2016 Fantasy Football: Things To Watch For In Week 17
The regular season is coming to a close today and most season-long fantasy seasons have come to an end. However, now-a-days running a successful fantasy football team is a 12-month job. You have to keep up with college players, the draft and, of course, blossoming stars. While Week 17 may not matter on your fantasy scoreboard, what transpires could greatly impact your DFS playoff weeks and next season. Dynasty owners should pay particularly close attention. Teams that are out of it will want to see what they have in their young talent, especially if they have expiring contracts in front of them on the depth chart. Playoff teams will be worrying more about next week than this week, so DFS players beware.
Players to watch for next season
QB Zach Mettenberger, TEN
Marcus Mariota has been ruled out for the season finale and Mettenberger will get the start. Marcus Mariota is clearly the future in Tennessee after being picked with the second-overall pick last season and showing plenty of promise this season. Still, Mettenberger is young QB with a ton of arm talent. Many general managers are very high on him. If he can put together a nice game and leave a strong last impression, he could have a lot of value in the offseason. You should be scouting him as well, he may very well be a starter in the very near future.
QB A.J. McCarron, CIN
McCarron is in a similar situation as Mettenberger. Andy Dalton pretty much has that job locked up in Cincy. McCarron is less likely to be traded but very well could be moved. What he lacks in pure arm talent, he makes up for in confidence and a history of being a proven winner. The Bengals will likely hold on to him for another year. Although he had a great year, you can only have so much faith in Dalton as the long-term answer.
QB Brock Osweiler, DEN
It’s become abundantly clear that Peyton Manning is not the future in Denver and Brock Osweiler is the man right now. However, he’s far from a sure bet to be the Broncos’ long-term answer. He is still auditioning for the starting job moving forward. He has shown flashes both good and bad. Now in his fourth season, the Broncos will have to make a decision on whether or not he’s their future. How he performs both this week and the playoffs could have a major impact on that decision.
QB Sam Bradford, PHI
Chip Kelly said he “certainly” wanted Bradford to sign an extension in Philly. Well, now Kelly has been fired and Bradford’s future with the Eagles is very much in doubt. I would be shocked if he was an Eagle next season. More so than playing for his job in Philly, he may be auditioning for the other 31 NFL teams.
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI
It is clear that the Bears are grooming Langford to be the feature back moving forward. Matt Forte is pushing 30 and his contract is about to expire. We are going to see Langford’s fantasy value skyrocket this offseason. This is one last chance to decide just how good he is. Don’t be shocked if he’s a borderline RB1 heading into next year’s draft.
RB Jay Ajayi, MIA
Lamar Miller is another back with an expiring contract. The only difference is he’s just 24 years old and entering the prime of his career. However, the Dolphins are strapped for cash due to salary cap issues and have a lot of tough decisions to make this offseason. Along with Miller, Cameron Wake and Reshad Jones could be unfortunate cap casualties. We have been seeing Ajayi get more and more touches and should get a good look at him this week. If the Phins let Miller walk, Ajayi will be a big time name next summer.
RB Tre Mason, STL
Clearly Todd Gurley is the future in St. Louis. Nonetheless, he will not be playing Week 17. After a strong rookie season, Mason has been cast aside thanks to Gurley more than living up to his lofty expectations. Mason could be major trade bait this offseason. He would have been drafted as a high-end RB2 this year at worst had the Rams not drafted Gurley. He will be playing for a starting job somewhere.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF
Williams looked great early in the season before piling up injuries. They should get a good long look at their breakout rookie this week. Yes, Mike Gillislee is in the mix, but no one believes he’s the future. He’ll be fighting for a roster spot come training camp. LeSean McCoy could see his career begin to spiral quickly coming off another knee injury. Shady has racked up a lot of snaps and touches in his career and Williams could be the starter in Buffalo much sooner than later.
RB David Johnson, ARZ
Johnson will be the starter in Arizona until or if Chris Johnson returns. He has done a great job thus far. Andre Ellington is clearly not the future, he can’t stay healthy at all. Talented kid, but lacks any durability. Chris Johnson is in the twilight of his career and has a year or two left at best. Johnson is going to be a big time player and you should scout him this week and in the playoffs. He may be a very high draft pick next season and dynasty owners should do whatever they can to get their hands on him.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA
Rishard Matthews is not expected to play this week and Parker will draw another start. After a slow start due to a foot injury, he has really come on strong late in the season. He’s averaged 90 yards over the past two games and has made a catch of 30 or more yards in four of the last five games and two TD passes during that span. He’s going to be a big time sleeper with huge upside next season.
WR Devin Funchess, CAR
Ted Ginn Jr has been ruled out for Week 17 as has running backs Jonathan Stewart and Fozzy Whittaker. This should cast the rookie Funchess into a very prominent role as the WR1. It’s also important to note that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are much better against the run than the pass. If Funchess has a big finish to his season, it will be interesting to see how it impacts both him and Kelvin Benjamin heading into next season.
Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN
DGB is perhaps the most polarizing of the rookie wideouts. The talent is undoubtedly there from a physical standpoint, however, there are also so many questions surrounding this young man. Can he play his position? Does he have the work ethic? Can he stay out of trouble? Does he understand offensive or defensive systems? On top of all that, he has inexperienced quarterbacks and no talent around him. He’s a guy you’re going to have to watch very closely to really understand how he’s progressing. His upside is immense.
TE Clive Walford, OAK
I said that Walford was far and away the best rookie TE prior to the draft and after watching the season, I believe it even more now. He is going to be a star in this league. Watch him this week and see why he should be a borderline TE1 next season.
TE Nick O’Leary, BUF
O’Leary I ranked as the rookie TE3 heading into the season. Charles Clay has been ruled out with a back injury and O’Leary has been named the Week 17 starter. I am very interested to see how he looks on Sunday. Dynasty owners should definitely have him on their radar. Clay has a long injury history and is a safe bet to miss at least a few games in a season.
Pretty much everything is still up in the air in the AFC as far as seeding goes. As of now the Patriots are the No. 1 seed with a 12-3 record, however, if the Dolphins somehow beat the Patriots and Broncos beat the Chargers, the Pats would drop to the No. 2 seed and the Broncos would be the top seed via head to head tie breaker. If the Broncos lose and the Chiefs win, the Broncos will fall to a wildcard slot and the Chiefs will take the division. The Bengals are fighting with the Broncos for a first-round bye. If they have to play next week, they will likely be doing so without Andy Dalton. The Steelers are on the outside looking in. They need the Jets to lose to the Bills and they will have to beat the Browns to make the playoffs. The Texans are all but locked into being the AFC Champs. The Colts need a miracle to win the division.
Seed/Team Record Reason
1 New England Patriots 12-3 AFC East Champ
2 Denver Broncos 11-4 AFC West Champ,Wins tie break over Cincinnati based on head-to-head win percentage.
3 Cincinnati Bengals 11-4 AFC North Champ
4 Houston Texans 8-7 AFC South Champ
5 Kansas City Chiefs 10-5 Wins tie break over NY Jets based on best win percentage in conference games.
6 New York Jets 10-5 Wild Card
7 Pittsburgh Steelers 9-6 One game behind Jets but holds tie breaker
If the 14-1 Carolina Panthers lose, they can actually be jumped by the Arizona Cardinals. Although, both teams have locked up a first-round bye. The 10-5 Packers will play the 10-5 Vikings on Sunday night for the NFC North Crown. The loser will still have a wild card slot. The Redskins are locked in as the No. 4 seed and the Seattle Seahawks are locked in as a wild card. No team not in and can still make it.
Seed/Team Record Reason
1 Carolina Panthers 14-1 NFC South Champ
2 Arizona Cardinals 13-2 NFC West Champ
3 Green Bay Packers 10-5 NFC North Champ, Wins tie break over Minnesota based on head-to-head win percentage.
4 Washington Redskins 8-7 NFC East Champ
5 Minnesota Vikings 10-5 —
6 Seattle Seahawks 9-6 Wild Card
Who plays? Who rests?
New England Patriots
They really aren’t playing for much and have an easy matchup with the Dolphins. Nonetheless, you know the Pats are going to drop 50 on their division rivals, because that’s just what they do. I fully expect them to play every able body.
The Texans are pretty much a lock to win the division the Colts need:
>>Colts beat Tennessee.
>>Jacksonville beats Houston.
>>Miami beats New England.
>>Denver beats San Diego.
>>Atlanta beats New Orleans.
>>Baltimore beats Cincinnati.
>>Buffalo beats the New York Jets.
>>Oakland beats Kansas City.
>>Pittsburgh beats Cleveland.
Still, the Texans are going to play their starters. They just aren’t good enough to take chances or rest their players.
It sounds like the Panthers aren’t overly concerned with the No. 1 seed. They are going to play their starters, but are not going to take any risks. Any player with a bump or bruise will be relegated to bench duty. If they get a comfortable lead, look for them to get their starters out of the game in the second half. They will play to win, but will not take unnecessary risks.
Head coach Bruce Arians has made it clear that he has no interest in resting his players. He is playing the game to win. Carson Palmer has also expressed his displeasure at the notion he could rest this week. It sounds like the Cards are all in this week and against the Seahawks, it’s unlikely there is a blowout in either direction.
Head coach Jay Gruden has strongly hinted that the team will rest their players this week. Anybody that is at all banged up will sit out and everyone else probably won’t play too long. We would advise avoiding all Redskins this week.
It’s unclear what the Seahawks will do playing for virtually nothing, however, I expect them to play to win. They are finally hitting their stride and coming off a bad loss. They don’t want to go into the playoffs on bad note like that. I expect them to play their starters all game, much like the Cardinals.