin Kaepernick is not a great option in Week 17 as he and the 49ers host the NFC West champions, the Seattle Seahawks. Kaepernick has historically struggled mightily against this defense and there’s really no reason to be overly optimistic in this contest either. The only reason to have hope for Kaepernick this week is if the Seahawks get out to a big enough lead that they bench their starters and he is able to exploit their second-string defense in garbage time. That’s not enough to warrant trusting Kaepernick as anything other than a low-end QB2 and no one else in this passing game should be considered for fantasy purposes in Week 17.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: With Carlos Hyde suffering what is believed to be a torn MCL this past week, the 49ers will now be forced to look down the depth chart in what is already a weak running game. It is believed that Shaun Draughn will be next in line to get the start, but the 49ers have also looked to DuJuan Harris in the past when Hyde has been afflicted with injury. This uncertainty, combined with the excellent Seattle defense, makes the fantasy outlook for both of these players pretty lousy. Draughn could be considered as a low-end flex option in PPR formats, but that’s about it.

Value Meter:
QB2: Colin Kaepernick
Flex: Shaun Draughn (PPR only)
Bench: DuJuan Harris, Jeremy Kerley, Rod Streater, Garrett Celek

Prediction: Seahawks 30, 49ers 14 ^ Top

Patriots @ Dolphins - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Tom Brady didn’t have to do much last week to run over a completely dead Jets team. Just 214 yards passing on a mere 27 pass attempts. He did throw for three scores, which was probably enough to at least not be the reason you lost your championship (which I hope you won). This week, the Patriots are one of just a handful of NFL teams with something to play for, but Brady is still at risk to be a mid game benching given that this game may not be close. The Patriots need a win (or a Raiders loss) to lock up the AFC’s top seed while the Dolphins are locked into a wild card spot and have little to play for. Julian Edelman’s floor has been incredibly high since Rob Gronkowski went down. He hasn’t been under 73 yards receiving since Week 8. It’s also worth noting he’s ten receptions away from 100 and 45 yards away from 1,000. It is entirely possible the Patriots try and get him there. If not Edelman, then I expect passes to head in the direction of Malcolm Mitchell. His dud last week was simply because the passing game became irrelevant very quickly and unfortunately Mitchell hadn’t done much at that point. He is still Brady’s top option after Edelman, but it is important to note that he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Keep an eye on his status. If he’s out, it will likely be Chris Hogan that benefits. The Dolphins just let Tyrod Taylor throw for his first 300-yard game this season. The Patriots will look to lock up the No.1 seed early.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: Apparently this Dion Lewis taking handoffs thing is real. Lewis handled 16 carries after taking 18 the previous week. He would have out-carried LeGarrette Blount had the game remained even remotely competitive, but Blount worked his way up to 20 carries in clock killing mode. Blount also fell into the end zone twice. James White caught a touchdown pass, but he’s still just the third option. I expect a lot of Blount this week as the Patriots go up early and look to just put the game away on the ground. White and Lewis are not good options.

Value Meter:
QB1: Tom Brady (#1)
RB2: LeGarrette Blount
WR2: Julian Edelman
WR3: Malcolm Mitchell (if he play)
Flex: Chris Hogan (if Mitchell sits)
Bench: Dion Lewis, James White, Martellus Bennett, Chris Hogan

Passing Game Thoughts: I wasn’t kidding when I said two weeks ago that I didn’t think Matt Moore was much of a downgrade, if any, from Ryan Tannehill. Moore has been quite competent with a 6:2 touchdown:turnover ratio since taking over. The Dolphins are certainly leaning more on Jay Ajayi, but Moore has made the throws when asked to. Last week, he forgot Jarvis Landry played football (3-29), but did throw touchdowns to DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. Parker’s was…interesting, but I’m more concerned with the seven targets Parker saw and the eight Stills saw – both more than Landry’s six. It’s hard to know how much these guys will play this week and what kind of effort we will get in a mostly meaningless game (the Dolphins can still theoretically get the five seed, which means going to Houston instead of Pittsburgh). Combine that with the fact that the Patriots have been the top fantasy defense over the past three weeks and this is not an offense you want to invest in.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Jay Ajayi exploded last week for 206 yards on a whopping 32 carries. He now has 420 yards against the Bills alone this season. Against the Patriots, way back in Week 2, Ajayi took all of five carries for 14 yards. Arian Foster was also still in the NFL back then so we really can’t count that. What we can count is the fact that Ajayi has been dealing with a bit of a sore shoulder. Adam Gase has gone on record that the starters will play, but many coaches say that because that’s what they think they’re supposed to say. The difference between going to Pittsburgh to face a team the Dolphins already beat and going to Houston is not worth the risk of losing key players. I expect Ajayi to play, but how much will depend on how healthy he feels and how much Gase likes to gamble. I would avoid Ajayi this week.

