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Fantasy Football: Best/Worst Options for Week 17

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Well here we are, Week 17. Most leagues are finished while some have reached their conclusion now. There’s been highs this year (Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, Jamaal Charles, Josh Gordon), there’s been lows (Ray Rice, Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, Danny Amendola) and there’s been surprises (Keenan Allen, Julius Thomas, the Chiefs Defense). I hope my words of “wisdom” (or lack there of) have been helpful to any of you this football season. If they haven’t, then you probably should have done the exact opposite of what I said and reaped the benefits you idiot. Anyways, here’s my best/worst options for week 17.

(fyi for those who care i made the playoffs in 6 of 7 of my leagues and only cashed out in 1. Whether or not my fantasy season was a success is clearly up for debate, but fact of the matter is, I had fun, got more stories to tell, and always lookin forward to next season.)

Panthers @ Falcons

Best Option- Brandon LaFell

With Carolina still playing for something, and Atlanta averaging 23 points while at home, Carolina will still be airing it out every so often and not every pass can go to Greg Olsen. With Steve Smith out, expect LaFell to step up and be a major factor for the Panthers.

Worst Option- Roddy White

He is coming off his best game against the 49ers on Monday night (12 catches for 141 yards and a TD). However, history proves more insight on White’s horrible season. Plagued for most of the year with an ankle injury, White seems to be healthy entering this week’s game against the 7th ranked defense of the Panthers. With Carolina still playing for a first round bye, their pass rush being as devastating as it has ever been (10 sacks in the last 2 games), and their defense coming off an outing where they held the Saints to 13 points, all signs point to avoid every offensive member of Atlanta in this game.

Bills @ Patriots

Best Option- LeGarrette Blount

Is he splitting time with Ridley? Yes. However, Blount is getting the one thing all fantasy owners want from their RB’s, the goal line carries. Last week, Blount punched it in from 1 and 7 yards out. With Buffalo coming off of a game where they held the Dolphins RB’s to 14 yards on 12 carries I say this, Miami’s running game has been awful all year, ask any Daniel Thomas/Lamar Miller owner and they’ll tell you first hand how big of a bust both of them have been. Blount may be a TD or bust candidate every week, but with 27 carries over the past two games, he looks like the RB to own in NE.

Worst Option- Tom Brady

Once again, I say let it ride on Brady being a bust this week. After a great team performance last week by the Pats (fantasy wise from LeGarrette Blount and the Pats defense/ST), Brady was very quiet, scoring only 10 fantasy points. The last time he played the Bills, Brady wasn’t much better, turning over the ball twice and scoring 15 fantasy points. The Bills surprisingly have the 5th best passing defense in the NFL, and with the Pats finally figuring out their running game (Blount and Ridley splitting carries with Vareen as the passing down back), I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Pats lean more towards the run in this game.

Packers @ Bears

Best Option- Jay Cutler

He looked terrible last week, but the Bears are sticking with him in this the most important game of the season. Even with his poor outing against the Eagles, Cutler still cracked double digits and is now facing a Packers defense that’s given up 9 TD passes in the last 4 games. This may be the biggest game Cutler has ever played in (if he can lead Chicago to a playoff spot, it could lead to a bigger contract down the line), and the Bears offense may have to keep up with Rodgers and Co if they want any shot of winning this game.

Worst Option- James Jones

Other than the Bears secondary and any Bears fans, maybe the only people not happy to see Aaron Rodgers back is James Jones fantasy owners. With Rodgers under center, Jones has scored a combined 43 fantasy points in 7 games (6.1 per game), with 3 of those games combining for 42 of those points. Which means, in 4 of those games, Jones has totaled just 1 point. Obviously he’s boom/bust this week given the Bears aren’t the strongest of defenses. However, given the track record of Rodgers/Jones, and Chicago’s inability to stop any running back, I would look to benching Jones this week.

