Fantasy managers in season-long leagues both cherish and dread Week 17. While playing in the finale likely means that a fantasy championship is on the line, the challenge of identifying starters can be maddening.
With several teams locked into playoff positions and several more with nothing to play for, the threat of resting starters is real. Even moderately injured players may be out of the lineup if there isn't something of significance on the line.
Here we will dig into some of the most significant injuries of Week 17 and identify some potential replacements—from the same team or otherwise. First, though, let's take a look at the top 25 flex plays for the week.
Week 17 Flex 25
1. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
4. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
5. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
6. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
7. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
8. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
9. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
10. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
11. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
12. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
13. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
14. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
15. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
16. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
17. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals
18. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
19. Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots
20. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
21. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
22. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
23. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams
24. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
25. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Injury Spotlight: RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings are expected to sit starters like quarterback Kirk Cousins against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, according to ESPN's Courtney Cronin:
Even if Minnesota were playing to win, though, it would be without Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook. He's been ruled out, while backup Alexander Mattison is listed as questionable. This means that the Vikings will likely lean on second-year back Mike Boone again in Week 17.
Boone started in Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers, though he only finished with 11 carries, one reception and 33 total yards. He should see more action against the Bears, though, as Sean Mannion is likely to start at quarterback.
The 24-year-old is a solid replacement option. As is Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards. Baltimore has announced that starter Mark Ingram is among those who won't play Sunday, meaning Edwards should be viewed as a starting back in Week 17.
Injury Spotlight: WR Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers only have pride to play for in Week 17, which means that they have no reason to insert wide receiver Chris Godwin (hamstring) back into the lineup. Tampa Bay had hoped that he could return for the finale, but he hasn't practiced this week and was ruled out Friday.
Buccaneers receiver Breshad Perriman should again be Jameis Winston's top target. After seeing him rack up 285 yards and four touchdowns over the past three weeks, no one should question his fantasy value.
Another replacement option is Philadelphia Eagles receiver Greg Ward. He has started to emerge over the past three weeks for the Eagles and is coming off a four-catch, 71-yard performance. The Eagles are running out of healthy pass-catchers, so Ward should be considered a reliable option.
"Right now, Ward is the guy at the wide receiver position, even if it's just by default," Mike Kaye of NJ.com wrote.
Injury Spotlight: RB Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders
Rookie running back Josh Jacobs has been an absolute star for the Oakland Raiders. Unfortunately, it appears he won't star in Oakland's final push for an improbable playoff spot. According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Jacobs is expected to miss Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos.
In addition to the aforementioned running backs Boone and Edwards, managers can turn to Raiders back DeAndre Washington. The Texas Tech product got the start against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 16, finishing with 106 total yards and a touchdown.
"We were excited coming out of the game because we didn't know, you just don't know what you're going to get at times when a guy hasn't played," Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area.
The Raiders should trust Washington to carry the load in Week 17. So should fantasy managers.
Other Notable Injuries
Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner (quad): Out
Washington Redskins WR Terry McLaurin (concussion): Out
Washington Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins (ankle): Out
Chicago Bears WR Taylor Gabriel (concussion): Out
Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz (ribs): Out
Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor (knee): Out
Green Bay Packers RB Jamaal Williams (shoulder): Doubtful
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette (neck): Questionable
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (groin): Out