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NFL Week 17 fantasy football start ’em, sit ’em

East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws a pass against the New York Jets during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

• Start Trevor Lawrence: The second-year quarterback has been unstoppable over the second half of the season, and the Houston Texans have been allowing plenty of passing yards recently.

• Sit Latavius Murray: Murray was worth considering when he was getting the vast majority of touches in the Denver Broncos backfield, but that’s no longer the case.

• Start Drake London: London is finally seeing the targets he deserves with a new quarterback and should be able to take advantage of his matchup this week.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Deciding who to start or sit can be as easy as looking at the PFF fantasy football rankings and finding the highest-ranked player. But this start ’em, sit ’em column goes a step further, looking into why some of the most popular players might struggle or why overlooked players might be in for a big week.

In many cases, the usual suspects should start, but we want to explore the borderline players, too.


QUARTERBACKS

START

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Lawrence has scored the fifth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks this season.
  • His 89.8 passing grade ranks second best among quarterbacks over the past eight weeks.
  • The Jaguars have the sixth-best matchup for quarterbacks against the Houston Texans in Week 17, according to PFF's strength of schedule tool.
  • Houston has allowed more than 280 passing yards in three of its past five games. The Texans allowed more than 280 passing yards just three times in their previous 10, including 286 to Lawrence in Week 5.
Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
  • Goff has finished as a top-four fantasy quarterback in three of the past four weeks.
  • He’s thrown for more than 300 yards five times this season, which is tied for third most among quarterbacks.
  • The Lions' offensive line has the fourth-largest advantage over the Chicago Bears’ defensive line in the passing game, according to PFF's offensive line/defensive line matchup chart.
  • Chicago has allowed 315 receiving yards twice in their past four games after not allowing more than 305 in their previous 11 games.

SIT

Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
  • Smith has finished outside of the top 15 fantasy quarterbacks in each of the past two weeks.
  • He sported an 88.4 PFF grade over the first eight weeks of the season, but that has dropped to 68.8 over the past eight weeks.
  • Smith’s production has also been hurting with his receivers at less than 100%.
  • Will Dissly landed on injured reserve. Tyler Lockett missed last week’s game and at the very least won’t be 100% for this week’s game. Marquise Goodwin was injured in last week’s game. Each of Smith's top three running backs has dealt with different injuries in recent weeks, too.
  • The Seahawks in Week 17 play the New York Jets, who haven’t allowed more than one touchdown pass since Week 3. They also haven’t allowed a 300-yard passer all season.
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Brady has finished outside of the top 12 fantasy quarterbacks in eight of his past 10 games.
  • His 56.5 PFF grade over the past three weeks ranks 10th lowest among 36 qualifying quarterbacks in that span. Only one quarterback with a lower grade has kept his starting job the whole season when healthy.
  • He faces a Carolina Panthers defense that has held quarterbacks under 200 passing yards in three of its past six games.
  • Brady was held without a touchdown the last time he faced Carolina.
  • Brady has a 12-to-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio against zone defense over the past two seasons, compared to 28-to-5 against man.
  • The Panthers are using zone defense at the eighth-highest rate in the NFL this season.

RUNNING BACKS

START

Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders
  • Robinson has gained at least 85 yards rushing in three of his past four games.
  • The Commanders' Week 17 matchup again against the Cleveland Browns ranks sixth best for running backs, according to PFF's strength of schedule tool.
  • The Browns have allowed the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
  • The Commanders are favorites in this game, which should lead to plenty of opportunities for Robinson.
  • Robinson averaged more than 17 carries per game when Washington wins and 14 carries per game in their losses.
  • Antonio Gibson is on the injury report this week, which could lead to even more playing time than usual for Robinson.

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