The fantasy football playoffs have reached the championship round in Week 17, but several key injuries have created difficult start/sit decisions for fantasy managers. Using the latest injury reports and expert analysis, here is a look at the players causing the biggest waves during the most critical week of the fantasy season.
Josh Jacobs, Kenneth Walker III Injury Concerns
Two of fantasy’s top running backs, Josh Jacobs and Kenneth Walker III, are dealing with injuries leading up to Week 17. Jacobs has been playing through a calf issue, while Walker suffered an ankle injury in Week 16. Their availability could make or break fantasy championships.
According to recent reports, Jacobs missed practice on Thursday but is still expected to play Sunday. However, with the Raiders out of playoff contention, they could limit his workload to avoid aggravating the injury. Fantasy managers should monitor his status heading into the weekend.
Meanwhile, Walker has not practiced this week and looks truly questionable for Seattle’s key matchup against the Jets. If he sits out, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer would handle backfield duties, with Dallas having flex appeal as a high-upside RB2.
Amari Cooper Ruled Out on Short Week
Cleveland wide receiver Amari Cooper has been ruled out for the Browns’ Thursday Night Football matchup against the Jets due to a hip injury. He did not practice this week, and with the short turnaround, he will miss a critical game with major fantasy implications.
Without Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and tight end David Njoku could see more targets, although the Browns will likely lean on their running game. For managers with Cooper on their roster, options like Parris Campbell, Richie James Jr. and Russell Gage are widely available on waiver wires and have appeal as fill-in flex plays.
|Potential WR Replacements for Amari Cooper
|Week 17 Matchup
|Richie James Jr.
C.J. Stroud Clears Concussion Protocol
In more positive injury news, Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has cleared concussion protocol and will start in Week 17 against the Titans. Stroud offers tremendous upside with his dual-threat ability, making him an excellent streamer option for those missing Jalen Hurts or others.
Since Stroud took over the starting job in Week 13, he has accounted for multiple touchdowns in three of four games. The Titans allow the seventh-most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to QBs, setting up Stroud for another big performance. Managers needing a championship week pivot can plug Stroud into lineups as a high-end QB2.
Expert Opinions Differ on Joe Flacco
Veteran Joe Flacco will start again for the Jets amid Mike White’s ongoing rib injury. Flacco tossed two touchdowns with no picks against the woeful Bears in Week 16. However, he faces a tougher test Thursday against the Browns’ 10th-ranked pass defense by DVOA.
Early Week 17 rankings indicate a divide among experts on Flacco’s fantasy outlook:
- The Fantasy Footballers have Flacco as QB14 between Kirk Cousins and Daniel Jones.
- Scott Pianowski ranks him QB17, seeing Flacco with limited upside.
- FullTime Fantasy has Flacco as a Top 12 fantasy quarterback play.
Managers deciding on Flacco will need to weigh his relatively safe floor against his questionable ceiling versus a tough Browns defense. He looks to be a high-end QB2, albeit one with volatility.
Buccaneers Receivers to Lean On With Playoff Hopes in Peril
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter Week 17 clinging to fading playoff hopes, needing a win over the Panthers plus a loss by the Packers to reach the postseason. Their best chance likely relies on Tom Brady unleashing an aerial assault featuring his elite receiving weapons.
Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones seem poised for expanded roles to give the Buccaneers their best shot at a must-win game:
- Evans saw a season-high 15 targets last week, indicating Brady will continue looking his way early and often. With a superb matchup against Carolina’s 27th-ranked pass defense, Evans carries massive upside this week.
- After missing Week 16 due to a finger injury, Godwin is on track to return Sunday without limitations. Before getting hurt, Godwin averaged over nine targets per game since Week 12, giving him bankable PPR volume.
- Jones delivered his best fantasy output of 2023 last week, going for 7/68/1. With defenses focused on Evans and Godwin, the ageless veteran could break off more big plays in this critical divisional tilt.
Tampa Bay’s postseason lives are at stake in Week 17, so Brady should let it fly and enable these receivers to feast against a very vulnerable Panthers secondary. Evans and Godwin have easy top 10 potential, while Jones looms as an intriguing boom-or-bust flex.
Expert Predictions for Championship Weekend
In addition to the key injuries, fantasy experts have weighed in on players they view as strong championship week starts or risky fades:
- The Fantasy Footballers see D’Andre Swift as a league winner now healthy, but are fading Aaron Rodgers.
- Fitz on Fantasy Pros identifies Rashaad Penny as a RB2 start and Amon-Ra St. Brown as too risky.
- The Fantasy Guru Podcast expects Joe Mixon and Travis Kelce to lead teams to titles.
Utilizing the above intel and recommendations can help fantasy managers set optimal Week 17 lineups and bring home championships. The latest injury and usage reports prove crucial with everything on the line, so staying informed up until kickoffs is strongly advised.
Good luck to all still competing in fantasy’s Super Bowl! May your decisions and good fortune result in coveted titles and year-long bragging rights.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.