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Week 17 IDP Start Em, Sit Em - Streamers and Fades for Fantasy Football Defensive Players

As we enter the final week of fantasy football for most, it’s worth remembering IDP managers should give serious thought to what their team specifically needs. Our rankings are generalized. They consider a variety of factors, including balancing different scoring standards and taking both floor and upside into account. This is important to know, because our balanced system doesn’t always address your specific need in a given week. Particularly in the case of defensive players, each manager's fantasy need can be unique.

While all projections are flawed and inconsistent, smart managers can get a good idea of the odds they face just by looking at their opponent. If you’re going against a fantasy team stacked with Justin Jefferson, Joe Burrow, Travis Kelce, Saquon Barkley, Chris Godwin, and others, you may have to take some risks to keep up. That may mean playing a rookie like Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux, who have elite matchups but abysmal floors this week, over a safer player with a bad matchup.

However, if you’re the one with a stacked roster, you should go with safer defenders. If you can, stick with steady names like Brian Burns or Danielle Hunter instead of chasing upside. Just because I rank Josh Uche a tad higher than Burns due to matchup and upside, doesn't mean Uche is the better play for you. In fact, most people who have made it this far and have a good shot to win should probably value usage and consistency over upside. The upside play is for greedy gamblers like me, and those favored to lose heavily.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Injury Report Situations Worth Monitoring

Joey Bosa, DL, Los Angeles Chargers

Beat reporters are suggesting Bosa could return to practice this week, which would offer him an outside shot at playing against the Rams. It's a long shot, and there's a strong possibility he'd be on a snap count if he plays. However, the Rams are an elite matchup, and Bosa is an elite player readily available on waivers. If you need a boom from your DL to have a shot in the fantasy championship, he's worth stashing until the weekend.

Ryan Jensen, C, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I know, this is an offensive player on an IDP list. Just remember Jensen is one of the better blockers for the Bucs, and he's been activated off IR. While it's unlikely he will return before the playoffs, it is possible. If he does, that could impact the fantasy value of Derrick Brown this week or Grady Jarrett in Week 18.

Jack Jones, CB, New England Patriots

Jones is considered questionable to start for the Patriots this week after going down in Week 14 and missing the past two games. Why is this relevant? Well, Marcus Jones has become a fantasy superstar as a replacement for Jack.

Marcus’ playing time more than doubled once Jack went out, and those three games mark the only time Marcus has been truly fantasy relevant. Now, Marcus has been good enough to earn more playing time and a starting role. However, you can’t feel confident letting your fantasy title rest on the whims of Bill Belichick, which will never be known before a game. If Jack Jones plays, you have to worry about Marcus Jones’ fantasy floor.

Pete Werner, LB, New Orleans Saints

Werner has been on and off the Saints' injury list multiple times over the past eight weeks. This past weekend he was a surprising scratch. Now we have to wonder if New Orleans will shut Werner down for maintenance, with Vegas bookmakers giving them just a 3% chance to make the playoffs. If Werner sits, Kaden Elliss immediately returns to LB2 status, which is where we are projecting him in this week's rankings.

Xavier McKinney, DB, New York Giants

The Giants expect McKinney's status to stay the same this week, meaning he's not likely to play in Week 17. However, there is considerable buzz about him returning for the season's final week. If your league plays in Week 18, he's worth keeping in mind as a deep streamer option who could also impact the production of Julian Love.


Casual IDP Streamers and Fades for This Week

Stream: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DL, New York Giants

Kayvon Thibodeaux has recently proven himself a steady provider of tackles, registering at least five in three of his past four games. While his pressure rate and sack production are still lacking, the upside for a multi-sack game will always be there with the former Duck.

Thibodeaux's matchup this week is primo as well, with the Colts surrendering the second most sacks on the season while sporting the fourth-worst Adjusted Sack Rate. Even better, they just surrendered seven quarterback takedowns in Nick Foles' first start. Consider the rookie pass rusher a flyer with high upside if you need a big boom from your DL in the fantasy championship.

Stream: Dre Greenlaw, LB, San Francisco 49ers

I had something all drawn up explaining that Derek Carr leads the NFL in interceptions and has a proclivity for throwing across the middle. I was also going to mention that no quarterback with eight or more starts has a higher interception rate than Carr. I even wanted to talk about how Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller’s returns were a plus for opposing LBs. Some of those factors remain relevant, even with Carr benched and Jarrett Stidham tabbed to start, though.

Stidham has just 116 snaps in the NFL. When he’s played, his ball placement has been inconsistent. Those facts suggest the Raiders will try to establish the run early against San Francisco. That strategy is unlikely to work against the best run D in the game, but the early attempts will be good for Greenlaw. Once Las Vegas airs it out, expect many conservative throws to Renfrow and Waller, who will draw coverage from the athletic 49er linebackers.

Fade: Josh Allen… and Most Other Jaguars Defenders

This week matters very little for the Jaguars and the Titans. Both teams' playoff hopes will be decided in their Week 18 matchup. That's why the Titans have already declared Jeffery Simmons, Zach Cunningham, and several other starters as out while labeling Derrick Henry as doubtful. By Thursday, we expect even more Titans to be out or on a snap count, and we expect the Jags to follow suit.

