Fresh off the latest Sunday slate of games, Fantrax looks back at all the good, the bad, and the interesting from every NFL game in the Championship Week 17 fantasy football recap.
Hopefully, we can use what we learned in the first 17 weeks of fantasy football to help make better lineup decisions or keeper decisions looking into next season. This weekly column will highlight the week’s slate from a fantasy perspective, while also analyzing what trends to pay attention to in the weeks ahead.
For Week 17, we will look at the Sunday slate of games highlighted by a Tampa Bay passing game explosion, the Vikings getting cheese stuffed in their faces, and a couple of no-name backup quarterbacks that had outstanding fantasy days.
Week 17 Fantasy Football Recap
Week 17 Studs
When the Buccaneers needed it most, Tom Brady turned back the clock and gave an all-world performance with 432 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and a rushing score. His 37.68 fantasy points in Week 17 were more than any two games COMBINED from Week 5 thru Week 16.
Anyone who had Saquon Barkley in their championship matchup surely knows that all the damage on the ground on this one was done by Danny Dimes. In addition to throwing for 177 yards and two scores, Jones ran for 91 yards and two more touchdowns on the ground to give him his highest fantasy point total of the year. For those who were forced to start Jones as a desperation play against a depleted Colts team, enjoy your championship!
Jarrett Stidham and Brock Purdy
These two quarterbacks you had probably never heard of six weeks ago played the game of the day, a 37-34 San Francisco overtime victory. Both quarterbacks were phenomenal and Two-QB leagues where you had to grab these guys are loving it right now. In his first start of the year, Stidham threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns while also adding 34 more rushing yards. Purdy won his fifth start in a row with 284 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. Both of these guys have made significant cases that they should be on their team’s rosters next year.
Death, taxes, and C-Mac finishing as the RB1 for the week. McCaffrey should have had a much, MUCH bigger day, but was vultured a couple of times. He still ended up with 121 rushing yards, a rushing score, and 72 receiving yards on the day. In a game where some predicted he would be pulled early because the 49ers would be so far ahead, he gave fantasy managers exactly what they needed for their championship matchup.
Travis Etienne didn’t even touch the field after halftime in the Jaguars’ rout of the Texans. But one half is enough for good running backs when they play Houston. It was enough for Etienne to compile 108 rushing yards on just nine attempts, plus add a rushing touchdown and 32 receiving yards. Etienne had not had more than 12.7 fantasy points in five weeks, but those that trusted the matchup here were handsomely rewarded.
This was the D’Andre Swift that fantasy managers thought they would get all year long when they selected him in the second round of drafts this past offseason. He tallied 78 rushing yards, 39 receiving yards, and two total touchdowns in a game where Jamaal Williams had 144 rushing yards and a score of his own. Throw in three passing touchdowns for Jared Goff and it’s clear this offense is potent enough to sustain all of these fantasy assets. Let’s hope they run it back again next year.
After hauling in a beautiful pass from Kenny Pickett for a game-winning touchdown on Sunday Night Football, Harris checked the box score and found himself with 111 rushing yards, 12 receiving yards, and a score that sets up Pittsburgh to potentially clinch a playoff berth next week. His 19.3 fantasy points were the most since he checked in with two scores and 25.6 points on November 20th.
Mike Evans and Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin had a big day with 120 receiving yards and a two-point conversion, but it was Mike Evans who stole the show against the Panthers. Despite not having a touchdown since Week 3, Brady fed Evans early and often to the tune of 207 receiving yards and three scores on his 12 targets. Evans’ fantasy score today was 13 more points than any other wide receiver on today’s slate of games. Every number in Evans’ box score was a season-high, so if you drafted him in the third round this year, I hope you remained patient.
Davante Adams had the catch of the day on a long bomb from Stidham that set up the game-tying touchdown that sent this matchup to overtime. But overall, he put up seven catches, 153 receiving yards, and two scores. There were MANY analysts out there this week calling for fantasy managers to bench Adams this week because of the Stidham situation. Believers of the “Always Start Your Studs” crowd now have another checkmark in their ledger after this dominant Adams performance.
Across the field, Aiyuk looked just as good as Adams and ended the game with 101 receiving yards and a touchdown to pair with 16 rushing yards. Aiyuk has been one of Purdy’s favorite targets the last two weeks without Deebo Samuel. In that time, he has 19 targets, 14 catches, 182 receiving yards and a touchdown. Even with George Kittle and McCaffrey dominating lately, Aiyuk has been a focal point of the offense.
For all those who had Trey McBride leading the tight end position in fantasy scoring during championship week, come collect your winnings! McBride was new quarterback David Blough’s favorite target and he finished with 10 targets, seven, catches, 78 yards, and a touchdown.
It has been so good to see Darren Waller looking healthy again after basically a season and a half of injury and poor performance. He has 178 yards and two touchdowns the last three weeks, with 72 and one of those coming in Week 17. It was the high (fantasy) point of the season for a player who was drafted as a top-five tight end this year.
Week 17 Duds
All the Minnesota Vikings
I am sure there are literally thousands of fantasy managers who rode Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson stacks all the way to their championship game this week. Jefferson had scored at least 20 fantasy points in half-PPR formats in four of the last five games. Cousins had done the same thing, as they were building off each other to the tune of massive scores every week. Justin Jefferson had one catch for 15 yards in this game. His two half-PPR points means he was outscored by Cam Sims, N’Keal Harry, Laquon Treadwell, and Amari Rodgers, just to name a few. Adam Thielen had 2.1 fantasy points. Dalvin Cook finished with 5.4. Kirk Cousins was the big winner with 8.9 fantasy points, salvaging some kind of positive news on a long garbage-time touchdown. Thoughts and prayers to any of you who counted on Vikings to win your matchup this week.