Value Meter:
RB2: Jay Ajayi
Flex: Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker
Bench: Kenny Stills, Matt Moore

Prediction: Patriots 30, Dolphins 17 ^ Top

Bills @ Jets - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: What a mess the Buffalo Bills organization is. Sometimes the impact of coaching is overstated in sports. Other times, you have last week’s game against the Dolphins. Rex Ryan was not just complicit but an active contributor to the Bills’ defeat. His mistake filled performance got both him and his brother sent packing on Monday. Exhibit A for why fantasy leagues must end Week 16: Tyrod Taylor just went off for almost 40 fantasy points in arguably the best game of his career as he tried to will the Bills into the playoff hunt. His reward: a Week 17 benching for EJ Manuel so the Bills aren’t at risk for being on the hook for all $30 mil & change of Taylor’s roster bonus should he get hurt. Manuel is an awful quarterback and saps all the allure out of using Sammy Watkins this week. Watkins is also coming off his best game of the season where he caught seven of ten targets for 154 yards and a touchdown. Charles Clay posted his second consecutive monster game with 8-85-2. None of this matters with Manuel calling the shots. The only saving grace is that the Jets have been elsewhere for weeks. Their offseason is already under way. At this point, they’re just going through the motions. Regardless, it’s a total crapshoot with the Bills offense in Week 17.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: LeSean McCoy should play a full complement of snaps this week. Interim Head Coach Anthony Lynn has an elite back in McCoy and a strong second man in Mike Gillislee. Yet for reasons unknown, rightfully terminated Rex Ryan decided to give the ball to Reggie Bush in a crucial spot last week. Bush promptly lost eight yards. Words cannot express how terrible Rex Ryan is as a head coach. He should never coach again. Shady, on the other hand, should get the ball as much as possible. The Bills don’t have any reason to rest him and he will want to finish the season on a high note. Last week’s 24 carries were a season high for McCoy and his 128 yards marked the seventh time he’s eclipsed 100 yards rushing. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Jets have not cared for weeks. McCoy will be able to do whatever he wants next week. His biggest threat is how much Gillislee is permitted to steal from him. Both are in play.

Value Meter:
RB1: LeSean McCoy (high end)
WR3: Sammy Watkins (would be a WR1 with Taylor)
TE1: Charles Clay
Flex: Mike Gillislee
Bench: Robert Woods, Tyrod Taylor (benched), EJ Manuel, Cardale Jones (why isnít he the one getting the audition?)

Passing Game Thoughts: On the other side of this contest, we have a team also not starting the same quarterback it did last week. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been named the starter for the Jets for what feels like the 100th time this season. All I can say is this is a massive indictment on one of the worst uses of a draft pick in NFL history as Christian Hackenberg has no business being in the NFL and the Jets know it so they won’t even give him a ceremonial start in a meaningless Week 17 game. No one on this offense cares anymore so despite the Bills’ inability to play defense last week, Brandon Marshall, Quincy Enunwa, and Robby Anderson are all not options. Adding injury to insult (literally), both Marshall and Anderson did not practice this week as of Thursday.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: Matt Forte is not going to play. Neither is Bilal Powell. Khiry Robinson broke his leg for the third time last week. Brandon Wilds would be the Jets running back, but he didn’t practice Thursday either due a hamstring injury. The Jets will take the field Sunday, but that’s about all. This is a lost season and their entire offense is hurt. It would make sense to give Wilds an extended look, but at this point, anyone questionable to play that isn’t playing a meaningful game should be considered doubtful. The Jets have no reason to push anyone who is less than 100% so we could be looking at Brandon Burks as the lead back. Full disclosure: I have no idea who Brandon Burks is.

