Thumbs Up of the Week: Nick Foles (@ WAS)
Coming off a franchise-record 471 passing yards in another season-saving victory, Nick Foles is as confident as ever heading into Week 17. The Redskins were not only eliminated from playoff contention last Saturday, but they also just released star safety D.J. Swearinger after he publicly criticized defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. I think Foles and the Eagles should be able to take advantage of a secondary that might have some issues on the backend—and Washington could completely fall apart if other defenders agreed with Swearinger.
Thumbs Up: Jared Goff (v SF)
The Rams passing attack got back on track last week as Jared Goff completed 19-of-24 passes for 216 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions, but I think Sean McVay will want to keep building momentum before the postseason. Earlier this year, Goff completed passes at a 75.0% clip against San Francisco, and he was only sacked once in a 39-10 victory. The 24-year-old remains a solid QB1.
Thumbs Up: Josh Allen (v MIA)
Josh Allen didn’t put up big numbers as a passer or runner in his first matchup against Bill Belichick and the Patriots, but that’s not a huge surprise. Plus, there was actually quite a bit of production left on the field, including a would-be touchdown to Robert Foster that was lost in the sun. Allen should bounce back against a Miami defense that he had a season-high 28.5 fantasy points—and 135 rushing yards—against in Week 13.
Thumbs Up: Derek Carr (@ KC)
Almost unbelievably, Derek Carr hasn’t thrown an interception since the first week of October, and he’ll now look to ruin Kansas City’s bid for the No. 1 seed in the AFC for what should be another shootout. In Week 13, Carr threw for 285 yards and three scores as Oakland nearly upset the Chiefs. Consider him a top-15 option that’s barely ranked as a low-end QB2 for most.
Others: Matt Ryan (@ TB), Lamar Jackson (v CLE)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Deshaun Watson (v JAX)
A standout performance that included a couple rushing touchdowns led to a whopping 35.9 fantasy points against the Eagles last week, and it was enough to vault Deshaun Watson into the top five at the position in scoring this season. However, he could struggle to stay there, as the Jaguars have held everyone other than Derrick Henry (47.8 fantasy points) in check during the fantasy playoffs. I’m worried about Watson—who had just 10.3 fantasy points against Jacksonville in October— for the season finale.
Thumbs Down: Kirk Cousins (v CHI)
The final statistics for Kirk Cousins from the first meeting against Chicago—262 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions—weren’t terrible, but most of the production came in the fourth quarter with Minnesota playing catchup. Before that, the Bears absolutely dominated up front, and that could be the case again if they play their starters all game to send the Vikings home.
Thumbs Down: Baker Mayfield (@ BAL)
Another multi-score performance and victory has Baker Mayfield surging in the Rookie of the Year race, and Cleveland should be determined to end the season above .500 for the first time in over a decade. That said, Baltimore is going to be ready for Mayfield, and other than the lowly Bengals, this will be the first repeat opponent for the No. 1 overall pick. I would be shocked if Baker approached the 342 yards he had against the Ravens in their first matchup.
Thumbs Down: Drew Brees (v CAR)
Sean Payton loves his numbers, but it’s probably too risky to count on Drew Brees for anywhere close to 60 minutes with Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill both looking to showcase their talent. If Brees does play, it might be just for a drive or two in order to reach 4,000 passing yards (currently eight yards shy) and bolster his MVP candidacy.
Others: Mitchell Trubisky (@ MIN), Matthew Stafford (@ GB)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Nick Chubb (@ BAL)
There are far fewer “sure things” than usual for Week 17, but it’s safe to assume the Browns are going to continue feeding Nick Chubb for what they are calling their playoff game. Overall, the Ravens have been excellent against the run, but they’ve shown some vulnerability in recent weeks, and it’s impossible to fade Chubb, who has averaged 15.9 standard fantasy points per game in nine starts—which would trail only Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and Ezekiel Elliott on the year.
Thumbs Up: Chris Carson (v ARI)
The Cardinals have allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season, and they were just ripped at home by C.J. Anderson (20 carries for 167 yards and one touchdown). In particular, Arizona has played embarrassingly bad against the run when opponents are near the goal line, so Chris Carson—who has six touchdowns over the past six games—is almost a lock to find the end zone if he’s given the ball in scoring territory.
