News & Analysis

Week 17 NFL actives/inactives strategy and injuries that matter for fantasy

Dec 24, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray (29) helped off the field by support personnel during the second half against the Los Angeles Rams at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

In this space, we typically track meaningful injuries to fantasy-relevant players, and the impact their absence will have on their teammates or opponents. We’ll continue to look at injuries this week, but also offer insight as to how various playoff-scenarios (or lack thereof) will impact players for fantasy.

As always, this article will be updated on Sunday around noon EST, going in-depth on the various players listed as active or inactive.

Motivation

Teams with meaningful Week 17 games

New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, and Seattle Seahawks. A win would have no impact on all other teams – other than draft order.

Teams confirmed resting starters

Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Cooper Kupp are already ruled out, while head coach Sean McVay said Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins “probably won’t play much.” This sets up Josh Reynolds and especially Malcolm Brown as intriguing DFS options. Brown has played on 108 snaps this season, while all other Rams running backs outside of Gurley have combined for just 21.

Kansas City Chiefs – Alex Smith and Tyreek Hill are already ruled out, while Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt also appear unlikely to play (at the very least, meaningful snaps). Patrick Mahomes was our highest-graded quarterback this preseason, and would be an intriguing DFS option if there weren’t so much value elsewhere. Akeem Hunt rivals Malcolm Brown as one of the top running back value plays with Charcandrick West already ruled out due to illness.

Philadelphia Eagles – Head coach Doug Pederson told reporters all of the team’s starters will play on Sunday, but he’ll “be smart” with how he divvies up playing time. It seems likely the starters will be off the field at some point in the second half. I wouldn’t feel comfortable rolling out any Eagles players in DFS this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers – It seems highly likely Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell will join Antonio Brown on the sidelines this week. Stevan Ridley and Fitzgerald Touissaint might be in play in DFS this week, but wouldn’t be a better play than Brown or Hunt. JuJu Smith-Schuster may see good volume in Week 17, but we’d need to discount it, given Landry Jones is expected to start.

Miami DolphinsReports are Miami may give backup quarterback David Fales some snaps on Sunday. This doesn’t do much for us, other than making Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker slightly riskier plays.

Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars have nothing on the line in Week 17, but head coach Doug Marrone has indicated that all starters will play and the team is “100-percent all-in” on winning this game. I’m taking him at his word, and still like Keelan Cole in DFS.

Dallas Cowboys – Early rumors seemed to imply Dallas might rest a few of their starters, but head coach Jason Garrett has since stated he would not rest any starters in Week 17.

Early injury inactives

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos (ankle) – Out
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers (shoulder)
– Out
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers (knee)
– Out
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans (calf)
– Out
Jaelen Strong, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (knee)
– Out
Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (ankle)
– Out
Charcandrick West, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (illness)
– Out
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (knee)
– Out
Leonte Carroo, WR, Miami Dolphins (surgery)
– Out
Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots (knee)
– Out
Mike Gillislee, RB, New England Patriots (knee)
– Out
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants (ribs)
– Out
Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants (neck)
– Out
Tavarres King, WR, New York Giants (concussion)
– Out
Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets (knee)
– Out
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (calf)
– Out
DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans (knee)
– Out

Questionable

Kerwynn Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals (quad, ribs) – Questionable (likely)
Mike Wallace, WR, Baltimore Ravens (knee)
– Questionable (likely)
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Baltimore Ravens (knee) –
Doubtful
Deonte Thompson, WR, Buffalo Bills (shoulder) –
Game-time Decision
Adam Shaheen, TE, Chicago Bears (chest) – Game-time Decision
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (ankle) – Game-time Decision
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (ankle) – Questionable (likely)
Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Cleveland Browns (shoulder)
– Questionable (likely)
Rod Smith, RB, Dallas Cowboys (back) –
Gameitime Decision
Akeem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (shoulder) – Questionable (likely)
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (ankle) –
Game-time Decision
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins (ankle) – Questionable (likely)
Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots (shoulder) –
Game-time Decision
James White, RB, New England Patriots (ankle)
– Questionable (likely)
Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders (ankle)
– Questionable (likely)
Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders (wrist)
– Questionable (likely)
Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders (hamstring)
– Questionable (likely)
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (back)
– Questionable (likely)
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ankle)
– Questionable (likely)
DeSean Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ankle)
– Questionable (likely)

Updates/analysis

Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles – Active – Per Adam Caplan, the Eagles are planning for Foles to play only three or four series today. It’s likely Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and some of the other starters will only play for the same amount.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles – Inactive – With Ajayi inactive, LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement should get a boost in playing time and volume, but neither are especially strong plays in a game most other starters will be benched by the second quarter.

James White, Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots – Inactive – With these three running backs all out, Dion Lewis should serve as the team’s bell-cow running back, seeing nearly all of the running back snaps, carries, and targets. Branden Bolden should mix in, but isn’t too much of a concern. Lewis dropped 32.3 fantasy points on Buffalo last week, seeing 24 carries, five targets, and seven red zone opportunities. He remains one of the league’s most efficient running backs, ranking top-three in PFF grade, PFF elusive rating, yards per carry, yards after contact per attempt, and missed tackles forced per touch. I have him as a top-five running back this week, as 16.5-point favorites against the Jets.

Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots – Inactive – Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski each average at least 2.0 more fantasy points per game when Hogan has been inactive. Both are strong plays this week in a game New England will want to win to clinch the No. 1 seed.

Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers – Inactive – As expected, Roethlisberger and Bell are out for Week 17.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, New York Jets – Inactive – ASJ is out for Week 17. Eric Tomlinson will be starting in his absence, but isn’t worth rostering.

Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys – Inactive – With Beasley out, Ryan Switzer will likely start in his absence at slot wide receiver. He isn’t intriguing for DFS.

Rod Smith, RB, Dallas Cowboys – Inactive – Ezekiel Elliott is coming off of a career-high seven targets, in a game Smith also saw three. The Eagles are allowing the seventh-most receptions to running backs this season, and will be without defensive starters Brandon Graham, Nigel Bradham, Tim Jernigan, and Rodney McLeod. Elliott is my No. 1 running back of the week, despite Philadelphia’s season-long success at the position.

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers – Inactive – Jamaal Williams disappointed for fantasy owners last week, but still finished as one of only four running backs to play on at least 90 percent of his team’s running back snaps. He ranks eighth among running backs in expected fantasy points over the last five weeks of the season, and draws a Lions defense ranking bottom-five in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (over the past five weeks and over the course of a full season). He’s a mid-range RB1 again this week with Jones out.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans – Inactive – As expected, Hopkins is out for Week 17. This pushes the entire Houston passing game out of contention in DFS, while making the Indianapolis Colts defense fairly intriguing.

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