Waiver Favors: Week 16 Fantasy Football Pickups & Week 17 Strategy

By Ha Kung Wong  Fantasy Football Pickups

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

As I mention every week, I like nothing more than helping all of you make solid waiver pickups in your Fantasy Football league and have some part in your championship run.  That’s just the type of guy I am.  You’re welcome.  Again.

Many folks are already done with their fantasy seasons, and if so, I hope you won your Fantasy Football Championship.  With a little luck, I will have sealed up one of mine by the time you’ve read this, and I hope I had some small part to play in helping you to a successful outcome as well.

But for those still in it in Week 17, the last week of the regular season, there’s much planning left to do, and more so than any other week.  Many teams may be in danger of sporadically benching players either before or during the game to being locked into the playoffs or simply out of contention, while others may be full go trying get that last playoff berth.

So we’re taking a different approach this week.  We’re going to discuss the teams that are likely to play their starters, and the teams who are likely to sit them, so you can plan accordingly for that final championship push!

Remember, for teams that are likely not playing starters, there may be backups to look at, particularly at the RB position, that might get starring roles.  And for teams that are completely out of it, it may be audition time, so keep close track of who’s in and who’s out as we get closer to Week 17.  Or follow me on Twitter @FBGarbagetime and I’ll make sure you don’t miss it!

Teams that Will Likely Play Starters

Minnesota Vikings

Regardless of what happens with the Eagles, the Vikings still need a win in Week 17 against the Bears to make sure they get the first round bye, as they’re only one game ahead of the Panthers, who have the tie-breaker.  Since the Vikings play at 1 PM ET, before the Panthers play at 4:25 PM ET, they’ll probably have to play all their starters.  This includes:

  • Case Keenum
  • Latavius Murray
  • Adam Thielen
  • Stefon Diggs
  • Kyle Rudolph
New Orleans Saints

The Saints currently sit as the NFC 4 Seed, but still need to win to sew up the NFC South.  That means that that they should play all their starters full speed ahead against the Buccaneers at 4:25 PM ET in Week 17.  This includes:

  • Drew Brees
  • Mark Ingram
  • Alvin Kamara
  • Michael Thomas
Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have the first Wild Card spot as the NFC 5 Seed, but can move up with a win and a Saints lose.  Since they play at 4:25 PM ET in Week 17, the same time as the Saints, they won’t know if their game matters or not until it’s over, so they’re likely to play all starters a full complement of minutes.  This includes:

  • Cam Newton
  • Christian McCaffrey
  • Jonathan Stewart
  • Devin Funchess
  • Greg Olsen

With budding WR Damiere Byrd carted off with a knee injury in Week 16, and Devin Funchess underperforming, it’s possible we see more of Brenton Bersin or Kaelin Clay, both of whom were targeted 4 times in Week 16, and both of whom are 0% Owned in Yahoo Standard Leagues.

Atlanta Falcons

Even though they’re currently the second Wild Card spot as the NFC 6 Seen, the Falcons need a win to guarantee a playoff berth.  And they’ll have their work cut out for them against the Panthers, who as I mentioned, are also motivated.  They’ll definitely be playing tough being at home and looking to shake off a Super Bowl loss hangover.  This includes:

  • Matt Ryan (but I’m hope you’re not relying on him)
  • Devonta Freeman
  • Tevin Coleman
  • Julia Jones
  • Muhamed Sanu
Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks need the Falcons to lose along with a win of their own to get that last NFC playoff spot.  And since the Seahawks don’t play the Cardinals until 4:25 PM ET, they also won’t know if their game matters until it’s over, so they’ll be out in full force as well.

  • Russell Wilson
  • Mike Davis
  • Doug Baldwin
  • Paul Richardson
  • Jimmy Graham
Pittsburgh Steelers

If the Steelers win today, then they’ll still have a shot at the AFC 1 Seed if the Patriots lose in Week 17.  (UPDATE: The Steelers did win.) And since both teams play at 1 PM ET, the Steelers will have to play their starters.  But if they lose, they might be resting players.  This includes:

  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Le’Veon Bell
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Martavis Bryant – Remember, no Antonio Brown means higher target shares for Bryant, who is now up to 85% Owned in Yahoo Standard Leagues.

UPDATE: Wow. So now there’s word that Ben Roethlisberger AND Le’Veon Bell will NOT play in Week 17.  That makes RB Fitzgerald Toussaint and Stevan Ridley interesting, in that order.

