From The Godfather: Week 17

Sun Jan 3 11:41am ET
By CHARLIE WIEGERT
Contributing Writer

Week 17 is here already. Time sure flies when your having fun!  If your league is still playing, this week is your championship, and the challenges for you are compounded by the players who will be sitting out.  If you’re not league playing, use this advice to pick up some money in DFS this weekend!

It’s best to start with who will not be playing, stars on Kansas City and Pittsburgh.  And I can’t really recommend any of their replacements, so you’ll need to look elsewhere.  Also in jeopardy are Buffalo Bills players.  The Bill don’t really have anything to gain or lose by playing, much like the Steelers.  They will end up with the division championship and host a wild card game.  If they would lose to the Dolphins and the Steelers beat the Browns, they would have the third seed instead of the second, which would change their opponent for the wild card game, and perhaps make a matchup against the Chiefs a week earlier than they would want.  So there is that, and they’d probably prefer not to play KC until the AFC championship.

The teams that have something to play for, like win and you’re in the playoffs, are Los Angeles Rams, Arizona, Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Tennessee, Cleveland and Indianapolis.  Someone has to win the NFL East.  Washington has the easiest road, win Sunday night against Philadelphia and they get in.  Dallas and the New York Giants will play before them Sunday afternoon, the winner of that game hoping the Eagles will win and secure them a playoff spot...which would mean they get to host New Orleans, Seattle or Green Bay next weekend.

If Green Bay beats Chicago, they’ll get a bye next weekend. If they lose and the Saints win, the Saints get the bye. And if the Packers and Saints lose and the Seahawks won, Seattle gets the bye.  I’d they all three lose, the Packers get the bye.

With all that in mind, the teams that have been the most generous, that have given up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year are Atlanta, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York Jets and Tennessee.  That makes Tom Brady and Tampa Bay going against the Falcons a top play.  But you can question how much motivation they’ll have with a playoff spot already clinched as a wild card team, knowing they’ll be on the road next weekend.  Again it could be much like last week when the stars sat the second half out against the Lions.  In a game that means nothing as far as the playoffs are concerned, the Viking play the Lions.  Kurt Cousins has been on a roll lately, and with Dalvin Cook missing this game, the Vikings and Cousins should feature a big passing game.  Indianapolis needing a win to get in get a gimme with the Jaguars.  Philip Rivers should expose their weak passing defense with a big game.  The Patriots get the Jets and their pathetic defense, but Cam Newton has not shown he can take advantage of it, stay away.  Rounding out the top five, Houston and DeShaun Watson take on a Titans team in need of a win to get in.  Watson will do his best to be a spoiler and is a good play?

At the other end of the spectrum, the team giving up the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks are Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Football Team, Green Bay and San Francisco.  Not only do the Cardinals have to face the number one ranked passing defense a must win to get in game, they have to do it with a less than healthy QB in Tyler Murray.  The hope might lie in the Rams will be missing their QB (Goff), top two RB’s ( Akers & Henderson) plus banged up RB Malcolm Brown and top WR (Kupp), so perhaps the Cardinals have a chance.  Washington in a win and your in game will hope their third ranked pass defense can stop Jalen Hurt.  Mitch Trubinsky and Bears have been on a roll lately also, but they haven’t had to deal with a passing defense anywhere close to as good as the Packers.  Another win and your in game for the Bears against a Packer team that can sew up the number one seed and a bye with a win.  Russell Wilson has not been overly explosive lately, and it will be tough going against the fifth ranked 49er pass defense.

The defenses giving up the most fantasy points to running backs are Houston, Detroit, Jacksonville, Las Vegas and Green Bay.  Hello Derrick Henry, can you bring the Titans to the promised land against the worst rushing defense in the NFL? Expect a really big day from Henry, the key to the Titans making the playoffs. With Cook missing the game, a less than 100 % Alexander Mattison will be the Vikings lead back, more reason to a big passing day.  The Colts Jonathan Taylor should have his way with the Jaguars.  As should Melvin Gordan against the Raiders.  And much like the Titans, the Bears will need RB David Montgomery to save their day and playoff hopes against the Packers fifth worst ranked rushing defense.

The teams tough to run against are New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles Rams.  It will be hard going for Carolina with a third string (Mike Davis is out).   Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will find little running room against the steel curtain. With Miles Sanders probably out, Boston Scott will struggle to gain rushing yards at Washington.  Ito Smith will carry the backfield load for the Falcons, but don’t expect much against the stout Buccaneers defense.  And Kenyon Drake gets the tough assignment for Cardinals against the Rams.

The teams giving up the most fantasy points to wide receivers are Seattle, Detroit, Tennessee, Atlanta and Dallas.  The 49ers get to expose the Seahawks, but will have to do it without their top receivers, leaving the chore to Kendrick Bourne and Rickie James.  The Viking receivers, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, should both top the century mark against the Lions.  I expect the Titans to focus on a run game with Derrick Henry, but both AJ Brown and Corey Davis have good matchups against a bad Texan secondary.  Mike Evans and Chris Godwin should perform well as long as they stay in the game versus the Falcons. If the Giants are going to knock off the Cowboys, Sterling Shepard needs a big game.

