It feels almost mean to pick out the worst fantasy performers of Week 17. A lot of these performances are from guys who were only active for part of the game, as teams for one reason or another decided to let off the gas. Still, some guys just plain played poorly. I'm callin' 'em all out. And I mean all -- with so many guys having low-scoring games for one reason or another, there's going to be a "dishonorable mention" category, in which I note the other guys who let fantasy owners down this week.
Here are the worst fantasy performances of Week 17:
Worst quarterbacks of Week 17
Kirk Cousins, WAS (169 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 1 lost fumble, 0 fantasy points)
There had to be a lot of people who decided to roll with Cousins as their fantasy quarterback after his 21-fantasy-point performance in Week 15. Those people didn't watch that Week 15 game, as Cousins looked straight-up bad down the stretch of that game, but regardless, he "rewarded" them with 10 combined fantasy points in those two games, and that was against the awful defenses of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. If the Redskins were trying to boost Cousins' trade value, it couldn't really have gone worse.
Next season: After these performances, it's hard to imagine Washington gets enough offered in trade to make it worthwhile to deal Cousins in the offseason. Best bet is he starts 2014 as backup to Robert Griffin III again, making him fantasy useless.
Matt Schaub, HOU (229 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble lost, 3 fantasy points)
Given one last chance to maybe re-earn some faith in Houston at the end of the season, Schaub instead went the other direction, continuing his downhill slide. In games where he performed enough to matter this season -- nine of them -- the quarterback put up 97 total fantasy points, with 65 of them coming in Weeks 1-4. In other words, in his five games after Week 4, he put up 32 total fantasy points. There's no way to phrase those numbers that doesn't come out as "Schaub is done as a starter."
Next season: Schaub's career probably isn't over, but his best hope is a reinvention as a Matt Hasselbeck-type backup, there as medium-quality insurance and/or guidance for a young quarterback. It's hard to picture anyone looking at Schaub's 2013 and saying "Yep, that's our starter."
Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF (166 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, 4 fantasy points)
It was an awful end of the season for Fitzpatrick. He put up 30 in Week 15, but put up eight in Week 14, nine in Week 16, and this four-point game in Week 17 to cap it off. He threw for fewer than 200 yards three times in the last four games. After looking competent enough to maybe work his way back into a starting job in 2014, this end-of-season performance might have everyone thinking the other way, especially as his bad games came against the normally generous defenses of Denver, Jacksonville and Houston.
Next season: If Fitzpatrick does have a starting job in 2014, it'll probably be in Tennessee as the Titans groom whatever young quarterback they add this offseason. Regardless, he can't be used in fantasy as a starter, even in two-QB leagues.
Worst running backs in Week 17
Frank Gore, SF (14 rushing yards, 1 fantasy points)
With the team's playoff spot basically locked up (especially as they saw Seattle pulling comfortably ahead), and facing the toughest run defense in football, the 49ers gave Gore much of the day off, and the running back had his fewest overall touches since Week 2. He was limited to 1.1 yards per carry on the game, and considering he had one carry for 8 yards, he was held to 6 yards on his other 12. The problem, though, is that there hadn't been much rumor of a Gore shutdown, so his owners likely threw him out there in Week 17, and were met with disaster.
Next season: Gore will be 31 by the time the 2014 season starts, with more than 2,500 career touches under his belt. He didn't show much in the way of a fade this season, but he only has so many touches left, you'd have to think. Gore will likely be drafted as an RB2 next year, but it'll be a very risky pick.
Rashad Jennings, OAK (9 rushing yards, 8 receiving yards, 0 fantasy points)
Darren McFadden, OAK (6 rushing yards, 15 receiving yards, 1 fantasy point)
The Broncos jumped out to a huge early lead on the Raiders, rendering the team's running backs largely moot; the team only attempted 20 runs in the game, with quarterback Terrelle Pryor getting nine of them. When McFadden returned from injury in Week 16, he robbed Jennings of the fantasy value he had gained. After averaging almost 17 fantasy points a game in Weeks 9-15 (not counting the game he missed to injury), Jennings put up only six points combined in the last two weeks. Problem is, McFadden only put up seven in the same time. Nothing worked.
Next season: If both guys are somehow in Oakland again in 2014, neither will be trustworthy as more than a flex play. On the other hand, if either guy (particularly Jennings, who at least has a bit more of a history of health) can become a team's clear No. 1, he'll be an easy RB2.
