Every week, at least one player becomes my fascination of whether he’s worthy of a fantasy football start as a streamer. 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: 4-11-1
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
2021 record: 8-9-1
2020 record: 5-10-1
New York Giants wideout Darius Slayton occupied this space last week but fell about 15 percent short of the winning threshold. He didn’t hurt anyone who played him, but the parameters for a win or loss weren’t met, so it gets chalked up as yet another “L” on the year.
A similarly skilled receiver is the recommendation this week, and the risk really comes from the perception of the matchup itself.
The 24-year-old’s first offensive touch as a pro went into the end zone on a 44-yard run in Week 6, and he followed it up with a 53-yard TD grab the next week. It took a passing month’s worth of action before Shaheed would return to relevance in fantasy, and even then it was just barely.
In the past three games, the Weber State product has collected 11 of 13 targets. He has just three fewer looks than Chris Olave (hamstring) over the last five weeks, though it’s three games played by Olave vs. four, due to a bye week and injury absence. No Saints receiver has more receiving yards than Shaheed’s 280 or his 11.5 PPR points per game in that time. His five targets last week marked a career high, and Shaheen’s floor in the last month has been 7.9 PPR points, so it hasn’t been a total loss when he has been at his recent worst.
Andy Dalton has shown enough respect for what the largely untested Shaheed does in the long-ball game, therefore even a low-volume target tally still makes the young receiver a viable gamble thanks to his downfield skill set. He has averaged a hearty 19.7 yards per catch in 2022, which ranks second among receivers with at least 20 targets and first among wideouts with 15-plus catches.
On the year, Philadelphia checks in as the ninth-worst matchup for wide receivers, which may be a daunting sight for interested gamers. Rest assured, however, this secondary has fallen on hard times of late as nine of the 15 total WR touchdowns have come in the last five weeks — and at an alarming rate. No team has permitted scores at a higher frequency than the once every 5.3 grabs the Eagles have surrendered. The sixth-lowest weekly volume of receptions produced the 11th-fewest yards, which suggests, in conjunction with Shaheen’s profile, a low-volume, TD-necessary performance should be expected.
The Saints will have to keep pace with Philly’s offense, regardless of whether Jalen Hurts (shoulder) or Gardner Minshew is on the field. If Olave sits out again, Shaheed is the top target for Dalton, and all it takes is one long play for the pass-catcher to live up to a flex spot. A return of Olave may lower the ceiling of Shaheen’s opportunities, while it also allows him to see less defensive attention. Win-win.
My projection: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 66 yards, 1 TD (16.6 PPR fantasy points)