Chris Wesseling

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Week 17 Rankings

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Last updated 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 30, 2012

 

Confession: I've never played in a fantasy football league that uses the relatively unpredictable NFL regular-season finale as championship week. I have, however, participated in Dynasty leagues where the fantasy playoffs coincide with the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. As a result, I've been setting Week 17 starting lineups since the late '90s. 

 

Veterans of the fickle finale realize demonstrated production and in-depth efforts at fantasy analysis often take a back seat to liberal substitution patterns and the subsequent wild third- and fourth-quarter momentum swings featuring surprising scoring binges from bench-warmers.  

 

The best we can do is take an educated stab at which teams will be leaving their key players in for the majority of the game. For a good read on playing-time scenarios, check out Adam Levitan's helpful breakdown of each NFC and AFC playoff contender from Wednesday's Daily Dose. 

 

Ex-Colts president Bill Polian is no longer running an organization, so we don't have to worry about any team issuing an edict to limit starters to one offensive series. As Colts blogger Brad Wells points out, it seems NFL coaches have caught on to the notion that they have no control over the uncontrollable in the season's final week. 

 

The guess here is that the Falcons and Ravens are the two teams most likely to pull their starters at halftime. Baltimore is locked into the No. 4 seed barring a Patriots loss to the Dolphins in New England. Although Atlanta coach Mike Smith has vowed not to change his game-plans or schemes this week, second-half playing time is up in the air now that the NFC's No. 1 seed is under wraps. When in doubt go with fantasy-relevant players on the teams with their playoff livelihoods on the line, such as Cowboys-Redskins. Tony Romo, RGIII, Alfred Morris, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten are all no-brainer fantasy starters this week.

 

While Dez leads all fantasy receivers in points over the past five weeks, his quarterback has largely flown under the radar. Romo has more passing yards (1,769) and touchdowns (13) than any QB over that same span, ranking second only to Cam Newton in fantasy points. He faces a Redskins secondary that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season. It's hard to find a better fantasy option for the season finale. 


Week 17 Quarterbacks

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Cam Newton at NO -
2 Drew Brees vs. CAR -
3 Aaron Rodgers at MIN -
4 Tony Romo at WAS -
5 Robert Griffin III vs. DAL Probable (knee)
6 Peyton Manning vs. KC -
7 Tom Brady vs. MIA -
8 Andrew Luck vs. HOU -
9 Russell Wilson vs. STL -
10 Michael Vick at NYG -
11 Colin Kaepernick vs. ARZ -
12 Matthew Stafford vs. CHI -
13 Ben Roethlisberger vs. CLE -
14 Matt Schaub at IND -
15 Josh Freeman at ATL -
16 Eli Manning vs. PHI -
17 Jay Cutler at DET -
18 Chad Henne at TEN -
19 Philip Rivers vs. OAK -
20 Matt Ryan vs. TB -
21 Jake Locker vs. JAC -
22 Ryan Tannehill at NE -
23 Sam Bradford at SEA -
24 Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. NYJ -
25 Christian Ponder vs. GB -
26 Brian Hoyer at SF -
27 Mark Sanchez at BUF -
28 Andy Dalton vs. BAL -
29 Terrelle Pryor at SD -
30 Brady Quinn at DEN Probable (ribs)
31 Thaddeus Lewis at PIT -
32 Joe Flacco at CIN -
33 Luke McCown vs. TB -

 

Sunday Update: Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan down. 


QB Notes: Cam Newton is fantasy's No. 1 QB over the past five weeks, averaging more than 30 points per game. While the Saints run defense has stiffened, they remain a dream matchup for opposing passers. ... Even in a disappointing season without offensive guru and master play-caller Sean Payton, Brees is sitting at the top of the fantasy mountain at quarterback. He's averaging 362 yards the past four games while scoring seven times in Weeks 15-16. ... With a playoff bye on the line, a piping-hot Aaron Rodgers should be good for four quarters against the Vikings. ... Peyton Manning, though, is a candidate to be pulled early in a game that has "blowout" written all over it. ... Tom Brady could be in for a similar fate if the Pats jump out to a commanding lead in the first 2-3 quarters. 

Russell Wilson is fourth in fantasy points over the past five weeks while the Seahawks have become the first team since the 1950 Rams to score 150 points over a three-game stretch. ... Michael Vick returns from exile to face a Giants defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to QBs. Vick will be auditioning for the Jets, Bills, Cardinals, Chiefs, Jaguars, and others this week. ... Ben Roethlisberger joins Matthew Stafford in missing key passing-game weapons this week. ... I'm expecting two quarters out of Matt Ryan. If you expect more or less, adjust your rankings accordingly. ... Eli Manning has played two of the worst games of his career the past two weeks. 

Already QB2s at best, Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco can't be trusted to play all four quarters. ... Although Ryan Tannehill's season has been up-and-down, he's done one thing consistently well: Throwing an accurate deep ball. ... With Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden sitting out a second straight practice, Thad Lewis looks like the favorite to start versus a Steelers defense already starting to lick its chops. ... Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor are splitting first-team reps in practice and are both likely to see action at San Diego. 

Top 10 QBs for 2013:

1. Drew Brees, Saints

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

3. Tom Brady, Patriots

4. Peyton Manning, Broncos

5. Cam Newton, Panthers

6. Robert Griffin III, Redskins

7. Matt Ryan, Falcons

8. Matthew Stafford, Lions

9. Tony Romo, Cowboys

10. Andrew Luck, Colts 

 


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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