Welcome to the Waiver Wire Week 17! He is making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who is streaming Jahan Dotson during Championship Week. The song goes something like that, right?
If you are reading this, congratulations- you survived money week and are now in the fantasy finals. It was easy to get complacent in Week 16. We had some of the worst weather across the country collectively that we have ever seen and had NFL Football take place over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the last day of Hannukah. It would have been easy to get distracted and make excuses, but here we are. One week left in this thing of ours.
Some Players Disappoint While Others Show Up Out of Nowhere
It seems like a yearly tradition in the fantasy playoffs. Some big names always disappoint, and some surprise names win the week. We certainly had that this past week. Rhamondre Stevenson was shut down completely with his worst game of the season. Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams were outscored by Isaiah Hodgins and Velus Jones. Tyler Higbee and Evan Engram emerged as playoff heroes with massive stat lines and smash performances. Gardner Minshew had more passing yards than Pat Mahomes and Josh Allen. The random 165-yard D’Onta Foreman performance was the cherry on top.
The only lesson we need to take away is that the fantasy playoffs are weekly. It is a game of attrition: you survive and advance. In some leagues, like high stakes formats, collective scores from two or three weeks determine winners, but in most leagues, it is winning and advance, lose and go home. This is a zero-sum game for most fantasy managers across the country.
Take your season-long hat off and throw it away. This week we are all Head to Head DFS players. We want the optimal lineup for this week only. The only difference is, instead of choosing from every player in football, you choose your lineup from your roster and the players available on waivers. You have one opponent to beat. Simple game.
First, take a step back and look at your opponent’s roster: Where are they the weakest? What do they need? If you have more FAAB money left than them, blocking their moves is an optimal strategy this week.
Analyze Your Roster
Next, look at your roster. If you have a glaring need, focus on that. You are not adding depth this week. Instead, you are blocking your opponent and fixing your weak points. That is it.
It would be best if you also were realistic about your matchup. PlayerProfiler has fantastic projections for the week, and I encourage you to use them. If you are a big underdog this week, consider using higher ceiling outcome players than a perceived floor play. There is no prize for losing a close one.
Be willing to bench a big-name player this week. Do you feel comfortable using DeAndre Hopkins right now? I certainly do not, but your start/sit decisions need to be your own. Have conviction and confidence with who you use. Where you drafted them in August has nothing to do with winning this week.
Some of the top fantasy football defenses have terrific matchups this week. Dallas could woodshed Tennessee on Thursday, San Francisco has a nice matchup against the reeling Las Vegas Raiders, and Philadelphia should make quick work of New Orleans. Buffalo is an interesting one. I would look to pivot off of them this week in a tough matchup in Cincinnati.
Over the last few weeks, I have discussed defenses to stream. This week we have several interesting options.
Kansas City vs. Denver
Kansas City just shut down Geno Smith and the Seahawks. Denver looks like a team that has flat-out quit. This could get ugly.
Jacksonville at Houston
Houston won last week and has been playing competitively of late, but the Jaguars are red hot.
Washington vs. Cleveland
Washington is in must-win territory this Sunday against Cleveland. The Browns’ offense just put up 10 points at home against New Orleans. This could be a Washington smash spot.
New York Giants vs. Indianapolis
Indianapolis will be on a short week. The Giants are in a great spot.
We have a very short list of Waiver Wire Targets this week. Double-check your league’s player availability.
(ALL PLAYERS ARE ROSTERED IN LESS THAN 25 PERCENT OF YAHOO LEAGUES)
Note: Jared Goff is above our threshold, but he is an excellent streamer this week against Chicago.
Gardner Minshew | Philadelphia
Minshew was not quite magic, with two interceptions as the Eagles fell to Dallas, but he was more than capable of replacing Jalen Hurts managers.
He passed for 355 yards and two TDs. There may not be a better pass-catching trio in the league than AJ Brown, Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. Minshew is a low-end QB1 this week against New Orleans.
Brock Purdy | San Francisco
Purdy passed for another two TDs in San Francisco’s win over Washington. He has now passed for two TDs in four straight games and should have a great deal of success this week against Las Vegas. Purdy could sway Superflex leagues this week.
Zack Moss and Deon Jackson | Indianapolis
Moss and Jackson play tonight against Los Angeles on Monday Night Football. Moss is “probably,” the back to roster after his high volume touches (24 carries) in Week 15, but Jackson has had fantasy success this season. Their roles could switch from last week in a neutral or negative game script. Indianapolis gave Moss his workload while they were holding the lead against Minnesota (that did not work out so well), but all bets are off tonight.
I want to have one or two of these players on my roster and hope that one sees a sizeable workload this week. The best-case scenario would be one of these backs being useable in Week 17 against New York on the road. If I had to start one tonight, it would be Moss.
Joshua Kelley | Los Angeles
We had an incident-free week regarding RB injuries. The last potential high-end handcuff on the board is Kelley. If you are in a format that does not lock players, drop someone for Kelley.
If Austin Ekeler were to miss a game, Kelley would be an RB2.
Tyler Conklin | New York Jets
Conklin has appeared in this column so many times this season, so it is only fitting that he should be here for Week 17. He is slightly above our roster threshold (27 percent), but in the Holiday Spirit and the fact that there are not too many TE options this week, I wanted to write him up. He managed four receptions in Thursday Night’s loss to Jacksonville and now faces Seattle- one of the worst team’s in the league against opposing TEs.
Jahan Dotson | Washington
Yahoo players are seemingly asleep at the wheel, as Dotson is available in 77 percent of leagues. Dotson is tied with Christian Watson for most TD receptions among all rookies. Over the last three games, he has had 15 catches for 245 yards and three TDs. Simply put, Dotson is a baller. He has thrived in Washington’s three WR attack. This past week he led all Washington WRs in routes run and targets. He is in a very good spot this week at home against Cleveland. I am starting Dotson with confidence in a few places. He is a high-upside WR3.
Kendrick Bourne | New England
The Patriots pass catchers are decimated, and Bourne made the most of his opportunity. Bourne had six receptions on nine targets for 100 yards and a TD. He also had a 29-yard rush. This was easily his best game of the season. If Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Devante Parker and Nelson Agholor are all out this week, Bourne could be a desperation streamer.
Isaiah Hodgins | New York Giants
Hodgins has quietly had three games with 15 or more PPR points over his last four. This weekend, he had his best game of the season: eight receptions for 89 yards and a TD on 11 targets. The former Buffalo Bill, is making the most of his opportunity in New York and has become a nearly every down player. This week he has a winnable matchup against an Indianapolis secondary that KJ Osborn shredded in Week 15.
D.J. Chark | Detroit
If you are a sizeable underdog, look to Chark. He has gone over 94 yards receiving in three of his last four games and has a great matchup against a moribund Chicago defense. Chark getting loose for a 40 yard TD reception is in the range of outcomes this week. An impending free agent, Chark is earning himself a nice-sized contract based on his recent play.
Greg Dortch | Arizona
The Trace McSorely led Cardinals offense is a mess, but the one receiver who thrived in it was Dortch. Dortch caught ten passes on 11 targets, and his skill set matches the only thing McSorely seems to do well: bubble screens. He also added three carries for 25 yards. It would be hard to stomach starting him, or any Arizona Cardinals WR, this week, but he certainly is the hot hand.
Thank you for reading this column all season long. I hope you make some money and win some titles this week! Have a Happy New Year.