Jesse Pantuosco

Power Rankings

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Week 17 Power Rankings

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Ugh, it’s this week again. In the grand scheme of human existence, there are much worse weeks than New Year’s. But for fantasy purposes, Week 17 may as well be that equation on the blackboard in Good Will Hunting. That’s why the majority of season-long leagues wrap up, as they should, in Week 16.

 

But even if you’re not setting a lineup in season-long this week, there’s still money to be won on FanDuel and DraftKings, so let’s run through what’s at stake.

 

Teams with Something to Play For: The Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars and Chiefs have already clinched their respective divisions, leaving the Bills, Chargers, Ravens and Titans to fight it out for the final two Wild Card spots. All four teams chasing the Wild Card kick off at 4:25 PM ET, so there’s no possibility of any of them resting their starters. This was by design as the NFL altered Sunday’s schedule so no team would have an unfair advantage. New England and Pittsburgh are already locked into first-round byes but home-field advantage is still at stake, so expect studs like Rob Gronkowski and Le’Veon Bell to play their usual snaps. Those teams both play at 1 PM ET.

 

In the NFC, the Vikings can secure a first-round bye with a win over the Bears in Week 17. They hold the tiebreaker over the Rams and Saints (who they’ve already beaten this year) but need a win to stay in front of the Panthers, who they lost to in Week 14. The Vikings play before the Panthers on Sunday, but Carolina will still have plenty to play for even if Minnesota takes care of business against Chicago. The Panthers can capture the NFC South with a win (they’ll be in Atlanta this week) and a New Orleans loss (the Saints are at Tampa Bay).

 

While the Vikings, Saints and Panthers are all playing for seeding, Atlanta and Seattle are still in a tug-of-war for the final Wild Card spot in the NFC. The Falcons hold the tiebreaker by virtue of their win over the Seahawks in Week 11, so they’re in as long as they beat the Panthers. The Seahawks are seeking their sixth straight playoff appearance but can only accomplish that with a win (they host Arizona) and a Falcons loss. Both games kick off at 4:25 PM ET.

 

Teams Likely to Rest Starters: Based on what transpires Sunday, the Rams will be either the three or four-seed in the NFC. Already assured of a home playoff game in Round One, the NFC West champs don’t have much incentive to play their starters this week. In fact, if the Rams fall to the No. 4 seed, they’d have a better chance of drawing the Eagles (no Carson Wentz) in the Divisional Round, which may be preferable to playing at Minnesota or Carolina in Round Two.

 

The Chiefs can’t move up or down in the AFC: they’re locked in as the No. 4 seed. That makes Week 17 essentially meaningless for them, so expect Alex Smith, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt to ride the pine on Sunday. First-round rookie Patrick Mahomes could debut in Week 17, though he won’t be an appealing DFS gamble at Denver.

 

Editor’s Note: Nobody hit FanDuel’s Golden 5 jackpot this season, meaning the prize has grown to a massive $340,000. And this week, regardless of whether or not someone hits a perfect lineup, they’re giving away that $340K to whoever wins this week’s final contest. Play FREE for your shot at $340,000!

 

The Rest: The Jaguars have already sewn up the No. 3 seed in the AFC but coach Doug Marrone still plans on going full throttle Sunday at Tennessee. Coming off an ugly loss to the Niners in Week 16, Jacksonville’s starters could probably use the extra reps. On the surface, the Eagles don’t have much to play for on Sunday—they’ll be the No. 1 seed in the NFC regardless of what occurs this week. But the Eagles clearly have some kinks to work out after barely beating the Raiders on Monday night, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Nick Foles and the rest of Philly’s starters play at least some portion of Week 17. Obviously, this is a situation to avoid in fantasy.

 

No team has more on the line than the winless Browns this week. Expect them to give the Steelers everything they have on Sunday. C.J. Anderson, Ezekiel Elliott and Frank Gore are all within striking range of 1,000 yards rushing while T.Y. Hilton, Mike Evans, Robby Anderson, Marquise Goodwin and Golden Tate are nearing 1,000 yards on the receiving side. None of those players have the playoffs to look forward to, so expect them to give their all in Week 17.

 

With all that in mind, let’s get to the Power Rankings, where the Patriots are No. 1 for the second straight week.

 

1. New England Patriots

 

Record: 12-3

 

Last Week: 1

 

We finally had a Mike Gillislee sighting in Week 16, but the day belonged to Dion Lewis, who exploded for a career-high 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) as New England rolled to an easy win over Buffalo. The Patriots have won at least 12 games in each of their last eight seasons. You’ll never guess how many catches Rob Gronkowski has this year. Actually, if you're familiar with Gronk’s sense of humor, you probably will.

 

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Record: 12-3

 

Last Week: 3

 

JuJu Smith-Schuster shrugged off a slow first half (one catch for -2 yards) to finish with 75 yards and a touchdown in a Christmas day win over Houston. He leads all rookies with six receiving touchdowns this season. Le’Veon Bell trails league-leader Todd Gurley by only 14 rushing yards heading into Week 17. If Bell makes up the ground, he’ll be the first Steeler to lead the league in rushing since Bill Dudley in 1946.

 

3. Minnesota Vikings

 

Record: 12-3

 

Last Week: 4

 

The offense sputtered but Minnesota’s defense picked up the slack on Saturday as the Vikings shut out the Packers at Lambeau Field for the first time in franchise history. Pro Bowl snub Harrison Smith led the way with two interceptions, giving him five for the year. That matches his career-high set in 2014. Meanwhile Stefon Diggs has followed up a four-game touchdown drought by scoring in back-to-back weeks. His seven touchdowns this season are as many as he had in his previous two years combined.   

