29 Dec Stromme’s Takes: Exploring the Treacherous Terrain of Week 17
By: Mike Stromme
To be honest, I hate Week 17.
My fantasy leagues have concluded, my Rams are out (once again) and it always seems as if about one-third of the league is just going through the motions. For those who are in favour of an extended regular season (18 games or so), watch the entire slate this week. Tell me how exhilarating the Steelers’ JV squad matches up with the 1-14 Cleveland Browns, or how exciting the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Jets are going to look against E.J. Manuel’s Bills. Riveting stuff.
Yeah, these games are going to suck for the most part. It’s a week for us degenerate gamblers, DFS junkies and fantasy fanatics to come back to the slop bucket for one last helping of a full slate of pro football at its highest level.
Don’t worry, I too fit that description. I’m right there with you! I’ll be there, right in-front of my flat screen television with my laptop open and Pabst Blue Ribbon cracked come Sunday afternoon, shaking for one last fix before Wild Card weekend. If you’re reading this, you’re probably metaphorically right there with me.
By the way, if your season-long league is still active right now, please reconsider your league format next season. I would hate to ride Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethilisberger, Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliot all the way to a final, only to bench them in the final. Talk about a buzzkill.
When it comes to Week 17, following narratives, story lines, coach’s speak and beat reporters are just as vital (if not more) than reading box scores. Finding out who’s in, who’s out, who’s got a big contract incentive, etc. is what makes or breaks your Week 17. Allow me to break things down.
The following teams still have playoff aspirations or a chance to win their division:
Green Bay Packers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kansas City Chiefs
These teams have a playoff spot locked-up, but seeding is still very much up in the air:
New England Patriots (have not clinched home field)
On paper, these teams don’t have much on the line, but their coaches have gone on-record to say that they will not rest starters:
Playoff teams that have confirmed that they will rest key players:
New York Giants*
*Now, nothing official has come from Giants’ camp regarding the status of their key players as of publish date (Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, etc.). However, many beat writers are certain that the Giants will mail this one in. The bookmakers appear to be leaning this way as well, the Redskins are 7.5 point favourites against the G-Men.
It’s also worth noting that the Carolina Panthers’ Devin Funchess and Luke Kuechly have been officially ruled OUT for Week 17. Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, Jonathan Stewart, Mario Addison and Charles Johnson are also either not practising or limited while participating.
Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of who’s either ruled OUT or expected to have a significantly reduced role.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys: Will start, but Mark Sanchez is expected to play a major role in this one.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills: Early reports indicated that the benching was a “business decision”. However, there is some rumblings out of Buffalo that suggest that he isn’t 100% healthy anyways. Neither here nor there, E.J. Manuel will start.
Bryce Petty, New York Jets: Placed on IR. Ryan Fitzmagic will start what is almost certainly his final game for Gang Green.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: This just makes sense, why risk this one at all? Brown and Bell will also be riding the pine in this one. Look for Landry Jones vs the now not winless Cleveland Browns.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans and Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders: Both promising, young QBs spent Christmas Eve in a hospital bed with broken fibulas. Matts Cassell and McGloin will start in their places.
Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas Cowboys: Again, why risk it? He’ll get a few carries early on, but expect him in street clothes after the half.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals: He was placed on IR this week with a knee injury.
Doug Martin and Charlie Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: One’s in rehab/suspended, the other was placed on IR. I’m sure you know who’s who by now.
Matt Forte/Bilal Powell, New York Jets: Both RBs are not expected to contribute too much due to multiple ailments. But, there’s still a small, microscopic chance they could be active, check your Twitter feed for the latest.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers: See Roethlisberger, Ben.
T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory, Jacksonville Jaguars: Yeldon’s on IR and Ivory’s status is shaky at best.
Kenneth Farrow, San Diego Chargers: Placed on IR, but wasn’t really good at anything to begin with anyways.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers: Placed on IR with a torn MCL.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers: … You know why.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals: Hamstring’s acting up (again).
