Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Sleeper plays with upside for Week 17

2W8TF5M New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed runs for a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

• The Kansas City Chiefs may need to lean on Clyde Edwards-Helaire as teammate Isiah Pacheco remains in concussion protocol: Though Edwards-Helaire has had a brutally inefficient season, he could be in for his most significant workload yet against a struggling Cincinnati Bengals defense. 

New Orleans Saints WR Rashid Shaheed could be in a big day against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Shaheed has been causing damage downfield all season long with Derek Carr under center — a big weakness for the Bucs defense this season.

Los Angeles Chargers TE Gerald Everett could be in for significant target volume in Week 17: With both Keenan Allen (heel) and Joshua Palmer (concussion) having sat out of back-to-back practices to start the week, Everett could see some significant volume in a plus matchup against the Denver Broncos.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Welcome to the fantasy football championships, managers! Unfortunately, even if you’ve made it this far in your season, key assets within your lineup may have found themselves injured or absent for one reason or another, leaving you in need of some high-upside sleepers. If you need a high-upside flex or streaming quarterback for your fantasy lineups, here are five sleeper plays to consider with high upside (albeit, often high risk) for Week 17.

WR:CB Matchup Chart 

QB Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints

It is a rare occasion that I’ll feel good recommending New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr as a streamer… but alas, desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures. After struggling with some injuries through the middle of the season, Carr enters Week 17 looking a bit healthier and with a plus matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary. It’s a must-win game as they look to keep their playoff hopes alive against a divisional rival.

Since Week 10, the Buccaneers have allowed the fifth-most passing yards (1,905), the sixth-most explosive passing plays (44) and the eighth-lowest contested target percentage. It’s been a running trend through most of the season, allowing the ninth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and now the Bucs might just find themselves without starting cornerback Carlton Davis, who’s missed practice this week in the concussion protocol. The biggest potential for Carr to do damage this week will be in the deep passing game, a particular weakness for this secondary. More on that in a moment…

RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs could be without two of their top options at running back in Week 17, as Isiah Pacheco missed practice again Thursday due to a concussion while teammate Jerick McKinnon has landed on injured reserve due to a groin injury. That could put Edwards-Helaire in line to make his fourth start of the season for the Chiefs at running back, and though there are he hasn’t been very efficient with his opportunities to this point, averaging just 3.25 yards per attempt, the Bengals could be just the cure for that.

Keep an eye on Edwards-Helaire’s status on the practice report, as he did miss Wednesday’s session with an illness, but if he’s good to go in Week 17, he could have his best fantasy performance to date this season up against the Bengals. Since Week 10, the Bengals have allowed five different running backs 15 or more fantasy points (half-PPR scoring), including three outings of 20-plus fantasy points. In that span, they’ve tied to lead the league with 10 rushing touchdowns allowed and ninth most rushing yards given up, amounting to the 11th-most fantasy points per game to running backs. Volume and a solid matchup against this defensive line missing D.J. Reader, whose 75.3 run defense grade ranks second among Bengals defenders this year, could set Edwards-Helaire up for a solid day.

WR Rashid Shaheed, New Orleans Saints

Can you guess which New Orleans Saints wide receiver has had four of the six-highest-scoring games (half-PPR) for fantasy in the 2023 NFL season? If you assumed it was former first-round pick, Chris Olave, you’d be incorrect; it’s actually been former UDFA Rashid Shaheed who’s had the greater upside (albeit lower floor) throughout the 2023 season. He’s had four games of 15.5 or more fantasy points, meanwhile, Olave has had just two such games this season. In short, though Olave leads the team with 31 targets of 20-plus air yards this season, Shaheed has been far more efficient on such opportunities. Perhaps even more impressive than the fact that he leads the Saints offense with 435 deep receiving yards is the fact that he ranks third among all wide receivers in the league on such targets.

Heading into Week 17, the Saints will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have given up 10 touchdowns on targets of 20-plus air yards, allowing the fifth-highest EPA per dropback (0.63) and NFL passer rating (106.8) on such targets this season. Adding further insult to injury is the potential absence of Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis, who’s missed back-to-back practices with a concussion, with his availability suddenly looking to be in doubt for Week 17.

TE Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers

If you haven’t found your league-winning tight end on waivers yet this year (or, perhaps you’ve lost Pro Bowl TE T.J. Hockenson to a season-ending knee injury), you may be in need of a viable streamer for Week 17. Look no further than the Chargers' Gerald Everett, who’s held an integral role in the passing offense amidst injuries to their top two receiving options, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. In fact, Everett leads the team with 20 targets from Easton Stick this season, and that role might only expand now as teammate Joshua Palmer is dealing with a concussion, having missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Despite having scored just a single touchdown over the past five weeks, which has limited his ceiling, Everett’s had a relatively safe floor for fantasy managers due to a steady target volume. Everett’s had four or more targets in each of the past five weeks, including eight in each of the past three. It amounted to an average of five receptions for 41.8 receiving yards per game – including two top-12 finishes in that span. This week, the Chargers will take on the Denver Broncos, whose 40.5% defensive success rate on targets to tight ends this season ranks second-lowest in the league. Meanwhile, their 0.41 EPA per dropback allowed on such targets leads the league, contributing to the fact that they’ve allowed a league-high 14.63 fantasy points per game since Week 10, which could set up Everett for a big day.


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