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Favorites & Fades

Week 17

By: Nick Caron | HC Green | Eli Mack | John Fessel
Updated: 12/31/23





Sunday Early:


ARI @ PHI | NO @ TB | CAR @ JAX | ATL @ CHI | LV @ IND

Sunday Late:



- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
- Lines and totals updated Sunday morning

Jets @ Browns - (Green)
Line: CLE -6.5
Total: 33.5

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

No Brainers: RB Breece Hall

Favorites: WR Garrett Wilson

Based purely on talent, Wilson is a no-brainer. He’s been undercut throughout the season by poor quarterbacking play, though, having reached the 100-yard mark just twice. Despite the Browns being a top-tier defense against the pass, Wilson is coming off a solid effort with Trevor Siemian at the helm, catching nine balls for 76 yards, and he’s closing in a pair of statistical milestones -- he is 12 receptions away from 100 and 42 yards from reaching 1,000. This is the time of year coaches like to prioritize individual achievements on teams that won’t be going to the playoffs, so Wilson could see heavy usage versus Cleveland in that pursuit. He’s a WR3 with some potential.

On the Fence: TE Tyler Conklin

Conklin has been a picture of consistent mediocrity of late, catching four passes in four of the last five weeks. He totaled between 33 and 36 yards in three of them, with the outlier being a 57-yard effort versus Houston. Tight ends have been a problem for Cleveland recently, however, with Evan Engram (11-95-2), Cole Kmet (5-23-1), and Dalton Schultz (8-61-0) all putting up solid numbers over the last three games. Given that recent trend, Conklin is a lottery-ticket type of play this Thursday.

Fade: N/A

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Update: Amari Cooper has been ruled Out.

No Brainers: WR Amari Cooper, TE David Njoku

Favorites: RBs Jerome Ford/Kareem Hunt

For the season, the Jets have been much stronger against the pass than the run, ranking 24th in the NFL at 126.2 yards/game allowed. While they yielded just 102 yards on the ground versus the Commanders this past Sunday, three of Washington’s 22 carries went for touchdowns. That could be good news for both Ford and Hunt, who haven’t found much room to run in recent weeks. Over his last four games, Ford is averaging 47 total yards and 0.5 TDs, while Hunt checks in at 28.5 yards and 0.5 TDs per contest over the same stretch. Neither player should be utilized as more than a low-end RB3 or flex, but both have a good shot at exceeding their recent production.

On the Fence: QB Joe Flacco

In four starts since signing with the Browns, Flacco is averaging 327 yards, 2.5 TDs, and 1.75 INTs per game. Even taking into account the fact that he’s a complete nonfactor as a runner, the veteran has been putting up borderline QB1 numbers. Can he keep it up against the Jets? The numbers aren’t encouraging. New York is second only to the Browns in pass defense (168.6 yards/game) and their 16:14 TD-to-INT ratio is among the best in the NFL as well. Still, you can’t summarily dismiss the roll that Flacco has been on, leaving you with the decision to play the hot hand or go with the numbers. Take your alternatives into account, and then make the call.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Browns 24, Jets 12 ^ Top

Lions @ Cowboys - (Caron)
Line: DAL -5.5
Total: 52.5

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

No Brainers: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, TE Sam LaPorta

Favorites: RB Jahmyr Gibbs

Shootout games like the one the Lions were in with the Vikings this past week have tended to lean toward Jahmyr Gibbs seeing an increased role this season. He may not be the “bell cow” back in Detroit, but Gibbs is a bona fide fantasy RB1 and someone fantasy managers should trust in just about any matchup. He’s scored 17 or more PPR fantasy points in seven of his past nine games, with 25 or more points in five of those nine games.

The Cowboys mostly kept Raheem Mostert and Devon Achane in check this past week aside from a red zone touchdown reception from Mostert, but they got pummeled by the Bills backfield in Week 15, particularly by James Cook, who is the closest thing to Gibbs that the Bills have on their roster. Dallas’ defense is still not one that we want to be targeting players against, but it’s become increasingly beatable as the season has gone on and Gibbs has been too hot to consider benching.

On the Fence: RB David Montgomery

The Detroit backfield has been a gold mine for fantasy production this season so don’t take David Montgomery being “on the fence” as an indication that he should be benched. This is more so to note that while Montgomery has continued to produce viable RB2 fantasy numbers as of late, he has not been the stud RB1 that he was earlier in the season. Montgomery has produced between 10 and 18 fantasy points in seven straight games since returning from injury, which has correlated with him playing fewer snaps than he was earlier in the year. Montgomery was on the field for 70 percent or more of Detroit’s offensive snaps in all but one of Detroit’s first five games, but he has played under 45 percent of snaps in all but two games since he returned. Montgomery has become a solid floor play, but he’s lacking the playing time to make him a truly great ceiling option at this point. He could still get there if the Lions get tackled inside the five-yard line a bunch of times against the Cowboys, but there is a good chance that Montgomery will be delivering 15 or fewer fantasy points again this week, even if he scores a touchdown.

Fade: WR Jameson Williams

The Lions offense continues to produce big numbers this season and one player who many had high expectations for who has started to move up the rankings again is Jameson Williams. Williams had seen three or fewer targets in all but one game he played in from Week 1 through Week 14, but he’s suddenly seen a significant increase in usage over the past two weeks with seven and six targets in those contests. Williams hasn’t delivered big numbers with the increased usage, but it has moved him up on many platforms’ projections which has made him a waiver target in some leagues. While the increased targets are a valid data point, it’s also worth noting that Williams is actually not running significantly more routes during this stretch. The Lions have shown us that they have two main target leaders in Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta, then a viable pass-catching back in Jahmyr Gibbs, and everyone else is part of a forgettable bunch who should not be in fantasy lineups against good defenses like the Cowboys.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

No Brainers: WR CeeDee Lamb

Favorites: QB Dak Prescott

The MVP front-runner a few weeks ago, Dak Prescott has taken a step back in recent contests and fantasy managers have plenty of reasons to be worried that the Cowboys could lay another egg against a team headed for the playoffs. However, this matchup could also be a get-right game for the Cowboys' offense as the Detroit defense remains one of the best pass funnels in the league.

The Lions are coming off of a game in which they allowed the Vikings’ Nick Mullens to throw for 411 yards and two touchdowns against them in what ended up being a surprisingly competitive game. Yes, the Lions did force a season-high four interceptions in that contest, but it’s still noteworthy that a career backup QB was able to reach 400 yards through the air against them.

Prescott has the weapons and the Cowboys have shown the propensity to throw the ball early and often in games, so this has all the makings of being a game that is excellent for fantasy stacking here in Week 17.

