The final week of the regular season is finally here, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need to leave your Week 17 matchup and DFS contests with a win. Patrick Daugherty answers your lineup questions with his Week 17 Rankings, Hayden Winks breaks down every matchup in his famous Fantasy Forecast Column, and I preview Sunday's primetime bout in my Sunday Night 7 piece.
I'm also here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond.
Saints @ Panthers
*Drew Brees (thumb/knee) and Michael Thomas (hand) avoided injury designations on Friday. Having said that, motivation remains an integral factor to account for since New Orleans can get a first-round bye with a win and either a Packers (-12.5) or 49ers loss on Sunday. Of course, if the Packers win at 1p, then the Saints could still sneak into the No. 2 seed with a Niners loss that evening no matter their own outcome against Carolina. The Saints’ starters are fully expected to be on the field for kick-off, but there’s some risk to all getting pulled mid-game if Green Bay mounts a ferocious lead over David Blough and Co.
*D.J. Moore (concussion) will sit this one out, but it doesn’t matter. The Panthers approach Sunday with one goal in mind, and that’s to get Christian McCaffrey 67 more receiving yards to become just the third player in league history with 1,000/1,000 in a single season. He needs 216 total yards to topple Chris Johnson’s yards from scrimmage record set in ‘09.
Bears @ Vikings
*Having increased his ceiling with 6.2 scrambles per game since Week 12, Mitchell Trubisky was in an enticing spot even before the Vikings reportedly decided to rest a bulk of their starters to get healthy for Wild Card weekend. The Bears meanwhile are fully expected to trot out their (healthy) starters — Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller included — against Minnesota’s backup corners. The latter laid an egg against the Chiefs on Sunday night, but reminder Miller went into that one averaging 10.4 targets per game without Taylor Gabriel (concussion, out) in the five contests leading up to that one.
*Dalvin Cook (shoulder, out) and Alexander Mattison (ankle, questionable) will both likely be held back until the postseason, but it’s impossible to trust either Mike Boone or Ameer Abdullah in the interim following Monday night’s letdown against the Packers. Boone of course was benched in favor of Abdullah for game flow (and outright ineffectiveness) in the second half, so their split six days later with Sean Mannion under center is complete guesswork. The pivot is clearly Chicago’s D/ST for near-minimum on DraftKings despite Akiem Hicks’ (elbow) and NT Eddie Goldman’s (concussion) impactful absences in their front-seven.
Dolphins @ Patriots
*Signed mid-week to replace Myles Gaskin (ankle, IR) in their regular season finale, Samaje Perine will split carries with both Patrick Laird and De’Lance Turner as the Dolphins continue evaluating bodies for 2020.
*Sony Michel (illness) was surprisingly downgraded Saturday afternoon — a huge upgrade for Rex Burkhead given that the Patriots remain three-score favorites (-16) over Miami. The Dolphins have also faced the second-most rush attempts (458) on the season, allotting 4.4 YPC and 22.5 fantasy points per game to Burkhead's position. Julian Edelman (knee/shoulder) remained limited throughout the week but will undoubtedly suit up since the Patriots have to knock off the Fins in order to clinch a much needed first-round bye. Tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle), LB Jamie Collins (shoulder), and CBs Jonathan Jones (groin) and Jason McCourty (groin) should also play after getting in limited sessions on Friday.
Browns @ Bengals
*For what it’s worth, Odell Beckham (groin/illness) was downgraded Friday and is considered questionable to take on Cincy. Cleveland will likely be solely concentrated on keeping the rushing title in Nick Chubb's pocket, anyhow, since he holds a commanding 92-yard lead over Christian McCaffrey entering Sunday.
*Corner William Jackson (shoulder) headlines the Bengals’ short list of injuries.
Packers @ Lions
*Per Establish the Run’s Adam Levitan, Dexter Williams and Tyler Ervin have combined to play 13 snaps for the Packers all year. In other words, Aaron Jones should be locked in everywhere since Jamaal Williams (shoulder) has already been ruled out. Reminder the Packers clinch the No. 2 seed with a win over the Lions and 49ers loss on Sunday night.
*It’s more of the same for Detroit in their regular season finale as key front-seven pieces Devon Kennard (shoulder, questionable) and A’Shawn Robinson (shoulder, out) remain banged up. Oddly enough, Kerryon Johnson wasn’t listed at all after handling 10 touches on 16 snaps (32%) against the Broncos in Week 16. Johnson’s stone-minimum price isn’t the worst DFS punt (assuming other paths to value don’t open up) if looking to jam in two high-priced wideouts or running backs on FanDuel.
Jets @ Bills
*Robby Anderson (calf) heads into his final game under contract with the Jets as a true question mark, leaving his status up in the air for Sunday.