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks: Placed on IR with a broken fibula.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals: Placed on IR following back surgery.
Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers: Still has not passed concussion protocol, was inactive last week.
Stromme’s Week 17 Sleepers:
Break-out the protractors, I’ve got some angles for those still in a season-long championship or partaking in DFS.
Tom Savage, Houston Texans: Was a dud on Christmas Eve, but many of us were too full of Christmas cheer to really notice. And by Christmas cheer, I mean Crown Royal. Tennessee has a vulnerable secondary and the Texans are going all-out this week according to coach Bill O’Brien. Worth a look in a tournament lineup, pair him with DeAndre Hopkins or even Will Fuller.
Ryan Fitzmagic, New York Jets: … LET ME EXPLAIN! His Jets have absolutely nothing to play for, but him and his buddy Brandon Marshall do. This could be his last shot to prove that he’s a suitable NFL backup. Plus, he did shred the Bills for 24/34-374-1-0 in Orchard Park this season already.
DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers: I fully-expect the Steelers to give the ball to D-Will a TON in this one. Why risk throwing the ball with Landry Jones anyways? He’s healthy and will put up numbers similar to last season’s resurgence against a putrid Browns run D in Week 17.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints: He’s a mere 60 yards away from 1,000 on the season. “We’re very well aware of what Mark needs to get to 1,000, and it’s a big goal for us this week,” Saints tackle Zach Strief.
Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars: Ivory might not go, Yeldon’s done. Behind shoelace are nothing but practice squad heros and retreads. I mean, he’s done it before?
Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys: When Zeke leaves, Run DMC will let loose. The only way this play doesn’t pan-out is if the Cowboys decide to rest that O-Line as well.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: No Dougernaught, no Sims. Rodgers becomes the feature back for coach Koetter. Who, by the way, hand-pick this guy off the street from his days in Atlanta.
Rex Burkhead, Cincinnati Bengals: Don’t love the matchup, but he’s in line for the bulk of the work so why not? Can do some things in the passing game.
Alex Collins, Seattle Seahawks: Took the lead back duties when Rawls left in the first half. Should be the feature back if he’s ruled out again.
Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts: Don’t look now, but old man Gore has had 70+ rushing yards in three of his last four. Could be the final game of his career, he might be looking to empty the tank in this one. Buyer beware: Robert Turbin has been nabbing his goal-line work.
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots: I could see the Pats going into the locker room with a sizeable lead, leading me to believe that Blount gets a ton of work in the second half. Just smells like a Blount game.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:
Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens: Smith said himself that he’s “85% sure” that this will be his final game in the league. Harbaugh echoed those sentiments. To me, he’s a lock for double-digit targets.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins: Coach Gruden says he looks healthy, he says he feels good and the Redskins need a win this week. I suspect he has a big game, especially after the Giants start resting starters in the second half.
New York Jets: It’s been a while since we’ve seen E.J. Manuel, but I remember him being just awful. I don’t care that this defence has all but given up, they’ll get in on this one.
Pittsburgh Steelers: This defense struggled in the sack dept. early on, but they’ve picked things up recently. RGIII in 2016 is a sack-fumble waiting to happen anyways.
Houston Texans: A team playing to win going up against Matt Cassell. Yup, he’s still around.
Kansas City Chiefs: Chiefs have been intimidating defensively lately, and by lately, I mean over the past two-three seasons or so. Rivers has been in the giving spirit all season. Plus, Tyreek Hill. Yeah, him.
Washington Redskins: There’s a solid chance that Eli sits this one out at some point. But hey, it’s not necessarily a bad thing even if he doesn’t.
Philadelphia Eagles: They’ll get Mark Sanchez at some point in this one.
Minnesota Vikings: For the most part, Matt Barkley’s been a cute little story for the Bears. But, he did throw 5 picks last week, so I mean look out for that.
Arizona Cardinals: Jared Goff couldn’t crack 100 PASSING YARDS against the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS!!! Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones and co. are gunna have fun with this one.
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