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Fantasy Football Week 17 Rankings: Matchups and Projections for Players We Love

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2019

Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown plays against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)
James Kenney/Associated Press

The final week of the NFL regular season is a notoriously tricky one for fantasy managers to navigate. With several teams already locked into playoff positions, the threat of them resting starters is very real.

This year, for example, the Baltimore Ravens have already announced that stars like Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram will be on the sideline. The Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings are also married to their current playoff slots, while the Houston Texans only have a slim chance of improving their position—they need a win and a Kansas City Chiefs loss.

Many managers will have to look for options other than their top performers in what is most likely championship week. But which players can be relied upon?

Here we'll run down the top projected players at each key position, along with some of the most favorable matchups for the week.

         

Quarterbacks

1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

2. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

4. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

6. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

7. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

8. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

9. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

10. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

          

Matchup Spotlight: Aaron Rodgers at Detroit Lions

Craig Lassig/Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers have already clinched the NFC North, but they have plenty to play for in Week 17. With a win, they're guaranteed a first-round bye in the playoffs. With a win and a San Francisco 49ers loss, they'll take the NFC's No. 1 seed.

"I think our guys understand what's at stake," head coach Matt LaFleur said, per the team's official website.

The Packers aren't going to rest starters, which means quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a prime play. Green Bay is visiting the Detroit Lions, who rank dead-last in pass defense, with an average of 282.6 passing yards allowed.

The last time these two division foes met, Rodgers passed for 283 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He should have an even better outing in the finale.

Projection: 330 passing yards, three TDs.

           

Running Backs

1. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

2. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

3. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

4. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

6. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

7. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

8. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

9. Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts

10. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

11. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

12. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

13. Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals

14. Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos

15. Todd Gurley II, Los Angeles Rams

16. Melvin Gordon III, Los Angeles Chargers

17. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons

18. Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers

19. Mike Boone, Minnesota Vikings

20. DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders

           

Matchup Spotlight: Nick Chubb at Cincinnati Bengals

While Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb has shared the backfield with Kareem Hunt since Hunt's return from suspension, the second-year Chubb remains a must-start in virtually all formats.

He's coming off a down week against the Ravens—just 45 rushing yards—but should be primed to bounce back against the Cincinnati Bengals.

No team has been statistically worse against the run this season than Cincinnati. The Bengals have allowed an average of 4.8 yards per carry and 153.9 rushing yards per game.

The last time Chubb faced the Bengals, he only had 15 carries, the same amount he had against Baltimore. However, he turned those touches into 106 yards. He also caught a pass for 11 yards.

He's likely to get more opportunities this time around, as Cleveland tries to deliver Chubb the rushing title—about the only thing it has to play for in the finale.

Projection: 138 rushing yards, two receptions, 30 receiving yards, one TD.

          

Wide Receivers

1. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

3. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

4. Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears

5. A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

6. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

7. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

8. Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

9.Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

10. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

11. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Chargers

12. DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins

13. Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

14. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

15. Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins

16. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

17. Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns

18. Breshad Perriman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

19. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

20. Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

         

Matchup Spotlight: A.J. Brown at Houston Texans

Like the Packers—and unlike the Browns—the Tennessee Titans have a lot to play for in Week 17. With a win, they'll earn the AFC's No. 6 seed and final playoff spot.

This means star rookie receiver A.J. Brown should see plenty of work against the rival Texans.

Houston has the league's 30th-ranked pass defense and allows 270.3 passing yards per game. Brown caught eight passes for 114 yards and a touchdown the last time these two teams met.

The Titans are unlikely to abandon the pass too, as Houston is expected to play its starters—at least for some of the game. The Texans will know by kickoff whether the Chiefs won or lost.

Gregg Rosenthal @greggrosenthal

I like O’Brien not resting Texans starters. Trying to win a competitive sports contest is a reasonable strategy to prepare for more competitive sports contests.

With the Texans playing to win, Tennessee won't be able to coast to victory. Brown should be active for all four quarters.

Projection: seven receptions, 121 receiving yards, one TD.

           

Tight Ends

1. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

2. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

3. Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons

4. Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders

5. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

6. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

7. Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints

8. Jacob Hollister, Seattle Seahawks

9. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers 

10. O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

         

Matchup Spotlight: Tyler Higbee vs. Arizona Cardinals

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Though not a household name like Travis Kelce or George Kittle, Los Angeles Rams' Tyler Higbee has emerged as a high-end fantasy starter this season.

Higbee has caught 61 passes for 650 yards and two touchdowns this season, but he's been even more prolific as of late. In his last three games, he has averaged roughly nine receptions and 110 yards.

The average is likely to hold this week against the Arizona Cardinals, who have allowed an average of 279.9 passing yards, second-most only behind Detroit.

Higbee gashed the Cardinals for 107 yards and a touchdown on seven catches the last time he faced them.

Projection: 10 catches, 120 receiving yards.