Like with Travis Etienne, the Jaguars played it very conservatively with Lawrence, and he was replaced early in the second half to ensure he did not aggravate his foot injury ahead of a win-or-go-home matchup against the Titans in Week 18. The result was just 152 passing yards and an interception with no scores. In the end, we should have know that this kind of regression was possible considering the circumstances, but his strong play in recent weeks makes this one sting all the more.
The Minshew Mania Magic was good for only one week apparently. In Week 17, he did pass for 274 yards and one score, but he also threw a pick and the Eagles simply could not score except for one long bomb touchdown to A.J. Brown. The Saints apparently watched the tape from Week 16 and learned Minshew’s weaknesses. The Eagles only scored 10 points as New Orleans completely dominated the game from start to finish.
Not only did Daniel Jones outrush Barkley in this game today, but so did backup Matt Breida. Normally, you might say, Barkley can overcome that with his passing game work. Not so fast my friend. Barkley caught just two passes for negative five yards in this one. The setup was there for him to smash today, but that is far, far from what happened.
It seems the defense is the only fantasy asset worth owning in New England these days. Even though there were hints that Stevenson would get a massive workload in this must-win matchup against the Dolphins, he rushed just eight times for 42 yards and caught two short passes. Stevenson teased us with several massive performances throughout the year, but he shrunk back into his shell when it counted the last two weeks.
When your quarterback rushes for 132 yards (and is actively trying to break the quarterback single-season record), there just isn’t much left over for the starting running back, especially when you fall behind by three scores. Montgomery tallied only 24 rush yards and 12 receiving yards in this lopsided affair.
Carson Wentz looked like he had never played a down of NFL football before when he was out there against the Browns on Sunday. As a result, McLaurin caught just two of five targets for 25 empty yards. If there is one receiver in the NFL who desperately needs an upgrade at quarterback, it is this guy. Please get him one this offseason, Commanders!
The Garrett Wilson and Magic Mike White connection couldn’t get going in Seattle on Sunday. Wilson saw an astounding 11 targets, but he could only bring in three of them for just 18 yards and no scores. It was a very disappointing day for the Jets who were eliminated from the playoffs and whose offense did not get off the runway after Mike White was supposed to come back and breath some life into it. Maybe next year for this young, talented core.
Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf
The Jets entered Week 17 as the second-toughest matchup for opposing wide receivers this season. They allowed only 16.5 fantasy points per game to the position as Sauce Gardner and company simply shut people down. That is exactly what happened again here in Seattle as D.K. Metcalf bombed in his worst game of the season with one catch for three yards while Lockett checked in with two catches for just 15 yards. It ended up being the Kenneth Walker show, and it was exactly what Seattle needed to keep their playoff hopes alive. But fantasy managers get no consolation from that when they see less than two points from one of their top receivers all year.
In the last four weeks, Engram averaged 17.6 fantasy points in half-PPR formats. On Sunday, he scored 3.4. Just when we thought we could trust him again, he pulls this dud at the worst time of the season. He was a very popular streaming play, DFS play, and prop bet play in this game where the Jaguars scored 31 points. But Engram could not get involved and got shuffled out with the rest of the starters in the second half.
The return of Deshaun Watson did not, in fact, have an appreciable impact on Njoku’s fantasy success. After 2.6 fantasy points on Sunday, that is now less than 25 total points in his four games with Watson, including less than three points in each of the last two weeks. Maybe that connection will improve over the offseason, but those who held Njoku hoping for this strong playoff stretch saw very little return on their investment.
Injuries to Monitor
James Conner Leaves Game With Shin Injury
Status alert: James Conner (shin) questionable to return Sunday.
— Underdog NFL (@Underdog__NFL) January 1, 2023
After playing more than 90% of snaps in four straight weeks, the workload may have finally gotten to Conner. He was forced to leave the game in Week 17 and Corey Clement filled in along with big days from Trey McBride and Marquise Brown. If you have anything to play for in Week 18, you will be the opposite of the Cardinals who might just decided to rest the 28-year old running back as they look to maximize their draft pick.
Lamar Jackson Hopes to Play in Playoffs
INJURY UPDATE: @Ravens QB Lamar Jackson (knee) unlikely to play in Week 18. Team is being extra cautious and want him ready / healthy for their playoff run pic.twitter.com/2xLzUw7Nss
— The Fantasy Source 🔮🏈 (@FantasySource_) January 1, 2023
After watching the debacle on Sunday Night Football, Baltimore fans are clamoring for Lamar Jackson to come back. But with the Ravens already secured a playoff spot, it seems that the next time we will see Lamar will be in the postseason. Tyler Huntley has been abjectly awful and the Ravens miss Lamar’s playmaking all over the field.
Jakobi Meyers Injures Shoulder Against Miami
Jakobi Meyers, meeting with reporters in the locker room after leaving with a shoulder injury, when asked if he will be ready to go next week in Buffalo: “I should be.”
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 1, 2023
When Jakobi Meyers was speaking to reporters after his team’s win against Miami, he minimized the shoulder injury he suffered in Week 17. Considering the Patriots are playing for their playoff lives in Week 18 against Buffalo, it would shock me if Meyers were not out there in that must-win game.