News & Analysis

Fantasy 5: Week 17 introduces so many fantasy wrinkles

Oct 22, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown (34) is defended by Arizona Cardinals strong safety Antoine Bethea (41) in the fourth quarter during an NFL International Series game at Twickenham Stadium. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 33-0. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

 (The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to set your lineup or pick your DFS roster.)

We’re back at it again for this week’s Fantasy 5, focusing on the key things you need to know entering Week 17. Whether you’re researching information for your season-long leagues or trying to narrow down your DFS player pool, there’s generally something for everyone featured here. Here’s a look at the some of the more interesting pieces of fantasy news to know heading into the weekend games.

1. Make Week 17 irrelevant

If you’re in a league that is still playing throughout Week 17, I implore you to go to your commissioner and request to change your league to end in Week 16. Todd Gurley owners were carried throughout the playoffs, but if your championship week is this week, how happy are you that the Rams are benching their starters for the playoffs? With so many different teams either out of the playoff hunt or resting a good number of their starters, you’re doing your league a disservice by continuing your fantasy playoffs into Week 17 when a good number of the fantasy stars are benched. This isn’t anything new, and I’m amazed there are still leagues utilizing this archaic scheduling format.

2. Year of the rookie cornerback?

We’ve seen some fantastic rookie running backs enter the NFL this year, but are we overlooking our less stat-heralded friends at the cornerback position? In case you haven’t noticed, the 2017 rookie cornerback class has been playing particularly well this season.

Five rookie cornerbacks have already found themselves in the top-35 at the position a year into their professional careers. No cornerback has played more snaps and posted a higher snap-per-reception-allowed ratio than White (16.3). Lattimore has the third-lowest passer rating when targeted against among all corners (43.2). King leads all corners in run-stop percentage (4.7). Humphrey has the sixth-lowest passer rating allowed (52.0). Witherspoon has been adept at limiting yards after the catch, sporting a top-25 tackling efficiency number when targeted. We have yet to see the best out of this class, but it looks like a very promising one just entered the league and still has room for growth. The 2017 cornerback class is poised to make passing difficult for years to come for their opponents.

3. AFC playoff scenarios for Week 17

One of the first things I did in my weekly prep for this week was compile a quick “Spark Notes” version of what each team needed to happen in order to get in the playoffs. I haven’t seen a neat, truncated version of this posted anywhere, but figured it may help some PFF readers as a quick reference for this weekend:

New England Patriots (12-3) — Have already clinched AFC East and first-round bye

Clinches No. 1 seed if:

  • NE Win
  • PIT Loss
  • NE Tie + PIT Tie

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3) — Have already clinched AFC North and first-round bye

Clinches No. 1 seed if:

  • PIT Win + NE Loss or Tie
  • PIT Tie + NE Loss

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-5) — Have already clinched AFC South

Locked into No. 3 seed, players could be pulled early. Coach-speak has been vague this week and one to monitor heading into Sunday.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-6) — Have already clinched AFC West

Locked into No. 4 seed. Starters pulled.

Baltimore Ravens (9-6)

Clinches Wild Card if:

  • BAL Win or Tie
  • BUF Loss or Tie
  • TEN Loss or Tie

Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)

Clinches Wild Card if:

  • LAC Win + TEN Loss or Tie + BUF Loss or Tie
  • LAC Win + TEN Loss or Tie + BAL Win or Tie
  • LAC Tie + TEN Loss + BUF Loss or Tie

Buffalo Bills (8-7)

Clinches Wild Card if:

  • BUF Win + BAL Loss
  • BUF Win + LAC Loss or Tie + TEN Loss or Tie
  • BUF Tie + LAC Loss + TEN Loss

Tennessee Titans (8-7)

Clinches Wild Card if:

  • TEN Win
  • TEN Tie + BUF Loss or Tie + LAC Loss or Tie
  • BUF Loss + LAC Loss

4. NFC Playoff Scenarios for Week 17

Philadelphia Eagles (13-2) — Have already clinched NFC East and the No. 1 seed. Could see a little bit of the first-team this week, but this is probably a team left avoided for fantasy.

Minnesota Vikings (12-3) — Have already clinched NFC North

Clinches No. 2 seed if:

  • MIN Win or Tie
  • CAR Loss or Tie
  • NO Win
  • LAR Win

Los Angeles Rams (11-4) — Have already clinched NFC West

The Rams have been locked into either the No. 3 or 4 seed and have already announced they will be benching their starters this week.

New Orleans Saints (11-4)

Clinches NFC South and either a No. 3 or 4 seed if:

  • NO Win
  • CAR Loss
  • NO Tie + CAR Tie

Carolina Panthers (11-4)

Clinches NFC South and No. 2 seed if:

  • CAR Win + NO Loss or Tie + MIN Loss + LAR Loss or Tie

Clinches NFC South and either a No. 3 or 4 seed if:

  • CAR Win + NO Loss or Tie
  • CAR Tie + NO Loss

Atlanta Falcons (9-6)

Clinches Wild Card if:

  • ATL Win
  • SEA Loss
  • ATL Tie + SEA Tie

Seattle Seahawks (9-6)

Clinches Wild Card if:

  • SEA Win + ATL Loss or Tie
  • SEA Tie + ATL Loss

5. PFF Grade of the Week: Tom Brady

In the final installment of “PFF Grade of the Week,” I’ll finally address the most important position in football — quarterback. This year’s highest-graded quarterback has been Tom Brady, sporting a 94.8 grade entering Week 17. No other quarterback has eclipsed the 90-point mark, and Brady has been our top quarterback for much of the regular season. Brady ranks first in passing yards (4,387), second in completion percentage (67.5), and third in passing touchdowns (30). No one has a higher passer rating than Brady when under pressure (97.0) While there’s still one final week to go, the Patriots will be contending for the No. 1 playoff seed and we can expect Brady to come out to further distance himself from the rest of the quarterbacks with his sublime play that he’s been showing all year.

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