Fantasy football sit-and-start advice should always be relative and league-dependent. Note that some players are targeted for DFS. Good luck with your Week 17 lineups!
Start: Sam LaPorta, Brandin Cooks
LaPorta is coming off his quietest game of the season but should bounce back in a favorable spot Saturday night. All nine of his touchdowns have come against single-high coverage, which Dallas uses at the league’s second-highest rate. The Cowboys have also allowed the second-fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points to the slot over the last five weeks, so LaPorta could be busier than Amon-Ra St. Brown in a matchup with this week’s highest total (52 points). LaPorta could be the top option this week at a suddenly loaded tight end position.
Cooks is averaging 67.2 receiving yards with four touchdowns over six home games this season; he’s averaging just 19.4 receiving yards over eight games on the road. The Lions are a pass-funnel defense allowing the fewest fantasy points to running backs but the sixth-most to wide receivers this season. The Cowboys have a 29-point implied team total, so Cooks can be started during championship week.
Sit: Tua Tagovailoa, Gus Edwards
Tagovailoa is banged up along with his offensive line, Raheem Mostert, De’Von Achane and Tyreek Hill, while Jaylen Waddle has been ruled out for Sunday. The Ravens are allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to QBs and NFL-lows in YPA (5.8) and TD passes (15). The Dolphins have a lower implied team point total than the Jaren Hall-led Vikings this week. Given Miami’s injuries and the matchup, Tagovailoa is a bench candidate in Week 17.
Edwards has scored in back-to-back games, but it’s required seven carries inside the five-yard line. He saw just 43% of the snaps last week and lost 13-of-23 RB opportunities to Justice Hill, so Edwards managers are banking on another short score. Miami has a good run defense and has yielded the seventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season.
Start: Ezekiel Elliott, Stefon Diggs
Elliott continues to dominate New England’s snap share with Rhamondre Stevenson out, including seeing 10 targets last week. The Patriots sport a lowly 13.5-point implied team total, so Elliott’s upside is limited, but he’s a workhorse getting all the high-value touches. Elliott missed Thursday’s practice with an illness, but he’ll be worth starting assuming he’s good to go Sunday.
Diggs makes an unexpected appearance here thanks to somehow averaging just 39.3 receiving yards with only one touchdown over his last six games. He’s dealt with poor game scripts over the last two weeks, when Josh Allen has averaged just 18 pass attempts. Diggs led the league in target share and first-read target percentage last week, and he’s scored during each of his last four games against New England’s man-heavy defense. Buffalo has the fourth-highest implied team total (26.5 points) this week, and the Patriots might have the league’s best run defense. Don’t sit Diggs in your fantasy championship.
Sit: Drake London
Start: Bears D/ST
London is averaging just 3.1 catches and 33.7 receiving yards with one TD over seven games on the road this season. Just two wide receivers have reached 80 yards against Chicago all season, and the Bears have played especially stout pass defense since trading for Montez Sweat. The Falcons have a lowly 17.5-point implied team total, so Drake is a bench candidate yet again this week.
Chicago’s defense ranks first in EPA/play and dropback EPA since Week 11, and Atlanta is averaging the third-fewest points (13.6) on the road this season. A banged-up Taylor Heinicke playing from behind while outdoors sounds like a recipe for the Bears’ fantasy defense to rack up points.
Start: DeAndre Hopkins, Nico Collins
Hopkins should benefit from the likely return of Will Levis, and he gets a Texans defense allowing the third-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to wide receivers over the last five weeks. Hopkins has the second-most air yards in the league and is a strong start this week against a pass-funnel Houston defense that’s stingy against the run (and with an offense that should put up points with C.J. Stroud returning).
Collins returned to a full practice Thursday and will benefit from Stroud’s return. Collins is averaging a whopping 103.3 receiving yards, has scored all seven of his touchdowns at home this year, and his target rate jumps with Tank Dell off the field (and Noah Brown continues to be limited by his knee injury). The Titans have allowed the most fantasy points to Collins’ primary side (LWR) this season, and the Texans have a healthy projected team total (24.0 points). Collins should be considered a top-10 WR this week.
