Every week, at least one player becomes my fascination of whether he’s worthy of a fantasy football start or bench. The decision can be a mental wrestling match, but for the purpose of brevity, only one player can be chosen as the fantasy football gamble of the week.
The best fantasy football gamble for Week 17
Tracking my predictions: 5-10-1
Win: Player produces ≥ 80% of projected fantasy points
Loss: Player produces >80% of projected fantasy points
Tie: Player is ejected or leaves with an injury
It’s a shame I technically have to call WR Jerry Jeudy a loss after including him here last week. He finished 6 percent below what constitutes the above range for a win. The rookie had every chance to succeed, seeing a hearty 15 targets, but dropped five passes, including the projected touchdown grab.
Jeudy still finished with 12.1 of the projected 16.2 PPR points, but what are you going to do … on the right track, and the player didn’t execute.
WR Cam Sims, Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles
Quarterback Alex Smith is the wild card here. I expect him to play, because, as I wrote in this week’s Free-agent Forecast, Riverboat Ron Rivera will gamble on a version of Smith that isn’t quite 100 percent instead of putting his playoff fortunes on the line with Taylor Heinicke starting.
In the event I’m wrong and Heinicke starts, I like Sims a little less, but he still can have a useful day for fantasy purposes. The primary reason is wideout Terry McLaurin has a high-ankle sprain and was still in a boot this week. He is a long shot to play, and his absence once again opens up looks. Last week, Sims saw nine targets with McLaurin out of the lineup, matching a personal best that he set a month ago.
Six of the nine looks came from Dwayne Haskins, and all but one were incomplete. The lone connecting shot was a blown coverage in which Sims ran for a 50-yard gain. He caught two of three Heinicke targets for 13 total yards after Haskins was benched.
The 6-foot-5 Sims has not scored since Week 6 at the New York Giants, but he also now has the best opportunity to be put into that situation. Philadelphia has given up 16 touchdowns to WRs in its 15 games, allowing one every 12.6 catches — a figure sitting in the middle of the pack on the year.
The last five games tells a much different tale. The Eagles have given up nine scores in that time, coming at a clip of once every 8.4 snares, which is the seventh-highest frequency. Only six teams have permitted more receptions, and just the Detroit Lions have yielded more yards per game since Week 11. Twelve wideouts have posted PPR double figures in the last seven games, and five of those efforts were good for at least 23 fantasy points.
In that most recent five-week stretch, Philly has allowed three different performances of exactly 121 receiving yards, not to mention the 169- and 177-yarders.
Even if Sims — who has eight or more targets in three of his last four games — doesn’t find the end zone, he can make a dent with PPR contributions. The best way to attack this defense is via the passing game, and Sims is poised to be a major part of any success found through the sky in Week 17.
My projection: 6 receptions, 76 yards, 1 TD (19.6 PPR fantasy points)