Week 17 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Advice on Fantasy Football Stars to Play or Bench

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVDecember 29, 2022

Week 17 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Advice on Fantasy Football Stars to Play or Bench

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    CLEVELAND, OHIO - NOVEMBER 27: Chris Godwin #14 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates a touchdown with Robert Hainsey #70 during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    It's championship week in the fantasy football world, which puts every decision you make under the microscope.

    No pressure or anything, but your ability to successfully navigate those tricky start-or-sit debates may well determine whether you have a league title to celebrate or not.

    Let's not beat around the bush, then, and get right to our top play-or-bench recommendations for Week 17 of the 2022 NFL season.

Start: Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions (vs. Chicago Bears)

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    CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 24: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions throws a pass against the Carolina Panthers in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
    Eakin Howard/Getty Images

    Look, you probably didn't plan on trusting Goff this season—certainly not in championship week—but things change. Your ability to adapt with those changes often determines your degree of fantasy success.

    Goff is QB9 on the season, per FantasyPros. He has the position's seventh-most fantasy points over the past five weeks. In those contests, he has tallied 1,517 yards with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

    If you haven't learned to trust Goff yet, that's a you problem—not a Goff problem. He is a weekly starter at this point and a clear choice in a home game against a Chicago defense allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to the position, per Yahoo.

Sit: Deshaun Watson, QB, Cleveland Browns (at Washington Commanders)

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    CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 24: Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) under center during the first quarter of the National Football League game between the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns on December 24, 2022, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    If you spent all season rostering Watson and thinking you had an ace up your sleeve, well...congrats to making it to championship week in spite of his play.

    His four starts have produced three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and three interceptions. He has thrown for more than 175 yards once and fewer than 140 yards twice. He's had 49.1 fantasy points, which slots him just 17th among quarterbacks.

    You surely have a superior option on your roster, and if you somehow don't, you should hit the waiver wire to find one.

Start: Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Carolina Panthers)

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    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 11: Chris Godwin #14 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up during pregame warm ups prior to the start of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The height of Godwin's fantasy ceiling is, admittedly, not super impressive. He has three touchdown receptions on the season and just a single 100-yard performance.

    So, why give him a start? Because floors matter, too, and his is up there with the best of them. He hasn't seen fewer than eight targets since early October. Only 10 players have seen more passes thrown their way this season. He also capitalizes on his chances and has the season's ninth-most catches (89).

    He has had at least eight receptions in four of his last six games, and all three of his scores came in this stretch. He's also set to tussle with a Carolina defense allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to receivers.

Sit: Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings (at Green Bay Packers)

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    DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 11:  Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) runs with the ball after catching a pass into the end zone for a touchdown during the third quarter of an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions on December 11, 2022 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    If you want to take a flier on Thielen and hope he finds the end zone, good luck. He's had three touchdowns in his last five games, so it's possible.

    Know what else he's had, though? Three different games in this stretch with fewer than 50 receiving yards. His last two outings have yielded a combined four receptions and 47 yards.

    He is no better than Minnesota's third option in the passing game, trailing both Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson—and even that role sometimes goes to K.J. Osborn. Thielen is also going up against a Green Bay defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to the position. Stay away.