Week 17 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 10* Players Available on the Waiver Wire

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2011

Week 17 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 10* Players Available on the Waiver Wire

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    Over at Footballguys, we've been churning out content since June and, like you, we're all ready for a break and some time to remember what our kids' names are and whether we're married or not.

    However, while many teams locked up the end of their season this past weekend, more than a few leagues take it all the way into this, the final week, of the NFL regular season.

    So once more into the breach, dear friends, as we scratch and claw our way for an edge in what is often the most risky of weeks, when teams flirt with sitting players for a little extra rest or to find out what some promising rookies might be able to do in a real game.

    As we've said every week, the pickings, they be slim on the waiver wires and this week we have the added bonus of one less stud on some owner's roster as Adrian Peterson has been lost for the season (and possibly into the 2012 season) with an ACL tear as well as a rumored MCL tear as well.

    So if you're a Peterson owner, you have my sympathy. I hope you limped into the playoffs anyway and that you find this column useful.

    This week, I've arranged the slides into positions. We'll take a look at each offensive slot, who is there and what chance they have of saving your hide. The asterisk in the title? That's your Bakers Dozen type bonus guy. Whichever guy does best this week? THAT'S the guy I meant.

    Andrew Garda is a staff writer at Footballguys.com and wrote their Thursday Night Lights column, breaking down the fantasy prospects on Thursday night as well as the Fantasy Triage, detailing and rating injury news each week and game recaps each Monday.

Running Backs

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    Kahlil Bell

    Maybe Bell is on my mind post-Petersonpocalypse because he is matched up against the Vikings. That's good because the Vikings have been letting up yards on the ground a lot lately.

    Three out of the last four games have seen backs cross 100 yards against the Vikes, and while most of Bell's damage was done in garbage time last week, he has the chops to put up some solid points. To be safe, figure he's a RB2 with upside.

    Stevan Ridley

    Ridley is no more than a flex or low-end RB2 because he just won't get the carries to make him more. The last two games he's topped out at 11 and 13 carries, though he has been gaining good yards per carry. The Patriots just don't commit to one back exclusively.

    That said, Ridley is worth a look due to his 60+ yards the last two weeks and could be used in a pinch.

    Evan Royster 

    Fellow rookie Roy Helu was scratched late due to an injury, so Royster got the call and in his first start looked very good in Head Coach Mike Shanahan's one-cut-and-go run scheme.

    Royster looked solid, showing some speed as well as a willingness to hit and be hit if he needed to get tough yards. Depending on what happens with Helu, Royster could be as good as a RB2/fringe RB2.

    The Eagles aren't pushovers, but they can be run on, and Royster would get most of the carries if Helu is still out.

Quarterbacks

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    Dan Orlovsky

    Last week, Orlovsky looked good against a very good Texans defense, and this week, he gets a battered and injured Jaguars defense just ripe for the plucking.

    In general, it will be terribly frightening to go into your Championship game with a substitute like Orlovsky, but if you have to do it, a guy with the weapons and match-up he has is one worth noting.

    I don't know that you can expect fantastic numbers, but Dan Orlovsky will do enough to keep you in the hunt so the rest of your team can finish off your opponent.

    Joe Webb

    I'd really rather avoid Webb as a starter since he still has a ways to go before he's a solid starter, if he ever gets there.

    However, the Bears, while still a solid defense, are not fantastic and even though he won't likely throw for 300 yards, Webb is likely to rack up the running yards.

    Last week, he was thrown into the fire after rookie quarterback Christian Ponder went out with a concussion. It looks like he might start again in part because of Ponder's concussion and in part because he's actually looked good enough to compete.

    If Ponder is ruled out, Webb will get you yards on the ground, more than a few through the air and probably a touchdown or two on the ground as well.

    Kyle Orton

    While I don't think Orton is a really good quarterback by any means, there are several reasons he might be a good choice for you this week.

    While Denver's defense was playing very well, in the last two weeks it's regressed and allowed a lot of yards as well as touchdowns. Orton always puts up yards, and this week may be the one where he piles on some touchdowns as well.

    Now as I said, the Broncos defense was playing at a high level not long ago and rookie Von Miller was playing out of his mind and making quarterbacks fear for their lives.

    There is a lot on the line for the Broncos this week and if they win, they are in the playoffs. If they lose, all bets are off.

    So assume the defense gets fired up, which makes Orton a riskier choice than he might be otherwise. He has a lot to play for as well after being ousted from Denver not long ago, so there is plenty of motivation on his side as well.

Wide Receivers

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    Randall Cobb

    As I mentioned in the Sunday Night early waiver wire article, I've been a Randall Cobb fan (would that be Corn Cobb? Cheese Cobb? we need a name for his fans...or fan) since before the draft and have some high expectations for him over the next few years.

    He's not thrown to consistently, which makes him a risky play as anything more than a flex or WR4.

    However, if Greg Jennings is again out, Cobb will slip into the slot again and he may have better luck this week. He's got the hands and escapability once the ball is in his hands.

    He just needs to keep up on his route running and make sure when he does see the ball, he catches the ball.

    Brandon LaFell

    A victim of too many down games before his big Week 16. Inconsistent is the kind word for a guy who drops 103 yards and a touchdown the week after he has a big donut against the Houston Texans.

    He was targeted five times but caught none against Houston, while he caught all three of his targets against Tampa Bay.

    You know the Saints can be thrown on and that they will score points, forcing Carolina and quarterback Cam Newton to throw often as well.

    LaFell has been getting targets and could be a big factor with teams having to concern themselves with a revitalized Steve Smith.

    If you're looking for an upside pick, LaFell is your man.

    Jeremy Kerley

    The former TCU wide-out has been inconsistent in terms of targets, with the eight he saw against the New York Giants being the high-water mark since Week 10.

    Kerley is a dangerous player with the ball in his hands and can run and throw the ball as well. If the Jets could find a way to use him more effectively, I believe he could be very productive.

    What makes him attractive this week is that we know the Miami corners will be focused on making sure Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes don't beat them.

    If the Jets can get Kerley the ball, whether on a short or long route, he could make things happen with a tiny bit of space.

    Like I said, he's dangerous but I like his upside as well. He's a flex or low-level WR3, but it's possible that this week could see him emerge as a big factor on the offense.

Tight Ends

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    Jared Cook

    Two 100+ yard games in a row? Check. Hugely important Week 17 game on the line? Check.

    Cook has been targeted 17 times in the last two games and face the Houston Texans, against whom tight ends can do well.

    I like Cook a lot coming into this game, and if you have a problem at tight end, he's your main man.

    Miami Dolphin Tight End

    With Anthony Fasano injured, it's hard to pin down who might get the start and what they might do, though fullback/tight end combo Charles Clay might be one to target if Fasano doesn't practice Wednesday and is not cleared medically because of his concussion.

    This is a pure speculation/Hail Mary play as it's so muddy, but the Jets often get destroyed by tight ends. If Fasano plays, he will be the guy to start, while if he doesn't, roll the dice on Clay.

    Assuming you like to gamble.

    It is, after all, only Championship week.