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WEEK 17 PREPARATION
Congratulations to those of you who dominated the playoffs up to this point or squeaked through by the narrowest of margins. Several big names failed to come through for us in Week 16, including Brock Purdy, De'Von Achane, Alvin Kamara, Ken Walker III, Travis Etienne, Stefon Diggs, Jaylen Waddle, DJ Moore, Dalton Kincaid, Sam LaPorta, and that's just the short list. If you managed to navigate several roadblocks of poor play, congratulations because it was a minefield. You looked at bad luck in the face and said, "Is that all you got?" There will be some teams in the title game who stumbled in. To use a hockey/soccer analogy, a goal is still a goal even if it slowly rolls past the goalie. It takes skill to advance this far, but there's also a great deal of luck involved. Congratulations if you made it this far. A lot of strong teams will be watching from home without a team competing in Week 17. I summed up the fantasy playoffs with this tweet from last year, and it still applies.
Winning a Championship in Fantasy FootballðŸ†— Jeff Haseley (@JeffHaseley) December 27, 2022
â–ªï¸Get to the playoffs with a few strong players, consistent play, and good depth
â–ªï¸Take advantage of good matchups and fade tough ones
â–ªï¸Hope for good luck on your side and bad luck for your opponent
â–ªï¸Navigate the refs
For those of you who did make it...Week 17 is here. You survived. You're in the Finals. (Hopefully, the majority of you do not have a Week 18 Championship). Maybe you have a lot of money on the line. Or maybe just bragging rights among your family, friends, or co-workers. Either way, the goal is in sight. Here are a few thoughts on how you can take down your opponent and lift the trophy.
HISTORICALLY, HOME RUNNING BACKS ARE MORE PRODUCTIVE
Unless there's an injury to a big-name player, go with those who got you here. Home running backs are the ticket, especially later in the year. Jonathan Taylor (vs LSV), Rachaad White (vs NO), James Cook (vs NE), Saquon Barkley (vs LAR), Travis Etienne Jr. (vs CAR), D'Andre Swift (vs ARI), Tony Pollard (vs DET), Javonte Williams (vs LAC), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (vs CIN), Khalil Herbert (vs ATL), and Devin Singletary (vs TEN) all have home games this week.
LET'S NOT FORGET ABOUT MATCHUPS
Each of these teams allows at least 1 rushing touchdown per game to running backs this year: Carolina, Seattle, and Indianapolis, with an honorable mention for exploiting the Washington ground game.
Opponents for each
- Carolina at Jacksonville - Last week, the Panthers allowed 127 yards rushing to a now-healthy Aaron Jones. They have struggled all season to keep opposing running backs in check, especially in the red zone, as they allowed 18 rushing touchdowns to backs. Travis Etienne Jr. had one of the toughest playoff schedules, and his results showed it. If you made it this far and you roster Etienne, he is worth a start despite difficult games against Cleveland, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay to get to this point.
- Seattle vs Pittsburgh - The Seahawks have allowed 15 rushing touchdowns to running backs this year, including six in the last six games. This could prove to be a welcome matchup for the Steelers duo of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. Harris scored a touchdown last week and has five scores this season, while Warren is more of the team's receiving threat, catching 14 passes in the last three games with 52 receptions this season. Both are capable of double-digit PPR points in any given week.
- Indianapolis vs Las Vegas - Like Seattle, the Colts have allowed 15 rushing touchdowns to running backs in 15 games. The Colts have also allowed at least one running back to reach double-digit PPR points in every game since Week 3. Will Josh Jacobs (quad) be back for this game? If not, Zamir White has shown that he can be an adequate replacement with two straight fantasy-worthy games. One would expect the Raiders will exploit this weakness of the Colts, and either Jacobs or White will benefit greatly. Monitor the practice status for Jacobs this week. If he misses, White could be a league-winning play.
- Washington vs San Francisco - Washington has been a doormat for opposing running backs this season, especially recently. Going back to Week 7, Washington has allowed at least one 20-point PPR running back in seven of eight games. Christian McCaffrey is this week's lucky back, but the decision to play him is already a foregone conclusion. Those who advanced to the Championship with McCaffrey are sitting pretty. Those who did not advance with McCaffrey will be crying in their beer after this week.
Denver, Arizona, and the NY Giants also allow over 100 yards rushing per game to running backs.
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