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Week 17 Watch List: Fantasy Football Auditions for 2020?


If you're lucky enough to play in a reasonable league that does not schedule its championship during Week 17, then you obviously don't have to worry about players' fantasy impact for the rest of this year. However, you should now be in advanced scouting mode. This is especially true if you are a dynasty or keeper league owner. You may no longer have to set lineups for this week, but you should be watching the games carefully to see which players could get a chance to shine next year and beyond.

Playoff bound teams who choose to rest their starters will give backups and young players a longer look. Teams who have nothing to play for may also choose to get some younger guys into the mix to see how they operate in "real" game conditions. The games may not count for anything, but the front office and coaches will want to see how those background players have developed by this point of the season.

Here are some players to watch in Week 17 with an eye toward the 2020 season and maybe even beyond. You should not necessarily be starting these players if you do have your championship matchup this week, but you should monitor their performances for next season. You will see a lot of rookies on this list, but some players with longer service records may still have to audition for their spots on rosters.

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Running Back Watch List

Qadree Ollison, ATL: He has been utilized as a frequent goal line specialist in recent weeks, and the Falcons could start giving him more reps outside the red zone in the season finale. Ollison may at least be part of a timeshare in Atlanta as soon as next season.

Justice Hill, BAL: He is versatile and speedy, and could be used more heavily as part of a true timeshare in the future. The Ravens already know what they have in Gus Edwards and want to see more of Hill in an expanded role.

Ryquell Armstead, JAC: Leonard Fournette managed to stay healthy and on the field to this point, but there is not much incentive to use him too much in the Jaguars’ season finale as they've been eliminated from playoff contention. Fournette also popped up on the injury report with a neck issue, so it makes a lot of sense to see whether Armstead is the right insurance policy for Fournette should the stud RB get injured any time next season.

Darwin Thompson, KC: If the Patriots get a big lead on the Dolphins, the Chiefs may start to pull some of their veterans out of a game that could become meaningless for playoff seeding. Maybe Andy Reid tries to get Thompson into a rhythm by feeding him regular carries. It would be very interesting to see how the preseason hero fares with consistent touches if he gets them in the second half.

Travis Homer, SEA: He will be playing in a meaningful game, and Homer will have to take on an important role this week and possibly beyond. He showed some versatility last week with a 17-yard run and six receptions against Arizona. He could operate in a timeshare with Marshawn Lynch for the time being, and the injury outlooks for Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are unclear for next season, making Homer worth a glance.

 

Wide Receiver Watch List

Miles Boykin, BAL: The Ravens would ideally like to see Boykin develop as a big target to complement Marquise Brown. He rarely took advantage of his opportunities to seize a prominent role in a Baltimore passing game that still needs someone else to step forward at WR. A quality finish to the season could generate a confidence boost heading into the playoffs and for next year.

Riley Ridley, CHI: He has only caught three passes this season and has been buried on Chicago’s depth chart. But this appears to be an ideal week to see how Ridley has progressed, and gauge his comfort level with the system and schemes. Still, he faces a tough road to fantasy relevance as he may be no better than the third WR for the Bears next year.

John Ross, CIN: The third-year receiver has been frustratingly quiet since he returned to action in Week 14. But this could be the week the Bengals try to re-establish Ross' early-season form and boost his confidence heading into the offseason. A healthy Ross should have some later-round fantasy draft appeal in 2020.

Daesean Hamilton, DEN: Hamilton caught six passes for 65 yards and a TD in Week 16. Another quality outing this week could start to stir some buzz about his fantasy potential for 2020. It appears likely he will be working with Drew Lock again next season, so to see the two of them finish 2019 with a strong connection could raise Hamilton’s stock for next season.

 

Quarterback Watch List

Tyrod Taylor, LAC: The only lower-tier QB worth looking at this week is Taylor. Even though this could be Philip Rivers’ last game as a Charger, Taylor could get a chance to stick around and compete for the starting job next season. He may get some reps so the Chargers can see what he looks like in game conditions. He is a dual threat who would have some limited fantasy appeal if he gets a chance to start in 2020.

 

Tight End Watch List

O.J. Howard, TB: He was one of the biggest disappointments of the 2019 season. But the talent is undeniable, and the Buccaneers have been struck hard by injuries to their prime receivers. A strong finish could stir a little optimism for a rebound season in 2020.

Jonnu Smith, TEN: Smith has started to re-emerge as a key target for Ryan Tannehill recently and if he comes through in a game of major importance for the Titans, that can only boost his draft stock for 2020. Dynasty league owners will also feel better about his outlook if he plays well this week. Smith appears to be on the verge of becoming a regular fantasy starter for the 2020 season, and he can only create more optimism about his prospects for next year with a quality outing in a big Week 17 for the Titans.

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