Week 17 marks the end of the regular season in the NFL, and with that every fantasy football league has crowned a league champion. I personally have a hard time playing in leagues that go through Week 17 because so many star players only see a handful of snaps. You could spend a whole season building a stacked fantasy roster, only to see it all go to waste because your guys play for 30 minutes.
As I've said before, depth is important for any team so you can withstand the lack of playing time in the final weeks.
If you won your league, then you are on top of the world and have bragging rights for an entire year. If you lost however, you are undoubtedly already planning your next draft strategy like a true fantasy fanatic!
Kellen Moore – Cowboys: With Dez Bryant on the I.R. (foot, ankle), many thought there was little hope for Moore to succeed in the final week of the season. And while it is true the Redskins were resting most of their starters, Moore still mustered up 435 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and lost a fumble. The yards and TDs were enough to compensate for the INTs and the lost fumble, making Moore the #1 fantasy QB this week.
Moore is clearly not the future in Dallas, but he was still better than Matt Cassel. He should not be on your fantasy radar in any format for next season.
Ryan Tannehill – Dolphins: The Dolphins QB finally paid off for owners who drafted him because of his breakout season in 2014, by posting 350 passing yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs. It's been a rough season for Tannehill with his completion percentage dropping from 66.4 percent to 61.9 percent (-4.5 percent), his rushing yards dropped from 311 to 141, and his overall QB rating dropping from 92.8 to 88.7 (-4.1). Statistically this week saved his season, but the previous 15 games told a different story.
Tannehill is getting paid high-end starter money, but is giving back very average QB play. Next year is going to be a make-or-break season for him contractually, but he is a QB2 in fantasy terms unless something drastic happens this off-season.
Jeremy Hill– Bengals: The Bengals got another big game from Hill, who finished the game with 16 carries, 96 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 19 receiving yards, and one touchdown. Hill was the #6 ranked fantasy RB this week, and certainly someone that helped fantasy owners in a week where many highly projected RBs were complete busts (DeAngelo Williams, David Johnson, and Karlos Williams).
Hill is a RB1 when he gets the carries, but the presence of Giovani Bernard makes them each game-flow type of RBs. It's hard to get them both, but you almost have to handcuff one with the other. Both are must-own players next season, so be vigilant in your draft.
Rashad Jennings – Giants: Jennings had the 2nd best game of his career in Week 17, racking up 176 total yards (170 rushing, 6 receiving) and a touchdown. The rushing yards this week brought his season total to 863, a new career high. If the Giants would have just gone with one RB, instead of a committee, sooner, things would have been even better for Jennings.
There are just too many factors in play to guess at what will happen in New York this off-season, so keep your eye on the roster before heading into the fantasy draft.
Tim Hightower – Saints: Hightower finished out the season on a 4-game winning streak for fantasy owners, capping it all off with 107 total yards (66 rushing, 41 receiving) and a touchdown. He chipped in 5 receptions for those in PPR formats, adding value to a player you grabbed off the waiver for free right before the fantasy playoffs.
Hightower was one of the fantasy playoff MVPs for sure, but he is likely to be a role player at best next season. He won't be worth drafting.
Antonio Brown – Steelers: Browns is probably the best WR in the NFL right now, so it is expected that he put up big numbers each and every week. But, with all the stars playing limited snaps this week, it was refreshing to see a stud like Brown haul in 13-of-17 targets for 187 yards and a touchdown. He did lose a fumble, but with numbers being down across the league, he was a man among boys in fantasy leagues.
Brown is a beast, and will be one of the first players taken off the board next season. If you want him, be prepared to use your first pick on the Steelers WR.
Terrence Williams – Cowboys: Williams took advantage of being thrust into the No. 1 WR role with Bryant out, finishing the season with an 8/173/0 line in a meaningless game. Williams had a good game, but it likely went to waste with only the crazy brave playing him with Moore at the helm.
The reality is Williams is a weak No. 2 option at WR, and is clearly not getting better. The Cowboys will surely try and upgrade at WR this off-season, putting Williams off the fantasy radar.
Zach Ertz – Eagles: Ertz was nothing short of amazing this week, batting 1.000 with his 9-for-9 on targets for 152 yards. He didn't find the endzone, but the receptions and yards were enough for him to almost double up fantasy points on the next best fantasy TE (Coby Fleener).
