For the final time this season in "Fantasy Audibles" I'll use the SAP Player Comparison Tool to help you make the right decisions when it comes to difficult lineup dilemmas. The tool uses several factors to help make an educated suggestion, including past performance, matchup, consistency, upside and intangibles. It finally appears as if the tool is fully operational (though not 100 percent reliable), so I'll use a combination of the tool and old-fashioned fantasy methods to help make a determination on three difficult Week 17 matchup decisions below. Let's take a look at the start/sit questions haunting some of our fantasy readers and try to help them set a winning lineup.
Who should I start at QB: Matt Ryan or Tom Brady?
Matt Ryan has been having a truly underrated real life and fantasy season. He's been piloting the league's top offense with aplomb, and it's not just because he has Julio Jones. On the year, Ryan has completed 74 percent of his passes for 3,300 yards (8.8 YPA) with 29 touchdowns and three interceptions to players not named Julio Jones. The good news for Ryan and his fantasy owners this week, however, is that Jones is back and should see the field a decent amount (he played around 60 percent of the snaps last week) against a suspect New Orleans secondary (ranked 30th against the pass). The Falcons are also playing to lock up the No. 2 seed, so there's little fear of Ryan not finishing the game.
Like the Falcons, the Patriots are still playing to secure home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, so Tom Brady and company will be ready to rock against the Dolphins this week. The Dolphins have tightened up a leaky secondary from earlier in the year, but have been getting gashed on the ground. Over the last month they've allowed roughly 5.6 yards per carry to opposing backs, which could be how the Patriots attack this matchup. Tom Brady is battling a thigh injury, so the team could look to use it's talented trio of backs, especially LeGarrette Blount, to hammer the Dolphins into submission. Brady still has a sky-high ceiling though if the Pats do decide to take to the air, but with Brady and a number of his pass-catchers (Malcolm Mitchell, Martellus Bennett) dealing with injuries too, it stands to reason that New England will rely more on the run.
Verdict: Both of these quarterbacks are top options this week, but when deciding between the best of the best, Ryan's matchup and offense make him the better choice. His defense could also give up plenty of scores to the Saints, forcing him into a shootout game script. The New England defense on the other hand should be able to take care of Matt Moore and the Dolphins offense.
Who should I start at RB: Rob Kelley or Ty Montgomery?
After assuming the starting job for Washington in Week 8, Rob Kelley looked like a league-winning waiver-wire pickup. He averaged 22.3 carries and 107 rushing yards per game from Week 8 to Week 11, registering as the RB6 in that span (which included his bye). From Week 12 on, however, he averages just 14.4 carries and 49.4 rushing yards per game, and sits as the RB19 in that span. Kelley looked good last week, but failed to score a touchdown and suffered a minor knee injury. The team is limiting him in practice this week to keep him ready for Sunday's showdown with the Giants, who have been tough on opposing runners allowing just 3.7 yards per carry and one touchdown over the last month.
Ty Montgomery's breakout game in Week 15 (162 rushing yards, two touchdowns) feels like a distant memory after he disappointed in Week 16 with just 23 yards on nine attempts and no scores. However, that largely came as a result of Aaron Rodgers dominating the Vikings through the air and the Packers having little use for the ground attack. The Lions have been tough against the run on the year, but have allowed 100-plus rushing yards in each of the last two games, and Jordan Howard stung them for 92 three weeks ago. The Packers offense is clicking right now, so scoring chances should be plentiful for Montgomery and company. Let's just hope one or two go his way.
Verdict: While the Player Comparison Tool isn't much help here, I think ultimately the better choice is to go with Montgomery. He's attached to the better offense in what could be a higher scoring game, and has the featured role on lock down. It's a close matchup, but Kelley's injury worries me just enough to tip the scales in favor of Montgomery.
Who should I start at WR: Doug Baldwin or Allen Robinson?
Doug Baldwin set career-highs in Week 16 with 19 targets, 13 receptions and 171 yards. There's no way he replicates that insane output in Week 17, but Tyler Lockett's injury could pave the way for Baldwin to put up another solid stat line. Baldwin saw 14 targets last week after Lockett left the game with a broken leg, and he'll be Russell Wilson's top target as the Seahawks look to fight for the No. 2 seed in the NFC against the 49ers on Sunday. The 49ers have allowed 29 passing touchdowns on the year, with 22 of those going to wide receivers (second-most in the league). Baldwin has yet to post back-to-back 100-yard games in his career, but this is looking like a good chance for him to buck that trend.
Allen Robinson found new life with interim head coach Doug Marrone calling the shots last week. He saw double-digit targets for just the second time since Week 11, and posted a season-high 147 receiving yards against an overmatched Tennessee secondary. Up next is another juicy matchup as Robinson will go against a Colts secondary allowing 256.6 passing yards per game (eighth-most in the league). Blake Bortles also played his best game of the year last week, posting season-highs in completion percentage, passer rating and yards per attempt. If he can keep his play elevated to even a passable level, Robinson could be in line for another solid outing.
Verdict: While Robinson's resurgence is nice (albeit, too little too late), it seems the numbers are lining up for Baldwin to be the better play here. The 49ers were just gashed for 134 yards from the slot two weeks ago, where Baldwin lines up 74 percent of the time, and he's a better player than the trio of Falcons receivers who accumulated those yards. Robinson is in a good spot too, but there's always a chance Bortles turns back into a pumpkin after last weekened's impressive display.