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The IDP Guys’ NFL Week 17 Start/Sit List: IDP

Jersey Giveaway

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Win your fantasy championship with help from the IDP Guys’ NFL Week 17 Start/Sit IDP article!


Here it is, the last of the IDP Guys’ NFL Week 17 Start/Sit articles for the 2021 season brought to you by @IDPGuys and @FFIDP_Jase. We hope these articles have been helpful to you on your quest for fantasy domination this season.

Many of the players currently on the COVID list will be activated in the next few days. I’ll try to keep on top of these and update this article, but I urge you to check their status before inserting them into lineups. I will place these players into their usual tiers for now, so you know how they rank should they play.

Every player currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list has ‘(C)’ next to their name. Monitor status updates for these players very carefully. Some of these guys will not play.

Table of Contents

Sunday Early Games
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team
Los Angeles Rams at Baltimore Ravens
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets
Miami Dolphins at Tenessee Titans
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots
Las Vegas Raiders at Indianapolis Colts
Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals
New York Giants at Chicago Bears
Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills
Sunday Mid-Afternoon Games
Houston Texans at San Franciso 49ers
Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks
Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys
Sunday Night Football
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Monday Night Football
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Disclaimers

In the first few weeks of the season, I had a list of disclaimers here that explained how my advice is only a suggestion, how your team is your responsibility, and that I will get things wrong. It got too wordy, and I think most reasonable people understand all of this now. I’m not going to include all that in my NFL Week 17 Start/Sit IDP article.

I’ll just say this. If you’re the sort of person who feels the need to complain when (not if) I get something wrong, and it costs you points, please read the disclaimers from those early weeks first. I encourage all feedback — even criticism when constructive — but not mindless rants. I do this for fun. It’s a game. Let’s keep it light.

Article Key

Tier One Starts

Based on their opportunity, past production, talent level, and matchup, these players have the best outlook. They usually have a solid floor and an excellent ceiling. These guys should be the nearest to guaranteed production you can find.

Tier Two Starts

These players should earn a reasonable amount of points. Their opportunity, talent, or matchup is typically not on a par with a tier-one player. Tier two players are usually a good option in deep leagues that start multiple players at each position.

Tier Three Starts

These players are a bit of a gamble. You should probably only start them in the deepest of leagues. Tier three players can be serviceable as either bye week or injury replacements, but the chances of scoring well are slim. This tier is as close to “sit” as you can get while retaining some value as a starter.

Sits

As the name implies, sit these players. You should not start these players for any number of reasons. They aren’t necessarily bad players. I just don’t predict them to be scoring well this game week. In the case of rookies, for example, they may simply need time to earn more playing time and, therefore, our trust as fantasy starters.

Any player not listed in any of these four categories should probably be considered a “sit.” If they become IDP relevant on a week-to-week basis, they will likely end up in one of the categories above.

No Cornerbacks?

Johnny writes a separate article for CBs that drops on Fridays, so keep an eye out for that tomorrow!

True Position Designations

In some IDP leagues, certain positions are grouped in a suboptimal way, primarily because of outdated interpretations of what players at each position do. Many IDP leagues are turning towards True Position to address that problem.

In true position scoring, outside linebackers and defensive ends (ends that predominantly line up outside the tackle) are grouped as ‘Edge’ (rushers). Defensive tackles and defensive ends on the interior are grouped as IDL (interior defensive linemen). This leaves all remaining linebackers as off-ball linebackers (I’ve called them ILBs in this NFL Week 17 Start/Sit IDP article to help with clarification).

The advantage of this approach is that we compare groups of players who, in modern defenses, essentially perform near-identical roles.

Players with EDGE designations in such leagues, and this article, can vary in value from leagues that still use traditional DE and OLB positions. The same is true of IDL vs. DT designations and is complicated further by platforms that simply use DL positions to lump all defensive linemen together (the worst!). There is no easy way to cater to all of these leagues here. Whatever I choose to do, someone would be missing out.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to value translation between these different designations, I can at least offer to help adjust the IDP start/sit advice mentioned here for your league’s scoring system. If you need help in that sense, or if this is just too complicated, please send me a Twitter DM. I answer every question I receive.

Without further ado, let’s get into the NFL Week 17 Start/Sit IDP article.

Sunday Early Afternoon Games

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Eagles at Washington

Eagles
Starts

Tier One

Javon Hargrave, IDL.

Hargrave has been a force this season. I was concerned he was beginning to drop off after a fast start to the season, but he has returned to form in style. He’s registered at least four pressures in every game since Week 10 and has three sacks in his last four games. It’s the best season of his six-year career.

Left guard Ereck Flowers has played well in pass protection, but the interior of the Washington offensive line has had to overcome the absence of some key players. Hargrave has a middle-of-the-road matchup.

Tier Two

T.J. Edwards, ILB; Alex Singleton, ILB.

Edwards has seized the opportunity presented to him this season. The 25-year-old linebacker has been one of the more productive linebackers since the mid-point in the season, surpassing 100 tackles for the first time in his three-year career with a 13 tackle effort against the Giants last weekend.

The youngster has improved in coverage, recording three pass breakups, and allowing 41 yards or fewer in each of his last five games despite being targeted 26 times over that span.

Singleton is an excellent example of how mediocre NFL linebackers can still be productive in fantasy. He’s recorded a whopping 125 tackles despite playing a limited role in at least three games after falling behind Edwards and Davion Taylor before being given the role once again following Taylor’s injury.

Singleton played 65 of a possible 76 snaps in week 16, second only to Edwards, who managed 72.

Tier Three

Josh Sweat, EDGE.

The Eagles have switched back and forth between rotating their edge rushers and giving Sweat and Barnett the lion’s share of the snaps in 2021. There was a heavy rotation between four players in Week 16. Sweat had the least of those four, but only seven snaps separated Cameron Malveaux, Tarron Jackson, and Derek Barnett.

Sweat made the most of his opportunity. He led the team with five pressures, recording a sack, three tackles, and a forced fumble. He should have more snaps in Week 17 as the Eagles added Jackson and Barnett to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday.

The former five-star recruit will face plenty of Samuel Cosmi this weekend. Cosmi has had some bright spots but has otherwise been understandably average for a rookie, allowing two sacks in his last three games. Washington also placed Cosmi on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week. Sweat has a favorable matchup.

Sits

Fletcher Cox, IDL.

Cox was a disappointment against the Giants last weekend. He played 40 snaps but failed to generate any pressure and had only three tackles to his name. 2021 is the fourth season in a row where his total pressures have decreased. He’s not the force he once was.

The positive is that Cox had a great game in Week 15 against Washington, so maybe he can perform similarly against the same opponent this weekend. Washington activated Brandon Scherff from the reserve/COVID-19 on Monday, and the capable veteran will play a significant role in trying to contain Cox.

Washington
Starts

Tier One

Jonathan Allen, IDL; Daron Payne, IDL; Cole Holcomb, ILB.

Allen was uncharacteristically quiet against the Cowboys. He had one tackle, a QB hit, and a hurry. The interior of the Cowboys is one of the better units in the league at pass protection, and it’s not the first time this season they have kept a premier IDL at bay.

It’s a rarity for Allen to be this quiet, and he’ll have an opportunity to make amends against the Eagles this weekend. Two weeks ago, he had four pressures, a sack, and seven tackles against the same unit.

Payne had a couple of pressures, including a sack last weekend. He also added four tackles. The former Alabama player trails his teammate with five sacks to Allen’s nine, but Payne still ranks ninth at the position with 44 pressures.

I like Payne’s matchup this weekend. The strength of this Eagles offensive line is at the tackle spots, not on the interior.

There was some friction between the two formidable defensive linemen last weekend. It’s water under the bridge and has zero bearing on fantasy, but it’s interesting enough to post a quick video of it!

Washington activated Holcomb from the reserve/COVID-19 this week, and he should step back into his productive role against the Eagles. This season, the 25-year-old has been an easy ILB1 in fantasy, recording 118 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, and four pass breakups.

Tier Two

Kamren Curl, S; Jamin Davis, ILB; Montez Sweat, EDGE; Jeremy Reaves, S.

Curl played every down against the Cowboys. He played 32 snaps in the box or on the defensive line and tied for third on the team with eight tackles. The young safety is currently 15th at the safety spot with 86 tackles, just 10 short of his 2020 total.

Reaves benefited from Curl’s absence in Week 15 and Collins’ absence in Week 16. The 25-year-old former free agent has been highly active in those two games he has played, recording 21 tackles over that period. He will continue in the productive role given Collins’ foot injury.

Last weekend, the fourth-year safety spent 20 snaps in a box role against the Eagles and 26 against the Cowboys.

After being added to the reserve/COVID-19 list, Davis missed the Cowboys game. It was a missed opportunity for the youngster as Cole Holcomb also missed the game for the same reason. Davis may retain value as an ILB3 given the absence of pseudo-linebacker Landon Collins, but it’s a risky play.

Sweat has been relatively pedestrian since returning to the lineup in Week 15. He’s managed only a single pressure in those two games and has yet to rediscover his groove. He’ll find life difficult against Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson. I consider Sweat an EDGE2/3 this weekend.

Tier Three

None.

Sits

Landon Collins, S (injury – IR); David Mayo, ILB, Matt Ioannidis, IDL.

Washington placed Collins on the IR with a foot injury last week.

Mayo was productive in the absence of both Holcomb and Davis. The veteran played every down and had nine tackles. He won’t have any value as a fantasy starter with the return of at least Holcomb this weekend.

I think Ioannidis is a talented player. I wrote a deep-dive article on the 27-year-old a few seasons ago. He’s unfortunate to play behind two of the league’s best interior defensive linemen pairings. Otherwise, he’d be a good starter elsewhere.

The issue with Ioannidis is his snap share. He’s seen more snaps in the last three weeks than he’s had at any other point this season, so if you’re desperate for help at IDL position, then you could do worse. It does help him that he’s listed as an IDL and yet is seeing more time at the defensive end position in recent weeks.

Rams at Ravens

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Rams

Starts

Tier One

Aaron Donald, IDL; Leonard Floyd, EDGE; Jordan Fuller, S.

Donald has been simply unstoppable for the last month. He earned a ridiculous 34 pressures and seven sacks in his previous four games. His numbers in those four games alone would place him in IDL2 territory.

The 30-year-old moves around the defensive front, so several Ravens offensive linemen will have the unenviable task of slowing him down. Kevin Zeitler is a capable pass protector; Patrick Mekari and Bradley Bozeman have been above average, but Donald’s fantasy managers will be unsurprised to hear this is a matchup that falls in Donald’s favor.

Floyd had 10 sacks in 9 games before Von Miller’s arrival but has only two in the six games since. It’s not for lack of opportunities; he’s playing just as much and has had plenty of pass-rush snaps. Maybe he’s just not as effective when rushing from multiple positions as he’s been asked to do since Week 10. It’s something I’ll look into in more detail in the offseason if the situation continues.

Patrick Mekari presents a decent, but he’s certainly not unbeatable. It surprises me that Alejandro Villanueva has kept his job all season as he’s generally been dreadful in pass protection. Floyd and Von Miller should relish going up against the former Steeler.

Fuller played every down and spent 17 of his 63 snaps in the box. He had one of the fewest tackle totals of his season, managing just four solo attempts against the Vikings.

Stick with him in tackle-heavy formats; the 23-year-old has had a solid season. He ranks eighth at the safety spot with 94 tackles despite missing a game. However, he has lacked all-important big plays and ranks more as a safety2 in standard scoring.

Tier Two

Greg Gaines, IDL; Von Miller, EDGE.

Gaines’ impressive run of form continued in Week 16 as he was second on the team with five pressures, including a sack. It marked his fifth sack in the last eight games and his sixth this season. He’s also contributed in the run game, notching 43 tackles.