Ertz finished the season with hot, racking up 36 catches, 450 yards, and 1 TD over the final four games. He was one of the lone bright spots for the Eagles in the fantasy playoffs, and will hit next season as a mid-level TE1.
Pittsburgh Steelers defense: The Steelers were fighting for their playoff lives this weekend, so it is no surprise their defense came out aggressive. They were able to hold the Browns to 12 points, while amassing 7 sacks, 2 INTs, and 2 recovered fumbles.
The Steelers were a low-end starting fantasy defense, but just barely. They will need to address some key positions in the off-season if they want to keep pace with the Bengals in the AFC North.
Tom Brady – Patriots: The Patriots never had any intention of risking injury to Brady in this one, limiting him to just five (5) passes in the first half of the game. In the end, Brady completed just 12-of-21 passes for 134 yards, no TDs, and no INTs. He was probably the biggest fantasy bust at QB in Week 17, given his ownership and start percentage.
Brady is an elite QB with an elite TE, but he will be 39-years-old entering next season. The decline at QB is usually swift, and severe, so you will want to keep an eye on him next season. Regardless, Brady will be a QB1 when fantasy drafts come around.
Carson Palmer – Cardinals: The Cardinals were simply outgunned in this one, and Palmer never really had a chance for fantasy success. He did find Larry Fitzgerald for a touchdown, but that would be the lone highlight for Palmer. He finished with just 129 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.
Palmer seemingly resurrected his career with his play this season. But, at 36-years-old, you have to wonder how much he has left in the tank given his injury history. I'd be careful with drafting him too early next year.
DeAngelo Williams – Steelers: Williams day ended early with an ankle injury, allowing him to see just 5 carries for 8 yards, and 2 catches for 13 yards. It's a tough pill for fantasy owners to swallow, as he could have had a massive game against a Browns defense that has struggled all season. He was easily the biggest fantasy RB bust in Week 17 due to the early injury.
Williams will likely miss the first round of the playoffs, so those in playoff leagues will need to be aware. His fantasy value is extremely limited next season with Le'Veon Bell likely ready to start next season.
Jeremy Langford – Bears: The Bears never had a real chance to scare the Lions defense with WR Alshon Jeffery on the I.R. (hamstring) and TE Zach Miller ruled out with a toe injury. Langford took a backseat to Matt Forte in what is likely his final game in a Bears uniform. Because of his No. 2 role, Langford managed just 5 carries for 14 empty yards.
Langford is going to be the Bears leading back for the Bears next season unless Forte is willing to take a massive pay cut. If he takes over the starting RB role, he will be a hot commodity as a "breakout candidate" next season.
Odell Beckham Jr. – Giants: OBJ had a dream match-up with an Eagles defense that had given up the 2nd most fantasy points to WRs heading into Week 17, but success wasn't in the cards for him this week. Beckham saw 7 targets, reeling in 5 of them for 57 yards and no TDs. It's disappointing to see the lack of stats from a star WR when the Giants scored 30 points on the day.
The Giants could have a completely new offense if HC Tom Coughlin resigns and OC Ben McAdoo moves on, which raises question marks for Eli Manning at 35-years-old. Beckham's skills will transcend most coaching styles, so draft him early and often!
Martavis Bryant – Steelers: Bryant had one of the worst games a WR could possibly have, seeing 3 targets, and catching one for zero (0) yards. Bryant did suffer a neck strain, but he just wasn't involved in the offense this week.
The Steelers need Bryant in the playoffs, but his lack of production the last two weeks (6 targets, 2 catches, 6 yards) is clearly alarming. Be aware and beware.
Rob Gronkowski – Patriots: What an ugly game it was for Gronkowski in Week 17, finishing with just 2 receptions (7 targets) and 18 yards. Gronk didn't see his first target until the 2nd half of the game, and didn't record his first catch until the 4th quarter. It's a tough way to end the fantasy season for fantasy football's #1 rated TE.
Gronk is simply the best of the best when it comes to fantasy TEs. He is just as valuable as a WR in many formats, making him the only TE worth taking in the 1st round.
New England Patriots defense: Things went wrong for the Patriots on both sides of the ball this week, and their defense narrowly missed being the worst fantasy defense thanks to the Seahawks thumping of the Cardinals. In the end, the Patriots gave up 20 points and managed to put up just a single sack for defensive stats.
New England has put up a strong offense and defense for years, so there is little reason to think they won't do the same next season. They aren't an elite fantasy defense, but they are a nice starting defense that you can grab late in the draft.