The Fantasy Hipsters are here to save you from being duped into starting these mainstream "must-starts" of Week 17. These players are sprinkled around the top of the consensus rankings for the week, but Matt Harmon and Matt Franciscovich (Franchise) have some underground knowledge to get you in the know and make you think twice before locking them into your starting lineups. So make sure your ripped skinny jeans are cuffed, because you're about to tread some contrarian waters. Dude, is that coffee you're drinking even coffee locally sourced? Folgers!? Are you kidding me? Ugh, whatever.
Jarvis Landry, WR Miami Dolphins
Everyone was ready to declare that "Jarvis Landry was back" after a couple of nice fantasy games in Weeks 14 and 15. Well, the problem when you just look at the numbers and fantasy point totals, rather than what's really going on the field, is that you miss important indicators.
Back when Landry was the WR11 in the month of September he averaged 11.3 targets per game. His usage as an extension of the running game evaporated when Jay Ajayi began his run of dominance in October. Landry averaged 6.3 targets from Weeks 5 to 12 before popping up for 14 targets in a blowout loss to Baltimore. Right after that, despite the two big games, the target problems reappeared, as he totaled just 10 targets in his two big weeks.
Just like you got fooled by that "Rolling Stone" Top-50 albums of 2016 list you probably got fooled by Landry's big games. I mean, seriously, Dawes' "We're All Gonna Die" down at 48 and Green Day up there at No. 14, are you kidding me? What year is this, "Rolling Stone?" There's one reason why Landry put up those big games despite the limited volume: yards after the catch. Landry led the NFL with a whopping 171 yards after the catch from weeks 14 to 15. The next highest yards after the catch figure was hipster favoriteCameron Meredith with 129.6.
It's nice that he can make plays like that, but from a fantasy perspective you just can't count on those big open field plays every week when he has such little volume coming his way. You already saw the pushback come in Week 16 when Landry totaled three catches for just 29 yards off of six targets. If you're playing Week 17 fantasy, it should be just for total points scored anyway -- everyone who knows what's up gets that. And with that little target volume, you just can't count on Landry for the big-point upside. - Harmon
DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans
So here we are. Week 17. And still playing fantasy football? Yep. Bunch of sheep, all of you. The ideal way to play fantasy is to end your season in Week 16. Only a handful of NFL teams actually have something to play for, but many that are out of the playoff hunt do not. So it makes setting a fantasy lineup more awkward than trying to pull off boot-cut jeans with sneakers. Skinny jeans are the only way to go, obviously.
Let's look at a player who was an absolute stud early in the year. Titans' running back DeMarco Murray, most fantasy owners might think, is a great play against the Texans on Sunday. Well actually, he's not. If you have been following trends lately, you'd know this already. I mean, what the hell else do you need to see to get off the Murray bandwagon?
It makes sense if you think the Titans will lean on Murray and the ground game with Matt Cassel starting in place of an injured Marcus Mariota (out, leg). Yeah, it makes sense if you live in a cookie-cutter "luxury" apartment on Sunset Boulevard. But if you're living in a yurt off the coast of Central America and only listen to football games on AM radio frequencies, then you get me. Why would the Titans want to wear out their veteran back who already has a ton of tread on his tires? He's already been overworked and his productivity has dropped off of late. They have a fresh young rookie in Derrick Henry who could use some reps anyway.
Since Week 11, Murray has just two total touchdowns and zero 100-yard rushing games. In Weeks 1 to 10, he posted 10 total touchdowns and five 100-yard rushing games. His volume has also decreased. He was averaging 24 carries per game in Weeks 4 through 8, but that number dropped to 18 carries per game in Weeks 11 through 16. Sad, really. His efficiency has suffered down the stretch, too. Murray has averaged just 3.6 yards per carry since Week 11 compared to his 4.8 yards per carry in Weeks 1 through 10. It's pretty evident that he's run out of gas. Oh, gas prices are down? Let's all start buying trucks and SUVs again! I hear there's a new bigger and better Hummer out! Let's be realistic, if you're not driving at least a hybrid or a Tesla at this point, you're basically just destroying the planet along with all of the other disrespectful humans contributing to the Earth's overheating.
DeMarco Murray is definitely not sustainable as a fantasy start in Week 17, so lean towards more organic options with more biodegradable upside, please. - Franchise
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins
This guy likes Creed. Wait, you want more analysis? Just the fact that this dude likes Creed isn't enough for you, I see.
Mat Kearney? The only thing left to lose is your fantasy matchup.
The Fray? You found me putting Cousins on my bench.
