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Erickson: NFL Week 17 fantasy football start'em, sit'em

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass against the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Stop second-guessing yourself with fantasy football start/sit decisions — let PFF’s fantasy football rankings, projections and tools do the heavy lifting and guide you to a fantasy football championship. And when faced with two players placed back-to-back in the Week 17 fantasy football rankings, ride the horse that got you this far.


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My Week 16 start/sit picks went 21-10-3 Let’s keep it rolling with fantasy football championships on the line. 

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QUARTERBACKS

START

MATTHEW STAFFORD, LOS ANGELES RAMS

Stafford laid an egg for fantasy managers in Week 16, finishing as the QB24 — his worst fantasy performance of the 2021 season. However, Stafford has had a tendency to bounce back after poor outings. For every week he finished as QB17 or worse, he rebounded the following game as a top-five fantasy quarterback. 

A road matchup against a reeling Baltimore Ravens defense looks like the perfect get-right spot for Stafford. Their defense has allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the past four weeks. 

TREY LANCE, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Jimmy Garoppolo has a torn ligament in his right thumb, putting his Week 17 status in doubt. That would put Lance in position to make his second start of the season against the Houston Texans.

Lance would be an immediate top-10 fantasy quarterback due to his rushing ability. In his lone start back in Week 5, he rushed for 89 yards. He scored 16 fantasy points despite zero touchdowns, which just goes to show the value mobile quarterbacks offer with their legs.

Case in point, Lance ranks behind only fellow running quarterback Taysom Hill in fantasy points per dropback this season (0.78). 

JUSTIN FIELDS, CHICAGO BEARS

Fields has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in his past four completed games. I was all over his 180.5 passing yards prop in Week 15, which he smashed into oblivion by throwing for 285 yards against the Minnesota Vikings defense.

The rookie quarterback is averaging 56 rushing yards per game over his past six completed contests, putting him firmly back among the top 15 fantasy quarterbacks in a decent matchup versus the New York Giants, who are an average defense against fantasy signal-callers. 

TUA TAGOVAILOA, MIAMI DOLPHINS

Tagovailoa will have a chance to expose the Tennessee Titans‘ defense in Week 17. The Titans are a pass-funnel defense, as they have faced the second-highest pass-play rate when on defense this season. 

The Dolphins already throw at the 11th-highest rate under neutral game script conditions due to their bottom-three run-blocking unit, so anticipate Tagovailoa airing the ball out early and often versus a defense that has allowed the sixth-most passing yards this season. 

In games where the southpaw quarterback has attempted at least 33 passes, he averages 20.3 fantasy points and 22.7 expected fantasy points per game

The Titans also boast a bottom-three pass-rush unit, suggesting the Dolphins signal-caller will be able to operate from a clean pocket. When unaffected by pressure, Tagovailoa owns a top-10 passer rating this season (106.8). 

DAVIS MILLS, HOUSTON TEXANS

This is more so advice for superflex/2QB leagues as teams scramble for a Carson Wentz replacement. Mills can be started in those particular formats, as he has finished as a top-16 quarterback option for three straight weeks. The 49ers have also allowed the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and Mills will be getting back Brandin Cooks to help boost his passing numbers.

If Mills is unavailable, opt for Jared Goff, who also has a solid matchup this week versus the Seattle Seahawks. They have allowed the fourth-most passing yards to signal-callers over the past four weeks. 

SIT

RYAN TANNEHILL, TENNESSEE TITANS

Tannehill got his No. 1 wide receiver back last Thursday night, but it still wasn’t enough for him to be a worthwhile fantasy quarterback. He finished outside the top 15 fantasy quarterbacks for the sixth time in his past seven games in Week 16. 

In a passing game starving for weapons, Tannehill has struggled to hit his fantasy ceiling, and things don’t look great for him in Week 17 against a red-hot Miami Dolphins defense. 

Miami ranks first in fantasy points allowed per game to quarterbacks over the past four weeks, and no signal-caller has scored more than 18 fantasy points against them dating back to Week 8. 

Tannehill needs to be avoided in all one-quarterback formats and viewed as a fringe QB2 in superflex leagues.

MATT RYAN, ATLANTA FALCONS

If Ryan can’t score more than 13 fantasy points against the Detroit Lions, of all teams, then there’s no hope for him against a Bills defense that ranks No. 1 in the fantasy points allowed per game to quarterbacks this season.

Ryan hasn’t scored more than 13 fantasy points in a game dating all the way back to Week 9, and he has thrown for just 215 yards just twice in his past seven games.

Needless to say, smash the under on Ryan’s 215.5 passing yards prop on PrizePicks.com, as only two quarterbacks have hit over that number against the Bills in their past nine games.

RUNNING BACKS

START

JAVONTE WILLIAMS, DENVER BRONCOS

The rookie shared work with Melvin Gordon III in Week 16, splitting snaps (22 vs 23) and touches (10 vs 8) nearly 50-50. However, Williams earned the high-value usage, taking the team’s lone goal-line carry in addition to running a route on 44% of Drew Lock’s dropbacks. 

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