Week 17 Waiver Wire: Breakout Pickups, Targets and Tips for Fantasy Football
Managers who have playoff matchups that extend through Week 17 can still maneuver the waiver wire to replace starters who may rest in their team's season finale.
As clubs clinch playoff spots, quarterbacks and other starters may not handle a full workload one game before a postseason journey. Managers should keep a close eye on player statuses through the week and grab a few fill-in starting options just in case of a surprise scratch from game-day lineups.
This week, we'll start out with a tip for managers who need a quarterback if Patrick Mahomes' status comes into question after the Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Beyond that, two wide receivers and a tight end landed on the radar as top pickups for Week 17.
All players listed below are available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Top Pickups and Breakout Candidates for Week 17
QB Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts vs. JAX (40 percent rostered)
QB Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys at NYG (13 percent rostered)
RB Sony Michel, New England Patriots vs. NYJ (18 percent rostered)
WR Sterling Shepard, New York Giants vs. DAL (44 percent rostered)
WR Keke Coutee, Houston Texans vs. TEN (44 percent rostered)
WR Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots vs. NYJ (32 percent rostered)
WR Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts vs. JAX (43 percent rostered)
TE Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings vs. DET (15 percent rostered)
Fantasy Tip: Philip Rivers as a Replacement for Patrick Mahomes
The Kansas City Chiefs locked up home-field advantage through the AFC, so quarterback Patrick Mahomes may sit out of the season finale with the Los Angeles Chargers. Managers who have him on the roster should prioritize a fill-in starter off the waiver wire.
Philip Rivers is one of the safest pickup options. The Indianapolis Colts currently sit in eighth place, so they have something to play for next week. Furthermore, this club has a soft matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who allow the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Before Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rivers threw for multiple touchdowns in five consecutive contests. He should return to top form in his next outing versus the Jaguars' 27th-ranked pass defense that's allowed 33 touchdowns this season. Expect him to finish the term with a strong performance.
WR Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots
Jakobi Meyers has a matchup versus the Buffalo Bills on Monday before he goes against the New York Jets in Week 17. Nonetheless, he had a productive outing last week, hauling in seven out of 10 targets for 111 yards.
Wideout Julian Edelman has yet to suit up since he underwent knee surgery in late October, though the New England Patriots designated him to return from injured reserve. Even if the 34-year-old makes a comeback, Meyers should continue to see the bulk of the targets in the passing game.
Going into Week 16, the Jets allowed the ninth-most points to wide receivers. Their pass defense ranks 30th, allowing 30 touchdowns through 15 contests. With his heavy target share, Meyers will project as a WR2 if Edelman remains on the sideline next week.
WR Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
In Week 16 versus the Baltimore Ravens, Sterling Shepard scored a touchdown for the first time since Week 7. He also led the team in targets (12) and recorded a season-high 77 receiving yards.
The New York Giants went into Sunday's contest with the 29th-ranked passing attack. Daniel Jones has struggled when healthy, but he could finish the season on a strong note.
Big Blue will go against the Dallas Cowboys to close the campaign. Shepard should fare well against a defense that allows the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
Through 11 appearances, Shepard averages 7.3 targets per outing. With a steady number of looks in the passing game, he has a high floor as a viable WR3 or flex starter next week.
TE Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings
Kyle Rudolph has missed the last three games because of a foot injury. In that time span, Irv Smith Jr. has 13 receptions for 153 yards and three touchdowns.
In Week 16 against the New Orleans Saints, Smith hauled in six passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns. He also tied wideout Adam Thielen for the second-most targets (nine) among Minnesota Vikings pass-catchers.
If Rudolph sits out of the season finale against the Detroit Lions, Smith will likely continue to play a big role within the offense. He'll face a defense that allowed 58 receiving yards and two touchdowns to Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski Saturday.
If you're in dire need of tight end production, Smith could fill a void in your starting lineup. He has upside in a game against the 32nd-ranked scoring defense.