So here we are again in Week 17, the absolute last stop in Fantasy Football 2011. As I say every year to those of you still playing this week: why? Week 17 is distilled chaos for Fantasy rosters, what with teams like Green Bay and Houston openly saying they will sit their starters because they have absolutely nothing to play for. Others like New Orleans and New England seem likely to pull their starters the moment they feel they’ve accomplished what they need to, or seem incapable of doing so. Picking a roster for this week is a stochastic process that will inevitably leave you questioning everything you know about football in the exact moment you want reason and sanity: the championship week.
Regardless, I wish you well and hope you take home the big bucks, you thrill-seeker, you.
|The day that no one except Ralph Wilson ever thought would
come is finally here: C.J. Spiller is a top Fantasy play.
—Photo Credit: Icon SMI.
It’s been a pleasure covering the 2011 season for you. See you for the 2012 NFL Draft.
Hotter than Mr. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate at the Jamaica High Gymnasium.
Toby Gerhart vs. CHI – It’s Gerhart’s load to carry with Adrian Peterson done for the season with an ACL tear that throws next year’s Fantasy draft into complete chaos. Meanwhile, the Bears are solid against the run, but the possibility that low-rent Tebow Joe Webb could start the game at QB will definitely help open things up for Gerhart.
C.J. Spiller @ NE – Spiller’s running and pass-catching bonanza will continue unabated versus the hapless New England defense. As the Bills demonstrated last week against DEN, they are occasionally capable of high-end offensive performances, and you figure that the chance to deny their division rival the top seed in the AFC playoffs will bring out the best in them.
Dwayne Bowe @ DEN – Bowe had an excellent week with Kyle Orton, hooking up on six catches for 80 yards and a TD against OAK. The Broncos pass defense is falling apart without safety Brian Dawkins. Ink Bowe in as a solid WR2.
Matt Ryan vs. TB – Ryan is slightly above average, particularly in Fantasy terms, but the Bucs might as well not be on the field for all the defense they’re playing lately. Play all of your Falcons, including Ryan, who will finally put up a performance worthy of a Fantasy play. You figure he wants to take the sting of the critical beatdown the Saints laid on Atlanta last Monday out on somebody.
Brent Celek vs. WAS – Dude is streaking lately. Outside of LeSean McCoy, there is no better player on this Eagles offense. Celek is averaging nearly 20 Fantasy points over his last two games, and the Redskins rank 28th in Fantasy points per game (FPPG) allowed to TEs.
Philadelphia DEF/ST vs. WAS – In most basic defensive formats, the Eagles are averaging more than 15 Fantasy points per game over their last three games. While it is a meaningless game, they’ll want to turn the screws on Rex Grossman, which shouldn’t be too difficult. Grossman has nine interceptions in his last six games.
Michael Crabtree @ STL – The Rams are dead last against the run, and spectacularly so. While the Niners will definitely go heavy on the run here, that will open up the play action for Alex Smith and Crabtree to connect. Mr. Crabby has scored double-digit Fantasy points in five of his last six games (PPR), so consider him a respectable WR2. Not that he’s been a recent threat to Crabtree’s productivity, but the Niners did dump The Amazing Handless WR, Braylon Edwards, during the week. There is now literally no competition for Crabtree in San Francisco’s WR corps.
Brandon Pettigrew @ GB – Green Bay is last in FPPG to TEs, and with nothing to play for, they will rest many of their starters. Pettigrew is becoming a bigger part of the offense, with double-digit Fantasy points in two of his last three games.
Jared Cook @ HOU – Somebody on the Tennessee coaching staff finally realized that this guy is a stupendous athlete and they really need to get him the ball. He has two 100-plus yard games over the last two weeks, and he’s matching up against a Texans defense whose prime objective will be self-preservation, as they’re locked into their playoff slot. This guy will be Jimmy Graham Jr. in 2012, so keep him in mind.
Kahlil Bell @ MIN – While his numbers won’t put fear in the heart of Matt Forte, Bell is performing admirably during the starter’s absence. He has at least 99 combined yards in each of his last two games. The Vikings have a Top-10 ranking against the run, but that’s largely due to teams taking the opportunity to carpet-bomb Minnesota’s sad pass defense. Stats don’t always tell the story.
