Good Day and welcome to Week 17 with the long, long trip for the 2015-16 season is coming to an end.
Week 17 is probably the most unpredictable week of the NFL season. There's a pretty good reason why most standard fantasy leagues have eliminated Week 17 in the last decade. If your season-long fantasy league has ended and about 95 percent of those leagues have ended, you can head over to FanDuel to play Sunday with several contests available for the final regular season week.
Week 17 is also the Rotowire Expert Championship with the experts who finished in the top five each week and/or the top 10 overall (weeks 1 through 16) earning an entry into the final with $2,000 up for grabs.
Shannon McKeown (rotoshannon) held on to win the RotoWire Expert Championship regular season that ended last week and he doubled it up by winning Week 16. McKeown was one of the few that had a good Week 16 as he thoroughly outpaced the field with 162.92 points, more than 10 points ahead of Brian Pelowski (brianp) who finished with 152.42 points.
McKeown took the season title with 2,074.98 points where he extended his lead after Week 15 over Josh Collacchi (JCollacchi) who finished second overall with 2,018.54 points as he accumulated only 121.92 points in Week 16. Joel Bartilotta (joelbartilotta), Tate McIntyre (tamc10) and Peter Merrill (black26) finished third, fourth and five place overall respectively.
McKeown rose to the top of the list last week with the Jaguars duo of QB Blake Bortles and WR Allen Hurns with the pair combining for 57.82 points. As it turned out it really didn't matter if you had Hurn's WR teammate Allen Robinson who rolled up 24.1 points. Shannon also chose RB Tim Hightower who was only owned by 2.8 percent of the owners, but rang up 30.4 points. He also benefitted from the Vikings blowout of the Giants with 23 points from Minnesota K Blair Walsh.
It seems that many in the top half of the field of the RotoWire Staff Championship had as bad a week as I (chicagoEd) did since I moved up to ninth place with only 103.32 points, 22nd out of the field of 36 in Week 16. Two players played poorly for me that stuck in Jacksonville TE Julius Thomas, 2.2 points, who was one of the few Jaguars that had a bad day against New Orleans and Minnesota WR Stefon Diggs, 3.9 points, as the Giants did not put up a fight and in turn Minnesota ran the ball.
Here is the final top 10 for the RotoWire Expert Championship and here is the full leaderboard.
1. Shannon McKeown (rotoshannon) - 2,074.98
2. Josh Collacchi (JCollacchi) - 2,018.54
3. Joel Bartilotta (joelbartilotta) - 2,005.26
4. Tate McIntyre (tamc10) - 1,985.50
5. Peter Merrill (black26) - 1,982.90
6. Peter Schoenke (rotopeter) - 1,981.12
7. Jeff Stotts (RotowireATC) - 1,951.78
8. Chris Smith (smithca28) - 1,924.42
9. Ed Kensik (chicagoed) - 1,922.74
10. Adam Wolf (rotosomething) - 1,919.26
For Week 17 it comes down to what is in the brains of the NFL head coaches and offensive coordinators in what is in their game plan. Most coaches will go for the win, but if player is banged up heading into the game you might want to look for somebody else.
There are only two spots that remain available for the playoffs this weekend, the last AFC wild card spot (between Pittsburgh and the New York Jets) and the AFC South title. Houston has the upper hand for the AFC South with the Colts needing several teams to win in terms of the tiebreaker.
Denver, New England, Green Bay, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Washington, Seattle, Arizona and Carolina, have all clinched playoff bids with the only thing left is seeding for many of the teams. It's hard to determine how much the teams will go all out if a game becomes one sided and you cringe when you have one of your players that picked in Week 17 sitting on the sidelines without a helmet.
Outside of the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers, the other teams are sort of a Twinkie wrapped in a riddle like it is said on 'Seinfeld'.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: New York Jets @ Buffalo
I'm going with the quarterback of the team that really needs a win to get into the playoffs. Fitzpatrick just missed 300 yards last week by four yards in the victory over the Patriots. Fitzpatrick has three or more touchdowns in three of the last five weeks including four touchdowns against the Dolphins on November 29. In addition the Bills passing defense is specifically liable to give up the 20-yard plus passes so Jets WR Brandon Marshall might be heading for another big game.
QB Eli Manning: New York Giants vs. Philadelphia
With this possibly being Giants coach Tom Coughlin's last game, there's no doubt that Manning and the rest of the Giants would like to send him away with a victory. In addition WR Odell Beckham is returning after the one-week suspension and you could see last week against Minnesota that the Giants offense was pretty lifeless without Beckham. The Eagles passing defense has been one of the worst in the last few weeks of the season and it has become even poorer since the first time these two teams met in October where Manning only put up 10.76 points. The recent decision to finally choose RB Rashad Jennings as its number one back should open the Giants to be playing a lot of play-action pass.