Expect tough going for receivers on Arizona against the Rams, LA Chargers against the Chiefs if their main defense plays, Miami against the Bills, the Bears against the Packers and the Packers against the Bears!

The defenses giving up the most fantasy points to tight ends are New York Jets, Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago and Cincinnati.  You can’t expect much from the lame Patriots offense, but Devon Asiasi is a super deep sleeper against the Jets.  If Gronk is playing for the Bucs he deserves a look if not, Cameron Brate should be busy.  If playing a Eric Ebron could be useful, but with Mason Rudolph at QB, it’s risky.  Expect Robert Tonyan to be on the receiving end of am Aaron Rogers TD versus the Bears.  Mark Andrews should have a big day for the Ravens against the Bengals.

Teams that defend the tight end the best are San Francisco (vs Seattle), Pittsburgh (vs Cleveland), New England ( vs Jets), Green Bay (vs Bears) and Miami (vs Buffalo).

Teams giving up the most fantasy points to kickers are Denver ( vs Raiders), Minnesota (vs Lions), Jets (vs Patriots), Jacksonville (vs Colts) and 49ers (vs Seahawks).

And for streaming defenses, the teams to own are the Raiders at Denver, Seattle at San Francisco, Washington at Philadelphia. New York Giants at Dallas and Baltimore at Cincinnati.

Happy New Years to all and may a fantasy championship be in your future this year!

Charlie Wiegert was the sixth person to be inducted in the Fantasy Sports Hall Of Fame in 2001. He is a founder of CDM Fantasy Sports and Fantasy Sports Trade Association. He has been playing and winning fantasy baseball leagues since 1984. If you have any questions for Charlie, email them to cwiegert@cdmsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GFFantasySports.

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Player Notes
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Cole Beasley Jan 25 4:20pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (leg) suffered a broken fibula in the Week 16 game against the New England Patriots. Beasley sat out the regular season finale in Week 17 before catching 14 passes for 145 yards in three postseason games against the Colts, Ravens and Chiefs. "It was bad the first game I played but after that, you take a few meds and suck it up," Beasley said with a chuckle. The injury wasn't a full break, but Beasley said it was painful in the wild-card win over the Colts. The 31-year-old veteran hauled in seven of his nine targets for 88 yards in the AFC Championship loss to the Chiefs on Sunday. Beasley set career-highs in catches (82), targets (107), receiving yards (967) and yards per catch (11.8) while visiting the end zone four times in 15 regular season games in 2020. He'll be back as Josh Allen's most trusted third-down weapon in 2021 and will be more expensive in PPR leagues as a result of his career-best season.

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Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said that the team could reach a long-term contract extension with quarterback Lamar Jackson this offseason, and the GM plans to speak to the reigning NFL MVP in the next 10 days. Jackson just finished his third season and will command at least $40 million per season on an extension. He's scheduled to make $1.77 million in 2021 on the final year of his rookie deal, which currently ranks 25th among QBs in base salary. "[He] certainly deserves a contract," DeCosta said. Jackson has won more games (30) than any other QB since he took over as the team's starter in 2018 and became the fastest QB in history to reach 30 regular season wins (37 games). Jackson is also the first in NFL history to produce 5,000 yards passing and 2,500 yards rushing in his first three seasons. The young signal-caller has been more effective with his legs than his arm and has won just one playoff game, but Jackson should be locked up long term in Baltimore and will be a top-five fantasy QB yet again in 2021.

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Aaron Rodgers Jan 25 11:50am ET

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Joey Bosa Jan 25 11:50am ET

The Los Angeles Chargers are hiring Denver Broncos defensive backs coach Renaldo Hill as their new defensive coordinator on Monday, according to sources. Hill worked with head coach Brandon Staley in Denver in 2019 and played in the league for a decade. Staley said last week that he will be making the defensive play calls in his first season as head coach in LA. Hill will be replacing Gus Bradley, who left to become the defensive coordinator for the Las Vegas Raiders. Hill will help oversee a defense that ranked 10th in the NFL last year and features three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa, rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. and standout safety Derwin James, who missed all of 2020 with a knee injury.

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Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson could sign an extension this offseason, according to general manager Eric DeCosta, who will begin talks with Jackson in 10 days.

Fantasy Spin: Jackson ended up the QB10 in traditional leagues as he missed a game due to COVID-19. With the emergence of Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and others, the position has become pretty loaded. Dak Prescott (leg) is expected back to join the flux of QB1s. A midrange QB1 is probably where Jackson is supposed to be considering the plights he faces through the air. Don't overdraft him for the rushing numbers next season because the gap has narrowed.

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