Whether your championship aspirations fell flat during your standard league’s title week, or you didn’t even make the playoffs, Week 17 of the NFL season can still bring riches to weekly FanDuel and DraftKings players hoping to recoup their numerous league dues.
In particular, with so many teams fighting for playoff spots and position, weekly fantasy players should have a bevy of superstars to choose from rather than watching some of fantasy’s elite ride the bench in preparation for the postseason.
Top guys like Carolina’s Cam Newton, Arizona’s Carson Palmer, David Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald, and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown represent just a handful of top fantasy scorers who could guide your weekly team to pay dirt.
And even if a team or player has already been ruled out of the postseason, they’re still hoping to put up big numbers to not only save their jobs but improve their market value when they hit free agency in March. Philadelphia’s Sam Bradford, Chicago’s Matt Forte, Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin, Miami’s Lamar Miller, and Washington’s Alfred Morris, all playing in the final game of their current contracts, have millions at stake in Week 17.
However, even if they are angling for postseason berths or a lucrative new deal, only a few select players are worth a start in you weekly fantasy league and that’s where our rankings come in handy.
Here’s our full Week 17 breakdown, complete with rankings at each key position for owners to claim victory in the regular season finale.
1.Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
2.Cam Newton, Panthers
3.Tom Brady, Patriots
4.Kirk Cousins, Redskins
5.Matthew Stafford, Lions
Bonus: Matt Ryan, Falcons
Our top three QBs have stood out as some of fantasy’s top producers this season, and all three have to bring their “A” game in Week 17 with major playoff implications in the balance. Roethlisberger and the Steelers haven’t even secured a playoff berth, and while he floundered in Week 16, Big Ben has the best matchup with Cleveland allowing 18.8 ppg to opposing QBs. Newton’s dual-threat nature makes him the pick over Brady, especially given Carolina meets a Bucs defense allowing 19.9 ppg compared to New England’s matchup with a Dolphins D letting up 18.2 points. Cousins doesn’t have the best matchup against Dallas (No. 9 against opposing QBs) but he is warming up for the postseason and will be a free agent in 2016. Ryan’s turnover prone, but has the best matchup of any QB against New Orleans.
1.Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2.Todd Gurley, Rams
3.Devonta Freeman, Falcons
4.DeAngelo Williams, Steelers
5.Chris Ivory, Jets
Little shakeup here compared to last week’s rankings, but this does mark the return of Freeman. The first-time Pro Bowler draws New Orleans and should end the season with a bang. Gurley tore up Seattle’s No. 3 rushing D, so he should obliterate San Francisco’s second-worst D against opposing running backs. But Peterson’s the top and safest pick because the last time he faced Green Bay and a postseason berth was on the line he gained 199 yards and scored two TDs.
1.DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
2.Julio Jones, Falcons
3.Calvin Johnson, Lions
4.Antonio Brown, Steelers
5.DeSean Jackson, Redskins
Bonus: Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
Combine Hopkins’ 181 targets (second-most in the NFL) with Houston’s division title and playoff hopes, and he should blow past a Jaguars D surrendering 20.6 ppg to WRs. Jones and the Falcons have nothing on the line but he and Ryan can pad their stats against the Saints. Johnson’s enjoying a last-season burst, but his matchup isn’t great with Chicago ranked No. 11 against receivers this year, but he’s a slightly cheaper option compared to the dominant Brown, Jones, Hopkins trio. Jackson’s deep threat capabilities and lower salary might make him a steal, while Beckham’s only out of the top five because he might be a risk after sitting out a week and New York might limit his load anyway.
1.Travis Kelce, Chiefs
2.Greg Olsen, Panthers
3.Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
4.Delanie Walker, Titans
5.Gary Barnidge, Browns
Bonus: Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
Kelce stands to rip apart a Raiders D that’s allowed 11 touchdowns to TEs, tied for the worst in the NFL this season, and he’ll be plenty motivated with K.C. gunning for the AFC West crown. Olsen and Gronkowski have matchups against middling to decent TE defenses this week (No. 16 Tampa Bay and No. 15 Miami, respectively), so Walker’s stronger square up with Indy might be the better and cheaper play.
1.Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins
2.Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots
3.Tim Hightower, RB, Saints
4.Rashad Jennings, RB, Eagles
5.Jeremy Langford, RB, Bears
Bonus: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
All running backs at the FLEX this week, and for good reason. Morris, for one, has a contract on the line and meets a Cowboys squad that’s allowed the sixth-most points to RBs. Bolden can feast on a Dolphins D that’s even worse against RBs, and Hightower draws a Falcons D that’s barely any better. Jennings meets an Eagles squad allowing the same average points to RBs as Dallas, and he gets Beckham back for potential support. In PPR leagues, Langford’s a sneaky value pick who could be the first back to catch a touchdown against Detroit this season, while Johnson can try to challenge Gurley for ROY honors by besting his numbers against Seattle.
Since it’s the final week of the regular season, there’s a ton of division matchups that traditionally owners should avoid. Having said that, the Rams can and will pummel the 49ers, the Bengals will do a much better job against Ryan Mallett than Pittsburgh did, and New England will solidify Miko Grimes’ gripes about Miami’s Ryan Tannehill. Denver’s playoff hopes rest on stopping Philip Rivers and the Chargers, a task that would’ve seemed too daunting earlier this season, but San Diego’s offense isn’t scary anymore. And Washington's D/ST has averaged 17.8 points over the last seven games, with Dallas the only team to keep it out of double digits. That will change the second-time around.