Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 17: Final Regular-Season Fantasy Football Advice

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2016

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

One last time.

One last glance over the latest injury news and pre-game reports. One more look over the matchups. One last time obsessing over your lineup, hoping the answers magically appear. 

The NFL regular season ends today, meaning the fantasy season will be coming to a close for many folks. So let's take one last look at some start 'em, sit 'em advice.

Well, until next year, that is.


Start 'Em: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger has generally been excellent this year, but he's been disappointing down the stretch, as he's failed to reach 10 fantasy points in two of the last three weeks. For owners competing for a championship this week, those outputs may make them wary of trusting Big Ben. 

But fear not, for Roethlisberger faces the Cleveland Browns, a team giving up 18.7 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week, 27th in the NFL. The last time these teams met, Big Ben threw for 379 yards and three touchdowns. 

With a playoff spot potentially on the line, Roethlisberger is putting his disappointing effort against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17 behind him.

“Just keep playing the game,” Roethlisberger told Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about his approach to Sunday's game. “That’s the key to being a quarterback is having short-term memory, for good and bad. We have enough weapons in our offense, we do enough that I’m just going to keep playing the way I play.”

Those weapons are going to help Roethlisberger post huge numbers in Week 17.


Sit 'Em: Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 27: Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to pass against the Chicago Bears during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. The Bears defeated the Buccaneers 26-21. (Photo by Joe Robbins/
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Jameis Winston faces the Carolina Panthers in Week 17, a team he threw four interceptions against in Week 4. He's thrown just six interceptions in his last 11 games, but it's hard to trust Winston on Sunday.

For starters, he's gone five games without posting 20 or more fantasy points, so he doesn't possess an elite ceiling. And the Panthers give up just 13.3 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week, fourth in the NFL. Plus, Carolina is fighting for home-field advantage, so they won't be taking this game lightly.

Winston has a future as a solid fantasy quarterback. This won't be the game in which he proves it, however.


Start 'Em: James White, RB, New England Patriots

James White has been a solid addition for the fantasy owners who picked him up late in the season, as he's posted eight or more fantasy points in four straight weeks and double-digit points in three of the last six weeks.

He is set to face a Miami Dolphins team giving up an NFL-worst 21.2 fantasy points to opposing running backs per week, which includes 630 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns.

The passing game, of course, is where White makes his money. The fact Miami has allowed seven receiving touchdowns to opposing backs (the most in the NFL) makes White very appealing. As is Miami's 24th-ranked pass defense. 

Add it all up, and White is an ideal flex option in Week 17 with RB2 upside. And in PPR leagues, his upside is immense.


Sit 'Em: Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

If you haven't given up on Giovani Bernard by now, it's time to do so. Bernard has an underwhelming 21 total fantasy points in his last five games and has posted double-digit points just once since the team's Week 7 bye.

Baltimore has given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing backs this season, but honestly, you should be sitting Bernard at this point regardless of the matchup. He simply can't be trusted. 


Start 'Em: Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 27:  Martavis Bryant #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers misses a pass from  Ben Roethlisberger #7 during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Patri
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The last time Martavis Bryant faced the Browns, he torched them for six receptions, 178 yards and a touchdown. While Antonio Brown has been out of his mind of late, there will still be plenty of targets to go around for Bryant against a defense giving up 25.5 fantasy points per week to opposing wideouts, 28th in the NFL.

One thing that could push Bryant to a big performance in Week 17 is a subtle nudge from his offensive coordinator, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN:

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said this week the Steelers 'need more out of everybody,' including Bryant.

'Obviously teams know him, they recognize him a lot more than they had early on, but there’s still a number of opportunities given where we’ve got to make more plays,' Haley said. 'You’re not going to make them all, but you have got to make some.'

Bryant has instant big-play ability, so he can break out at any time. Helping secure the win in Cleveland would be a good start.

Helping owners win a fantasy title would be a good finish too.


Sit 'Em: Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington

It might be tempting to start Pierre Garcon in Week 17 after he caught seven passes for 80 yards and a touchdown last time out. 

Resist that urge.

Garcon has posted double-digit fantasy points just twice this season. Yes, his touchdowns in back-to-back games might be appealing, but his upside simply isn't high enough in a matchup against a Dallas Cowboys defense that held him to five receptions for 54 yards in Week 13 and is giving up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts this season. 

If you bet on a Washington receiver on Sunday, roll the dice on big-play threat DeSean Jackson. Garcon's ceiling is too low.


Start 'Em: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

Travis Kelce has been pretty hit-or-miss this year, but with 17 combined fantasy points in the past two weeks, he's back in the "hit" category. And against an Oakland Raiders defense that has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, starting him is an easy choice.


Sit 'Em: Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys

At this point, Jason Witten is more of a name brand than he is a viable fantasy option. He hasn't posted double-digit fantasy points since Week 1 and hasn't notched seven or more fantasy points since Week 7.

Witten was already slowing down. The fact he's had to play much of the season without Tony Romo put the final touches on his fantasy demise this year.


All fantasy stats, ownership percentages and points-against totals via ESPN standard leagues.

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