The fantasy matchup stats you need to know for Week 17
Jeff Ratcliffe identifies the top piece of info fantasy owners need in each of this weekend's 16 games.
The fantasy matchup stats you need to know for Week 17
That’s it. It’s closing time for the NFL regular season. One last chance to get your fantasy fix with all 32 teams still in play. It’s an odd week with injuries and playoff-bound teams resting starters significantly impacting the fantasy landscape. But whether it’s a season-long championship or DFS, here are the matchup stats to know for all 16 games this week:
Baltimore @ Cincinnati
Dennis Pitta is in play this week.
Despite ranking fourth among tight ends in targets this season with 100, Pitta sits a lowly 17th in fantasy scoring thanks to just two touchdowns, both coming in his massive Week 13 performance. However, those in need of a tight end may want to dial up Pitta this week. He’s coming off an eight-catch outing against the Steelers last week, and gets a fantastic matchup against a Bengals defense that gives up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends.
Houston @ Tennessee
Tom Savage: Yes, Matt Cassel: No
It’s a classic AFC South battle, as the Tom Savage-led Texans take on Matt Cassel and the Titans. Wow, is that ugly. But it’s Week 17, and there are potential diamonds in the rough. Savage could be one of them against an uninspiring Titans secondary that has surrendered 300-yard games to three of the last four quarterbacks they’ve faced. However, those looking to stream at quarterback will want to avoid Cassel. Houston has been a nightmare matchup with only three teams giving up fewer fantasy points per game to the position.
Carolina @ Tampa Bay
Fire up Jacquizz Rodgers.
With Doug Martin suspended and Charles Sims on injured reserve, Rodgers is poised for a big workload this week. For most of the season, that wouldn’t have been a good thing against Carolina. However, over the last five weeks, they’ve given up five rushing touchdowns to running backs. That just so happens to coincide with when Luke Kuechly went down with a concussion. He’s the straw that stirs the Panthers’ drink, and without him, they’ve struggled against the run. Bad for the Panthers, but good for Rodgers this week. He’s an RB2 with upside.
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis
Start Blake Bortles.
As much as it pains this football aficionado to recommend Bortles this week, recommend him I must. Despite his ugly season, Bortles remarkably sits on the fringes of QB1 territory and should push for a top-10 finish thanks to a fantastic matchup in the season finale. The Colts have gotten torched by opposing signal callers for most of the season, and just surrendered three scores to the Raiders.
New England @ Miami
Downgrade Jay Ajayi.
The second-year man was an absolute monster last week, but fantasy owners would be wise to downgrade Ajayi here. He gets a brutal matchup against a Patriots team playing for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. On the season, New England ranks as the third-worst fantasy matchup for running backs, and they haven’t given up a rushing score to the position since Week 8. Ajayi will continue to see heavy volume, but he’s more of an RB2 option this week.
Chicago @ Minnesota
Keep rolling with Jordan Howard.
On paper, this looks like a poor matchup for Howard, but looks can be deceiving. The Vikings rank as the seventh-worst PPR matchup for running backs, but they have struggled at times against the position. Two weeks ago, Minnesota gave up a big day to the Colts backfield, and Howard himself put up 202 scrimmage yards and a score against the Vikings in Week 8. Howard has a chance to be this week’s top fantasy running back.
Buffalo @ NY Jets
Keep starting Charles Clay.
It’s the Teams Who Have Fired Rex Ryan Bowl. There really isn’t much to say about this contest, but Clay should remain in starting lineups this week. He’s the No. 1 fantasy tight end over the last three weeks, and he gets a strong matchup against a Jets team that has given up seven touchdowns to tight ends over the last month.
Dallas @ Philadelphia
Start Zach Ertz.
This is going to bit a weird game with the Cowboys’ key starters likely to be pulled early, but there is fantasy value to be had on the Philly side of the ball. Ertz still hasn’t broken out, but he could finish the 2016 season with an exclamation point. Dallas has struggled against tight ends down the stretch giving up strong fantasy days to Cameron Brate and Eric Ebron in their last two games. Ertz is a TE1 play this week.
Cleveland @ Pittsburgh
Landry Jones is the QB streamer of the week.
In case you didn’t know it was Week 17. With the Steelers sitting Ben Roethlisberger, Jones draws the start in a pushover of a matchup against a Browns defense that currently surrenders the second most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Opposing signal callers have thrown two or more touchdown passes in 12-of-15 games against the Browns this season. He’s risky, but Jones offers a lot of upside and makes for an excellent DFS value as well.
New Orleans @ Atlanta
Seriously. Just do it. And for anyone worried about the Falcons sitting their starters, don’t be. Atlanta is currently the No. 2 seed, but they need to win or for the Seahawks to lose to keep that spot and the first-round bye that accompanies it. Fortunately, the clever NFL schedule makers have the Falcons and Seahawks both kicking off at 4:25 p.m. EST.
New York @ Washington
Kirk Cousins is risky, but potentially rewarding.
The Giants are in the playoffs no matter what, but the Redskins need to win to get in, provided the Lions and Packers don’t tie. This presents an interesting scenario for Cousins. New York is expected to play their starters, but not for the whole game. At full strength, the Giants are one of the worst fantasy matchups for quarterbacks. However, Cousins should have no problem against the backups. Ultimately, this is a game of chicken, which makes Cousins a volatile play this week.
Arizona @ Los Angeles
David Johnson is a stud.
This is one of the least appealing games on this week’s slate, but at least we get to watch Johnson one more time. His 2016 campaign has been spectacular. Johnson currently sits with 325 standard fantasy points. That’s more than any running back has scored since Arian Foster put up 328 back in 2010. Johnson needs 21 fantasy points to top last year’s champ, Devonta Freeman, by 100 points. He’s a good bet to do it.
Oakland @ Denver
Fire up Latavius Murray.
He’s been somewhat quiet over the last two weeks, but Murray is very much in play against the Broncos. With Derek Carr out, the Raiders will likely look to lean on their run game and exploit the weakness of the Denver defense. The last time these two teams met, Murray rushed for 114 yards and scored three times.
Kansas City @ San Diego
Spencer Ware is an RB1 play.
One of the most frustrating fantasy running backs this season, Ware has seen heavy volume but has only scored five touchdowns. However, he remains a strong play this week against the Chargers. Currently the No. 4 PPR matchup for running backs, San Diego gave up two rushing scores to Isaiah Crowell last week.
Seattle @ San Francisco
Thomas Rawls goes nuts this week.
There was a little concern regarding Rawls’ status, but he’s been a full participant in practice the last two days and is on track to play. That’s a very good thing if you own him, as the 49ers have been downright terrible against the run this season. San Francisco has given up a comical 26 total touchdowns to running backs with opposing backfields averaging 150 yards per game.
Green Bay @ Detroit
Aaron Rodgers ties a bow on the season.
It’s been a pretty remarkable year for Rodgers, who is playing some of the best football of his life. Despite a banged-up wide receiver corps and essentially no running game, he’s managed to top 4,000 yards and throw for a league-high 36 scores while tossing just seven interceptions. He gets a great matchup to finish things off with the Lions currently giving up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Rodgers is a good bet to be this week’s top fantasy scorer.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.