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10 Lineup Busts and Avoids for Week 17

It feels like there are even more teams than usual sitting their key players this year in Week 17. The Steelers, a team that just needs to beat the Browns and have New England lose to the Jets to secure home field advantage, are even thinking of getting in on the action, which is wild. Here are the situations where I think resting starters is fine: if you have clinched a playoff berth AND your seeding can't change (because why risk getting anyone hurt!) or if you are playing on the road (can't disappoint the home fans!) in a game with no playoff implications and the players you are resting are important long term pieces who are already a little banged up (like Houston wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is dealing with a calf issue and is too important for the team to risk it with.) Any other situation? Play the starters. Young guys need playing time to get better. Old guys need playing time if they're about to hit free agency, and not giving them a chance to increase their value is really, really unfair. Guys in the middle probably should play if healthy because they like football, but they can be sat for young players if coaches want to see what they have.

Okay, I'm getting off track. It's Week 17 and who even know what players will be taking the field this week. I've tried to have a mix on this week's list of players who are for sure playing and back-ups who should get more playing time but might not be able to take advantage of it.

Below are ten lineup busts and avoids for Week 17 of NFL action. Not included below but likely to not see the field are the starters on the following teams, which makes them guys to avoid too: Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles (Rams). Jacksonville says they aren't resting theirs, but take that with a grain of salt since there's no playoff positioning at stake for them.

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Top 10 Busts - NFL Week 17

Marcus Mariota (Quarterback, Tennessee Titans)

I'm hesitant to put Mariota here for a couple of reasons--the Jaguars defense showed cracks last week against the 49ers and Jacksonville has nothing at stake this week as they're locked into the three seed, so they might not be playing as hard as they could. But then I remembered that Jacksonville is STILL allowing the least points to opposing quarterbacks, that Tom Coughlin is in the Jaguars front office and that means there won't be any players resting, and Marcus Mariota has been disappointing all season. I'll keep avoiding him this week. (This also feels like a game where the Titans are going to go heavy on the Derrick Henry to see how he can handle a full workload.)

Patrick Mahomes (Quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs)

DON'T. OVER. THINK. IT. With a handful of quarterbacks set to sit this week out, you might need to go to the waiver wire to grab someone and you might spot Patrick Mahomes there, the former Texas Tech quarterback with the cannon for an arm who'll be making his first career start. Nah. Mahomes very well could be the future for the Chiefs, a quarterback that can take his team to heights Alex Smith can't, but his first career start on the road at Denver and (likely) without the Kansas City skill position players that make the team so dangerous? I'm not trusting my fantasy season to a rookie throwing the ball to Albert Wilson and Orson Charles.

Bilal Powell (Running Back, New York Jets)

Jets/Patriots has blowout written so largely on it that the Steelers are planning to rest their starters on Sunday because they don't think there's a chance New England loses when a win gives the Patriots the number one seed and home field. I tend to agree. Blowouts aren't good for running backs. Plus, rumors that Christian Hackenberg might see time at quarterback, and you don't do an experiment like that if all you plan on doing is handing the ball off, right?

Jordan Howard (Running Back, Chicago Bears)

The Vikings have the best fantasy defense against opposing running backs and are playing for a first round bye. Jordan Howard over his past five games can do one of two things: score two touchdowns or run for less than forty yards. This one feels like one of the latter. If that's the case, it might be worth exploring other options.

Leonard Fournette (Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars)

I know Doug Marrone said he's playing the starters, but Fournette feels like the exception to that. He's been banged up all season and this team needs the rookie to be healthy for a playoff run to happen. It would make NO sense for Fournette to have more than a handful of touches in this game, even if Marrone is saying otherwise. Don't make the mistake of plugging in a guy who could very likely play just a series or two.

Devin Funchess (Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers)

It feels like there's a group of wide receivers (I'm thinking of Amari Cooper and Stefon Diggs specifically) who struggle unless they're at 100 percent. I'm starting to wonder if Funchess belongs on that list. He's been a complete non-factor over the past two weeks and I'm not sold on his shoulder being fully healed.

Will Fuller (Wide Receiver, Houston Texans)

DeAndre Hopkins is expected to miss Sunday's game against the Colts, which would make Fuller Houston's number one receiver. Hold on a minute, though, because that doesn't seem like a role Fuller's going to be able to fill, especially with T.J. Yates still starting for the Texans. Remember how bad Tom Savage was? Yates has been worse. Fuller isn't going to have time to get down field to make plays and will likely end up posting another dud of a game. Don't worry, though! Fuller will be back to relevance next season with Deshaun Watson back at quarterback.

Robby Anderson (Wide Receiver, New York Jets)

Like Fuller, Anderson is a guy who depended a lot on a particular quarterback. Without Josh McCown, he's putting up below average numbers and can't be trusted.

Trey Burton (Tight End, Philadelphia Eagles)

We're expecting Zach Ertz to sit for at least a chunk of Sunday's game. Nick Foles too. I'd trust Burton if Foles was quarterbacking the whole game and Burton was playing the whole game--he's been impressive this season in games that Ertz missed--but I'm not sure I'd trust him with Nate Sudfeld throwing him the ball. This is another in the "don't overthink it" category.

Jason Witten (Tight End, Dallas Cowboys)

And pulling up the rear (again!) is Jason Witten, who essentially has a permanent place on this list. Witten can't be trusted as a fantasy starter again--not this week and not if he returns in 2018.


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