 

4. Philadelphia Eagles

 

Record: 13-2

 

Last Week: 2

 

The Eagles locked up home-field advantage with a win over Oakland on Monday night, but they didn’t make it look easy. Alshon Jeffery was held without a catch while Nick Foles threw an interception, ending his streak of 170 straight passes without a pick. On the plus side, the Eagles still haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher this year. In fact, the last player to rush for 100 yards on Philadelphia was Matt Jones in Week 6 of 2016. Jay Ajayi’s receiving touchdown on Monday was the first of his career.

 

5. Los Angeles Rams

 

Record: 11-4

 

Last Week: 5

 

I remember avoiding Todd Gurley like the plague in fantasy drafts this summer. Big mistake. Gurley finished the fantasy season with a flourish, erupting for 456 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns in Weeks 15-16. He and Jamaal Charles are the only players this decade to record at least 10 rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns in the same year. Jared Goff’s 28 touchdown passes this season are the most by a Rams quarterback since Kurt Warner threw 36 en route to winning his second MVP award in 2001.

 

6. New Orleans Saints

 

Record: 11-4

 

Last Week: 6

 

Pro Bowl rookie Marshon Lattimore stole the show with his “Butt Interception” in Sunday’s win over Atlanta, which helped the Saints clinch their first playoff berth since 2013. Lattimore’s college teammate Michael Thomas is just one catch away from tying Jimmy Graham’s team record of 99 set in 2011. Mark Ingram is the first Saint to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons since Deuce McAllister, who went over 1,000 yards each year from 2002-04.

 

7. Carolina Panthers

 

Record: 11-4

 

Last Week: 8

 

The Panthers needed Cam Newton to rescue them again in Week 16. His rushing touchdown with 35 seconds left propelled Carolina to a narrow win over Tampa Bay. Newton needs 46 rushing yards in this week’s regular season finale to match his career-high of 741 set in 2012. Christian McCaffrey’s 75 receptions this year are the most by a rookie running back since Reggie Bush nabbed 87 catches for the Saints in 2006.  

 

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Record: 10-5

 

Last Week: 7

 

Jacksonville’s defense laid an egg against Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday but Keelan Cole came to play with his second straight 100-yard game. He ranks fourth among rookies with 715 receiving yards. Leonard Fournette is limping into the playoffs both literally and figuratively. He’s averaged just 3.15 yards per carry over his last six games while battling ankle and quad injuries. Prior to Jacksonville’s loss to San Francisco in Week 16, no game had ever ended with a final score of 44-33. Scorigami!

 

9. Kansas City Chiefs

 

Record: 9-6

 

Last Week: 14

 

Make that three straight postseason appearances for the Chiefs, who wrapped up the AFC West with a victory over Miami in Week 16. Kareem Hunt stayed hot by ripping the Dolphins for 106 yards (91 rushing, 15 receiving) on Sunday. He’s racked up 450 yards from scrimmage with four touchdowns over his last three outings. Tyreek Hill’s 1,183 receiving yards this season are the most by a Chief since Tony Gonzalez went for 1,258 yards in 2004. Merry Christmas from Andy Claus!

 

10. Atlanta Falcons

 

Record: 9-6

 

Last Week: 9

 

Julio Jones didn’t look right in warmups but soldiered through a thumb injury in Week 16, filling the stat sheet with seven catches for 149 yards in a loss to New Orleans. Sunday was Julio’s fourth 100-yard game of the season. Matt Ryan finished second in the league with 38 touchdown passes in 2016. This year he has half that amount.

 

11. Baltimore Ravens

 

Record: 9-6

 

Last Week: 12

 

Alex Collins may be running out of gas. All he could muster was 51 yards on 18 carries against the Colts in Week 16. He’s averaged just 2.33 yards per carry over his last two outings. Joe Flacco has quietly enjoyed a stellar month, contributing seven touchdowns with just one interception in four December starts. The Ravens can lock up a playoff berth Sunday with a win over the Bengals, who they shut out back in Week 1.  

 

12. Seattle Seahawks

 

Record: 9-6

 

Last Week: 15

 

Seattle stayed in the playoff hunt with a win at Jerry’s World in Week 16. Russell Wilson threw for two touchdowns in the victory but finished with a season-low 93 passing yards. He’s been held under 150 yards in two straight games. Jimmy Graham was only targeted once in Week 16 but made the most of it by securing his 10th touchdown of the year. He’s caught just two passes for two yards over his last three games. Remarkably, J.D. McKissic is the only Seahawks running back to rush for a touchdown this season, and that came all the way back in Week 4.

 

13. Los Angeles Chargers

 

Record: 8-7

 

Last Week: 13

 

It wasn’t their most convincing win, but the Chargers kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Jets in Week 16. The Bolts are now 2-0 at MetLife Stadium this year. Antonio Gates turned back the clock with a vintage effort in Week 16, burning the Jets for a season-high 81 yards and a touchdown on six catches. With Melvin Gordon in a walking boot and Austin Ekeler nursing a broken hand, Branden Oliver may be asked to lead the backfield in Week 17.

 

14. Dallas Cowboys

 

Record: 8-7

 

Last Week: 11

 

Ezekiel Elliott didn’t show any rust in his return from a six-game suspension (118 yards on 28 touches) but it didn’t matter as the Seahawks outclassed the Cowboys in Week 16. Dez Bryant had a nightmare game for Dallas, dropping two passes (including one that led to an interception) and also losing a fumble. Barring a miraculous Week 17, he’ll finish under 1,000 yards receiving for the third straight season. Reigning Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott has gone without a touchdown pass in five of his last seven games.

 


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Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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