On the Fence: TE Jake Ferguson

We know that CeeDee Lamb is the top pass-catcher in the Cowboys’ offense, but the second-leading receiver on the roster has shifted around throughout the year, largely depending on matchup. This week the Cowboys face a Lions defense that has been terrible at defending opposing tight ends. They gave up over 100 yards to the Vikings’ tight ends a week ago and they’re a top-10 matchup for opposing tight ends on the year.

Jake Ferguson has seen exactly eight targets come his way in each of his past four games, giving him a solid floor to go along with a decent ceiling in this matchup. The only concern is that he has only scored one touchdown over his past six games, so he doesn’t have quite the upside of some of the other tight ends who’ve seen more red zone usage in recent weeks. Still, he’s probably worth starting on most rosters in this advantageous matchup.

Fade: RB Tony Pollard

While he might still finish as a low-end RB1 this season, it’s hard to argue that Tony Pollard hasn’t been a disappointment for fantasy managers this season. He had a great four-week stretch from Weeks 11 through 14 - which were all Cowboys wins - but his numbers have taken a noticeable hit over the past two weeks which saw Dallas fall to the Bills and Dolphins. The Cowboys now head on the road to face a good Detroit team that has already secured their division and one that has been excellent at containing opposing running backs this season.

The Lions currently rank as the worst matchup in the league for opposing backs in 2023, having given up just 884 yards on the ground. They are also one of only three teams (Bears, 49ers) who’ve conceded fewer than 1,000 rushing yards to opposing backs this season. Additionally, they’re one of only two teams (Eagles) who’ve given up no touchdowns to opposing backs in the passing game.

There’s not much of a risk of Pollard losing significant playing time in this game with Rico Dowdle being banged up, but fantasy managers also need to be realistic that this is probably another high-single-digit to low-double-digit PPR game for Pollard.

Prediction: Cowboys 27, Lions 24 ^ Top

Dolphins @ Ravens - (Green)
Line: BAL -3.5
Total: 46.5

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Update: Raheem Mostert is expected to be Inactive.

No Brainers: RB Raheem Mostert, WR Tyreek Hill, WR Jaylen Waddle (ankle)

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: QB Tua Tagovailoa

There is perhaps no more interesting Rorschach test for a fantasy player this Sunday than Tagovailoa. He leads the NFL in passing yards and is tied for sixth in TDs, but he’s managed one TD or fewer in five of his last seven games. On the other side, Baltimore is sixth in the NFL in pass defense (193.9 yards/game) and is one of just two teams with more INTs (16) than TD passes allowed (15). Then there’s the historical element. Last year, Tagovailoa engineered one of the great comebacks in recent memory, throwing for 469 yards, 6 TDs, and 2 INTs against the Ravens to erase a 21-point fourth-quarter lead. You can bet Baltimore remembers. Add it all up, and the lefty could deliver high-end QB1 value or get absolutely locked down. Caveat emptor.

Fade: RB Devon Achane

One of the truly dynamic performers in the NFL earlier this season, Achane hasn’t really rediscovered that form since returning from injury. Outside of his 103-yard, 2-TD effort in a blowout of Washington, the rookie hasn’t scored since Oct. 8, and he’s averaging a modest 55 yards per game over his last three. The Ravens sit 12th in run defense, allowing 103.4 yards per contest, and have given up a league-low five TDs. While his speed gives him upside, Achane would be miscast here as anything more than a flex.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

No Brainers: QB Lamar Jackson

Favorites: WR Zay Flowers/TE Isaiah Likely

With Mark Andrews still on the mend, the duo of Flowers (9-72-1 on MNF) and Likely (3-56-0) have emerged as the top options for Jackson. While Flowers (calf) has missed some practice this week, there’s no indication he’s in danger of being inactive in Week 17, which is good since his play has been particularly sweet of late. In his last four games, the rookie has scored four TDs. As for Likely, he’s racked up 17 receptions (on 23 targets) for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This duo belongs in your lineup this weekend with Flowers as a WR2 and Likely as a top-10 TE.

On the Fence: RB Gus Edwards

Edwards scraped together playable value on Christmas night against the 49ers, putting up 70 yards and a touchdown. The concern is that he logged just 10 combined touches, which were three fewer than backup Justice Hill. Game situation likely played a role, as much of Hill’s usage came with Baltimore up big in the second half, but Edwards hasn’t been seeing the same workload over the second half of the year. Doubtless the Ravens will want to keep the ball away from Miami’s offense, which means possession and running the clock, so Edwards can be used as a high-end RB3. It’s just a little dicey when you can’t safely pencil in a back for X number of touches.

Fade: WR Odell Beckham Jr.

For a minute there, it looked like Beckham was rounding into form. Over his last four games, however, he’s topped 40 yards only once, and he’s coming off consecutive outings in which he logged 14 and 13 yards, respectively. There’s always some level of explosiveness with OBJ, as evidenced by his 97-yard, 1-touchdown effort against the Rams on Dec. 10, but those outbursts have been few and far between. In what’s surely a “win or go home” scenario for fantasy owners, he can’t be trusted.

Prediction: Ravens 30, Dolphins 21 ^ Top

Titans @ Texans - (Mack)
Line: HOU -4.5
Total: 43.5

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Derrick Henry, WR DeAndre Hopkins

Derrick Henry rebounded last week from a dud of a game in Week 16 when he rushed for 9 yards on 16 carries. The 88 yards rushing he mustered last week on 19 attempts with a score is far from the Derrick Henry we’ve come to know, but that Derrick Henry is long gone. What’s left is a low-end RB2 in fantasy with some upside. Consider him such as you place him in your lineup this week.

DeAndre Hopkins continues to be the low-floor, high-ceiling player he’s been all year. We simply don’t know what we are going to get from him from one week to the next. As such, decisions to start him can be difficult. His 41 yards combined over the last two games on four catches makes the decision this week a bit easier, despite Houston giving up the seventh-most passing yards this season. Treat Hopkins as a low-end flex option this week.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: N/A

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: QB C.J. Stroud, RB Devin Singletary, TE Dalton Schultz, WR Nico Collins

Stroud looks to find the magic he had when he had at least 304 passing yards in four straight games from Weeks 10-14. But Tennessee is a formidable threat against the pass, as they have only surrendered more than 300 yards passing once while holding the opposition to the third-fewest passing TDs. That said, Stroud’s ceiling is simply too high to bench him, despite missing the previous two games with a concussion.

