Fantasy Football Week 17 Rankings: Matchups and Projections for Players We Love

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Fantasy Football Week 17 Rankings: Matchups and Projections for Players We Love
Brad Penner/Associated Press
New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall touts one of Week 17's top matchups.

The new year doesn't change much about how fantasy football owners have to approach making lineups.

Week 17 looks like a doozy, too, with several mismatches on tap. Plenty of star players are gunning to get their teams to the postseason, and plenty more are at least offering the chance of major production by playing the spoiler. 

In fact, new year or not, Week 17 is usually the most difficult to figure out because one can never truly predict which teams have playoffs in mind and which have eyes for the draft. 

For those still alive and others wanting a refresher before they start heading into drafts of their own, here's how the Week 17 rankings shake out.

Week 17 Schedule

Sunday, Jan. 03 Time (ET)
New Orleans at Atlanta 1:00 pm
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo 1:00 pm
Washington at Dallas 1:00 pm
Tennessee at Indianapolis 1:00 pm
Detroit at Chicago 1:00 pm
Pittsburgh at Cleveland 1:00 pm
New England at Miami 1:00 pm
Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants 1:00 pm
Baltimore at Cincinnati 1:00 pm
Jacksonville at Houston 1:00 pm
Tampa Bay at Carolina 4:25 pm
Oakland at Kansas City 4:25 pm
Seattle at Arizona 4:25 pm
San Diego at Denver 4:25 pm
St. Louis at San Francisco 4:25 pm
Minnesota at Green Bay 8:30 pm

Source: ESPN

Quarterbacks

Rank Player Projected Points
1 Cam Newton 21
2 Ben Roethlisberger 20
3 Eli Manning 19
4 Russell Wilson 18
5 Tom Brady 17
6 Carson Palmer 16
7 Matt Ryan 12
8 Drew Brees 12
9 Alex Smith 11
10 Aaron Rodgers 10
11 Blake Bortles 10
12 Brian Hoyer* 10
13 Matthew Stafford 10
14 Ryan Fitzpatrick 10

Author's projections. *If he plays.

The quarterback matchups to close the season couldn't be juicier.

Look at Eli Manning of the New York Giants, who comes off a seven-point showing and probably doesn't have a lot of trust with owners right now but gets one of the top matchups of the week.

Thank the Philadelphia Eagles, owners of a defense allowing the third-most points to the position. In fact, the Eagles have tanked hard after a Week 8 bye, allowing 24 touchdowns to quarterbacks over the games since.

Even better, Manning gets Odell Beckham Jr. back, ensuring a huge day.

What about a guy like Matt Ryan? Owners might scoff, but nobody should when a quarterback gets a matchup against the New Orleans Saints, the unit allowing the most points to the position.

Since a Week 11 bye, the hapless defense has let up 15 touchdowns to quarterbacks over five games. Ryan's been a dud this year overall, but even he managed 18 points against the unit earlier this season.

Going out with a bang looks to be on the menu for Ryan.

Running Backs

Rank Player Projected Points
1 Devonta Freeman 16
2 DeAngelo Williams 15
3 Adrian Peterson 14
4 Todd Gurley 14
5 Tim Hightower 13
6 David Johnson 13
7 Darren McFadden 12
8 Charcandrick West 12
9 Jonathan Stewart* 11
10 Jeremy Hill 11
11 Frank Gore 11
12 Matt Forte* 11
13 Karlos Williams 10
14 C.J. Anderson 9
15 Eddie Lacy 9
16 Jeremy Langford 9
17 Chris Ivory 8
18 Doug Martin 8
19 Lamar Miller 8
20 Rashad Jennings 8
21 Latavius Murray 7
22 Giovani Bernard 7
23 Antonio Andrews 7
24 Javorius Allen 7
25 Darren Sproles 7
26 Ronnie Hillman 6
27 Brandon Bolden 6
28 Denard Robinson 6
29 Danny Woodhead 6
30 DeMarco Murray 6

Author's projections. *If he plays.

Honestly, it would be a tad boring talking about the damage Devonta Freeman and Todd Gurley will do this weekend in elite lineups.

More interesting would be someone such as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Peterson gets another shot at the Green Bay Packers, a team that mostly held him in check by way of 13 carries for 45 yards back in Week 11. But a touchdown saved his fantasy day, giving him nine points.

Now Peterson has his eye on the rushing title going into the postseason, and the Packers aren't exactly the best at defending runners, having allowed 123 or more yards and one score to two of their past three opposing backfields, pairing with Peterson to make him one of the starts of the week.

Also more interesting than some of the usual top guys is Saints running back Tim Hightower, who has 15 or more points in each of his past two outings including a high of 28. He's looking at a matchup with the Falcons, a team allowing the seventh-most points to backs.

Given his every-down usage, Hightower should post another strong performance and end the season on a high note.

