The Fantasy Footballers’ Starts of the Week for Week 17

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It’s New Year’s time, baby! On Thursday’s MEGAshow, the Ballers bring you the crucial start decisions for Week 17 (if you are still playing for a #FootClan title). They went over the matchups for the week throughout the jam-packed show, but to start, they hit on “Taking It Up to 100” players of the week. This is a big one for the guys as Andy and Mike are going into the final week of this contest tied for first place. Andy went with Sterling Shepard, Mike selected Ty Johnson, and Jason picked Tyron Johnson.

Later, the Ballers highlighted their Starts of the Week for Week 17. As noted earlier, this was a supersized show, so there was plenty more fun to come after their starts. Make sure you check out the entire episode, and if you missed it, you can listen to the podcast here or watch it on Youtube. Subscribe and hit the bell so you stay informed. Also, give a look as it provides tons of additional resources exclusively for #FootClan members.

Andy’s Starts

QB: Kirk Cousins @ Detroit Lions

There was a consensus that Cousins is the definite Start of the Week, but Andy got to the show sheet before Jason and Mike. Andy is going with Cousins because the Vikings face a Detroit squad that has given up two number one and two number three overall quarterback performances over the last five weeks. There will be no Dalvin Cook this weekend due to his father’s tragic passing, so Cousins will have to rely on Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Irv Smith, Jr. Not too shabby of weapons at Cousins’ disposal. Detroit has conceded 35 passing touchdowns this season, an NFL-high, so there is a real chance Cousins adds to that total. The last time Minnesota’s man behind center took on the Lions (Week 9), he delivered three touchdowns, so a brilliant outing is possible.

RB: Melvin Gordon vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Last week, Gordon did not get it done like you would have wanted. This week, he has the job all to himself as Phillip Lindsay is on IR. Gordon gets to battle the Las Vegas Raiders in this contest, a team that has allowed 17 touchdowns to running backs this year. The Raiders have the fourth-best matchup for fantasy running backs over the last five weeks. Myles Gaskin of the Dolphins just annihilated Las Vegas. Gordon has 893 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the season, along with 141 yards on 28 catches and a touchdown through the air. The Broncos should rely heavily on Gordon in this outing.

WR: A.J. Brown @ Houston Texans

This will be a redemption week for Brown as he meets the Houston Texans. The Texans are the fifth-best matchup for wide receivers, and Tee Higgins just scorched their defense. Last week, Brown had to deal with a blizzard game. He saw eight targets; the weather just made it difficult for him to have the type of play we expect. Brown is currently sitting as the 14th best fantasy wideout this season, after a WR15 finish last season. In the three games Brown has played against Houston, he has tallied four touchdowns. He also saw over 110 yards in two of those contests while additionally being targeted 7+ times a game.

TE: Ir Smith, Jr. @ Detroit Lions

Andy goes for another Vikings player when selecting Smith. As previously noted, there will be no Dalvin Cook in this game. The Vikings take on the Lions, the fifth-best matchup for tight ends over the last five weeks. In the previous three weeks, Smith has cracked the top three tight ends spot twice. Last week, Smith gained a season-high nine targets and also grabbed two touchdown passes. He will be involved in the Vikings’ passing game, especially with no Kyle Rudolph fighting for tight end targets. Detroit’s defense has not looked pretty as of late, another reason starting Smith is a good idea.

Jason’s Starts

QB: Ryan Tannehill @ Houston Texans

Jason loves Tannehill here because he is playing for the four seed against the juiciest of the defenses. You may assume that if Derrick Henry has a big game, Tannehill will not. On the contrary, there have only been two times this season that Henry had a top 10 RB performance where Tannehill was less-than-stellar. Most of Henry’s big games share the same space as Tannehill’s big games. They were both in the top five at their position when playing Detroit, and in Weeks 11 and 12, Tannehill had top ten games while Henry was top three. The Texans are a plus matchup this week, and they just gave up a top 10 performance to the surprising (and probably surprised) Brandon Allen. Allen threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns when facing Houston. Tannehill has been having a solid year, and he should continue that tradition here with another substantial game.

RB: D’Andre Swift vs. Minnesota Vikings

Swift was dominating before having the absolute worst quarterback in the league, and on both sides of his concussion-missed games. Do not be scared by last week’s game as he still gained 15 opportunities, including five targets, and was taking on the best rush defense in the league. This week, Swift and company face one of the weakest run defenses in the NFL. This season, the Vikings have given up 2,022 rushing yards total to running backs. Running backs have also scored 17 total touchdowns against Minnesota this year. Over the last five weeks, only Houston is conceding more fantasy points above the opponent’s average, as Minnesota is giving up +7.9 points per game. His talent plus his matchup and his targets will make up for Detroit’s horrible quarterback play. If Matthew Stafford is somehow able to play in this game, Swift is a smash start.