Stroud’s return gives all Texan skill players a significant boost. Devin Singletary continues to dominate the carries in Houston, and even supplements his production on the ground with solid potential in the passing game. Dalton Schultz is a low-end TE1 with upside, and Nico Collins likewise at the receiver position. Each should find themselves in your lineup this week.

On the Fence: WR Noah Brown

With so many options in this offense, there will be an odd man out each week. Noah Brown is the likely candidate, as he’s had the most up and down season of them all—similar to his nine catch, 191-yard performance in Week 14, only to follow it up with a one-catch-for-13-yard clunker the next. Keep him on your bench.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Texans 24, Titans 19 ^ Top

Patriots @ Bills - (Caron)
Line: BUF -12.5
Total: 40.5

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: TE Hunter Henry (knee)

The Patriots’ offense is still one that we want to avoid as much as possible, but one player who’s been an interesting fantasy contributor in recent weeks is Hunter Henry. We saw him blow up early in the season with two big games and then he’s essentially been completely useless for fantasy purposes until the past two weeks, when he’s delivered three touchdown receptions. The tight end position has taken some hits over the past few weeks and Henry is still available in a good number of leagues, so he should be considered a potential fill-in down the stretch, especially given that he’s seen 12 targets over his past two games. Buffalo isn’t a great matchup for tight ends, but Henry may be Bailey Zappe’s de facto top option in the passing game.

On the Fence: RB Ezekiel Elliott

Rhamondre Stevenson was placed on IR earlier this week, which has cleared the way for Ezekiel Elliott to continue his career resurgence. Elliott has been quietly excellent for fantasy purposes since Stevenson’s injury and he’s averaged nearly 18 fantasy points per game since becoming the lead back in New England. The Bills are a middle-of-the-road defense at defending opposing backs so don’t expect a crazy game from Elliott, but if the Patriots are going to keep this one close, then it’s probably going to happen because they were able to control the clock by leaning heavily on their running game. Look for Elliott to push for 20 touches again in this game, making him a solid RB2.

Fade: QB Bailey Zappe

We’ve seen some good and some bad from Bailey Zappe, but the New England offense is still bad enough that we really shouldn’t be looking to start many players for fantasy, especially the quarterbacks. Zappe has not yet thrown for even 260 yards in any game and he now faces a Buffalo defense that has given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

No Brainers: QB Josh Allen

Favorites: RB James Cook

James Cook’s five-point fantasy day against the Chargers in Week 16 was certainly disappointing and it might have been the difference that kept some fantasy managers from making their championship games. While the final point production was terrible, all of the data still indicates that trusting Cook was a good choice from a process standpoint. Cook touched the ball 20 times, marking the fourth time he’s met or exceeded that total over his past five games. The big difference was simply that he didn’t catch any passes for just the second time all season and he was held out of the end zone.

Looking ahead to this week, we should expect that Cook’s usage will remain strong, making him an excellent option against a broken-down New England team that has nothing to play for. Cook had 16 touches and produced over 100 yards of offense while scoring a touchdown against the Patriots when these teams played back in Week 7, so look for him to be a big part of the offense this week.

On the Fence: WR Stefon Diggs

Fantasy managers who’ve been starting Stefon Diggs have probably already moved on before even reading this, but there’s still hope for this fallen fantasy superstar. Diggs produced a solid six-reception game with a touchdown when these teams played back in Week 7 and while his fantasy numbers have been in the gutter as of late, his usage has remained fairly strong. He’s still seen at least eight targets in four of his past five games and no other player in the offense is even close to taking over as the team’s top pass-catcher. It’s fine to bench Diggs if you have another solid option, but don’t let recency bias force you into starting a less-talented player over Diggs just because that player has been “hot” lately.

Fade: TE Dalton Kincaid

Kincaid has enjoyed a successful rookie campaign and looks like he’ll be someone that we can look to for further breakout seasons, but this Week 17 matchup against the Patriots looks like it could be a tough one. He did have his first real “coming-out” game against the Patriots back in Week 7 when he caught eight passes for 75 yards, but the Bills offense has certainly not been focused on getting him the ball in recent weeks. In fact, over his past two games, Kincaid has only seen a total of four targets come his way. This has correlated fairly strongly with the return of fellow tight end Dawson Knox who has not re-taken his role as the “starter” at the position, but he’s been coming in often enough that Kincaid has seen a roughly 25 percent drop off in his route participation from where it was at during the weeks when Knox was out. This, along with the Bills’ recent commitment to their running game, has meant that Kincaid has been an unusable fantasy contributor as of late. Add that to the fact that the Patriots boast the league’s second-stingiest defense at containing tight ends and you’ll want to look elsewhere for production in your fantasy playoffs.

Prediction: Bills 24, Patriots 13 ^ Top

Rams @ Giants - (Caron)
Line: LAR -5.5
Total: 43.5

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

No Brainers: RB Kyren Williams

Favorites: WR Puka Nacua

It could be argued that Puka Nacua should just be a “no-brainer” at this point, but it never hurts to remind everyone that this superstar rookie wide receiver is just 146 yards away from becoming the NFL’s all-time rookie receiving leader. With two games remaining, we should expect that the Rams are aware of this record and will push to make their late-round pick look even more like a spectacular hit by getting him over the finish line. Look for Nacua to be the target leader on the team for these remaining two games.

On the Fence: WR Cooper Kupp

Cooper Kupp’s rollercoaster season has been frustrating for fantasy managers, which has meant that he’s been on the bench during some of his biggest performances and in lineups during some of his worst performances. While the final numbers haven’t always meant excitement from managers, Kupp’s usage has mostly remained strong throughout the season and especially recently as he’s managed to average 9.5 targets per game over his past four contests. That type of usage, in an offense that has been scoring as many points as the Rams have, is very difficult to come by and it means that he should probably be in most lineups during championship week.

Fade: WR Demarcus Robinson

With Tutu Atwell’s early-season production now firmly in the rear-view mirror, the Rams have seen the emergence of another third option at WR with Demarcus Robinson. Robinson, a journeyman who’s spent most of his career with the Chiefs, started seeing a big uptick in playing time in Week 12 and he began producing almost immediately. He’s now scored a touchdown in four straight games, putting him on fantasy radars for the first time in many years.