Start: Josh Jacobs or Zamir White
Sit: Josh Downs
There remains hope Jacobs plays this week, but he’s continued to miss practice with his quad injury. White saw 80% of the snaps last week and would be worth starting if Jacobs sits again. The Colts have allowed the second-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to running backs over the last five weeks, and Antonio Pierce likes to establish the run with the help of a suddenly stingy Raiders defense.
Downs hasn’t reached 10 PPR points in a game since the Colts’ Week 11 bye despite averaging 6.6 targets over that span. He’s likely compromised playing through a knee injury, and Gardner Minshew has struggled lately. Moreover, Las Vegas’ best corner Nate Hobbs plays the slot, where Downs runs more than 80% of his routes; the Raiders have ceded the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the slot this season.
Sit: All Panthers
Start: Travis Etienne Jr.
Chuba Hubbard is dealing with a hamstring injury, and Bryce Young is getting just 5.2 YPA with five touchdowns over seven road games this season. Adam Thielen is averaging 6.2 targets, 3.8 catches and 47.6 receiving yards over his last five games and hasn’t scored a TD since Week 6. Carolina has the second-lowest implied team total (16.0 points), so Panthers players belong on fantasy benches.
Etienne is coming off his worst game of the season and has been the RB33 since Week 9, but he should bounce back in the fantasy championship. He’s seen his YPC drop from 5.1 last year down to 3.6 this season thanks to a heavier workload and poor run blocking, as Etienne leads the NFL in missed tackles forced. He’s due for touchdown regression and could see plenty of touches this week with Trevor Lawrence ruled out. The Panthers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks but the fourth most to running backs this season, so keep Etienne in lineups.
Start in DFS: Kyren Williams ($36), Tyrod Taylor ($20)
Williams has averaged 137.6 yards from scrimmage and scored five touchdowns over five games since returning from IR. He ranks top three in red-zone carries and rush attempts inside the 10-yard line despite missing four games this season. The Rams offense ranks first in EPA/play, yards per play and points per drive with their stars on the field this year, and Los Angeles has a healthy implied team total (24.5 points). The Giants have yielded the fifth-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to running backs over the last five weeks, so Williams is a DFS building block.
Taylor finished as the QB7 during a start earlier this season, and he’s among a few quarterback options available at the minimum this week. He takes too many sacks but adds a rushing element that helps his fantasy floor. Moreover, the Rams have allowed the second-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last five weeks. Derek Carr just scored a season-high in fantasy points by a wide margin against LA last week, as the Rams have become one of the best matchups for opposing QBs.
Start: Kyler Murray, D’Andre Swift
Murray has gotten just 6.3 YPA since returning from knee surgery, but has finished as a top-12 QB in three of his past five weeks anyway. He put up 20-plus fantasy points on the road against a tough Bears defense last week and gets an easier matchup in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Eagles have allowed the second-most passing touchdowns (31) and the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Expect a bounce back from Trey McBride and nice fantasy production from Murray this week.
Swift has been tackled at the one-yard line and didn’t score on the same drive an NFL-high six times this season. Jalen Hurts remains a given at the goal line, but Swift has clearly been unlucky with touchdowns this year. He’s averaged 20.5 opportunities over the last two games and gets an Arizona defense allowing the second-most YPC (4.7) this season. The Cardinals also rank last in run defense DVOA and have ceded by far the most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to running backs over the last five weeks. This game projects to have a fast pace and the Eagles should score close to 30 points, so Swift is a top-five RB this week.
Start: Derek Carr, Chris Godwin
Carr has thrown six touchdowns over the last two weeks and has performed better on the road this season. Tampa Bay has yielded the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs but the ninth-most to quarterbacks this season, and Carlton Davis looks likely to miss Sunday’s game with a concussion. A healthier Chris Olave helps Carr become a viable starter this week.
Godwin has averaged 11.0 targets over the last three weeks, posting a 41% first-read target rate over that span (compared to 23% for Mike Evans). Godwin remains due for touchdown regression having scored just once all season despite seeing the sixth-most targets inside the 10-yard line. Baker Mayfield is playing well and firing missiles, so start Godwin this week.
