Week 17 is probably the most unpredictable point in the season; we are left with many questions leading into the season finale. For instance, will playoff bound teams rest their starters to ensure health going into the post season? Will non-contenders give young players more snaps for evaluation purposes? Did the Patriots cheat during that over-time coin toss??? Electing to give the Jets the ball was some serious self-destructive behavior, similar to that of an addict. Could Bill Belichick be addicted to cheating? Maybe the strong stimulant effects from “deflate gate” and “spy gate” suddenly left Bill Belichick’s system and his body was craving another bamboozlement; even if it meant cheating his own team. Makes about as much sense as any other theory, if you ask me.
When evaluating Week 17, there are some obvious choices of whom to avoid. You might want to say away from the Colts passing game, for instance. Matt Hasselbeck has sacrificed his elderly body in 2015 like Clint Eastwood at the end of Gran Torino. It appears the desperate Colts have been reduced into starting banished quarterback Josh Freeman in a home matchup with the Titans; as 40 year-old Hasselbeck angrily mouths to him from the sidelines, “get off my lawn.”
The AFC’s most intriguing teams to buy stock into this week are the Steelers (@ CLE) and the Jets (@BUF). Both teams need to win to make the playoffs and are playing two struggling defenses with little motivation. The NFC’s most appealing matchup is Vikings at Packers. The division rivals will leave any fantasy points possible on the frozen tundra in this “win or go home” battle for the NFC North title.
Let’s take a deeper look at potential exploitable matchups, hopefully we can bamboozle are way into making some money!
The bearded bomber had a career day in Week 16, piloting his team to a huge upset over the Patriots and increasing their chances of landing in the playoffs. Finishing with three touchdowns and 296 yards, Fitzpatrick will pass through the friendly skies of Buffalo’s struggling defense this week. Already equipped with the league’s best wide receiver duo in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker; Fitz has found another dynamic pass catcher out of the backfield in the electric Bilal Powell. The Bills allow the tenth most passing yards per game, and 10 opposing quarterbacks have had multiple touchdowns against them this year. Buffalo’s defense should cause very little turbulence for the Jets in Week 17.
Everyone loves the Lions offensive coordinator’s name, Jim Bob Cooter. Maybe it’s because he uses all three names similar to a serial killer, or maybe it’s because his last name is slang for female genitalia. It’s probably both, but Matt Stafford just likes him for the way he’s turned the Lions offense around. Even with nothing at stake, Stafford and the Lions have been playing motivated football since Cooter was promoted from quarterback coach to offensive coordinator. In his last two games against the Saints and 49ers, Stafford combined for 555 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions; while completing 83% if his passes. Stafford’s efficiency gives him a high floor, and his ceiling will be soaring if Calvin Johnson can get close to 100%
Most of the top-dog running backs have fantastic matchups in Week 17, so take your pick of the litter. I’m going with who I think has the best shot at a two touchdown 200 yard type of day. Surely, Gurley is that guy. The Rams rookie has scored four touchdowns in his last three games against the tough run defenses of the Lions, Bucs, and Seahawks. A tough run defense, the 49ers are not. In fact, they allow the most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Considering Gurley is arguably the best running back in the league, one should believe he’ll cap off his rookie of the year campaign with a an exclamation point in San Francisco. Just don’t call him Shirley.
The Giants four-headed running committee monster looks like it has finally been slayed. Jennings took over lead duties in Week 14 and the blue-collar back has proven capable of handling the workload. He’s had double digit fantasy points in his last three games while seeing at least 16 touches in each. The Eagles defense has completely folded, ranking 29th in run defense. They’ll probably be in a state of even more disarray after head coach Chip Kelly got the boot on Tuesday. If he’s able to find the end zone Jennings will rumble his way to a huge fantasy day at a price of just $3,700.