Thumbs Up: Jaylen Samuels (v CIN)
I think we might get James Conner (ankle) back on the field in a must-win for Pittsburgh, but if not, Jaylen Samuels needs to stay in lineups for a cupcake matchup against Cincinnati. The rookie isn’t Conner, but the Bengals allowed 24.9 fantasy points to the Pitt product earlier this year, and Samuels has averaged 18.0 touches per game over the past three weeks. The versatile back is a top-12 option if he draws another start.
Thumbs Up: Jamaal Williams (v DET)
Green Bay’s starter to open the season, Jamaal Williams finally re-emerged in the role after Aaron Jones (knee) went down in Week 15, rushing 15 times for 95 yards and a touchdown while adding six receptions for 61 yards in last Sunday’s overtime win over the Jets. Williams had consistently produced when given the opportunity dating back to his 2017 stretch run, and he’s an easy top-15 option at home against the Lions to close out the season.
Others: Doug Martin (@ KC), Elijah McGuire (@ NE)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Leonard Fournette (@ HOU)
There aren’t a ton of bad options this week due to injuries and the risk that comes with players potentially resting for the playoffs or 2019, but I think it’s still best to avoid Leonard Fournette if possible. Last week, the former LSU star was saved by a short touchdown, but he rushed 18 times for just 43 yards (2.4 YPC), and his season YPC average is now down to 3.3 on 133 attempts. Against the stout Texans, Fournette is nothing more than a low-floor RB2/FLEX play.
Thumbs Down: Josh Adams (@ WAS)
Even with Philly making a playoff push over the past couple weeks, Josh Adams simply hasn’t looked very good as the lead back during the two-game winning streak, rushing a combined 26 times for 49 yards (1.9 YPC). Adams is a definite touchdown threat in a high-powered offense, but he doesn’t appear to be seeing the field well, so it’s not worth simply hoping the rookie figures it out. I’d look elsewhere.
Thumbs Down: Jordan Howard (@ MIN)
The Bears are probably the biggest mystery of the week, as they could pull out all the stops to knock their division rivals out of the playoffs, rest key players to get ready for January, or anything in between. I think they might even try to win while going with a vanilla game plan that features Howard. Still, there’s just as good a chance of them pulling their bruising back before clock-killing time kicks in if the Rams look on their way to locking up the No. 2 seed against San Francisco.
Thumbs Down: Lamar Miller (v JAX)
Houston is still trying to clinch the AFC South and potentially a first-round bye (if New England loses), but how much will they push Lamar Miller coming off an ankle injury? Even if he was fully healthy, the Jaguars aren’t an easy matchup, and D’Onta Foreman might get more work to knock the rust off before the playoffs. Miller is a borderline top-40 option.
Others: Dion Lewis (v IND), Theo Riddick (@ GB)
Thumbs Up of the Week: T.Y. Hilton (@ TEN)
I thought T.Y. Hilton would struggle against Adoree’ Jackson and the Titans in their first matchup of the year considering Tennessee held him to lines of 1/19 and 2/15 last season, but it turns out that Andrew Luck was the recipe to get back on track. In a 38-10 victory last month, T.Y. caught all nine of his targets for 155 yards and two scores, so he’s a high-upside WR1 for the final week of the regular season.
Thumbs Up: Jordy Nelson (@ KC)
A midseason lull made Jordy Nelson waiver-wire material in most leagues, but he’s enjoyed a late-season emergence, going for lines of 10/97, 6/48, 6/88, and 7/75 this month. The ten-catch game was against Kansas City, and Nelson will once again operate as Derek Carr’s No. 1 target for what could be a high-scoring affair. If he finds the end zone, Jordy will probably surpass even the lofty low-end WR2 expectations I have for him.
Thumbs Up: Nelson Agholor (@ WAS)
The Redskins have struggled to contain Nelson Agholor over the past three matchups, as he’s averaged 10.2 fantasy points per game. We should see Josh Norman continue to shadow this week—putting him on Alshon Jeffery—so Agholor could be a big factor, including down the field like we saw in Philadelphia’s win over the Texans.