This type of production would usually mean that fantasy managers are jumping to start him in their fantasy lineups, but this type of production continuing just doesn’t seem very likely. Yes, we know that the Rams can score a bunch of points, but their production has almost always been consolidated to two main pass-catchers and their running backs. It’s been very rare throughout the McVay tenure that a third option has remained viable for an extended period of time. With both Nacua and Kupp healthy, and Kyren Williams producing like a stud RB1, there’s not a ton of room for another player in this offense to be producing fantasy numbers. Robinson did have a 10-target game in Week 14, but he’s otherwise been held to six or fewer targets in every game this season, meaning that he needs to keep up an absolutely crazy touchdown rate to deliver even usable fantasy numbers. That’s just not likely and managers should be looking for a more trustworthy option in championship week.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: QB Tyrod Taylor

The Giants quarterback situation has been an absolute mess this season and while the Tommy DeVito run was fun for the meme community, the truth is that the New York offense is almost certainly in better hands with Tyrod Taylor behind center. DeVito had thrown for 200 yards just once during his seven-game stretch as the Giants’ starter, whereas Taylor had done so in each of his two starts in Weeks 6 and 7 before getting injured. Additionally, Taylor does have some mobility and has already rushed for 119 yards in minimal playing time this season. He’s certainly not Lamar Jackson, but he’s someone who can add a couple of points with his legs.

There’s not a lot to love about this Giants offense, but Taylor is not completely worthless for fantasy purposes. He’ll be facing a Rams defense that is a top-10 overall opponent for quarterbacks, and that has given up the eighth-most rushing yards to the position this season. Don’t bench a quality QB for Taylor, but you could do worse if you’re in a pinch in Superflex leagues.

On the Fence: RB Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley has been very up-and-down which has certainly correlated with the Giants’ overall offensive struggles, and he’s now dealing with an elbow injury that has limited him in practice throughout the week. He’s still expected to play, but Barkley is not in a great situation for fantasy success even if he’s fully healthy because the Giants offense is still expected to be bad even with their quarterback change and Barkley himself will be facing a Rams defense that has given up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. It’s almost impossible to find players who regularly see 15-or-more touches at running back, so it’s understandable if you need to start Barkley, but understand that this could be another down game for the superstar RB.

Fade: WR Darius Slayton

Darius Slayton has had a quiet season overall, but he’s come back onto some fantasy radars in recent weeks as he’s managed to produce double-digit fantasy points in three of his past five games. With Tyrod Taylor back in at quarterback, there seems to be some interest brewing in Slayton as a low-end Flex option, but this stretch has all the makings of fool’s gold. Slayton did have an eight-target game back in Week 15, but has otherwise been kept to five or fewer targets in five of his past six games. Even if we assume that Taylor is a significant upgrade from DeVito - which remains to be seen - there just is not enough volume here for Slayton, or any Giants pass-catcher, to be a viable option for fantasy.

Prediction: Rams 24, Giants 16 ^ Top

49ers @ Commanders - (Caron)
Line: SF -12.5
Total: 49.5

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

No Brainers: RB Christian McCaffrey, WR Brandon Aiyuk

Favorites: QB Brock Purdy

Brock Purdy’s MVP chances took a significant hit as we saw him turn in what was perhaps the first truly “bad” game of his professional career. Purdy threw four interceptions before being benched in the 49ers’ blowout loss to the Ravens and he contributed a single touchdown for the first time all season long.

Things are looking much better as we head into this week’s matchup, however, as Purdy has the opportunity to face a Washington defense that has been the absolute best matchup for opposing quarterbacks this season. The Commanders have given up a league-high 33 touchdown passes. They’ve given up multi-touchdown games to 12 different quarterbacks in 15 games. The only QBs who failed to score multiple touchdowns against them were Joshua Dobbs (when he was still on the Cardinals), Mac Jones, and Trevor Siemian. Needless to say, things are looking great for a huge bounce-back week for Purdy and the 49ers offense as a whole. He’s a borderline top-five option at the position this week.

On the Fence: WR Deebo Samuel

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel has been limited at practice this week due to a sprained neck that he suffered during the 49ers’ Week 16 loss to the Ravens, but if he’s back on the field this week then he should probably be in your fantasy lineup. Samuel has long been a boom-or-bust type of player, but he’s been on an absolute tear since the 49ers’ Week 9 bye. Before getting injured against the Ravens, Samuel had averaged over 23 fantasy points per game over his previous six games. Samuel not only gets usage in the passing game, but he’s also one of the team’s primary red zone weapons as a runner, making him perhaps the most versatile wide receiver in the entire league.

There’s a chance that he will miss this game so keep a close eye as the games get closer, but Samuel against the Commanders is a matchup made in fantasy heaven.

Fade: TE George Kittle

Don’t bench him, but fantasy managers need to lower their expectations for George Kittle a bit this week as his recent hot streak could lead to some disappointment in what is a difficult on-paper matchup against the Commanders. Despite being a terrible defense overall, the Commanders haven’t allowed a 10-point PPR day or a single touchdown to an opposing TE since Week 9. Of course, they haven’t exactly played top-tier competition at the position, but this is still not the best matchup for Kittle.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Update: QB Sam Howell is expected to start.

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Antonio Gibson

With the Commanders still having nothing to play for, they may opt to again sit running back Brian Robinson Jr. who’s been dealing with a hamstring injury that’s kept him out the past two games. Robinson did return to practice, albeit in limited fashion, on Wednesday and he does have a chance to play, which would likely mean that the team returns to some sort of committee approach as they’re not likely to rush him back into a full workload.

If Robinson does sit, however, there’s an opportunity for Antonio Gibson to see borderline bell-cow-level work in this contest. Chris Rodriguez Jr. was placed on IR and Jonathan Williams still has not cleared the concussion protocol, leaving Gibbs as essentially the only healthy running back on the roster.

Of course, this alone doesn’t mean that Gibson becomes a must-start for fantasy purposes as the Commanders could simply choose to lean more on their passing game against a good 49ers’ run defense, but those in need of a one-week solution at running back should at least add Gibson now and see what happens with inactives leading up to game time.

On the Fence: TE Logan Thomas

The 49ers are good against TEs, but they’ve also faced a fairly easy schedule. They gave up big games to both T.J. Hockenson and Trey McBride. Logan Thomas isn’t on that level, but he was tied for the team lead in targets in Week 16 - a game that saw Jacoby Brissett take over as the Commanders’ starting quarterback. With Brissett slated to start again, Thomas could be a decent desperation pivot for those who lost Hockenson going into championship week.

Fade: WR Terry McLaurin

We cautioned fantasy managers to not get too excited about Terry McLaurin’s huge Week 15 performance as his previous work had not been good enough to make him trustworthy, and that caution turned out to be valid. McLaurin was held to just three receptions for 50 yards as the Commanders lost to the Jets. McLaurin has now been held under 10 PPR points in five of his past six games and while there’s some belief that Jacoby Brissett may be better than Sam Howell overall, it’s unlikely that he’ll be willing to stretch the field with McLaurin nearly as often.

