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Week 17 Sleepers

A look at under the radar plays for Week 17

Quarterback

Jimmy Garoppolo, SF (at LAR) - Garoppolo has led the 49ers on a four-game winning streak since taking over as the starter, and there’s a good chance that he can end the season on a five-game winning streak. The Rams are resting starters and not strongly pursuing the three seed. The first time these two teams met, it was a 41-39 shootout with Brian Hoyer at quarterback. Garoppolo could be one of the best fantasy quarterbacks of Week 17, coming off an outstanding game against the league’s best pass defense.

Patrick Mahomes, KC (at DEN) - Mahomes threw for four scores and no interceptions in the preseason and appeared to be ready for bigger things. This week against the Broncos, he’ll get to show his stuff against what was considered a top defense coming into the season. He may not have the Chiefs starters around him for the whole game, but in an uncertain week at quarterback, the upside his pure ability presents is enticing.

Tyrod Taylor, BUF (at MIA) - Taylor is still playing for a berth in the postseason, and he draws a Miami defense that he just lit up for 224 passing yards, 42 rushing yards, and a score both on the ground and through the air two weeks ago. The Dolphins defense is falling apart after a brief resurgence, with five out of the last seven quarterbacks they’ve faced notching at least 20 points in standard fantasy scoring.

Kirk Cousins, WAS (at NYG) - Cousins awoke from a bit of a fantasy slumber last week against the Broncos, falling one yard short of 300 and throwing for three scores. This week, he gets a depleted Giants defense that he hung 242 passing yards and two scores on back in Week 12. Washington isn’t playing for anything, but they haven’t been for a while and that hasn’t diminished Cousins’ efforts.

Running Back

Derrick Henry, TEN (vs JAX) - Of course the Titans wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Demarco Murray playing this week despite his LCL injury. If somehow Murray plays, he won’t be effective and probably will only play sparingly. This is yet another audition as the feature back for Henry, and in what could be the prologue to a playoff berth and a postseason start for Henry in the wild card round, possibly even against the Jaguars once again, a team he ran over for 92 yards and a score back in Week 2. The Titans should strive to leave an impression with a large dose of Henry in Week 17.

Malcolm Brown, LAR (vs SF) - Todd Gurley will likely sit for most of the Week 17, giving a lot of run to Brown, who has quietly expanded his power game to be more accomplished as a receiver. He will be a feature back and is facing a 49ers run defense that gave up a pair of running back rushing scores to the Jaguars last week.

Akeem Hunt, KC (at DEN) - The Chiefs are going to rest their starting quarterback for all of Week 17, but it’s not yet known whether that will extend to other core starters. It certainly makes sense for the team to rest Kareem Hunt after he has averaged over 30 touches a game over the last three weeks. That would cause most of the backfield work to fall to Hunt because Charcandrick West is out for Week 17.

Branden Oliver, LAC (vs OAK) - The Chargers are going to let Melvin Gordon work out on Friday to see if he can go in the regular season finale with the team still alive for a playoff berth, but if he can’t convince them that he is in sound shape, Oliver will be the lead back. He actually has a 26-101-1 game against the Raiders under his belt from back in 2013, and the Raiders appear to ready for the offseason to start.

Stevan Ridley, PIT (vs CLE) - The Steelers are going to rest Ben Roethlisberger and LeVeon Bell at a minimum, and James Conner was just put on injured reserve, so that means Ridley will lead the backfield against the Browns. The Steelers are usually a prideful team in Week 17 and will play to win despite the very small likelihood that it will affect their playoff positioning. Last year in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Browns, DeAngelo Williams accounted for 94 total yards and a score.

Wide Receiver

Josh Doctson, WAS (vs NYG) - Doctson has basically been a full-time wide receiver down the stretch, and he has scored in three of the last five weeks. In his scoreless weeks, he was the best outside receiver facing the strong Chargers secondary and the Patrick Peterson-led Cardinals. This week, he gets the Giants unit he scored against in Week 12, and one that is in turmoil after Eli Apple was suspended.

Michael Clark, Geronimo Allison, GB (at DET) - Brett Hundley hasn’t exactly been a star as a passer and Darius Slay will be locking up an outside Packers receiver on most snaps, but the Lions pass defense as a whole has been generous over the the last month, and one of both of these two could make some plays indoors at Detroit. Clark is a 6’6” former basketball player who oozes red zone ability and Allison is attempting to show the team that he should play a larger role next year with the status of all three of their top receivers in doubt because of hefty 2018 paychecks or free agency.

Adam Humphries, TB (at NO) - The Buccaneers appear to have lost another pass catcher with Chris Godwin missing practice this week, so Humphries should be in the crosshairs, and perhaps even more so with Marshon Lattimore likely checking Mike Evans. Humphries main competition for targets at wide receiver otherwise will be Freddie Martino. Jameis Winston is averaging 33 pass attempts a game since coming back from his shoulder injury, so Humphries could provide a high PPR floor.

Josh Reynolds, LAR (vs SF) - The Rams are going to rest their starters with only the difference between a three and four seed in the playoffs on the line. That could mean a lot more snaps for Reynolds, who has already scored once this year when Robert Woods was out. Sean Mannion is an unknown at quarterback, but he’ll have the strength of the McVay offensive gameplan behind him, one that helped the team put up 41 points against the 49ers in the team’s first matchup this year.

Ted Ginn, NO (at TB) - Ginn missed Week 15 with a rib injury, but was able to play in Week 16 and fueled the Saints offense with a long score, even adding 14 yards on two carries. He also scored for 36 yards out against the Bucs in the teams’ first meeting this year, and the Saints are still playing for the division title, making Ginn one of the better deep threats to plug into your lineup this week.

Tight End

Antonio Gates, LAC (vs OAK) - Anyone who trusted Gates one more time for old time’s sake last week was rewarded, and that could easily happen again because of the matchup this week. The Raiders have been vulnerable to opposing tight ends all season, and they allowed Chargers tight ends to pile up 106 yards on six receptions in the first meeting this year.

George Kittle, SF (at LAR) - Kittle appeared to take the primary receiving tight end role back over from Garrett Celek last week, getting all three tight end targets, catching all three, including one score. He has been fantasy relevant for two straight weeks, his quarterback and offense are red hot, and Kittle is facing a Rams team that will likely be taking it easy this week.

Rhett Ellison, NYG (vs WAS) - Evan Engram has been out with bruised ribs so far this week, and it makes sense for the Giants to give one of their few future assets already in place the week off with nothing to gain. Ellison took advantage of the extra playing time opened up by Engram’s injury last week with four catches for 60 yards, and he’s facing a Washington defense that has allowed eight receiving touchdowns to tight ends this year.