Value Meter:
Bench: Everyone

Prediction: Bills 24, Jets 19 ^ Top

Cowboys @ Eagles - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Cowboys really just looked like they were having fun out there last week. And that was more than enough to bludgeon the Lions to the precipice of playoff elimination. Dak Prescott only threw twenty passes, but he completed fifteen of them for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores went to Dez Bryant, who had his best game in two years. In addition to his four receptions for 70 yards, Bryant also threw a touchdown on an end around WR pass to Jason Witten. Jason Garrett has gone on record multiple times to say that healthy starters will be play this week. I believe him…sort of. I believe that Dak, Dez & co. will be out there in the first quarter. I do not believe they will play the entire game. My best guess is we see the second unit in the second half. Bryant has been his WR1 self for much of the second half of the season, but there is no way to predict how productive he will be this week given the potential for limited action. My gut says trusting Cowboys this week is a risky proposition.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: Ezekiel Elliott is not going to catch Eric Dickerson. But even if he plays just a half next week, he should top 1700 yards rushing and already has 15 touchdowns. He’s an elite option for as long as he plays. He’s just as much of a gamble as the rest of the Cowboys offense.

Value Meter:
WR3: Dez Bryant (value assuming he plays half a game)
Flex: Ezekiel Elliott (should return flex value even if he plays just a half); Darren McFadden (should get extended burn in the second half); Brice Butler (he might start and will probably lead WRs in snaps)
Bench: Dak Prescott (doubtful he has time to do much); Jason Witten; Terrance Williams

Passing Game Thoughts: The Eagles have had a nice ten day rest after knocking off the Giants to secure the NFC’s top seed for their Week 17 opponents. The Eagles did not play well in that game. Carson Wentz threw for a season low 152 yards and just one touchdown. The Eagles didn’t really win the game, but rather Eli Manning lost it with his inability to throw the ball to players on his team. No Eagles pass catcher had more than three receptions. I have no doubt that Jordan Matthews has the talent to be an elite receiver in this league, but he is completely shackled by his junior varsity quarterback and bland offense. Every single Eagle was a dud. The Cowboys may not try very hard this week and the Eagles surely want to end the season a high note, but their team just isn’t very good. Week 17 is very frustrating to manage and exceedingly difficult to predict. The Eagles look like a team to avoid as well.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Well…except for Darren Sproles. With the rest of the backfield now on IR, Sproles is setup for a large workload and in the season’s final game, there won’t be concerns about over usage. Sproles totaled 63 yards and a score against the Giants and is a decent bet to surpass that yardage this week. He might even outscore Zeke by virtue of playing longer.

Value Meter:
RB2: Darren Sproles
Bench: All other Eagles

Prediction: Cowboys 24, Eagles 20 ^ Top

Giants @ Redskins - (Katz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Eli Manning has four games with 350-plus passing yards, including last week’s loss at Philly. His next highest yardage total? 261. He also threw 63 passes last week, which is seventeen more attempts than his previous high. It was a volume effort. Luckily for the Giants, the loss did not matter as Tampa’s loss secured the No.5 seed for the Giants. They can’t move from that spot, making their final contest a glorified exhibition. Ben McAdoo has insisted that the starters will play, but I do not believe that for a second. Manning and Odell Beckham will start and play a series or three, but by the second half, if not the second quarter, their days will likely be over. Contrary to popular belief, the Giants care about themselves and their success; keeping Washington out of the playoffs is not on their list of concerns. Unfortunately, absent a situation like Pittsburgh where Mike Tomlin has explicitly stated he is resting his starters, you can’t go ahead and plug in the backups, thus making Giants unusable this week.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: Last week, Paul Perkins finally eclipsed Rashad Jennings in usage. It would behoove the Giants to continue this trend and eventually faze Jennings out of the offense despite his relative effectiveness last week (9-44). Normally I would advocate completely avoiding the Giants running game, but Paul Perkins could see increased work this game because the Giants still view Jennings as someone that actually matters. In a shocking twist, Perkins might be the only Giant you can trust.

Value Meter:
Flex: Paul Perkins
Bench: Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. (rest), Sterling Shepard (rest), Rashad Jennings, Will Tye, Victor Cruz