Browns @ Steelers

Best Option- Ben Roethlisberger

Simply put, Big Ben kills the Browns. He put up 16 fantasy points against them the last time they faced, and since then has scored 19 or more fantasy points in 3 of his last 4 games. The Browns defense hasn’t been doing themselves any favors as well, allowing at least 24 points or more in 7 of their last games. Including a 3 TD game by Geno Smith of all people.

Worst Option- Anyone on the Browns besides Josh Gordon

While Gordon is having a career year in Cleveland, the rest of the offense/defense stinks and should not be touched by anyone going into this game. Since 2010, the Steelers have not allowed the Browns to score more than 20 points against them, with the Browns being held to 10 points or less 5 times (out of 7 games). Jason Campbell, Greg Little, anyone in the backfield, the browns defense/ST, no one should be started in this game.

Eagles @ Cowboys

Best Option- Philadelphia Defense/ST

Coming off of a 22 point performance against Chicago (including 5 sacks, a fumble recovery, and an interception), Philly’s D has now scored at least 10 fantasy points in 3 of their last 4 games. While they’ve been prone to awfulness as well (a negative 5 game against an Adrian Peterson-less Vikings squad), against Kyle Orton and a Cowboys squad that’ll definitely be leaning on DeMarco Murray, actually could produce high points for any Eagles defense owners.

Worst Option- DeMarco Murray

He’s going to get 25-30 touches in this one. But, Philly’s run defense has been very tough lately, giving up an average of 56.25 to opposing RB’s on the ground in the last four games…. However, during that time, they’ve also given up 5 rushing TD’s (3 to Matt Asiata of all people). With the uncertainty of Kyle Orton under center (I think he may be okay, just won’t blow anyone away), Dallas may have to lean on Murray to bring them to victory, however, Philly’s defense (especially their front 7) is playing way too good right now.

Broncos @ Raiders

Best Option- Terrelle Pryor

Pryor is back under center after a 6 week absence. He makes for an interesting case in this game for two reasons. One, Pryor was actually a competent fantasy QB for the time he was starting, averaging 14.35 fantasy points in 7 starts. Secondly, his rushing ability gives him that extra bit of leeway for owners to consider him as a starter (527 yards and 2 Rushing TD’s). San Diego showed a possible way to defeat Denver by keeping Manning off the field, with Pryor under center, Oakland’s running game got a little more dangerous and look for them to kill a lot of time by running with Pryor and Jennings.

Worst Option- Knowshon Moreno

While the Raiders defense allows the 5th most fantasy points to opposing running backs, if there’s anyone the Broncos are saving for the playoffs it’s Moreno. With no more than 15 carries over the last 4 games, and the increased role of Montee Ball (35 carries to Knowshon’s 48 in the last 4 games), it appears the next time Moreno may be valuable in fantasy football will be next season. Consider him a TD or bust option for this week.

Ravens @ Bengals

Best Option- Andy Dalton

It’s probably a little late to say this, but Andy Dalton has made a strong case for himself to be a QB 1 in 12 team standard leagues. The 5th highest scoring QB in fantasy football (6th overall player in standard leagues) has been a one man wrecking crew lately scoring 19 or more fantasy points in his last 3 games including two 30 point outings in his last two. He faces a Ravens defense whom he turned the ball over 3 times against in the last outing, but still produced 14 fantasy points (granted at least 6 of those points came on a fluke TD pass), with Cincy playing lights out at home, and how good Dalton has been playing over the last few weeks, he makes a strong case for a QB 1 this week.

Worst Option- Ray Rice

Well this is it Rice owners, the last time you’ll have to deal with your bust of a first round pick again. I’m assuming he plays on Sunday but Rice is questionable with a hip/thigh injury. After a disappointing season where he cracked double digit fantasy points just 4 times, Rice goes up against the Bengals 6th ranked rushing defense. It’s obvious by now if you have Rice, he should be on your bench unless you have no better options. Even if he plays, Bernard Pierce may still be the better option due to the likeliness of him getting about half the carries.

