Navigating the fantasy waters in Week 17 is a completely different adventure, even in IDP. There are many variables in play that could alter a player’s value making the task of picking standouts that much more difficult.
Some playoff teams such as the Rams have already stated that they will rest some of their starters, but we likely won’t know until later in the week or Sunday just who that may be. Other teams may decide to shut down veteran players allowing them to begin recharging for next season.
You get the picture. That being said, there are still some intriguing matchups that I feel offer up some nice fantasy value.
Let’s take a look at the final IDP start/sit options of the 2017 season.
The Lions were eliminated from playoff contention with their loss at Cincinnati last week, so the team has nothing to play for other than pride. Ansah on the other hand has a lot to play for as he is in a contract year. After struggling through multiple injuries early in the season Ansah has stepped up and is coming off a seven-total-tackle-and-three-sack performance last week. Ansah now has five sacks in the past five games and the chance to reach double digits for the season with one more. The Packers have allowed 7.5 sacks to defensive linemen in the past five games and a motivated Ansah should rack up at least one with solid tackle numbers.
The Panthers still have a shot at winning the NFC South with a win and New Orleans loss so let’s ride with a defensive end who has been consistently bringing pressure. Addison has had at least half a sack or more in each of the past five games. He now has 10.5 on the season and leads the team with 35 quarterback hurries. The Falcons just allowed five sacks to Saints defensive linemen last week and that bodes well for Addison who also had a sack in the first meeting between the teams this season.
Let’s keep an eye on the practice reports out of Philadelphia as Graham is dealing with an ankle issue and may not suit up at all. Reports are that the X-rays were negative and Graham is expected to be fine. However, even if he does play there is a good chance that Graham’s snaps are limited as the Eagles have already locked up home field throughout the playoffs. This is a situation to avoid.
The young defensive end has had a breakout sophomore campaign with 12 sacks but has slowed down a bit down the stretch. Despite playing 75 percent of the defensive snaps, Ngakoue has just three sacks in last five games. A closer look shows an up/down trend as well. In Week 12 one sack, Week 13 none, Week 14 one sack, Week 15 none and in Week 16 one. If you buy into trends then Week 17 does not look promising for Ngakoue, who has also totaled just eight tackles in the past five games. The Titans have allowed just two sacks to defensive linemen in their past five games and that’s another reason to sit Ngakoue.
Zach Vigil, Washington Redskins (at NY Giants)
The Giants continue to be a top offense in giving up fantasy production to linebackers. In Week 16 Karlos Dansby put up double-digit tackles and Deone Bucannon posted top-10 fantasy numbers against them in most balanced scoring formats. In each of the last four games at least one linebacker facing New York has posted top 10 fantasy totals. With Zach Brown still dealing with Achilles, toe, and hamstring issues Vigil will once again play a prominent role on the defense. Last week Vigil put up 14 total tackles (12 solo) along with a fumble recovery and is in for another big week.
It’s Week 17 so let’s look for some lightning in a bottle. The Patriots can clinch home field throughout the playoffs with a win this week and Flowers is coming off a huge game. The Patriots acquired the fourth-year linebacker from the Bengals last August and he’s seen his role increase exponentially over the last three weeks as Kyle Van Noy deals with a calf injury. He led the team in linebacker snaps (55) played last week and put up double-digit tackles along with 2.5 sacks. Over the last three games Flowers has been brought on the pass rush 31 times. The Jets have allowed an average of at least two big plays per game to linebackers in their past three games and that is where Flowers will shine this week.
This is another situation that needs monitoring throughout the week as Foster suffered a shoulder stinger last week and is not a lock to play. Recent reports are that he will be limited in practice but has a chance to play in Week 17. The concern here is that if Foster does play just how long will the shoulder hold up? Linebackers with shoulder issues do not belong in fantasy lineups in championship games as it’s just too iffy. The Rams have also been a bad matchup for linebackers over the last three weeks further capping Foster’s value.
Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals (at Seattle)
We liked Bucannon last week in a positive matchup and he came through with a top-10 performance mainly due to a pair of big plays. Bucannon did post eight total tackles last week but it was a sack and forced fumble that drove up his scoring. It’s the matchup this week that dictates benching the Cardinals linebacker. Over the last five games the Seahawks have allowed a total of just five big plays. There won’t be the opportunity for Bucannon to get the splash plays to be fantasy relevant this week.
It’s a twofer. The Lions have indicated that they will play their starters this week as head coach Jim Caldwell looks to hang on to his job. The duo of Slay and Diggs have been a fantasy force of late. In most balanced scoring formats, the duo have been producing top-five fantasy numbers and have a positive matchup to finish the season. The struggling Packers offense has allowed 96 total tackles along with a sack and seven turnovers to defensive backs in their last three games.
It’s been a disappointing first season for Cyprien in Tennessee but he has the chance to redeem himself in a must-win game against his former team. The Titans need a win to get into the playoffs and the Jaguars offense seemed to hit a speed bump last week. In their loss to the 49ers Jacksonville allowed over 30 tackles to defensive backs as well as three interceptions. Look for Cyprien to roll up solid tackle totals as well as a big play or two in this division showdown.
With Denzel Perryman out for the season it looked as if Phillips was poised to step up as he’s basically been lining up as a linebacker. That’s why he was listed as a start option here last week. Well, that didn’t play out as expected with Phillips playing just 27 defensive snaps last week. That was his lowest total since Week 6. It’s just too hard to guess what the Chargers are going to do with Phillips this week to trust him in our lineups.
Eric Reid, San Francisco 49ers (at LA Rams)
In what is likely his last game as a 49er, Reid has too tough of a matchup to go out on a high note. Reid has filled in admirably as the last safety standing in San Francisco but the Rams are as stingy as they come in allowing production to defensive backs. In their last three games Los Angeles has allowed just two big plays to defensive backs and five passes defended. It’s fitting that Reid is the final sit option of the year as he was my preseason pick to finish as a DB 1. Ouch.