Thumbs Up: Larry Fitzgerald (@ SEA)
I know the matchup is awful against a defense that has limited Larry Fitzgerald to just two touchdowns this decade (and 28 scoreless yards earlier this year), but I think we might see an all-time great player known for stepping up in big moments step up for perhaps his final moment on an NFL field. It’s probably not wise to make a sentimental decision in lineups for the fantasy championship, but Fitz is at least worth considering if you don’t have a strong alternative.
Others: Robert Foster (v MIA), Marquise Goodwin (@ LAR)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Corey Davis (v IND)
Not even the Titans know whether Marcus Mariota (arm) or Blaine Gabbert will start on Sunday night, but what everyone does know is that it won’t be a 100% Mariota under center. That’s obviously a significant downgrade to Corey Davis, who looked on his way to a nice game last Saturday before his quarterback went down. You can probably find a more reliable option for Week 17.
Thumbs Down: Allen Robinson (@ MIN)
The Bears might move Allen Robinson into the slot enough that he avoids Xavier Rhodes, but as stated, Matt Nagy could easily play his guys while implementing a very basic game plan this week. Also, even if both teams go all out (which the Vikings clearly need to), it could mean Rhodes following Robinson wherever he goes. The 25-year-old is just a quality FLEX play.
Thumbs Down: Robby Anderson (@ NE)
Deep threat Robert Foster was able to get loose a couple times and could have had a monster day last week against the Patriots if he was able to track a Josh Allen bomb, but that might play against Robby Anderson this week, as Bill Belichick is sure to emphasize the importance of not letting the speedster beat them. Anderson had just two receptions for 22 yards last month for this divisional matchup, so he’s more of a FLEX than WR2 for me.
Thumbs Down: Panthers WRs (@ NO)
I think rookie Kyle Allen has untapped potential and could surprise people in his first NFL start, but the unknown makes every Carolina wideout a risky investment for Week 17. If forced to choose, I think Curtis Samuel can make things happen on his own better than D.J. Moore right now, but fantasy owners will ideally have other options.
Others: Kenny Stills (@ BUF), Tim Patrick (v LAC)
Thumbs Up of the Week: David Njoku (@ BAL)
Prior to last week’s 73-yard performance, David Njoku’s season-high for receiving yards (69) came against the Ravens in a 12-9 overtime victory. In general, Baltimore has a very stingy pass defense, but they have been exposed by tight ends, particularly over the past nine games with six touchdowns allowed. Njoku is a midrange TE1.
Thumbs Up: Ian Thomas (@ NO)
Kyle Allen is sure to rely on a security blanket in his first NFL start, and that will be fellow rookie Ian Thomas this week against the Saints. New Orleans has been tough against opposing tight ends, but coverage should be more favorable if starters don’t play a full game. Thomas is a strong TE2 option.
Thumbs Up: Mark Andrews (v CLE)
The Browns started off the season by holding tight ends other than Jared Cook (8/110/2) in check for a month and a half, but since, then they have allowed lines of 12/111, 5/56, 7/99/2, 13/86/1, 6/39, 5/57/1, 9/77, 6/61, and 4/49/1 over the past nine outings. Mark Andrews probably won’t catch a 68-yard score like he did in Week 16, but he’s a good streaming option.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Kyle Rudolph (v CHI)
A Hail Mary last week led to the first touchdown for Kyle Rudolph since September, and out of nowhere, he posted nine receptions for 122 yards and two scores to reward owners that rolled the dice against Detroit. Perhaps the veteran will keep it going in a must-win, but the Bears have allowed just 4.0 standard fantasy points per game to the position over the past two months.
Thumbs Down: Ricky Seals-Jones (@ SEA)
In my opinion, last week against an attackable Rams defense was the last chance for Ricky Seals-Jones to provide fantasy value in 2018, and he caught just one pass for three yards. RSJ is simply too unreliable regardless of matchup with Josh Rosen under center.
Thumbs Down: Antonio Gates (@ DEN)
A touchdown-dependent TE2 option with just two touchdowns this season, Antonio Gates should be left out of fantasy lineups for what is likely his final regular season game, as the Chargers might decide to scale back the future Hall of Famer’s snaps to keep him fresh for a playoff run.