The Biggest Start/Sit Decisions for Week 17 (Fantasy Football)

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“There’s some nasty… NASTY BOYS on this list!”
Mike Wright

Aloha, Footclan! Welcome to the CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK of the Start/Sit series, where we’ll identify and discuss your most commonly asked “Who should I start?” questions for the week.

The projections between any two players on your roster may appear similar, but this “simple” choice could be the difference between your team’s victory or defeat. Luckily, the Fantasy Footballers have created an amazing Start/Sit tool to easily compare any two (or more) players with insight from the Ballers themselves, and trust me — it’s an extremely valuable asset that will help you make these crucial lineup decisions that could ultimately lead you to your #FootClanTitle.

In this article, you’ll find your most popular Start/Sit questions of the week, along with the Ballers’ projections and my personal opinions on the matter. Please note that the Footballers’ rankings are constantly being updated as news breaks, so make sure you check out the tool for yourself to catch any last-second changes.

So, without further ado, let’s kick things off with the biggest Start/Sit questions for Week 17:

Featured Matchup

D/ST:
Jacksonville Jaguars (JAX) or New York Giants (NYG)?

In a year full of surprises and unexpected twists, it’s only fitting that the most popular Start/Sit question during the most important week of the fantasy season would be a D/ST dilemma between the Jaguars and the Giants. But alas, here we are, and these two might be some of the best options available that could make or break your championship hopes.

Jacksonville has been on fire lately, ranking as the second BEST fantasy D/ST since Week 14 despite only scoring one defensive TD during that span. They burst through the ranks via their suffocating defense, racking up 10 sacks, four INTs, and four fumbles in just the last three weeks. They’re fifth in QB pressure rate (23.7%) and forced the third MOST QB hurries (54) on the season via PFR, which does not bode well for Houston’s dilapidated QB carousel… although to be fair, it ended up being a lackluster affair for all involved.

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But while opposing defenses have typically feasted on Houston, that has not been the case since they faced the Cowboys in Week 14’s epic almost-upset. From Weeks 1-13, Houston was the EASIEST matchup in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing D/STs. From Weeks 14-16, they were the fifth WORST. It coincides with QB Davis Mills‘ snip-snap-snip-snap return to action after being unceremoniously benched for Kyle Allen, but whatever the reason, they’ve been getting it done, even against notable offenses like the Cowboys and Chiefs.

On the other hand, the Giants have been wildly inconsistent and completely matchup dependent. They’ve been a top-10 fantasy D/ST only four times this season, and that was against Houston, Chicago (before they let Justin Fields run), and Washington twice. It’s not for lack of trying, though, as they’re constantly attacking opposing QBs and boast the most number of blitzes (227) and second-most QB knockdowns (64). This should be a perfect setup for the Giants to feast on an over-the-hill Nick Foles, who just allowed the Chargers D/ST to have their best performance this year.

There is undoubtedly some hesitation to start either of these defenses after watching a surefire Broncos defense completely fall apart last week against the Rams. Denver should’ve been a no-brainer start; instead, they likely lost you the week (and your playoff hopes) as they scored negative points. I’m sure many of you feel the same worries with both of these teams. But while the Jaguars are likely the safer option — as reflected by their consensus #6 ranking — I’d rather roll the dice with the Giants. They have a lower implied total, slightly worse weather, and are facing a broken team full of replacement players and coaching staff. If your team needs upside when it matters the most, they might be the better choice.

The Verdict
New York Giants

QB:
Joe Burrow (CIN) or Justin Fields (CHI)?

Joe Burrow is a locked and loaded, must-start QB in an expected shootout with the Buffalo Bills. He is fantasy’s QB4 in total points (351.1), which is just above Justin Fields who is currently the QB5 (289.8). While Burrow isn’t afraid to run the ball — rushing for 247 yards and five TDs already this season — he’s mostly getting it done with his arm, ranking as the QB5 in pass attempts (564), QB3 in completions (389), and QB2 in passing yards (4,260) and TDs (34) per PFR. Meanwhile, Fields is the QB28 (185 pass attempts), QB29 (297 completions), QB27 (2,167 passing yards), and QB18 (16 passing TDs) in the same metrics.

However, we know Fields butters his bread with his legs, having already accumulated an insane 1,011 rushing yards and eight TDs in only 14 games played. He also has a much better matchup in a projected barnburner against a porous Detroit defense that is the EASIEST matchup for opposing QBs in both regular AND schedule-adjusted points allowed, making him a recommended DFS play and Mike’s QB Start of the Week.

However, I’m worried that the team won’t let Fields run free as much as we’d like him to since he could still be nursing a banged-up foot and shoulder in a lost season. Not to mention, Khalil Herbert is back while David Montgomery remains a focal point of the offense. These worries came to fruition last week when Fields had his lowest rushing output (11 yards on seven carries) this season.

