Still shooting for a fantasy championship in Week 17? Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com helps you take the trophy with his previews of every NFL game from fantasy perspectives.
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
Shonn Greene might not get much done against a sturdy Dolphins run defense. In which case, the Jets' slim playoff hopes will ride on the production of Mark Sanchez, who could have to throw often with mixed results. Santonio Holmes is a regular TD machine and should be started, but Plaxico Burress is either end zone or bust, and should not be used in a fantasy Super Bowl game. Daniel Thomas gets to prove what he can do, but he has been so up and down this year he is too risky to use in the finale. Matt Moore will try to finish strong with two TD passes, and since Brandon Marshall does not fear Darrelle Revis, you can use him if you have to. But if it's a tight decision between Marshall and another top WR, the Revis factor points the choice in the direction of the other option.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
If one of your other QB options may not play a full game this week, use Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will surely throw for 275-plus yards and at least two TDs against the NFL's worst pass defense. Stevie Johnson should be locked into all lineups for 100 receiving yards and a score. C.J. Spiller is quickly blossoming before our eyes and can be counted on for 150-plus yards from scrimmage and a score. Tom Brady should enjoy facing a very vulnerable secondary that is simply not nearly as good as it looked last week. Wes Welker could come through with another big day, and Rob Gronkowski has a chance to score more than once. Roll with Aaron Hernandez for some quality yardage numbers, but avoid Stevan Ridley at RB. He looked promising last week, yet the Patriots RBs are constantly being rotated and none should be used in Week 17.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens will have to hitch their wagon to Ray Rice, of course, so expect the Bengals to key on him often. Still, Rice will work hard to get his yardage and could score on the ground. Joe Flacco might sputter, though, as the loss of Anquan Boldin puts a dent in the passing game. The Bengals will try to take the deep ball away from Torrey Smith, who should be reserved, and Flacco will have to dink and dunk to Rice and his TEs. This should be a low-scoring affair, as Baltimore could also hold Cedric Benson under 100 yards and keep him out of the end zone. Andy Dalton should look for A.J. Green for some downfield hookups, and the rookie Pro Bowler is a must-start regardless of matchup. All other Bengals pass-catchers, however, should be avoided as these teams bang each other around and the defenses stiffen up in the red zone for most of the day.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
The Steelers do not want to overwork Ben Roethlsiberger, so expect to see a heavy dose of Rashard Mendenhall against the weak Browns' run defense. When Roethlisberger does go to the air, he'll likely make short and sure throws to Antonio Brown and Heath Miller, both quality PPR options this week. Mike Wallace could disappoint again, as Joe Haden has the ability to take away the big downfield play. Peyton Hillis wants to make a statement as he heads into free agency, and might post pretty good numbers. Expect him to rush for over 80 yards and a score. No other Browns should be used in a week that means everything for those still playing fantasy football.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
The Texans have nothing solid to play for, and you should be very judicious when considering their top players for fantasy usage. Andre Johnson is expected to return to action, but may be limited in how much he plays, so it's better to reserve him. Arian Foster could also be pulled early, so expect to see a lot of Ben Tate, who should realistically be the only Texan you can feel comfortable with this week. Do not expect anything more than adequate production from Chris Johnson, as he plays through an ankle injury. Nate Washington and Jared Cook, though, are good choices against a Houston team that may just be going through the motions.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
You will not see many points on either side, and the RBs are the players to focus on for fantasy purposes. Maurice Jones-Drew should finish the season with a flourish, rolling past 100 yards and scoring at least once. Donald Brown is the only true fantasy difference-maker on the Colts right now. He is running hard and has a nose for the goal line. Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville WRs are so inept, they likely cannot take advantage of the moribund Colts. The Jaguars' secondary has been depleted, though, so gamble with Reggie Wayne if you are scraping for WR help.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Tony Romo's hand injury could affect his effectiveness, so do not count on him simply because of the magnitude of this game. Getting the ball downfield may be an issue, and could limit the upside of Dez Bryant in this contest. Look for Jason Witten to stack up a lot of possession receptions, and Laurent Robinson could be the man for Romo when he needs a sure set of hands near the goal line. Miles Austin can make things happen after the catch, so he should work well with Romo even if the QB is not up to his usual throwing standards. Felix Jones will play, but is always a candidate to re-aggravate his hamstring problem, so look elsewhere. Brandon Jacobs will try to make a statement in what could be his final regular-season game as a Giant, and Ahmad Bradshaw should provide a spark as well. Both are solid flex plays. Victor Cruz is a must-start in the Giants' biggest game of the year, and you have to roll the dice with Hakeem Nicks because of the importance of the matchup. Eli Manning might not throw more than two TD passes as the Giants achieve optimum balance between run and pass.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
You may see more of Evan Royster this week with Roy Helu still banged up. The Eagles now have some film on Royster after his impressive Week 16 outing, and will be ready to corral him. Expect Royster to fall below 100 yards this week. Rex Grossman is risky no matter the matchup or outlook, and he has been spreading the ball around a lot, so steer clear of the Redskins WRs. LeSean McCoy is expected to play, but looks like a gamble as he tries to work through an ankle injury. Michael Vick could be forced to carry the offense but could finish strong, as Jeremy Maclin shows he is healthy again and DeSean Jackson tries to finish a disappointing year with a strong outing. Start both top Eagles WRs with confidence.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