Torrey Smith @ CIN –With Anquan Boldin out, QB Joe Flacco has to throw the ball somewhere other than the usual 17,000 checkdowns per game to Ray Rice. While Smith didn’t come through last week, he had far more targets than any other Ravens pass-catcher. It’s a bit of a longshot, but Smith has shown he is capable of putting up decent WR3 performances.
Denarius Moore vs. SD – As always, you hold your breath when you start any Raiders player, particularly one of their notoriously boom/bust WRs. In this case, though, you have a solid shot at success. Moore torched the Chargers for 123 yards and two TDs on five catches in Week 10. Also, the Raiders are playing for a shot at the playoffs, while the Chargers are probably wondering who their next coach will be. Goodbye, Norvall. Alas, we knew ye all too well.
Colder than what was done to this dog in the name of Christmas.
All Green Bay Packers vs. DET – Along with the Texans, this is a practical example of why it’s not a good idea to play into Week 17. The Packers locked up home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and they have nothing to play for here. I can’t even push their backups and marginal players, as the starters will probably play at least the first half. How much longer they play after that is anyone’s guess. With the bye week, they need to keep their timing up, but they also need to avoid injuries. It’s just an unholy mess. Rodgers is already talking up his buddy and backup Matt Flynn. Just stay away.
Arian Foster vs. TEN – Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is absolutely no reason for the Texans to even show up in this game. They are locked into the No. 3 seed in the playoffs, and you can bet they want to make sure that Foster is good and fresh for the franchise’s first-ever playoff game. Look for Foster to come out on the field, stretch a bit, and wave to the home fans as Ben Tate takes the overwhelming majority of the carries.
Mike Wallace @ CLE – The Steelers are in the playoffs, and they still have a shot to secure a bye with a victory over the Browns. They’ll play hard, but not too hard. With the Browns sporting the league’s second-best pass defense, the Steelers probably won’t be exposing Ben Roethlisberger or Charlie Batch to the kinds of hits they risk by hanging in the pocket long enough for Wallace to break on one of his patented deep routes.
Jabar Gaffney @ PHI – The Eagles defense is playing much better, and is actually in the Top 10 on pass defense these days. Gaffney’s recent roll is impressive, but the Eagles are even hotter. Expect Grossman to be pressured heavily, affecting his already scattershot accuracy.
Aaron Hernandez vs. BUF – There’s a weird bit of logic on this one, but here goes: the Bills rank second to last in FPPG to TEs, so Hernandez isn’t a great play. I figure that if they are indeed that terrible at covering TEs, all the action goes to the far more talented Rob Gronkowski. Consider Hernandez’s breakout of two weeks ago nothing more than a matchup-based aberration.
Reggie Wayne @ JAX – Wayne proved that he’s still alive with his second double-digit Fantasy point performance in as many weeks. That’s unlikely to happen again against Jacksonville’s Top 5 pass defense. For you conspiracy-theorists out there, I’ll just throw out the fact that Indy needs to lose this game to win the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes. Just saying…
Steven Jackson vs. SF – It took 16 weeks, but the Niners finally allowed a rushing TD, which is a bloody marvel. Barring a turnover, the Rams will be hard-pressed to cross in to SF territory, much less score. This will be another smackdown for Jackson, the valiant yet doomed human punching bag.
LeGarrette Blount @ ATL – Blount’s underperforming ways are a regular feature of this column. He had two carries for 11 yards against CAR’s 21st-ranked rush defense last week. He may actually get negative yards against the Falcons fifth-ranked rush defense.
Mike Williams @ ATL – Another week, another pathetic performance from a player that is too talented to be shut down like he has been over the past two weeks. While he didn’t have a goose egg in the stat sheet like he did two weeks ago, last week he had just four catches for 30 yards. The Falcons pass defense ranks 19th, but it doesn’t look like they’ll need to do much to shut down the Bucs, who clearly do not care.