Honestly, he can't be serious with these music choices. This is taking "dad" to a whole new level. I mean, Kirk Cousins has been awesome in fantasy all season, averaging 308.7 passing yards per game, but we need to reconsider everything we believed about him now.
OK, so if you want some real analysis on Kirk Cousins' matchup this week and why he's not a great fantasy option, we'll touch on that too. Cousins has made much of his earned good reputation on deep passes this year. He's second only to Matt Ryan with a 118.6 passer rating on passes that travel 20-plus yards in the air. He's thrown nine touchdowns to just two interceptions on deep passes.
In Week 17, a must-win scenario for his team's playoff chances, Cousins faces a Giants defense that has limited deep passers all season. The Giants allow a 60.1 passer rating (seventh-lowest) on throws that travel over 20-plus yards in the air. New York has also collected a league-leading seven interceptions against deep passes this year. We know Kirk Cousins has been susceptible to throwing interceptions in bunches throughout his career. I guess I would be too if I listened to Switchfoot during my preparation.
Of course, you can make the argument that Cousins did well when throwing deep against the Giants in their first meeting. He completed three of his six passes that traveled 20-plus yards in the air for 99 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. That's fine, but the Giants defense has only gotten better as the year has worn on. Over the last month, quarterbacks have completed just 57.7 percent of their passes against the Giants with a four-to-five touchdown-to-interception ratio. - Harmon
Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
Sure, maybe he's one of only two tight ends with over 1,000 receiving yards this season, but Greg Olsen has been a detriment to fantasy squads right when we needed him the most. He started hot but has fizzled out down the stretch, kind of like Passion Pit; Had a huge debut album that launched them into the mainstream and we haven't heard much about the band since. Couldn't handle the spotlight apparently. Does that even make sense? No? Good. That's the point.
Olsen hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 9 and only has three the entire season. In Weeks 1 through 9, Olsen was averaging 10.9 standard fantasy points per game. In Weeks 10 through 16, he averaged a meager 5.4 standard points per game. That'll send your fantasy team packing like Rex Ryan in Buffalo. Too soon? Don't care! And you want to start this guy in Week 17? What's wrong with you? Might as well go to Starbucks for a breakfast "sandwich" and a blonde roast. Can't really get any worse than that.
Add to Olsen's late-season decline the fact that the Panthers have to travel to Tampa Bay this week. The Bucs have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends over the last month. That includes zero touchdowns and a mere 40.25 receiving yards per game to the position.
If you want to sink your fantasy season into the black hole that is Greg Olsen in the final week of the regular season, that's up to you. But if it's the fantasy promised land you're seeking, buy a ticket on Virgin Galactic and start a guy like Charles Clay instead. Boom, roasted. Fare trade coffee beans roasted that is. Delicious. - Franchise
Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders
Michael Crabtree has been on a tear recently, as he has 90 yards and/or a touchdown in all but one of his last five games. He's the type of vintage veteran receiver I love, so it hurts to write this.
Look, just because something is like, overall great, it doesn't meant there won't be a few slip-ups here and there. I can't even tell you how much I dig Oskar Blues Brewery. Dales Pale Ale is my favorite beer of all time, obviously their IPA is killer and the four-pack of Deviant Dales is so clutch for a good movie night in when some neighbors have people over to their living space. Even the Mama's Little Yella Pills is a great choice for when you want to drink during the day but don't want to get down with all those mainstream light beers. With all that being said, I still just can't really enjoy their Old Chub scotch ale. Just not my style.
For one, there's the fact that Matt McGloin will be under center this week. McGloin has a career 5.9 adjusted yards per attempt mark and 76.1 passer rating. That's not what we would call "good." However, it's really the matchup with the Denver cornerbacks that is the real worry. All three of them have been fantastic this year. Aqib Talib allows a 55.3 passer rating in coverage, Chris Harris a 54.1 rating and 72.5 for Bradley Roby, according the Next Gen Stats.
In Crabtree's last meeting with the Broncos he totaled just 27 yards on two catches. Bradley Roby shut him out on 17 pass plays, not giving up a single catch on the four targets Crabtree saw when facing him. Chris Harris covered him on 15 other pass plays, and allowed the receiver's two catches of the day, but otherwise held him in check. Crabtree at least had Derek Carr's help that day.
With bad quarterback play likely to litter this game with McGloin under center and the Denver offense falling apart, we can expect this to be a low-scoring affair. That's not the sort of environment you want to pick upside fantasy plays from. You can pass on Crabtree this week, it's all good. You can still rock this vintage stud next season in fantasy. You don't have to try every Oskar Blues beer at the local tasting, either. Just stick with what we know is righteous. Your lame friends probably don't even know that brew exists, anyways, so you're still showing you're better than them.