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The Verdict
Joe Burrow

RB:
Jerick McKinnon (KC) or Tyler Allgeier (ATL)?

I LOVE Tyler Allgeier this week. He has slowly taken over the reins in Atlanta’s backfield, averaging 20.5 opportunities ever since Desmond Ridder took over compared to just 11.8 beforehand with Marcus Mariota. He’s been an RB1 in expected fantasy points for two weeks in a row and now gets a vulnerable Arizona defense that’s given up six TDs to opposing RBs in their last four games.

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Allgeier is also Jason’s RB Start of the Week, but Mike and Jason prefer Jerick McKinnon. It’s hard to deny what Jet has done after he’s scored six times in the last four weeks and has become a trusty weapon for Patrick Mahomes. Sure, he’s in a committee with Isiah Pacheco, but McKinnon has proven to be the better fantasy option of the two; a McKinnon target (2.11 fantasy points) has been nearly four times as valuable as a Pacheco carry (0.55 fantasy points). The matchup against the Broncos isn’t necessarily ideal, but it doesn’t seem to matter as McKinnon finished as *the* RB1 last time they faced off.

The Verdict
Jerick McKinnon

WR:
Brandon Aiyuk (SF) or Jahan Dotson (WAS)?

Jahan Dotson is the new hotness, averaging 78.3 yards since Week 13 and scoring in every game since. He had the most receptions of his career (six) and saw a delightful 22.9% targets per route run against an intimidating 49ers defense last week. However, that was with Taylor Heinicke, and now the team is reverting back to Carson Wentz.

It’s true that Dotson also averaged a TD per game with Wentz at the start of the season, but his yardage paled in comparison (38 yards per game). He’ll probably also see fewer targets this week against the Browns’ run-funnel defense that has limited opposing WRs, though they’ve admittedly been much tougher against slot receivers than outside receivers. Still, it’s hard to put your fantasy title hopes in the hands of Wentz, who could rely on Curtis Samuel or Terry McLaurin (or Logan Thomas) instead or might just hand off the ball constantly to Brian Robinson.

Brandon Aiyuk hasn’t done well in the Brock Purdy era, only finishing as an RB2 once since the rookie took over, but he should be a readily available weapon against a weak Raiders secondary (30th in EPA per pass attempt). However, the obvious concern is that they won’t have to use Aiyuk since they can just run out the clock with Christian McCaffrey and move the chains with George Kittle, while their stellar defense dismantles a Jarrett Stidham-led Vegas offense.

With the NFC West title already clinched, the 49ers could certainly rest their starters once they’ve established a dominant lead, but they might also want to give their rookie QB all the reps he can withstand before the competition toughens, so there’s a nonzero chance he’ll lean on his lead wideout in a soft matchup to work on their rapport. But this is just conjecture.

Aiyuk is the clear winner over Dotson by all three Ballers, but I’m not as convinced. Both guys are incredibly difficult to trust with volatile usage and inconsistent QBs. Aiyuk is the smarter, safer choice with the easier matchup, but Dotson’s upside is tempting for those that need a big boost.

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The Verdict
Brandon Aiyuk

TE:
David Njoku (CLE) or Cole Kmet (CHI)?

Voldemort continues his rampage, this time on David Njoku and his fantasy managers. Njoku’s seeing enough usage (averaged 6.7 targets and 22% target share) and remains good for nearly three red zone targets per game, and in a TE wasteland, all you need is a score to become a top-end finisher. He has a tough matchup against Washington, though they did just give up 120 yards and two scores to George Kittle. Plus, their ranking is a bit skewed as they never had to face Travis Kelce this season.

But I’d rather take a trip down to Kolekomo instead. Cole Kmet will be the expected beneficiary of a depleted arsenal in a shootout at Ford Field with a QB who will probably throw more than he wants to. The Lions are a pass-funnel defense, and there’s virtually no one else for Justin Fields to throw to, so it’s safe to expect a heavy workload for Kmet. Let’s just hope he’s finally used near the goal line again, as he hasn’t seen a red zone target since Week 10… which is also the last time he scored. Nevertheless, Kmet is a widely recommended DFS pick in FanDuel Cash AND DraftKings GPP lineups.

Njoku is Jason’s TE Start of the Week, while Kmet is Mike’s… yet they currently have the other player slightly higher in their respective rankings. Both are good options, but if it’s my decision, give me Kmet hands down.

The Verdict
Cole Kmet

Good luck Footclan, let’s win those championships! If you have any questions, hit me up on Twitter. And don’t forget to tune in to Andy’s Sunday Live broadcast where he’ll answer your last-second Start/Sit questions!

Comments

Norm wright says:

I recently lost my top two running backs, T Pollard, King Henry. Trying to replace them with J McKinnon, Devin Singeltary , Jamal Williams & I just picked up K Herbert. Who should I start? Thanks Norm

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