CJ Spiller was a healthy scratch in New Orleans victory over Jacksonville last week; meaning the Saints hate him and love Tim Hightower. Brees expressed confidence in Hightower right after Ingram suffered a season ending injury, raving about the veteran’s talent and knowledge; but what Brees loves most about Hightower is his blocking skills. Hightower’s ability to protect Brees is what kept him on the field, but he’s proven to have more left in his 29 year old tank than anyone expected. He was a PPR stud way back in 2009, but an injury plagued career ultimately kept him sidelined until now. Take advantage of Brees’ main man’s low price.
If you’re looking for a stud receiver at a slight discount, Marshall is your guy. The surprisingly good on TV personality has not only rejuvenated his own football career in 2015, he’s also helped transform the once journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick into a legit NFL starting quarterback. Brandon has failed to score a touchdown in only four games this season and has had 100 yards or more in four out of his last five games. In a must win matchup for the Jets, Marshall is a big-game player that won’t disappoint.
This Eagle has been quietly flying under the radar as we reach the season finale. In each of his past two games he’s gone over 100 yards, scored a touchdown, and caught 14 of 19 targets. Head coach Chip Kelly is gone but there’s no reason to believe the Eagles will stop riding the red hot Matthews. The Giants are ranked dead last in pass defense and have given up the fifth most fantasy points to wide receivers in PPR formats. Jordan’s production is up but his price is still low. As Philadelphia native Fresh Prince would say, “I got to tell you, this matchup looks like a piece of ‘Good God’ wrapped up in some ‘Have Mercy,’ with a side of ‘Unghm!'”
After putting up a one catch stinker in a great matchup against the Ravens last week, Bryant looks to rebound in a another plus matchup against the Browns. Cleveland’s defense has been extremely kind to wide receivers this year; opposing pass catchers know them better as the Brown-nosers. No. 2 receivers have had much success against this secondary, including Bryant himself who had 176 yards and a touchdown in their Week 10 meeting. Bryant is a sneaky tournament play who should have a low ownership percentage after letting so many down last week.
Like Mike Tyson on a hover-board, this pick is not safe. With Jimmy Graham lost for the season and Luke Willson sustaining a concussion last week, opportunity seems to be knocking on Helfet’s door. He had a decent game last week filling in for Willson who exited in the second quarter. His six targets were more than Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Locket who each saw three. Helfet finished the game with four catches for 43 yards, and showed immediate chemistry with Russel Wilson. The Cardinals give up the 17th most fantasy points to tight ends in PPR formats, so this is an average matchup in a game the Seahawks might have trouble running in. Make sure to check on Luke Willson’s status before game time.
Alshon Jeffrey was put on injured reserve, putting an end to his frustrating season. Zach Miller will be the featured pass catcher for the Bears and lead the team in targets like he did last week. Zach doesn’t have very much competition for receptions at this point in the season. Jay Cutler’s passes will be divvied up between him, Eddie Royal, and…. I’m not sure… I guess the Lions defensive backs? A tight end has scored a touchdown against Detroit in all but six games. Considering the matchup, price, and how well Miller has been playing; he is a safe no-brainer option.
Similar to your self-respect after clicking on a “Kardashian” article while browsing the web, the Colts offense has disappeared. While Courtney and Bieber might be dating and signaling the first of seven signs leading to the Apocalypse; the Colts defense has been a solid fantasy option the past six weeks. Unlike their offense, the Colts defense is remarkably healthy for this time of year and face a Titans offense that allows the most fantasy points to their opposition. Coming off a six sack performance against the Dolphins, the Colts should have no problem teeing off against the statuesque Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams 2015 defense reminds me of the last time I tried to cook dinner for my wife. I had my recipe and ingredients ready to go; confidence was high. I forgot to add the eggs and burned myself; confidence diminished. I ordered take out from the wifey’s favorite restaurant; confidence rose slightly and date night ended well. The Rams defense started out strong in 2015, then was terrible after they lost their defensive studs Robert Quin and Alec Ogletree; now they are finishing the season strong thanks to the emergence of defensive lineman Aaron Donald. 49ers QB Blaine Gabbert has been playing well but Donald and company should be in his face all day. The Rams defense sacked Russell Wilson four times last week finishing with an impressive 17 fantasy points on the road in Seattle. RAMp it up!