If I had one criticism of the 25-year-old, it is his missed tackle rate. It’s great that he’s getting in a position to make the tackle, but his 15.7% missed rate is a slight concern. This is a minor concern for a youngster in a career year.

See Donald’s notes for information on Gaines’ matchup.

Miller had two QB hurries and a tackle against the Vikings. It was a disappointing game for the former Broncos man. He averages four pressures a game in the six games he’s played for the Rams but has managed only a single sack in that period.

See Floyd’s notes for information on Miller’s matchup this weekend. Villanueva could be just what Miller needs to help him finish the season with a bang.

Tier Three

Taylor Rapp, S; Troy Reeder, ILB.

Rapp played every snap last weekend and spent 26 snaps in the box or on the defensive line. He managed six tackles.

The 24-year-old is tied for 20th at the safety position with 79 tackles. He has more big plays than the average safety but has also disappeared at times. I consider him to be a high-end safety3 in fantasy.

Reeder was the beneficiary of the injury to Ernest Jones last weekend. Reeder stepped in to play 54 snaps, easily the most he has had since Week 12. He managed six solo tackles and a pass breakup.

The 27-year-old will continue in that role against the Ravens and becomes a solid ILB3 and hot waiver target as a result. Travin Howard may become more involved too, but it has been Reeder who the Rams have turned to when needing additional ILB help this season.

Sits

Ernest Jones, ILB (injury – IR).

Any severe injury is disappointing, but it feels even more unfair in this case. Jones had seized a prominent role in the middle of the Rams defense and had at least seven tackles in three consecutive games. Unfortunately, he left the Vikings game early with an ankle injury, and the Rams have placed him on IR.

Ravens

Starts

Tier One

None.

Tier Two

Tyus Bowser, EDGE; Odafe Oweh, EDGE (injury – doubtful)

The fifth-year player played 70 of a possible 76 snaps last weekend. He had a modest game, managing three QB hurries and contributing five tackles. Despite this game, Bowser has shown gradual improvement in his five seasons in the league. He set new highs in pressures, sacks, and tackles in 2021.

The Rams’ superb tackle Andrew Whitworth missed last weekend, and he remains on the reserve/COVID-19. If Whitworth misses another game, young guard David Edwards is likely to continue in his place. Edwards had a hell of a performance last weekend.

Rob Havenstein will continue opposite Edwards. Havenstein is decent in pass protection, so it’s an average matchup for Bowser. I consider him a low-end EDGE2 if he can play.

Oweh failed to earn a sack, but he led the team with seven pressures, comprising two QB hits and five QB hurries. It was good to see him have a disruptive game after managing only two pressures in the three games from Week 13 to Week 15. Hopefully, that can continue.

See Bowser’s notes for information on Oweh’s matchup. The rookie is a solid EDGE2 in my Week 17 rankings if he plays. It concerns me that he’s doubtful with a foot injury, so have a replacement ready if he cannot play.

Tier Three

Patrick Queen, ILB; Josh Bynes, ILB.

Queen played 70 of a possible 76 snaps and led the team with nine tackles. He also added a QB hurry and a pass breakup. He’s had an impressive 20 tackles in the last two games as he’s continued to separate himself from Bynes in snap share. I have him as a high-end ILB3 in fantasy for Week 17.

Bynes played 53 snaps of a possible 76. He did well with his opportunity, managing seven tackles, batting down a pass, and managing a QB hurry. The veteran linebacker must remain efficient with his snaps to maintain ILB3 status. So far, he’s managed to do this, but he comes with some risk heading into this matchup.

Sits

Brandon Stephens, S; Chuck Clark, S; Justin Houston, EDGE.

Stephens has helped the Ravens to replace DeShon Elliott recently. He had two seven-tackle efforts in Weeks 13 and 14 but has failed to surpass five tackles in the last two weeks. He only managed 43 of a possible 76 snaps as the Ravens handed additional opportunities to veteran Tony Jefferson.

Clark was the only Ravens safety to play close to every down in Week 16. He spent 30 of his 76 snaps in the box or on the defensive line. He only managed four tackles and a QB hurry. He’s had a poor season in terms of tackle volume but is the only Ravens safety I have any confidence could turn in a performance that would be relevant in fantasy in Week 17.

Houston missed Week 16 as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. When healthy, he’s shown that he still has some ability to rush the passer, but it’s a risky play in Week 17. However, Houston becomes a sneaky EDGE3 value this weekend if Bowser does miss time. Monitor his status closely.

Bucs at Jets

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Bucs

Starts

Tier One

Devin White, ILB.

White played 57 of a possible 70 snaps in Week 16. By his standards, he had a poor game, managing just four tackles and three QB hurries.

That kind of game is an anomaly for White; he’s had fewer tackles only once this season. He ranks 13th at the ILB position with 117 tackles, has four sacks, and has three pass breakups this season.

This tier became thin quite fast for the Bucs after the losses of both Lavonte David and Shaq Barrett.

Tier Two

Antoine Winfield, S.

Winfield hasn’t played since Week 14. He’s listed as questionable with a foot injury. Monitor his status closely this week.

He was in good form before the injury. The talented safety comes with some risk due to the injury, whether he suits up or not. If he can play this weekend, I have him ranked as a low-end safety2. His tackle volume hasn’t been impressive, but he tends to make more big plays than most at the position.

Tier Three

Vita Vea, IDL; Jordan Whitehead, S; Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, EDGE; Kevin Minter, ILB.

Vea managed only 37 of a possible 70 snaps in Week 16 and still had four pressures, a sack, and two solo tackles. He’s a tough one to rank in fantasy as he has IDL2-level ability, but the opportunities aren’t as plentiful as they are for less talented players.

His matchup is a favorable one. The giant defensive tackle could overpower the interior of the Jets’ offensive line.

Whitehead had a great game last weekend. He had eight tackles, an interception, a pass breakup, and a QB hurry. He played 57 of a possible 70 snaps and spent 29 in the box or on the defensive line.

The young safety is finishing the season strong. Whitehead failed to surpass five tackles in any of his first six games; he has at least eight tackles in five of his last six games.

Tryon-Shoyinka hasn’t set the world alight when given the opportunity this season, but he has shown plenty of promise. The rookie is already the second-best edge rusher on the team.

Barrett’s absence will create additional opportunities for the rookie. Can he deliver? I’m unsure, but he slides into this tier, given that he’ll get the chance. George Fant will be a difficult opponent, but Morgan Moses is someone the youngster could take advantage of.

Kevin Minter stepped into David’s shoes, playing 49 snaps and managing four tackles and a sack. I consider Minter to be a low-end ILB3 this weekend. If you’re struggling at the position, he could plug a gap and serve a role in your fantasy championship. Just don’t expect fireworks.

Sits

Lavonte David, ILB (injury); Shaq Barrett, EDGE (injury); Jason Pierre-Paul, EDGE (injury).

David will miss another game with the foot injury.

Barrett earned his 11th sack of the season last weekend. He also had two QB hurries and two tackles. He’s proven himself as one of the elite pass rushers with his third consecutive season with double-digit sacks. He’s also second among all edge rushers with 75 total pressures.

Unfortunately, he has strained his MCL and ACL and will miss a few games. It’s unfortunate, but his absence is potentially Tryon-Shoyinka’s gain.

JPP’s shoulder injury has affected him for several weeks. He’s been ineffective for the vast majority of the season. He will miss this game with a shoulder injury.

Jets

Starts

Tier One

Quinnen Williams, IDL (C); C.J. Mosley, ILB.

Quinnen Williams was added to the reserve/COVID list and missed the Week 16 showdown with the Jaguars. Monitor his status closely this week before inserting him into your lineups.

When healthy, Quinnen Williams was a good IDL in 2021. His only drawback is how few snaps he has played compared to his counterparts. I consider him a low-end IDL1 when healthy.

He started the season well with consecutive double-digit performances against the Broncos and Titans in Week 3 and 4. He hasn’t been the same player down the stretch.

Ali Marpet doesn’t give an inch in pass protection and is the best interior lineman on a stingy Bucs offensive line. If Williams can play, he may find life difficult.

Mosley delivered for his fantasy managers in Week 16. He recorded eight tackles, had his second sack of the season, and forced his second fumble. He’s not the same player he was between 2016 and 2018, but he’s undoubtedly been productive for fantasy managers.

The veteran has accumulated 143 tackles this season and ranks fourth at the ILB spot in that category.

Tier Two

Quincy Williams, ILB; John Franklin-Myers, EDGE (C).

Quincy Williams played 73 of a possible 75 snaps and earned five solo tackles. It was his lowest output since stepping into a prominent role in Week 11. The young linebacker has 56 tackles in his last six games and is a good bet to bounce back in Week 17.

Franklin-Myers remained on the reserve/COVID-19 list and missed Week 16 as a result. The gifted youngster was missed. He has 45 pressures and six sacks in what has been a solid season.

He has a tough matchup if he can make it back for Week 17, as Tristan Wirfs awaits. Wirfs has only allowed two sacks and 12 pressures in total all season. I consider Franklin-Myers to be a low-end EDGE2 this week. I considered moving him down a tier solely because of the difficulty of the matchup.

Tier Three

Elijah Riley, S; Ashtyn Davis, S (C).

Davis missed last week’s game, and he remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week.

His tackle volume has been poor in recent weeks, and he’s relied on big plays to maintain fantasy relevance. I can’t see him having a big game against Brady and the Bucs, even if he does suit up. Consider him a low-end safety3 this weekend.

Sits

Dolphins at Titans

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Dolphins

Starts

Tier One

Emmanuel Ogbah, EDGE.

Ogbah continued his impressive season in Week 16. He had four pressures, two sacks, and two tackles. He was one of many players who made life miserable for rookie Saints QB Ian Book.

The 28-year-old edge rusher ranks eighth at the edge position with 61 pressures and is tied for 10th with 11 sacks. It’s his second consecutive season with double-digit sacks.

Ogbah has a good matchup this weekend. This season, David Quessenberry has allowed 11 sacks, including at least a sack in five of his last seven games.

Tier Two

Jaelan Phillips, EDGE; Christian Wilkins, IDL.

Phillips had five consecutive games with at least a sack between Week 9 and Week 13. He had 19 pressures over that period. He’s had two pressures and zero sacks in the two games since.

This is typical of the EDGE spot behind the few elites, especially where rookies are concerned. He was going up against the competent James Hurst, who had his best game of the season in pass protection.

Phillips has a challenging matchup this weekend if Taylor Lewan returns from the reserve/COVID-19 list. If Lewan remains out, rookie Dillon Radunz presents a much easier challenge. Radunz allowed five pressures and a sack last weekend.

Wilkins was a force to be reckoned with in Week 16. He led the Dolphins with six pressures, including a sack. He also added seven tackles, albeit that five were assists.

His production was primarily due to the lack of pocket presence demonstrated by Book, but even so, it was nice to see Wilkins be disruptive. The six pressures represent a career-high for the former first-round pick from Clemson.

Wilkins has a good matchup this weekend. The interior of the Titans line has struggled in pass protection.

Tier Three

Jerome Baker, ILB; Jevon Holland, S; Andrew Van Ginkel, EDGE.

Baker has recorded two sacks in consecutive games. However, he’s rushed the passer only 16 times. If you’re starting him expecting similar production this weekend, then you may be disappointed.

Granted, he has rushed the passer more than any other traditional ILB in 2021, but even so, he had one sack before Week 15. And his tackle volume has been poor. He ranks 48th among all ILBs with 69 tackles. He’s the definition of boom-or-bust.

Holland has had one of the most impressive performances by a rookie defender. However, he has relied upon big plays to maintain value in the absence of a safe fantasy floor. That’s great when it hits, providing you can survive the barren games that occur because of the poor tackle volume.