Passing Game Thoughts: On the other side of the field, we have a team that could not possibly be more motivated playing against what will likely be a second team defense. Fresh off dropping 41 points in Chicago, Kirk Cousins will look to lead his team to the playoffs with a win over the Giants. Cousins threw for 270 yards last week and one touchdown while adding two on the ground. Operating without Jordan Reed (who is going to play this week, but cannot be trusted) and channeling his inner 2013, Cousins treated DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon like the high level receiving duo they are. Jackson posted his third consecutive 100-yard receiving effort while Garcon racked up 94 yards of his own. Together, they caught half of Cousins’ 18 completions in a game where he only had to throw 29 times. Jamison Crowder has faded into obscurity. With the Giants resting starters and anyone even remotely injured, Captain Kirk, along with Commander Spock (Garcon) and Lieutenant Sulu (Jackson) will look to lead the crew into the postseason.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: Rob Kelley is currently nursing a sore knee after his 19 carry, 76-yard outing last week. I think he is still living off that fluky explosion against Green Bay. Kelley has been subpar for five weeks now and was outplayed by Mack Brown (8-82-1). Kelley is going to suit up this week in a must win game and is a solid bet to fall into the end zone, but he is both inefficient and ineffective. Last week, Chris Thompson stole two touchdowns. I use the term “stole” generously as neither was a short yardage score, but Thompson touched the ball a mere four times for a total of 37 yards with two of those touches ending in six points. He should fade back into irrelevancy this week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kirk Cousins (high end)
RB2: Rob Kelley
WR3: Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson
Bench: Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder, Chris Thompson

Prediction: Redskins 30, Giants 17 ^ Top

Ravens @ Bengals - (Schwarz)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Bengals’ pass defense has been much improved over the second half of the season, so Joe Flacco’s upside is limited. Now out of the playoff chase, Flacco will likely focus his targets on soon-to-be-retired Steve Smith at the expense of Mike Wallace, Kamar Aiken and Breshad Perriman. If you’re all about the narratives, Smith is your guy this week.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: The Ravens fantasy running back situation went from bad to worse when Kyle Juszczyk played an expanding role in Week 16 scoring on of his four touches. However, the future of the backfield is with rookie Kenneth Dixon and he should see the most work of this three-headed monster.

Value Meter:
QB2: Joe Flacco
RB3: Kenneth Dixon
WR1: Steve Smith
TE2: Dennis Pitta
Flex: Mike Wallace, Terrance West
Bench: Kyle Juszczyk, Kamar Aiken, Breshad Perriman

Passing Game Thoughts: Dalton hasn’t cracked the 20-point mark in four of the past five games and will once again be without star wideout A.J. Green. Brandon LaFell (6-130-1) produced big numbers last weekend, but most of that came on one long touchdown catch and run. Still, with Green and Tyler Eifert sidelined by injury, he’s Dalton’s best option. Rookie Tyler Boyd has been mostly disappointing this season, but after Cody Core couldn’t produce on 14 targets last time out, Boyd should see more than four targets.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: It’s likely to be another next man up situation as Jeremy Hill (knee) proved ineffective last weekend and might sit out this one. If Hill plays, he’s an RB3 at best. If he sits, that would leave Rex Burkhead, who has yet to prove much in four seasons, a chance to carry the running game. He’ll be an intriguing volume play against a solid Ravens run defense that’s only given up six rushing TDs to running backs this year.

Value Meter:
QB3: Andy Dalton
RB3: Rex Burkhead
WR2: Brandon LaFell
Flex: Tyler Boyd
Bench: Jeremy Hill, Cody Core, C.J. Uzomah

Prediction: Baltimore 19, Cincinnati 16 ^ Top

Browns @ Steelers - (Schwarz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Robert Griffin is in concussion protocol but is expected to be ready for the finale. Griffin has been awful since his return in Week 14 as yet to throw a touchdown pass in four games this season. Back in Week 6 Kessler and Terrelle Pryor made a solid passing combo (9-75-2) but Pryor’s 3-36 line last week was his best production since RGIII resumed QB duties. Yikes. Even in a game the Steelers don’t want to play the Browns passing game can’t be trusted.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: Crowell has been solid in two of the past three games and should be facing a defense made up of mostly backups. He’s a low-end option as the Browns will want to get their running game going to protect RGIII. Unfortunately, the Browns are expected to experiment with a new offensive line setup which will include second-year bust Cameron Erving moving from center to right tackle. Duke Johnson was limited in practice Thursday. If he’s able to play, it will take some of the shine of Crowell’s marginal upside.

Value Meter:
RB3: Isaiah Crowell
WR3: Terrelle Pryor
TE3: Gary Barnidge
Flex: Duke Johnson (if active)
Bench: Robert Griffin III, Corey Coleman, Andrew Hawkins

Passing Game Thoughts: Coach Mike Tomlin has already announced that his three offensive stars will sit Week 17 for this inconsequential game. Many others are likely to follow suit as the game progresses, therefore any Steelers in your lineup are a gamble. Landry Jones will be under center, but will be without his two best weapons. Eli Rogers becomes his top outside option and could post double-digit fantasy points. After that it’s a crapshoot.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: Even backup running back DeAngelo Williams (knee) is a question mark in this one having not touched the ball since Week 9, making Fitzgerald Toussaint a likely source of double-digit touches against a Browns’ run defense that ranked second-to-last.

