Whether you're a fantasy beginner or don't have as much time to devote to your fantasy team during the week, I'm here for you with the newest edition of Fantasy 101 - all your fantasy needs in 15 minutes or less. Because that's how long you'll need to digest this column and make your appropriate moves. If you're playing in a championship game this week, make sure you keep an eye on the news, as it's easy to let things go by the wayside with the holidays upon you. This is the final Fantasy 101 this season, so Happy Holidays and best of luck pursuing a title!
With so many injuries to star players, you need to be safe rather than sorry. Even though many of them look benign, you can get rid of someone on your bench in order to get the player's backup. You never know, you may have to start him this week if your stud sits out. Week 17 is very finicky - teams have no rhyme nor reason they use to rest players if they've either clinched something in the playoffs, or are playing a game with no impact on the NFL playoffs. So you have to be sure to check this week what the plan is for players you own. Do a little bit extra so you're not starting a quarterback who's only going to play a series and then sit. Or, even worse, you start a running back or a wide receiver who doesn't play at all because there's no reason to risk their health, even if it means any other week they'd play. So Happy Holidays and keep on top of it!
INJURIES TO KEEP TRACK OF
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: Cobb was taken out of Sunday's game after hurting his ankle on a kick return. He's developed into a huge weapon and losing him is a blow. If he plays for the Packers in Week 17, he plays for you.
Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers tight end suffered a concussion against Seattle, so while his status will be determined as the week goes on, don't expect to have him. And due to his lack of production, you shouldn't have been starting him anyway.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: He hurt his right ankle in the third quarter of the Bears win over Arizona. He says he'll play in the season finale, but just in case, Armando Allen and possibly Kahlil Bell may be worth owning as a handcuff to Forte. Allen would be my first choice.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans: Foster missed a large portion of Houston's loss due to an irregular heartbeat. He said after the game he was okay, but to be safe, pick up Ben Tate if he's available if for some reason Foster sits Week 17.
Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers: His knee injury didn't look good, and it's hard to see Pittsburgh playing him in a meaningless game against Cleveland. If you were playing Miller or Davis and don't have a suitable alternative on your roster, then Jermichael Finley or Lance Kendricks could be your replacements.
Carson Palmer, QB, Oakland Raiders: He left Sunday's game with a rib injury. I can't believe you were still playing him at quarterback, but if you were and you're in trouble for Week 17? Ryan Fitzpatrick is someone who is likely available you can still pick up. It's slim pickings now.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings star exited the win over Houston with abdominal soreness, but he's expected to play in his team's finale Week 17. Just in case, and if you have a spot on your bench, pick up Toby Gerhart just in case.
Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns: Richardson had X-rays on his knee following the Browns loss to Denver, and while there was no break, don't be surprised if Cleveland, in a meaningless game, doesn't play Richardson the final week. Montario Hardesty is the player to grab and have in reserve if Richardson sits.
Week 17 waiver wireNeed to improve your fantasy football roster? Take a look at the top 10 waiver wire targets for Week 17.
FREE AGENTS TO PICK UP
Not a lot from the wide receiver position that wasn't out there before this week. But a couple of interesting options have emerged at running back if you're in the market for someone. Ryan Grant had two touchdowns and the bulk of the backfield work in Green Bay's rout of Tennessee. He's worth a pick up if you have a need for a running back and don't like anyone else on your roster. You can expect close to double digits from him as a flex option this week. Mark Ingram may be out there, and if he is, he's interesting. The running game is mainly his in New Orleans. Why not pick him up? He's averaging around 60 yards rushing per game lately, and gets into the end zone once every other week.
OTHER NOTES OF NOTE
1) If you rode Matt Ryan (and the rest of the Falcons stars) this far, have a backup option available this week, as Atlanta has nothing to play for next week having locked up home-field advantage for the playoffs. Who knows how much they're actually going to play against Tampa Bay.
4) You can't argue production, and every week it seems Mark Ingram is getting in the end zone. He had most of the carries against Dallas, and with nothing on the line for New Orleans in Week 17, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a majority of the carries so the Saints can see what kind of player they have in him for 2013.
5) Montell Owens is a great start Week 17. He gave you a double-digit fantasy day against New England and has a terrific matchup against Tennessee. He's a sneaky-good flex play.
6) With Nick Foles out with a broken hand, Michael Vick will play Sunday in the Eagles' finale. If he was the normal Vick, I would say he's a decent quarterback option if you need one, but he hasn't been, even before he got hurt. I'd stay away.
Jason Smith hosts NFL Fantasy LIVE on the NFL Network and writes fantasy and other pith for NFL.com. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca, and listen to the NFL Fantasy LIVE podcast with Michael Fabiano and Elliot Harrison every week on NFL.com. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.