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Through The Wire - Week 17

By Antonio D'Arcangelis | 12/28/21 |

Targeting weekly waiver picks is a completely subjective business, but this column hopes to point out some obvious and not-so-obvious selections to help your team from week to week while you strive to collect fantasy wins, reach your league playoffs, and win the elusive title that your friends say is out of your grasp. While I’m a big proponent of making trades to bolster your roster, the waiver wire can be an almost limitless resource when it comes to discovering fantasy value in strange places. Each week, I’ll highlight some of the popular (and not-so-popular) players who can help your squad and may still be available in your league. I’ll also provide a brief update on the players I covered the previous week.

Feedback is always welcome, appreciated and encouraged. I’ll get to as many e-mails as I can.


Carson Wentz, IND – Wentz (40-45% owned) was 18-for-28 passing for 225-2-0 in Saturday’s 22-16 win in Arizona. He faces the Raiders in Week 17 and is on the short list of viable starting QBs owned in fewer than 50% of fantasy leagues.

Editor's Note: Wentz was added to the Covid list Tuesday afternoon making him unlikely to play in Week 17.

Zach Wilson, NYJ – Wilson completed 14 of 22 passes for 102-1-0 but rushed four times for 91 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 26-21 win over the Jaguars. His rushing skills will keep him in the conversation ahead of a Week 17 matchup against the Bucs despite a banged-up receiving corps and weak passing numbers.

Other QBs to consider: Kirk Cousins (75%), Trey Lance (5%), Davis Mills (1-2%), Drew Lock (0-1%)


Jared Goff, DET – Goff hit the COVID list later in the week and Tim Boyle got the start for Detroit.

Matt Ryan, ATL – Ryan completed 18 of 24 passes for 215-1-0 in the win over the Lions on Sunday. The veteran QB’s fantasy upside is hurt by his weak receiving corps, but he’ll be forced to chuck it more in a Week 17 matchup against the Bills.

Running Backs

Dare Ogunbowale, JAC – Ogunbowale stepped in for the injured James Robinson (torn Achilles) and rushed 17 times for 57 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 26-21 loss to the Jets. He added 2-12-0 on four targets and should continue to work as the Jags’ lead back in Week 17 against the Patriots and Week 18 against the Colts.

Rex Burkhead, HOU – Burkhead rushed the ball 22 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 41-29 win over the Chargers, adding two receptions for zero yards. It was a breakthrough performance for the veteran back who has made this column a few times this season in “RBs to consider.” Even if David Johnson remains sidelined for Houston’s Week 17 matchup against San Francisco, Burkhead probably won’t be able to post numbers like this again.

Darrel Williams/Derrick Gore, KC – Williams (60% owned) ran for 55 yards on 11 carries and caught three passes for 30 yards on three targets Sunday, while Gore ran for 43 yards on 12 carries and caught 3-61-0 on three targets. Williams led the Chiefs in rushing yardage in a game during which starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire left with a shoulder/collarbone injury that could keep him out of a Week 17 matchup with the Bengals. Stay tuned.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn, TB – I included Vaughn in “Others to consider” last week. He rushed seven times for 70 yards and a touchdown and failed to bring in his only target during the Buccaneers’ 32-6 win over the Panthers on Sunday. He may have established himself a solid compliment to RoJo for a Week 17 road matchup with the Jets.

Other RBs to consider: Devontae Booker (25%), Craig Reynolds (15-20%), Khalil Herbert (15%), Cam Akers (10-15%), Jordan Howard (5-10%), DeeJay Dallas (1-2%)


Justin Jackson, LAC – I recommended adding Jackson in my Wednesday update after Austin Ekeler hit the COVID list, and he did not disappoint, rushing 11 times for 64 yards and two TDs in Sunday’s 41-29 loss to the Texans and adding 8-98-0 on nine targets. Despite the enormous day (and 162 total yards), Jackson will likely be back to his change-of-pace role if Ekeler suits up for Week 17’s matchup against the Broncos.

Jeff Wilson, SF – Wilson rushed 14 times for 45 yards and a TD and brought in all three targets for 12 receiving yards in the loss to the Titans on Thursday night. Unfortunately for Wilson owners, Elijah Mitchell (concussion/knee) has a chance to get back for Week 17.