Hopefully, the Commanders can figure out their quarterback position heading into 2024, but McLaurin’s fantasy viability seems to be just about done for this season.

Prediction: 49ers 31, Commanders 16 ^ Top

Cardinals @ Eagles - (Caron)
Line: PHI -12.0
Total: 48.5

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: QB Kyler Murray, TE Trey McBride

Kyler Murray has re-established himself as a borderline QB1 for fantasy this season and he’s done so without really having a WR1 to throw to. Sure, Marquise Brown is on the team, but he’s not a true WR1 and he’s also been banged up. Instead, it’s been tight end Trey McBride who’s seen huge usage during the second half of the season and especially since Murray returned. McBride is now averaging nine targets per game over his past eight games. That’s unquestionably elite usage and it’s made him a must-start in all formats.

This duo now faces a Philadelphia defense that has been terrible against opposing passing games this season, which should give managers even more confidence in them during their championship week.

On the Fence: RB James Conner

With Kyler Murray keeping defenses honest, we’ve seen James Conner step up and return to his role as a fantasy RB1 in recent weeks. Conner has scored a touchdown in three straight games, turning in at least 17 total fantasy points in each of those contests, and he’s continued to see the majority of his team’s backfield opportunities.

The biggest concern for those rostering Conner this week is that he’ll be facing an Eagles defense that has been quite staunch against opposing running backs this season. While they’ve gotten beaten up a bit in recent weeks by Christian McCaffrey, Tony Pollard, Kenneth Walker, and Saquon Barkley, those are some of the most talented backs in the league and while Conner is still good, he lacks the explosiveness that those players possess. Still, he’s seeing enough usage that he should have a solid fantasy floor even in this tough matchup.

Update: Marquise Brown (heel)has been placed on IR.

Fade: WR Marquise Brown

Wide receiver Marquise Brown has been dealing with a heel injury for multiple weeks now and could miss another game. While the injury situation has been unfortunate, the reality is that Brown just has not been good even when he’s been healthy. It’s true that he’s had limited time to play with Murray, but Brown was held to single-digit PPR points in five of his seven games even prior to getting hurt. Don’t be tempted with the “he’s the WR1” narrative if Brown is healthy. This situation is beginning to look a lot more like the Chiefs and Ravens with tight end Trey McBride being the “WR1” and everyone else fighting for the scraps.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

No Brainers: QB Jalen Hurts, WR A.J. Brown

Favorites: RB D’Andre Swift

The Eagles were able to get an important division win over the Giants this past week, but there’s no question that things have been tough for this team in recent weeks. One player who’s struggled due to the team’s overall slump has been running back D’Andre Swift. Before getting into the end zone in Week 16, Swift had been held scoreless in each of his previous four games and had not turned in a double-digit fantasy day in any of those contests.

Swift’s usage got back on track this past week, though, as he saw 20 carries - his second-highest total of the season - and he now gets to face an Arizona defense that has been the absolute best matchup for opposing running backs this season. The Cardinals have given up at least 112 rushing yards to opposing running backs in six straight games and that doesn’t even take into account that both Christian McCaffrey and Kyren Williams went over 60 receiving yards and caught two touchdowns each against this defense.

He may not be the sexy name that he was earlier this season when he was completely crushing defenses, but Swift has some serious potential for a big game in this one.

On the Fence: WR DeVonta Smith, TE Dallas Goedert

While A.J. Brown remains the unquestioned alpha in the Philadelphia offense, the remaining targets have largely been funneled to wide receiver DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert. Goedert returned from injury in Week 14 and has since been targeted 22 times. Smith was targeted 10 times in that Week 14 game with the Cowboys when Goedert returned, but he has since seen just 10 targets over his past two games. While this drop-off in usage looks like a potential small sample size trap, we’ve actually seen this scenario play out quite a bit throughout these two players’ careers with the Eagles. When one or the other is out then the player who’s on the field has seen significant usage increases, but as soon as they’re both on the field then they seem to begin limiting one another.

It’s not that Smith and Goedert are must-bench players, especially given the Philadelphia offense being one of the league’s most productive units, but the Cardinals are also a team that gives up a ton of production to opposing running backs while typically doing fairly well against opposing wide receivers and tight ends.

Fade: RB Kenneth Gainwell

Week 16 saw Kenneth Gainwell turn in his best fantasy day since Week 1, but the reality is that despite his increased production, there really isn’t anything to indicate that he’s going to be utilized more in the offense going forward. Gainwell played in just 39 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps - his lowest total since Week 12 - and he ran routes on just 37 percent of the Eagles’ passing plays, which only narrowly edged out starter D’Andre Swift.

Gainwell would be usable in the scenario where Swift goes down with an injury, but otherwise he’s someone fantasy managers will want to avoid because he simply lacks the usage to deliver upside.

Prediction: Eagles 28, Cardinals 20 ^ Top

Saints @ Buccaneers - (Mack)
Line: TB -2.5
Total: 42.5

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

No Brainers: WR Chris Olave, RB Alvin Kamara

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: QB Derek Carr, WR Rashid Shaheed

Derek Carr is in the midst of the best stretch of the season, with eight TD passes of the last three games. Now he goes up against the Bucs, who have given up a league-worst in passing yards allowed. But can we trust Carr to follow up his 319-yard, three-TD performance from last week? That’s the question fantasy managers must ask themselves. I’m skeptical.

For those looking to swing for the fences, Rashid Shaheed is an option. He’s been a below-average fantasy option for most of the last month or so; his 70-yard, 1-TD performance last week notwithstanding. Somebody on the Saints is going to have a solid receiving game, and if Tampa Bay gives Olave the attention he deserves, that could open the door for Shaheed to be a sneaky play this week.

Fade: N/A

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

No Brainers: WR Mike Evans, RB Rachaad White

Favorites: QB Baker Mayfield, WR Chris Godwin

Don’t look now, but Baker Mayfield has resuscitated his career to the point where he is now a viable fantasy starter. The Saints just gave up 325 passing yards to the Rams on the road, and the Bucs have similarly productive weapons on the outside. With all the injuries the QB position has experienced in the NFL this season, Mayfield is a solid fallback. Play him with confidence.