49ers @ Cardinals

Best Option- Vernon Davis

I know it may seem like an obvious choice, considering Davis being the 2nd ranked TE in fantasy this season. However, the matchup against the Cards is just too great for any Davis owner to even consider benching him. Throw in his 8 catch for 180 yards and 2 TD’s performance against Arizona last time, include Zona’s amazing run stopping defense, and shut down corner Patrick Peterson, and it all leads to Davis even more. Look at it this way, reported that Arizona has allowed 59 more fantasy points to tight ends than the next closest team in the NFL. Do I even have to list any more reasons why Vernon Davis is the best fantasy option in this game? Nope, good.

Worst Option- Frank Gore

2 rushing TD’s, that’s how many the Cardinals defense has given up since their bye week. 79 Rushing yards, the most any RB has put up against this defense since their bye week. Two running backs broke double digit fantasy points in that span (Chris Johnson 15, and LeSean McCoy 10). See what I’m getting at here? Arizona allows the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. While Gore will still see a lot of touches, against this defense it may be best to hinder all expectations. If Gore sees 10 fantasy points by the end of this game, consider it a success.

Redskins @ Giants

Best Option- Redskins Defense

It’s a bit of a stretch I know, but look at it this way. Eli Manning has had 7 multi turnover games this season. The Giants have not scored more than 27 since week one. Eli averages 9.5 fantasy points, and 2 turnovers per home game. While it’s not the most logical move on paper, and Washington’s defense/ST does rank 24th in fantasy scoring. You can’t ignore the fact that when it comes to turnovers and inconsistency on offense, the Giants come to mind.

Worst Option- Eli Manning

If you’ve made it this far with Eli as one of your starting QB’s.. The rest of your team must be incredible. Eli is the Ray Rice of starting QB’s. Even with a matchup as nice as Washington, I can’t recommend him, avoid Mr. Manning until next season.

Buccaneers @ Saints

Best Option- Bobby Rainey

We’ve seen it before against the Saints, whatever the running back does, the opposing team does. Rainey continues to be a boom/bust player game after game, but with his workload (5 games of 17 or more touches), he continues to be a driving force in the Bucs offense. With the recent success of Zac Stacy, and DeAngelo Williams against the Saints front 7, look for Rainey to get a load of touches and be the focal point of the Bucs offense.

Worst Option- Jimmy Graham

Goin clearly on gut here. The last time Graham played the Bucs, he torched them for 179 yards and 1 TD… In the first half, and was held without a catch the entire second half of the game. I really got a feeling the Bucs won’t allow that to happen again. Expect Graham to be put on Revis Island all game and look for the Bucs to have Brees throw to his underachieving WR’s to have them move the chains.

Jets @ Dolphins

Best Option- Dolphins defense

Geno Smith averages 6.1 fantasy points while on the road. He has also turned the ball over 16 times in road games. Reap the benefits of saving this squad for this matchup.

Worst Option- Lamar Millar/Daniel Thomas

I try to be objective week after week. I really don’t want to turn into those fantasy football owners that tweet horrible things to the players they own (btw for anyone who does that you need to quit fantasy football because clearly you’re too big of a farkin retard to realize players don’t give two shits about your fantasy team), but Miller and Thomas are terrible. Simply terrible to own. I believe Miller is the superior talent, but the erratic usage of him is just mind blowing. 3 CARRIES LAST WEEK!?!?! 3 CARRIES?! To Daniel Thomas’ 9 attempts?! Against the Jets 3rd ranked running defense, immediately all expectations need to be limited, and neither back can be trusted. This is a no brainer, folks, if there’s any Dolphins player to be owned in this game it’s the defense, and either Wallace/Hartline for a WR3.

Rams @ Seahawks

Best Option- Zac Stacy

You know how some RB’s are defense proof. That may be the case for Zac Stacy from here on out. As I’ve said before this guy IS THE RAMS OFFENSE. He’s had 28 or more touches over the past two weeks, and has scored a TD in every game except one since week 9. The last time he faced the Seahawks defense was a 134 yard romp in week 8. I’d also like to think the Rams are going to be taking a page or two out of the Cardinals playbook of last week calling more running plays (with 2 TE sets) and just running it down the Seahawks throats. Luckily for Stacy owners, the Rams have a 1 RB system and don’t pull Stacy for a goal line back (cough, MENDENHALL, cough). Look for Stacy to get his normal, heavy amount of touches (between 20-30) and be the Rams offense for this last game of the season.

