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Week 17 Waiver Wire Pickups (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
Dec 29, 2020

The fantasy football universe has deemed head-to-head matchups that declare a champion in Week 16 the norm. But not all leagues follow those rules.

Plenty of fantasy gamers have their championship bout scheduled for Week 17. Others, meanwhile, are playing in a points league that could remain up for grabs. Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you all.

If playing out your 2020 fantasy season to the final Sunday, it’s imperative to keep the Week 17 schedule and playoff standings in mind. A potential pickup is often only as valuable as his last opponent. And while few teams are locked into a playoff spot, gamers must be careful around squads (particularly the Kansas City Chiefs) with little at stake.

For the last time this season, here’s a look at waiver-wire adds available in at least 50% of Yahoo leagues.

Note: Rostered percentages provided via Yahoo leagues.

View your league’s top available players with My Playbook >>

Top 5 Waiver Targets of Week 17

Malcolm Brown (RB – LAR): 19% Rostered
Cam Akers missed Week 16’s pivotal NFC West battle with Seattle due to an ankle injury. Darrell Henderson left the game early with the same ailment. Placed on the injured reserve Monday, Henderson won’t be available for a potential must-win matchup. Akers could be ready to return. If not, that’d leave their backfield to Brown against the Cardinals, who have ceded 4.7 yards per rush. They won’t be able to table the rushing game with a broken thumb sidelining Jared Goff, so the Week 1 hero could end the season just how he began it.

Michael Gallup (WR – DAL): 44% Rostered
Gallup’s fantasy value was seemingly laid to rest without Dak Prescott. He tallied 190 yards — including a goose-egg in Week 7 —  in his first six games without the star quarterback. In his last four games, however, Gallup has accrued 256 yards and four touchdowns. Anyone brave (or desperate) enough to start him in Week 16 was rewarded with a matchup-breaking 121 yards and two touchdowns. Gallup has received 48 targets in seven full games played by Andy Dalton compared to 49 in the other eight. That duo will have ample motivation to keep clicking in a must-win game against the Giants.

Sterling Shepard (WR – NYG): 44% Rostered
Although Sunday was subpar for the Giants, Shepard satisfied fantasy managers by catching nine of 12 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown. Yet because of two mundane performances with Colt McCoy at quarterback (and one with a hobbled Daniel Jones), many managers previously gave up on the Big Blue wideout. He’s now averaging 7.3 targets per game prior to facing an exploitable Dallas secondary. Helping his Week 17 outlook, the 5-10 Giants inexplicably remain alive in the NFC East.

AJ Dillon (RB – GB): 8% Rostered
Dillon had tallied 24 carries all season prior to Week 16. With Jamaal Williams sidelined, the rookie stole the show with 21 rushes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. He played more snaps (38) than Aaron Jones (25) in a lopsided victory over Tennessee on a snowy Sunday night. It might have merely been the perfect game script for the neophyte, but the Packers remain reluctant to give Jones carte blanche in Green Bay’s backfield. Dillon could get more reps in another cold winter contest at Chicago, especially if Williams sits and the Packers jump to another early lead.

Rashard Higgins (WR – CLE): 23%
Higgins had the makings of a potential league-winner before he was among four Cleveland wide receivers deemed a close contract to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. That held him out of a favorable Week 16 matchup against the Jets after registering 239 receiving yards in his three previous games. Don’t forget about Higgins if he’s cleared to return for the Browns, who can clinch their first postseason berth since 2002 with a Week 17 win. Having clinched the AFC North crown as the second or third seed, the opposing Steelers may not play their starters all four quarters, if at all.

Notable Players 36-50% Rostered

New England Patriots D/ST: 45%
Last year’s premier fantasy defense — by a notable margin — is now widely available after mustering more than seven fantasy points in just one of its last 11 games. Remember that before investing any valuable draft capital on a defense next year. The Patriots have fallen significantly short of expectations, and they could play an inconsequential Week 17 without star cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The Jets, meanwhile, have scored 23 points in each of their last two victories. This is nevertheless a matchup worth pursuing. Bill Belichick isn’t going to take the final day of work easy, and wouldn’t it be the most Jets thing for the Jets to get shut out after winning their way out of the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes?

Keke Coutee (WR – HOU): 44%
Although yet to truly swing a matchup, Coutee has caught 23 of 27 targets for 289 yards and two touchdowns in four games without the suspended Will Fuller V. He’ll get one more chance to make a splash as a primary target against Tennessee’s 28th-ranked passing defense. Deshaun Watson tossed 335 passing yards and four touchdowns (to four different players) in their first encounter, a 42-36 overtime loss.

Arizona Cardinals D/ST: 43%
Arizona’s defense has become a staple of this column over the last few weeks. Those yet to jump on board have one more chance. Former AAF quarterback John Wolford is set to make his NFL debut in place of Goff. The Cardinals could send him running for the hills, as they have compiled 24 sacks over their last six games.

