Week 17 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Projecting Top 10 Studs at Each Position for Finales

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2016

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27:  Running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals on the bench during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Packers 38-8.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

With some fantasy leagues running into Week 17 of the NFL season, it's time to set those championship rosters.

Below, I'll help you break down the top 10 players at each position and decide on which players you should start this week and which players should remain firmly planted on your bench.

Matt Camp's Fantasy Football Awards


Week 17: Top 10 QBs
RankPlayerOpponentProjected Points
1Ben Roethlisberger, PITCLE25
2Tom Brady, NEMIA22
3Cam Newton, CARTB21
4Blake Bortles, JACHOU20
5Carson Palmer, ARISEA19
6Russell Wilson, SEAARI18
7Aaron Rodgers, GBMIN17
8Eli Manning, NYGPHI17
9Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJBUF16
10Drew Brees, NOATL16

Start 'Em: Eli Manning, New York Giants

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 27: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants passes the ball during the second quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings on December 27, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Im
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that just saw head coach Chip Kelly fired and didn't have anything to play for to begin with after losing the division to Washington last week.

So, yes, I suspect Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, Jr. and company will carve this defense to shreds.  

Sit 'Em: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers may move cities next year, but don't expect Philip Rivers and company to end the team's stay in San Diego in style. Not against a Denver defense holding opposing quarterbacks to just 11.6 fantasy points per game, best in the NFL.

When these teams first met, Rivers managed just six fantasy points. Sit him, folks.

Running Backs

Week 17: Top 10 RBs
RankPlayerOpponentProjected Points
1Todd Gurley, STLSF20
2Devonta Freeman, ATLNO18
3DeAngelo Williams, PITCLE17
4Adrian Peterson, MINGB16
5David Johnson, ARISEA14
6Lamar Miller, MIANE13
7Charcandrick West, KCOAK12
8Darren McFadden, DALWAS12
9Doug Martin, TBCAR12
10Latavius Murray, OAKKC11

Start 'Em: David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

David Johnson is on fire. In his last four games, he has a combined 86 fantasy points, a ridiculous tally. To put it into perspective, that's more fantasy points than Eagles running back Darren Sproles has managed all season long.

And his upside seems unlimited.

“David Johnson can be very, very special because of his size, his speed—and he’s a fantastic receiver,” his head coach, Bruce Arians, said about him, per Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News.

At this point, Johnson is a must-start option every week, even against Seattle's unforgiving defense. Make sure he's in those lineups.

Sit 'Em: Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 27:  Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns hands the ball off to running back Isaiah Crowell #34 against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half on December 27, 2015 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Miss
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Yes, Javorius Allen rushed for 79 yards and a score against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. But Pittsburgh has still allowed the second-fewest points to opposing running backs per week this season, making  Isaiah Crowell a very risky start.

Perhaps if Crowell was a bit more consistent, he'd be trustworthy despite the matchup. But he's failed to reach double-digit fantasy points in eight of his last 10 games. That makes him impossible to trust in a tough matchup.

Wide Receivers

Week 17: Top 10 WRs
RankPlayerTeamProjected Points
1Odell Beckham Jr., NYGPHI20
2Antonio Brown, PITCLE19
3A.J. Green, CINBAL17
4Julio Jones, ATLNO16
5Brandon Marshall, NYJBUF15
6DeAndre Hopkins, HOUJAC15
7Allen Robinson, JACHOU15
8Brandin Cooks, NOATL13
9Doug Baldwin, SEAARI12
10Eric Decker, NYJBUF12

Start 'Em: Brandin Cooks, New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 27:  Brandin Cooks #10 of the New Orleans Saints catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Nick Marshall #41 and Johnathan Cyprien #37 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdom
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Yes, Atlanta has held opposing wide receivers to the second-fewest fantasy points per game this season. However, that stat will likely be trumped by the red-hot Brandin Cooks, who has 13 or more fantasy points in seven of his last 11 games and 37 combined points in his last two games.

Trust in Cooks. He's been a savior in the fantasy playoffs thus far. No need to lose the faith now.

Sit 'Em: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

Whereas Cooks has been hot, Larry Fitzgerald has been about as cold as a frozen lake. He's failed to register double-digit fantasy points in six straight games, notching just one touchdown in that time, and now faces a Seattle defense giving up the third fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses. 

It's probably hard to sit a player who was so good in the first half of the season, but you simply can't trust him in a championship week.

Tight Ends

Week 17: Top 10 TEs
RankPlayerOpponentProjected Points
1Rob Gronkowski, NEMIA15
2Jordan Reed, WASDAL14
3Greg Olsen, CARTB12
4Gary Barnidge, CLEPIT12
5Delanie Walker, TENIND11
6Tyler Eifert, CINBAL10
7Travis Kelce, KCOAK9
8Julius Thomas, JACHOU8
9Zach Ertz, PHINYG7
10Antonio Gates, SD TEDEN7

Start 'Em: Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 20:  Zach Ertz #86 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs after he makes a catch against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on December 20, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schult
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Finally, the Eagles seem to have placed their faith in Zach Ertz. With 38 combined points in the last four weeks, Ertz has finally resembled the TE1 many people projected him to be this season. 

With Sam Bradford targeting him early and often, expect a big showing against a shaky New York Giants defense.


Sit 'Em: Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Richard Rodgers has three catches for 12 yards and a touchdown, total, in his last three games.

Sit him. Don't even think about starting him. 

Defense/Special Teams

Week 17: Top 10 D/STs
RankTeamOpponentProjected Points

At this point in the season, you know which defenses you can trust and which defenses have proved to be unreliable. Don't get cute, folks.


Week 17: Top 10 Ks
RankPlayerOpponentProjected Points
1Stephen Gostkowski, NEMIA15
2Graham Gano, CARTB14
3Chandler Catanzaro, ARISEA13
4Blair Walsh, MINGB12
5Cairo Santos, KCOAK11
6Josh Brown, NYGPHI10
7Robbie Gould, CHIDET10
8Steven Hauschka, SEAARI10
9Dan Bailey, DALWAS9
10Justin Tucker, BALCIN9

If you don't have a top-10 kicker, get one. That's the advice I give every week, because this position is fickle and there's no excuse to not have a player who regularly produces. 

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

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