Top Week 17 fantasy football matchups: Eli's birthday bash

Through 16 weeks, our Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed tool has become a strong tool to identify good matchups. How many of you are still playing? We're not sure, but if you are, we're here to help.

As always, please remember that the players listed are mostly meant to be borderline guys, who need reasons for you to play or bench them. You won't see recommendations to start Rob Gronkowski and Odell Beckham Jr., because you should always start Gronk and OBJ. If a player is close to the start/sit fence, we'll push him one way or the other.

Also, please remember that the Redskins are the one team that almost literally has nothing to play for this week. Head coach Jay Gruden says he wants to end the season with another win, but I wouldn't trust any Redskins in fantasy lineups.

Note: The fantasy points per game (FPPG) referenced below are from standard leagues.


Stay away: Derek Carr, Raiders (at Chiefs)

The Chiefs are on fire, but you knew that. They also rank fifth with just 14.4 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Carr has struggled lately, completing 58 of 114 passes (50.9 percent) for 615 yards and three interceptions over his last three games.


Philip Rivers visits a Bronco defense that still leads the league with 12.1 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Rivers' depleted receiving corps won't strike any fear into the Broncos, either.

Play, play, play: Eli Manning, Giants (vs. Eagles)

Let's not be too down on Eli after last week, since he clearly needs Odell Beckham Jr. to put up good numbers - he's still QB8 for the season, you know. With OBJ back, look for the birthday boy (Eli turns 35 Sunday) to finish the season strongly versus an Eagles' defense that ranks 29th with 20 FPPG allowed to opposing passers. Chip Kelly might have gotten fired, but Philly's players are still the same.


Attack the Saints, attack the Saints, attack the Saints ... it's Matt Ryan's turn against a pitiful unit that has given up 23.3 FPPG to quarterbacks. The Saints' D has been every fantasy analyst's best friend in 2015, because we always know they're going to get torched. Thanks, guys!

Running backs

Stay away: Isaiah Crowell, Browns (vs. Steelers)

The Browns have re-committed to the run lately, running Crowell 45 times for 256 yards and three touchdowns over the last three games. I'm a Crowell fan, but I don't like his matchup with a stiff Steeler defense that ranks third with 14 FPPG allowed to opposing runners.


The Seahawks rotated Christine Michael and Bryce Brown for much of Sunday's game against the Rams, and used receiving back Fred Jackson quite a bit when they were down late in the contest. You want to use one of these guys against a Cardinals' defense that ranks fifth with 15 FPPG allowed to opposing backs and is playing for a shot at the NFC's top seed? Come on.

Play, play, play: Rashad Jennings, Giants (vs. Eagles)

After displaying a dormant running game for most of the season, the Giants have looked better lately, with Jennings rushing 52 times for 262 yards over the last three weeks. Jennings will close out the campaign against an Eagles' team that ranks 26th with 20.9 FPPG allowed to opposing running backs. He's a top-15 RB play.

Wide receivers

Stay away: Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos (vs. Chargers)

Sanders has caught TD passes in each of his last two games, but his target count over the last three weeks has been an inconsistent 6-16-5, and he had less than 20 receiving yards in Weeks 13 and 14. I don't hate Sanders in Week 17, but I'm skeptical of his chances to succeed against a Chargers' defense that ranks fifth with 18.4 FPPG allowed to opposing wideouts. Part of Sanders' chances for fantasy success depends on the injury status of Chargers CB Jason Verrett, who injured a hamstring in Week 16.

Play, play, play: Jordan Matthews, Eagles (vs. Giants)

Matthews has surpassed 100 yards receiving in two straight games, and has scored in four of his last five. Sure, he's been a garbage time hero, but he'll finish 2015 in a solid spot against a Giants' defense that ranks dead last in the NFL with 297.9 passing yards per game allowed and 17th with 23.8 FPPG to opposing wide receivers.


Travis Benjamin has had an up-and-down season, but he did catch a late TD pass from Austin Davis against the Ravens in Week 12, and Davis will be back under center for the Browns this week. The Steelers have struggled against the pass, ranking 31st with 27.8 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers. This might be a blowout, but that doesn't make Benjamin a terrible play. He's flexy at WR31 on my board, but you'll need to keep an eye on the status of his injured ankle.

Tight ends

Play, play, play: Zach Ertz, Eagles (vs. Giants)

All of a sudden, Ertz has become a target monster, getting 30 looks over the last two weeks and converting them into a 21-200-1 line. WHY DIDN'T YOU USE ERTZ LIKE THIS ALL YEAR, CHIP KELLY? Anyway, Ertz is a must start against a Giants' defense that ranks 31st with 10.9 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends. Since the Saints really shouldn't count because they're so awful, let's just say the Giants rank last.


Speaking of the Saints, Falcons TE Jacob Tamme gets them this week. Assuming that Julio Jones won't catch 30 passes for 450 yards and six TDs, Tamme should get some of Matt Ryan's attention, and is a decent streaming alternative for Jordan Reed owners despite not surpassing 30 receiving yards since Week 12.