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Fantasy football start/sit advice, Week 17

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The season comes to a close this weekend for all leagues. We break down the fantasy implications.

Gregory Shamus

Most leagues in the modern fantasy era wrap things up in Week 16. If your championship takes place this weekend, though, don't worry. We're still here to give you a few tips before your final matchup.

Last weekend, the studs delivered for a lot of owners in championships. The Broncos single-handedly saved the day in some leagues, as Peyton Manning threw four touchdowns to Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. LeSean McCoy went off, Jamaal Charles was his usual self and Zac Stacy found the end zone once again.

While owners were fortunate to avoid any major injuries in Week 16, running leagues through the final week of the season poses the threat of teams benching their starters. You'll see a few names below who won't be playing regular snaps on Sunday. Take a look at our final start/sit advice of 2013.



Jay Cutler (vs. Packers): Last week was forgettable for the Bears' offense, but they're sticking with Cutler is a must-win matchup against the Packers. Green Bay has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in each of its last four games, and it ranks No. 26 overall against quarterbacks from a fantasy perspective. You can feel good about rolling with Cutler to end the year.

Andrew Luck (vs. Jaguars): Luck has thrown at least two touchdowns in every game he's played against Jacksonville. Considering the Colts are still battling for playoff position, he should be throwing often once again in Week 17.

Philip Rivers (vs. Chiefs): His last game against Kansas City was one of his best performances of the season. Recall that 392-yard, three-touchdown outing with no turnovers? Now the Chiefs appear to be planning on resting some of their starters, which makes the matchup even more enticing for Rivers.

Running back

Andrew Brown (vs. Redskins): Washington doesn't appear capable of stopping any ground game right now. The Redskins have allowed four running backs in a row to reach the double-digit point range, giving up seven touchdowns to the position over the last four games. Brown scored twice in his last meeting. Start him with confidence.

Rashad Jennings (vs. Broncos): Despite the decrease in touches last week, Jennings should still be considered as a flex play at the very least. He's playing like the superior runner in the Raiders backfield, and the Broncos rank No. 25 in points allowed to the position.

Chris Ivory (at Dolphins): Miami was just gashed by Buffalo's run game, allowing 195 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Ivory topped 100 yards last week, and he should see close to 20 touches again facing a poor run defense. Flex appeal.

Wide receiver

Jordy Nelson/James Jones (at Bears): Aaron Rodgers is back. This is a must-win game for the Packers. We don't need to tell you anything else. Nelson is a top-10 receiver with Rodgers under center, and Jones posted several huge games prior to his starting quarterback going down in Week 9. Start both with confidence.

Julian Edelman (vs. Bills): For some reason fantasy owners continue to question Edelman's value every week. Simply point them in the direction of his stats over the past five games (44 receptions), and they should relax. Edelman is a go-to target with Gronk out of the picture. He also scored two touchdowns against the Bills back in Week 1.

Jerrel Jernigan (vs. Redskins): Jernigan has 20 targets in his last two games. With Victor Cruz out last week, he stepped up with six catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. Washington ranks No. 22 in the league in pass defense, so he'll likely continue his solid production with New York's top receiver sidelined.

Tight end

Delanie Walker (vs. Texans): Houston has allowed nine touchdowns to tight ends (one to Walker) this season. After seeing Julius Thomas and the Broncos tight ends cause nightmare matchup issues for the Texans, it's time to trust in Walker again.

Greg Olsen (at Falcons): Olsen hasn't scored since Week 12. Fortunately for his owners, he's playing his favorite opponent for the final regular-season game. Olsen found the end zone in each of his last four games against the Falcons, dating back to 2011. Atlanta kept Vernon Davis quiet, but tight ends have scored 10 touchdowns against this team. There's a good chance Olsen breaks his scoring drought.

