Waiver Wire Watch: Wacky Week 17 Fantasy Football Targets
Editor's Note: We're happy to have Brandon Niles on the Waiver Wire Watch this year. He'll work in conjunction with Senior Editor John Paulsen to compile the weekly list of pickups and generate recommended prices for FAAB leagues.
We’ve reached Week 17, the final week of the regular season, and most season-long fantasy leagues have ended. However, there are many leagues still running, and owners going for championships or consolation prizes this week. Some owners are simply trying to avoid finishing last, while others are making a final push for an overall points victory.
Week 17 is a bit crazy. With several teams having locked up playoff spots already, some weekly fantasy starters will be rested for all or part of the action. This can wreak havoc on fantasy rosters, and understanding which teams still have something to play for can be the difference between victory and defeat.
With that in mind, here are a few players to look at grabbing for Week 17. As usual, to be eligible for discussion, the player must be owned in 50% or fewer Yahoo leagues, though we’ll stretch the rules a bit for the RB position, which is usually very thin. Players are listed by position in order of importance.
The 49ers are trying to end the season on a high note, and they’ll give Jimmy Garoppolo every chance to show them how much he’s worth as the season finishes. He’ll be motivated by a pending new contract as he faces the Rams, and should be worth grabbing in all fantasy league formats. Garoppolo has now led the 49ers to four straight victories and he managed 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go with an interception against the vaunted Jaguars defense on Sunday.
Tyrod Taylor has followed a rocky road throughout the season, but he’ll finish against an inconsistent Dolphins defense that just allowed 29 points to the Chiefs, in a game that could have playoff implications for the Bills. While Buffalo will need help from other teams in order to get into the playoffs, they won’t know during the game if they need to win or not. That should make for a motivated Bills team, giving Taylor some upside.
The Ravens control their own destiny and will be motivated to win their final game of the season. Joe Flacco has been a different quarterback over the past four games. After throwing nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions over his first 11 games this season, Flacco has thrown seven touchdowns and only one interception over the last four. He’ll face a reeling Bengals team that took care of Detroit on Sunday, but is riddled with injuries and has been declining sharply over the second half of the season.
With the division locked up and no mathematical way to get a first round bye, the Kansas City Chiefs may choose to rest their starters this week. This might open the door for rookie Patrick Mahomes to get an extended run. While the matchup against the Broncos pass defense isn’t ideal, Mahomes was known in college for slinging it, and Andy Reid might use the opportunity to get a look at his heir-apparent before considering trading Alex Smith after the season ends.
Additional Players to Consider: Jacoby Brissett will finish the season against the Texans, and he’ll be playing for a job next year. Eli Manning may want to finish the season strong against the division-rival Redskins, with this potentially being his last game in a Giants uniform. Brett Hundley has been terrible, but so has the Lions defense. Something has to give.
Peyton Barber has lead the Buccaneers in rushing the past four weeks, with double-digit carries in each outing. With Doug Martin a potential cap-casualty, and Barber in only his second season, Tampa Bay will want to see what they have in their young back out of Auburn. Don’t think for a moment the Buccaneers won’t want to play spoiler against the Saints, who will still be fighting for seeding this week.
Bilal Powell is still available in 41 percent of leagues and he has double-digit carries in six of his last eight games, including 19 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Chargers. He’ll face a Patriots defense this week that ranks in the bottom-half of the league in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs, and the Jets would love to keep the number-one seed away from their division foes.
Even with Joe Mixon back for part of the game, Giovani Bernard was the more impressive back for the Bengals on Sunday in a surprise win over the Lions. Bernard wound up with 168 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 30 total touches, including seven receptions. The Bengals would love to hurt the division-rival Ravens’ chances of making the playoffs this week, and they may choose to rest Mixon, who left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.
With James White and Rex Burkhead both injured, Mike Gillislee had six carries and a reception on Sunday against the Bills for a total of 43 yards and a touchdown. With injuries to their backfield and Gillislee’s status on the depth chart, he should be in line for touches this week regardless of whether or not the Patriots are still playing for anything. That makes him worth considering, especially in standard and touchdown-only league formats.