Wide Receivers

Rank Player Projected Points
1 Antonio Brown 18
2 Odell Beckham Jr. 18
3 DeAndre Hopkins 16
4 Julio Jones 15
5 Calvin Johnson 15
6 A.J. Green 14
7 Brandon Marshall 13
8 Alshon Jeffery* 12
9 Michael Floyd 11
10 Doug Baldwin 11
11 Eric Decker 10
12 Martavis Bryant 10
13 Mike Evans 10
14 Allen Robinson 10
15 Larry Fitzgerald 8
16 Jeremy Maclin 8
17 Jarvis Landry 8
18 Travis Benjamin 8
19 Michael Crabtree 8
20 Brandin Cooks 8
21 Julian Edelman* 8
22 Golden Tate 8
23 Sammy Watkins 8
24 Nate Washington 8
25 John Brown 7
26 Demaryius Thomas 7
27 Kamar Aiken 7
28 Jordan Matthews 7
29 Tavon Austin 6
30 Emmanuel Sanders 6
31 Anquan Boldin 6
32 Amari Cooper 6
33 Tyler Lockett 6
34 Willie Snead 6
35 James Jones 6

Author's projections. *If he plays.

Antonio Brown once again rules all.

How couldn't he? Fantasy's leading scoring wideout has another showdown with the Cleveland Browns, who find themselves in an even worse position than the first time they encountered Brown back in Week 10—where he exploded for 27 points on 10 catches for 139 yards and two scores.

It might sound silly to suggest Brown could flirt with the same numbers again, but Cleveland has managed to allow eight touchdowns to wideouts since a Week 11 bye. Brown has a pair of 29 or more point outings over the same span and 27 or more in four of his last seven.

Brandon Marshall's not far behind Brown on the scoring list or projections above for good reason.

The veteran would be a big part of the reason the New York Jets have looked great this year, and he's the owner of a touchdown in every game except four this season.

While a matchup against the Buffalo Bills doesn't sound great, Marshall caught three passes for 23 yards and a score for eight points against the unit in Week 8. Buffalo's steadily gone downhill in recent weeks, allowing five touchdowns to the position over the past five weeks.

With playoffs on the mind, Marshall's going to have a huge outing.

Tight Ends

Rank Player Projected Points
1 Rob Gronkowski 13
2 Gary Barnidge 12
3 Travis Kelce 12
4 Benjamin Watson 10
5 Delanie Walker 8
6 Greg Olsen 8
7 Antonio Gates 8
8 Julius Thomas 8
9 Heath Miller 7
10 Will Tye 7
11 Zach Miller 6
12 Zach Ertz 6

Author's projections. *If he plays.

For once, tight end isn't too hard to figure out.

Well, on paper. The big names should produce, and a big name such as Travis Kelce should actually come through for owners, too.

The Kansas City Chiefs tight end hasn't been consistent this year, recording just five double-digit outings and never two in a row. But there's a first time for everything, or so they say, because Kelce gets another shot at the Oakland Raiders.

Another because Kelce posted a four-point dud against the unit back in Week 13. Given Oakland's well-known struggles, though, he should bounce back.

How wild is tight end? The Saints Benjamin Watson sits as the eighth-highest scorer, yet doesn't have an ownership percentage above 80. Alas, he's one of Drew Brees' favorite targets going into an encounter with the Falcons, a team giving up the 11th-most points to the position.

With pride on the line, Watson's going to see plenty of chances.

Defense/Special Teams

Rank Unit Projected Points
1 Broncos 11
2 Steelers 10
3 Rams 9
4 Cardinals 9
5 Chiefs 8
6 Panthers 7
7 Vikings 7
8 Ravens 6
9 Giants 6
10 Eagles 6

Author's projections.

Stick with Brown's Steelers when it comes to defenses this week. 

While not the highest-scoring unit by any means this year, Pittsburgh boasts five double-digit outings with a high of 22. One of those highs came against these same Browns in Week 10, where the Steelers picked off a pass and recovered a pair of fumbles.

Road game or not, Cleveland's trotting out Austin Davis under center, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Pittsburgh shouldn't have any problems surrendering minimal points and forcing a few turnovers.

Kickers

Rank Player Projected Points
1 Brandon McManus 9
2 Stephen Gostkowski 8
3 Chandler Catanzaro 8
4 Cairo Santos 8
5 Graham Gano 8
6 Shayne Graham 8
7 Josh Brown 7
8 Steven Hauschka 7
9 Connor Barth 7
10 Robbie Gould 6

Author's projections.

As always, a nice floor stands as one of the factors owners should hunt at kicker.

Graham Gano of the Carolina Panthers has done just that for those who nabbed him, tallying eight or more points in 11 games this year.

Like any fantasy stud, Gano's looked best in a great matchup, such as when he posted 13 points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4. Those Buccaneers are the matchup again this weekend, and they happen to allow the third-most points to the spot with 15 or more points allowed in three of their last five.

Gano's going to the postseason with some momentum, folks.

All scoring info courtesy of ESPN standard leagues, as are points-against info and ownership stats as of January 1.

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