Van Ginkel had two tackles, two pressures, had a batted pass, and had a pass breakup in Week 16. It’s representative of his season; he often seems to find a way to contribute in some way or other.

His stat line for the season so far demonstrates this point best. He has 51 tackles, 42 pressures, five sacks, four batted passes, a forced fumble, and two pass breakups. Versatile players are nothing new, but they’re still fun to watch.

Sits

Brandon Jones, S; Zach Sieler, IDL/EDGE.

Jones will be a popular waiver pickup after recording his third consecutive game with a sack and his fifth sack of the season. The safety has rushed the passer 86 times in 2021, 25 times more than his second-placed teammate Jevon Holland.

My advice with Jones is not dissimilar to that of Holland and Baker above. If you believe you can survive the quiet weeks when these big plays don’t occur, or perhaps if you need a player with a high ceiling, then feel free to start him. However, remember that Jones has recorded a sack in only four of his 13 games this season.

Sieler is another player who will be a waiver target this week after earning a sack in consecutive games. I’m cynical about his ability to continue this run. It took him almost 200 attempts at rushing the passer to record his first sack of the season. And he has only managed more than 20 pass rush attempts in one game all season.

If you play in a league where Sieler has IDL, DI, or DT eligibility, he has slightly more value. He generally spends more time at the defensive end position than at tackle.

Titans

Starts

Tier One

Harold Landry, EDGE; Jeffery Simmons, IDL; Kevin Byard, S.

Landry had an unusually quiet game against the 49ers. He managed a single QB hurry and only had three tackles. It was a real disappointment for fantasy managers who needed more in their fantasy playoffs.

However, that kind of game was a rarity for Landry in 2021. The 25-year-old ranks 10th at the edge position with 59 pressures and eighth with 13th sacks. He’s also in first place among edge rushers with 59 total tackles.

Landry has one of the best matchups he’ll face all season. Jesse Davis and Liam Eichenberg have allowed 111 pressures and 16 sacks this season.

Simmons failed to record a sack, but he did lead the Titans with three pressures, all QB hurries.

The former first-round pick hasn’t had the same impact in the last two games that he had earlier in the season, but this happens from time to time, especially at the IDL position. He has a chance to make amends against this Dolphins offensive line. None of the Dolphins offensive linemen have redeemed themselves in pass protection.

Byard played every down against the 49ers and spent 20 of his 60 snaps in a box role. He registered six total tackles, forced a fumble, and had a QB hit.

The talismanic safety ranks 25th at the safety position with 77 tackles. However, he’s added a sack, two forced fumbles, five interceptions, and six pass breakups. He’s some way off the pace of his tackle volume in 2020, but he’s made up for it with his coverage ability.

Tier Two

Denico Autry, EDGE (C).

The Colts added Autry to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Monitor his status closely over the next few days to see if he can return in time for the weekend.

When healthy, Autry has been effective. He had his third consecutive game with a sack in Week 16 and has recorded his third season with double-digit sacks in the last four years.

If he can suit up this weekend, he’ll face Jesse Davis. Davis has been a liability in pass protection all season, as I’ve mentioned above.

Tier Three

Rashaan Evans, ILB; Zach Cunningham, ILB.

Once again, it was Evans and Cunningham who paced all Titans’ ILBs in snap share, earning 44 and 43 snaps, respectively. Evans managed seven tackles and a forced fumble. Cunningham had four tackles.

Long is available for this game. I prefer him over both Evans and Cunningham, all things being equal. I’m concerned about starting him in case he is eased in. It’s tough as he could easily play every down and lead the team in tackles.

All three players are ILB3/ILB4’s in my rankings this week.

Sits

Amani Hooker, S; David Long Jr. ILB; Monty Rice, ILB (injury – IR);  Jayon Brown, ILB (C); Bud Dupree, EDGE (C).

Hooker had six tackles and his first interception of 2021 against the 49ers. It’s great to see the young safety gather some momentum, but it’s hard to look past the fact this was the first time he’s earned more than four tackles since Week 9.

See above for an update on Long. If you have nothing better, you should start him, he’s logged some full practices, and I think he’s the best of the ILBs on this Titans team. I’m just a little pessimistic about whether he will see the same snap share in his first game back.

Rice remains on IR.

The Titans added Brown to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. He already slipped behind Evans and Cunningham in the pecking order.

Dupree had two pressures and a sack against the Steelers in Week 15 and the 49ers in Week 16. He had 21 pass-rush attempts in each game. I was already going to be cautious about starting him in Week 17 before he landed on the reserve/COVID list on Monday.

Jaguars at Patriots

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Jaguars

Starts

Tier One

None.

Tier Two

Josh Allen, EDGE; Dawuane Smoot, EDGE (C); Myles Jack, ILB (C); Andrew Wingard, S (C).

Allen missed Week 16 as the Jags added him to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Christmas eve. He remains on the list at the time of writing. Monitor his status closely before reinserting him into lineups for Week 17.

What I said of Allen last week still applies. “Allen is not in good form. He started the season well but hasn’t recorded a sack since the big performance against his namesake in Week 9. He’s only managed seven pressures in his last five games. However, he gave us some reason for optimism by leading the Jags with four pressures against the Texans in Week 15.”

Patriots’ left tackle Isaiah Wynn was pretty average in 2021, allowing 28 pressures and six sacks in 14 games. Allen has a chance to return to form, but he’s failed to do so against worse pass blockers. I consider Allen a low-end EDGE2 for this game.

Smoot failed to record a sack against the Jets, but he led the Jaguars with three pressures, a QB hit, and two hurries. He also added four tackles.

Fantasy managers hoping for Smoot’s seventh sack of the season may be found wanting in Week 17. Trent Brown wasted no time finding his form upon his return to the Patriots lineup. He’s allowed only eight pressures and a sack in his last six games. I consider Smooth an EDGE2/3 against the Patriots.

The Jaguars placed Jack on the reserve/COVID-19 list on boxing day. He missed the Week 16 showdown with the Jets as a result. Monitor his status closely this week to see if he is removed.

The 26-year-old linebacker has failed to record any big plays this season but has made up for it somewhat with decent tackle volume. He has 99 tackles in the 13 games he has played.

Wingard is not a sexy fantasy option in that he doesn’t tend to record flashy plays, but he’s tied for 17th among all safeties with 83 tackles.

He’s been added to the reserve/COVID-19 list this week. Monitor his status for updates in the next few days.

Tier Three

Damien Wilson, ILB (C).

The Jaguars added Wilson to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. Monitor his status for updates.

The veteran linebacker played 50 of a possible 59 snaps in the absence of Jack. He managed six tackles, and two QB hurries.

He has a seemingly impressive 96 tackles this season. However, he comes with some risk – he has four or fewer tackles in four of his last seven games. If Jack is absent again in Week 17, consider Wilson a high-end ILB3. If Jack returns, Wilson is a low-end ILB3 in my rankings.

Sits

Roy Robertson-Harris, IDL; Rayshawn Jenkins, S (injury – IR); Chapelle Russell, ILB.

I gave Robertson-Harris the kiss of death by anointing him an IDL3 a few weeks ago. He’s had three pressures since! I often talk about how shallow the position is, so he’s not slipped far.

Russell replaced Jack against the Jets. The 2020 seventh-round selection had 48 snaps, tied for the team lead with eight tackles, and had a hurry. He was targeted five times in coverage and only allowed 14 yards.

If both Jack and Wilson miss time, Russell becomes an ILB3 in my rankings. He was only two snaps behind Wilson in playing time last weekend.

Patriots

Starts

Tier One

Matt Judon, EDGE (C); Kyle Dugger, S.

The Patriots placed Judon on the reserve/COVID-19 on Monday. Monitor his status for updates in the hopes he can make it back in time for this weekend.

The former Ravens’ pass rusher was almost non-existent against the Bills in Week 16. However, it was an anomaly for Judon in 2021. Judon has otherwise been excellent this season. He ranks eighth at the EDGE spot in pressures and seventh in sacks.

Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor have both developed as players this season. If Judon does play, he may not have everything his way.

Dugger played 50 of 79 snaps. He spent 27 of those 50 snaps in the box or on the defensive line. The sophomore safety had just four tackles, a QB hit, and a hurry. He’s had much better games.

I often compare Dugger’s snaps with those of Adrian Phillips. Phillips played 58 snaps against the Bills. I have Dugger as a safety1/2 this weekend.

Tier Two

Adrian Phillips, S.

Phillips spent 40 of his 58 snaps in the box or on the defensive line. He had four tackles and had a batted pass. The former Chargers player will fall well short of his 2020 tackle volume, but he managed more big plays in 2021.

Tier Three

Ja’Whaun Bentley, ILB (C).

The Patriots added Bentley to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. If the bruising linebacker can suit up, he’s a high-end ILB3. He’s recorded 86 tackles despite playing fewer snacks than other linebackers who have a similar level of production. Importantly, Bentley has earned a more significant snap share in recent games.

Sits

Christian Barmore, IDL; Kyle Van Noy, ILB/EDGE.

Barmore has not had a sack since Week 8. That doesn’t mean he’s been inactive as a pass-rusher. Since then, the rookie has had 22 pressures in seven games and had a career-high six pressures against the Bills last weekend. The only drawback and the reason I still have him in this tier is that he played fewer than half of the available defensive snaps.

I see plenty in Barmore’s game to be excited about in 2022. It’s impressive for an interior defensive lineman to rank 11th in pressure at his position in his rookie season. His 42 tackles are also a respectable number.

Van Noy led the team with seven pressures in Week 16 – all seven were QB hurries. He also added eight tackles. He’s a quality, versatile player whose fantasy fluctuates from week to week. If Judon is out in Week 17, Van Noy could see close to the 31 pass rush attempts against the Bills.

Raiders at Colts

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Raiders

Starts

Tier One

Denzel Perryman, ILB.

Perryman returned to the lineup in Week 16 after missing two games. He managed only five tackles in a performance that seemingly didn’t meet expectations given what we saw earlier in the season. However, the Raiders defense only played 42 snaps. Perryman had 39 of those.

I think he’ll return to his previous gaudy numbers once the Raiders defense spends more time on the field. He returned from the reserve/COVID-19 list but is still questionable with an ankle injury. Monitor his status closely.

Tier Two

Maxx Crosby, EDGE; Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE.

Crosby got a sack! Woohoo! Great to see. If you’ve persevered with starting him through the barren weeks, then you have my respect. Can he keep it going? It would be almost poetic if he won someone a fantasy championship after the season he’s had.

Eight sacks is a decent number for an edge rusher, but Crosby has had only three games with at least a sack despite leading the league in pressures. Aaron Donald is the only player likely to catch the young Raiders’ edge rusher in that category. He currently trails Crosby by six.

Braden Smith won’t be a pushover for Crosby in Week 17. The 25-year-old offensive tackle has allowed only 16 pressures in nine games.

Ngakoue had his second quiet game in a row. He managed just one QB hit against the Broncos in Week 16, just as he did against the Browns in Week 15. That’s forgivable; these games happen.

The problem with Ngakoue is that if he doesn’t earn a sack, he offers you no fantasy value at all. He’s had one tackle in his last three games. He has only 17 tackles in 15 games this season, and five came in Week 1. He’s a boom-or-bust player at what is already a boom-or-bust position.

After suffering an injury, Colts’ left tackle Eric Fisher left the game early last weekend. According to Colts head coach Frank Reich, “Fisher is dealing with a knee, a toe, and a pec, so we’ll continue to monitor him day by day.”

Fisher hasn’t been nearly as good as he was in 2020. If Fisher returns to the lineup Ngakoue has a nice matchup. If Fisher misses time and Julie’n Davenport continues to replace him, Ngakoue has a great matchup.

Tier Three

Quinton Jefferson, IDL; Divine Deablo, ILB.

