With most leagues all wrapped up, there’s still a few championships still to be decided in week 17.
Of course, you’re probably not in your championship if you went against Aaron Rodgers on Christmas. I lost out on my league’s title going against Rodgers, and I have a new nickname for him: “The Grinch.” He’s wearing that green jersey with the big “G” on his helmet and ruining Christmas.
After his huge 5-TD performance against the Bears, Rodgers becomes the most enigmatic start on New Year’s Day. I have a feeling if you got Grinched on Christmas, Rodgers will Grinch his own owners on Sunday by coming out of the game early or not playing at all (more below). Take that!
Looking at last week’s picks, it was a solid championship edition with Peyton Hillis breaking 100 against the Ravens, Jabar Gaffney and Julio Jones both going off, and Brent Celek turning in a solid day and indeed way outperforming Jason Witten. The only guy I was off on was Mike Tolbert and pretty much the entire Chargers in general, who didn’t show up at all. However, all my benchers turned in solid days with Victor Cruz sure proving he’s a force, Steven Jackson having a solid outing, and Khalil Bell and Percy Harvin having nice games.
If you’re still alive in your championship run, be sure to pick your steadiest lineup and not get too hung up on upside. Here are some guys that I like that aren’t getting started enough and guys I think you should bench (along with their starting percentages in ESPN and Yahoo respectively):
Michael Crabtree (33.1%, 27%) With the 49ers playing for a first-round bye against the Rams, I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot of passes and a limited role for Frank Gore and to a lesser extent Kendall Hunter, to rest them for the playoffs. The Rams secondary is atrocious and Crabtree should see a nice slate of targets. I would start him with confidence.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (23.9%, 25%) It’s pretty easy to see how bad the Patriots secondary has been, and Fitzpatrick has been playing a little better lately after a tough stretch in the middle of the season. I think the Bills will be playing in shootout mode pretty early in this one and Fitzpatrick to light up the scoreboard. I would definitely play him over Rodgers.
Torrey Smith (26.9%, 47%) Anquan Bolidn’s injury has opened a door for Smith, who didn’t take the bull by the horns last week, but I think shines as the Ravens #1 receiver this week. Smith torched the Bengals for 165 and a touch earlier this season, and I think Smith could easily have a 70-yard outing with another score this week.
Malcolm Floyd (25.9%, 23%) Floyd’s pretty quietly had 90+ yards and a TD in three of the past four weeks, and with the Chargers out of the playoffs but with a chance to knock out their division rival Raiders for any playoff hopes, I think the Chargers win big in this one. I see Rivers and the passing game hoping to end on a high note and I like Floyd to have another double-digit game.
Brandon Saine (0.1%, 0%) For super-deep leagues or if you have injuries to all your backs, I think Brandon Saine is a very sneaky deep play. It won’t only be Rodgers who is pulled early, but the entirety of the Packers rushing attack and Saine looks primed to get the bulk of the work against the Lions. He’s a pretty good receiver in case this game gets into shootout mode and he’s gotten a lot of reps with backup Matt Flynn. A 50-ish yard game and the hopes for a score isn’t too outlandish.
Son of a Bench
Aaron Rodgers (82.5%, 93%) As started above, I think you have to bench Rodgers for New Years Day. I have a feeling the first time he gets sacked or knocked down, Mike McCarthy is going to think, “enough.” He assured us that Matt Flynn will play, and it’s looking more and more like Rodgers might only get one or two series if any at all. There’s no way you can leave him in if you’re still playing for your title.
Mike Wallace (90.7%, 92%) I’ve been on Joe Haden all year, and with the Browns playing their rivals with nothing but pride to play for, I think the Steelers passing attack stays a little slow with lots of pressure on Big Ben. The Browns run defense is horrendous and this should be another big game for Rashard Mendenhall and the backups. Wallace hasn’t been a stud in the second half, hitting double-digits only once in the past 6 weeks, and I think you can find better options on your bench.
Beanie Wells (72%, 56%) Beanie is questionable, and while he has been all year, he’s got nothing to play for and I don’t think he gets a huge workload tomorrow on that bum knee. I don’t see the logic of wearing down his knee and risking it to further injury and the Seahawks run D hasn’t been awful either. Wells is a sit for me.
Shonn Greene (63.3%, 73%) After looking like a first-round pick in back-to-back weeks a couple games ago, Greene has taken a step back and looks like the back he’s been all year. The Dolphins run D has been tremendous all season and Greene should take a backseat to the Sanchize and the passing game yet again this week. I think the Jets are going to have to rely on their passing game to keep their tiniest of playoffs hopes alive. I would leave Greene out of my lineup.
If you have any last second decisions for this last week of games of the season, shoot me some comments, or tweet me @jbgilpin. Good luck to everyone in week 17 and I hope as many of you win the title as possible!