This is it, people. We've reached the end of the line. For you few stubborn holdouts who insist on playing Week 17 championships (and again we ask ... why?) or to those of you looking for yet another DFS fix, we've got you covered. Of course there's the thorny issue of working around the challenge of which teams could rest their starters and which ones would like a look at some younger players.
But like a super spicy bucket of chicken, we've got some tasty sleeper options for the final week of the regular season. Time to go out with a bang.
Colonel Sanders' Super Secret Sleeper
A few weeks ago, we thought Harris had the chance to be a sleeper. Only it was with the Seattle Seahawks. But before we could start shouting from the hilltops about the journeyman runner, he was released by Seattle, claimed by the Baltimore Ravens and added to their practice squad. But faster than you can say "Old Bay", Harris was let go in Charm City and picked up by the 49ers.
Much like Shaun Draughn before him, fantasy enthusiasts scoffed at the idea of Harris being productive. Yet much like Draughn, Harris showed a surprising spark in San Francisco's backfield. The man from Troy ran for 73 yards on 11 carries against a Lions defense that had previously held plenty of other running backs down. Similarly this week Harris and the 49ers take on a Rams defense that has been pretty leaky against the run lately, allowing more than 167 scrimmage yards per game to running backs. There's a chance San Francisco gives some novelty carries to Jarryd Hayne again this week, but it will be Harris that carries most of the load for the Niners.
What in the name of Samkon Gado is going on with running backs this season? Pierre Thomas was a PPR darling last season, then spent most of this year as a non-entity in the NFL. But with injuries and a general lack of underperformance going on in Washington, the veteran finds himself playing a decent number of snaps for a playoff-bound team in December.
Last week Thomas played 32 snaps -- second only Alfred Morris -- and tallied 89 total yards, including 67 yards on seven receptions. The number of snaps could go up considerably this week. Washington is locked into its playoff seed with not much to gain. That could mean plenty of the regulars spend most of their afternoon on the bench, leaving guys like Thomas to have their day in the fantasy sun. That's particularly good news against a Cowboys defense that has allowed nearly 125 rushing yards per game over the past month.
Am I really promoting a running back from the Giants backfield? Yes, boys and girls, I am. For all of the consternation about this running back committee, Jennings has emerged as the primary back in the past few weeks. The veteran has had 100-plus scrimmage yards in three straight contests while dominating the backfield carries. The Eagles defense has been arguably the worst unit in the league over the past few weeks. Ring in the new year with Rashad.
Welcome back, Brian Hoyer! While DeAndre Hopkins has remained a fantasy darling regardless of the man under center, many fantasy enthusiasts haven't been quite too bold as to start Houston's quarterback du jour. Fear not for this week you can do-si-do with this Texan against a beaten, battered and just plain bad Colts secondary. Giddyup!
While everyone was keeping their eyes on Dorial Green-Beckham last week, Harry Douglas quietly returned from injury and put together a decent stat line. With the Titans still struggling for any semblance of a running game, Zach Mettenberger will likely be expected to throw the ball a ton of times. Just look at last week when Mettenberger threw the rock 51 times. I wouldn't expect a similar number this week, but Tennessee should put it up against Indy's secondary. The Colts defensive backfield has allowed 804 receiving yards in the past month (second-most) and seven touchdowns (tied for third-most) to wideouts. There should be plenty for both DGB and Douglas to eat this week.
This is becoming a theme for Ertz. Get hyped in the preseason, disappear during the regular year only to come on strong in December. It happened last year. It's happening this year. For some unknown reason, the Eagles have started making Ertz a bigger part of the passing attack with 30 combined targets in the past two games. Over the last couple of weeks, the Giants have been torched by tight ends with Kyle Rudolph and Greg Olsen going for big games. Look for Ertz to complete the hat trick this week.
We've spent much of the second half of the season lamenting the fantasy death of Philip Rivers as a viable weekly starter. Much of that demise has happened because Rivers hasn't had anyone to throw the ball to. Alas ... a hero has emerged in America's Finest City. From the ashes of the Chargers receiving corps, Dontrelle Inman has risen like a phoenix to give fantasy managers new hope. Okay maybe I'm exaggerating but Inman has 7.80 points or more in three of his past four games and is getting more targets in the offense. The Broncos defense certainly scares plenty of people (for good reason), but this group hasn't been quite as stout recently. That could especially come into play if Denver rests some of its starters.
The Packers offense has plenty of questions to answer and there aren't a lot of reasons to be exicted about this group overall. That's still a weird sentence to type. Anywho ... the Vikings have struggled to slow down pass-catching running backs allowing 254 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns to the position in the past four games. Of the Packers backs, Starks is more of the pass-catcher with just six fewer receptions than both Davante Adams and James Jones. In PPR formats, Starks could have a nice day.
We won't have Alshon Jeffery to kick around this week since the star receiver was placed on injured reserve due to his nagging hamstring injury. With Zach Miller also a little banged up, Jay Cutler is going to need someone to throw to this week. Enter Eddie Royal, who was one of Cutler's favorite targets early in their respective careers and early this season. Royal hasn't made a particularly big splash since returning from injury but this could be the week he returns to relevance.
Yeah, I said it. Kellen Moore. Maybe he did throw three picks in just 25 attempts against the Jets a couple of weeks ago. Maybe he has never cracked 200 passing yards in a game during his relatively short career. And maybe he won't have Dez Bryant at his disposal this week. But Moore does get to face a Washington defense that has given up plenty of passing yards in the past month -- and that's when they're actually playing their top players. If Jay Gruden decides to rest his regulars, it could be open season in the secondary.