It's Week 17 so we thought we would do things a little differently this year. For those of you who still playing fantasy football, here's a quick overview of all the positions. Most leagues ended last week but for those diehards for DFS enthusiasts, here's a post-Christmas gift for you. Below will briefly touch on some thoughts for each position for Week 17, while including a couple of sneak peeks at 2021. So enjoy and Happy New Year!
I love me some Sam Darnold this week. However, if you are actually depending on a player whom I have as the 20th-best QB option for Week 17, I am sorry. At least I have him higher than the Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR), which is outside of the top 24. If you look at the rankings, you will notice that this year's top QB, Patrick Mahomes, is near the bottom. That is only because he's not expected to play on Sunday (Chad Henne will get the start). And yes, I like Mahomes to be the top quarterback again next year.
This brings us to what we should look for next year at QB. Especially those in the traditional four points for a TD pass scoring system have always looked to QBs who can run the ball. However, that is becoming the norm not the exception. If we look at fantasy points per game of the top 12 QBs, only four of them did not rush for at least 20 yards per game. In a given week, if your quarterback doesn't run, you absolutely need to throw for at least two touchdowns. So when looking for a quarterback next year, be aware that even one that can't seem to hit a WR in stride does still provide a decent floor.
Speaking of those who can run, I am loving Ronald Jones II far more this week than the ECR. I have him as the 13th-best RB option while the ECR has him at 22. Be sure he is cleared to play and active after missing the past two games because of being on the reserve/COVID-19 list and having surgery to put a pin in his broken finger.
We all kind of know what happened at RB this season. Two of the top five drafted at the position (Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley) saw their seasons destroyed by injuries. I've said this before and I will say it again. I'm rarely going to pass on the top RB or having the first overall pick; however, I'd rather have the top pick and then trade down to get say RB5 off the board and have that little extra ammo to make up the difference elsewhere.
Cam Sims has very quietly established himself as a viable WR2 for Washington behind Terry McLaurin. He has 17 targets over the last two weeks and with Washington in a win-and-you're-in situation against Philadelphia and McLaurin's status (dealing with an ankle injury), I expect Sims to see plenty of targets once again, making him easily a top-50 play. I'll probably raise him even more as the week wears on, but there is no reason he should be out of the top 50 this week.
The top of the WR rankings this year surprisingly looks pretty similar to last year's rankings. More than a third of the top 15 is making an appearance once again (DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, and Tyler Lockett). Others like Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams were not at the top last year, but were expected to be near the top, and once again are. Simply put, things are more stable at WR than most realize. The one notable exception of one who plummeted was Michael Thomas. As a Thomas owner, I'd rather not rehash his miserable season, but both his owners and non-owners alike know that he was bust, and much of that can be attributed to him not being on the field. I can't see Thomas being a first-round pick next year, but I would be shocked if Adams and Hill are not top-10 picks and possibly top-five picks in PPR leagues.
I am still riding the Dawson Knox train as I think the ECR has him way too low. He is definitely a high-end TE2. But a high-end TE2 is still not a player you are going to start in a given week. The truth is that when it comes to TEs this year, very few are worth starting any given week. George Kittle could have been a regular weekly starter, but missing nearly half the season made him unfortunately a bit of a wasted pick. It will be interesting to see where his ADP falls next year, but my guess is that he will most likely be drafted in the top 60, but outside of the top 30.
Travis Kelce meanwhile remains the king of the TEs having once again broken all kinds of records. Don't be surprised if he does go in the first round next year. Yes, he's that good. After him, Darren Waller and Mark Andrews were viable starters any given week. Logan Thomas came awful close, but he is atop the list of all of the other TEs that I will not be drafting in the top 100. If you can't draft one of those top four TEs, there is no reason to even think about grabbing one until you get close to the double-digit rounds.
Defense/Special Teams (DST)
What's interesting is how low two of last year's better DSTs, the Chargers and 49ers, are ranked this week. I think personally that the ECR has it wrong on the Chargers, who will be facing a Patrick Mahomes-less (and perhaps others) Chiefs squad. But both the Chargers and 49ers are a reminder that injuries can decimate a defense. Same for the Broncos. And remember how players opted out on the Patriots defense this year? The takeaway here is that the loss of key pieces is likely to send a DST plummeting down the ranks from one year to the next
I still can't believe Younghoe Koo missed that field goal last week! And maybe that's why I still have him as my No. 3 kicker for Week 17 but the ECR has him at 10. Whatever. We are talking about kickers. I say it every year, give me Justin Tucker as my kicker if I have a choice. But even he was not perfect. I believe in including kickers for fantasy football, but there is still a lack of disparity amongst the top options.
Good luck in Week 17!
— Rankings by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.
(Top photo courtesy of atlantafalcons.com)