Philip Rivers (QB – IND): 40%
Rivers offered at least 17 fantasy points in each of his last four games before faltering against Pittsburgh’s second-ranked passing defense. His Colts close the season with a must-win game against Jacksonville, which yields the second-highest completion rate and yards per pass attempt. Although Jonathan Taylor will more likely sway Week 17 matchups, Rivers makes for a high-floor quarterback streamer.

Gus Edwards (RB – BAL): 40%
Even as J.K. Dobbins takes charge in Baltimore, Edwards has etched out 354 total yards and two touchdowns in the last four games. He’s set a new career-high in receiving yards in back-to-back contests while garnering 15 carries during Sunday’s 27-13 win over the Giants. The Ravens’ playoff hopes hinge on beating the Bengals, who rank 25th in rushing defense after getting gashed by David Johnson.

Russell Gage (WR – ATL): 38%
Gage had a quiet Week 16 (four catches for 23 yards) in a surprisingly low-scoring affair at Kansas City, but he remains an attractive WR4 if Julio Jones sits out the 2020 finale. After all, he just posted 68 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets against Tampa Bay in Week 15.

Notable Players 10-35% Rostered

Dallas Cowboys D/ST: 23%
Dallas’ defense has notched double-digit fantasy points in each of the last three weeks, amassing seven sacks and 10 takeaways. Only the Jets have fewer total yards or points scored than the Giants, who have mustered just 26 points over an active three-game losing streak. A strained right hamstring and sprained left ankle have drained the mobility of Daniel Jones, who has gotten sacked six times in each of his last two games.

Irv Smith Jr. (TE – MIN): 15%
The Smith hype train could get oftly crowded this summer. In Saturday’s 52-33 loss to the Saints, the second-year-tight end submitted two touchdowns on a season-high nine targets and six catches. He now has five touchdowns in his last five games played and 153 yards in three contests since returning from a back injury. If Kyle Rudolph sits again, consider Smith a high-upside option against a Lions defense that just got annihilated by Tampa Bay.

Andy Dalton (QB – DAL): 13%
Dalton finally won in the playoffs. Sort of. The Red Rifle secured dozens of fantasy titles — and many more fifth-place triumphs — by recording 377 passing yards and three touchdowns in Week 16’s season-saving win for the Cowboys. While the Giants don’t pose a particularly favorable matchup for quarterbacks, they have yielded the NFL’s eighth-highest completion rate (68.1%). Dalton went 9-of-11 for 111 yards in less than a full half when replacing the injured Prescott against the G-Men in Week 5.

Notable Players <10% Rostered

DeSean Jackson (WR – PHI): 9%
Playing for the first time in over two months, Jackson snagged an 81-yard touchdown grab in his return. That was also his only target, but that’s always been the deal when signing up for the potential home-run hitter. He’s a deep-league dart throw for an underdog shooting for the stars.

Dare Ogunbowale (RB – JAC): 8%
With James Robinson out, the Jaguars stuck with their increasingly extinct one-back system. Ogunbowale turned 14 of the team’s 16 carries into 71 yards while playing 71% of the snaps in a 41-17 loss to Chicago. Any featured running back getting nearly all of the opportunities demands attention, even if his club just secured the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.

Zach Pascal (WR – IND): 5%
Pascal went seven games without a touchdown before scoring three times over the last two weeks. While he’s still not trustworthy on a week-to-week basis, there’s only one game against Jacksonville on the docket. Pascal could also be Rivers’ clear No. 2 wide receiver for this game behind T.Y. Hilton with Michael Pittman Jr. in concussion protocol.

Darrel Williams (RB – KC): 3%
Kansas City already clinched the AFC’s top seed, but Williams leading the backfield with 47 snaps and 14 touches last Sunday is nevertheless noteworthy. While managers must worry about the stars getting the week off, this could the perfect opportunity to evaluate the seldom-used rusher for an expanded playoff role.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn (RB – TB): 3%
Ronald Jones II missing the second straight week seemed to clear the table for Leonard Fournette. Vaughn, however, led the Buccaneers’ backfield with 15 carries and 62 rushing yards. Most of the rookie’s work came late in a 47-7 slaughter, so he remains a dynasty stash who would need another lopsided contest to see the field as often in Week 17. Offering some hope, Tampa Bay is already locked into a wild-card spot as the fifth or sixth seed. This could be a chance to give him more reps against Atlanta.

Samaje Perine (RB – CIN): 2%
Don’t get used to the Bengals boasting two fantasy viable running backs, especially when neither of them is Joe Mixon. In a rare shootout win over the Texans, Giovani Bernard posted 65 rushing and 66 receiving yards. Perine, meanwhile, produced two rushing touchdowns with his 136 total yards (95 rushing, 41 receiving). He’s probably a one-hit wonder, especially since they’ll conclude the season against the motivated Ravens. Consider Perine a deep-league flier in case Cincinnati decides to reward the 25-year-old with an extended Week 17 audition.

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Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.