If you are reading this column, then you might easily be competing for a fantasy championship this week. Which means that you are dealing with the various nuances involved with having a fantasy Super Bowl occur during Week 17.
Some of the players that you have depended on during the regular season may not be available because they will be watching their teams from the sidelines. Fortunately, this column is here to assist you. With that in mind, here are the Week 17 rankings, followed by analysis of the QB1s, and the best and worst matchups. All of which will be done on the premise that the signal callers mentioned will be in the lineups for their teams. The status of some will undoubtedly change as game times approach, and the rankings will be updated accordingly.
Good luck to all of you. And thank you for reading this column throughout the season.
Week 17 Rankings
1. Aaron Rodgers vs. Lions
He rebounded sufficiently from his uncharacteristically ugly performance in Week 15, by generating 318 yards and a TD in Week 16. It was the eighth time that he has surpassed 300 yards this season, and his 36 TDs place him third among all QBs. While the Lions thoroughly neutralized Rodgers during their September matchup, they also just allowed Jimmy Clausen to burn them for two TDs last Sunday.
2. Matt Ryan vs. Panthers
Ryan outplayed Brees during their critical NFC South showdown, while surpassing 300 yards for the fourth consecutive week. He has averaged 342 YPG during that span, while also producing 11 TDs. Even though Carolina's defense has begun to resemble last season’s imposing unit, Ryan has the acumen and weaponry to continue his streak of high quality production by generating 300 yards and multiple TDs this week.
3. Russell Wilson vs. Rams
Many owners who had been utilizing Wilson throughout their postseason run were extremely hesitant to employ him again during Week 16. Because his matchup with an Arizona defense that had limited his numbers under DC Todd Bowles was a major concern. But those who chose to start him were rewarded with a whopping 427 total yards and three TDs that he registered against the Cardinals. He should deliver another favorable performance versus a Ram defense that he dissected for 313 yards and two TDs in Week 7.
4. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Bengals
Even though he remains second among all QB with 4,635 yards for the season, Roethlisberger managed just 220 against Kansas City’s second ranked pass defense in Week 16. It was only the second time that he has failed to reach 300 in his last eight contests. He has also recorded just one TD in his last two games, after producing one versus the Chiefs. They will not be easy to attain this week either, as Cincinnati has only surrendered 16 scores through the air. While that is the NFL’s lowest total, Roethlisberger owners can maintain hope since he burned the Bengals for 350 yards and three TDs in Week 14.
5. Peyton Manning vs. Raiders
After attempting just 20 passes in both Week 14 and Week 15, Manning launched 44 in Cincinnati on Monday Night. Unfortunately, four of them were pilfered by Bengals, which was the most INTs that he has thrown in a game since 2010. While that hurt owners in leagues that penalize turnovers, he did produce 311 yards, which was his first 300-yard performance since Week 11. Even though he tortured the Oakland defense for 340 yards and five scores in Week 10, he is not stockpiling yardage and TDs like he was at that time.
6. Drew Brees at Buccaneers
Even though he manufactured 313 yards in Week 16, the unsightly version of Brees that has materialized at times this season reemerged during his matchup with Atlanta. Hurried and inaccurate throws were prevalent, which led to two INTs and a fumble that essentially ended the Saints’ season. His ineffective performance was even more disheartening for owners considering his dream matchup with the NFL’s worst pass defense. Anyone who is still in position to use him, can only hope that he will be more proficient against Tampa Bay’s 26th ranked pass defense.
7. Cam Newton at Falcons
Overall, this certainly has been a disappointing season for Newton, and anyone who selected him to lead their teams. However, he presented a gargantuan gift to those who started him in Week 16 by assembling 264 total yards and two TDs. That becomes even more impressive considering his lightning fast recovery from a traffic accident. He now has a tremendous opportunity to provide another gem versus the NFL's worst defense.
8. Eli Manning vs. Eagles
Manning has generated at least 250 yards in seven of his last eight contests, and has exceeded 330 in three of them. It is no coincidence that his output improved once Odell Beckham Jr. ascended into the lineup. The rookie wideout has assembled 130+ yards in four of his last games, and at least 90 during the Giants’ last eight. Manning should connect with his dynamic weapon repeatedly against Philadelphia’s 25th ranked pass defense this week. Far more talented corners have failed to contain Beckham in recent weeks than anyone that Philadelphia will have available.
9. Andrew Luck at Titans
Much like the collective nightmare that owners of Rodgers, Manning, Brees, and Stafford experienced during the fantasy postseason anyone inserted Luck into their Week 16 lineup witnessed a horror show that was devastating in their quest for championships. Not only did Luck fail to throw a TD pass for the first time this season, but his paltry 109 yards easily established a new season low. He has a chance to redeem himself for anyone that is still playing, when he faces a Tennessee defense that has surrendered 25 TDs through the air, and allows 27 PPG. However, the potential for an early departure from the contest negatively impacts his value.
10. Tony Romo at Redskins
He has now thrown at least three TD passes in five of his last six games, after generating four against the Colts in Week 16. That tied his season high, which could have been surpassed had he not been pulled during the one sided contest. He has arguably been the most dependable signal caller for owners during the fantasy postseason, and should continue his high quality production versus a Washington pass defense that has surrendered a league worst 33 TDs. He would be ranked much higher if not for concerns that his snap count will be limited.
11. Tom Brady vs. Bills
Rex Ryan’s defense provided a sizable challenge to Brady in Week 16, as he was limited to just one TD, and his second lowest yardage total of the season (182). He will attempt to rebound this week while adding to his amazing career record of 23-2 against the Bills. It includes their Week 6 matchup, when he amassed a season high 361 yards and four TDs. However, he will not reach that level of output this week against Buffalo’s third ranked pass defense. The possibility that he will not perform for four quarters led to his slide in the rankings.
12. Jay Cutler at Vikings
Cutler reenters the fray for his team this week, which enables owners to reinsert him into theirs. He may not be able to replicate the 330 yards and three TDs that he accumulated against Minnesota in Week 11, but still should produce respectable numbers. The Vikings had been stingy versus the pass in recent outings until Ryan Tannehill shredded them for 396 yards and four TDs in Week 16.
13. Matthew Stafford at Packers
Those who selected Stafford early in last summer’s drafts were certainly envisioning far better results than he delivered in the past two weeks. After supplying a season low 153 yards in Week 15, Stafford failed to generate a TD in Week 16, despite an appealing matchup versus the league’s 31st pass defense. He also tossed two INTs to culminate a massive letdown for his owners. He amassed 246 yards against the Packers in Week 3, but his recent output does not indicate that a repeat performance is imminent.
14. Mark Sanchez at Giants
Even before his game changing INT in Week 16, several uncomfortable images lingered for Sanchez owners throughout his matchup with Washington. Not only did he continue to stare down his primary option on multiple plays, but he often spent a sizable amount of time in a shrinking pocket before launching the ball. He still managed to torch the Redskins’ deficient pass defense for a career high 374 yards and two TDs, and should accumulate over 250 yards against the Giants.
15. Teddy Bridgewater vs. Bears
16. Philip Rivers at Chiefs
17. Ryan Tannehill vs. Jets
18. Andy Dalton at Steelers
19. Joe Flacco vs. Browns
20. Kyle Orton at Patriots
21. Josh McCown vs. Saints
22. Robert Griffin III vs. Cowboys
23. Colin Kaepernick vs. Cardinals
24. Geno Smith at Dolphins
Andrew Luck vs. Titans
T.Y. Hilton's lingering hamstring issue forced Luck to persevere without his top receiver in Week 16, which contributed to the Colts’ outlandish meltdown. But even though he has only managed 296 passing yards in his last two games combined, Luck is fully capable of a statistical revitalization against Tennessee, similar to what had become routine during his first 13 contests. Luck shredded the Titans for 393 yards and four TDs during their Week 4 matchup. The only caveat for Luck owners will be the risk that he will be removed form the contest before he can accumulate massive numbers.
Cam Newton at Falcons
Newton’s encouraging performance in Week 16 provides considerable reason for optimism that he can deliver sizable numbers again this week. As does his enticing matchup with Atlanta. The Falcons are is dead last in total defense (404 YPG), 32nd in pass defense (291 YPG), and 18th when attempting to stop the run (113 YPG). Newton amassed his second highest yardage total of the season against his division rival in Week 11 (292), while tossing two TDs, and could achieve even better results.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Lions
Detroit thoroughly neutralized Rodgers during their September matchup, limiting him to just 162 yards and one TD in Week 3, and they certainly have the personnel to create massive issues for him again. The Lions are second in scoring defense, third in total defense, and sixth with 41 sacks. Even though Rodgers might deliver better production during this rematch than he did during their initial encounter, it should remain below the high quality output that owners had experienced for much of the season.
Philip Rivers at Chiefs
Rivers just torched the 49ers for a season high 356 yards and four TDs in Week 16. However, he is unlikely to duplicate that performance this week. Only Seattle allows fewer yards to opposing QBs than the Chiefs, who permit just 200. They have not allowed a signal caller to amass 300 yards this season, and have not yielded multiple TDs since Week 13. Kansas City is far more vulnerable when opponents attack them on the ground than through the air, as they currently rank 28th versus the run (128 YPG). But the Chargers’ ineffective ground game will force a heavy reliance on Rivers.