Baltimore Ravens

Win and they’re in.  That’s what the Ravens will have on their mind coming into Week 17.  The Bengals were steamrolled multiple times recently, but managed to eliminate the Lions from playoff contention in Week 16, so the Ravens won’t be taking this game lightly, and we can expect a full complement of minutes for all starters.  This includes:

  • Joe Flacco
  • Alex Collins
  • Mike Wallace
Tennessee Titans

The Titans are currently the second Wild Card spot as the AFC 6 Seed, but need to win to ensure they stay there.  They ALSO play at 4:25 PM ET, so they also won’t be pulling any punches.  This includes:

  • Marcus Mariota
  • Derrick Henry – Note that with DeMarco Murray suffering a LCL sprain, Henry is going to be a full time back in Week 17 and will a great pickup if available in your league.  He’s currently 71% owned in Yahoo Standard Leagues.

  • Rishard Matthews
  • Delanie Walker
Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are going need to help to get in, but need a win to have a shot.  The Chargers also play at 4:25 PM ET, so won’t know if they’re game matters until its over.  So fire them all up!  This includes:

  • Philip Rivers
  • Melvin Gordon

UPDATE: Note that Gordon is currently in a walking boot from an ankle injury, and may not be cleared to play in Week 17.  In light of of Ekeler’s injury, this makes Branden Oliver (0% Owned) a priority pickup for Gordon owners and anyone who’s in need of a RB in Week 17.  Note that Gordon has himself said he’s “optimistic” he will play, though.

UPDATE 2: Austin Ekeler is practicing in full.  So if Gordon is out, Ekeler is now the play.

UPDATE 3: The LA Times reports that Oliver may be the starter if Gordon is out.  It’s going to be a little up in the air, but if you need to rely on a Chargers RB have room, pick up both.  Here’s the quote from Coach Anthony Lynn:

“He hasn’t played a lot since 2014, but he was a starter in 2014 for some games.  So he’s done it before. So I feel comfortable in a sense that he’s done it before. And so if we have to do it again, he’ll do it again.”

UPDATE 4: And now it looks like Gordon WILL PLAY.  But keep a close eye during warmups.

  • Keenan Allen
  • Antonio Gates – Remember, Hunter Henry is out, and Gates flourished in a full time role in Week 16 grabbing 6 of 8 targets for 81 yards and a TD.  He’s in a great streaming spot against the Raiders, and is only 22% Owned in Yahoo Standard Leagues.
Buffalo Bills

And the Bills, who need a lot of help to make it, but most importantly needs a win.  Also playing at 4:25 PM ET means they’ll need to focus on winning they’re game not knowing the potential outcome.  This includes:

  • Tyrod Taylor
  • LeSean McCoy

Teams that May Sit Their Starters

Philadelphia Eagles

If the Eagles beat the Raiders tonight, then it’s basically a done deal for the Eagles, as they will have ensured home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  That means there’s no reason to risk the health of Nick Foles, now that they have 0 insurance policies left at QB, and likely limited snaps for WRs and RBs as well.  This includes:

  • Nick Foles
  • Alshon Jeffery
  • Nelson Agholor
  • Zack Ertz

UPDATE: There’s some indication that Foles WILL NOT play a complete set of snaps in Week 17, so beware!

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams have essentially nothing to play for, as they’re locked in at NFC 3 or 4 seed, but it’s hard to see the suddenly successful Rams rest an entire game.  But resting starters for a quarter or two could be in the cards.  This includes:

  • Jared Goff
  • Todd Gurley – Who, BTW, has been the BEST Fantasy Football RB of the season and who really came through in Weeks 15 and 16.  He’s likely to be MVP this season, but the Rams might be cautious with him in Week 17 to ensure a healthy playoff run.

  • Roberts Woods
  • Cooper Kupp

UPDATE: It looks like the Rams will be resting a number of starters, so have your backups ready!  Keep an eye on possibly using Lance Dunbar (0% Owned).

UPDATE 2: CONFIRMED. Both Jared Goff AND Todd Gurley will NOT play in Week 17.   I wouldn’t touch QB Sean Mannion, but RB Lance Dunbar is now more interesting.  However, CBS reports that Malcolm Brown (1% Owned) may also get the start at RB.  He’s certainly the more dynamic of the two RBs, but hasn’t seen a ton of the field of late.  At this point, if you’re gambling on a Rams RB, you probably go with Brown, then Dunbar.

UPDATE 3: And now all the WRs are likely to be rested as well, so you can avoid essentially all of the Rams, other than whoever starts at RB.

New England Patriots

If the Steelers lose today, then the Patriots will have the AFC 1 Seed all to themselves, and will not be motivated to put their prized QB or other skill players in harms way.  This includes:

  • Tom Brady
  • Dion Lewis
  • Brandin Cooks
  • Rob Gronkowski

And if they do sit their starters, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Gillislee (31% Owned) and Danny Amendola (52% Owned) gets more run in Week 17.

UPDATE: Since the Steelers took care of business in Week 16 destroying the Texans, the Patriots are likely to roll with their starters in Week 17.

