Fantasy Football: Identifying the Week 17 players that led managers to championships

Once again, Najee Harris was a force in a fantasy championship week. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins @ Baltimore Ravens

  • Lamar Jackson sealed up the MVP award by going 12-for-14 for 255 yards (18.2 YPA!) with a 3:0 TD:INT ratio (and 25 rushing yards) in the first half, and his fourth touchdown pass came during his first attempt of the second. Jackson was the top QB this week during his best fantasy performance of the season, also posting an EPA/play in the 100th percentile and a completion percentage over expectation (+23.6) in the 99th. He finished with five TD passes, as Baltimore scored a season-high 56 points while locking up the AFC’s No. 1 seed.

  • Zay Flowers caught a long touchdown and racked up 103 receiving yards, while Isaiah Likely pulled down two scores. Both saw just three targets apiece.

  • Gus Edwards and Justice Hill both scored, with the former dominating the carries and the latter the passing-down work. J.K. Dobbins would have definitely finished as a top-five fantasy back if health cooperated.

  • Rashod Bateman couldn’t secure a long catch early after suffering a bad drop Monday night. Maybe injuries are to blame, but his massively disappointing season looks even worse when considering his QB will win MVP.

  • Tyler Huntley threw a touchdown during his lone attempt and also posted a perfect Passer Rating, proving Jackson is a system quarterback (says the guy who’s ripping up his 45/1 Brock Purdy MVP ticket through tears).

  • The depleted Dolphins offense struggled after an easy opening-drive TD, with Tua Tagovailoa posting his second-lowest YPA (6.2) of the season. Tagovailoa faced a Baltimore defense allowing the fewest points per game and the second-fewest yards per game since acquiring Roquan Smith last year, while Tyreek Hill dropped his easiest potential touchdown of the season in the end zone. Tagovailoa left with a shoulder injury, and his status will be key during Week 18’s matchup with Buffalo for the AFC title.

  • De’Von Achane took advantage of Raheem Mostert’s absence, totaling 137 yards with a score. The rookie was a top-10 fantasy RB this week and is averaging 8.0 YPC on the season. Achane is clearly the biggest wild card during 2024 fantasy drafts.

Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles

  • Jalen Hurts threw three touchdowns and posted a CPOE (+17.7) in the 97th percentile but failed to run in a score for just the second time over his last eight games. Hurts attempted only 23 passes during Arizona’s upset win, as Philadelphia possessed the ball just 20 minutes Sunday (thanks to the Cardinals rushing for 221 yards and a 99-yard pick-six by the Eagles).

  • D’Andre Swift had just five carries for 16 yards at halftime and finished with only one target during a hugely disappointing performance in the fantasy championship. Arizona had allowed the most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to running backs over the last five weeks by a significant margin, and the Eagles entered double-digit home favorites.

  • Julio Jones caught two TDs in the first half but finished with just two targets. He could be looking at an expanded role moving forward with DeVonta Smith now injured and in a walking boot.

  • After setting an NFL record with six straight games with 125+ receiving yards, A.J. Brown has averaged just 63.5 yards over his last eight.

  • James Conner made a sick one-handed TD catch and ran in the late game-winning score (replays later showed his knee may have been down just before crossing the end zone). Conner rushed for the second-most yards (128) this week and turned in his best fantasy performance of the season against an Eagles defense that entered allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this year.

  • Kyler Murray also had his best fantasy game of the season, throwing three touchdowns Sunday. Philadelphia has now ceded the second-most passing scores (34) in the league, just one fewer than Washington. The Cardinals dropped out of the top three in next year’s draft with the win, as Murray may have prolonged his stay in Arizona (while costing him Marvin Harrison Jr.).

  • The Eagles have been outscored 30-0 in the third quarter over the last two games, as Jonathan Gannon won during his homecoming.

Los Angeles Rams @ New York Giants

  • Kyren Williams ran for three touchdowns while finishing as this week’s top fantasy back. He’s been a top-10 RB in five of six weeks since returning from injury and looks like a first-round fantasy pick in 2024. Given his ADP, Williams has an argument as this year’s fantasy MVP, even while missing four games.

  • Matthew Stafford threw for 300+ yards but just one score. He also had the second-longest active streak (behind Kenny Pickett) without throwing a pick (170 passes) end when he tossed two interceptions Sunday.

  • Demarcus Robinson led Los Angeles with 10 targets, while Puka Nacua didn’t score during an 80-yard catch.

  • Tyrod Taylor was having a relatively quiet game before hitting Darius Slayton for an 80-yard house call in the third quarter. He took a bunch of sacks as expected but led New York with 40 rushing yards, finishing as a top-10 fantasy QB this week while available at the DFS minimum.

  • Saquon Barkley rushed for fewer than 40 yards for the second time in his last three games, and Taylor missed him wide-open during a late two-point conversation attempt to go ahead.

  • Wan’Dale Robinson led New York with nine targets and scored a rushing touchdown.

