Anything can happen in Week 17. Unfortunately, that doesn’t just mean that the underdog can beat the heavily-favored team in the championship, it also means teams and coaches can bench players whenever they feel like it and have absolutely no obligation to tell us. You could even hear Bruce Arians tell you that Tom Brady is going to start this week, but what he fails to mention is that they will be taking him out after two drives to preserve him for the playoffs. There’s just no way of knowing. But there are 11 teams who have their playoff hopes on the line, and essentially need to win this week to not have their seasons end this Sunday. Those are the teams I’m targeting in this waiver wire column, and those are the teams I’ll be targeting for my own fantasy teams. Those teams are: Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Football Team, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, and Arizona Cardinals. Every other team could do whatever they want at any moment, and that is something you will need to be monitoring closely this week.
With that said, good luck in your championships, and may your commissioner change it to Week 16 championships next year!
Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Rams (19% rostership on Yahoo/32% on ESPN)
With Darrell Henderson placed on IR, and Cam Akers dealing a high-ankle sprain of his own, that leaves Malcolm Brown as the last man standing in the Rams backfield in a must-win game against the Cardinals, a team that just gave up 183 yards rushing to Jeff Wilson Jr. Week 17 is always a weird week as far as playing time and opportunities go, but you can feel good about Brown getting the full workload here.
Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens (40%/22%)
While a lot of the value here does depend on J.K. Dobbins health coming into Week 17, Gus Edwards has been a solid floor play for quite some time now. He’s scored in double-digits in three of the past four weeks (and the one week he missed out he scored 9.8 points), and that has all been as Dobbins’ backup. If the chest injury keeps Dobbins out for Week 17, Edwards becomes a great play against a bad Bengals defense that just let David Johnson do whatever he wanted against them.
Honorable Mentions: Handcuffs for any teams that have clinched a playoff spot. Darrel Williams, AJ Dillon, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Carlos Hyde, and Benny Snell Jr. are all players you want to grab if you have the starting RB.
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys (44% rostership on Yahoo/44% on ESPN)
If you need a high-risk, high-reward play, look no further than the man who has scored everywhere between 30 points and 4 points over the past 6 weeks. Since the Cowboys’ bye week, Michael Gallup has averaged 7 targets per game, and has really developed a connection with Andy Dalton, who looks increasingly more comfortable with the offense each week. They are playing for their playoff lives against the New York Giants, and Gallup should factor very much into that.
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (44%/58%)
On the other side of the Cowboys game is Sterling Shepard, who has played extremely well with Daniel Jones under center this year. The Giants are still fighting for the division title, and will be going all out in Week 17, which bodes well for Shepard. He has scored in double digits in 6 of the past 9 games, and is a safe play against a bad Cowboys defense.
There aren’t a ton of other WRs that stand out to me here, as many of the players who you might want to go pick up are also on teams with nothing to play for and therefore may spread the offense around quite a bit more. Keep your ears to the ground when it comes to what coaches are saying this week about their gameplan, and be ready to pounce on players like Nelson Agholor or Mecole Hardman if what the coaches are saying sounds promising.
Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings (15%/6%)
As far as talent goes, I think Irv Smith Jr. is one of the better receiving threats at tight end in the NFL. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always get a ton of opportunity, but he has been getting more of that lately with Kyle Rudolph missing action. The Vikings might have a nice Week 17 shootout with the Detroit Lions, and that should give Smith Jr. plenty of opportunities.
(Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire)