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Playing the Waiver Wire for Week 17

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Fantasy owners who play in Week 17 always run the risk of an unpredictable scoring period. There are playoff teams who rest starters, injuries and a slew of uncertainties that usually occur.

This time around, the Chiefs are the only playoff contender who might rest their starters since they are locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC. That means you should plan to be without Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and Alex Smith. Don't count on the Chiefs DST as well.

The significant injuries this week are Tony Romo (back) and Steve Smith (knee) being out, and Eddie Lacy (ankle) is likely to sit. We could also be without Adrian Peterson (foot) and Calvin Johnson (knee), but we won't know their status until later in the week.

The most prominent free agent to add for Week 17 will be James Starks if Lacy is out because of his matchup against the Bears. Knile Davis also makes sense since he could start for the Chiefs in place of Charles.

And don't be surprised if you end up starting Jonathan Grimes, who is technically the fifth-string running back for the Texans with Arian Foster (back), Ben Tate (ribs) and Deji Karim (collarbone) out, and Dennis Johnson (hip) might not play. The Giants also could be without Andre Brown (concussion), and Peyton Hillis (concussion) also missed Week 16. That could leave Michael Cox as a flex option against the Redskins.

It should be a fun end to the season with all the playoff implications around the NFL, and Fantasy owners with something still on the line will hopefully benefit. Just make sure the players you need are actually playing, otherwise the waiver wire will be your friend for one final time.

Editor's note: The ownership percentage listed is how many leagues that player was owned in the previous week for CBSSports.com.

Quarterbacks

Week 17 options: Kirk Cousins, Redskins (42 percent), Terrelle Pryor, Raiders (26 percent), Kyle Orton, Cowboys (1 percent)

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The order for quarterbacks to add this week is Pryor, Orton and Cousins. ... Fantasy owners in two-quarterback leagues can also consider Ryan Fitzpatrick (34 percent), Matt Flynn (16 percent), assuming Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) is out again, and Matt Cassel (6 percent). But you know what to expect with those three passers at this point in the season – and the risks with using them. ... Pryor will start for the benched Matt McGloin, and he's a low-end starting option in all leagues. He started the season with at least 20 Fantasy points in three of his first four starts, including Week 3 at Denver. And the Broncos just lost standout pass rusher Von Miller (ACL) for the season. Pryor played well in a similar scenario last season in Week 17 at San Diego with 20-plus Fantasy points in his first NFL start. ... Orton will start for Romo, and we'll find out if he can take advantage of a good matchup with great weapons around him. The Eagles have allowed three of their past five opposing quarterbacks to score at least 24 Fantasy points, so hopefully Orton can rely on Dez Bryant and Jason Witten to make plays. He's a two-quarterback option if needed this week. ... Cousins should rebound against the Giants after a down game against the Cowboys, but he's just an option in two-quarterback leagues this week.. Robert Griffin III scored 22 Fantasy points against the Giants in Week 13, but he did a lot of that damage with his legs on 12 carries for 88 yards.

Running backs

Week 17 options: James Starks, Packers (48 percent), LeGarrette Blount, Patriots (32 percent), Shonn Greene, Titans (21 percent), Knile Davis, Chiefs (18 percent), Edwin Baker, Browns (3 percent), Michael Cox, Giants (1 percent), Jonathan Grimes, Texans (0 percent), Joe Banyard, Vikings (0 percent)

The order for the running backs to add this week is Starks, Blount, Davis, Grimes, Greene, Baker, Cox and Banyard. ... If Lacy is out, Starks could be a star. I have him ranked as a Top 10 running back this week, and he would be a must-start option in any format. The Bears have allowed a running back to reach double digits in Fantasy points in 12 consecutive games with 16 hitting that mark over that span. In Week 16, the Eagles had three running backs score touchdowns against Chicago with LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. ... Blount scored two touchdowns at Baltimore in Week 16 with 16 carries for 76 yards. He now has double digits in Fantasy points in two of his past four games, and the Bills have allowed a running back to reach double digits in points in five of the past six games. ... The Chiefs should rest Charles with their playoff spot locked in and a game next week in the first round, which should give Davis the chance for extended touches. The Chargers haven't allowed a running back to score double digits in Fantasy points in three consecutive games, but Charles had 27 points against them in Week 12. Davis is a solid flex option this week. ... Grimes has seven carries for 29 yards and two catches for 7 yards in his career, so he's a risky flex option. But he's facing the Titans, who have allowed a running back to score double digits in Fantasy points in 11 of the past 12 games. ... Greene is coming off a strong game with 19 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown at Jacksonville, and he now has at least 15 Fantasy points in two of his past three games. Chris Johnson is still the man for the Titans, but Greene is a high-upside flex against the Texans, who have allowed a running back to score double digits in Fantasy points in five of the past six games. ... Baker has taken on the lead role in Cleveland's backfield, and he's scored 13 Fantasy points in consecutive games against the Jets and Bears. The Steelers have allowed a running back to reach double digits in Fantasy points in three consecutive games. ... Cox could start for the Giants if Brown and Hillis are out, and the Redskins have allowed a running back to reach double digits in Fantasy points in four consecutive games. ... Banyard could be the starting running back for the Vikings this week with Peterson, Toby Gerhart (hamstring) and Matt Asiata (ankle) all banged up. He has one catch for 11 yards on the season and is facing a tough matchup with the Lions, so use caution if you need him as a flex option.

Wide receiver

Streamers for Week 17
Here are some DST and kickers to consider if you play the matchups with these positions each week.
Opponent Own %
Saints DST vs. TB 69
Colts DST vs. JAC 37
Chargers DST vs. KC 16
Nick Novak, K, SD vs. KC 67
Blair Walsh, K, MIN vs. DET 49
Caleb Sturgis, K, MIA vs. NYJ 22

Week 17 options: Marvin Jones, Bengals (67 percent), Jerricho Cotchery, Steelers (58 percent), Nate Burleson, Lions (56 percent), Brandon LaFell, Panthers (47 percent), Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings (43 percent), Nate Washington, Titans (39 percent), Ted Ginn, Panthers (20 percent), Robert Woods, Bills (13 percent), Mike Brown, Jaguars (9 percent), Jerrel Jernigan, Giants (0 percent), Griff Whalen, Colts (0 percent)

The order for wide receivers to add this week is Patterson, Ginn, Jones, Cotchery, Jernigan, Woods, Whalen, LaFell, Washington and Burleson. ... Burleson would move to the top of the list if Calvin Johnson sits out. The Vikings are tied with the Eagles for most touchdowns allowed to receivers with 20. ... Cotchery is also tied to Emmanuel Sanders (knee) playing this week. If he's out then consider Cotchery a No. 3 receiver against the Browns, who have struggled with secondary receivers all season. ... Ginn and LaFell will benefit with Steve Smith out. The Falcons have been abused by receivers all year, including Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin both reaching double digits in Fantasy points Monday night. Ginn has more upside based on his big-play ability. ... Patterson has scored in four consecutive games, and he could get more carries out of the backfield if Peterson is out. ... Jones has at least eight Fantasy points in three consecutive games. He struggled at Baltimore in Week 10 with one catch for 2 yards, but he's hot right now and is a solid No. 3 receiver. ... Jernigan has stepped up with Victor Cruz (knee) out, and he has 13 catches for 147 yards and a touchdown on 20 targets the past two games against Seattle and Detroit. His touchdown last week against the Lions is already one more than Hakeem Nicks has all season. ... Woods is the No. 1 receiver for the Bills with Steve Johnson (personal) away from the team. He has eight catches for 152 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets the past two games against Jacksonville and Miami, and the Bills could lean on him against the Patriots if Johnson is out again. ... Whalen has 11 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown the past two games against Houston and Kansas City. He has a favorable matchup against Jacksonville this week, and he's done a nice job connecting with Andrew Luck. ... Washington is closing the season strong with 13 catches for 209 yards and a touchdown the past two games against Arizona and Jacksonville. The Texans are without standout cornerback Johnathan Joseph (foot), which should help Tennessee's passing game.

Tight end

Week 17 options: Jermaine Gresham, Bengals (18 percent), Joseph Fauria, Lions (14 percent), Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars (9 percent), Ryan Griffin, Texans (3 percent)

The order for tight ends to add this week is Lewis, Griffin, Fauria and Gresham. ... Lewis has scored in four consecutive games, and he's got four catches for at least 50 yards in each of the past two outings against Buffalo and Tennessee. ... Fauria is getting increased playing time with Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) out, and he scored in Week 1 against Minnesota. The Vikings have struggled with tight ends all season, and Minnesota has allowed a tight end to score in three consecutive games. If Pettigrew is out again then Fauria could shine. ... Griffin has become a solid PPR option with at least five catches and 62 yards in the past two games against the Colts and Broncos with Garrett Graham (hamstring) out. If Graham is out again, Griffin faces a Titans team that has allowed eight touchdowns to opposing tight ends, including Owen Daniels and Graham in Week 2. ... Tyler Eifert (neck) left Week 16 against Minnesota, and Gresham scored for the second time in three games. He's a low-end starting option if Eifert remains out against the Ravens this week.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg .

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Player News
Wes Welker expected to be suspended for Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker will be suspended for Week 1, according to the Denver Post.

Mike Klis initially reported that there was a chance Welker's suspension wouldn't kick in until after Week 1, but issued an update later. While the NFL has yet to officially announce the suspension, the Broncos have been informed of the move. The team is expected to send out a press release confirming the information Tuesday.


Report: Wes Welker may play Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Update: Welker will be suspended for Week 1, according to the Denver Post. The team is expected to send out a press release shortly.

Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker may play Week 1 against the Colts, according to the Denver Post

Welker is expected to be suspended for four games after reportedly testing positive for amphetamines. The league, however, has not officially announced the suspension. Suspensions are typically announced by Tuesday, according to Pro Football Talk. Since the NFL has yet to announce the move, it's thought Welker could be available for Week 1, but would serve his suspension once the NFL announced the move. 

There are a lot of uncertainties regarding the situation at this time. The club expects Welker to be available, provided he passes concussion protocal, but it remains to be seen how the NFL will handle this suspension. 


Randall Cobb to be tested Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb should be in for a tough test Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Cobb caught just three passes during the preseason, picking up 34 yards and a score. His lack of work shouldn’t be a huge concern, as the Packers offense doesn’t need any fine-tuning. The main thing here is that Cobb is 100 percent healthy after playing in just six games last season due to a leg injury.

His Week 1 production could be dampened by a strong Seahawks DST. Seattle was exceptional against the pass last season, holding opposing wide receivers to just 14.79 Fantasy points per game. That figure was the second-lowest rate in the league. On top of that, Cobb may have to deal with Richard Sherman, who is considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Sherman may spend the majority of the game stopping Jordy Nelson, but he could find his way over to Cobb on a few occasions.

Cobb’s versatility makes him a strong candidate to be moved around the Packers’ offense. If Green Bay can create some nice matchups, and Sherman is preoccupied with Nelson, Cobb could be in for a better game than people might expect. 

Despite that, expectations should be tempered. Seattle’s DST was strong last season, and while Green Bay boasts a strong offense, things should be muted Week 1. Cobb is a fine start, considering his upside, but he carries more risk this week due to the matchup.


Jordy Nelson in for a tough test Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson should be in for a difficult test Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Nelson had a quiet preseason, catching just two passes for 19 yards. One of those catches wound up being a touchdown. Despite the lack of action during the preseason, Nelson’s upside with a healthy Aaron Rodgers is well-known among Fantasy owners. That said, he’s going to have to work for everything he gets against Seattle.

The Seahawks rated as the best defense in the league last year. They were strong in every facet of the game. Seattle held opposing wide receivers to just 14.79 Fantasy points per game, the second-lowest figure in the league. To make things even more difficult for Nelson, he’ll likely be covered by Richard Sherman. Sherman, by many counts, is arguably the best corner in the game. 

Still, it’s tough to pass up Nelson’s upside with a healthy Rodgers. The Packers boast an overabundance of weapons, and it’s possible moving Nelson around before the play could put him in a more favorable matchup. Even if Sherman covers him the entire game, Nelson is a good enough receiver to make some noise. While he doesn’t have a great matchup, Week 1 is not the time to take a player as good as Nelson out of your Fantasy lineup. 


Eddie Lacy to have his hands full Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers running back Eddie Lacy will have his hands full Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Lacy is coming off a tremendous rookie season, in which he rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He didn’t get a ton of use during the preseason, but seemed to be in midseason form. Lacy rushed for 61 yards on 11 carries, good for a 5.5 average over two preseason games. He also managed to run in a touchdown.

Though he looked strong in the preseason, Lacy should have a tough time against the Seahawks Week 1. Seattle allowed just 12.32 Fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last season. That was the second-lowest rate in the league. While the Seahawks lost three defensive linemen during the offseason, the club is thought to still have the top-rated Fantasy defense.

In many circles, Lacy was considered a strong Fantasy pick after the elite four running backs were off the board. With that in mind, it’s unlikely he’ll be benched in many leagues Week 1. There are better matchups out there, but Lacy is a tough player to sit. Given Green Bay’s offensive capabilities, he’s still a decent start even against the best Fantasy defenses. 


Aaron Rodgers taking on a tough task Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has his work cut out for him Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Rodgers entered the season as one of the top Fantasy options at quarterback, but will take on the best defense in the league. Last season, Seattle held Fantasy quarterbacks to just 10.89 points per game. That was the lowest rate in the league. The Seahawks DST ranked tops in the league in limiting points and yards last year. On top of that, the team forced the most turnovers.

