Fantasy Football: Week 17 High Risk/High Reward Players for Your Championship

Keet Bailey@@KeetBaileyCorrespondent IIDecember 29, 2010

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26: Brian Urlacher #54 of the Chicago Bears brings down Shonn Greene #23 the New York Jets at Soldier Field on December 26, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Jets 38-34. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For the remaining fantasy football readers out there, this is championship week if it wasn’t for you last week. That means you still have a chance to get that league championship for the ultimate bragging rights in your league’s fantasy football playoffs.

But there are times when you need to take risks, and while some feel that it’s not appropriate to take risks in games like this, I feel that risks are very much needed every week.

NFL Soup has some fantasy options that can be huge for you this week, but could also fall on their faces due to fantasy matchups, inconsistency, etc.

Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets vs. Buffalo

Greene is much more of a reward here than a risk. With the Jets clinching a playoff spot (thanks Jacksonville!), look for them to be all over the running game against Buffalo, who just can’t stop it.

Greene has been steadily improving, and should get the bulk of the carries and could have a huge game. But it’s also possible that LaDainian Tomlinson gets a bit more involved and has the better game. I still like Greene’s hard-nosed running style to dominate the Bills this week and help you win your league.

Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay

You have to love that Thomas is finally back. We’ve only been waiting for him to produce for 13 weeks. He rushed for 63 yards on Monday night and caught seven passes. He gets a VERY favorable matchup against a poor run defense, and the Saints have to win this game just to have a chance at winning the division in hopes that the Panthers somehow beat the Falcons.

This could be a huge week for Thomas.

Deion Branch, WR, New England Patriots vs. Miami

Branch hasn’t been very effective in his last two weeks as the Patriots have been finding ways to spread the ball around to guys like Rob Gronkowski, Danny Woodhead, and Wes Welker. But Branch still usually finds ways to make plays, and while Miami has an above average secondary, they have been prone to big plays.

Branch is one of the better deep play receivers in that New England offense, and could deliver. It’s also a bit risky, however, considering Tom Brady may not play the entire game.

Michael Bush, RB, Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City

Darren McFadden has been great this year, and Bush has been great as a No. 2 running back for the Raiders. He can run the ball very well, and effectively, he just doesn’t always see the touches that fantasy owners want to see.

McFadden could be out this week, or at least limited with an ankle injury. The Raiders have no reason to rush him back, and could just rely on Bush to have a big game against the Chiefs who are just mediocre against the run. Bush could have a big game.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears @ Green Bay

Cutler is frustrating. This is nothing new. We often don’t want to start him because of his uncanny ability to throw the ball right to the defenders. But Cutler has been great in his last two weeks against respectable pass defenses.

Green Bay has a very tough defense that can force turnovers, but Cutler and the Bears will want to keep Green Bay from getting to the playoffs. There is a small chance that Cutler sits with the Bears already clinching a playoff spot and the division, but that just doesn’t seem like the Bears to me.

Jared Cook, TE, Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis

With Bo Scaife bothered by nagging injuries, and just not making very many plays, the Titans have put in a few younger guys to test them out. Cook is a great pure receiving tight end, despite playing fullback and halfback at South Carolina.

Cook has had a few very respectable games, and had a great Week 16 against Kansas City catching five passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. The ability is there, and the veteran QB play is there with Kerry Collins, but the consistency isn’t as he rotates in and out with Bo Scaife. I still like him as a nice sleeper for Week 17.

Joseph Addai, RB, Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee

Tennessee took a turn for the worst once all the Vince Young drama went on. They’ve suffered injuries, and on field fights. They just don’t look like they want to be out there. Joseph Addai came back in Week 16 and scored a touchdown in a hurry. The Colts have to win to ensure a playoff spot, so Addai will be starting.

Addai could have another touchdown or two, and maybe 75-80 yards on top of that, if not more, going up against this struggling Tennessee defense. Addai should be started at the Flex at the very least.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers @ Denver

Denver’s defense is atrocious. There’s no arguing that. What also can’t be argued is Mathews’ performance this season, which has been frustrating. But Mathews’ gets a very favorable Week 17 matchup and will get the bulk of the carries with Mike Tolbert out as well.

Mathews has rushed for at least 60 yards in his last two games and had a Week 16 touchdown. The problem is wondering just how hard the Chargers will play, after being eliminated from playoff contention in an embarrassing loss to a VERY weak Cincinnati team. I still like Mathews in the Flex at the least.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Denver Broncos vs. San Diego

There’s no doubting Lloyd’s ability, and most likely, if you own Lloyd, you’re in the championship game. Lloyd has been great, and he continued his solid production in Week 16.

What’s scary is that San Diego’s defense is good against the passing game. While Lloyd had a solid game against them in Week 11, there’s no telling that he’ll continue that production against a defense that could be playing with a lot of anger, and aggression. Not to mention, Tim Tebow seems to spread the ball out a bit more, and Lloyd may end up having a big game, or not doing much at all like in Week’s 13 and 14.

Mike Williams, WR, Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis

Mike Williams has seen so many targets in the passing game this year that it’s hard to figure out why he’s not leading the league in receptions and yardage. But injuries, inconsistent QB play, and a poor rushing attack has made him a mediocre fantasy option. With Charlie Whitehurst in, there’s no telling what this offense is capable of. Whitehurst isn’t a bad quarterback. He’s just inexperienced.

The good news is that the Rams pass defense is quite bad, and Williams could have a pretty solid day if he sees the targets that he has for most of the season. With the injuries to the WR corps, it’s no doubt that Whitehurst will look his way quite a bit. But I’d be cautious.


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