Worst Option- Doug Baldwin

While he is the leader for the Seahawks in receiving yards, you just can’t trust Baldwin in your title game. The Rams may rank 20th against the pass, but considering how the most targeted player on the Seahawks roster is Golden Tate (89 targets=nearly 6 targets a game), you have to assume that like the Rams with their TE/WR’s, picking any Seattle WR/TE is a total crapshoot, that at the end of the day could make you look like a genius, or a total fool because Doug Baldwin only had 1 pass thrown his way throughout the game. If you have Baldwin in your lineup, it’s your choice to start him or not, I’m just not feeling him this week.

Texans @ Titans

Best Option- Johnathan Grimes

In the game only Texans and Titan fans care about, Johnathan Grimes is scheduled to be the Texans’ leading running back against the 20th ranked Titans defense. With just 5 carries on the season, this is Grimes first chance to show what he’s capable of. With all the crap that’s happened to the Texans offense this season, and Tennessee providing little offensive fantasy help as well, it leaves Grimes as the best potential waiver wire pick up you could make this week.

Worst Option- Tennessee Defense

Yes it’s against the Texans, but the Titans defense isn’t the gem it used to be earlier in the season. In two of their last three matchups, the Titans have scored in the negative, including a negative 12 against the Broncos just three weeks ago. I’m not saying Houston is anywhere close to Denver’s level on offense, however this is the same Texans team that put up 30 points against Tennessee in week two. I don’t buy the Titans scoring double digit fantasy points this week, expect somewhere in between the 5-8 point ratio.

Chiefs @ Chargers

Best Option- Danny Woodhead

While he isn’t the most dynamic running back, and is taking a backseat to Ryan Mathews as of late, Woodhead is still highly relevant in the Chargers offense. Behind Keenan Allen and Ryan Mathews, Woodhead’s your guy. With the Chiefs likely to play their reserves in this game, the Chargers have the opportunity to put up a load of points, and with Woodhead’s versatility, he’s a threat to score no matter what the situation.

Worst Option- Jamaal Charles, Alex Smith, Chiefs Defense

The last time I checked, the Chiefs aren’t playing for anything, so they should be resting their starters. Don’t expect much from Charles or Smith than playing a couple of series, while the defense, is somewhat of a better option, however, against the Chargers pass happy and high scoring offense (at least 26 points scored in their last 3 games) don’t expect much from this squad at all.

Lions @ Vikings

Best Option- Kris Durham

Durham seems to have the #2 WR locked down. He’s 2nd on the team in targets and 3rd on the team in receiving yards. While his value clearly ranks on whether or not Calvin plays on sunday (questionable knee) Durham could be a big waiver wire acquisition against the Vikings 32nd ranked secondary.

Worst Option- Matt Asiata

While he did score 3 TD’s agains the Eagles just 2 weeks ago, I can’t support Asiata’s ability against a Lions defense that has allowed just 3 running backs to score in their last 11 games. Also throw in Asia’s 1.7 ypc average this season and there’s no way to approve this start.

Jaguars @ Colts

Best Option- Maurice Jones Drew

This may be MJD’s last game as a Jaguar. I’m guessing he goes all out in this game to show the Jags (and any potential teams eyeing him as a free agent) that he’s still as good as he ever was. While he may have been a bust for most of the season, MJD is still the best option on the Jags offense and should see a bunch of touches in this season’s finale.

Worst Option- Donald Brown / Trent Richardson

Kinda obvious here, T-Rich has been seeing more carries and still hasn’t done much, Donald Brown is coming back from an injury, and the Jags rushing defense continues to perform well against Running Backs not named Shonn Greene. Don’t bite on either back.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at

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