Fantasy football free-agent forecast: Week 17

Fantasy football free-agent forecast: Week 17

Fantasy football roster management tips, strategy and advice

Fantasy football free-agent forecast: Week 17


Free-agent recommendations refer to 12-team leagues, unless specifically stated otherwise. FAAB $ amounts have been removed for this week. Spend whatever you have left, since it’s highly improbable you’ll be starting more than one of these players anyway.

Bye weeks: none

Fantasy football waiver wire targets

Running backs

1-Week Plug & Play

AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

The bruising rookie put on a show Sunday night vs. a Titans defense without an answer. The Boston College product ran 21 times for 124 yards and two scores, adding a lone catch for five yards. He’s not going to be much of a receiving weapon for you, but Dillon could continue to see a serious role in the offense with Jamaal Williams (quadriceps) on the mend. It’s unclear if Williams will be back for Week 17, but with the way Dillon played, there’s no rush. Cold-weather, late-season football … Dillon is built for this environment, and a banged-up Aaron Jones (toe, back) needs a sidekick. The Bears have given up four rushing scores in the past five games, including one to Williams in Week 12.

Availability: 62%

Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

In competitive leagues, Wilson should be owned already, so this one is geared to the most casual of gamers. If his two touchdowns in consecutive games leading up to Week 16 weren’t enough to convince one to add Wilson, his lines of 22-183-0, 1-21-1 in Week 16 should do the trick. He’s the sole back in an offense that will be heavily reliant on running the rock. In Week 16, he even flashed receiving skills. There’s not a lot of aerial volume to be found from him, but Wilson isn’t awful at it, either. The Seattle defense has been inconsistent vs. RBs in 2020, and in the last seven games, six rushing and three receiving scores have come against this unit. These teams last played in Week 8, and Wilson wasn’t involved. He’s a must-start this time around, however.

Availability: 38%

Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens

The Bengals gave the former Washington back 13 carries in Week 16, and while Giovani Bernard garnered three more, it was Perine who found the end zone twice and racked up the most yardage (95 rushing, 41 receiving). Granted, it was vs. one of the best defensive matchups possible for running backs, but Baltimore has slumped a little in this area of defense. In its last five games, four rushing touchdowns have been scored, and the position has generated five performances of at least 12.3 PPR points. Only the Giants couldn’t gain any traction, but it’s hard to score points when the entire backfield touches the ball 13 times. The best way to keep Lamar Jackson off of the field is by running the rock.

Availability: 91%

Wide receivers

1-Week Plug & Play

Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

In consecutive games, Pascal has at least 64 yards and one or more touchdowns. He has seen six targets apiece in those games. The resurgence of WR T.Y. Hilton has helped Pascal, but the fourth-year wideout has done enough on his own to merit attention for a one-week play with this strong matchup. Jacksonville somehow held Chicago receivers out of the end zone last week, but Allen Robinson still posted 20.3 PPR points. In the prior six games, wideouts have scored nine times through the air, and nine times a WR has produced at least 15.8 PPR points in that window.

Availability: 68%

Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Admittedly, this one is a total shot in the dark. The matchup is inconsistent but has its bright spots for a flier play. A larger concern should be Chad Henne likely starting or seeing the overwhelming majority of snaps at quarterback with Patrick Mahomes’ services unneeded in this meaningless game. Hardman should see an uptick in work with Tyreek Hill also unlikely to play, and more targets are available without TE Travis Kelce, too. Hardman is not a volume guy, and his home run profile is the basis for this gamble. LA has yielded no WR touchdowns in the past two games — Las Vegas and Denver — but had given up five in the previous four. Seven different receivers posted at least 10 PPR points in that span.

Availability: 79%

Cam Sims, Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles

With all of the chips at stake, one has to imagine Riverboat Ron Rivera won’t gamble on Taylor Heinicke if Alex Smith can drop back and throw a football. All Washington needs is a win and it is playoff bound. The Eagles have been utterly atrocious vs. WRs in 2020, and the position has racked up five performances of at least 121 yards in the last six outings. Oddly, three of those efforts were exactly 121 yards on the nose. Nine touchdowns later against Philly, and Sims has a favorable opponent for utilizing his 6-foot-5 frame. He has seen eight or more targets in three of the last four games, including 17 in the past two games, and the third-year pro has the potential for a breakout game when Washington needs it most, especially if WR Terry McLaurin (ankle) cannot play once again, which is looking like the case.