Charcandrick West could benefit from extended playing time against the Broncos next week. The Chiefs won’t be playing for anything, and after Kareem Hunt left Sunday’s game against the Dolphins early, they won’t want to take any chances with their Pro Bowl rookie back. West ran for 634 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie in 2015, and he’s been used heavily on third downs throughout his career, giving him some upside if the Chiefs sit Hunt.
If Melvin Gordon’s injury turns out to be serious, then Branden Oliver could wind up with a full workload this week against the Raiders. The Chargers will fighting for a sliver of playoff hope on Sunday, and Oliver rushed for 582 yards and had 271 receiving yards in 2014 when he got starter touches. He could be a nice addition if Gordon is out.
T.J. Yeldon has been getting some work in for the Jaguars as a change-of-pace runner and in the receiving game. The Jaguars don’t have anything to play for, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they let Leonard Fournette rest and gave Yeldon a full workload.
Additional Players to Consider: There’s a chance the Rams sit Todd Gurley since they can’t get higher than a third seed, and if they do, Malcolm Brown becomes an intriguing option against the 49ers. Theo Riddick and the Lions will be motivated to finish the season on a high note after a disappointing loss to the Bengals on Sunday. Detroit’s backfield touches have been hard to predict in recent weeks, but Riddick is still the most likely player to catch passes. Kapri Bibbs has fashioned a third-down role for himself in Washington and faces a vulnerable Giants defense to close out the season. Jonathan Stewart is still getting two-down carries consistently and the Panthers are still playing for seeding.
Will Fuller and the rest of the Texans offense struggled Monday against the Steelers, but he should be worth grabbing in all league formats as a boom/bust option against the vulnerable Colts this week. Indianapolis gives up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers, and Fuller remains a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
Josh Doctson has been touchdown-dependent all year, but he has found the end zone six times this season, and three times in his last five games. He only caught two balls against the Broncos on Sunday, but finished with 61 yards and a touchdown and he was targeted a team-high 13 times. Against a vulnerable Giants pass defense this week, Doctson has considerable upside as a boom/bust option in deep leagues.
The Titans make the playoffs with a win against the Jaguars this week, and Corey Davis finally had a breakout game on Sunday against the Rams, with six catches on nine targets and 91 yards. While the Jaguars are a formidable opponent, if Davis approaches that many targets again, he has some value in deep leagues on a team that needs to win. Additionally, it’s possible the Jaguars won’t have anything to play for, which could lead to sitting key starters on defense, including at least one of their two Pro Bowl corners.
Additional Players to Consider: If DeSean Jackson is still out this week, Chris Godwin could see significant targets again after catching three-of-six balls for 98 yards on Sunday against the Panthers. The Buccaneers would love to hurt the division-rival Saints as they close out the season. Kendall Wright didn’t do much on Sunday against the Browns, but he still caught four balls and has been targeted 30 times over his past three games. Dede Westbrook has some potential, although there may not be enough balls to go around in Jacksonville with Keelan Cole playing so well and the Jaguars not playing for anything.
Antonio Gates reminded everyone why he’s one of the best ever to play his position on Sunday against the Jets, filling in for the injured Hunter Henry and catching six balls for 81 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers need help from other teams to make the playoffs, but they still have a shot, so they should be motivated this week against a Raiders team that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to the tight end position this year.
Vernon Davis is available in 52 percent of leagues and he has a touchdown in two of his last three games for the Redskins. Davis will close out the season against the Giants, who have allowed the most fantasy points in the league this year to opposing tight ends. He has a tremendous amount of upside for fantasy owners looking for help at the position.
Charles Clay only had four catches for 37 yards against the Patriots on Sunday, but he was targeted a team-high 10 times and the Bills will still be playing for a shred of hope for a playoff spot this week. Plus, he benefits from playing against his former team, and a Dolphins defense that has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.
Additional Players to Consider: Ben Watson should benefit from playing against a Cincinnati defense that has allowed a touchdown to the tight end position in three straight weeks. The Eagles locked up the first seed, so they may choose to sit Zach Ertz, making Trey Burton a nice streaming option. If Evan Engram’s rib injury is serious, Rhett Ellison has upside for the Giants against a Washington defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this year.