Joseph Fauria (at Vikings): With Brandon Pettigrew out, Fauria played 73 percent of the offensive snaps for the Lions in Week 16. The Vikings have given up four touchdowns to tight ends in the last three games, and let's not forget the rookie scored his first NFL touchdown against Minnesota in Week 1. He's worth a flier if you're hurting at tight end.



Matt Ryan (vs. Panthers): The Panthers have one game on their 2013 record where they allowed more than a single passing touchdown, which came against Drew Brees at the Superdome. Aside from that, this defense has been stellar overall. Ryan is stepping up as of late with the emergence of a healthy Roddy White, but he's not to be trusted against a defense that just held Brees to 10 fantasy points.

Carson Palmer (vs. 49ers): Well, his fantasy value plummeted quickly. Palmer is dealing with an array of injuries, including what's being called a "low-grade high-ankle sprain." He has three touchdowns and four picks in the last three games. San Francisco didn't look too stout against the pass on Monday night, but you can't take the risk with a less than 100 percent Palmer in the championship.

Kyle Orton (vs. Eagles): Philadelphia possesses one of the worst secondaries in football, and in no way should that make you want to start Orton this week. Last week everyone was excited about Kirk Cousins playing Dallas' last-ranked secondary. We saw how that panned out. Don't look to this spot start in your championship.

Running back

Frank Gore (at Cardinals): Gore is looking better down the stretch in 2013. Why sit him now? To start, Arizona has the top-ranked run defense in fantasy, allowing a single touchdown to running backs over the last five games. Adding to that, the 49ers need a win and a loss from the Seahawks to jump to the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. Seattle is unlikely to falter at home against St. Louis, so it would make sense to see Gore, who continues to battle an ankle injury, held back a bit.

Lamar Miller (vs. Jets): The Dolphins are inconsistent with his usage, and he's been awful when he sees an uptick in carries. The Jets have allowed three touchdowns in three weeks to running backs. Ready to start Miller now? You shouldn't be. All owners need to keep him on the bench, again.

Jamaal Charles (at Chargers): Here's another reason why fantasy championships are best reserved for Week 16. The Chiefs are planning on giving Charles a series or two and then sitting him the rest of the game. While it's entirely possible he scores on both series, given the way he's playing right now, you can't start Charles here.

Wide receiver

Torrey Smith (at Bengals): It's been another roller coaster year for Smith, and the last three weeks have been entirely downhill. Owners can look at the fact that he scored a touchdown in his last outing against Cincinnati and feel hopeful about a repeat. After the Ravens poor showing against the Patriots, though, starting Smith is a risky move at this juncture.

Dwayne Bowe (at Chargers): Another Chiefs starter heading toward limited snaps, or possibly an inactive status for Week 17. Bowe is on the injury report with a concussion, currently listed as questionable. There's no reason for him to play on Sunday. If he is listed as active, avoid this situation.

Harry Douglas (vs. Panthers): Might as well continue the Falcons theme on the sit list. Douglas filled in nicely after Julio Jones landed on IR. But that impressive stint drew to a close weeks ago. He hasn't topped 50 yards receiving since Week 13. Now he faces a Panthers secondary that ranks No. 3 in points allowed to opposing wideouts. Start Roddy White, avoid Douglas.

Tight end

Antonio Gates (vs. Chiefs): Gates hasn't scored or topped 50 yards receiving since Week 11. The Chiefs are the toughest team against tight ends. You might consider Gates with the talk of Kansas City sitting starters, but it's another risk you should probably avoid in the championship.

Dennis Pitta (at Bengals): Piggybacking off the Torrey Smith comments, Pitta is struggling to find consistency as well after his 48-yard, one touchdown return to action.  He has six catches in the last two games. The Bengals rank No. 5 in fewest points allowed to tight ends.

Heath Miller (vs. Browns): The veteran tight end caught five passes for 41 yards in his last meeting with Cleveland. That's about par for the course in 2013. He hasn't scored since Week 7 and consistently appears on our sit list. This week is no different.

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