After the goose egg Godwin put up in Week 13, he’s had 21 receptions in the three games since. Chris Godwin simply doing Chris Godwin things. The Bucs No.2 receiver posted an 8-114-0 line on 11 targets back in Week 4 against New Orleans. A top-end flex option this week.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Saints 18 ^ Top

Panthers @ Jaguars - (Mack)
Line: JAX -6.0
Total: 37.5

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: RB Chuba Hubbard, WR Adam Thielen

The 30 points Carolina scored last week was only three more than they had scored in their last three games combined. This offense has struggled all season, and as such, has been a fantasy waste land for the most part. But Chuba Hubbard has carved out some significance in the fantasy realm, although he’s been limited at practice so far this week with a hamstring issue. His presence is crucial to the success of this offense, so keep an eye out for is availability. But even if he plays and is at full strength, he will find it tough against a Jacksonville team that has limited two of its last three opponents to fewer than 83 yards on the ground as a team.

Adam Thielen’s 94 receiving yards last week was the most he’s tallied since a Week 6 performance that saw him gain 115 yards on 11 catches. The Jaguars are most vulnerable in the secondary, as they’ve given up the third most passing yards and the seventh most passing yards. Thielen could be a sneaky flex play this week.

Fade: QB Bryce Young

Don’t let Bryce Young’s best game of his career last week full you. He is still a work in progress and should only be on a fantasy roster in the deepest of leagues.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

No Brainers: RB Travis Etienne, TE Evan Engram

Favorites: WR Calvin Ridley

Calvin Ridley is second on the team in targets and receptions, but he has perhaps the highest ceiling. With an ailing Trevor Lawrence iffy for the contest, that could limit Ridley’s potential. Carolina has been tough against the pass, giving up the fourth fewest passing yards in the league and the 11th fewest passing TDs. Buyer beware of Ridley this week.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: WR Zay Jones (knee, hamstring)

Zay Jones has battled injuries most of the 2023 season, and now he goes up against one of the toughest pass defenses in the league with, potentially, a backup quarterback. Fade Zay Jones this week if he plays, without regret.

Prediction: Jaguars 19, Panthers 17 ^ Top

Falcons @ Bears - (Green)
Line: CHI -3.0
Total: 37.5

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

No Brainers: RB Bijan Robinson

Favorites: TE Kyle Pitts

While the numbers still aren’t what they probably should be, Pitts’ production has been trending upwards. Over the last four weeks, the former first-round pick has topped 45 yards three times and scored twice. In his first 11 games, Pitts topped 45 yards three times and scored once. Chicago is as stout as they come against the run, but they rate 25th versus the pass with just two teams having allowed more TDs. Trey McBride caught six passes a week ago, and David Njoku had a 10-104-1 line versus Chicago in Week 15. Pitts offers some upside as a low-end TE1.

On the Fence: WR Drake London

Inconsistency, thy name is Drake London. The USC alum’s production has been all over the map this season, ranging from two games of less than 10 yards to a 172-yard outburst in Week 14. That effort has been surrounded by poor showings, with London totaling 71 yards combined in his other three most recent games. Make no mistake, Atlanta wants to run, but Chicago leads the NFL in run defense, so the Falcons may be forced to adjust their strategy. In that scenario, London could have a big game. Then again, the balls could go to Robinson and Pitts, or even Jonnu Smith. As a flex or low-end WR3, you could take the risk.

Fade: N/A

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

No Brainers: QB Justin Fields, WR D.J. Moore

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: RBs D’Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson and Khalil Herbert

In what’s becoming a regular feature, it’s time once again to guess which Bears back will get the carries. Foreman was the lead back in Week 14, was highly ineffective in Week 15, and then was inactive last week for personal reasons. He’s back at practice, though, so expect him to return. Herbert had barely played in three games coming into last Sunday, but with Foreman down, the third-year pro carried the load with a team-high 20 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown (his first of 2023). Johnson has been the most consistent, but that has come in a complementary role, and it seems like his ceiling is the lowest. Choosing any of these backs is risky, but Foreman once again seems like the best choice as a flex/RB3. You could roll the dice on Herbert if you’re desperate, hoping that the Bears reward him for his strong play in Week 16.

Fade: TE Cole Kmet (knee)

This one might be a moot point as Kmet (knee) has yet to practice this week due to a knee injury, but if he does suit up that same issue is a reason to seek your fortunes elsewhere at the position. Kmet posted a 4-107-0 line in Week 16, so his profile might be raised. In what’ll be Championship Game time in most fantasy leagues, it’d be a bad idea to be reliant on a player that entered Week 16 with a quad injury and left it with knee trouble.

Prediction: Bears 23, Falcons 18 ^ Top

Raiders @ Colts - (Mack)
Line: IND -3.5
Total: 42.5

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR Davante Adams, WR Jakobi Meyers

Last week’s contest against Kansas City was Davante Adams’ third game this season that he recorded two or fewer receptions. One catch for four yards is not going to cut it at this point of the fantasy season, but chances are you have few alternatives. You will have to stick with Adams and hope he rebounds from his dreadful performance against the Chiefs. However, the Colts are in the top-half of the league (14th) against the pass and have given up the third fewest TD receptions, so Indy will present a tough matchup for the 31-year-old veteran.

Likewise, for Jakobi Meyers. He’s a low-volume receiver playing with an average QB in rookie Aidan O’Connell. Meyers hasn’t cracked 80 receiving yards since Week 2, and there’s no reason to believe it’ll be anything different against Indy. Play Meyers as a flex option and hope for the best.

Update: Josh Jacobs is listed as Doubtful.

On the Fence: RB Zamir White

RB Josh Jacobs has missed the last two games and, as of Thursday, has yet to practice this week. Zamir White started last week in Kansas City and finished with the best game of his career—145 yards rushing on 22 carries. The 145 rushing yards were more than he had for the season coming into the contest. The Colts present a solid opportunity to have a similar productive game, as Indy has given up the fifth-most rushing yards and third-most rushing TDs. Keep an eye on Jacobs’ availability going into the game. His presence, of course, would limit White’ ceiling considerably.

Fade: N/A

LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

No Brainers: RB Jonathan Taylor

Favorites: WR Michael Pittman Jr.

After a limited practice on Wednesday, Pittman logged a full practice on Thursday. He’s trending toward returning after a concussion cost him last week’s game. When he’s active and healthy, Pittman is the clear-cut lead dog in an Indianapolis offense that has scored the ninth-most points in the league. Before suffering his concussion against Pittsburgh in Week 15, Pittman had four straight games with at least eight receptions and 84 yards. That’s solid WR1 numbers in fantasy. Look for him to return to form against the Raiders.

On the Fence: WR Josh Downs

Josh Downs filled the role of WR1 for the Colts last week in Pittman’s absence. He led the team with nine targets but could only tally a modest 39 yards on six catches. Downs should revert to his complementary roll with Pittman’s return, which hasn’t yielded much production for fantasy managers. He hasn’t scored since Week 7 and has yet to eclipse 43 receiving yards since Week 9. The only way Downs should be in your lineup is if you are decimated with injuries.