Jefferson led the Raiders with seven pressures in Week 16. He recorded his first sack since Week 11. He played 30 of a possible 42 snaps.

The IDL position is so flat behind the best players at the position that Jefferson’s seven-pressure effort means he jumps up to 21st among interior linemen with 35 pressures.

It’s unlikely he repeats that effort in Week 17, even when considering the interior of the Colts offensive line has had to deal with absences lately. Quenton Nelson has been activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list, which doesn’t help Jefferson.

Deablo is one of the few healthy Raiders linebackers heading into Week 1. He was already the second ILB in snap share, playing 32 of a possible 42 snaps when all Raiders linebackers were healthy. He should see a sizeable role in Week 17, whether Perryman plays or not.

I consider Deablo an ILB3 if Perryman plays and an ILB2 if Perryman does not. The rookie did very little in Week 16, but he only played 32 snaps.

Sits

K.J. Wright, ILB (C); Cory Littleton, ILB (C); Jonathan Abram, S (injury – IR).

Interestingly, Wright was a distant third among Raiders’ ILBs in snap share behind both Perryman and Deablo in Week 16, reversing the pecking order we saw in Week 15 when Wright played every down and Deablo only had 34 snaps.

On Monday, Wright was one of three Raiders’ ILBs added to the reserve/COVID-19 list alongside Perryman and Littleton.

Littleton has fallen out of favor fast over the last four games. He has played only five snaps in consecutive weeks.

Colts

Starts

Tier One

DeForest Buckner, IDL; Darius Leonard, ILB (C); Bobby Okereke, ILB.

Buckner hasn’t been quite as disruptive in recent games. He had at least three pressures in nine of his first 10 games. He’s had three pressures only once in his last five.

However, the 6’7″ defensive tackle has managed two sacks in the last month and has an excellent chance of adding to that number against this porous Raiders offensive line.

Leonard missed the Cardinals contest as the Colts kept him on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network shared some encouraging news about Leonard’s potential availability:

Watch this space. When Leonard is healthy, he’s an easy ILB1.

Okereke played every down in Week 17. He tied for second on the team with eight tackles and a QB hurry. The 25-year-old has 118 tackles this season, rankings 12th among all ILBs.

The Colts continue to have two full-time, productive ILB roles. Okereke remains under contract in 2022 and should retain his role next season.

Tier Two

Khari Willis, S (C).

Willis missed Week 16 as he was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday before the Cardinals game. He has a chance to make it back for Week 17, but we await updates.

When he’s been available, Willis has been productive. As I said last week, he’s finished only seven games this season but has 47 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and two pass breakups.

Tier Three

Kwity Paye, EDGE.

Paye has failed to record a sack in his last three games, but he’s starting to pressure the QB again after a three-week lull in Weeks 11, 12, and 13. He had five QB hurries in Week 16 and will look to build on that performance against the Raiders.

Unfortunately, the rookie will go up against the Raiders’ best offensive lineman, Kolton Miller. It’s a difficult matchup for Paye.

Sits

Al-Quadin Muhammad, EDGE; Kemoko Turay, EDGE; E.J. Speed, ILB; George Odum, S.

Muhammad recorded a season-high and team-leading six pressures against the Cardinals. He failed to turn any of them into sacks, but he’s shown he is capable, registering six sacks this season.

He fails to rank on this list simply because the EDGE spot is deep. Muhammad’s 34 pressures rank 42nd at the position, and his six sacks are tied for 33rd. With that said, he is one of the better EDGE options in this tier, so you could start him if you’re desperate and can’t get your hands on a player in a better tier.

Turay missed the game last week as he remained on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Turay was one of four Colts players who returned from the list on Wednesday.

Speed led the Colts with 10 tackles and a pass breakup in the absence of Leonard. He was picked on in coverage to the tune of 12 receptions for 106 yards, but if Leonard cannot play in Week 17, Speed is still an ILB3.

Odum played well last weekend. He had eight tackles and a pass breakup. If Willis cannot return from the list to play against the Raiders, consider Odum a high-end safety3.

Chiefs at Bengals

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Chiefs

Starts

Tier One

Chris Jones, DI.

Jones returned from the reserve/COVID-19 list to play 35 of a possible 72 snaps against the Steelers. That snap share represented one of Jones’ lowest of the season. Given how disruptive he has been since the midway point of the season, I suspect he’ll play more as we move into Week 17.

The interior of the Bengals offensive line has struggled in pass protection. Jones could have a good game.

Tier Two

Tyrann Mathieu, S.

Mathieu missed last week with a quadriceps injury and is questionable for the Bengals game.

He’s 14 tackles short of his 2020 volume but has played over 300 snaps fewer than he did last season. It was always going to be extremely difficult to get near the seven interceptions he had last year. When healthy, he’s still a safety2/3.

Tier Three

Frank Clark, EDGE; Tershawn Wharton, IDL.

Clark had two pressures and a sack against the Steelers. He missed his only tackle attempt.

After hitting that mark in four consecutive seasons between 2016 and 2019, the 28-year-old will fail to do so again in 2021. However, he has only played in 12 games this season.

He has a nice matchup this weekend. Jonah Williams has taken a step back after an impressive 2020 rookie campaign. Isaiah Prince has allowed 13 pressures and three sacks in his last three games.

Wharton has had an impressive 16 pressures, three sacks, and two forced fumbles in his last three games. I didn’t see this coming after he failed to record a sack on over 200 pass rush attempts before Week 14.

It’s encouraging that he continued to produce despite the return of Jones. Whether Wharton can continue to do this remains to be seen, but at a shallow position like IDL, he’s undoubtedly put fantasy managers on notice.

Sits

Nick Bolton, ILB, Willie Gay Jr., ILB; Anthony Hitchens, ILB; Ben Niemann, ILB;  Juan Thornhill, S; Melvin Ingram, EDGE.

The Chiefs returned to a rotation at the ILB position after COVID absences forced them to change things in Week 15. Niemann, Gay, Hitchens, and Dorian O’Daniel rotated heavily in his absence, managing 43, 37, 32, and 22 snaps, respectively.

They may flash now and again as Niemann did with seven tackles against the Steelers last weekend, but the rotation kills any chance any of them have to be consistently relevant in fantasy. This week, Bolton returned from the COVID list and will likely replace O’Daniel in that four-person merry-go-round.

Thornhill played 69 of a possible 72 snaps in Week 16. He had six total tackles. It’s telling that he’s surpassed that number only twice this season despite holding down a sizeable role in all but four games.

Ingram had fewer pass rush snaps than Alex Okafor, Michael Danna, and Clark. There are better and more reliable options at a deep position like the EDGE spot.

Bengals

Starts

Tier One

Vonn Bell, S; Trey Hendrickson, EDGE; Sam Hubbard, EDGE.

This season, Bell has been a steady option, ranking 10th at the safety position with 89 total tackles. I recall commenting on how he had failed to produce the big plays fantasy managers would appreciate.

That has changed in the last four games. He’s had a sack, a forced fumble, an interception, and three pass breakups over that period. He’s a solid safety1.

Hendrickson is on an incredible run. The 27-year-old edge rusher has earned a sack in 11 consecutive games spanning back to Week 5. He’s had only two games without a sack all year, and he’s not missed any time.

I don’t think he’s received the credit he deserves in IDP circles. Granted, he’s one-dimensional. He offers about as much additional value as someone like Yannick Ngakoue in terms of tackle volume, but who cares when he records at least a sack every week?

Is the Chiefs’ Orlando Brown the player to end Hendrickson’s run? Possibly. The young offensive tackle has had a couple of poor games but has otherwise had a good season. If he’s on his game, he could present a tough matchup for the Bengals sack artist.

Hubbard hasn’t had a sack in his last three games, but he continues to pressure the quarterback at a reasonable rate, earning 11 QB hurries and three QB hits over that period.

He’ll break double-digit sacks for the first time in his career with a sack in his next two games. He has a reasonable chance to do that against the Chiefs, even with the return to the lineup of sophomore Lucas Niang.

Tier Two

Jessie Bates III, S; Larry Ogunjobi, IDL; Logan Wilson, ILB.

Bates ranks 17th among all safeties with 83 tackles, but he will fall short of the 107 tackles he managed in 2020, even with the extra game in 2021. However, his coverage ability has been the biggest disappointment in 2021.

He has allowed three touchdowns in 2021 after only allowing one in 2020.

Ogunjobi has been very productive since Week 7. He’s had seven sacks in nine games since that point. He’s already earned season-high marks in pressures (37), sacks (eight), and is five tackles short of beating his previous best in that category.

He won’t find things easy in Week 17. Joe Thuney has had another excellent season, and rookie center Creed Humphrey has been outstanding in his last eight games.

Wilson was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and was upgraded to questionable. Given the update on Germaine Pratt’s status below, it’s good to see his situation trend in the right direction.

If Wilson can return, I’d start him as an ILB2/ILB3 in his first game back from injury.

Tier Three

Germaine Pratt, ILB.

Pratt played every down against the Ravens last weekend. Since taking over from the injured Logan Wilson, he continued the productive run he’s had, managing his fourth consecutive game with at least seven tackles.

Pratt has a limited skill set, especially in coverage, but it doesn’t matter for fantasy purposes while he continues to hold down a productive role in the middle of the Bengals defense.

His value takes a hit if Wilson can play.

Sits

Markus Bailey, ILB.

Bailey could have been an ILB2/3 if neither Pratt nor Wilson could suit up. Bailey’s snap share has increased in each of the last four weeks, and he played a season-high 46 snaps out of a possible 59 last weekend.

Unfortunately for Bailey, both Wilson and Pratt are trending in the right direction.

Giants at Bears

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Giants

Starts

Tier One

Leonard Williams, IDL; Logan Ryan, S.

Williams hasn’t been the same disruptive pass-rushing presence in the second half of the season that we saw in the first eight games. He had eight sacks in his first eight games but hasn’t recorded a single sack in the last seven games.

He had such a fast start to the season that he is still tied for ninth at the position in sacks and 10th in total pressures.

Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, and co. should not pose much of an obstacle for Williams. It makes me feel more comfortable keeping him as an IDL1 this weekend.

Ryan has missed a couple of games this season but still ranks among the best safeties in terms of productivity. The veteran safety has 98 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles, five pass breakups, and a batted pass this season.

Tier Two

Dexter Lawrence, IDL (C); Xavier McKinney, S; Tae Crowder, ILB.

The Giants placed Lawrence on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. He may miss the Bears game. Monitor his status for updates as we near the weekend.

Lawrence has had a steady position at a position where it’s difficult to find steady contributors. His absence would leave some fantasy lineups short-handed in DT-required formats.

James Daniels will one of the main Giants’ interior offensive linemen tasked with stopping either Lawrence or Johson. Daniels is not effective in pass protection.

McKinney played 62 of a possible 63 snaps and spent 15 of those snaps in a box role. He managed six total tackles.

The sophomore is tied for 27th at the safety position with 75 tackles. He has improved his fantasy value with five interceptions and three pass breakups. Even so, I consider him a low-end safety2 as I’m slightly concerned he’s only had 15 tackles in his last four games.

Despite playing poorly at times, Crowder has held down a sizable role at ILB for the Giants all season. He generally plays every down and has managed to rack up 109 tackles, an interception, and four pass breakups in 15 games.

His output in Week 16 was one of his lowest of the season. He should bounce back in Week 17 against the Bears.

Tier Three

Azeez Ojulari, EDGE; Julian Love, S (C).

Ojulari has had a productive season, recording nine sacks in his rookie year and tying for 16th at the EDGE position in that category. However, he’s had to be efficient in converting pressures to record those nine sacks, as he’s managed just 36 pressures, ranking 38th among his counterparts.

This doesn’t detract from what has at times been an impressive rookie year.

