For those of you who are still playing fake football in Week 17, you’re about to enter bizzaro world. Up is down, right is left, and dogs are driving cars.
Have you been riding any meaningful Falcons player? Yeah, that could be a problem. Trusting Mike Smith is a dangerous game. Has Trent Richardson been a solid RB2 for you all year? He would probably be compelled to play through his ankle injury if this week meant anything whatsoever. Now? ha.
Those questionable snap counts for fantasy studs make your matchup mining that much more important this week. So onwards, friends, and let’s search for sleeping fantasy gold together one more time, and be wrong together.
Quarterback: Michael Vick @ New York Giants
I know, I hate this man too. But between their games against both Vick earlier this year and Robert Griffin III, it’s clear that the Giants have also developed a bit of disdain for the mobile quarterback. Griffin posted 17 fantasy points on them in Week 13, seven of which came through his 72 rushing yards. Vick matched that point total in Week 4 when he passed for 241 yards with a touchdown at a pace of eight yards per attempt. He also added 49 rushing yards.
Of course, the Giants did hold Cam Newton — who at the time was much closer to Vick than RG3 in terms of his fantasy value — to a meager nine points. But while you keep in mind the aforementioned zaniness of this week and decide between a Vick start and, say, a Matt Ryan start with the knowledge that Mike Smith could sit his quarterback down at halftime, remember that Jeremy Maclin is healthy, and even with DeSean Jackson out Vick’s weapons are far better than those available to Newton.
Running Back: Shonn Greene @ Buffalo Bills
Greene may still be universally owned, but I’m not sure why. He’s generally fallen only in flex territory while ecipsing the 100-yard mark just twice, and plodding along at 3.8 yards per carry. But with Trent Richardson out and Arian Foster set for a decreased workload, there’s value to be found here. And then once we look deeper at Greene’s Week 17 opponent, that value becomes pretty delicious.
Greene will run against a still infamously leaky Bills front seven that’s now ranked last in the league against the run, allowing 146.7 yards per game. He’s only recorded three games this year with 90 or more rushing yards, and one of them came against Buffalo back in Week 1 (94 yards and a touchdown for 15 fantasy points).
So yes, a running back who has only 106 yards on the ground over his last two games has value this week.
Wide Receiver: Brian Hartline @ New England Patriots
Similar to Greene, Hartline’s season has been comprised of a few booms, surrounded by a vast death valley of nothingness. His 253 receiving yards in Week 4 against the Cardinals still represents nearly a quarter of his overall yardage in one game.
But the Pats’ secondary remains inviting. So inviting that in Week 13 Hartline had 84 yards on five receptions and 10 targets against New England, a week after he finished with only 17 yards against the Seahawks, and this past Sunday he had a season low 12 yards. Hartline should be targeted often again this week, as his target volume when these two teams last met is still the only time it’s reached double digits since Week 10.
Toss in the Patriots’ consistent run stuffing with their SEC linebackers (Gruden’d), and those targets could climb even higher, leading to an opportunity for high-end WR3 produciton.
Tight End: Marcedes Lewis @ Tennessee Titans
The Week 17 meaningless malaise applies here too. Are you an Owen Daniels or Tony Gonzalez owner? Yeah, that’s likely about to suck. Decreased snaps have that effect. The suck is really painful for Gonzo owners, as he’s the highest producing player at his position.
So our value mining at tight end is particularly important, and it leads us to Marcedes Lewis, who will oppose a Titans defense that’s allowing the third most receiving yards per game to tight ends (64.0). Sure, Lewis fizzled last week against the Patriots, who are one of the two teams worse than Tennessee at defending the position. But during these desperate, trying times, you care little about that, especially when we also observe that in Week 12 against the Titans Lewis had 56 receiving yards, which is significantly higher than his overall 29.1 yard per game average this year.
Defense/Special Teams: San Diego Chargers defense vs. Oakland Raiders
I don’t really need to write much here. I just need to remind you of Carson Palmer’s season-ending injury, and show you this…
Head Coach Dennis Allen names @terrellepryor starting QB for Sunday.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) December 28, 2012
From the Raiders’ perspective, Pryor should start. Because, well, why the hell not? He’ll probably flop magnificently, as most quarterbacks do in their first start. But Palmer is aging, and Matt Leinart certainly isn’t any kind of long-term answer. A meaningless Week 17 game is a fine place to experiment.
But for you, a frantic, inaccurate quarterback easily makes the Chargers this week’s best defensive streaming option.