Value Meter:
QB3: Landry Jones
RB3: DeAngelo Williams, Fitzgerald Toussaint
WR2: Eli Rogers
Bench: Ben Roethlisberger, LeíVeon Bell, Antonio Brown, DeMarcus Ayers, Jesse James

Prediction: Pittsburgh 16, Cleveland 10 ^ Top

Bears @ Vikings - (Schwarz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Despite eight interceptions over the past two games, Matt Barkley has produced solid fantasy totals. His favorite target is Cameron Meredith (25 targets, 18 receptions for 239 yards) and that should continue. Alshon Jeffery is getting plenty of targets too (19 over two games), but is not producing quite as well as Meredith with his opportunities. The Vikings have been stingy against the pass but have shown some holes in the last couple weeks against better QBs (Rodgers, Luck).

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: The Vikings run defense has been a lot better than their pass defense which could limit Jordan Howard’s upside, but the Bears running back is a workhorse and last week hit triple digits despite Chicago falling way behind on the scoreboard. He’s going to see 20 touches and is still a top-10 option.

Value Meter:
QB2: Matt Barkley
RB1: Jordan Howard
WR1: Cameron Meredith
Flex: Alshon Jeffery
Bench: Jeremy Langford, Deonte Thompson, Logan Paulsen

Passing Game Thoughts: Sam Bradford-to-Adam Thielen exploded last time out and the wideout should be the best option between he and Stefon Diggs, but the Bears defense has been top-five over the past five games against wide receivers (16.9 FPts/G). Kyle Rudolph is getting plenty of targets (49 over five games) and is a solid top-10 tight end option.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: Unlike the secondary, the Bears run defense has been vulnerable, so it’s a shame the Vikings don’t have a healthy Adrian Peterson to take advantage. Jerick McKinnon is the best option, but Matt Asiata gets the goal-line work leaving both guys as mediocre fantasy choices.

Value Meter:
QB2: Sam Bradford
RB3: Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata
WR2: Adam Thielen
TE1: Kyle Rudolph
Flex: Stefon Diggs
Bench: Adrian Peterson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Charles Johnson

Prediction: Chicago 24, Minnesota 20 ^ Top

Packers @ Lions - (Schwarz)

Passing Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers came up big in Week 16 (347 passing yards and 4 TDs, 1 rushing TD) and hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 10 while tossing 14 touchdown passes. He’ll face a Lions pass defense that could be bolstered by the return of Darius Slay (hamstring). Considering what the Cowboys did to the Lions secondary last week he’ll need to be at his best. Rodgers threw four touchdown passes against Detroit in Week 3. Jordy Nelson has been an elite receiver this season posting double-digit points in nine games. He’ll do it again on Sunday. Davante Adams has been more inconsistent than Nelson, but he’s still explosive and a must start. Randall Cobb (ankle) has yet to practice this week and should not be started until he proves he’s healthy.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Eddie Lacy (IR - ankle) ran over the Lions defense for 103 yards in their first meeting. He’s long gone from the active roster, but Ty Montgomery has the ability to break through for a solid fantasy total. Still, he’s not likely to get too many rushing attempts with the way Rodgers is throwing the ball.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers
RB2: Ty Montgomery
WR1: Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams
Bench: Richard Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Jared Cook

Passing Game Thoughts: Matthew Stafford is going to have to be at his best if the Lions are to match points with Rodgers and the Packers. Golden Tate has been a reliable target, but Marvin Jones hasn’t been the same in the second half of the season and Anquan Boldin is primarily a possession receiver and red zone target. Eric Ebron has been taking more of the offensive load the past four games (30 targets) and has low-end TE1 value.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: Zach Zenner looked like a star in the first half against Dallas, but the score forced Detroit away from the running game. If the Lions are smart they will go back to the ground game in Week 17 to keep it out of Rodgers’ hands. Most likely Theo Riddick (wrist) will be sidelined again this weekend leaving Zenner to carry the load against a solid Packers’ run defense.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford
RB2: Zach Zenner
WR2 Golden Tate
TE1: Eric Ebron
Flex: Anquan Boldin, Marvin Jones
Bench: Dwayne Washington, Theo Riddick

Prediction: Green Bay 30, Detroit 20 ^ Top