RB Christopher Ivory: New York Jets @ Buffalo
Ivory has been hurt by the recent ascension by fellow Jets RB Bilal Powell, but Powell is questionable to play on Sunday. Without Powell as a major play in the offense, Ivory has flourished. The Bills defense is in disarray where their top players like Mario Williams are openly criticizing Coach Rex Reed's defense. Ivory could see numbers like on November 29 against Miami where he ran 21 times for 87 yards one touchdown and two receptions for 15 yards for 17.2 points.
RB Jeremy Langford: Chicago vs. Detroit
Check the status of Matt Forte before going ahead with Langford, but as the beginning of the weekend, Forte was very questionable to play against the Lions. When Forte was out, Langford showed the Bears that they do not have to re-sign Forte this off-season and is the future for Chicago. Two of the weeks where Forte did not play, Langford went off for 23.7 points against San Diego (November 9) and 33.7 points against St. Louis (November 15). He only collected 11.7 points against Denver on November 22, but the Lions defense cannot be confused with the Broncos defense.
WR Michael Floyd: Arizona vs. Seattle
The last time these two teams faced each other Floyd went off for seven catches for 113 receiving yards and two touchdowns for 26.8 points. At the start of the weekend, Floyd was questionable to play, but was expected to be on the field for Sunday so make sure you check the inactives or at least get a sense of his availability since it is a late game. Floyd has average 97 yards receiving per game in the last four weeks. Outside of a dud against San Francisco on November 29 (1 catch for 14 yards), Floyd has gone over the century mark five times out of the last seven games.
WR Jordan Matthews: Philadelphia at New York Giants
While the Eagles defense has given up the second most receiving touchdowns (34), the New York Giants defense has given up the sixth most receiving touchdowns (29) on the season and Matthews has been hot lately. He had eight catches for 159 yards and one touchdown (25.9 points) against a tough Arizona defense (December 20) and six catches for 104 yards and one touchdown (19.4 points) in Week 16 against Washington.
WR Eric Decker: New York Jets @ Buffalo
Jets teammate WR Brandon Marshall would be the pick here, but he's the fifth most expensive WR at $8,600 so we are talking value. Decker is $1,200 cheaper and has been steady and has averaged 70 yards and almost a touchdown per game, 11 receiving scores going into the final. Decker has averaged almost 14.5 points per game in the last five games. He also had six catches for 85 yards, one touchdown for 17.5 points against the Bills on November 12.
WRKeshawn Martin: New England @ Miami
The New England receivers' scenario is a mess. WR Danny Amendola might return this week, but he is banged up. Martin is one of the few healthy options against a Dolphins passing defense that has allowed the fourth most receiving touchdowns (31) this season in the NFL. Martin has been talked about as a favorite target for QB Tom Brady for the last half of the season finally hooked up with Brady significantly last week, seven catches for 68 yards against the Jets for 10.9 points.
TE Zach Ertz: Philadelphia @ New York Giants
Ertz has been on fire the last two weeks with 13 catches for 122 yards (16.7 points) last week against Washington and eight receptions for 78 yards and one touchdown (17.8 points) against Arizona on December 20. Ertz will go up against Giants passing defense that has allowed the second-most yards and points to tight ends, the New Orleans defense is the most charitable to tight ends.
High Risk/High Reward
QB Ben Roethlisberger: Pittsburgh @ Cleveland
A lot of naysayers are pointing to Big Ben's problems on the road. He's only collected 10.88 points in Cincinnati on December 13 and 6.5 points in Baltimore last week. Roethlisberger though goes up against a Cleveland defense that is looking to 2016-17 and has allowed the fourth-most passing touchdowns (31). The Steelers need a win to have a chance to make the playoffs so the game means something to Pittsburgh. In addition Big Ben threw for 379 yards and three touchdowns (27.96 points) against the Browns on November 15. In addition there is no doubt the Steelers WR Antonio Brown will want to rebound after only seven catches for 61 yards last week.
WR: Odell Beckham: New York Giants vs. Philadelphia
My guess is that Beckham wants to make up for last week's suspension. Combine that with the Giants being home and outside of New Orleans, the Eagles have given up the most receiving touchdowns (34) in the NFL. Before the suspension Beckham averaged a little more than 24 points in the last four weeks and you can see him go out of the 2015-16 season with a bang.
Players To Avoid
QB Aaron Rodgers: Green Bay vs. Minnesota
The Minnesota defense might not be up there with the Arizona defense, but they have a quality defense that is in the top half of the NFL in allowing the least number of passing touchdowns (23). There is no doubt and you have heard this several times that the Green Bay passing game has dropped several notches without WR Jordy Nelson in the lineup. Rodgers has only been over 20 points, once in the last six weeks and the only game was the Thursday night Hail Mary miracle over Detroit (26.62) that put him over 20 points.
RB Matt Forte: Chicago vs. Detroit
Forte is questionable with a back injury heading into the final against Detroit. If he does play, you should avoid him. He has gotten the better of the carries with teammate RB Jeremy Langford, but more times than not they have sort of cancelled each other out.