Fantasy Football Report: Week 17

Gourav Pany, Staff Writer

No one needs to be told to start Jonathan Taylor on their fantasy team. But what about the flex tight-end/wide-receiver position? What about that one running back on waivers that might be able to fill in a spot for a starting running back on injured reserve? Now that the fantasy playoffs are here, it is imperative to start the right players and sit the ones who might be the factor to a loss in the knockout rounds.

Quick Note: With the rise in the number of Omicron variant cases in the United States, the National Football League has also been greatly affected by this new strain. Therefore, fantasy teams should be checked regularly in order to prevent sidelined players from starting during the playoffs.


QB: Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

After an undoubtedly poor performance against the Minnesota Vikings, Matthew Stafford should look to bounce back in a matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, who allowed a whopping 525 passing yards to QB Joe Burrow. Stafford has the necessary talent for him to be a consistent QB1 in terms of fantasy numbers, but has games like the one he had last week, in which he threw three interceptions and only 197 yards and a touchdown, that are puzzling and unlike the level of play Stafford has shown since his arrival in Los Angeles. However, he will face a Ravens defense that is extremely injured in the secondary, with their top three options at cornerback projected to be out for this game. This poses a big matchup nightmare for the Ravens as they will have to match up with WR Cooper Kupp and WR Odell Beckham Jr., who can make defenses pay at all levels of the field. All Stafford needs to do in this game is to sit back and throw to the open receiver, which will be all-too-common against the Ravens, who were dominated in the pass game from the beginning to the end of last week’s game against the Bengals. In this relatively easy matchup, Stafford should return to his normal QB1 status, despite the heavy volume RB Sony Michel has been getting, which may be the only significant deterrent to Stafford’s ability of compiling fantasy points.

Projection: 21.54 points (non-PPR)

RB: David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

Montgomery was inefficient in his game against the Seattle Seahawks on the ground, as he totaled 21 carries for a disappointing 45 yards. However, he was the primary option in the passing game for the Bears as he had seven receptions and 61 yards, which saved his day fantasy wise. Montgomery has shown that he is still the engine of this offense, and has added an extra facet to his game that makes him even more threatening in his game against the New York Giants. The Giants have been poor in almost everything they have done so far, but they struggle even more against the run, which is something that plays to Montgomery’s favor. Montgomery showed real fight against the Seahawks, as he was playing behind an offensive line that was getting dominated at the line of scrimmage, which led to him getting hit in the backfield many times. However, Montgomery showed that he was capable of running through tacklers and adding positive yardage to plays that seemed doomed from the beginning. What helps his fantasy value more is the run-first offense that he plays in, which will give him more opportunities as long as he is healthy. Montgomery projects as a high-end RB1 this week because of these factors and his exceptional play since the beginning of the season.

Projection: 12.40 points (non-PPR)

WR: Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

Although he benefited from an aforementioned injured Ravens secondary last week, few could do what Higgins did with his monster 194 yards that also included two touchdown receptions in the span of a mind-blowing twelve receptions, which posted him firmly in the WR1 category for this week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Higgins is physically imposing and has better speed than an average NFL receiver, which makes him a more consistent option on the Bengals offense than the big-play WR Ja’marr Chase. Higgins has also gained the trust of QB Joe Burrow, as evidenced by his thirteen targets last week and an increased target share late in the season. Even though he faces a stingy Chiefs defense that can frazzle quarterbacks despite their talent or experience, Higgins possesses the frame (6 feet and four inches, 215 pounds) to dominate on 50-50 matchups, and has an innate route running ability that can leave defenders playing tight man coverage in the dust. Higgins projects to be the most consistent option for the Bengals this week against the Chiefs, and a must-start this week given the physical ability that he has displayed late in the season.

Projection: 12.20 points (non-PPR)

TE: Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills

After a relatively dull couple of weeks, Dawson Knox showed signs of life against the Patriots, where he had two catches for eleven yards and a touchdown. Knox is a very talented young tight end who has shown his explosive ability this season, and he gets his opportunity to shine against the Atlanta Falcons, who have been atrocious against tight ends in terms of both fantasy football and real-life production. The Falcons have a lack of talent in the middle of the field, and Knox can help exploit that weakness in this pass-first offense that increases the volume for all the receivers in its scheme, including Knox. Knox should be a TE1 for not only this week, but next week as well when the Bills play the Jets, which makes him a valuable pickup and starter for the fantasy football playoffs, whose finals may be this week or next week, depending on the league’s settings.

Projection: 9.80 points (non-PPR)

K: Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Cleveland Browns this week in what seems to be QB Ben Roesthlisberger’s last game as a pro in his home stadium, which will certainly lead to a hard fought game between these bitter rivals. In what figures to be a defensive showdown, Chris Boswell will look to be the deciding factor as both offenses should continue their atrocious form, which should be a positive sign for Boswell, as he will receive multiple opportunities to score points given the Steelers’ struggles in the red zone. In what looks to be a low scoring affair, watch for Boswell to kick three pivotal field goals and possibly an extra point if the Steelers manage to score a touchdown. In a game which projects to be close given the energy between these two teams, Boswell will be relied on for the accuracy that he has displayed throughout the season, which makes him a viable option for any fantasy team.

