Week 17 marks the end of the fantasy regular season whether your league wrapped up in week 16 or the finals are this week. While playoff pools are gaining popularity, it’s hard to recapture the magic of a regular-season fantasy league. Week 17 is a difficult week to navigate as the majority of teams are done at this point, nagging injuries might result in a premature end to a player’s season and every if veterans remain healthy enough to go, teams who are out of it might still decide to play a younger player lower in the depth chart to see what they have rather than continue to roll with the veteran. As such, week 17 finals can be rare but if you find yourself playing in one, one simple rule is best to live by. Try to stick to players who are on teams that have something to play for. They represent the least amount of risk when it comes to actual performance versus expected value in week 17.
Jahlani Tavai suffered a shoulder injury against the Broncos in week 16 which hampered his output to 3 solo tackles as the rookie garnered only 21% of the snaps. KJ Wright delivered 13 total tackles (8 solo) against the Cardinals in a losing effort on 88% usage. Cody Barton was not effective with only one total tackle as Bobby Wagner did end up suiting up for the game despite an ankle injury, relegating the rookie to minimal snaps. Will Compton was very solid for owners who were able to get him into their lineup. The former Redskin starter turned in 12 total tackles (10 solo) against the Chargers on every down duty.
David Mayo / Deone Bucannon NYG LB – 3-4 ILB Value: LB2 – LB3
Alec Ogletree hasn’t exactly been a huge fantasy commodity this year but he does occupy high volume snaps for the Giants. So when he left the game against the Redskins in week 16 with a back injury, his replacement needs to be noted. David Mayo likely elevates to full-time snaps if Ogletree fails to suit up against the Eagles in week 17. He logged 10 total tackles on 100% usage in week 16. Former Cardinal Deone Bucannon took the majority (76%) of the other ILB snaps and turned in 7 total tackles in Ogletree’s stead. The Eagles are still playing to get into the playoffs so don’t expect them to take their foot off of the gas. Mayo is the higher value play but is also more likely to be owned. Neither has much for dynasty appeal.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin DET LB – 4-3 WLB Value: LB2 – LB3
Injuries are the story here for the Detroit Lions LB corps. Jarrad Davis (knee, ankle) and Christian Jones (shoulder) are on injured reserve and rookie Jahlani Tavai missed the majority of week 16 against the Broncos with a shoulder injury. Reeves-Maybin, a third-year player out of Tennessee, ended up leading all Lions linebackers in both snaps (92%) and tackles (9 total). If the Packers are still playing for a first-round bye in Detroit where they play in week 17, you can expect an aggressive gameplan that should bode well for fantasy owners looking to capitalize. Reeves-Maybin is a low-cost option with a high floor this week. The Lions seem intent on using other options when healthy so while his dynasty value isn’t non-existent, I’m not grabbing him for a play next year.
AJ Klein NOS LB – 4-3 SLB Value: LB2 – LB3
One of the better IDP matchups this year has been the LB corps that is opposing the Panthers. With their offense (both run and pass) effectively funneled through one guy, Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers are largely guaranteeing volume that you just can’t get with any other matchup in the NFL right now. For example, the Colts faced the Panthers in week 17 and collected 30 total tackles and an interception across their three linebackers. AJ Klein hasn’t really been much of an IDP option this year due to Alex Anzalone, Kiko Alonso and battling a knee issue earlier in the year. However, with both Anzalone and Alonso out with injury and Klein healthy, the former Panther has been given snap counts of 89% and 100% over his last two games. In those games, Klein has delivered 9 total tackles, 2.5 sacks and a PD. Give him a look against the Panthers where I expect that sack upside to remain as high as ever but tackle numbers are likely to be high.
Defensive Lineman Plays
Despite playing in week 15 and practicing in full all week, Akiem Hicks missed week 16 against the Chiefs. It’s clear that he isn’t completely healthy from his elbow injury that landed him on injured reserve earlier in the year. Vic Beasley Jr rewarded owners that were able to get him into their lineups with 3 total tackles and a sack against the Jaguars on 90% usage.