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WR: Jarvis Landry vs.  Pittsburgh Steelers

In this must-win game for the Browns, Landry looks to help the team out as much as possible. He was activated from the Covid list, and he will be ready to play in Week 17. Landry has been a solid player this season, minus the bad weather games. The Browns wideout has had a top-24 wide receiver performance in three of the last four games. The Steelers will be sitting Ben Roethlisberger in this contest, and they may rest any questionable defensive players. Landry will look to continue his hot streak as he faces a limited Steelers team.

TE: Noah Fant vs. Las Vegas Raiders

This week, Jason selected Fant as his tight end. Noah Fantastic is here to save your fantasy day as all he has been seeing are targets as of late. Two weeks ago, Fant saw 11 targets, and in last week’s game, he received nine targets. The Broncos’ tight end is finally healthy and is seeing plenty of the field. Fant has been the ideal weapon for quarterback Drew Lock, and in 11 of Fant’s 14 games, he has seen five or more targets. He had 83% of snaps last week, showing Denver wants Fant to be an essential part of the offense. The Raiders are not a scary matchup, so look for Fant to have a huge game this weekend.

Mike’s Starts

QB: Alex Smith @ Philadelphia Eagles

Mike’s Comeback Player of the Year (and come on, rightfully so) is his start of the week at the quarterback position. He does know that this call is risky, and it is the Sunday night game, so plan accordingly. Over the past five games, the Eagles are the second-best matchup for quarterbacks. Last week, Dallas’ Andy Dalton completed 22-of-30 passes and tossed three touchdowns against the Eagles. Dwayne Haskins and the Washington Football Team went their separate ways on Monday, so quarterback is very dicey in Washington. He was close to returning as the starter last week but took a little extra time to come back from his calf injury. There is a playoff berth at stake this weekend, so that is added reasoning for Smith to have a good game.

RB: Malcolm Brown vs. Arizona Cardinals

Mike points out that Arizona has crazy divisional splits. Every divisional game has seen Arizona give up a top-10 game to the RB position. Darrell Henderson Jr. will miss this match, and Cam Akers could be absent from this game. If Akers does end up playing, Mike considers Brown a flex play. Even if Akers were to be back, he would not be at 100-percent. Brown will be the goal-line back in this contest. John Wolford will be in at quarterback for the injured Jared Goff, but backup quarterbacks have been just fine against the Cardinals this season. With Goff no longer behind the helm, the Rams may be forced to go more run-heavy for the time being. Arizona has struggled against the run, more good news for Brown.

WR: Mike Williams @ Kansas City Chiefs

The biggest thing to note here is not that Mike selected Mike, but that Keenan Allen will not play on Sunday. This opens up opportunities for Williams, such as the ten targets he received last week when Allen was out. Williams could not do anything with those targets as he only hauled in four for 54 yards, but the volume will continue to be there. There is a possibility that Kansas City rests some of their players, which would benefit Williams. If he can find a way to produce off the opportunities given, Williams is in for a great fantasy day.

TE: Dalton Schultz @ New York Giants

At the beginning of the season, Mike was a massive fan of Cowboys’ tight end Blake Jarwin. He even put his stamp of approval on Jarwin by naming him a “My Guy.” Jarwin got injured in Week 1 and Schultz stepped in. So we’re coming full circle as we close out the season, with Mike selecting the other tight end from Dallas as his tight end start. Oh, and Schultz helped me win a #FootClan title in the Ballers Writers Redraft League (humble brag, although he did not do much last week). The Cowboys take on the Giants this week, a team that can be beaten at tight end. The Giants have played in six games where they gave up top-12 production to the position. Schultz is always a touchdown or bust play, and this week is no different. He’s seen 86-percent or more of the snaps since Week 8, seeing the field for 93-percent of Dallas’ snaps in his last contest. Dallas plays a lot of two-tight end sets, so Schultz finds himself on the field often.

Jason Moore also presented the listeners with the final Iron-Clad Locked and Loaded 100% Guaranteed Boom Boom Kicker of the Week for the season:

Ohh… Get your lips ready for a championship with a really nice pucker, ’cause we’re going with the best, the Ravens’ Justin Tucker.

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I personally wanted to thank everyone for a fantastic season. When I started writing for The Fantasy Footballers in August, I had no idea so many people would want to hear from me, follow me on Twitter, or just come to me for advice. I appreciate each and every person that reads my articles and checks out my content. It is New Year’s Eve, and I am here helping the #FootClan out because that’s what we do in this community — we have each other’s backs. I look forward to sharing more with you in 2021.

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