Play At Your Own Risk gives readers a look at some regular fantasy football starters who may fail to meet expectations in Week 17 based on injuries, difficulty of matchup or resting purposes for the NFL playoffs.
QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones, RB, Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have already clinched the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye for the playoffs, meaning a Week 17 win or loss would do nothing for their playoff outlook. Expect coach Mike Smith to get his starters some brief playing time and a whole lot of resting time.
TE Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots
Gronkowski is set to make his return in Week 17 against the Miami Dolphins after missing five games due to a broken forearm. He figures to play enough to find a rhythm with QB Tom Brady in preparation for the Patriots playoff run, but the risk of re-injury may be too great. His amount of playing time also depends on whether the Houston Texans win or lose on Sunday, as an upset by the Indianapolis Colts would give the Patriots a chance to earn a first-round bye with a win over the Dolphins. Either way, with the inconsistency from the tight end position, Gronkowski will be well worth the risk even in a limited role.
RB Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams
Jackson has been on a hot streak as of late, posting double-digit fantasy points in his last five games. This week, however, he faces the Seattle Seahawks‘ fourth-ranked defense that is also 11th in the league against the run. Another important note is that the Seahawks have allowed single-digit points to opposing running backs in each of their last three home games.
QB Josh Freeman – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Freeman and the Bucs are set to square off against the Falcons’ 23rd-ranked pass defense, and while this may seem like a plus matchup, Freeman’s numbers have experienced a decline in recent weeks. He also put up a big dud in Week 15 against the New Orleans Saints‘ 31st-ranked pass defense. I wouldn’t trust him for my fantasy championship, that’s for sure.