Congratulations! If you’re reading this it means that you’re fighting for something. Best case scenario you’re checking out some Week 17 sleepers just for the light reading. Not so best case, you’ve made the championship round but have endured an injuries on the way and now you need a quick replacement. Worst case scenario your team is in complete shambles and you’re looking to avoid “winning” last place and suffering your league’s punishment. Whatever the reason, I’ve got you covered. This week we will focus primarily on players from teams that have something to play for.
Week 17 Sleepers
Trenton Irwin- WR, Cincinnati Bengals
With a win over the Buffalo Bills this week the Bengals would hold the tie-breaker between the Bills as well as the Kansas City Chiefs. From there the Bengals would need to win their final game of the season in Baltimore. In addition to that, the Chiefs would have to lose one of their two next matchups (Denver and Las Vegas). Not likely, but not impossible. What’s wonderful for fantasy this year is that although teams have already clinched their division, they’re still all jockeying for the number one seed. The number one seed is so important this year as only the one seed will gain a bye. They’ll also get to play the lowest advancing seed in the divisional round, an easy route to the conference finals.
How can you not love what Trenton Irwin has done for this Bengals offense? Every time he steps on the field, he delivers results. He just keeps making plays and I’m here for it! #Bengals #WhoDey #RuleTheJungle pic.twitter.com/EF2mlUqWyT
— GameOn513 (@gameonjmoney) December 26, 2022
NFL wide receivers’ fingers can take a real beating throughout the year. This is especially true for receivers that play with a QB that gets the ball out quickly. So far this season Joe Burrow trails only Tom Brady in release time. WR Tyler Boyd has been nursing a gnarly finger injury that he’s been attempting to tough out. After Trenton Irwin’s two-touchdown performance, he may not be asked to. Passes in the cold are hard enough to catch, let alone balls with zip on them, all while having a jacked up finger. Last week Irwin surprised us all with a three catch, 2 TD, and 45-yard performance on only 45% of snaps. Boyd reaggravated the injury last week. It makes sense that Irwin could see an uptick in usage. He’s the deepest of my four Week 17 sleepers.
Damien Harris- RB, New England Patriots
If Damien Harris is active this week then you can trust him. He’s been nothing but trustworthy when healthy this season. Unlike his counterpart, Rhamondre Stevenson, who I’m sure is in Bill Belichick’s doghouse following an untimely fumble last week. Stevenson actually coughed the ball twice, but the Pats were able to recover one. Although things are seemingly falling apart and the Patriots, their playoff hopes aren’t completely dead yet. In fact, they’re in the same boat as their Week 17 opponent, Miami, who also lost last week. The winner of this week’s matchup controls their destiny as all they would need is a Week 18 win to clinch a playoff spot.
If this week resembles Week 1 then Harris should turn in a fine outing. In their first meeting, Harris was able to churn out a very solid 5.3 yards per carry. Despite Mac Jones’ pleas to throw the ball more, the offense really hasn’t been stable through the air. If healthy and active, I expect Bill to ride his trusty veteran to the playoffs. There is a good chance that Harris is available in on your league’s waiver wire as teams could not afford to hold on to him through his absences. As far as Week 17 sleepers go, Harris is risky but can come with great reward.
Jeff Wilson- RB, Miami Dolphins
As I mentioned above, the Dolphins are in the same boat as the Patriots. Thanks to a trio of interceptions, the Miami Dolphins were unable to close out their game last week against the Green Bay Packers. Tua Tagovailoa is now in the concussion protocol. There isn’t a snowflake’s chance in Hades that he plays this week. Head coach Mike McDaniel says that it’s too soon for him to name a starting QB for this week’s game. So allow me. It’ll be Teddy Bridgewater once again.
— TheColdWire.com (@thecoldwire) December 25, 2022
Seeing as McDaniel made a 100,000,000 clip video of Tua’s throws and not Teddy’s, it’s likely that the game plan differs a bit this week. Best case scenario, McDaniel sees the light and runs the ball. Mostert averaged 5.6 yards per carry last week, while Wilson averaged 4.1. The offensive line was singing in this one, it’s possible that they ride this momentum into this week’s matchup against New England. A ton Jeff Wilson’s Week 17 sleepers potential comes from his nose for the end zone. Wilson has found the painted area in three of his last five contests.
K.J. Osborn- WR, Minnesota Vikings
After a dominant start from the Eagles, the number one seed is a possibility for the Vikings. The Cowboys were able to fend off a Gardner Minshew led Philadelphia squad last week, which puts the Vikings in an interesting position. In addition to playing for seeding, they will have the chance to put some belated coal in Aaron Rodgers’ stocking and eliminate the Packers from playoff contention. In order to snag the one seed, the Vikings would need to win out. They would also need the Eagles to drop their next two games. The Eagles haven’t ruled Hurts out yet, but they haven’t confirmed him as active either.
So although the Vikings have clinched a playoff berth, they won’t have their foot off the gas in this matchup. Teams have mostly exploited the Packers on the ground. Dalvin Cook’s 4.5 yards per carry (21st in NFL) this season might not be enough to get it done by himself. The Packers won’t go quietly in this matchup, I’m expecting fireworks. Vegas already has the total sitting at 46.5 points, which is the second-highest total on Sunday’s slate. Look for all hands to be on deck, putting Osborn in the mix to shine as one of my last Week 17 sleepers. Osborn cooled off a bit last week, taking a backseat to Hockenson’s big day. T.J. and Jefferson should be on the top of the defense’s list, leaving Osborn to have a big day.