Not every fantasy football league has crowned a champion. Some players must manage to the very end to secure a title.
For all the winners creating shrines in honor of Todd Gurley, countless others must take home the hardware without him. Sean McVay already declared that the fantasy MVP would sit out Week 17’s game for the Los Angeles Rams, who no longer can earn a first-round bye.
Anyone with stock in the Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Kansas City Chiefs must also worry about playing time, as they have all locked down a specific playoff seed. The Chiefs already declared Patrick Mahomes their starting quarterback, but Doug Marrone has no plans on clearing Jacksonville’s bench.
While Week 17 is difficult to decipher, not everyone has the option of avoiding the minefield altogether. Given motivation concerns, those who play out the season can’t always follow the “start your studs” rule either. Let’s highlight some borderline roster dilemmas at each position whose outlook exceeds or fall beneath their ECR.
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Jimmy Garoppolo (SF at LAR): ECR of 9
Presented the toughest matchup for any quarterback, Garoppolo proved his legitimacy with 242 passing yards and three touchdowns (one rushing) in a shootout win over Jacksonville. Since he took over as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback in Week 13, only Ben Roethlisberger and Blake Bortles have accrued more passing yards than his 1,250, which have come with a 68.5 completion percentage and 8.7 yards per attempt.
He should stay hot against the Rams, who will at least rest Aaron Donald in a game with minimal playoff implications. Someone who didn’t play a snap until after Thanksgiving should swing plenty of Week 17 fantasy championships as a top-10 play with top-five potential.
Others I’m higher on: Kirk Cousins (WAS at NYG), Jacoby Brissett (IND vs. HOU)
Dak Prescott (DAL at PHI): ECR of 14
It’s tempting to play Prescott against the Eagles, who are looking ahead to the Divisional Round as the NFC’s top seed. But how can any gamers trust someone who has paired zero touchdowns with two or three interceptions in four of the last six games? As proven in a Week 16 loss that eliminated the Dallas Cowboys, his struggles can’t be conveniently excused by Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension.
He wouldn’t sniff the top 15 if Philadelphia-who picked him off three times in a Week 11 rout-had anything on the line. As crazy as this would have sounded two months ago, Joe Flacco or Jacoby Brissett might be a better choice.
Others I’m lower on: Case Keenum (MIN vs. CHI), Marcus Mariota (TEN vs. JAC)
Wayne Gallman (NYG vs. WAS): ECR of 29 (28 in PPR)
Despite playing only for what little pride they have remaining, the New York Giants have no intentions of sitting Eli Manning to give Davis Webb some reps on Sunday. That should help Wayne Gallman, who has enjoyed a consistent December role in the passing game. The rookie running back has snagged at least six catches for 40 yards in each of the last three games.
Despite tallying just 18 rushing yards in Week 16’s 23-0 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, he logged a season-high 52 snaps and led the team in catches. Washington has relinquished the seventh-most points to running backs in PPR scoring, where Gallman should have little trouble recording another double-digit tally. He’s easily a top-25 PPR play with some standard flex appeal given the week’s uncertainty.
Others I’m higher on: Bilal Powell (NYJ at NE), Samaje Perine (WAS at NYG), Malcolm Brown (LAR vs. SF)
Mike Davis (SEA vs. ARI): ECR of 25
It’s Week 17, and some prognosticators are still holding out hope for a productive Seattle Seahawks running back. Good luck. Averaging a mediocre 3.3 yards per carry, Mike Davis closes 2017 against a Cardinals defense ranked No. 4 against the run.
Seattle needs a win to stay in the playoff mix, and that’s all the more reason to keep the game in Russell Wilson‘s hands. Davis hasn’t scored a touchdown all season, and his two carries from inside the 10 went a combined one yard. Starting him at best represents a playing-not-to-lose call for a team ransacked by resting starters.
Others I’m lower on: Latavius Murray (MIN vs. CHI), Isaiah Crowell (CLE at PIT), Mike Gillislee (NE vs. NYJ)
Josh Doctson (WAS at NYG): ECR of 32
Given 13 targets in Week 16, Josh Doctson somehow only recorded two catches. At least he made one count with a 48-yard touchdown while playing all 67 of Washington’s offensive snaps. Besides, the gap between the Denver Broncos and Giants’ secondaries is wider than the Springfield Gorge.
Those waiting for a true breakout may get their wish on New Year’s Eve against the NFL’s worst passing defense. If not, he’s still a solid bet to score his seventh touchdown. Given the golden matchup, a No. 32 ECR is selling Doctson’s ceiling short.
Others I’m higher on: Jamison Crowder (WAS at NYG), Mohamed Sanu (ATL vs. CAR), Ted Ginn (NO at TB),
Kelvin Benjamin (BUF at MIA): ECR of 35
Even with the controversial touchdown reversal, Kelvin Benjamin registered his most catches (five) and yards (70) since joining the Buffalo Bills. Don’t get overly excited for a strong season finale.
Tyrod Taylor looked his way twice against the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago in a 24-16 win where Buffalo attempted more rushes (30) than passes (29). Expect another game plan focused on LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay, which means Benjamin needs to score a touchdown that satisfies the league’s increasingly confusing catch rules to pay off as a WR3.
Others I’m lower on: Devin Funchess (CAR at ATL), Michael Crabtree (OAK at LAC), Rishard Matthews (TEN vs. JAC)
Miami has allowed an NFL-high 87 catches to tight ends. After securing five of them in Week 15, Charles Clay (BUF at MIA): ECR of 10 received a team-best 10 targets in Week 16. Nobody can trust Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz to play enough snaps, so the Bills veteran is a top-10 play with a much higher floor than other TE streamers.
Vernon Davis (WAS at NYG): ECR of 12 did not snag a single catch when Washington last played the Giants, but they have still yielded 13 touchdowns to the position. Cameron Brate (TB vs. NO): ECR of 11 has missed practice throughout the week with a hip/knee injury and is questionable to suit up against the New Orleans Saints, who have surrendered an NFL-low 49 receptions to tight ends.
He’s too touchdown-dependent to trust amid health concerns. If Brate sits, the same goes for O.J. Howard, but the rookie would garner some streamer appeal as a red-zone presence with big-play ability.
Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.