For now, you are starting your studs in this contest, including Foyesade Oluokun and Rayshawn Jenkins. That said, you have to strongly consider benching Allen based on his lack of production and the threat he sits for part of this game. You also have to consider whether you have viable alternatives to Jenkins or Oluokun since both could be rested halfway through Sunday. Getting ¾ of a game from a player in your fantasy championship can be a death sentence.

Exercise Caution With: Micah Parsons, DL/LB, Dallas Cowboys

Micah Parsons is obviously an elite talent, despite waning fantasy production the past few weeks. He also has an elite matchup against a Titans team with one of the worst offensive lines in the league, and they are likely to be without Derrick Henry. On paper that should add up to a multi-sack game for Parsons, who could be chasing Malik Willis on nearly every play.

While that good stuff has Parsons atop our DL rankings this week, there is a significant reason for concern. Currently, Parsons is listed as questionable, and there is a growing sentiment amongst Dallas beat writers that both Parsons and Tony Pollard could be held out as a precaution in this game. Dallas doesn't need this win, yet one should come easily without the help of Parsons or Pollard. The team Tennessee plans to field on Thursday is simply that bad.

We caution that you keep a close eye on Cowboys reporting through Thursday evening. If there's even a whiff that Parsons will be on a snap count or playing "injured," consider whether you have safer options in a shallow league. You cannot afford the Penn State alum playing a quarter or less of football this week.


Premium Scoring & Deep League Streamers and Fades for This Week

Stream: Robert Spillane, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin has always spoken fondly of Spillane, and now the Western Michigan product is getting another chance to see real snaps with multiple Steelers linebackers struggling with injuries. Against Las Vegas, Spillane replaced Myles Jack in nickel packages and was also used as the team's dime linebacker. That usage led to double-digit tackles. If Spillane's usage keeps up, he could return high-end production against the Ravens.

Stream: Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys

The Titans were adding up to be a poor matchup for Diggs, as we expected Tennessee to control the clock with Derrick Henry and deploy their typically low pass volume with Malik Willis at the helm. However, Henry was just labeled as doubtful, changing our expectations drastically.

While the probability of the Titans keeping this game close was always low, the possibility was there with Henry. With their star running back and possibly half of their starting lineup sitting out, the Titans may have no option but to throw often. If you’ve watched Willis throw so far, you know that is a good thing for an opposing secondary. Don’t be surprised if Willis tosses 30+ passes for the first time in his NFL career, and Diggs should catch one of them.

Fade: Stephon Gilmore, CB, Indianapolis Colts

Daniel Jones has the lowest interception total amongst quarterbacks with 12 or more starts this season. He also has the lowest interception rate amongst starting QBs with more than eight games played. Jones also runs the sixth-lowest volume passing attack in the NFL, with no clear #1 receiver in their ranks. That is not good news for Gilmore or any other member of the Colts' secondary in need of a big play or volume this week.


Defensive Tackles to Consider for This Week

Greg Gaines, DT, Los Angeles Rams

No starting tandem of guards has surrendered more sacks in the NFL than those on the Chargers. What's worse, the Chargers' starting guards have given up the fifth and sixth most quarterback pressures amongst all interior blockers in the league. Gaines has been playing significant snaps and has a plus matchup this week.

Jarran Reed, DT, Green Bay Packers

Reed is coming off one of his best games of the year, but that's not why we are high on him this week. No, we like Reed because he spends 93% of his time lined up over either guard position. That's good because the Vikings' starting guards have given up the most (Ed Ingram) and the third most (Ezra Cleveland) quarterback pressures amongst all interior linemen this year.


Cornerbacks to Consider for This Week

Deommodore Lenoir, CB, San Francisco 49ers

While we originally selected Lenoir as a streamer with Derek Carr in mind, we still like the 49ers’ corner with Stidham as the starter. San Francisco isn't a team the Raiders should be able to ground the ball against, meaning the inexperienced passer from Auburn will likely have to air it out. Lenoir should see plenty of action against Davante Adams on the outside and several shots at a turnover.

A.J. Terrell, DB, Atlanta Falcons

Due to injuries and a lack of production, Terrell has fallen off the fantasy radar of late. With zero sacks, zero interceptions, and no forced fumbles all season, Terrell isn't even a guaranteed CB2 right now. That's especially true when you consider he has just eight PDs all year and he hasn’t totaled four tackles since Week 11. Overall, Terrell has been a terrible disappointment as a fantasy CB.

Despite his poor fantasy output this year, Clemson's shutdown corner qualifies as a streamer thanks to a plus matchup. Terrell is expected to shadow DeAndre Hopkins, who receives double-digit targets regardless of who is under center. Hopkins lines up wide 76% of the time this season, and Terrell should follow him on nearly all of those snaps. With Arizona fielding a backup QB who regularly tosses Hopkins jump balls, the Falcons' star corner could finally nab a turnover.


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