Fade: QB Gardner Minshew

Gardner Minshew has had sporadic production this season, and it is that inconsistency that should scare most fantasy managers away. Minshew is not to be trusted heading into the most important game of the fantasy season for many leagues. Stay away.

Prediction: Colts 23, Raiders 16 ^ Top

Steelers @ Seahawks - (Fessel)
Line: SEA -3.5
Total: 41.5

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Jaylen Warren

Jaylen Warren has been a backend RB3 for the 2023 season, with a lot of up-and-down performances. Since going for at least 100 yards in three consecutive games in November, he’s not gotten back to the 100-yard mark since. That being said, he has at least 4 receptions in each of the last three games and is just four receptions behind George Pickens for the team lead (52).

Warren gets 3 additional breaks this week that could notably play in his favor. One is that Najee Harris missed practice early in the week. He did return on Thursday in a limited basis, but it’s not yet clear if he’ll play, and in what capacity. A Harris absence would create the strong possibility that Warren plays as a bellcow back against the Seahawks.

Speaking of the Seahawks, they’ve given up the 6th most points to opposing running backs this year, making Warren a good flex option even if Harris does play. Lastly, Mason Rudolph will start this week for the Steelers. During 11 career starts, Rudolph’s desire to get rid of the ball quickly and avoid sacks has led to one or more Steelers running backs leading the team in targets in five different games.

The stars are aligning favorably for Warren in what will be Championship week in most leagues.

On the Fence: QB Mason Rudolph, WR George Pickens, TE Pat Freiermuth, RB Najee Harris

While Mason Rudolph has been called on to start for the Steelers, the team has remained competitive (6-4-1). Last week, Rudolph became the first Steelers QB to produce more than 250 net passing yards and 2 touchdowns since Ben Roethlisberger retired. But be careful. In Rudolph’s career, he’s only thrown for over 250 yards twice and has gone for multiple touchdowns in just four starts. He’s also far from the most mobile quarterback, with just 93 career rushing yards and no rushing touchdowns.

It could be that Rudolph has grown as a quarterback and last week was perhaps evidence of that. But there’s a very real possibility that it was just a game where everything clicked between Rudolph and Pickens (4 receptions 195 yards 2 touchdowns). The QB position is thin right now, so you might find yourself considering Rudolph. He’s in the QB2 conversation, but it’s hard to expect much more.

Meanwhile, George Pickens had his 4th 100-yard performance of the season last week. But he is just 28th in targets at the position despite being active all season. Pickens ranks 30th in fantasy points per game, and despite the connection he and Rudolph displayed last week, Pickens is probably what he’s been all year, a bit of a boom-or-bust flex.

Freiermuth has been largely absent from the Steelers passing attack aside from a 9 reception, 120-yard performance against the Bengals, including zero targets last week. However, in Rudolph’s previous start with Freiermuth at TE (2021), the Steelers veteran QB targeted his TE1 nine times. Freiermuth’s quiet season doesn’t make him a great play, but he could have a bounce back game, pushing him into the TE2 conversation for managers who are desperate at tight end.

Lastly, it’s worth taking a look at Najee Harris’s injury status leading up to game time this weekend. While Najee’s touches are down and the Steelers’ blocking scheme continues to struggle, he’s still averaging 15 touches a game. If he starts against a very beautiful Seahawk run defense, he is a flex.

Fade: N/A

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR DK Metcalf

Metcalf should have his QB1 Geno Smith again this week, and the league’s No.18 wide receiver has averaged over 13 FPts/G with Smith, including a massive outburst against Dallas (34.4 points). The ceiling is certainly WR1 against a middling Steelers secondary.

Update: Kenneth Walker is expected to play.

On the Fence: RB Kenneth Walker (shoulder), RB Zach Charbonnet

Walker missed practice on Thursday, and he’s a big question mark for this weekend’s game with the Steelers. If he sits out, Zach Charbonnet would move safely into the RB2 conversation. But Walker ended up playing last week despite missing practice (17 touches 56 yards), so it’s entirely possible that the Seahawks will follow the same script this week. This is a situation worth watching, with a banged-up Walker being more of a flex than RB2 if he goes.

Fade: QB Geno Smith

Geno Smith has only broken the 20-point mark three times this season, after doing so seven times last year. Injuries to him and his teammates have played a role, and the Seahawks have the longest injury report in the league this week. With Smith facing a very difficult Steelers defense (8th toughest on QBs) and ranked just 25th among QBs with at least three starts, he appears to be an easy fade.

Prediction: Seahawks 20, Steelers 19 ^ Top

Chargers @ Broncos - (Fessel)
Line: DEN -3.5
Total: 36.5

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: TE Gerald Everett, RB Austin Ekeler

The Broncos have given up the most points per game to tight ends in the entire league, and Gerald Everett may be the Chargers defacto top target against Denver this week. Everett, who had been quiet for much of the season, has gone for at least 6.4 points per game in each of the last five weeks – not surprisingly the result of the Chargers running out of superior options. The floor has been there over the last month plus, and the Broncos offer a real opportunity for a strong ceiling. Everett is easily worth TE1 consideration in Week 17.

Austin Ekeler, once a lock-RB1, has failed to crack 7 points in four of his last six games, and hasn’t broken the 20-point mark since Week 9. He has what is easily a career low 3.7 rushing average, and things are only getting more difficult as the Chargers offense loses more pieces. Ekeler gets one break this week, facing a Broncos team that has given up the 2nd most points to the RB position. That includes allowing the 4th most catches to running backs and the 2nd most receiving touchdowns. With little else for the Broncos defense to focus on against the Chargers, it’s entirely possible that – despite Denver’s weaknesses - Ekeler is swarmed all day, meaning his fantasy owners shouldn’t look to him as an RB1. Think of him as more of a mid-level RB2.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: QB Easton Stick

Stick has gone for respectable borderline QB1 numbers each of his last two games, but this week it appears likely that he’ll not just be without Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, but also Josh Palmer. With Quentin Johnston yet to show he’s ready for a major target share and Stick likely needing to lean heavily on Gerald Everett, it’s hard to imagine a whole lot of ceiling here, and there’s definitely danger of a low floor.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR Jerry Jeudy, RB Javonte Williams

Courtland Sutton has been the stalwart of a quite unexceptional Broncos’ offense this season, pulling down 10 touchdowns. But with him missing practice due to a concussion, it’s likely that Jerry Jeudy will get a shot to be the go-to-guy for new Broncos starting QB Jarrett Stidham this week. The Chargers have been cooked by wide receivers this season, and so disappointed Jeudy owners who have held him may have a rare day to talk about against Los Angeles. He’s in the WR3 conversation if Sutton misses this week, which appears likely.

