Fantasy Football: Top Week 17 Performances and Surprises

Keet BaileyCorrespondent IIJanuary 4, 2011

DENVER - JANUARY 02:  Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers eludes linebacker Robert Ayers #56 of the Denver Broncos as he rushes for a 31 yard touchdown on fourth down and one yard to go in the fourth quarter at INVESCO Field at Mile High on January 2, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Mathews rushed for three touchdowns and 120 yards as the Chargers defeated the Broncos 33-28.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Week 17 has come to an end, as has the regular season for fantasy football owners. It’s a sad time, as many teams go home for the off-season and have to wait until August of 2011 until playing a down of football again.

But at least we had a fantastic regular season. Fantasy football in 2010 was quite the rush. There were numerous fantasy surprises this season. Chris Johnson didn’t have the year that owners who took him with the first overall pick expected.

Quite a few people got steals in the middle of the draft and sometimes at the end of the draft with guys like Arian Foster and Peyton Hillis.

But Week 17 still happened, and there were quite a few surprises in the NFL’s last week as well:

10) Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers

Mathews was featured in our High Risk/High Reward article earlier this week, and boy did he hit home. Despite the San Diego Chargers being eliminated from the playoffs, they still played Week 17 for the fans and pride to the best of their ability, coming out on top 33-28 to division rival Denver.

Mathews rushed 26 times for 120 yards and included three touchdown rushes, as the Chargers rolled and finished the season with a 9-7 record. If you took a chance on Mathews, you were ultimately rewarded with a great 31 points. Congrats to you.

9) Brandon Tate, WR, New England Patriots

Tate was somewhat disappointing for owners who picked him up in the middle of the season. After showing a few flashes of greatness, he quickly went back down the totem pole in New England and failed to record fantasy-worthy numbers.

Against the Dolphins in Week 17, however, he caught two passes for 82 yards, including a bomb from backup quarterback and former Michigan State graduate Brian Hoyer. Tate brought in 14 fantasy points for you if you had a hunch and started him.

8) Brian Westbrook, RB, San Francisco 49ers

After not doing much since Week 14, a few owners got down on Westbrook and most likely dropped him from their leagues. However, he had a fantastic matchup, and should have been played against such a weak Cardinal defense, despite their late season defensive resurgence.

The Cardinals had no answer for the Mike Singletary-less 49ers, and Westbrook rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries, and even had a 14-yard reception. Westbrook scored 20 points for fantasy owners.

7) Oakland Raiders Defense/Special Teams

Give a hand to the Raiders. They made a nice turnaround this season, finishing with an 8-8 record and an outstanding 6-0 in the AFC West. They ended the 2010 season on a very high note, and their defense was outstanding.

You think that in Week 17, they did all of this by facing backups and scrubs, but they faced all of the playoff-bound Kansas City starters, and ate the offensive line alive. Oakland recorded two interceptions, including one returned for touchdown by Stanford Routt, and tallied up seven sacks in the football game, totaling 21 points for unlikely fantasy owners.

6) Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers

Probably the most frustrating player for the 49ers over the last few years has been Alex Smith, who can’t seem to put together a string of good games. After blowing Weeks 15 and 16 for the 49ers, Smith got back in for Week 17 and put up big numbers.

Smith completed just 15 of 29 passes, but for those 15 completions he compiled 276 yards and two touchdowns in a rout of the Arizona Cardinals. If you started Smith, kudos to you, as he rewarded you with 19 fantasy points.

5) Rashad Jennings, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Some fantasy owners are quite disappointed with Jennings right now. Jennings was supposed to break out during Week 16 in a big way against the Redskins, while filling in for Maurice Jones-Drew. Instead, he decided to postpone that breakout for Week 17, against another one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Jennings rushed 22 times and caught four passes for 34 yards. He compiled 108 rushing yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Houston Texans. However, that performance alone was worth 19 fantasy points for reluctant owners.

4) Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots

Here’s a name we thought we’d hear more often in 2010. After coming out a bit as a slot receiver with Wes Welker down in 2009, Edelman’s role was thought to have increased in 2010. Instead, he’s struggled to get 10 snaps a ball game.

But he got more playing time in Week 17 after some backup players came in the game. Edelman returned a punt for a touchdown 94 yards against Miami at the end of the second quarter. But he also caught three passes for 72 yards and scored 14 points for owners, despite being on the waiver wire in nearly every league.

3) Chad Hall, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles sat their premier players against the Cowboys and still nearly pulled out the victory. That’s pretty impressive. Chad Hall, a rookie from Air Force, saw significant playing time in a close loss against Dallas.

Despite just five catches in his other 16 games, Hall totaled six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown catch. It’s nice to see no-name players getting fantasy football love. It’s too bad that he’s probably only owned in leagues with 30 teams and 30 roster spots. That was sarcasm, because those leagues don’t exist. Hall had 14 fantasy points.

2) Stephen McGhee, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Here’s another no-name player making noise in fantasy football! You have to love the curve balls thrown in the NFL. McGhee filled in for Jon Kitna, and the former Texas A&M scrambler made a few nice plays leading to a Dallas win.

McGhee didn’t need a 12th man to win this game, nor did he need a 12th completion. He completed just 11 of 27 passes for 127 yards, but had a crucial touchdown pass to Jason Witten. You can’t also forget about the 55 yards rushing he managed to put up. He totaled 14 fantasy points for any owner.

1) Joe McKnight, RB, New York Jets

McKnight is an interesting story. Once thought of as the “next Reggie Bush” for USC, McKnight, instead, fell on his face and never really did anything special with the Trojans. Despite his lack of production, he entered the NFL Draft early only to go unselected.

But he finally got his chance to shine as the New York Jets played backup players in their Week 17 matchup against the Bills. McKnight failed to score a touchdown on Sunday, but he still rushed for 158 yards on 32 carries, and caught two passes for 15 yards in a 16-point fantasy football effort.


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