The vast majority of fantasy leagues have already wrapped up their season, but for those of you still going this week, good luck. Week 17 is always tricky to fill a full, yet competitive roster. Many teams with nothing to play for this weekend will rest their star players to avoid unnecessary injuries. This is especially true at the quarterback position.
This year, we have three confirmed to be sitting and two more likely to only play a part of the game. Four of these five players below are in the QB1 discussion week in and week out, which makes it difficult if you have one of them on your fantasy roster.
Expected to Play Part of Game
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Not Expected To Play
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Defensive Matchup: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Road)
The Buccaneers might not have anything to play for, but Drew Brees and the Saints sure do. Currently tied with Carolina atop the NFC South, a win will secure them home field in the wild card round of the NFC playoffs. Historically, the Saints have always been a much better home team, so this game is huge for them.
Defensively, Tampa Bay hasn’t had much luck stopping anybody this year. In terms of fantasy points allowed, they’re bottom-10 against running backs, quarterbacks, and the worst against wide receivers. New Orleans should put a lot of points on the board this weekend, which will lead to big fantasy games all around, including Brees. A 300+ yard, 2+ touchdown performance is attainable, even if he rests for some, or all, or the fourth quarter if the Saints have a massive lead. Brees is a strong QB1 and likely top-five option this week.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Defensive Matchup: Green Bay Packers (Home)
The Lions are eliminated from playoff contention, but all signs point to Matthew Stafford playing on Sunday in a juicy matchup with the Green Bay Packers. This Packers passing defense has been a big hunk of swiss cheese since their Week 8 bye, and that includes a Week 9 matchup against Stafford. In that game, Stafford threw for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Only Dak Prescott and Cam Newton had better fantasy games against Green Bay this season.
This Packers team threw in the towel when they put Aaron Rodgers back on injured reserve, so don’t expect them to put up much of a fight in this matchup. Stafford is a locked in QB1 for Week 17.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Defensive Matchup: New York Giants (Road)
There’s a reason why the New York Giants are the worst team in the NFL outside of the Cleveland Browns. They’re B-A-D, bad. They’ve allowed the most points scored in the NFC, and more importantly, the most fantasy points to the QB position. They’ve allowed 200+ passing yards in 12 straight games and 2+ passing touchdowns in seven of the last nine. The Redskins have nothing to fight for, but teams always get amped up for these divisional matchups.
On a per-game average, Cousins has been the eighth best fantasy QB this season. He ranks seventh in passing yards, sixth in passing touchdowns, and has thrown only 10 picks. He often doesn’t get a lot of publicity, but Cousins just flat-out produces year in and year out. Look for him to finish the season strong with a top-10, and potentially top-five, QB fantasy performance thanks to this plush matchup this weekend.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Defensive Matchup: Jacksonville Jaguars (Home)
I might have recommended Jimmy Garoppolo last week against the Jaguars (and it worked), but I’m sure as heck not doing that again this week with Marcus Mariota. You know how many QBs have thrown more touchdowns than Marcus Mariota this season? Twenty-five. And two more are tied with Mariota at 12. Things have not gone according to plan at all this season for Mariota and the Titans. And frankly, it hasn’t even been close.
Mariota entered the season as a top-10 QB and now sits as the current QB17 as we enter Week 17. He’s in danger of falling out of the top-20, too, as Tyrod Taylor, Jacoby Brissett, Derek Carr, and Andy Dalton are all nipping at his heels and have better matchups. We all know how good Jacksonville’s defense is, so I won’t tell you the same old statistics, but I will say one more thing here. The only way anyone should start Mariota this week is if you enjoy pain or losing fantasy football championships. The latter has also been known to cause pain.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Defensive Matchup: Los Angeles Chargers (Road)
It took until Week 17, but I finally didn’t start writing San Diego instead of Los Angeles for the Chargers. Took me long enough. Speaking of the Chargers, they’re still in the AFC playoff hunt this week. With a win and Tennessee loss, the Chargers will grab the second AFC wild card spot. After missing the last three seasons, the Chargers must be chomping at the bit to get back into the playoffs, so expect them to bring everything they have at Derek Carr.
The Chargers have been extremely tough on opposing QBs this season, especially over the last 10 games. Starting in Week 6, they’ve allowed only 203.7 passing yards per game to opposing starting QBs, to go along with nine touchdowns (one rushing) and 10 interceptions. In Week 6, Carr has one of his worst games of the season. He threw for just 171 yards and one touchdown while getting picked off twice. Don’t be surprised if that’s roughly what his stat line looks like this weekend. Carr isn’t a recommended play. Not even close.
Sleeper of the Week
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Defensive Matchup: Los Angeles Rams (Road)
Okay, I’m cheating here. I’m not quite sure if Jimmy Garoppolo qualifies as a “sleeper” anymore, but he’s owned in less than 50% of fantasy leagues and I wanted to write about him one last time this season. Jimmy G is the anti-Browns. He just won’t lose a game. In fantasy, he’s already becoming a match-up safe fantasy QB, and that isn’t changing this week against the Rams.
Sure, the Rams have a solid defense, but let’s face it, Jimmy G is unstoppable right now. Only Ben Roethlisberger and Blake Bortles have more passing yards over the last four games than Garoppolo. I’m ranking him as a top-10 fantasy QB next season, and that’s already taking effect here over the last few weeks. Unless I have a stud QB on my roster, I’m starting Jimmy G this week. Like I said on Twitter earlier in the week, the G in “Jimmy G” stands for greatness.
Thank you for checking out my QB matchup report each week this season. Check back for playoff coverage here at Fantrax over the next few weeks.