Raymond Summerlin

Waiver Wired

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Waiver Wire: Week 17

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Welcome to the 17th and final edition of Waiver Wired for the 2017 season. If you are still reading this, you should seriously lobby your commissioner to push the championship game up a week, especially with so many meaningless games on the schedule.

In the AFC, the top two teams still have a shot at the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, so both New England and Pittsburgh have incentive to give their all. The race at the bottom is also tight, with the Ravens, Titans, Chargers, and Bills all with a chance at a playoff berth.

The middle seeds are set in the AFC, however, and while the Jaguars are unlikely to pull off the gas coming off a bad loss and in a meaningful game against Tennessee, there are already rumblings we will see Patrick Mahomes and a host of backups in a game against a Broncos team already looking toward the offseason. The Bengals, Raiders, Jets, Browns, and Dolphins will all play in games which mean something to the other side, but they have nothing but pride for which to play. Neither the Texans nor Colts will have anything on the line when they face off on Sunday.

The NFC has fewer playoff spots up for grab, but it does sport the most compelling matchup with the Panthers traveling to Atlanta for a game which means something for both sides. A win would put Atlanta into the postseason – a Seahawks loss would do the same – while a Panthers win would give them a shot at the NFC South title and a home playoff game. If the Falcons falter, Seattle could sneak into the playoffs with a win, the Saints could lock up the NFC South with a victory, and both the Rams and Vikings could solidify their seeding with wins.

The team at the top of the conference has nothing to play for, however, after the Eagles locked up the No. 1 seed with their win on Monday night. It is unclear if they will rest Nick Foles, who probably could use as many reps as possible heading into the playoffs, but it would not be surprising if their skill plays played a little less than usual against a Cowboys teams which is already out of the playoff hunt. The 49ers, Bears, Cardinals, and Bucs also have nothing but pride to play for despite their opponents still being in the mix, and the Packers, Lions, Redskins, and Giants will participate in games with zero playoff implications.

So, to recap, 12 teams have something left to play for in the final weekend, two teams will likely be resting some of their players if not all of their starters, and the rest of the league is just playing out the string. Happy Week 17!  

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1. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
If Garoppolo is going to do that against the Jaguars, he can be used in any matchup.

2. Joe Flacco, Ravens 
Cincinnati is not as good a matchup with the defense getting back healthy, but Flacco has turned into a consistently safe option.

3. Tyrod Taylor, Bills 
Taylor is never going to bring much in the passing game, but he rushed for 42 yards and a score against the Dolphins in Week 15.

Desperation Station:
Jacoby Brissett has really struggled of late, but he gets a prime matchup with the Texans…Nick Foles would be a borderline option if he plays, and there is almost no way to trust he will play the entire game even if he starts.

1.  Giovani Bernard, Bengals
– It seems unlikely Joe Mixon will be rushed back from an ankle injury for a meaningless game, meaning Bernard should be the lead back against Baltimore. That has resulted in good fantasy outings as of late.

2. Branden Oliver, Chargers 
– He will only be an option if Melvin Gordon’s ankle injury keeps him out and Austin Ekeler’s hand injury continues to limit him solely to special teams. If that happens, though, he will be in a good spot against the Raiders.

3. Kerwynn Williams, Cardinals – Williams has not been doing a lot with the work and has a tough matchup, but he is a good bet for 17-20 touches.

4. Peyton Barber, Bucs 
– Barber is in a similar position as Williams with less opportunity certainty.

5. Charcandrick West, Chiefs -- It will depend on what the Chiefs decide to do with their starters, but West would be the lead back if Kareem Hunt is given a rest. 

6. Mike Gillislee, Patriots
– He did get a touchdown, but Dion Lewis dominated the backfield work. Still, Gillislee will be a touchdown-or-bust option if James White and Rex Burkhead remain sidelined.

7. Mike Davis, Seahawks
– Davis is usable because he continues to get the work, but we have seen nothing to suggest he is going to have success in a tough matchup against the Cardinals.

8. Alfred Blue, Texans 
– Blue has seen more carries than Lamar Miller two games in a row and gets a good matchup against the Colts.

Desperation Station:
Tion Green was close to being on the must-add list, but he got just seven carries and played only 13 snaps against the Bengals. That said, it makes sense for the Lions to give him an extended run out in the finale...In a game which does not matter for their seeding, the Jaguars could decide to rest Leonard Fournette more than usual. That would be good news for T.J. Yeldon, who was targeted 10 times against the 49ers…Samaje Perine was able to play through his Achilles injury, but his practice reps will be something to watch this week. If he sits, Kapri Bibbs would be an option…Despite some pregame concern, Alex Collins worked as the clear lead back. Even so, Buck Allen and Danny Woodhead will continue to get touches…Wayne Gallman looks like the Giants’ No. 1 back, but it is hard to trust anyone in that running game…Matt Breida is a good bet for 10 touches in a pretty good matchup…C.J. Anderson is the clear lead back, but Devontae Booker has at least 11 touches each of the last three games.

1. Keelan Cole, Jaguars
Allen Hurns could return this week, but Cole has done too much with his targets to be taken out of the game plan.

2. Dede Westbrook, Jaguars 
Westbrook may have been passed by Cole in the pecking order, but he had a fine game against the 49ers and has another good matchup this week.

3. Josh Doctson, Redskins 
It was a horrifically inefficient outing, but it was still great to see Doctson get 13 targets. Now he gets a much better matchup against the Giants.

4. Kenny Golladay, Lions 
He did not do much with them, but he saw eight targets against the Bengals, three more than Marvin Jones and two more than Golden Tate.

Desperation Station:
Chris Godwin would be much more interesting if we knew DeSean Jackson was not playing and he had a better matchup…If the Giants' passing game did not feel like one to avoid, Roger Lewis could be an option, especially if Sterling Shepard’s injury is serious…Tyrell Williams has 13 targets the last two games and a good matchup against the Raiders…It is not his fault, but Will Fuller has not done much since returning from injury. Still, the matchup against the Colts is at least worth a look…Deonte Thompson and Tyrod Taylor had the deep ball working against the Patriots, and the Dolphins have given up a fair few of those this season…Someone will have to step up if Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams are out, but Green Bay’s passing game is not one to bet on anyway.

1. Antonio Gates, Chargers
– I doubted Gates last week, and that was a massive mistake. He has another good matchup against the Jets.

2. Charles Clay, Bills
– Clay did not take advantage of his opportunities last week, but he now has 19 targets in the last two games and has done well against his former team in the past.

3. Vernon Davis, Redskins 
– He is a risk with just two catches in each of his last four games, but he has a great matchup against the Giants.  

Desperation Station: Staying healthy has been a problem, but Vance McDonald has appeared to be the Steelers’ pass-catching tight end of choice when he has been on the field. A matchup against the Browns is a good time to test that theory…If the Eagles rest their starters, Trey Burton could end up being a big part of the passing game, and he has produced when given targets this season...Rhett Ellison showed up with four catches for 60 yards on seven targets with Evan Engram out, and the matchup against Washington is about as good as they get.

1. New Orleans Saints
The Saints were dominant against the Falcons, and the Bucs have been turnover happy as of late.

2. Washington Redskins – Washington has been a great option the last three weeks, and they could get a crack at Davis Webb in the second half.

3. Buffalo Bills – They turned over Jay Cutler three times in Week 15 and probably should have had more.

1. Robbie Gould, 49ers
Gould has been excellent since Jimmy Garoppolo took over, and the Rams have faced the 10th-most kicks this season.

2. Josh Lambo, JaguarsLambo continues to be a consistent fantasy option, and the Titans have faced the most kicks this season.

3. Graham Gano, Panthers 
Gano has been one of the most consistent kickers in the league, and he gets a good matchup in a dome to close out the season.

Raymond Summerlin is a football writer for He can be found on Twitter at @RMSummerlin.
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