• Ethan Polak

Polak’s Picks: NFL Week 17 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em


New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones high fives wide receiver Kendrick Bourne after scoring a touchdown last week in Gillette Stadium. Photo Courtesy of NBC Sports.


Ladies and gentlemen, the 2021 fantasy football championships have arrived. In the majority of leagues, two teams will battle it out for one championship, one trophy and a year full of bragging rights.


For those who are lucky enough to still be alive it is time to make the final push for glory. With everything on the line, it is crucial that the fantasy managers have the right players in their lineups to make sure they have the best chance to win.


Here are the key players to start and sit in Week 17 of the NFL season.


Quarterbacks


Start ‘Em

Mac Jones, New England Patriots. Are fans ready for Bill Belichick in the playoffs all over again? Ready or not, New England is likely to clinch a berth this weekend. Mac Jones has continued to blossom into a star leading all rookies with passing yards, passing touchdowns and the best record out of any of the quarterbacks. This week, they will face the broken Jacksonville Jaguars defense in Gillette Stadium that has allowed the 11th most passing yards in the league. Jones’s campaign for offensive rookie of the year looks bright especially with amazing matchups like this week.


Sit ‘Em

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers. Excuse me what? During the most important time of the year with many teams making playoff pushes, the Chargers got blown out by the Houston Texans. That is embarrassing as Herbert played one of the worst games of his career. This is concerning for fantasy managers as he heads into a tougher matchup against the Denver Broncos defense that has allowed the seventh least passing yards per game in the league. Beware fantasy managers of another big bust when you need him the most.


Running Backs


Start ‘Em

Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers. After missing the last four weeks, Mitchell is ready to return to the field for the 49ers. Despite his absence, Mitchell has been having an excellent rookie season. He has a chance to break a franchise record this weekend and should have no problems against a Houston Texans defense that ranks dead last in rushing yards allowed per game. Mitchell’s prime matchup makes him a must start this week.


Sit ‘Em

Sony Michel, Los Angeles Rams. Just like that, the Rams are back in it. When it looked like the better team in Los Angeles was on a rough streak, they got back on track and are on a three game winning streak. One key asset to the recent success has been the emergence of Michel as the replacement for Henderson who has struggled to stay healthy. The only issue is that the Rams will face a Baltimore Ravens defense that has allowed the least rushing yards in the league. Michel is a risky play in the most important week of the fantasy football season.


Wide Receivers


Start ‘Em

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With no more Chris Godwin due to a torn ACL, it is time for one player to step up for the Buccaneers. One player that has had the most experience with Tom Brady has been Mike Evans. His elite talent helped give Brady someone to rely on in the pass game. This week, Evans has the potential for a breakout game against a New York Jets defense that has allowed the fourth most passing yards per game in the league. Evans should be a no brainer for fantasy managers looking for a solid option at the wide receiver position.


Sit ‘Em

Kenny Golladay, New York Giants. Talk about disappointment. Golladay signed a huge contract with the Giants in the offseason to help improve the pass game, but he has done anything but that this this. The Giants currently have the fifth worst passing game in the league and it doesn’t look like anything will be changing anytime soon especially against the Chicago Bears defense that has allowed the third least receiving yards per game. Golladay should stay right on the bench if he is even still rostered on any fantasy football teams.


Tight Ends

Start ‘Em

C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals. Patrick Mahomes who? Joe Burrow has emerged as a star after his astonishing performance of 525 passing yards and 4 touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens. Ironically, the Bengals will be put to the test against Mahomes and the Chiefs this weekend. Still, Uzomah is in for a treat in targets with this game looking like it will be a shootout.. The battle of the two hottest offenses in the league should lead to a BIG day for Uzomah.


Sit ‘Em

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons. The rookie tight end — that is basically a wide receiver — has been one of the few bright spots on the Falcons offense. Pitts has burst onto the scene putting together a pretty amazing first season. The fourth overall pick has the chance to break 1,000 receiving yards this week, but will have a tougher time doing so against the Buffalo Bills defense that has allowed the least receiving yards per game in the league. While some fantasy managers may have no choice but to start Pitts, if there is another option at the tight end position, I would suggest switching him out.


Kickers


Start ‘Em

Jason Myers, Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks can’t catch a break. In such an underwhelming season, the city of Seattle is now forced to question the future of the team. Is it worth sticking with the Pete Caroll and Russell Wilson duo? Well they will not have to worry this week as the Seahawks face the Detroit Lions team that has allowed the third most points per game in the league. Myers is in line for a big performance with plenty of opportunities to get on the board early.


Sit ‘Em

Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers. Crosby’s age is beginning to show as this season has been a little rough around the edges. He has missed more kicks this season than he ever has in his career. Yet, the Packers still hold the best record in the NFL. However, this week Crosby will have a tough time scoring with the temperatures in Green Bay looking to be below zero. While Crosby may claim he is used to the cold, the chance that he will score big in such horrible conditions is very low.


Defenses


Start ‘Em

Carolina Panthers Defense. The storyline of the season for the Panthers — no matter who is at quarterback the Panthers are nothing without Christian McCaffery. While the defense has done their job limiting teams to the second least yards per game in the league, they can’t seem to find a way to win games. However, the Panthers should have a shot for a big week against a New Orleans Saints team that is rotating quarterbacks just as bad as the Panthers. Carolina is a solid option for fantasy managers in search of a team with booming potential.


Sit ‘Em

Las Vegas Raiders Defense. The RRRRaiders have somehow worked their way back into the playoff race. While the chances may still be very slim, a big matchup against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil will decide their fate. For the Raiders to make the playoffs, they will need their defense to step up against an Indianapolis Colts offense that has scored the seventh most points per game in the league. This is a tough task that the Raiders will likely not be able handle especially with Jonathon Taylor looming in the backfield. Las Vegas could see their chances at sneaking into the playoffs slowly slip away.


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