Jason Peters returned to practice this week. He’s likely to reclaim his spot at left tackle, with Germain Ifedi playing at right tackle. Ojulari will face them both. Peters can still be a challenging matchup at 39-years-old, Ifedi is average in pass protection at best.

Love played 40 of a possible 63 snaps against the Eagles last weekend. He spent only eight of those snaps in the box or on the defensive line but still tied for the team lead with six tackles.

The young safety has had some big performances this season, but he’s the third Giants safety to own in fantasy behind Ryan and McKinney. It’s a risk starting a guy who plays only two-thirds of his teams’ defensive snaps.

The Giants added Love to the reserve/COVID-19 list this week. Monitor for updates on his status.

Sits

Lorenzo Carter, EDGE.

Carter did nothing for 10 games and over 200 pass-rush attempts. Then the lights came on. He’s had 11 pressures, three sacks, two forced fumbles, had a batted pass, and a pass breakup in his last two games. Where did this come from, and more importantly, will it continue?

He faces a tough matchup in Jason Peters this weekend. As I mentioned above, Peters is still a decent offensive tackle capable of stonewalling edge rushers on his day, but he’s not the premier player he once was.

I have Carter right behind Ojulari in my rankings. If pressed to start one of them, I’d still go with Ojualri, but I wouldn’t argue with anyone who thought otherwise given Carter’s recent form.

Bears

Starts

Tier One

Roquan Smith, ILB; Robert Quinn, EDGE.

Smith tied for the team lead with seven tackles against the Seahawks in Week 16. He also added a QB hit and a QB hurry.

The young linebacker ranks 5th among all ILBs with 141 tackles. He’s added three sacks, an interception, and two pass breakups. Bears fans will crucify me for saying so, but I believe he was a better player in 2020. For fantasy purposes, he’s still productive enough to be an easy ILB1.

Quinn added another sack to his tally last weekend. It brings his total to 16 this season, and he’s now tied for third among all players in that category. It’s the most sacks Quinn has managed since his 19-sack season in 2013, eight years ago!

The veteran edge rusher has achieved this despite generating only 42 pressures. This does raise questions as to whether he can continue to be as efficient in converting pressure into sacks. Thankfully, that question is almost irrelevant given that you need just one more big week from the former Rams player.

Quinn has a tough matchup against the Giants’ Andrew Thomas this weekend. The sophomore offensive tackle has shown huge improvement after a poor rookie season.

Tier Two

None.

Tier Three

Akiem Hicks, IDL (C); Alec Ogletree, ILB; Eddie Jackson, S.

Hicks missed Week 16 as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Monitor his status for updates this week. The veteran had missed a lot of time this season but saved his best game for his last in Week 15 against the Vikings when he had four pressures, including two sacks.

Billy Price and Will Hernandez would be no match for an in-form Hicks.

Ogletree tied Smith for a team-leading seven tackles against the Seahawks. Ogletree achieved this despite playing only 45 snaps of a possible 56. He has combined for 14 tackles in his last two games. He has ILB3 value, but I’m going to avoid starting him unless I’m desperate.

Jackson has picked things up a little in his last two games, combining for 14 games over that period. However, it comes too late to save his season from a fantasy perspective, and he remains a gamble as a fantasy starter, given how he’s disappeared in games this year.

The 27-year-old safety at least played every down in Week 16. 

Sits

Trevis Gipson, EDGE.

I think Gipson has some ability. Like Quinn, I don’t think his 2021 sack rate would be sustainable with so few pressures next season, but that doesn’t mean we completely overlook some of what he’s done well. Besides, a fifth-round pick generally comes with modest expectations, so he deserves some kudos for overcoming the odds.

Gipson has five sacks in his last six games. I’ve got my eye on how he develops. If you play in dynasty formats and have rosters big enough to support stashing him, do so.

Falcons at Bills

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Falcons

Starts

Tier One

Deion Jones, ILB; Foyesade Oluokun, ILB.

Jones played 60 of a possible 68 snaps against the Lions and recorded 11 tackles and a pass breakup.

The 27-year-old linebacker ranks 14th at the ILB spot with 114 tackles. That marks the most he has had since the 2017 season. He’s added two sacks, a forced fumble, four pass breakups, and had a batted pass.

His level of play has dropped off, especially in coverage, and he has missed too many tackles, but he’s still an ILB1 for fantasy purposes.

Oluokun led the Falcons with 13 tackles and an interception last weekend.

He has outperformed his ILB partner in 2021. He’s second in the league with a whopping 152 tackles, and he’s had two sacks, a forced fumble, two interceptions, and two pass breakups.

Tier Two

None.

Tier Three

Grady Jarrett, IDL; Dante Fowler, EDGE.

I consider Jarrett an IDL2/3 after his disappointing 2021 season. He still ranks 24th in total pressures with 33, but that’s 24 fewer than he had in 2020, and importantly, he’s had only five pressures in his last four games. It looks like being a disappointing end to a disappointing season.

It’s not an easy matchup for Jarrett in Week 17 against the Bills’ offensive line, even with the loss of Ike Boettger to an Achilles injury. Consider him a high-end IDL3, and that’s only because there’s a dearth of options at this position.

I’ll be doing a deep dive into what has gone wrong for Jarrett in the offseason.

Fowler led the Falcons in QB pressure last weekend. That’s usually a good thing for the player involved, but it’s more a reflection on the fact that this defense sorely needs pass rush help than it is a compliment about Fowler’s effectiveness. The former Jags and Rams player managed just three pressures.

It’s been a disappointing season for Fowler. He’s had five sacks in 12 games and has failed to generate more than three pressures in a single game.

He’ll go up against Dion Dawkins and Daryl Williams, who present a tough challenge. I consider Fowler to be an EDGE3/4 for this game.

Sits

Erik Harris, S (injury – IR); Jaylinn Hawkins, S (C); Richie Grant, S (C).

The Falcons are hurting at safety. Harris is on IR; Hawkins replaced him in the last three games but was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Grant is also on the list. It may fall to veteran safety and former Bengals man Shawn Williams to pick up the slack alongside Duron Harmon in Week 17.

Bills

Starts

Tier One

Jordan Poyer, S.

Poyer did fantasy managers dirty against the Patriots. He’d shown signs of improving his tackle volume by combining for 21 tackles in three games, only to muster a single, solitary tackle in Week 16.

It isn’t the first time that the talented safety has disappeared this season, but this was the worst of the examples we’ve seen. And on those other occasions, he’s invariably recorded an interception to save his fantasy day.

If he burned you so badly last week that you consider him a safety2 this weekend, that makes sense. His tackle volume has lagged behind the rest of the safety1 players this season. He’s still a safety1/2 in my rankings against this Falcons offense.

Tier Two

Tremaine Edmunds, ILB.

Edmunds led the Bills with eight tackles last weekend. He also added a QB hurry.

The fourth-year linebacker is some way off the pace of the tackle totals he managed in each of his first three seasons in the league, but he’s played almost 350 fewer snaps at this point than he managed in 2020.

He’s been pretty productive when he’s played this year, and barring injury, he will surpass 100 tackles for the fourth consecutive season.

Tier Three

Matt Milano, ILB; Micah Hyde, S; Ed Oliver, IDL.

Milano played every down in Week 16. He only managed four tackles. It’s been a disappointing year of production for the 26-year-old who only really produced when Edmunds missed time.

I consider Milano an ILB3/4 going forward.

Hyde is a good NFL safety who doesn’t tend to have massive value in fantasy. However, he did in Week 15. He had two interceptions, six total tackles, and a QB hurry.

The former Packers player hasn’t provided much of a fantasy floor with only 64 tackles this season, but he’s produced a sack, a forced fumble, five interceptions, three pass breakups, and a battled pass. Boom or bust player.

Oliver has frustrated fantasy managers in IDP formats for three seasons. He had bags of promise in the build-up to that 2019 draft and showed promise in his rookie season before seemingly hitting a plateau in his last two seasons.

I’ve seen some gradual improvement from him this season. I’ll revisit his play in the offseason, but I’m encouraged to see he now ranks 24th at the position with 34 pressures. I also like his matchup this weekend. The interior of the Falcons offensive line is woeful in pass protection.

Sits

Jerry Hughes, EDGE; Gregory Rousseau, EDGE;

There are now five edge rushers in this Bills rotation. Don’t start any of them. Stash Rousseau in dynasty and be done with them for now.

Sunday Mid-Afternoon Games

Texans at 49ers

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Texans

Starts

Tier One

None.

Tier Two

Jonathan Greenard, EDGE; Christian Kirksey, ILB; Kamu Grugier-Hill, ILB.

Greenard was one of a large number of Texans players who missed Week 16 as they were on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He was activated on Wednesday and is still listed as questionable, but he should be ready to play this weekend.

The young edge rusher was a mid-season revelation with six sacks in the period of four games, but he did so despite earning only nine pressures. I, and others, warned that level of efficiency would be unsustainable, and that has proven to be the case, as he’s managed just one sack in his last four games.

It’s still an impressive season for Greenard. He grades as one of the best edge rushers in football and can use this season as a springboard for even greater success in the future.

Life won’t be easy for the 2020 third-round pick this weekend, at least not when he goes up against Trent Williams at left tackle. However, right tackle Tom Compton is beatable, and Greenard will face more of Compton if Greenard’s tendency to play more at the LEO spot carries over into this game.

Kirksey played sparingly in his return to the lineup against the Chargers. Presumably, he was being eased back into action after returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Neville Hewitt and rookie Garrett Wallow dominated the snap share at ILB.

Kirksey should be back to his usual complement of snaps this week. He had logged 31 tackles in the four games before being limited last week. His stand-in Hewitt was picked on in coverage, allowing seven completions for 107 yards against the Chargers.

Grugier-Hill didn’t play in Week 16 as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He was activated this week.

The 27-year-old was missed by the Texans and by IDP fantasy managers last weekend. He has erupted for 49 tackles, two sacks, two QB hits, a forced fumble, an interception, and two pass breakups in his last five games.

Tier Three

None.

Sits

Jacob Martin, EDGE; Neville Hewitt, LB; Garrett Wallow.

Martin has not done quite enough to justify starting at the EDGE position this season. He had three consecutive games with a sack between Week 9 and Week 12, but he has failed to record a sack in the four games since and had zero pressure against the Chargers last weekend.

Grugier-Hill and Kirksey should replace Hewitt and Wallow in the lineup. There is only room for two productive ILBs on this Texans’ defense.

49ers

Starts

Tier One

Nick Bosa, EDGE; Fred Warner, ILB.

Bosa failed to take advantage of a favorable matchup against the right side of the Titans’ offensive line last weekend, managing just a QB hit, a QB hurry, and three tackles. Don’t panic; he’s a dominant player who just had a bad day. It happens.

The 24-year-old edge rusher ranks sixth in pressures among all players and fifth in sacks. He’ll have a decent chance to improve his stock this weekend. Left tackle Geron Christian is quietly having a great season, but right tackle Charlie Heck is very beatable.

Warner led the 49ers with seven tackles last weekend. He could have had more, but he missed three tackle attempts. This is unusual for the young linebacker who has a missed tackle rate of 9.5% this season.

The 24-year-old ILB has had another productive season for the 49ers and fantasy managers. He ranks fifth at the position with 114 tackles. Plug him into lineups as your ILB1 and rest easy.

Tier Two

None.

Tier Three

Marcell Harris, ILB; Arik Armstead, IDL/EDGE; Jaquiski Tartt, S; Samson Ebukam, EDGE.

Harris is expected to fill the ILB spot vacated by Al-Shaair. He has played sparingly this season but steps into a productive role in Week 17.

Armstead showed signs of life for a three-game spell, managing 14 pressures between Week 13 and Week 15. Unfortunately, he had only one pressure last weekend against the Titans.