Start in DFS: Christian McCaffrey ($42), Jacoby Brissett ($20)
McCaffrey saw just 14 carries last week but broke 100 rushing yards for the fourth time over his last five games anyway. He’s gotten 6.8 YPC over that span and leads the NFL with 21 touchdowns this season. San Francisco must travel during a short week and is dealing with multiple injuries along its O-line, but the offense will be motivated coming off an embarrassing loss in prime time. The 49ers have the highest implied team total (31+ points) this week, and the Commanders have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs.
It also looks like a Deebo Samuel week.
Brissett has produced a touchdown during his last five (full) drives and leads the NFL in Passer Rating (146.8) and adjusted net yards per attempt over the last two weeks. He now gets a San Francisco defense traveling during a short week whose opponents average the third-most pass attempts this season. The total for this game shot up a whopping 7.5 points since Brissett was named the starter over Sam Howell. Brissett is an enticing DFS play at the minimum this week.
Start: George Pickens
Start in DFS: Kenneth Walker ($22)
Pickens had a big game and led Pittsburgh in targets and air yards during Mason Rudolph’s first start last week. He’s an inconsistent player who’s not a fan of blocking, but Pickens excels against press and Cover 3, coverages Seattle uses at among league-high rates. You’re not just chasing last game’s stats when starting Pickens this week.
Walker’s status needs to be monitored after missing practice Thursday, but he’s a DFS option if good to go. K9 saw 16-of-19 Seahawks’ RB carries last week, and he’s due for regression in the red zone. Seattle has faced top-12 run defenses each of the past six games, but get a Pittsburgh defense allowing the seventh-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to RBs over the last five weeks. The Seahawks are 3.5-point home favorites, so game script should be favorable. Walker is undervalued with an RB20 DFS salary this week.
Start: Joe Mixon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Mixon has an NFL-high 11 carries inside the five-yard line over the last month, and the Bengals offense could get a boost with Ja’Marr Chase returning to practice this week. The Chiefs have been one of the worst run defenses over the last five weeks, so keep Mixon in fantasy lineups.
Edwards-Helaire could lead Kansas City’s backfield Sunday with Jerick McKinnon on IR and Isiah Pacheco missing practice while in concussion protocol. La’Mical Perine will also get touches, but CEH saw 30 with Pacheco out over the previous two games (and McKinnon was active then). The Chiefs have the fifth-highest implied team point total and are likely to bounce back after last week’s dud in a much more favorable matchup. Edwards-Helaire could easily be a top-10 RB this week if Pacheco sits.
Start: Austin Ekeler, Jerry Jeudy
Ekeler saw 19-of-23 RB opportunities last week during LA’s first game without Brandon Staley. He lacks explosion playing through an injury, but Ekeler should continue to see high-value touches in a favorable matchup. The Broncos have allowed an NFL-high 5.1 YPC and the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season. The spread has dropped to 3.5 points after Denver benched Russell Wilson, so game script shouldn’t be an issue for Ekeler this week.
Jeudy should have an expanded role Sunday with Courtland Sutton (concussion) unlikely to play and Marvin Mims Jr. a late addition to the injury report with a hamstring injury. New quarterback Jarrett Stidham could also benefit Jeudy, whose target rate (18.8%) from Mr. Checkdown Wilson ranked 63rd among receivers. Jeudy is a frustrating player who was badly outplayed by Sutton this season, but he’s a sneaky fantasy start this week.
Start: Tucker Kraft, Ty Chandler
Kraft is looking at an increased role Sunday night with Christian Watson, Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks all dealing with injuries. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are also banged up, while Kraft continues to impress while starting for an injured Luke Musgrave. He’s a solid start Sunday night.
Chandler didn’t see much work last week in a tough matchup but dominated the snaps while the returning Alexander Mattison saw just 8% of them. Minnesota is likely to focus on its running game more this week with fifth-round rookie Jaren Hall making his second career start, T.J. Hockenson out and Jordan Addison banged up. The Packers rank second-worst in run defense DVOA over the last five weeks, so Chandler is a strong start Sunday night.