The Big Rotowski: Week 17 Player Rankings
|Week 17 Quarterback Rankings|
|Week 17 Running Back Rankings|
Notes: I'm looking for one more huge day from Minnesota's Peterson. I know he has been a disappointment lately, but the Broncos still can't stop the run. The Browns don't have much to play for, but don't think that'll stop Lewis from pounding the rock. Portis is high here thanks to his recent hot play, and he should be in for another big week. The Cowboys won't strain themselves Sunday, and Portis might just be Week 17's most emotional player on Week 17's most emotional team. He's a no-brainer start. Watson almost killed the Bengals (and the Titans) with a stupid late fumble versus Cleveland, but he had a good game otherwise: 30 carries, 130 yards and a score. Rudi Johnson might be able to play against Miami, but here I've assumed he won't. Stecker makes for a difficult decision. He probably has been the surprise MVP of a lot of fantasy playoffs, but he hurt a ligament in his foot against the Eagles and was seen hobbling around the Saints' facility. With Reggie Bush nearing a return, I can see any number of scenarios here. For the moment, barring any official news from coach Sean Payton, I'm going to assume that Bush's torn ligament won't allow him to reassume a large role and that Stecker will continue to be the workhorse. But this scenario could change during the week, so keep your ear to the ground. As well as he's running, it hurts me to put Tomlinson 12th, but frankly, that still might be a little high. He kills the Raiders, but he has felt hamstring twinges in consecutive games. The Chargers need this one in order to lock up the AFC's third seed, so they'll do a delicate dance with LT. I think he'll start. I just worry he might not play long. Taylor and Jones-Drew are ranked as though they'll play only the first half. Davenport gets the start in place of Willie Parker, but as the game wears on, if the scoreboard has the Chargers pounding the Raiders, I wouldn't be shocked to see Dookie come out. I know Brandon Jacobs needs 56 yards to reach 1,000 yards for the season, but the Giants would be stupid to play him. I think Bradshaw gets the lion's share of the work, with Droughns spelling him at the goal line. It might be worth taking a risk on Maurice Morris, since Seattle has precious little running back depth, and the banged-up Alexander doesn't figure to play much in a meaningless game. Grant is a great story, but again, the Packers won't use him much, if at all, in the second half. Joseph Addai might get a carry or two, but unfortunately I don't think he's a good fantasy start.
|Week 17 Wide Receiver Rankings|
|47||Ted Ginn Jr.||Dolphins||CIN|
Notes: Look who's ranked No. 13! Our old buddy Steve Smith (of the Panthers) has made a triumphant return to fantasy relevance since the cavalcade of David Carr and Vinny Testaverde starts has finally ceased in Carolina. Who knew all it would take was an undrafted rookie out of Oregon State to get Smith going again? By the way, did you know that the Panthers are the first team in NFL history to start four quarterbacks in the same season? Right on Smith's heels is another vertically challenged favorite: Santana Moss. Moss is clicking with Todd Collins and is also the healthiest he has been all season. Granted, it was against Minnesota's bad secondary, but Moss might have been the best player on the field Sunday night. I've assumed Green Bay will rest Greg Jennings, and that if Brett Favre does throw a touchdown or two, Driver will be the leading candidate, just like old times. It's hard not to salivate at the prospect of any deep threat running against a Saints secondary that just lost its only above-average player (Mike McKenzie). So Berrian should start in most formats. I have the usual Seahawks suspects ranked pretty low. Sure, the Falcons aren't good on defense, but coach Mike Holmgren is smart enough to get his regulars out early. Reggie Wayne probably plays only two series, but the way his season has gone, he might still score double-digit fantasy points. Did you see Gaffney's catch over or, rather, through Lance Schulters in Week 16? Special effects magic like that play is what has people still believing the moon landing was faked. Terrell Owens won't go, and I have a sneaking suspicion Patrick Crayton might not, either. That would leave Sam Hurd, Miles Austin and maybe, it has been rumored, Terry Glenn. If Brad Johnson is the one throwing to them, I'll stay away entirely.
|Week 17 Tight End Rankings|
Notes: Gates' game matters and Witten's doesn't, which explains why the former sank less than the latter. But Gates came out of Monday night's game early, and I wouldn't be shocked to see it happen again against the hapless Raiders. As for Witten, he needs six catches to reach 100, so it wouldn't shock me to see him perform better than I've ranked him. But Dallas can go to the Super Bowl, and it would be pretty stupid for them to put their best remaining pass catcher at risk in a contest like this one. Daniels would be more valuable if Matt Schaub returns. At the moment, however, I've assumed Sage Rosenfels will quarterback the Texans once more. I considered putting Utecht a lot higher because there's little chance Dallas Clark will get more than a pass or two thrown his way before Tony Dungy calls the bullpen. But then I thought: Utecht might get rested, too. A few weeks back, I remarked on Michael Gaines, and he has eight targets and a score in his past two games. He's not fantasy-relevant yet, but could be a sleeper in '08.
|Week 17 Kicker Rankings|
|Week 17 Defense Rankings|
Notes: The Chargers and Steelers are still battling for the AFC's No. 3 seed, so they'll be less likely to call off the dogs against dramatically inferior opponents. The Bucs will rest everyone they can, but still will field a defense, and against the Panthers, that tends to be enough. Same with Seattle against Atlanta. Again, I judge the Colts most likely to field second- and third-stringers earliest in their Sunday night tilt versus the Titans, but the dirty secret in Indy is that their defensive second-stringers, at least in spots, are as good as a lot of teams' starters. Indy will be one scary draw in the playoffs. You could do worse than the Bengals' defense if you're in a pinch. They held up very well against the Browns, intercepting Derek Anderson four times, and have stopped the run acceptably well (especially against lower-ranked offenses) in the second half. Thanks for another great season of the Rotowski. This is one heck of a great job, and I know that I wouldn't get to do it without your interest. I continue to be humbled and extremely appreciative. I hope you'll check in with me for the baseball and NASCAR seasons beginning early in 2008.
Don't forget to read The Breakdown on Fridays, for more detailed thoughts on every team and every game.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.