The Sablich brothers have provided award-winning fantasy football advice for The New York Times since 2010. See their weekly player rankings and visit 5thDownFantasy.com for more fantasy analysis. You can also ask them questions through their Twitter account, @5thdownfantasy.
For some leagues, this is championship week. So here’s a look at who you should start to win it all.
Aaron Rodgers (GB at Lions) — In what is always a tricky Week 17 for fantasy football analysts, one of the few sure things is that Rodgers and the Packers will be playing to win with the N.F.C. North title on the line. Outside of a disappointing Week 15 against the Bears, Rodgers has been on the money, averaging roughly three touchdowns per game since Week 7. He also threw for four touchdowns against the Lions in Week 3.
Kirk Cousins (WAS vs. Giants) — This would typically be a poor matchup for Cousins, but the Giants have little to play for, being cemented into the fifth seed in the N.F.C. Meanwhile, the Redskins need to win to keep their postseason hopes alive. Cousins has been bust-proof for most of the season, falling below 17 fantasy points just once since Week 6 while topping 25 points in four out of the last eight games.
Sleeper: Carson Wentz (PHI vs. Cowboys)
Proceed With Caution: Eli Manning (NYG at Redskins)
David Johnson (ARI at Rams) — The Cardinals as a team have nothing on the line in their finale, but Johnson will be looking to add to his already record-breaking season. He needs one more game with 100 or more yards from scrimmage for 16 straight, to break Barry Sanders’s record of 15, and needs 159 receiving yards to become the third player to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 receiving in the same season.
Bilal Powell (NYJ vs. Bills) — Why it took a Matt Forte injury to finally get the talented Powell involved in the Jets offense is just one of many head-scratching developments of this team’s miserable season. He has shown what he can do when given the opportunity, with 46 fantasy points in his first two games as the team’s lead back before cooling off in a blowout loss to the Patriots last week. He is a bit banged up, so make sure he’s playing and that Forte is still sitting before plugging him into your lineup in a very favorable matchup with the Bills.
Devonta Freeman (ATL vs. Saints) — A safer play in PPR leagues, as he continues to split work with teammate Tevin Coleman, Freeman is still a good bet for stellar standard-league production, with three games of 20-plus fantasy points in his last five games. The Falcons still have a first-round bye on the line, so expect Freeman to be heavily involved against the Saints, the team he had his most rushing yards against (152) in Week 3 and that has allowed the fifth most fantasy points to the position.
Sleeper: Alfred Blue (HOU at Titans)
Proceed With Caution: Ezekiel Elliott (DAL at Eagles)
Jordy Nelson (GB at Lions) — He has at least one touchdown reception in seven of his last nine games, and in six of those games he has at least 15 fantasy points. As for his partners in the receiving game, Randall Cobb has fallen off the fantasy map and Devante Adams has been boom-or-bust since Week 10. The potent Rodgers-Nelson connection should continue to produce in Sunday night’s must-win game (particularly if the Redskins win).
Doug Baldwin (SEA at 49ers) — The Seahawks will be playing to win with a first-round bye on the table (if the Falcons lose to the Saints), so expect Wilson to lean on Baldwin again after targeting him an incredible 19 times last week. Baldwin hauled in a career-high 13 receptions for 171 yards, another career best.
DeSean Jackson (WAS vs. Giants) — He has at least 11 fantasy points in five of his last six games and should be targeted often in this must-win game for the Redskins. Jackson had one of his better games of the season against the Giants in Week 3 (96 yards and a touchdown), and that was when the Giants had no reason to rest their starters on defense, like they do this week.
Sleeper: Eli Rogers (PIT vs. Browns)
Proceed With Caution: Dez Bryant (DAL at Eagles)
Travis Kelce (KC at Chargers) — He’s the safest play at tight end this week, with over 100 yards receiving and 10 fantasy points in five of his last six games, including a monster 22-point performance last week. The Chiefs need to win to have a shot at winning their division and earning a first-round bye.
Sleeper: C.J. Fiedorowicz (HOU at Titans)
Proceed With Caution: Kyle Rudolph (MIN vs. Bears)
Start: ARI at Rams; DEN vs. Raiders
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