If he has IDL, DT, or DI eligibility and you play in a DT-required league, Armstead is a high-end IDL3. If he’s a DE, EDGE, or your league lumps all linemen together as DL, you may struggle to start the 6’7″ behemoth.

Armstead has a nice matchup this week. The right side of this Texans offensive line is not particularly strong in pass protection.

Tartt was productive last weekend. He played every down, spent 19 snaps in a box role on or on the defensive line, and tied for second on the team with six tackles.

The veteran safety benefitted from the absence of Hufanga, who had started to eat into Tartt’s snap share. Hufanga did not practice on Wednesday, so he may not play again this weekend.

I said this of Ebukam last weekend:

“Ebukam has carved out a decent role on the 49ers’ defense. He has a sack in each of his last two games and has eight pressures over that period. He’s had no fewer than 20 pass rush attempts in each of his last eight games. It helps his cause that Taylor Lewan is out for the game, but I’m still not on board with starting him.”

Fail. Ebukam capitalized in Lewan’s absence, leading the 49ers with five pressures, including two sacks. He had 27 pass-rush attempts, second only to Bosa among all 49ers edge rushers and some way ahead of Arden Key.

Ebukam has 13 pressures, three sacks, and a forced fumble in his last three games. He has a chance to continue that run going up against Charlie Heck and company this weekend.

Sits

Azeez Al-Shaair, ILB (injury); Dre Greenlaw, ILB (injury); Talanoa Hufanga, S (injury); Arden Key, EDGE;

Al-Shaair is expected to miss Week 17 with a knee injury. It’s a shame his season has to end this way. He’s been a pleasant surprise for fantasy managers in 2021.

Greenlaw logged a limited practice this week, but he will not play this weekend:

Hufanga didn’t practice on Wednesday, so he may not make it back. Monitor his status.

Key plays very few snaps but spends his time almost exclusively rushing the passer when he takes the field. So, although he has failed to record more than 25 snaps in a game since Week 9, he usually spends 17-20 snaps rushing the passer.

He’s been productive in that role, generating six sacks in his last eight games. It was encouraging to see him generate 12 pressures between Week 13 and Week 15. However, he had only one QB hit in Week 16. I have reservations he can perform at that level over an extended period.

Broncos at Chargers

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Broncos

Starts

Tier One

None.

Tier Two

Justin Simmons, S; Kareem Jackson, S; Baron Browning, ILB (C).

Simmons played 67 of a possible 69 snaps last weekend. He spent a season-high 39 snaps in the box or on the defensive line. He had a modest game, managing just five total tackles.

The dynamic safety has not produced the same tackle volume as he managed in the last three seasons. However, he has compensated with heroics in coverage, notching five interceptions and seven pass breakups. I consider him a solid safety2 with a shaky fantasy floor but potentially a very rewarding ceiling.

Vic Fangio expressed disappointment that no Broncos made the pro bowl. I don’t understand the fans’ clamor for Jackson to be included.

He’s had a relatively productive season from a fantasy standpoint; Jackson has 79 tackles and is tied for 20th at the safety position. He’s had a sack, an interception, and a pass breakup. That’s it. I just don’t see the same dominant player I saw in former years. Sorry, Broncos fans. I was a big fan of Jackson’s once.

Browning was the only Broncos ILB to play every down against the Raiders. He earned eight tackles in Week 16. He averages 7.6 tackles per game in his last five performances. I consider him a low-end ILB2 for Week 17.

Tier Three

Dre’Mont Jones, IDL;  Jonas Griffith, ILB; Malik Reed, EDGE; Shelby Harris, IDL.

Jones returned to the Broncos lineup in Week 16 but didn’t look himself. He managed only 30 snaps and generated just one QB hurry and a tackle. Hopefully, he can return to the kind of form we saw him produce in the six games from Week 7 onwards when he had 27 pressures and five sacks.

The Chargers’ center Corey Linsley returned from the reserve/COVID-19 list after missing the loss to the Texans last weekend. He’ll be needed against Jones, Shelby Harris, and co. Michael Schofield will also be asked to play his part in containing Jones in this must-win game.

Griffith has looked like the best ILB on the team when he has stepped onto the field. He played 56 of a possible 69 snaps in Week 16 and recorded 13 tackles. The young ILB has 21 tackles in his last two games.

However, there is a risk in starting Griffith this week. Kenny Young occupied the second Broncos ILB spot before the concussion that kept him out of the last two games. Young is listed as questionable this week.

Griffith has played better than Young for the Broncos, but Vic Fangio may prefer to go with experience over youth in this important divisional game.

Reed’s last two games have been disappointing. He has only one pressure and no sacks. He has struggled to maintain momentum after missing some time.

I would recommend that you sit the young edge rusher were he not up against Storm Norton this weekend. Norton is dreadful in pass protection. He’s currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but head coach Brandon Staley expects him to return in time for Sunday’s game.

In his last two games, Harris bounced back from a dry spell with six pressures, three sacks, and a forced fumble. He benefits from the fact that we’re starved at options at the IDL spot, especially lower order.

He has a tough matchup against Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler in Week 17.

Sits

Bradley Chubb, EDGE (C); Kenny Young, ILB.

Chubb earned his first career interception last week. However, he offered little as a pass rusher once again. He has generated only eight pressures and zero sacks in the five games since returning to the Broncos lineup in Week 12, despite having at least 20 pass rush attempts in all five games.

Young has been in the concussion protocol and is listed as questionable this weekend. In his absence, young linebacker Jonas Griffith may have secured the second ILB spot on the team. Time will tell. The only certainty about this situation is that Young is a risky play this weekend.

Chargers

Starts

Tier One

Derwin James, S; Joey Bosa, EDGE; Kyzir White, ILB.

James hasn’t finished a game since Week 13. He’s been sorely missed by this Chargers defense, but in fairness, a player of his caliber would be missed by any team.

Fantasy managers everywhere are hoping James can suit up in Week 17. However, even if he does, there’s some concern we’ll see a repeat of what we saw against the Chiefs in Week 15 when the talented safety left the game early. Monitor his status very closely for updates this week.

Bosa returns from the reserve/COVID-19 list after missing the game against the Texans last week. The rest may have also allowed him to heal from physical injuries that seem to have been nagging him for weeks.

The 26-year-old will face plenty of Bobby Massie this weekend. In his last six games, Massie hasn’t allowed a sack, but Bosa is a premier edge rusher and carries the advantage into this matchup.

White played every down in Week 16. He tied for the team lead with 10 tackles and moved up to eighth among all ILBs with 127 tackles. It’s easily the most productive season of the young linebacker’s four-year career.

He’s provided a reliable presence that was lacking despite spending a 2020 first-round pick on Kenneth Murray. It will be interesting to see what happens with White beyond this season as he’s out of contract after this year.

Tier Two

None.

Tier Three

Nasir Adderley, S (C).

Adderley played every down against the Texans and spent 28 snaps in a box role.

In the last two weeks, the 2019 second-round pick has disappointed, managing just three tackles in each game. It’s a far cry from the player we saw amass 72 tackles in 11 games beforehand.

He may still rank 23rd among all safeties in tackles, but his dip in recent form justifies why he’s only a safety3 in my rankings for Week 17. However, the matchup with a Drew Lock-led offense is decent for the coverage safety.

Adderley will be eligible to return from the reserve/COVID-19 list if he’s either asymptomatic or showing improvement in his recovery before the Broncos game.

Sits

Uchenna Nwosu, EDGE; Drue Tranquill, ILB; Kenneth Murray, ILB; Jerry Tillery, IDL; Alohi Gilman, S (C).

Nwosu has dropped off in production again after flashing for three sacks and two forced fumbles in three games between Week 11 and Week 13. He’s had six pressures in three games since, zero sacks, and only five tackles.

Tranquill played only 20 snaps last weekend before suffering a leg injury. He’s currently listed as questionable. He has barely any fantasy value even when healthy.

The Bolts placed Murray on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. He has zero value as a fantasy starter in Week 17, even if he returns from the list. The best-case scenario for Murray is that Tranquill cannot play, and Murray can. Even then, I wouldn’t start the former first-round pick.

Tillery has his first sack since Week 8 last weekend. The sack was his only QB pressure of the day. The young IDL has very little value in fantasy.

Gilman stepped into James’ shoes in Week 16, playing every down and spending 17 of his 68 snaps in a box role. The 2020 sixth-round pick earned eight tackles.

The young safety tested positive, and the Chargers added him to the reserve/COVID-19 list this week.

Panthers at Saints

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Panthers

Starts

Tier One

Jeremy Chinn, S; Brian Burns, EDGE; Haason Reddick, EDGE (C).

Chinn played every down last weekend, and he spent most of his time in the box or on the defensive line as usual. 49 of his 67 snaps were spent in that capacity against the Bucs.

The talented safety had surpassed 100 tackles with his Week 16 six-tackle effort and ranks third in that category at the position. He’s a reliable source of fantasy points each week.

I considered Burns to be one of the better edge rushers in the league entering 2021. It hasn’t been a disappointing season as such, but he has failed to show the progression I expected. The 23-year-old ranks 20th at the edge spot with 47 pressures and is tied for 16th with 9 sacks.

He might be meeting the Saints at the right time. Terron Armstead has not practiced this week, and Ryan Ramczyk remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The Panthers also added Reddick to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. If he can return, he too appears to be facing a depleted Saints offensive line.

The 27-year-old has managed 15 sacks this season despite only generating 43 pressures. That’s extremely efficient. I am pessimistic about his chances to repeat next year unless he pressures the QB at an increased rate.

I consider Reddick to be a low-end EDGE1 for this matchup, assuming Armstead and Ramczyk are both out.

Tier Two

Shaq Thompson, ILB.

The Panthers may be without a trio of their best defensive players. They placed Thompson on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. Monitor his status closely to see if he can return before the weekend.

He played every down against the Bucs and led the Panthers with seven total tackles. It’s not a bad performance by any stretch, but it’s not quite at ILB1 level.

Did the 27-year-old linebacker peak a bit early? He had 24 tackles in two games between Week 12 and Week 14 but has just 11 tackles in his last two outings. If he can play this weekend, I rank him as a high-end ILB2 for Week 17.

Tier Three

None.

Sits

Jermaine Carter, ILB; Frankie Luvu, ILB; Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE; Morgan Fox, EDGE.

Carter managed just 20 snaps against the Bucs last weekend. He’s been limited with a groin injury this weekend and usually has limited value even when healthy. However, if Thompson misses this game and Carter can play, I consider Carter an ILB3 for the game.

If both Thompson and Carter miss Week 17, Luvu should have an increased role and becomes an ILB3.

Gross-Matos is in line for a sizeable role in Week 17 if either Reddick or Burns miss the game. The sophomore edge rusher would become an EDGE3 in that situation. He’s one game removed from a four-pressure, three-sack effort against the Bills in Week 15.

Fox will have marginal value if Reddick or Burns miss time. He’ll have EDGE3 value if neither player can return from the list in time. Fox has 22 pressures and three sacks on 289 pass rush attempts in 2021.

Saints

Starts

Tier One

None.

Tier Two

Demario Davis, ILB; Marcus Davenport, EDGE; Cameron Jordan, EDGE.

The Saints removed Davis from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. His inclusion on the list forced him to miss the Week 16 game against the Dolphins.

The 32-year-old linebacker has had a good season, managing 96 tackles, three sacks, and five pass breakups. However, it’s not quite the same level of production we’re used to seeing from Davis.

Davenport forms one of a core of young defenders that seem primed to replace some of the aging veterans on this Saints defense in the years to come. The young edge rusher has teased for seasons with his potential but has never quite put it all together, largely due to missing time.

He’s dealt with some injuries in 2021. A shoulder injury lingered for some time; he’s recently suffered an issue with a knee injury too. But he’s looked impressive in the nine games he’s played. He’s had 34 pressures, seven sacks, and two forced fumbles. He’s coming into this game fresh off three strong performances in consecutive weeks.

