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Before DFS became a known and popular entity in fantasy football gaming, there was Week 17. Sure, fantasy sports will always have some quality of unknown dart-throwing in it (Alvin Kamara, anyone?) but this week is sort of a horror show all its own. Did you ride a running back all the way to the finals? Well, his team may be in a comfortable enough place that not only is he sitting out, the whole offensive unit will be taking Sunday off to prepare for the actual playoffs. That means that the Todd Gurley you relied on to get you here is now officially less valuable than Mike Davis.  And for the guys who are injured to any degree? While they may have decided to play through certain injuries and difficulties in the first sixteen weeks, this may be the week they err on the side of caution.

My long point (and they always are long, aren't they? Sorry about that) is that we have effectively entered the fantasy upside down. The offensive players who were either disappointing or sidelined may be back this week with a big performance to win you your fantasy season, while the guy who brought you here is no longer your dance partner for a variety of strange, only-makes-sense-this-week reasons.

So double check your Eagles, who are locked in to their number one seed. Know your Jags and Chiefs are stuck in their spots, and what that means for each player and the invisible "how long will they play him for" clock. Remember the Rams have said they are sitting everyone already, so don't get cute and think that anyone other than backups will see any action here. And if you want to be extra paranoid, go through your roster and add in a Google alert just for this week to see if there's any last minute declarations of sitting out or potential injury. If you find you have lost any players this way, this column will help highlight backups and outside picks who may be a key player this week (this means this column will be only "add" guys, not benchings).

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Running Back Questions

Against all odds, should you take a look at ___________ now?

A: Derrick Henry
B: Leonard Fournette
C: Jerick McKinnon
D: James White

This is exactly the situation many players may be faced with going into this week. While so many of these guys are projected similar to each other, take a closer look here; Fournette and McKinnon are not working for teams who are hoping to change their playoff position with a win, and James White is injured and may be allowed to rest up for the postseason. Derrick Henry, meanwhile, is a potentially big-time offensive weapon, not competing for snaps with DeMarco Murray, and the Titans haven't had much luck through the air this season. This is a potentially huge Henry game, and who knows how long Jacksonville will make their prime run-stopping defenders stay out there (I'm guessing not long).

______ was born to run in Week 17 (and Week 17 only), so I'm rolling with him.

A: Akeem Hunt
B: Alfred Blue
C: Kyle Juszczyk
D: Kapri Bibbs

If you ignored the intro and just jumped here, you're probably wondering what fresh hell is this list of players, but odds are it's the remaining waiver players you're looking at this week. While it's tempting to take some of the guys who will be playing backup and just slot them in (Malcolm Brown, who isn't on this list, is someone I prefer to all these guys) you may have been beaten to the punch or are needing to makeup some ground. May I recommend Kyle Juszczyk? Juszczyk is seeing a bigger pass catching role with the 49ers since the Jimmy G era started a few weeks ago, and I'm also assuming that the Rams sit some key members of their defense in this game as well. Juszczyk's biggest knock is he hasn't seen more than five targets a game yet, but considering how many of those opportunities he's converted for decent yardage and how the 49ers are still looking for a win this week, I'm really tempted to play Juszczyk as a fill-in, especially in PPR leagues.


Wide Receiver Questions

______ is a great WR1 in a very weird week. 

A: Marquise Goodwin
B: JuJu Smith-Schuster
C: Jamison Crowder
D: Stefon Diggs

I've been so big on JuJu these last few weeks, it's caused me to overlook the very good weeks that Stefon Diggs is having. I've seen enough teams bench Diggs because he's not quite a WR2 since his drop off following his BYE, but it's well past time to put him back into your lineup wherever you can, especially as Minnesota does need to play well this week. Factor in the defense he's playing, and he's a WR1 in a week where many of your favorite receivers may just not be.

Desperate times call for a desperate use of ______.

A: Randall Cobb
B: Kenny Golladay
C: Keelan Cole
D: Kendall Wright

Comparative to running backs, the drop-off for receivers is much more abrupt, as these guys representing a small plateau above guys like Josh Reynolds or Geronimo Allison in terms of expected points this week. Keelan Cole isn't as totally owned as you might think, so if you've got a league where the waiver wire has gone quiet or there's an opportunity to grab him, absolutely take it. Cole violates my rule above about leaving guys on the bench who aren't competing for anything, but given Cole's usage uptick has been so recent, I'd be surprised if Cole wasn't used for the majority of the game just to ensure that he's ready for the playoffs. Cole's targets and yardage are nuts, so it's hard not to start him this week if you can somehow manage to get him.


Tight End Question

In Week 17, I have given up on ASJ and my new best friend is _________

A: Antonio Gates
B: Vance McDonald
C: Tyler Kroft
D: Ricky Seals-Jones

Father Time is still clearly chasing Antonio Gates, and so will the Raiders as Gates has seen a spark of potential filling in for the injured Hunter Henry. The Chargers absolutely have to win this game, so I wouldn't be shocked to see Rivers go with an end zone target that will make it feel like 2014 all over again. If you can get him, he's your guy in a week where you may still need some TE help.


More Week 17 Lineup Prep