Vincent Jackson @ OAK – V-Jax is one of the most maddening players around. The week you sit him, he goes wild; when you start him, he tanks. I washed my hands of him long ago and I am much happier for it. He had one catch for 22 yards against the Raiders in Week 10. Of course, now that I’ve called him out, he’ll probably score twice. He’s not worth the risk, though.
|1.||Matt Ryan vs. TB||1.||Ray Rice @ CIN||1.||Wes Welker vs. BUF|
|2.||Cam Newton @ NO||2.||Maurice Jones-Drew vs. IND||2.||Victor Cruz vs. DAL|
|3.||Eli Manning vs. DAL||3.||C.J. Spiller @ NE||3.||Calvin Johnson @ GB|
|4.||Matthew Stafford @ GB||4.||Ryan Mathews @ OAK||4.||Miles Austin @ NYG|
|5.||Michael Vick vs. WAS||5.||Shonn Greene @ MIA||5.||Percy Harvin vs. CHI|
|6.||Tom Brady vs. BUF||6.||Michael Bush vs. SD||6.||Larry Fitzgerald vs. SEA|
|7.||Philip Rivers @ OAK||7.||Marshawn Lynch @ ARI||7.||Roddy White vs. TB|
|8.||Drew Brees vs. CAR||8.||Michael Turner vs. TB||8.||Brandon Marshall vs. NYJ|
|9.||Tim Tebow vs. KC||9.||Kahlil Bell @ MIN||9.||Steve Johnson @ NE|
|10.||Tony Romo @ NYG||10.||Toby Gerhart vs. CHI||10.||Hakeem Nicks vs. DAL|
|11.||Ryan Fitzpatrick @ NE||11.||Ahmad Bradshaw vs. DAL||11.||Steve Smith @ NO|
|12.||Carson Palmer vs. SD||12.||Reggie Bush @ NYJ*||12.||Marques Colston vs. CAR|
|13.||John Skelton vs. SEA||13.||Rashard Mendenhall @ CLE||13.||Julio Jones vs. TB|
|14.||Matt Hasselbeck @ HOU||14.||Frank Gore @ STL||14.||Michael Crabtree @ STL|
|15.||Rex Grossman @ PHI||15.||Willis McGahee vs. KC||15.||Jeremy Maclin vs. WAS|
|16.||Kyle Orton @ DEN||16.||Felix Jones @ NYG*||16.||A.J. Green vs. BAL|
|17.||Mark Sanchez @ MIA||17.||Darren Sproles vs. CAR||17.||Demaryius Thomas vs. KC|
|18.||Dan Orlovsky @ JAX||18.||LeSean McCoy vs. WAS*||18.||Dez Bryant @ NYG|
|19.||Joe Flacco @ CIN||19.||Chris Johnson @ HOU||19.||Jordy Nelson vs. DET|
|20.||Josh Freeman @ ATL||20.||Evan Royster @ PHI||20.||Nate Washington @ HOU|
|1.||Brent Celek vs. WAS||1.||49ers @ STL||1.||David Akers @ STL|
|2.||Rob Gronkowski vs. BUF||2.||Steelers @ CLE||2.||Graham Gano @ PHI|
|3.||Tony Gonzalez vs. TB||3.||Eagles vs. WAS||3.||Dan Carpenter vs. NYJ|
|4.||Jimmy Graham vs. CAR||4.||Seahawks @ ARI||4.||Rob Bironas @ HOU|
|5.||Jared Cook @ HOU||5.||Ravens @ CIN||5.||Ryan Succop @ DEN|
|6.||Brandon Pettigrew @ GB||6.||Jets @ MIA||6.||Steven Hauschka @ ARI|
|7.||Jason Witten @ NYG||7.||Chiefs @ DEN||7.||John Kasay vs. CAR|
|8.||Vernon Davis @ STL||8.||Bears @ MIN||8.||Mike Nugent vs. BAL|
|9.||Antonio Gates @ OAK||9.||Dolphins vs. NYJ||9.||Nick Novak @ OAK|
|10.||Dustin Keller @ MIA||10.||Falcons vs. TB||10.||Matt Bryant vs. TB|
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