*Coach Sean McDermott claims he’ll play Buffalo’s starters (and perhaps he will), but none should see more than two quarters since the outcome here is arbitrary. Unfortunately, that tanks any fantasy value for their backups, too.
Chargers @ Chiefs
*Spencer Ware (shoulder) joined Darrel Williams on injured reserve mid-week, leaving Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy, and Darwin Thompson as Kansas City’s only healthy runners. With the Patriots listed as 16-point favorites over the Dolphins (and the Chiefs needing a New England loss for their final regular season contest to matter), it would not be shocking to see Williams leaned on as the team’s every-down back to keep McCoy rested heading into the postseason. He’s a viable RB2 and cash game option on DraftKings ($4,700) in particular.
Falcons @ Buccaneers
*Julio Jones (knee) was progressively upgraded throughout the week before finally being removed from Atlanta’s injury report altogether. With numerous opportunities to shutdown any of Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Austin Hooper, and Jones during the second half of the year, all are expected to be available for the entirety of Atlanta’s regular season finale, which has unsurprisingly been projected with the week’s highest total (47.5). Julio’s massive 41 percent target share in his last two games sans Calvin Ridley (abdomen, IR) is worth chasing across all DFS slates as the 1B pivot (or pairing) to Michael Thomas’ weekly floor.
*Jameis Winston’s (thumb) ‘questionable’ tag is a non-factor since he went through the same practice protocol as last week. It’s the last time both he and Breshad Perriman could be playing under contract with the Bucs, lending the two all the motivation they need for 60 more minutes before hitting the open market. Perriman in particular ran the second-most routes (52) at his position last week and will undoubtedly continue being used as an every-down wideout with Chris Godwin (hamstring, out) sidelined; Ismael Hyman was also waived mid-week. Justin Watson remains a cheap pivot from Perriman in DFS after the second-year specimen logged 96 percent of Tampa Bay’s snaps against the Texans.
Washington @ Cowboys
*Case Keenum will get the nod in place of Dwayne Haskins (ankle, out), but it will unfortunately have to occur without Terry McLaurin (concussion) at his disposal. That does open the door for slot wideout Steven Sims, who’s soaked up 21 targets on 73 percent of Washington’s snaps in his last two games. Keenum has historically peppered his slot wideouts — a list that includes Tavon Austin, Adam Thielen, Emmanuel Sanders — for team-highs in target shares since 2016, which bodes well for Sims, who has run 80.9 percent of his routes from the slot since entering their starting lineup in Week 14.
*Josh Norman won’t travel to Dallas even with CBs Quinton Dunbar (hamstring), Fabian Moreau (hamstring), Danny Johnson (hand), and Jimmy Moreland (foot) all sidelined for the finale. That pits Dak Prescott (shoulder) in an advantageous spot worth leveraging in DFS tourneys if his shoulder injury doesn’t limit any zip on the ball. Prescott under-threw Michael Gallup on a would be 79-yard touchdown and whiffed to Tavon Austin streaking wide-open downfield against the Eagles in Week 16.
Titans @ Texans
*Derrick Henry (hamstring) was a full participant in practice throughout the week and removed from the team’s injury report on Friday; there’s reason to believe he could’ve gone against the Saints had the Titans truly needed him. Now in a win-and-in scenario, fantasy players should expect Henry to handle every snap and carry on Sunday.
*The Texans’ injury report is one that can’t be trusted since the Chiefs have to lose to the Chargers in order for Houston to arbitrarily have a shot at moving from No. 4 to No. 3 in the AFC. Expect Deshaun Watson (back, questionable), DeAndre Hopkins (illness, questionable), Will Fuller (groin, out), and Kenny Stills (knee, questionable) to all sit this one out. It’s not a situation worth chasing even if they do play since this offense becomes borderline incompetent without Fuller, sinking Watson’s splits from 8.26 yards per attempt with a 9.2 average depth of target to 7.0 YPA and 7.4 aDOT when the former’s off the field. The pivot would obviously be Tennessee’s defense versus A.J. McCarron as they should come in under-owned relative to the field in DFS tournaments.
Steelers @ Ravens
*James Conner (shoulder) was officially ruled out, but there’s no direct backup to buoy for DFS tourneys since Jaylen Samuels (seven touches), Benny Snell (7), and Kerrith Whyte (6) were all involved once Conner left against the Jets.
*Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram (calf), Mark Andrews (ankle), Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith, Marquise Brown, Earl Thomas, and Marshal Yanda are all expected to rest before hitting their first-round bye. There’s reason to believe Baltimore’s backups have the edge over Pittsburgh’s offense, but the ‘Steel Curtain 2.0’ should still be taken seriously (especially on FanDuel) opposite Robert Griffin III and Trace McSorley. Gus Edwards and/or Justice Hill would be the pivots in an immensely tough spot that’s seen the Steelers hold opposing running backs to just 3.75 yards per carry this year.