  • The Giants have 19 takeaways over their last seven games but have taken a whopping 83 sacks this season — 20 more than the next most.

  • This game had a long punt-return TD and four missed kicks, including three extra points.

San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Commanders

Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs

  • Isiah Pacheco got every KC RB carry and rushed for a career-high 130 yards during his return. He shook off last week’s concussion and a shoulder injury, securing all seven targets, including Patrick Mahomes’ only TD pass Sunday. Pacheco had 54 yards from scrimmage during KC’s opening drive and finished as the No. 2 fantasy back during championship week.

  • Travis Kelce, meanwhile, put up his worst game of the season during the crucial fantasy week. He hasn’t scored in six straight games, averaging just 29.3 receiving yards over his last three.

  • Rashee Rice had a 67-yard catch and finished with a career-high 127. It was the rookie’s first deep reception (20+ air yards) of his career (and the longest pass play of KC’s season), with many more to come. Rice, who trails only Tyreek Hill in yards after the catch, should be considered a top-12 fantasy WR at 2024 draft tables.

  • Mahomes is averaging his fewest passing yards per game and YPA in his career this season, but he once again dealt with a horrific drop that ended a drive instead of going for a touchdown late in the second quarter — this time by Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Kansas City has the most drops in the league this year.

  • The Chiefs haven’t won the turnover battle in 10 straight games but are AFC West champs for the eighth year in a row anyway.

  • Jake Browning made some good throws, but Kansas City stuffed Cincinnati’s receivers, with none reaching 45 yards. Ja’Marr Chase could easily be fantasy’s top wideout in 2024, but he won’t be drafted that way coming off an injury-riddled season (including Joe Burrow).

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Seattle Seahawks

  • Seattle’s once stout run defense has been one of the league’s worst lately and allowed Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren to total 220 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns Sunday. Both were top-12 fantasy backs this week, and Harris could’ve had a third TD run but went down on his own inside the five to end the game. Harris continues to come up big during fantasy championship week in his career.

  • Pittsburgh’s running backs bogarted the touchdowns, but Mason Rudolph was extremely sharp. He got 11.4 YPA while taking just one sack and finished with a +22 CPOE in the 99th percentile. Rudolph certainly has an argument as the Steelers’ best option at quarterback even after Kenny Pickett is ready.

  • Mike Tomlin has still never had a losing season over 17 years as head coach.

  • Geno Smith played well, and DK Metcalf broke 100 yards despite Joey Porter Jr.’s coverage.

  • Kenneth Walker dominated carries during his return but saw just 10 of them in a game that saw Seattle possess the ball just 22 minutes. K9 ran in a touchdown, but a lack of volume hurt his fantasy day.

Atlanta Falcons @ Chicago Bears

  • Justin Fields was terrific while playing in the snow, finishing as this week’s No. 3 fantasy QB. He threw a dime to DJ Moore and ran in his third score over the last four games. Chicago locked up the top pick of next year’s draft (thanks to Carolina’s loss Sunday) and has a fascinating decision ahead.

  • Moore wasn’t lying when he said he was fully recovered from last week’s ankle injury, erupting for the most receiving yards (159) Sunday and pulling down a touchdown. If you remove last week’s dud when he injured his ankle during the game’s first drive, Moore has been the No. 2 fantasy WR this season when playing with Fields.

  • Khalil Herbert broke 100 rushing yards and scored for the second straight week against a stingy Falcons run defense allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. He benefitted from D’Onta Foreman’s continued absence but lost a goal-line score to Roschon Johnson, yet Herbert showed how different his fantasy season could’ve been if he hadn’t suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 5. Herbert led the NFL in rush yards over expectation last season and shouldn’t be forgotten during 2024 fantasy drafts.

  • Desmond Ridder struggles mightily on the road, but Taylor Heinicke said hold my beer Sunday. Heinicke was picked off three times and posted a -27.1 CPOE in the first percentile. In Heinicke’s defense, the Bears stop unit leads the NFL in EPA/play since Week 11.

  • Drake London would be a fantasy star on a different offense, so his 2024 value greatly depends on what Atlanta does (or doesn’t do) during the offseason.

  • Bijan Robinson got 5.0 YPC against a stout run defense, but it was Tyler Allgeier who scored a 75-yard touchdown during his lone target. Chicago remains extremely vulnerable to receiving backs.

  • Younghoe Koo missed two field goals in the first quarter, while Atlanta fell just short of a 100+ yard touchdown during a return after a missed FG on the final play of the first half.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

  • Josh Allen was 7-for-20 for 46 yards (2.3 YPA) in the first half and then missed an open Stefon Diggs for a possible 88-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Allen still had a fine fantasy game thanks to running in two scores, but he snapped his NFL-high streak of 23 straight games with a TD pass Sunday.

  • James Cook was predictably stuffed by the league’s toughest run defense, but his negative-four receiving yards were the real killer. Cook, Diggs and Gabe Davis combined for just 43 receiving yards on 13 targets.

