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Week 17 Waiver Wire: Breakout Pickups, Targets and Tips for Fantasy Football

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 08: Tight end Tyler Higbee #89 of the Los Angeles Rams leaves the field after defeating the Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 08, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Don't close the books on the 2019 fantasy football season, yet. For leagues with a two-week matchup in the championship round, Week 17 will determine the winner and the runner-up.

An early Saturday matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans had the makings of a scoring shootout. The clubs ranked 28th and 29th in pass defense, respectively, but the contest turned into a turnover-filled surprise with a combined seven giveaways. 

Jameis Winston has been a high-end fantasy quarterback throughout the year but delivered a dud Saturday, scoring 11 points, per FantasyPros. Still, the mistake-prone signal-caller made a wide receiver fantasy-relevant, and the pass-catcher should land on your radar for Week 17. 

The Baltimore Ravens clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but their victory came at a cost. Running back Mark Ingram exited with a calf injury and didn't return to the game. 

With the Ravens locked into the top seed, don't expect the coaching staff to push the 30-year-old to play at less than 100 percent—look elsewhere for running back production.

Let's take a look at breakout targets for the final week of the season. All pickups below are owned in fewer than 75 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Sunday 7:15 p.m. ET.

              

Top Breakout Candidates and Week 17 Pickups

QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (69 percent owned)

QB Jared Goff Los Angeles Rams (69 percent owned)

RB Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (62 percent owned)

RB Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions (42 percent owned) 

RB Mike Boone, Minnesota Vikings (65 percent owned)

WR Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears (46 percent owned) 

WR Justin Watson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6 percent owned)

WR Chris Conley, Jacksonville Jaguars (23 percent owned)

TE Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams (68 percent owned) 

TE Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles (60 percent owned)

               

RB Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions (42 percent owned) 

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 14:  Kerryon Johnson #33 of the Detroit Lions runs with the ball in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 14, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions activated Kerryon Johnson from injured reserve, and he shared carries with Bo Scarbrough in his return against the Denver Broncos Sunday. 

In Week 7, Johnson went down with a knee injury, so the coaching likely wanted to ease him back into the rotation. He logged 10 carries for 42 yards and caught one pass for a yard against the Broncos. 

Next week, the 22-year-old could handle more of the workload after another full week of practice and game-time action. Because of the second-year tailback's ability to contribute in the short passing attack, managers in point-per-reception leagues should pick him up, especially with Ingram hurt and the Ravens locked into the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

The Lions will face the Green Bay Packers, who field the 24th-ranked run defense, allowing at least 95 rushing yards in each of their last six outings. Johnson projects as a solid flex option for Week 17.

             

WR Justin Watson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6 percent owned)

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 21: Justin Watson #17 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fails to reach a pass in the end zone during the first half against the Houston Texans on December 21, 2019 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Im
Will Vragovic/Getty Images

Because of his tendency to throw interceptions, Winston isn't the most reliable quarterback, but he elevates wide receivers in the fantasy football ranks.

Over the last few weeks, Breshad Perriman became a hot commodity with Mike Evans (hamstring) on injured reserve. Chris Godwin didn't suit up against the Texans Saturday due to a hamstring ailment.

While Perriman recorded seven receptions for 102 yards against the Texans, Justin Watson hauled in Winston's only touchdown pass to go along with five catches for 43 yards.

Second to Perriman's 12 targets, Watson had 10 in a featured pass-catching role. The 6'3", 215-pound wideout is a big target for Winston in the red zone. He scored on an eight-yard reception. 

This season, the Falcons pass defense has surrendered 25 touchdowns (22nd) and ranks 23rd in yards allowed. At home, Winston could rebound from his poor showing Saturday (one touchdown and four interceptions) to give both Perriman and Watson a boost in production.

Fantasy owners should check in to make sure Godwin is out before plugging Watson into their lineups.

            

WR Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears (46 percent owned) 

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 28: Anthony Miller #17 of the Chicago Bears looks on in the fourth quarter of a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 28, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Over the last four weeks, Anthony Miller has emerged as a key cog in the Chicago Bears offense, eclipsing 117 yards in two performances and scoring in consecutive games leading into the Sunday Night Football matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Despite the Bears' struggle to move the ball early in the season, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's budding rapport with Miller gives fantasy owners a decent WR2 or flex option in the final week.

The Bears will face the Minnesota Vikings' 20th-ranked pass defense, which lists 19th in touchdowns allowed through the air. 

At 7-7, the Bears won't make the playoffs, so expect the coaching staff to emphasize its evaluation of Trubisky. Right now, he favors Miller in the slot, targeting him 44 times over the last four outings.

Based on target share alone, Miller should be on your roster. On top of that, he brings significant upside with the ability to rack up yards after the catch.

           

TE Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams (68 percent owned)

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 10:  Tyler Higbee #89 of the Los Angeles Rams warms up prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 10, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Although it's common to see new names rise to the top of the pickup list at the end of the season, tight ends rarely emerge as must-add players late in the year, but Tyler Higbee should be owned in all leagues. 

Since Week 13, the 26-year-old has become a major component of the Los Angeles Rams' aerial attack. He eclipsed 103 receiving yards in his fourth consecutive outing Saturday.

Higbee's production took off with Gerald Everett on the sideline with a knee injury between Weeks 13 and 15. Nonetheless, the latter returned to action and his presence didn't affect the former's role or production.

Clearly, the Western Kentucky product is quarterback Jared Goff's preferred receiving option at tight end. The Rams will face the Arizona Cardinals' 32nd-ranked pass defense that's struggled to cover tight ends this season.

Higbee goes into the final week as a TE1 or a strong flex option.