Colts @ Jaguars
*Leonard Fournette took to his own Twitter to announce he’s out for tomorrow with the flu, so expect Ryquell Armstead to garner one of the highest ownership percentages on FanDuel since that’s where he’s priced at the minimum. Armstead wasn’t a receiving back at the collegiate level, totaling 29 receptions over four seasons at Temple, but he has hauled in 9-of-15 targets (including a seven-yard receiving score) with the Jaguars this year. It’s also logically a sneaky spot for Gardner Minshew (shoulder, questionable) to cap off his rookie year — especially since the Colts' No. 1 corner Kenny Moore (ankle, questionable) appears closer to doubtful — but motivation is a major factor since the team announced coach Doug Marrone will be dismissed following tomorrow’s final whistle. Dede Westbrook’s (neck/shoulder, questionable) status is a further detriment for Minshew, too.
Eagles @ Giants
*Zach Ertz (ribs) has already been ruled out, making Dallas Goedert the mega-chalk on every-down usage in his follow-up to last week’s season-highs in snaps (90%), targets (12), catches (9), and receiving yards (91) against Dallas. Jordan Howard (shoulder) is set to return, too, but coach Doug Pederson confirmed the free-agent-to-be would be “worked back into the backfield rotation gradually” behind Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Sanders has handled 39 of Philadelphia’s 48 backfield carries the past two weeks and remains a strong RB2 for any fantasy players chasing titles in Week 17. Fortunately for all, it sounds as if Lane Johnson (ankle, questionable) should be cleared by kick-off.
*Darius Slayton avoided the Giants’ final injury report, keeping him involved as a high-upside WR4 in three-wide sets. Fantasy players can also expect Kaden Smith to stick around since both Rhett Ellison and Scott Simonson weren’t cleared from the concussion protocol this week. Smith's elite usage recently includes 174 routes on New York’s 186 dropbacks over the past five weeks, averaging six targets per game in that stretch.
Raiders @ Broncos
*Josh Jacobs (shoulder) was officially downgraded to out against the Broncos, pinning DeAndre Washington in the exact role that allowed him to average 18.5 carries and five targets in two interim starts. Having said that, far too many bettors and fantasy players overlook the motivation stemming from both sides. Yes, the Raiders will be highly motivated and need to win (among other outcomes) to sneak into the postseason, but the Broncos are motivated if only to dash Oakland's playoff hopes — in a juicy fantasy matchup at home, nonetheless. Washington is a strong RB2 for his usage, but that shouldn’t stop the risk-averse public from weighing Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton, and Phillip Lindsay in DFS tournaments Sunday.
Cardinals @ Rams
*Arizona ominously promoted QB Drew Anderson to their active roster Saturday morning, inevitably sidelining Kyler Murray (hamstring, game-time decision) for the final game of his rookie year. Brett Hundley was miserable in his most recent stint as Green Bay’s starter in ‘17, averaging 186.6 yards and 5.95 YPA in nine full starts, but he did flash a rushing floor with six carries off the pine against Seattle last week. He’s unplayable on FanDuel ($7,000) but remains a cash game punt at the stone-minimum ($4,500) on DraftKings. Note that the Rams will be without CBs Jalen Ramsey (knee) and Troy Hill (thumb, doubtful) along the perimeter.
*Coach Sean McVay hinted Los Angeles could rest some of their key starters, but none of Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Tyler Higbee, Robert Woods, or Cooper Kupp were listed on the team’s final injury report. Rational coaching suggests the Rams sit everyone for this meaningless bout, but that’s clearly a fallacy worth leveraging in tournaments since all will come in under-owned despite having a real shot to suit up for the entire game. It’s also hard to imagine Higbee, the Rams’ best inline blocker, is removed at any point since LT Andrew Whitworth (who would line up opposite Defensive Player of the Year candidate Chandler Jones) battled a quad injury throughout the week. The team did sign John Kelly from their practice squad, though, so even Darrell Henderson’s (ankle) absence leaves three backs available on Sunday.
49ers @ Seahawks
*Seattle’s o-line remains in dire straits after Duane Brown (knee, out) underwent minor knee surgery on Monday. His absence is obviously a huge blow to their trenches as the Seahawks were already set to be handicapped with rookie Travis Homer, 33-year-old Marshawn Lynch, and mid-week acquisition Robert Turbin finding lanes in place of Chris Carson (hip, IR) and C.J. Prosise (arm, IR). Quandre Diggs’ (ankle) pending availability would certainly help matters on the defensive side of the ball since Seattle’s quietly allowed the fourth-most receptions (90) to opposing tight ends.