Chris Ivory, NYJ (19 rushing yards, 1 fantasy point)
Ivory at least has an excuse, as he left the game with cracked ribs and a hip pointer, according to reports. Still, after 10-plus points in two of three games leading up to Sunday, a one-point performance had to be devastating. Once Ivory got on the field regularly in the season (basically Week 7 on), he averaged 8.5 fantasy points per game, which is a decent number for a running back who had been a career backup entering 2013.
Next season: Ivory seems like a great No. 2 running back, filling in for a stud. As a team's top option, though, Ivory's game has too many holes. He is a black hole in the passing game (two catches in 2013, five for his career) and gets injured too often to be someone's No. 1.
Worst wide receivers in Week 17
Danny Amendola, NE (9 receiving yards, 0 fantasy points)
Nope, no idea what happened here. Amendola caught 10 passes for 131 yards in Week 15, and looked like he was starting to click with Tom Brady. So of course he fell to three combined catches in Weeks 16 and 17, registering as a total non-factor in the Patriots' season-closing win over the Bills. What Patriots fans and fantasy owners thought Amendola would be this season, Julian Edelman was.
Next season: How can you put any faith in Amendola after this season? He'll have to be drafted in all leagues, but it's hard to imagine he starts the season as a fantasy starter. More likely he is a fantasy backup who has to prove himself again.
Torrey Smith, BAL (27 receiving yards, 2 fantasy points)
Smith came into this week with a hamstring injury that limited him in practice, but still, once he was out there, fantasy owners had to think he would do better than this. The wide receiver was targeted seven times, but ultimately barely factored into the Ravens' sputtering offense in their season-ending loss. He finishes the season among the low 20s among wide receivers, though he put up only 17 fantasy points in his last four games combined.
Next season: Smith is a deep-ball maven who would do much better to have a possession receiver as a running mate. That was supposed to be tight end Dennis Pitta this season, only for Pitta to spend most of the year hurt. If Pitta can be healthy for 2014 -- or if Baltimore brings someone in -- Smith's value could jump.
Andre Johnson, HOU (49 receiving yards, 4 fantasy points)
So Johnson just disappeared down the stretch. There are only so many ways to phrase this, but the receiver was one of the best in the league for six weeks from Week 9 to Week 14, then vanished. He caught only 14 passes for 130 yards and 11 fantasy points in Weeks 15-17 combined. It's a disappointing individual end to a disappointing team season.
Next season: Johnson will be 33 by the start of next season, but he put up more than 1,400 yards and five scores on the season (though all five scores came in a two-game span in Weeks 9-10). Johnson is a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 for 2014.
Worst tight ends in Week 17
Martellus Bennett, CHI (15 receiving yards, 1 fantasy point)
I've been pounding this drum for weeks, but if you ignore Weeks 1 and 2, Bennett was an awful fantasy tight end this season. He averaged 4.8 fantasy points a game in that span, barely ahead of Brandon Myers. Of his five touchdowns on the season, three came in the first two games, and another was his only catch of the game in Week 7. If you've been starting Bennett all season, you haven't been paying enough attention.
Next season: With Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffery in the fold for Chicago, Bennett will likely return, but it's hard to imagine he'll do enough to be more than an afterthought in fantasy.
Coby Fleener, IND (25 receiving yards, 2 fantasy points)
You guys, I think Fleener might actually be subpar. He had a couple moments early in the season, but had 10 fantasy points total in the last five games. He had six different games this season of zero or one fantasy point, and couldn't even get anything going Sunday against a Jaguars team that has really struggled against tight ends.
Next season: Stay away from Fleener as a starter in 2014. For a while, it looked like he had maybe proven himself, but after this awful season-ending stretch, he'll have to prove himself once more before anyone can put any faith in his performance going forward.
Julius Thomas, DEN (36 receiving yards, 3 fantasy points)
Thomas was something of a victim of the team's big halftime lead, as he had only one target in the second half. But while teammates Knowshon Moreno, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker at least got something together in the first half, Thomas didn't get anything going. He only had one big day in the season's last six weeks, losing two games to injury, but still finishes the year as fantasy's No. 3 tight end.
Next season: Will Thomas still be in Denver? Will Peyton Manning? So he'll be fine.
Worst defense/special teams in Week 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (42 points allowed, -7 fantasy points)
So this is what it's like to face the New Orleans Saints in a win-and-in game in New Orleans. Must be rough. The Bucs entered Week 17 as fantasy's No. 9 defense, but put up their worst score of the season by a full six points. A rough ending for the team, but it's hard to imagine many defenses shutting the Saints down the way they played Sunday.