Davenport will go up against third-round rookie Brady Christensen in Week 17. Christensen has allowed 20 pressures and three sacks in six games if I discount his two three-snap efforts in Week 2 and Week 10. Davenport should be relishing the opportunity.

Jordan has eight pressures, four sacks, a forced fumble, and seven tackles in his last two games. Granted, one of those games was against the Dolphins, but the other was against the usually stingy Bucs.

The veteran needed to finish the season strong. He’s had more pass rush attempts than all but four other edge rushers, and yet he ranks 24th at the position with 44 pressures, barely half the number of league leader Maxx Crosby‘s 87.

Taylor Moton will be the main man tasked with keeping Jordan quiet in Week 17. Moton is an accomplished pass protector, allowing only 26 pressures and a sack in 15 games this season.

Tier Three

Malcolm Jenkins, S.

Jenkins has not had an impressive season in 2021. He’s seen a decrease in every statistical category that matters for fantasy purposes. Father time may have caught up to the 34-year-old safety. I consider him a safety3/4 at this point.

Sits

Kwon Alexander, ILB; Pete Werner, ILB; Marcus Williams, S (C).

Alexander has missed significant time this season due to injuries, but his only impressive performance was his Week 13 effort against the Cowboys. Werner is the better player at this point and may replace him as soon as Week 17 after how the rookie played last week. I just wouldn’t bet a starting spot in the fantasy championship on that happening.

Werner has shown plenty of promise in his rookie season, providing a glimpse into what the team can expect once he’s given a bigger role. He led the team in tackles in the absence of Davis and Alexander last week. It’s the third time this season he’s managed double-digit tackles despite playing sparingly.

As I say most weeks, Williams is a very good NFL player who just doesn’t have much fantasy value as he plays so deep. The Saints added him to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday.

Lions at Seahawks

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Lions

Starts

Tier One

None.

Tier Two

Charles Harris, EDGE.

Harris has had a mini resurgence in the last month. The 2017 first-round pick has 21 pressures, including four sacks, four QB hits, 16 tackles, and a forced fumble in his last four games.

He’ll aim to continue that form when the Lions visit the Seahawks this weekend. Duane Brown would have provided a tough test in years gone by, but the 36-year-old has not been able to achieve the same level of play this season. He’s surrendered eight sacks this year.

Walker generates a reasonable amount of tackles at the safety spot, given he lines up deep as often as he does. It can mean he’s prone to disappear at times from a fantasy standpoint. He followed up his 11 tackle effort in Week 13 with a two tackle effort in his last outing. He’s had two or fewer solo tackles in four games this season.

Tier Three

Tracy Walker, S; Jalen Reeves-Maybin, ILB.

Walker generates a reasonable amount of tackles at the safety spot, given he lines up deep as often as he does. It can mean he’s prone to disappear at times from a fantasy standpoint. He followed up his 11 tackle effort in Week 13 with a two tackle effort in his last outing. That was the fourth time he’s had two or fewer solo tackles in a game this season.

I consider Walker to be a high-end safety3 for Week 17.

Reeves-Maybin has been thrust into an every-down role after injuries and disappointing performances by other Lions’ off-ball linebackers. He had five tackles, forced a fumble, had a batted pass, a pass breakup, and added a QB hurry against the Falcons last weekend.

The only threat to his role is Derrick Barnes who saw only 14 snaps in Week 16. I rank Reeves-Maybin as a high-end ILB3 against the Seahawks.

Sits

Derrick Barnes, ILB; Alex Anzalone, ILB (injury – IR); Josh Woods, ILB (injury – IR).

Barnes only saw 14 snaps despite injuries to other ILBs. He’s not startable in fantasy.

The Lions placed Anzalone on IR with a shoulder injury last week.

The Lions also placed Woods on IR with a neck injury this week.

Seahawks

Starts

Tier One

Bobby Wagner, ILB; Jordyn Brooks, ILB.

Wagner played every down in Week 16 and had 12 tackles, albeit that seven of those were assists. He also had a QB hit. His performance means Foyesade Oluokun is the only player with a realistic chance of passing Wagner as the league’s leading tackler in 2021, barring injury.

The fact that he leads the league in tackles is hardly surprising. Wagner has both the talent and the opportunity; he has played more snaps than any other player in the league this season. Regardless, earning 166 tackles with two games remaining is still an incredible feat.

Brooks also played every down against the Bears last weekend. He added nine more tackles to his total for 2021 and now has 150 this season. Fantasy managers are grateful for his extremely productive fantasy performances this season.

I often talk of Brooks’ deficiencies in coverage, so it is encouraging to note that he graded well in that area in Week 16. He allowed just 42 yards despite being targeted seven times. He also had a pass breakup.

Tier Two

Quandre Diggs, S.

Diggs plays in a deep role the majority of the time – he played 12 snaps in the box or on the defensive line last weekend, and that’s a season-high for the 28-year-old.

This is partly because he leads all safeties with 1110 snaps in 2021. He ranks 16th at the position with 84 tackles.

Tier Three

Ryan Neal, S; Carlos Dunlap, EDGE; 

Neal has replaced the injured Jamal Adams, as expected. It’s no surprise that he hasn’t quite been able to replicate Adams’ productivity. Neal had four tackles last weekend, increasing his total to 18 in his last three full games. Not terrible, but I consider him a low-end safety3.

Dunlap has been one of the best edge rushers in the last two weeks. He’s had nine pressures, five sacks, a QB hit, and a forced fumble. It’s impressive given how little he managed to do earlier in the season.

I’m tempering my expectations for Dunlap in Week 17. His last two performances have come against Larry Borom, a fifth-round rookie with only six starts under his belt, and the terrible Storm Norton. He has a more formidable challenge in Penei Sewell this weekend.

Sits

Rasheem Greene, EDGE.

Greene has four sacks in his last three games and will be a popular waiver option. I’m reluctant to suggest you start him this weekend. Taylor Decker is a difficult opponent, and I believe some of Green’s productivity results from volume rather than ability.

Cardinals at Cowboys

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Cardinals

Starts

Tier One

Jalen Thompson, S; Budda Baker, S.

Thompson played 65 of a possible 69 snaps and spent 30 of those snaps in a box role. Unfortunately, he only had two tackles and two assists, the fewest amount of tackles he has had since Week 1.

The 23-year old safety still ranks fourth at the safety position in total tackles. He should have a better performance in Week 17.

Baker played every down against the Colts. He spent 21 of his 69 snaps in the box role or on the defensive line. He led the team with 12 tackles, had a sack and a QB hit.

The dynamic safety won’t record as many tackles as he did in 2020, but his 91 tackles still rank ninth at the position. Monitor his status closely this week as he failed to practice due to a rib injury.

Tier Two

Jordan Hicks, ILB;  Isaiah Simmons, ILB; Markus Golden, EDGE (C); Chandler Jones, EDGE.

Hicks played every down in Week 15 but managed only four tackles. It’s disappointing that he has just four tackles in consecutive weeks. He has fallen to 18th at the ILB spot in tackles.

The veteran linebacker is an ILB1/ILB2 in my rankings for Week 17.

Simmons only had 40 of a possible 69 snaps last weekend. He carried a shoulder injury into the game, which limited his involvement. The 2020 eighth overall pick had just two tackles, a QB hit and had a batted pass.

He’s not on the injury list this week, which suggests he can return to a more sizeable role. I rank Simmons as an ILB2/ILB3.

The Cardinals placed Golden on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. Monitor for updates on his status this week.

The veteran edge rusher had a disappointing game against the Colts. He managed only two tackles, and a QB hit. If he can make it back in time for the Cowboys game, he will face lots of La’el Collins and a little of Tyron Smith. Smith returned to practice on Wednesday. It’s a difficult matchup against two very capable offensive tackles.

Jones failed to record a sack in Week 16, but he did at least lead the Cardinals with three pressures.

It’s slightly disappointing that the 31-year-old edge rusher failed to capitalize on his incredible five-sack start to the season. He’s managed five sacks in 12 games since.

See Golden’s notes for information on Jones’ matchup. The only difference is that Jones will face more of Smith and less of Collins than Golden.

Tier Three

None.

Sits

Everyone else.

Cowboys
Starts

Tier One

Micah Parsons, ILB/EDGE; DeMarcus Lawrence, EDGE; Jayron Kearse, S.

Parsons continued his impressive season with a sack, a QB hit, and a QB hurry against Washington Football Team. He also added two solo tackles. He only played 33 snaps and rushed the passer 15 times.

The rookie tends to rush the passer from the LOLB spot, meaning he’ll face a good amount of Kelvin Beachum. Beachum has allowed only 26 pressures and two sacks in 13 games, so is no pushover, but Parsons still has the advantage.

Lawrence had just 25 snaps but managed a sack, a QB hurry, and the second interception of his career.

Since returning to the lineup, the experienced edge rusher has been a disruptive force. It’s a shame Randy Gregory hasn’t maintained his level of play from earlier in the season; otherwise, it would be a real treat to watch Lawrence, Gregory, and Parsons in action. We’ll get to see it yet.

Lawrence will also face the right-hand side of the Cardinals offensive line. Poor Beachum and co.

Kearse played 48 of a possible 60 snaps in Week 16. He spent 30 of his snaps in the box or on the defensive line. Bizarrely, he didn’t attempt a single tackle! He falls to 14th in total tackles among all safeties after this performance.

Mercifully for his fantasy managers, Kearse salvaged his fantasy day with a QB sack and a QB hit. He should manage a more traditional stat line in Week 17.

Tier Two

Randy Gregory, EDGE.

Gregory had a period of three consecutive games between Week 5 and Week 8 that were as good as any edge rusher has managed all season. He has played in four games since and has been disappointing in three of his performances.

The veteran edge rusher faces D.J. Humphries this weekend. Humphries has allowed 16 pressures and a sack in his last three games. Gregory could take advantage of the dip in Humphries’ form to bounce back. The Cardinals also placed Humphries on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week.

Tier Three

Sits

Osa Odighizuwa, IDL (C); Leighton Vander Esch, ILB; Keanu Neal, ILB (C); Dorance Armstrong; EDGE.

Odighizuwa hasn’t managed a sack since Week 4 but has continued to pressure the QB in a way that gives reason for optimism for his future in the league. He hasn’t quite performed on Christian Barmore‘s level, but it’s been a decent season for the Cowboys rookie nonetheless.

LVE had 40 of a possible 61 snaps and managed four total tackles. Meh. Pass.

Neal also had 40 snaps in Week 16 and had five solo tackles. His snap count has fluctuated massively this season. I don’t trust him unless LVE leaves town. Pass.

Armstrong was one of five different Cowboys’ edge rushers who played between 21 and 33 snaps against Washington. The 24-year-old had 20 pass rush attempts for the third consecutive game and had a sack for his second consecutive game.

I don’t believe he can be consistently productive enough to justify starting at the deep edge rusher position.

Sunday Night Football

Vikings at Packers

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Vikings
Starts

Tier One

Eric Kendricks, ILB; Harrison Smith, S; Xavier Woods, S.

Kendricks played every down against the Rams and had seven total tackles.

The veteran linebacker has been the model of consistency this season and throughout his career. He ranks seventh among all off-ball linebackers with 128 tackles. That marks a new career-high for the gifted ILB. Kendricks has also earned five sacks, two interceptions, and two pass breakups.

He’s an easy ILB1 with a safe weekly floor.

Smith tied for the team lead with nine tackles in Week 16. He also added a QB hit. He played 68 of a possible 70 snaps and spent 45 snaps in the box or on the defensive line.

