Week 17 Waiver Wire: Top Pickups
Your league goes against fantasy-analyst advisement and makes Week 17 important. Bad. The good news is you lucked out in 2013, because almost all of the contending teams still have something to play for in the season's final week.
If you are a fantasy owner with something to play for, you will want to peruse the waiver-wire options available to you. There is far less competition for the leftovers this week, so our Bleacher Report top pickups don't dig as deep, but there are a lot of starting options available at the thinned running back position to pick through.
We break down the pickups to add, monitor and ignore before the final Tuesday night waivers run of the season. Pick up your Christmas Eve gifts before the clock strikes midnight and Santa drops down the chimney, if you believe in that sort of thing.
Quarterbacks: Kirk Cousins to Pierre Garcon Is a Combo to Trust in Crunch Time
Quarterback to Add
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
We are inclined to give Cousins a pass, despite him struggling against the previously worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks, the Dallas Cowboys. The New York Giants are more middle of the pack, but at least Cousins was able to make a Week 16 fantasy superstar out of Pierre Garçon. We see Cousins bouncing back nicely here.
Quarterback to Monitor
Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers
He didn't get the job done last week, but he should find things a lot more open against the Chicago Bears defense in Week 17. Assuming Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) isn't announced as a starter by head coach Mike McCarthy, Flynn is a stopgap option who should be starting at least in two-quarterback formats. The Bears-Packers game is winner-take-all for the NFC North, so expect it to be wide open, especially in the second half.
Quarterback to Ignore
Geno Smith, New York Jets
He is coming off a three-score week, but the Miami Dolphins are coming off a loss, will be at home and are No. 5 in fantasy against quarterbacks. It all lines up as a bad week to expect anything useful out of the inconsistent rookie.
Running Backs: James Starks and LeGarrette Blount Lead Slew of Waiver Options
Running Backs to Add
James Starks, Green Bay Packers
Eddie Lacy (ankle) is banged up again, so there is the potential for Starks to start for the Packers in an ideal championship matchup against the Chicago Bears, who are dead last in the NFL against the run. Even if Lacy plays, he figures to be limited. That will mean some production for Starks owners, regardless. Add Starks in all leagues before your opposition does.
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
He doesn't get all of the carries for the Pats, not with Stevan Ridley out of the doghouse and Shane Vereen as the passing-down back. Blount does get the important carries, though. The Pats look committed to going to a power running game now with Rob Gronkowski (knee) out, and Blount is the power back to do it. He should get in the end zone at least once against the Buffalo Bills in Week 17.
Running Backs to Monitor
Edwin Baker, Cleveland Browns
The Browns are getting a look at this former practice-squad back, and they have to like what they are seeing. He rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown against the Jets' highly rated run defense. The Steelers are not a great matchup in Week 17 for him, but at least Baker looks prepared to handle a full-time load for the Browns and fantasy owners now.
Jonathan Grimes, Houston Texans
With Dennis Johnson (hip) questionable, the Texans have already announced Grimes will be the starter this weekend against the Tennessee Titans. If you're looking for a starting back with a favorable matchup—the Titans are fourth worst against fantasy running backs—Grimes is it.
Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans
If you don't own Greene by now, odds are you shouldn't be trusting him in a crucial Week 17 matchup. The Titans split the carries between Chris Johnson and Greene last week, but we should expect the Texans to play better against the run than the Jacksonville Jaguars did last Sunday. Greene is merely good for a short touchdown this week.
Running Backs to Ignore
Michael Cox, New York Giants
Andre Brown (concussion) might be ruled out, so Cox could get the start if the Giants don't turn to veteran Peyton Hillis. Cox is a rookie with limited upside, so consider him only out of desperation in the deepest of leagues.
Chris Polk, Philadelphia Eagles
Polk reached the end zone Sunday, but LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown are still healthy and ahead of Polk on the depth chart. He doesn't project to get enough touches to impact fantasy leagues in the final week.
Wide Receivers: Options Are Available, but Nate Washington Not an Advisable One
Wide Receivers to Add
Mike Brown, Jacksonville Jaguars
Unlike many of the receivers off waivers, Brown's rise is a function of playing time more than a mere surprising week of production. Brown is the Jags' go-to man right now. The Jags figure to have some garbage-time numbers waiting for Brown at the Indianapolis Colts, too.
Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers
Steve Smith (knee) will be ruled out for Week 17, so Cam Newton and the Panthers figure to turn to LaFell as the leading downfield threat this Sunday against a suspect Atlanta Falcons secondary. The Falcons have been in the bottom 10 against the pass and against fantasy wide receivers all season. LaFell could be in for his best week here.
