A lot of leagues wrapped up in week 16, but some of you may still be going in the final week of the year. If you are, good luck. It seems that this week 17, compared to others from past years, is one of the more difficult ones as far as determining which quarterbacks are going to play, and for how long. If you are playing this week, make sure you read up on every playoff scenario as well as the various coaching philosophies that may come into play. For example:
- As of today, Lovie Smith plans to play his starters for a large portion of Sunday's game. However, that may change, and, either way, I don't recommend Jay Cutler (CHI) this week.
- Bill Belichick will likely play Tom Brady (NE) for at least three quarters, enough time for him to amass a solid fantasy day against the rival Dolphins.
- Matt Cassell (KC) will see considerable playing time this week, according to coach Todd Haley, who said he’ll approach this game like any other.
If you are still battling, start these guys in Week 17:
|Eli Manning @ WAS
||As predicted, Manning put up some yards last week but his performance was marred by four devastating interceptions that hurt his Giants and fantasy owners everywhere. Manning now leads the league in interceptions and has been incredibly inconsistent.
Even with Hakeem Nicks likely out this week, I like Manning to have one of his better games in the season finale. Although Eli had a rough time in his prior matchup with the ‘Skins, Washington has generally been awful against the pass, giving up the second most passing yards and collecting only 13 interceptions this year. Manning will have everything to play for while the Redskins have nothing, so expect the QB to put up solid numbers.
|Ben Roethlisberger @ CLE||Roethlisberger overcame a tough Panthers pass defense to put up 300 yards and one touchdown Thursday. While his numbers haven’t been stunning, he’s consistently put up 250+ yards and a touchdown in most of his games. You can expect at least that this week as the Steelers travel to Cleveland. The Browns pass D has been very average, and Big Ben torched them in their previous meeting. With seeding at stake, as well as pride, expect the Steelers to come out big and destroy their division rival.|
|Matt Schaub vs JAC
|Before crumbling in the final minutes, Schaub put up a respectable 310 yards and one touchdown against Denver last week. He now has a touchdown in seven straight games, with five multiple-touchdown games during that stretch. While the Texans aren’t in the playoff chase, they may be playing for their coach’s job Sunday. Who knows how big of a motivator that will be, but I expect Schaub will continue to impress against a bottom-tier pass defense.|
|Sam Bradford @ SEA||The rookie broke his mini-slump last week with a 292-yard showing. Last time he faced the Seahawks, he had one of his best games in his short career, throwing for 290 yards and two scores. Seattle has given up the third most touchdowns and fourth most passing yards. In what should be the game of the week, I expect Bradford to look like a vet while leading the Rams in a quasi-playoff game.|
|Tim Tebow vs. SD||Hopefully some of you took my advice and played Tebow last week against Houston. If you didn’t, it’s not too late to jump on his bandwagon. While San Diego has been tough against the pass, they are eliminated from playoff contention, so they may play unmotivated this week. At the same time, no one doubts that the rookie QB will be working hard all week and during the game Sunday. He earns points running and passing, making him a fairly safe start this week in deeper leagues.|
And here is who to sit in Week 17:
|Matt Ryan vs CAR
||In a marquee matchup on Monday night, Ryan came up short, throwing for fewer than 150 yards against the Saints. He now hasn’t thrown for 250 yards in over a month and has three sub-200 yard games since then.
This week, he’ll try to bounce back against the rival Panthers. While Carolina has had a terrible year overall, the pass defense has actually been fairly strong (they held Ryan to an average game in the previous meeting). On a short week, I don’t expect the Falcons or Ryan to come out firing Sunday. Also, the third-year QB may not play the whole game, depending on a number of factors.
|Mark Sanchez vs BUF||After a week of doubts, Sanchez impressed last week against a tough Chicago pass D, amassing 269 yards, his highest total since week 11. Still, that doesn’t eradicate the prior issues with the second-year signal caller. Sanchez is banged up and unreliable. In his last game against Buffalo, he couldn’t even reach 170 yards. Also, Coach Rex Ryan’s plans for Sanchez and the rest of the starters are unclear. Your plans though, should be clear. Sit Sanchez.|
|Jay Cutler @ GB||Playing against the aforementioned Sanchez, Jay Cutler also impressed analysts with three touchdowns to go with 215 yards. The gunslinger has been up and down of late, but now has three multiple-touchdown outings in his last five games. That said, I wouldn’t trust him to win your league in week 17. He had a mediocre game last time the Bears faced the Packers, and that was at Soldier Field. This time, Cutler will travel to Lambeau Field and face a team hungry for a playoff spot.|
|Josh Freeman @ NO||Freeman had his best game ever Sunday, throwing five touchdowns against Seattle. He hadn’t thrown for more than two prior to last week's explosion. The Bucs have only a slight chance at the playoffs now, and that small chance will likely disappear as Tampa travels to face a hungry Saints team. New Orleans is second in pass yards against and is first in passing touchdowns against. That’s bad news for Freeman and his fantasy owners.|