Ronald Jones, TB – Jones rushed 20 times for 65 yards and a TD and added 2-16-0 on three targets on Sunday. With Leonard Fournette on IR (hamstring), Jones was the primary ball carrier for the Buccaneers and will continue in that role for a favorable Week 17 road matchup against the Jets.

Duke Johnson, MIA – UPDATE: Johnson rushed 13 times for 39 yards on MNF in the 20-3 win over the Saints. Unfortunately, the presence of Phillip Lindsay and Myles Gaskin renders all three backs as untrustworthy ahead of a Week 17 matchup with the Titans.

Isaiah McKenzie

Wide Receivers / Tight Ends

K.J. Osborn, MIN – I included Osborn (30% owned) in last week’s UPDATE section after a slow Week 15, but he had a nice Week 16 (5-68-1 on seven targets). We also had some big performances from a few of the WRs to consider, including Tyler Boyd, Christian Kirk and Braxton Berrios, so remember to check out that bunch as well – since it often includes both fringe players and more obvious names who are a little higher-owned and therefore available only in shallow leagues.

Isaiah McKenzie, BUF – McKenzie (less than 1% owned) caught 11 of 12 targets for 125 yards and a TD in Sunday’s 33-21 win over the Patriots. Gabriel Davis has already been ruled out for the team’s Week 17 matchup with the Falcons, but fellow COVID casualty Cole Beasley could be back next week. Either way, with this performance, McKenzie has shown he can fill that role and pile up numbers against a weak Atlanta secondary.

Byron Pringle, KC – This one goes in the annals as one of my darkest fantasy hours. In one of my fantasy semifinals, I picked up Pringle (1-2% owned) but left him on the bench in favor of the reinstated Tyreek Hill, Marquise Brown and Kadarius Toney. Pringle erupted for 6-75-2 on seven targets against Pittsburgh on Sunday and could have helped clinch me a victory. He’s on the fantasy radar moving forward and for 2022, but with Travis Kelce likely back for Week 17's game against the Bengals and Hill most definitely seeing more field time, Pringle may not have this opportunity again. Still – he’s probably established himself as the Chiefs’ WR3 for the final two weeks.

TE Gerald Everett, SEA – Everett hauled in 4-68-1 on five in Sunday’s 25-24 loss to the Bears but seems to be finally be finding some chemistry with Russell Wilson as the season winds down (three touchdowns in the last five games). He’s looking like a low-end TE1 in a Week 17 matchup with the Lions.

Chris Conley, HOU – Conley recorded 3-60-1 on three targets in Sunday’s 41-29 win over the Chargers. If WR1 Brandin Cooks is unable to clear COVID-19 protocols in time for Week 17 (@SF), Conley could be in line for another big outing.

Other WRs/TEs to consider: Marvin Jones (60%), TE Dalton Schultz (55-60%), Allen Lazard (15-20%), T.Y. Hilton (15%) Josh Palmer (5%), Braxton Berrios (3-5%)


Marquez Valdes-Scantling, GB – The Packers placed Valdes-Scantling on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday after testing positive for the virus, giving Allen Lazard the easiest path to success via target volume.

Antonio Brown, TB – Brown came back from his suspension and hauled in 10 of 15 targets for 101 yards in the blowout win over the Panthers on Sunday. Despite the massive target volume, Brown may see fewer looks in Week 17 on the road against the Jets if WR1 Mike Evans is available.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET – St. Brown was 25% owned heading into Week 16 and caught nine of 11 targets for 91 yards and one TD in the loss to the Falcons. He added 19 rushing yards on two carries and remains the best WR on the team.

Marquez Callaway, NO – UPDATE: Callaway caught four of five targets for 46 yards during the loss to Miami, and despite Tre’Quan Smith suffering a chest injury that would seem to increase his target share, Callaway will be tough to count on in Week 17 if Ian Book is under center for New Orleans.

TE Hunter Henry, NE – Henry followed up his huge Week 15 with a dud against Buffalo (1-9-0 on six targets).