Wide Receivers to Monitor
Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
We would still slot him behind Greg Jennings in the Vikings' pecking order, but Patterson does get the ball as a runner in addition to passing targets. That makes him slightly more intriguing as a stopgap in fantasy crunch time, because the Vikings are committed to getting him the ball at least, unlikely many of the options listed below.
Jerrel Jernigan, New York Giants
Eli Manning hasn't been able to get the ball downfield well this season, which is good news for Jernigan. He has taken over as the third wide receiver with Victor Cruz (knee) out, so consider Jernigan a checkdown option for Manning against the Washington Redskins.
Wide Receivers to Ignore
Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans
He is coming off six catches for 117 yards and a touchdown, but the Jaguars defense is far weaker than the Houston Texans' against the pass (third best). The Titans just have too many targets to consider Washington trustworthy, namely Kendall Wright and Justin Turner.
David Nelson, New York Jets
He was able to burn the team that cut him in training camp with two touchdowns, but the Jets face a very good Miami Dolphins secondary next. Miami is fifth best against fantasy wide receivers. You shouldn't bother to own, much less start, Nelson in any leagues this week.
Tight Ends: Joseph Fauria Is a Viable Hail Mary Option If You Need One Here
Tight End to Add
Joseph Fauria, Detroit Lions
With Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) nursing an injury and the Lions facing the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17, you might consider the early-season surprise Fauria a sleeper to reach the end zone. The Vikings are the second-worst team in fantasy against tight ends, allowing 13 touchdowns, including one to Fauria in Week 1.
Tight End to Monitor
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
He has been virtually silent the past two weeks, totaling just two catches for eight yards, but the matchup is back in his favor for Week 17. The Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed the most receptions to tight ends this season and are third worst in fantasy against them. Fleener should rebound for 50 yards and a touchdown here.
Tight End to Ignore
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
He racked up 50 yards and a touchdown against a bottom-10 team in fantasy against tight ends, but you have to figure it will be tough to put up those numbers against an Indianapolis Colts team that has been fifth best in fantasy against tight ends. Only the Detroit Lions (one) and Philadelphia Eagles (two) have allowed fewer than the three touchdowns to tight ends the Colts have allowed this season.
Defense/Special Teams: Detroit Lions Face Another Weak Opponent in Season Finale
Defense/Special Teams to Add
That wasn't a great performance against the New York Giants, but they get another chance to face a suspect team against fantasy defense/special teams. The Minnesota Vikings are the fourth-most-forgiving opponent against fantasy units. The Lions are still available in 36 percent of CBS Sports leagues, too.
They are coming off an impressive performance that featured four turnovers, four sacks and just seven points allowed. Now they will play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars—sixth worst in fantasy against defense/special teams. The Colts are your streaming play if the Lions were already picked up last week.
Defense/Special Teams to Monitor
St. Louis Rams and Buffalo Bills
These two defenses can get after the quarterback, each posting seven sacks a week ago. The problem is they are facing the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots on the road, respectively. If you go with talent over matchup, the Rams and Bills are your plays on the fringe of fantasy.
Defense/Special Teams to Ignore
They racked up five sacks and a pair of turnovers last week, and they apparently will be facing the Dallas Cowboys' backup quarterback. We cannot be sure Kyle Orton will be that error-prone, though. Despite Tony Romo's late-game gaffes, the Cowboys still were the second-best team in fantasy against defense/special teams.
Kickers: We Have a Feeling Blair Walsh Is Going to Finish His Down Year Strong
Kicker to Add
Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings
The sophomore has had a disappointing season, especially when Adrian Peterson has been banged up or struggled. Walsh is coming off a mere two-point performance last week, but he faces a Detroit Lions team that has given up the most field goals and the most points to fantasy kickers. Walsh will also get to kick in the dome this week.
Kicker to Monitor
Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins
The rookie has had an up-and-down year, but you have to figure the Dolphins are going to be a lot better at home in a must-win game against the rival New York Jets. The Jets have given up the second-most field goals this season, so consider Sturgis if you're looking for a one-week wonder in your fantasy championship.
Kicker to Ignore
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals
So much for our sleeper play from a week ago. Nugent was held to six extra points and now draws a Baltimore Ravens team coming off a loss and needing a big victory. Nugent should go right back to the free-agent pile in this crucial week. Use one of those options above in his place.