Projection: 10.00 points (non-PPR)

DEF: New England Patriots

The Patriots enter Week 17 with a two game losing streak that has been littered with poor and lazy defensive play that has been uncharacteristic for them when looking at the season as a whole. However, they face the Jacksonville Jaguars in what looks to be a guaranteed bounce-back game, though one can’t be too sure given the amount of underdog wins that have occurred this season. Even with the possibility of a struggle given the Patriots’ recent form, the talent differential is simply too high for there to be any doubt that the Patriots should handle this matchup. Expect a bevy of mistakes by QB Trevor Lawrence as HC Bill Belichick will try to scheme his defense in a way that maximizes their talents and limits their opponents’ strengths, which is something that is way too easy against a depleted and uncreative Jaguars offense. Ultimately, this game looks to be a domination by the Patriots, who will try to take out their frustration against a lowly team like the Jaguars, which also makes them an appealing play in fantasy football.

Projection: 11.00 points (non-PPR)


QB: Davis Mills, Houston Texans

Mills has the whole football world reeling after his unpredictable explosion against the Los Angeles Chargers, which has led his fantasy ownership to skyrocket in recent weeks because of his play. However, Mills is a risky proposition as he doesn’t possess the talent that makes him a solid fantasy starter, which might be a problem as he is playing in one of the worst teams in the NFL. Though Mills has enamored fans with his underdog status and his grit through the tough hits, it is hard to see past mistakes that would otherwise be bonehead plays if it weren’t for the opposing defense squandering chance after chance. This week, however, Mills faces off against the San Francisco 49ers, who are opportunistic when the football comes their way and have a ferocious defensive line coupled with practically flying linebackers that will make it hard for Mills to consistently complete check downs, which is something that he has shown a propensity for. When it is all said and done, Mills should be thought of as a high-risk QB2 with almost no rushing upside.

Projection: 11.28 points (non-PPR)

RB: Michael Carter, New York’s Jets

Michael Carter comes into Week 17 with one of his best games of his young career, as he totaled 118 yards on 16 carries and was the driving force behind the Jets’ win against the Jaguars. However, the Jets face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have the best run defense in the league, despite what the statistics say. The Buccaneers have a big and fast front seven that often sinks running backs at the line of scrimmage or worse, which makes this a tough matchup for Carter. Even though he has a high receiving floor, he will be mostly matched up with the speedy LB Devin White, who can cover almost anyone in the open field. Carter is a good running back with a bright future, but this is one of the games in which only the best can succeed in, which Carter has yet to prove so far.

Projection: 6.20 points (non-PPR)

WR: Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns

Jarvis Landry may be the Cleveland Browns’ top receiver, but he isn’t a viable play in terms of fantasy football. Landry plays on a run-first offense that primarily focuses on its running backs and tight ends, which automatically phases Landry out of the WR1 conversation. Compounding his fall from fantasy grace is the steady decline that QB Baker Mayfield has experienced in his play, which has led to multiple missed throws and the coaching staff not trusting Mayfield to execute even the most basic of pass plays. Landry has also been playing with multiple injuries throughout the season, but with Cleveland’s playoff hopes almost dead, he should not be considered anything other than a boom-or-bust desperation FLEX option.

Projection: 4.60 points (non-PPR)

TE: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Last week, Pitts was a favorable option in fantasy because of the matchup that he had received, which led to a successful 102 yard outing against the Detroit Lions. However, this week he faces the Buffalo Bills, who are traditionally tough on the pass game, and nothing is expected to change this week either. QB Matt Ryan has performed admirably this season with limited weapons and protection, but that is projected to change against the Buffalo Bills, who will look to pressure Ryan on almost every snap and take advantage of his less-than-average protection. Pitts is the only consistent option on this team, and with Ryan struggling, it will be very hard to trust Pitts, especially in a matchup against the top top safeties in the league in S Jordan Poyer and S Micah Hyde.

Projection: 4.20 points (non-PPR)

K: Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos are struggling offensively, and nothing projects to change for them against the Los Angeles Chargers, who are coming off a disappointing outing last week against the lowly Houston Texans. This matchup comes down to the amount of talent on each side of the football, and with Denver playing backup QB Drew Lock indefinitely because of QB Teddy Bridgewater’s concussion, McManus will be in a tough position to score any points. Even if Bridgewater comes back from injury, he will have missed almost two weeks’ worth of practices, which does not bode well for any starting quarterback. The Broncos will struggle to move the football on the Chargers, which will negatively affect McManus’ impact on the field, which will make him a risky play this week. However, with the lack of quality kickers on the fantasy market, some might find themselves starting McManus because of the lack of a better option, though it is highly recommended that McManus should be avoided unless there is a clearly better option on the market.

Projection: 5.00 points (non-PPR)

DEF: Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings have underperformed on defense for the past two years, and their struggles project to continue against QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Rodgers has played with grace, elegance and maturity this season, and has cemented himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league, which does not sound good for the Vikings. Rodgers has also established a rapport with WR Marquez-Valdes Scantling, who has paired with WR Davante Adams and WR Randall Cobb to form a perfect cohesion between the main components of this passing offense. Meanwhile, the Vikings are dealing with multiple injuries in the secondary, though they have performed admirably despite their talent deficiency. The Vikings have the propensity to play to the level of the team that they are facing and tend to give up a lot of points, which negatively affects their fantasy value. Even though they will notch a sack here and there as a result of an exceptional play, the Vikings look overmatched and out of their depth in this matchup, which makes them a risky play this week in fantasy.

Projection: 1.00 points (non-PPR)