The 32-year-old safety has been excellent in his tenth season in the league and has gone some way to justify the new contract he signed earlier this year. He’s had 99 tackles and missed only five attempts. He’s added three sacks, a forced fumble, an interception, and five pass breakups.

Woods played every down, spent 13 snaps in the box, had eight tackles, and recorded an interception last weekend.

The former Cowboys’ safety has played 1050 snaps, second only to the Seahawks’ Quandre Diggs. He’s had a productive fantasy season; his 89 tackles are tied for 10th in tackles among all safeties, he has a sack, two forced fumbles, three interceptions, and six pass breakups.

Tier Two

None.

Tier Three

Anthony Barr, ILB.

Barr played every down against the Rams and had six tackles, a QB hit, and two interceptions. He has averaged 7.4 tackles in his last five games.

The former first-round pick missed a lot of time this season and took a while to get going once he returned to the lineup.

Sits

D.J. Wonnum, EDGE; Armon Watts, IDL.

Wonnum was one of the hottest waiver pickups last weekend. The young edge rusher had three sacks, five tackles, and a forced fumble against the Bears in Week 15. I said this of him last week:

“Has he turned a corner? Possibly. He’s still 24 and in only his second season. I remain wary. Good form is a major factor in determining these tiers, but I can’t overlook the fact that Wonnum has rushed the passer 471 times this season and hasn’t had nearly the level of production I expect.”

After Week 16, Wonnum has 503 pass rush attempts, second only to the Bengals’ Sam Hubbard, but he has recorded only 34 pressures. Pass.

Watts has had a promising season. The 25-year-old has managed 31 pressures and five sacks despite playing a limited number of snaps. He excelled during the period when Michael Pierce was absent but has since played a reduced role once again. He only had 30 snaps of a possible 70 last weekend.

Pierce is unavailable for this game, which does help Watts’ value slightly. If you’re desperate, you could try starting him, but it’s not advisable.

Packers
Starts

Tier One

Kenny Clark, IDL; Rashan Gary, EDGE; De’Vondre Campbell, ILB.

Clark had five QB hurries and three solo tackles against the Browns.

Fantasy managers might be disappointed with his three-sack season so far, but the 26-year-old has consistently pressured the QB and has simply failed to convert them into sacks at the rate of many of his counterparts. Clark is second at the position with 59 pressures trailing only Aaron Donald, and he’s hitting form, generating 28 of those in just the last five games.

Clark has a good matchup this weekend. The interior of the Vikings offensive line has not been good in pass protection this season.

Gary earned five pressures, including two sacks and three hurries last weekend.

As I said last week, he’s been a real difference-maker following the loss of Za’Darius Smith. He’s developed into one of the better pass rushers in the league, ranking fifth among all edge rushers with 68 pressures. Brian O’Neill will be charged with slowing down Gary this week. O’Neill has had a very good season and will prove a challenge for Gary.

Campbell is putting together a strong run after seemingly taking his foot off the pedal in mid-season. The former Falcons linebacker managed 13 tackles and had a batted pass last week, increasing his total to 35 tackles in just the last three weeks.

It’s been an excellent season for Campbell. He’s been one of the biggest surprises at the position in 2021. Continue to start him as your ILB1.

Tier Two

Adrian Amos, S; Preston Smith, EDGE.

Amos continues to be one of the more reliable safeties in fantasy. His seventh season in the league has been another productive effort; he ranks 19th at the position with 80 tackles, has two interceptions and seven pass breakups.

The 28-year-old typically plays every down for the Packers’ defense. In Week 16, he spent 27 of his 68 snaps in a box role.

Smith has seemingly discovered how to rush the passer again since Week 10. We haven’t seen him produce like this since the 2019 season. The veteran edge rusher has 41 pressures, six sacks, and two forced fumbles in his last six games.

He has a nice matchup against Vikings’ rookie Christian Darrisaw this weekend. Darrisaw played against the Rams last week but has allowed 11 pressures and four sacks in his last four games.

Tier Three

Dean Lowry, IDL.

Last weekend was the first time Lowry had a sack since Week 8. However, it was his second five-pressure game in the last three weeks. He is tied for 21st at the IDL position with 35 pressures in 2021.

See Clark’s notes for information on Lowry’s matchup.

Sits

Za’Darius Smith, EDGE (injury).

Smith is one of a few key players the Packers hope to return in time for the playoffs. Unfortunately, that’s too late for fantasy managers who hoped he would be healthy enough to help them with their playoff push.

Monday Night Football

Browns at Steelers

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Browns

Starts

Tier One

Myles Garrett, EDGE.

Garrett failed to record a sack against the Packers last weekend. It’s the first time this year he has gone consecutive games without taking down the QB. Unfortunately, it means he’s unlikely to challenge Strahan’s record.

However, it’s been another fantastic season for Garrett. He is tied for third at the position in pressures and trails only T.J. Watt for sacks with 17. It’s going to be a treat for fans of defenses to watch arguably the two best edge rushers in football go at it this weekend.

Dan Moore Jr. has his work cut out trying to contain Garrett. Moore has allowed seven sacks this season and two in his last two games.

Tier Two

Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE; Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, ILB.

The Browns placed Clowney on the reserve/COVID-19 list, meaning he missed Week 16. He’s back this weekend and should face a lot of Chukwuma Okorafor. Okorafor had only allowed one sack all season and was finding a run of good form before allowing four pressures against the Chiefs last weekend.

Clowney’s first season with the Browns has mostly been a success. He started very strongly before falling away in the second half of the season. However, he does carry some form into this game after earning five pressures and two sacks against the Ravens in his last game in Week 14.

JOK led the Browns off-ball linebackers in snaps last weekend, but only by one snap. He had 44 snaps compared with Anthony Walker‘s 43. The rookie was third on the team with seven tackles, but he should have had more – he missed three more tackle attempts.

Overall, it has been a promising season for the rookie. He’s made some mistakes, as all rookies do, but he’s generally played well. He’s flashed the playmaking skills the Browns were hoping they were getting after drafting him 52nd overall in the 2021 draft.

Tier Three

Anthony Walker, ILB; Grant Delpit, S; M.J. Stewart, S.

Walker was second on the team with nine tackles against the Packers last weekend. He also added two QB hurries.

The 26-year-old has missed some time due to various reasons but has been productive when he’s taken the field. He has 92 tackles in 11 games. I rank him as an ILB2/ILB3. The only concern I have is how the snap share between Walker and JOK looks heading into the showdown with the Steelers.

Delpit should continue to play an expanded role, given Johnson and Harrison are both out injured. The rookie played 57 of a possible 59 snaps and had five solo tackles last weekend. A similar snap share and level of productivity are entirely possible against the Steelers.

He spent 30 of his 57 snaps in the box or on the defensive line in Week 16.

Like Delpit, Stewart should continue to play a sizeable role in the Browns defense this weekend. He played 57 snaps against the Packers and led the team in tackles for the second consecutive week. The former Bucs safety has a whopping 24 tackles in his last two weeks.

Sits

Malik McDowell, IDL; John Johnson, S (injury); Ronnie Harrison, S (injury);  Takkarist McKinley, EDGE (IR).

McDowell missed last weekend as the Browns placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He has shown some ability to get after the passer this season but not on a consistent enough basis to consider starting in fantasy. He’s one to keep an eye on in 2022.

Johnson has been ruled out of the game with a hamstring injury.

Harrison is struggling with an ankle injury and will not play against the Steelers.

Steelers

Starts

Tier One

T.J. Watt, EDGE; Cam Heyward, IDL; Minkah Fitzpatrick, S.

18 sacks in 13 games is an incredible ratio. Watt has overcome injuries to have an excellent season, further cemented his legacy as one of the best defensive players of his generation.

He has an enticing matchup in Week 17. Blake Hance is a poor offensive tackle and should be no match for the 2020 Defensive MVP candidate. Watt could have a dominant game.

Heyward has been one of the best interior defensive linemen in football. The long-serving veteran shows no signs of slowing down, ranking seventh at the position in pressures, and third with nine sacks.

Heyward won’t be given a free ride this weekend. The interior of the Browns’ offensive line has been solid this season, and they have some starters returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list in time for this weekend.

Fitzpatrick had a slow start to the season, he didn’t look anything like the player we have seen in years past, and it took him a while to find his feet. The former Dolphins player has looked dominant in the last month, recording 49 tackles, two interceptions, and two pass breakups in his last five games.

He ranks first among all safeties in tackles, shattering his previous record. And he’s achieved this despite playing only 97 snaps in the box this season.

Tier Two

Joe Schobert, ILB (C).

The Steelers added Schobert to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday. His late addition on the list makes the chances of him playing quite slim. It doesn’t help fantasy managers that they may have to wait until the rest of the games have already been played before hearing word on Schobert’s status.

He played 60 of a possible 69 snaps in the absence of Bush last weekend. The veteran earned 10 total tackles, taking him over the 100 tackle threshold this season.

Tier Three

Devin Bush, ILB (C); Terrell Edmunds, S; Chris Wormley, IDL (C); Alex Highsmith, EDGE.

Bush remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list as of Saturday. It seems more likely he will play than Schobert, given the length of time he has spent on the list (since 22nd), but it’s a gamble waiting on any Steelers player given the fact they play on Monday night.

Overall, it’s been a disappointing season for Bush, who has arguably regressed with each season in the league. Fantasy managers hoped he would bounce back after an injury-plagued year in 2020. That hasn’t been the case.

Edmunds is a player I typically add to rosters as a safety4 or 5. He’s someone we can rely on to achieve reasonable tackle volume despite not recording many big plays.

The 24-year-old should probably be a bit more productive given how many snaps he plays in the box. Only Jonathan Abram and Jeremy Chinn have spent more time in that role than Edmunds in 2021.

The Steelers have placed Wormley on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Like Schobert, it’s so close to the game that it makes it unlikely he will play on Monday.

The 28-year-old has been in good form, recording five sacks in his last four games. He was quiet earlier in the season, and it concerns me that he may not be able to maintain his level of efficiency.

Highsmith only has two pressures in each of his last two games, but he has a sack in both games and has added nine tackles, and has forced a fumble.

Jedrick Wills Jr. is due to return to the left tackle spot, allowing Joel Bitonio to move back inside to his usual left guard spot. Wills Jr. hasn’t been as good this season as he was last, but he did have his best game of the season in his last performance. It should be a fairly even battle between Highsmith and Wills Jr.

Sits

Robert Spillane, ILB.

Spillane had 66 snaps in the absence of Devin Bush, and he had a productive game. The young ILB managed 13 tackles.

He could be given another opportunity to prove himself if Schobert or Bush cannot return from the reserve/COVID-19 list. If you intend to start either of those players, pick up Spillane as insurance, so you still have an option on Monday.

Final Reminder

Please remember to check inactive players before submitting your final lineups on Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays. Players can and will suddenly become inactive at the last moment.

This article was published on Thursday. I will try to keep it updated with injury news if it affects start/sit recommendations. I will update it at least three times, once before the Thursday night game, once before the early games on Sunday, and again before the mid-afternoon games.

Please check the IDPGuys IDP Injury Report article from @FF_Skinnychef for the latest injury news.


Thanks for taking the time to read my NFL Week 17 Start/Sit article for IDP leagues! I hope you find it useful. You can find more of my work here at IDPguys.org, and you can follow me on Twitter @FFIDP_Jase. I will do my best to be available for questions or feedback. My DMs are always open.

For start/sit advice for players on offense, please check out the article here from the IDPGuys’ @FantasyLadder.

Jase Abbey

I'm an IDP-obsessive and have been playing fantasy football for 20 years. I write the weekly IDP start/sit for IDP Guys in-season, redraft IDP content during the offseason, and appear on the odd podcast from time to time. I am a big, big believer in data-driven and evidence-based content. I'm UK-based, love most sports, and study sports journalism at university. My favorite two things in life are family and sarcasm.
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