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: 8-8-0
Win: Player produces ≥ 75% of projected fantasy points
Loss: Player produces >75% of projected fantasy points
Tie: Player is ejected, leaves with an injury, or lands on COVID-19 list after publishing
It hasn’t been pretty at times, but I’ve finally drawn back to even footing. Last week’s recommendation was Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins vs. the Los Angeles Rams. The projection was 25.4 points, and he finished with 21.5 for 85.6 percent accuracy. It’s hard to get excited about that one, but he met the parameters of a positive forecast.
TE Foster Moreau, Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts
Tight end Darren Waller (knee) was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, and even if he’s cleared in time, there’s no guarantee he’ll return from the knee injury he suffered back on Thanksgiving Day. Furthermore, it’s unlikely Waller will have garnered enough practice time to be in game condition.
Moreau has been on the upswing the last two weeks after being a total non-factor with Waller sidelined. The lack of production was somewhat surprising since the Raiders love throwing to the position, have a clear lack of depth at wideout behind Hunter Renfrow, and Moreau’s own success in limited action leading up to this expanded opportunity suggested otherwise.
He failed to make a dent vs. Dallas, Washington and KC — all neutrally ranked vs. the position on the year. On the positive side, Moreau has posted consecutive games with 10-plus PPR points over the last two weeks. He scored three times on just 11 catches in his first five games of the year in which was targeted.
The Week 7 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles saw Moreau fill in for an injured Waller, and the third-year tight end manged a season-high 18 PPR points on a 6-60-1 line. Philly has been the weakest defense of the position. This Sunday, Indy hosts the Raiders as both teams fight with playoff implications at stake, and fantasy footballers are faced with an extremely exploitable matchup.
On the year, 10 different tight ends have been good for double-digit PPR results against the Colts. Indy rates as the third-weakest unit in that scoring format over the course of the season, and in the last five weeks, the same ranking holds true. Just one team has permitted more receptions per game, and only two defenses have surrendered more yards, on average, than the Colts. Through 15 games, no team has given up more yardage. While only two scores have come in the past four games, Indianapolis has conceded eight on the year.
An aspect that may work well for the Raiders is the Colts’ strength vs. running backs, which could lead to more passing to the short and intermediate areas of the field, thus favoring Moreau in PPR. Another factor could be rookie Sam Ehlinger starting at quarterback if Carson Wentz cannot clear the COVID protocols in time. Can Ehlinger sustain drive? If not, that will lead to more time of possession for Vegas.
One other element is the strength of Indy’s defense of wide receivers, which rates the second best in the last five weeks. The season-long ranking is a modest 17th, however, so matchups (HOU, NE, ARI) have played a role of late. This one matters the least to me, but it’s worth nothing.
In 2021, Moreau’s opponent has given up 33.8 percent more fantasy points than the league average. Since Week 11, the number is up to 56.6 percent, and the last three weeks have seen that figure spike to 72.9 percent. Get Moreau into PPR lineups as a great way to ring in the new year!
My projection: 6 receptions, 68 yards, 1 TD (18.8 PPR points)