  • Bailey Zappe had one completion for five yards and two picks in the first quarter, and his third interception was a pick-six early in the second. Zappe responded with a TD run on the next drive, as the Patriots were somehow down just six points at halftime despite committing four turnovers and missing a field goal.

  • Ezekiel Elliott scored his first rushing touchdown since Week 7 but has averaged just 2.8 YPC over his last five games.

  • Von Miller was a healthy scratch (coach’s decision).

  • New England opened the game with a kickoff return to the house.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Indianapolis Colts

  • Jonathan Taylor fumbled and isn’t going to be much of a receiving help while playing through a thumb injury. But he ran for 96 yards and a touchdown and will be a top-five RB in 2024 fantasy drafts.

  • Alec Pierce caught a 58-yard touchdown during his only target, leading the Colts in receiving Sunday.

  • Matt Gay missed a potentially crucial field goal in the fourth quarter, but Las Vegas was offsides, and he made the retry.

  • Aidan O’Connell attempted a career-high 47 passes, and a whopping 21 of them went to Davante Adams. Adams was the top-scoring fantasy receiver Sunday, when he pulled down two scores.

  • Zamir White saw 26 more opportunities and has acted as a true workhorse with Josh Jacobs out.

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings

  • Jordan Love threw three touchdowns and ran in another while finishing as the No. 2 fantasy QB during championship week. He ended the season the way he started it: posting a big game despite seventh-round rookie Bo Melton being Green Bay’s leading receiver Sunday night.

  • Aaron Jones looked healthy while running for 120 yards for the second straight week, while AJ Dillon left the game with a stinger.

  • Jayden Reed caught two more touchdowns, as his impressive rookie season continued. He left with a chest injury but has plenty of time to heal up for the 2024 fantasy campaign.

  • Nick Mullens replaced an abysmal Jaren Hall in the second half, but he didn’t fare much better aside from a garbage-time TD with the score 30-3.

  • Justin Jefferson saw 10 targets, but Minnesota’s dreadful quarterback situation ruined the night of many fantasy managers counting on the star WR in their championship.

  • Whoever becomes the feature back in the Vikings offense next season has massive fantasy potential.

  • Happy New Year!

New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Tampa Bay was shut out through three quarters, but Baker Mayfield got 9.4 YPA and threw two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. He also snapped his NFL-high streak without a two-interception game despite New Orleans still missing Marshon Lattimore.

  • Rachaad White had scored double-digit fantasy points in 10 straight games before failing to do so during championship week. White lost a fumble, but game script (11 carries) was the main culprit here, as Tampa Bay possessed the ball for just 23 minutes.

  • Chris Godwin was due for major touchdown regression having scored just once all season (before Sunday) despite seeing the sixth-most targets inside the 10-yard line.

  • Trey Palmer had a nice game but also couldn’t keep his footing on a possible long TD catch and fumbled instead.

  • Jamaal Williams led New Orleans in carries (Alvin Kamara departed in the third quarter with an ankle injury), Juwan Johnson led the team with 12 targets (twice as many as Chris Olave) and Taysom Hill caught a touchdown during a frustrating game for Saints fantasy managers.

Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans

  • C.J. Stroud has likely suffered multiple concussions this season, and he also took a major helmet-to-helmet hit early in the third quarter against the Cardinals in Week 11 (when the Texans were shutout at home in the second half). Give him a pass for not lighting it up during his return, and game script didn’t ask the rookie QB to do much Sunday.

  • Nico Collins has averaged 100.7 receiving yards and scored all seven of his touchdowns at home this season; he’s averaged just 39.2 yards on the road. It’s likely meaningless moving forward, but maybe something to consider in DFS. There will be quite the debate between Collins and Tank Dell at fantasy draft tables next year.

  • Will Levis struggled early before leaving with an injury suffered during a sack fumble lost that went for a defensive touchdown. Ryan Tannehill was an improvement, but Tennessee managed just three points Sunday.

  • Derrick Henry totaled just 52 yards on 32 touches over two games versus the Texans this season after averaging 203.6 rushing yards and 2.0 touchdowns over his previous five games against Houston.

Carolina Panthers @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos

  • Jarrett Stidham wasn’t good Sunday, but a long touchdown to Lil’Jordan Humphrey was enough to beat a Chargers team that failed to reach the end zone. Russell Wilson isn’t the long-term answer in Denver, but Stidham’s performance Sunday confirmed the QB switch was purely for financial reasons.

  • Javonte Williams has gone eight straight games getting fewer than 4.0 YPC, including fewer than 3.0 in his last three. That’s certainly not the way his recovery from multi-ligament knee surgery was supposed to progress.

  • The Chargers botched a fake punt attempt late in the second quarter, while Austin Ekeler lost his fourth fumble of the season. It’s been a forgettable year for Los Angeles.

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