While Seattle lost three members of the defensive line during the offseason, the club is still expected to have one of NFL’s best defenses. If Seattle struggles to get to Rodgers, that could open things up for the Packers offense.

Given the cost to acquire Rodgers, in a snake or auction draft, he’s probably going to start for most Fantasy teams despite his tough Week 1 matchup. While there are better quarterback options for this week, Rodgers still has a strong potential for dominance. He’s healthy and still has a bevy of weapons at his disposal. It might not be Rodgers best game of the season, but he’s shown that he can put up numbers against even the best defensive clubs.


Percy Harvin looking to start the year on the right foot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin is looking at a strong matchup Week 1 against the Packers.

A quiet preseason was a good preseason for Harvin. After missing nearly all of last season due to a hip injury, Harvin was able to play in all but the final game of the preseason. He missed the fourth game due to a personal issue, and not because of an injury. Harvin caught seven balls for 92 yards in August.

The Packers didn’t boast a strong pass defense last season. The team allowed opposing wide receivers to average 22.94 Fantasy points per game. That wasn’t one of the worst rates in the league, but it was below-average. The team attempted to address this during the offseason, taking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round. Despite that, there’s no guarantee the team will perform better in the defensive backfield.

Despite the fact that Harvin is a five-year veteran, there are questions about how he’ll be used with the Seahawks. While Harvin was able to play during the club’s playoff run, it was unclear whether he was actually fully healthy last year. Harvin has shown the ability to be a game-changing wide receiver, so it’s assumed the Seahawks will find ways to get arguably their best playmaker the ball. The club has been been incredibly run-heavy over the past few seasons, but a healthy Harvin could make them more balanced. 


Marshawn Lynch ready to roll Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is looking to get off to a good start Week 1 against the Packers.

Lynch had an abbreviated preseason, carrying the ball just three times for 16 yards. That’s probably not a bad thing considering his high workload over the past couple years. Lynch also had a brief holdout during the offseason, but reported to camp in shape, and should be ready to roll.

The Packers weren’t particularly strong against the run last season, giving up 19.18 Fantasy points per week to running backs. That was the eighth worst figure in the league. While the team tried to shore up things defensively during the offseason, the loss of B.J. Raji should make it easier for teams to gash the Packers up the middle. 

With that in mind, Lynch should be a strong start. The Seahawks modus operandi the past couple years has been the run game, and that probably won’t change now. There are concerns about Lynch’s workload and lack of preseason reps, but his pedigree and matchup make this a strong start Week 1. 


Russell Wilson ready to shine Week 1?
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson begins his post-Super Bowl year with a strong matchup against the Packers Week 1. 

Wilson performed well during the preseason, completing 78.6 percent of his passes. He threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Wilson also managed three rushing touchdowns to cap off a strong preseason.

His ability to put up solid Fantasy numbers should be tested Week 1. The Packers did not boast a great defense against the pass last season. The team allowed quarterbacks to score 20.65 Fantasy points, which was the seventh worst clip in the league. Green Bay has been proactive in resolving the issue, drafting Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round, but it’s unclear how much better the team’s defensive backs will perform. 

The bigger question will be whether the Seahawks open up the offense for Wilson this season. With Marshawn Lynch out for much of the preseason, Wilson showed the ability to carry the team with his arm. Now that Lynch is back, the team could opt to get back to conservative play-calling with the franchise quarterback. Wilson has all the makings of a strong matchup here, but could get the short end of the stick if the Seahawks pound Lynch.


Matt Forte should live up to billing in Week 1
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Bears running back Matt Forte was ranked as a top five Fantasy running back going into the season, and he falls in the top five in both weekly running back rankings from CBSSports.com experts. After setting career highs in rushing yardage, rushing touchdowns, receptions and receiving yardage in 2013, will Forte get this season started off on the right foot in Week 1 against the Bills?

While Buffalo put together a strong defense last season, the team's particular strength was against the pass. Rushers were able to gain 4.4 yards per carry against the Bills, leaving them 23rd in the league in the category. While the Bills did a good job defending against pass-catching backs last season, they now have to play without linebackers Kiko Alonso (season-ending injury) and Nigel Bradham (suspended for Week 1) as well as safety Jairus Byrd (signed with New Orleans).

New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's defense was just average defending passes against running backs in Detroit last season. Forte has been excellent against Schwartz, who was the head coach of the Lions from 2009 through 2013. He has rushed for 1,005 yards and averaged 4.74 yards per carry while catching 38 passes for 360 yards in 12 career games against the Lions. Ten of those contests came with Schwartz at the helm, and Forte should be able to continue giving the Bills defensive coordinator nightmares this Sunday.


 
 
 
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