UPDATE 2: With the Steelers looking to have thrown in the towel by sitting Big Ben and Bell, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Pats similarly sit starters, if not immediately, by the second half.

UPDATE 3: Chris Hogan, Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee will be out in Week 17, but apparently, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots will play the rest of their starters.  How long they’ll play is another question, so although I like Tom Brady and Dion Lewis in this game, I’d shy away from using them if you have other good options.

New York Giants

We all know the Giants season has been over for quite some time, but some of you still might be relying on the likes of Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram.  I’d be wary about both of them in Week 17 since Shepard went down with a neck injury and Engram suffered a rib injury in Week 16 and both will be a big part of the future in NY.  I wouldn’t be surprised if both are shut down in Week 17, so be sure to have a backup.

Perhaps Roger Lewis gets an even larger target share (he’s already averaged over 10 targets per game over his last 3) in Week 17, and he’s only 1% Owned in Yahoo Standard Leagues.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers are in complete “pack-it in” mode right now.  They were horrendous at home in Week 16, getting shutout by the Vikings, and I suspect they’ll be sitting everyone of value in Week 17, especially with Devante Adams (concussion) and Jordy Nelson (shoulder) injured.  Maybe you get more out of Randall Cobb (58% Owned) in this scenario against the Lions defense that just got eviscerated by Andy Dalton and the lowly Bengals, but there’s certainly risk with Brett Hundley behind center.  Aaron Jones did suffer a knee injury in Week 16, though, so you can likely continue to rely on Jamaal Williams in Week 17 if you don’t have other options.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags will have the AFC 3 Seed no matter what happens in Week 17.  Beware of sitting starters including:

  • Blake Bortles
  • Leonard Fournette

I suspect they’ll keep Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole active so they get more reps.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs will have the AFC 4 Seed no matter what happens in Week 17.  Beware of sitting starters including:

  • Alex Smith
  • Kareem Hunt
  • Tyreek Hill
  • Travis Kelce

UPDATE: At least Alex Smith is already sitting Week 17.  I wouldn’t play Patrick Mahomes in a championship week unless you were really stuck.  Keep a close eye on the rest.

And finally, here are some thoughts on RB handcuffs you might want to consider, just in case:

Los Angeles Rams – Todd Gurley -> Lance Dunbar (0% Owned)

Kansas City Chiefs – Kareem Hunt -> Charcandrick West (2% Owned)

Pittsburgh Steelers – Le’Veon Bell -> Fitzgerald Toussaint (0% Owned) and Stevan Ridley (0% Owned)

Los Angeles Chargers – Melvin Gordon -> Austin Ekeler (30% Owned) & Branden Oliver (0% Owned) (keep an eye on Ekeler as he was limited to special teams work in Week 16 due to a hand injury with Oliver inserted as the RB2)

Buffalo Bills – LeSean McCoy -> Mike Tolbert (1% Owned) (Travaris Cadet was placed on IR with a dislocated ankle, so now it’s only Tolbert.)

Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette -> T.J. Yeldon (13% Owned) & Chris Ivory (11% Owned)

San Francisco 49ers – Carlos Hyde -> Matt Breida (5% Owned)

And here are previous pickups I’ve mentioned that are still worthy of your consideration in Week 17:

10-Team Leagues or Deeper

Devin Funchess, Josh Gordon, Alvin Kamara 

12-Team Leagues or Deeper

Nelson Agholor, Giovanni Bernard (if Joe Mixon is out), Martavis Bryant, Jamison Crowder, Kenyan Drake, Eric Ebron, Joe Flacco, Nick Foles, Jared Goff, Dion Lewis, Latavius Murray, Samaje Perine, Paul Richardson, Theo Riddick, Mohamed Sanu, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Alex Smith, Jamaal Williams

14-Team Leagues or Deeper

Robby Anderson, Peyton Barber, Jacoby Brissett, Alex Collins, Tarik Cohen, Keelan Cole, Corey Coleman, Jared Cook, Josh Doctson, Wayne Gallman, Jimmy Garappolo, Marquise Goodwin, Duke Johnson Jr., Cooper Kupp, Roger Lewis, Marlon Mack, Ricky Seals-Jones, Adam Shaheen, Rod Smith (if Cowboys rest Elliott), Kenny Stills, Dede Westbrook, Kerwynn Williams, Tyrell Williams

16-Team Leagues or Deeper

Trey Burton, Ryan Grant, Tion Green, J.D. McKissic, Josh Reynolds, Jonathan Stewart, Trent Taylor, Mitchell Trubisky, Ben Watson, Kendell Wright

Thanks for following Waiver Favors!  We’ll see you back here next season, but keep checking back in at FootballGarbageTime.com for info all year long! 

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