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Week 17 Fantasy Preview: All good things must end

After a much improved result in Week 16, we are hoping that more of you will follow our advice. But don't worry, we understand if you chalk it up to a blind squirrel finding a nut.

While a sixth-place finish is great, we still need to crack the top four and get our hands on some cash. We are in a recession, after all.

If the holiday shopping season has left you a little light in the pockets, feel free to take advantage of our advice and give yourself a chance at covering some of your losses by playing in our final FanDuel fantasy football challenge.

We are also in the second week of our NBA Beat the Expert challenge (yes, another chance to win some cash) and you can find out more about how that works by clicking here.

It's getting to be that time of year, when fantasy titles are decided by the likes of Billy Volek, Drew Bennett and Jerome Harris.

Week 17 is always difficult for fantasy football purposes, as teams who have clinched playoff berths elect to rest their starters and those elite players on non-playoff teams who are suffering injuries choose to shut it down rather than risk their long-term health.

Who can blame them? They have nothing to play for, except our admiration and eternal gratitude for clinching yet another fantasy championship.

On to the Week 17 picks:


QB - Alex Smith - $6,400 (26th among quarterbacks)

Smith will take the last turn on the 49ers' quarterback carousel in a Week 17 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. The Arizona defense returned two Jon Kitna passes for touchdowns last week, but it's hard to consider that more than an exception to the rule. Smith is auditioning for his job next year amidst an overhaul in San Francisco, and we expect him to state his case in this one.

RB - Rashad Jennings - $5,200 (41st among running backs)

Yeah, Jennings was supposed to have his monster week against the Redskins and turned out to be a major bust. Maurice Jones-Drew is likely out again Sunday, and with a playoff berth on the line against the Texans' very suspect defense, Jennings will deliver this week.

WR - Miles Austin - $5,700 (36th among wide receivers)

You may have heard the Eagles' defense is porous. For the second straight week, they will face a third-string rookie quarterback, in the Cowboys' Stephen McGee. Austin will be McGee's primary target. The two hooked up for a touchdown pass late in the game last week, so there is hope Austin will still be productive. Even if he cannot get open deep, there's still the chance he could break a short pass for a long score.

TE - Jimmy Graham - $5,200 (16th among tight ends)

As a rookie, Graham has obviously earned the trust of Drew Brees, catching touchdown passes in each of the last two games. Graham is a steady receiver who is looked to often in the red zone, allowing ample opportunities for him to score,

K - Shayne Graham - $5,000 (38th among tight ends)

Graham is quite the resource. After replacing Stephen Gostowski after he suffered a season-ending injury, Graham has reaped the benefits of playing in the Patriots offense. It has allowed the chance of kicking a field goal or extra point on almost every drive. With Brady and the rest of the first-string offense expected to rest this week, Graham could rack up the points.

DEF - New York Giants - $6,200 (20th among defenses)

The Giants are playing for nothing this week, meaning they will probably play their best. Call it a hunch, but Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman has actually been playing decent in the last two games after replacing Donovan McNabb. Don't expect this trend to last long.


QB - Tom Brady - $7,400 (9th among quarterbacks)

The problem with Brady is that he might only play one half at most, with the Patriots having locked up the No. 1 seed in the AFC. He's capable of throwing three touchdowns in that one half, of course, but there's also the possibility he is pulled after a series or two. Do not risk it.

RB - Jamaal Charles - $7,900 (6th among running backs)

Same thing goes for Charles here. The Chiefs have already locked up the third seed in the AFC, and stand to gain little by having Charles carry his usual load. Charles may have a big game in a half of playing time, but it's difficult to project. If Charles plays a little more or less than a half, his price cannot be justified.

WR - Dwayne Bowe - $8,100 (1st among wide receivers)

Much of the same goes for Bowe here. He was quiet for a few weeks before reappearing in a big way against the Titans. Bowe will likely join Charles on the bench for much of the game, meaning there is no point to risk the money on him and expect monster numbers in the first half.

TE - Rob Gronkowski - $5,900 (5th among tight ends)

Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes last Sunday, but, as with the rest of the people on this list, will likely be benched in order to rest up for the postseason. Gronkowski has been so hot and cold this season, do you really need for him to get an inflated ego from Shaq?

K - David Buehler - $6,200 (3rd among kickers)

Buehler infamously missed an extra point on Christmas Day against Arizona. Do you really want to trust him in the swirling winds at the Linc, rather than root fervently against him as he kicks yet another short field goal? We think not.

DEF - Philadelphia Eagles - $6,700 (5th among defenses)

Seriously, do you trust this defense right now? Injuries have pushed this defense from being inconsistent to downright bad, as evidenced by last week's loss to Joe Webb and the Vikings. This week, they will face Stephen McGee and the Cowboys. Unfortunately, despite the juicy matchup on paper, we cannot recommend the Birds.

Our Week 17 Roster

Week 17 is always a strange week for fantasy players. Will he play? Won't he? Does he even have anything to play for?

Luckily, every player is available to us. So we went with one constant: If the game matters, play him.

Aaron Rodgers, Ray Rice, Reggie Wayne, Greg Jennings, and Jacob Tamme all have their playoff lives (or at least a first-round bye) on the line. Not only are they extra motivated, but they are all playing at home.

We know that David Akers doesn't have anything on the line, as the Eagles gave up their chance at a bye on Tuesday night. But after watching Kevin Kolb, who will start in place of Michael Vick, struggle to get in the end zone, Akers could be primed for a big day.

Jerome Harrison, another Eagle, will likely be starting in place of LeSean McCoy, and at $4,700 there isn't much of a chance he will under-perform. Not to mention that he has fresh legs, which always helps, especially in Week 17.

Roddy White and the Falcons aren't playing for a playoff spot, but a loss to the lowly Panthers and they will limp into the postseason as a wildcard after being dormie two against the Saints in the NFC South. (Yes, that's a golf reference, and an obscure one - someone is missing the warm weather.)

We are looking for White and the Falcons to bounce back in this game, especially with Matt Ryan playing at home, where he was 19-1 in his career until last week's loss to the Saints.

Here is a look at the rest of our Week 17 lineup:

QB - Aaron Rodgers (CHI@GB) - $7,300

RB - Ray Rice (CIN@BAL) - $7,500

RB - Jerome Harrison (DAL@PHI) - $4,700

WR - Greg Jennings (CHI@GB) - $7,600

WR - Reggie Wayne (TEN@IND) - $6,700

WR - Roddy White (CAR@ATL) - $7,500

TE - Jacob Tamme (TEN@IND) - $5,800

K - David Akers (DAL@PHI) - $6,500

D - Atlanta Falcons (CAR@ATL) - $6,200

Salary cap remaining: $200

Don't forget to sign up and join our league by clicking here. Rosters must be submitted before 1 p.m. on Sunday. Good luck.

Matt Mullin is a sports producer at and can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @matt_mullin.

Andrew O'Brien works on the sports desk at and can be reached at