How long the Lions will stick with their starters is anyone's guess, but with Calvin Johnson dealing with an Achilles issue, he is a strong candidate to hit the sidelines early. Matthew Stafford could also play less than a full game, so it's best to play it conservative and avoid the top Lions here. If you need a fill-in WR starter, though, expect Titus Young to get some opportunities. The Packers will likely rest most of their top offensive players, and Matt Flynn still lacks significant starting experience. You may see a decent amount of carries from Ryan Grant, as the Packers try to test out their running game before the postseason, but most other Packers offensive players have not shown us enough to merit using them in a fantasy championship week.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
The versatile Kahlil Bell has shown he deserves a starting spot in your lineup late in the season, and is a safe plugger if you need to fill a hole at RB. Journeyman Josh McCown has a good matchup against a soft pass defense, but he has too much of a history of erratic play to consider him in this important week. The Bears' WRs have disappointed all year long, and now is not the time to roll them out. If you are absolutely desperate, Roy Williams seemed to be a preferred target for McCown in Week 16. Toby Gerhart has also made the most of his opportunities and is playing so well, he is matchup-proof. He is a must-start RB2 in Week 17. Christian Ponder is not a recommended option against a hard-hitting defense that will bounce him around. Percy Harvin, however, is capable of burning the Chicago secondary for a TD.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons are saying publicly that they will not rest their starters, but fantasy players can't count on "coachspeak" ever being true. Michael Turner has been dealing with a groin injury and Julio Jones has a minor ankle problem, so there are two strong candidates to not play the full game. Matt Ryan and Roddy White could also sit if this game gets out of hand quickly. This game sports nothing but fantasy danger. Any owner still playing at this point of the season likely did not use any key Buccaneers to get to this point, and should not veer off that path now. LeGarrette Blount has become a major late-season risk, and Kellen Winslow offers no upside. Using any other Tampa Bay offensive player is simply out of the question.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
The Saints rank 30th against the pass, and Cam Newton likely will not hesitate to take some downfield shots. Look for Steve Smith to get back into the main flow of the offense this week, as he and Newton try to hook up for a few big plays. Newton and Smith are must-starts, and you have to stick with DeAngelo Williams as well. The Panthers seem to have little prayer of containing Drew Brees, who cannot be benched with key playoff seeding still on the line for the Saints. Even if Brees doesn't play a full game, you should get very good numbers out of him overall. Marques Colston could continue to get red zone looks with Lance Moore out, and Jimmy Graham will try to finish the year with a statistical blast.
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams
The 49ers enter the final week with a shot at a first-round bye, so expect their top starters to play a good portion of the game. Frank Gore should find the end zone again, and is a top Week 17 start against the awful Rams run defense. Alex Smith is connecting with Vernon Davis on more key downs late in the year, so start the Niners TE with a lot of confidence. Michael Crabtree is also a viable option for some respectable PPR totals. Steven Jackson has been getting his yardage against all comers, and should not be reserved. He is too reliable to bench him when you need his quality production the most. Brandon Lloyd, though, has seen his stock dip late in the year because of QB issues and should not be used.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Kyle Orton comes into this divisional matchup with the much-ballyhooed storylines of revenge and spoiler following him. Look for Orton to post solid, but unspectacular totals. But he'll be good enough to start if another top QB of yours may be rested. Good numbers for Orton should mean adequate production for Dwayne Bowe, but no other Chiefs should be used in Week 17. Tim Tebow is showing signs of regression as a passer recently, but can bounce back and still post the required fantasy numbers this week. Willis McGahee should see a lot of work and is a sound RB2 start, but with Tebow misfiring more often, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are quite risky for final week usage.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
The Chargers are limping at key offensive spots, and some of their top options are looking like very unsafe fantasy plays in Week 17. Ryan Mathews (calf) may be a game-time decision, and Mike Tolbert is also a risk with a hamstring problem. Vincent Jackson (groin) should play, but has been erratic enough when healthy. Philip Rivers and Malcom Floyd appears to be the only Chargers you can plug in with some sort of peace of mind. Carson Palmer may also have Jacoby Ford back, and with Denarius Moore healthy again, he has the weaponry to deliver a solid fantasy outing. Moore is a good WR3 again, and Michael Bush will score on the ground as the Raiders make a strong push for a division title.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
After getting snubbed for the Pro Bowl and looking ahead to a new contract, Marshawn Lynch should trample the Cardinals. Look for Lynch to finish very strong and score more than once. Tarvaris Jackson is looking adequate at QB, and he could find Golden Tate for a score against a secondary he can expose. Doug Baldwin should also come through with decent PPR numbers. Beanie Wells has been battling physical issues and is hobbling to the end of the schedule. Bench him against a solid Seahawks run defense. John Skelton might be harassed and hit often, and the Seahawks defense is one of the better fantasy starts of Week 17. Larry Fitzgerald should still get his 100 yards, and you can also roll with Andre Roberts as a WR3.
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