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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.