NFL Fantasy Football 2021 Marcas Grant's Sleepers Week 17
Well, we made it. The Biggest Season Ever is ending. Not a moment too soon for some. We’ve collectively limped to the end, dealing with injuries and COVID-19 issues as best as we possibly can. It’s been alternately fun and exciting or depressing and stressful. Either way, we’ve done it together. As we enter Championship Week, I want to thank every one of you who rocked with this column all season long. Congrats in advance to those of you who come out of this with titles. Condolences to those of you who don’t. Either way, I hope I helped and entertained you all.
So, for the last time in 2021 … here are some sleepers.
It’s slim pickings when it comes to sleeper quarterbacks this week. Tua Tagovailoa, a fantasy nation turns its lonely eyes to you. After a couple of nice performances in the middle of the season, Tua has barely been startable for the past month. He’s posted 17 points just twice in his last five contests – that includes a 13-point outing against the Jets. Tennessee has been forgiving to fantasy quarterbacks this season, though its pass defense has been better lately. However, some of that could be thanks to matchups against the anemic Jaguars and Steelers offenses. Tua’s floor and ceiling are both modest, but beggars can’t really be choosers this week.
I take that back; you may have a bit of a choice. Hello, Jared Goff. I know he’s an easy punchline for fantasy and non-fantasy types. (If it feels like you’ve read that before, it’s because I wrote something similar last week.) Goff missed last week’s tasty matchup against the Falcons while on the reserve/COVID-19 list. This week, he’s back to face a Seahawks defense that he’s familiar with from his time with the Rams. The ‘Hawks haven’t given up a ton of fantasy points to quarterbacks, but they do have the 31st-ranked pass defense. Goff won’t have much appeal outside of multiple-QB formats, though.
It was apparent from the outset that the Buccaneers would turn to a committee to replace Leonard Fournette. Ronald Jones was the obvious answer, but we shouldn’t sleep on Ke’Shawn Vaughn. The second-year back drew the ire of Tom Brady after several drops in Week 15. He hopefully regained some of that trust after rushing for 70 yards on seven carries in last week’s blowout of the Panthers. Another positive game script could be coming this week against the Jets and their 30th-ranked run defense. Now we just need him to snag a few of these targets coming his way.
With Miles Sanders already ruled out, the Eagles will look to a couple of familiar waiver wire names for help. Jordan Howard will probably be the first choice of many fantasy managers, but Boston Scott shouldn’t be overlooked. Scott played 31 percent of the snaps last week and led Philly in backfield touches. He didn’t have a target but that felt more like an anomaly than anything to really worry about. The Eagles run-heavy offense put up a good number against Washington’s defense two weeks ago. After the Football Team’s dismantling at the hands of the Cowboys, there’s little reason to think thing will be different this week.
Isaiah McKenzie was the latest Bills receiver to go off for fantasy managers. He set career-highs in targets, receptions, and yards last week against the Patriots. Most of that was a function of who wasn’t available for the Bills – notably Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis. Davis has already been ruled out for this week. Beasley’s availability for Week 17 will come down to the wire. That should again open targets for McKenzie against a Falcons secondary that couldn’t corral Amon-Ra St. Brown last week. I wouldn’t like their chances versus a much better Bills passing attack.
The Rustin Cohle Player of the Week is Robby Anderson. We had high expectations for him before the season. Things seemed OK when he had 57 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. He didn’t come close to that yardage total again until an 84-yard outburst against Atlanta in Week 14. But that may have sparked something. Anderson has seen eight or more targets in three straight games. This week, he faces a Saints defense that was ravaged by COVID last week but has generally been friendly to opposing passing games. Anderson might be more attractive to DFS players but could have flex appeal in deep leagues.
With the Eagles back on the schedule, we again pivot to Ricky Seals-Jones. Last week made us nervous with John Barnes getting a lot of the tight end work. We’re chalking that up to game script. Washington was out of the game mere moments after the National Anthem ended. Beyond that, there’s nothing to suggest that RSJ isn’t still the tight end of record in Washington. If you believe that, it’s a small walk to adding him to your lineups this week against Philly. If I must explain why, you haven’t been paying attention this year.
It’s easy to look at the Ravens defense and think that you should avoid targeting it in fantasy. But last week’s Joe Burrow avalanche should have been the final signal that those days are over – at least for now. This week, the Rams come calling. That makes Tyler Higbee a nice streaming tight end option. Baltimore has been bad against tight ends all season long. Losing key pieces of the secondary hasn’t helped. All of L.A.’s pass-catchers are in play this week, but Higbee should be on the radar of anyone needing TE assistance.
We can stay in the NFC West and turn to Gerald Everett. There’s the obvious reason that the Lions have been awful against tight ends going back to Week 12. Maybe that’s enough for you to make the move and use him as a streamer. If you need more – and you might, considering Seattle’s recent offensive struggles – the Seahawks lean heavily on their tight ends near the end zone. Everett ranks alongside with DK Metcalf when it comes to targets inside the opponents’ 12-yard line. Touchdown upside is important with streaming tight ends. It exists here.
Did I mention Washington’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day against Dallas last week? Because … yeah. A lot of it was a defense that had no answers for Dak Prescott and company. But the offense wasn’t special either. That makes the Eagles DST a streaming option for Week 17. In the past three weeks, the WFT has surrendered 12 sacks with six giveaways while also allowing opposing defenses to find the end zone three times. Maybe this is just a rough patch for Washington. Or maybe it’s who they are right now. I’m willing to take a chance on the latter.
Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who [insert clever statement here]. Send him your [item to be named later] or fantasy football questiononTwitter @MarcasG or TikTok at marcasgrant.
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