Availability: 84%

Tight ends

1-Week Plug & Play

Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

While only two of the nine total touchdowns by tight ends against the Lions have come in the last six weeks, both were had by Rob Gronkowski last week. And of those nine mentioned scores, we’re talking a clip of one TD every 6.2 receptions by the position — in other words, few teams are weaker than Detroit when it comes to holding the position position out of the end zone. Smith has three scores spread over Weeks 14 and 16, going for a modest 3-37-0 line in Week 15. TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) has missed a few games in a row, and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready, but Smith scored vs. Tampa with him available in Week 14.

Availability: 51%

1-Week Plug & Play

Nick Keizer, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers

This one is going on out the thinnest of limbs, but there’s a shot here for a desperation touchdown. KC is poised to sit anyone of consequence, which means Travis Kelce won’t play much, if at all. That leaves Keizer and his whole six receptions to face the Chargers’ weak defense of the position while catching passes from Chad Henne. Sounds tempting, huh? Five players have at least 11.2 PPR points in the last nine games. Still not there? LA has given up 10 scores on the year to TEs, and six of them have come in the past nine outings. How about now? A touchdown every 6.8 catches by tight ends rates among the highest frequencies of scores surrendered in 2020. That should help convince most anyone.

Availability: 100%


1-Week Plug & Play

Greg Zuerlein, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

It’s remarkable Zuerlein is available as widely as he is with his success of late, posting at least 10 fantasy points in four of the last five games and three straight with 11 or more. The veteran has attempted nine field goals in the past three weeks, and he has made all but one. He also has tacked on an average of four PATs in that window. New York gave up 13 fantasy points on three field goals and four extra points in Week 5’s meeting. Only 10 teams have surrendered more field goal opportunities in 2020.

Availability: 65%

Jason Myers, Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco (in Arizona)

Myers was good for a modest seven fantasy points in the Week 8 battle, and he has registered eight or more fantasy points in all but one game since. He hasn’t blown up for a day bigger than 11 points, though, which is likely why he remains on so many wires. The Seahawks have presented him with at least two three-point kicks in seven of the last eight appearances, and Myers has not missed a kick on the year from three-point land. Just three teams have permitted more field goal attempts than San Francisco in 2020.

Availability: 62%

Defense/specials teams

1-week plug & play

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

There’s still a chance at the postseason for both of these clubs, and something has to give … in the last three weeks, it has been the Giants. New York has allowed 15 total sacks in that time. Surprisingly, only three fumbles — all against Arizona in Week 14 — have come in that window. The Cowboys were good for two sacks, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown in the Week 5 meeting. Dallas has a takeaway in six straight games and 10 in the last three, in addition to recording seven sacks in those three most recent outings.

Availability: 87%

New York Jets at New England Patriots

Prior to Monday night, the Pats have allowed three sacks a game in the last five contests. Four turnovers and a defensive touchdown have been logged against this unit. Since these teams last played — a game in which the Jets posted zero fantasy points — the New York defense has stepped up its game. Since Week 10, New York has 17 sacks in six contests, recording six fumble recoveries and three interceptions. While neither team is giving or generating exciting stats, there’s a different feeling about the Jets in the last couple of games, and New England is stuck in neutral. This one could go either way.

Availability: 94%

2021 keeper league waiver targets

For gamers who are in full or partial keeper leagues, the following players may be available on waivers and are worthy of stashing into 2021 to see if their situations warrant retention. With so many varying setups and rules for keeper/dynasty leagues, many of these players may be too casual for more hardcore formats.

  • QB Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
  • QB Jameis Winston (UFA in 2021)
  • RB James White, New England Patriots (UFA in 2021)
  • RB Marlon Mack (UFA in 2021)
  • RB Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers (James Conner is a UFA in 2021)
  • WR Kendrick Bourne (UFA in 2021)
  • WR Demarcus Robinson (UFA in 2021)
  • WR Quintez Cephus, Detroit Lions
  • WR Cam Sims, Washington Football Team
  • TE Gerald Everett (UFA in 2021)
  • TE Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings


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