The Chargers have also struggled against running backs, giving up the 9th most points to the position, and with the Broncos being significant favorites this week, there’s little reason not to expect Javonte Williams to see 15-20 touches. Williams went for 16.6 points against the Chargers just a few weeks ago, one of just several notable performances this year. He’s got a great chance to repeat the feat this week – look at him as an RB2.

On the Fence: QB Jarrett Stidham, WR Courtland Sutton (concussion)

A Chargers defense that has been gutted by quarterbacks all season (3rd most points allowed) and a Chargers offense gutted by injuries could lead to opportunities for both big plays and looks in the red zone. Recently, Aidan O’Connell went for 25.9 against this Chargers team, and Los Angeles has surrendered nine different 20+ point performances to QB’s. But Stidham hasn’t made much of a mark in his limited career opportunities, outside of one game for the Raiders. Still, he’s worth QB2 consideration, if you play in a multi-QB league, due to the match-up.

If Sutton defies the odds and plays this week, it’ll be quite reasonable to look at him as a WR2 against a Chargers team that has surrendered 21 touchdowns to receivers. Again, it appears unlikely he’ll play, so be ready with an alternative option.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Broncos 23, Chargers 16 ^ Top

Bengals @ Chiefs - (Fessel)
Line: KC -7.0
Total: 43.5

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

No Brainers: N/A

Update: Ja'Marr Chase is likely to play.

Favorites: WR Ja’Maar Chase, WR Tee Higgins, QB Jake Browning, RB Joe Mixon

Chase would be a no brainer if not for his injury status. He looks like he’ll be good to go this weekend, as he’s returned to the practice field. Chase’s value to the team was demonstrated quite clearly last week, as Jake Browning went from putting up Joe Burrow numbers to throwing three picks sans Chase. Look to Chase to return to his WR1 status this week in a critical game for the Bengals against Kansas City.

Tee Higgins, meanwhile, appears to finally be back on track, posting three different 15-point performances in the last five games, and going for over 20 points in back-to-back games. The ceiling was a bit higher with Chase banged up over the last couple of weeks, but owners can look to Higgins as a WR2 this week.

As for Jake Browning, he’s going to be carried as far as his receivers take him, and when Chase, Higgins and Boyd have been on the field, he’s put up easy QB1 numbers. The Chiefs present a tough challenge (5th toughest on QB’s), but the thinness of the position and the high ceiling potential for Browning with this elite WR trio makes him a solid QB option this week.

Running back Joe Mixon ranks just outside the top 12 in points per game at his position, and is closing in on his third 300-touch season of his career. Volume carries the day for Mixon and he’s had at least 10 touches in every game this year, offering a solid floor, with the potential for a strong ceiling if this game happens to shootout.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: N/A

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

No Brainers: QB Patrick Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce

Favorites: WR Rashee Rice

Rice has five consecutive games with at least 6 receptions, and Pat Mahomes has targeted him 10 times per contest over that span. Drawing a Bengals defense that has given up the 9th most points to wide receivers makes it a pretty easy decision to go with Rice as a WR2.

On the Fence: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

It looks likely that RB Isiah Pacheco will miss Week 17 due to a concussion, meaning Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the next man up. He missed Thursday practice, but it was an illness designation, meaning he’ll probably suit up. He’s no lock to have an efficient or productive day against a middling Bengals run defense, but for those looking for an unexciting flex – which has generally been Edwards-Helaire’s value during his career as a starter – the Chiefs veteran is certainly a usable option.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Chiefs 24, Bengals 21 ^ Top

Packers @ Vikings- (Green)
Line: MIN -1.0
Total: 43.5

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

No Brainers: RB Aaron Jones

Favorites: WR Jayden Reed

Reed (toe/chest) did not play in Week 16 due to injury, but he’s back at practice this week and looks to be trending toward a return -- something than can’t be said for Christian Watson (hamstring) and Dontayvion Wicks (ribs). Prior to the injuries, Reed was emerging as Green Bay’s most consistent weapon, scoring a touchdown in five of his last six games. He was kept out of the end zone the last time the Packers played the Vikings, but he did log 83 yards on four receptions. Assuming he’s back, Reed should find a spot in your lineup as a WR3 with upside, particularly if neither Watson nor Wicks are able to suit up.

On the Fence: QB Jordan Love

While the Packers have struggled a bit recently, little of that has been on Love, who has tossed 13 touchdown passes and just one INT over his last six games. The Vikings are a tough defense, though, and with their backs against the wall they should be fired up to pick up the slack for an offense that’s dealing with a lot of injuries. Minnesota had Love’s number back in October, holding him to 229 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT in a game where Green Bay scored a season-low 10 points. There’s no doubt Love is playing better now than he was then, which provides him QB1 upside. Just know that we’re about to see the first-year starter on the road in a hostile environment against a good defense, so there’s uncertainty and downside as well.

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GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

No Brainers: WR Justin Jefferson

Favorites: RB Ty Chandler

With injuries aplenty and a change to a rookie QB, the stars seem to be aligning for Chandler to see a heavy workload this Sunday night. Chandler looks to have moved past Alexander Mattison, or perhaps the team just isn’t sure about the latter’s ankle injury, after the UNC product ran for 132 yards and a touchdown in Cincinnati. He struggled last Sunday versus Detroit, managing just 17 yards on eight carries, though he did score. The Packers are among the league’s worst run defenses, ranking 30th at 135.9 yards per game, which makes Chandler a quality RB2 with potential for more.

On the Fence: QB Jaren Hall

Like Joshua Dobbs before him, Nick Mullens fell victim to turning the ball over too often, and now the team will turn to Hall to start in Week 17. The rookie looked capable in brief action earlier this year -- he suffered a concussion in his lone start and was replaced by Dobbs -- but is largely an unknown commodity. One needn’t go far back to see why Hall could hold some value here, though, as the Packers were abysmal against the recent trio of Tommy DeVito, Baker Mayfield, and Bryce Young, leading the first two to win NFC Player of the Week honors, and the third to set a career high in passing. To be clear, starting Hall would be a massive gamble. He’s inexperienced and will be without T.J. Hockenson (knee) and perhaps Jordan Addison (ankle), and if he struggles the Vikings could reverse course and go to Mullens with their playoff hopes on the line. If those others can move the ball on the Packers, though, why can’t Hall?

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Packers 27, Vikings 23 ^ Top