Trey Hendrickson NOS DE – 4-3 DE Value: DL2
This is a matchup play. The Saints visit the Panthers in week 17 with a first-round bye hanging in the balance. The Panthers are rolling out third-round rookie Will Grier at quarterback who took five sacks in week 16 against the Colts. I expect this one to be ugly for the Panthers. Cameron Jordan should be universally owned and is a great pick for DL1 status this week but his running mate Trey Hendrickson is a sneaky play to grab a sack and maybe another splash play. Hendrickson’s usage was a season-high 65% last week against the Titans.
49ers pass rush SFO DL – 4-3 DL Value: DL2
Fantasy aside, I can’t wait for the Seattle-San Francisco game in week 17. Huge playoffs implications for two good teams that are trying to shake a few setbacks that they’ve suffered recently. Seattle is entering the contest struggling with health. With Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and CJ Prosise all done for the year, the Seahawks are either rolling with Travis Homer at running back or signing someone off the street. Rumor has it that someone of the street might be Marshawn Lynch. On top of that, left tackle Duane Brown is out with a knee injury as well. All of that adds up to some potential pass protection struggles and maybe an inability to lean on the running game as much as Seattle has in the past. Those injuries resulted in Seattle losing to Arizona in week 16. It might be the reason that week 17 that goes awry for them as well. I’m getting my 49ers into the lineup on the defensive line. Nick Bosa is at the top of that list for sure followed by Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner.
Defensive Back Plays
With 10 total tackles (8 solo) against the Ravens, Damarious Randall was the top play of last week’s recommendations. Randall continues to get top billing in the Browns secondary and should remain a solid option this week as well. His running mate, Sheldrick Redwine, logged 5 total tackles on 85% usage. Sam Beal was solid with 6 total tackles on 93% usage against the Redskins. His running mate DeAndre Baker was the stream play of the week with 10 total tackles. Finally, the Houston Texans secondary did deliver with 4 INTs of Jameis Winston. Justin Reid (4 solo tackles, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery) and Bradley Roby (4 solo tackles, 2 PDs, 1 pick six) were the top options for splash plays. Tashaun Gipson was only respectable with 5 solo tackles.
Trey Marshall DEN SS – 3-4 SS Value: DB2 – DB3
With Kareem Jackson suspended for Week 16 and 17 stemming from a DUI arrest, undrafted sophomore Trey Marshall draws into the starting lineup. The former Seminole played every down and logged an impressive 9 total tackles in the contest, tied for the most in the game. The Raiders are a decent matchup for Broncos safeties in week 17. Marshall is virtually unowned and should go cheaply in all formats. If you’ve been counting on Jackson or otherwise have a hole in your secondary, Marshall is an easy plug-and-play option.
Chauncey Gardner-Thompson NOS S – 4-3 SS Value: DB2 (Dynasty stash)
A rookie fourth-round pick out of Florida, Chauncey Gardner-Thompson has been a solid addition to an already talented squad on defense. He has received third safety snaps for the majority of the year and has recently filled in at strong safety for Vonn Bell who is nursing a knee injury. Over his last two games, Gardner-Thompson has logged 16 total tackles, 1 PD, 1 fumble forced and 1 fumble recovered. Unless Bell manages to get back into the lineup, I like that trend for the rookie against the Panthers in week 17. Don’t be shy about hanging onto this guy for dynasty purposes either. 2019 is Vonn Bell’s walk year and the starting strong safety job might be up for grabs next year.
Marcell Harris SFO S – 4-3 SS Value: DB2 – DB3
Jaquiski Tartt continues to miss time with a rib injury so 2018 sixth-round pick Marcell Harris continues to draw starts. Harris has garnered full-time duty in Tartt’s stead and has managed 23 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 5 PDs over his last four games. Not bad numbers. On top of that, the matchup against the Seahawks has some potential to be a high volume contest with Seattle’s ability to run the ball in question. Harris has a decent floor of double-digit fantasy production achieved in every week since his promotion. Pick him up for minimal cost and a spot start but I’m not expecting him to hang onto the starting job for next year as Tartt is the clear starter when healthy and is signed through 2020.