Fantasy Football Week 17 Rankings: Final Season Position-by-Position Review

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2016

Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge isn't a player to miss in Week 17.
Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge isn't a player to miss in Week 17.David Richard/Associated Press

The end of another fantasy season looms.

Not looms as in maybe the way relocation looms over certain franchises. Less dread. Looms as in franchises content with their fate already peeking at NFL draft boards.

Fantasy footballers can do the same if they aren't alive in the final week. For those who are, Week 17 provides a shot at glory and one last application of the skills that got them to this point.

Below, let's take a look at one final set of rankings based on matchups, trends and more before rankings morph into draft talk.



1Cam Newton
2Ben Roethlisberger
3Eli Manning
4Alex Smith
5Tom Brady
6Carson Palmer
7Matt Ryan
8Drew Brees
9Russell Wilson
10Aaron Rodgers
11Blake Bortles
12Brian Hoyer*
13Matthew Stafford
14Ryan Fitzpatrick
Author's projections. *If he plays.

It's not hard to see the who and why at the top of the quarterback list.

How about focusing on a star who doesn't get enough credit? Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs certainly qualifies. He's provided solid output all year, failing to reach double digits just once.

Smith has a juicy matchup this week against the Oakland Raiders, a team he torched for 24 points on the road back in Week 13. Little's changed since, with the Raiders still allowing the 10th-most points to the position, so owners shouldn't be shocked when Smith finishes with one of the top point totals.

How about a sleeper before the season ends? Look at Brian Hoyer of the Houston Texans, who coach Bill O'Brien says is good to go for the finale, according to the team on Twitter:

Hoyer was a quality streamer all season, posting seven double-digit outings while leaning on DeAndre Hopkins. He's already played the Jacksonville Jaguars once this year and posted 23 points.

Jacksonville, on the other hand, still allows the fourth-most points to the position and just gave up 412 passing yards, three scores and 28 points last week.

Those who for some reason need a quarterback, such as, say, Andy Dalton owners, don't need to look any further.


Running Backs

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

The breakout year for Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman won't have any issues ending on a high note.

Freeman, after posting 15 and 14 points to end a rough streak over his past two outings, remains fantasy's highest-scoring back with Adrian Peterson right on his tail.

He shouldn't have any issues taking home first place, though, in large part thanks to a matchup with the New Orleans Saints. He blasted the unit on the road in Week 6 for 27 points and little has changed, with the Saints still allowing the third-most points to the position.

Antonio Andrews of the Tennessee Titans would be one of the top sleepers to know this week.

He's only posted four double-digit outings while battling with injuries and just nailing down the starting job in the mind of the coaching staff. But Andrews looks like the every-down starter now on a team needing to run often with Marcus Mariota out of the picture.

Andrews gets the Indianapolis Colts, one of the teams struggling the most against backs. He carried 12 times for 49 yards and a score for 11 points against the unit back in Week 3 and should see an even bigger usage rate this time out.


Wide Receivers

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

How odd has wideout been this year? Ted Ginn of the Carolina Panthers qualifies as a top star. 

Ginn's been on absolute fire this year, and though he posted no points last week in the team's first loss, over the three games before that he posted two touchdowns in each.

Look for Ginn to get back on track this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The defense allows the 11th-most points to the position, and way back in Week 4, Ginn posted two touchdowns and 13 points on the unit.

It turns out the explosive outing wasn't a fluke.

For a sleeper, keep an eye on someone such as Marvin Jones of the Cincinnati Bengals. Even with AJ McCarron under center, Jones should have a big day while the Baltimore Ravens focus on shutting down A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert.

The proof? Not only do the Ravens allow the fourth-most points to the position, but Jones exploded for 15 points against the unit in the same scenario in Week 3, the difference being this one comes at home.


Tight Ends

1Rob Gronkowski
2Gary Barnidge
3Travis Kelce
4Benjamin Watson
5Delanie Walker
6Greg Olsen
7Antonio Gates
8Julius Thomas
9Heath Miller
10Will Tye
11Zach Miller
12Zach Ertz
Author's projections. *If he plays.

If there was a Cleveland Browns player to know this season it was tight end Gary Barnidge.

Despite the situation, Barnidge posted eight trips to double digits on the season. He's been a tad quiet as of late, but an encounter with the Pittsburgh Steelers tends to do most players at his position some good.

Barnidge managed 12 points against the Steelers on the road in Week 10. Now he's at home and the Steelers still allow the eighth-most points to the spot, making Barnidge one of the surefire stars yet again.

Sometimes the best sleeper comes from the most unlikely places, like the self-destructing Philadelphia Eagles. Zach Ertz has just two trips to double digits this year, but both have come over the past two weeks to save one of the year's most disappointing fantasy campaigns.

Ertz looks to be a major part of the offense now just in time for a game against the New York Giants, the team allowing the second-most points to tight ends. Look for him to make it three in a row and give owners something to think about in next year's fantasy drafts.


Defense/Special Teams

Author's projections.

With or without star defensive end Robert Quinn, the St. Louis Rams tend to hang around as one of the top-scoring units each week.

It's simply the franchise's strength right now. The unit has six showings of 12 or more points, two of which have come over its last three games.

Expect the positive trend to continue at the end of the season thanks to a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, an offense led by Blaine Gabbert.

Those 49ers allow the third-most points to opposing defenses this year and let St. Louis post 12 back in Week 8.



1Brandon McManus
2Stephen Gostkowski
3Chandler Catanzaro
4Cairo Santos
5Graham Gano
6Chris Boswell
7Josh Brown
8Steven Hauschka
9Connor Barth
10Robbie Gould
Author's projections.

Always a rough spot for owners to nail down, look for Chris Boswell of the Pittsburgh Steelers to have a big day this weekend to cap a superb fantasy effort.

Boswell hit double digits seven times despite no points over the first four games of the season and has double digits in six of his last seven outings.

It's a cupcake this weekend for Boswell against the Browns, who cough up the sixth-most points to the position and let Boswell cruise to 10 points in their last encounter.

Expect Boswell to keep streaking and help his standing in fantasy drafts next year in a big way.


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

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