Fantasy Football Week 17 Early Waiver Wire: Gus Edwards, Marshawn Lynch could be season-ending heroes
Injuries continue to be an issue heading into the final week of the season, so Chris Towers offers some replacements for those of you still playing in Week 17.
Note: Travis Homer was initially listed as one of the top waiver-wire targets for Week 17, but that was before we got an early Christmas present: ! Marshawn Lynch is expected to sign with the Seahawks this week to replace Chris Carson, who is out for the season with a hip injury. That immediately makes Lynch a very intriguing Fantasy target for those of you still playing in Week 17, as the expected lead back for a team that wants to run the ball. Obviously, the 34-year-old may not be in game shape after sitting out the entire season before this, so he won't be a must-start option. However, if you lost Carson or Mark Ingram, or just need a running back for this week, Lynch is in the discussion, and he's widely available.
Week 17 is always tough to make sense of for Fantasy players, which is why we always stress that you should be wrapping up your playoffs in Week 16. However, we know there are still some of you out there with something to play for, and this year could be one of the trickiest Week 17's in memory.
Because most of the NFL doesn't really have much to play for. 10 of 12 playoff spots are already locked up across the two conferences, with the No. 1 seed in the AFC already locked up and just four teams alive for a playoff spot otherwise; in the NFC, there is still plenty of seeding to be sorted out, but with both wild card spots locked up, most of the conference is playing without stakes in Week 17. We don't know exactly who will be resting starters for Week 17, but it's safe to say we'll see plenty of backups next week.
Even if Mark Ingram hadn't left Sunday's game with a calf injury, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill might still be viable pickups for those of you playing in Week 17. After all, we already got reports more than a week ago that the Ravens would be resting Lamar Jackson if they had their seed clinched, which they did in Week 16. That means we'll see Robert Griffin start next week against the Steelers, and it probably means we wouldn't have seen much of Ingram even if he were healthy.
Add in a calf strain, and we already know Ingram won't be out there next week, which means we should see plenty of Edwards and Hill. It's not a great matchup, but even without Jackson, the Ravens should be able to move the ball on the ground. Edwards figures to lead the way, and has proven to be a productive rusher in this offense, averaging 5.2 yards per carry on more than 200 carries over the last two seasons. He will be a viable starting Fantasy option for Week 17 with Ingram sidelined, while Hill has some PPR appeal in a role that should garner him a dozen or so touches.
For those of you playing into Week 17, here's the rest of our early waiver-wire targets:
Early Waiver Targets
Rex Burkhead RB
NE New England • #34
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Last week's Patriots' running back star is not necessarily this week's, but we can't ignore what Burkhead did Saturday. Despite a fumble, he had his most productive game of the season, rushing five times for 20 yards and adding four receptions for 77 yards — with a rushing touchdown as well. The Patriots still split time between all three of their backs, with Burkhead getting just 26% of the snaps behind James White and Sony Michel, however with all of the injuries to the team's receiving corps, Burkhead's pass-catching ability should keep him on the field for Week 17 against the Dolphins. It's a great matchup, and Burkhead can be a low-end starting option for it.
Benny Snell RB
PIT Pittsburgh • #24
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
James Conner's snake bit season continued in Week 16, as he suffered a thigh injury he could not return from Sunday. The Steelers are one of the teams with something to play for in Week 17, so you have to figure Conner will play if he can. However, if he can't, we've already seen Snell be a useful Fantasy option, albeit one without much upside given his lack of a role in the passing game. Kerrith Whyte and Jaylen Samuels will also see plenty of time if Conner has to sit, but Snell can be viewed as the primary option to replace Conner — in the running game, at least.
Daniel Jones QB
NYG N.Y. Giants • #8
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
There have been some struggles, to be sure, but the highs in Jones' rookie season have been remarkably high, and no performance was better than Week 16's. Jones tossed five touchdowns against Washington, giving him three games with at least four touchdowns and no interceptions — all in his last six games. The Week 17 matchup against the Eagles isn't quite as easy as Week 16's, but we saw Eli Manning score 20 Fantasy points against this Eagles team with Jones sidelined, so you have to like Jones' chances of matching at least that.
TB Tampa Bay
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Perriman was everything you could have hoped for filling in for Chris Godwin and Mike Evans in Week 16, hauling in seven of 12 passes thrown his way for 102 yards, his second straight 100-yard game and fourth straight with at least 70 yards. It just doesn't matter who he is throwing it to, Jameis Winston is going to push the ball down the field and create plenty of Fantasy opportunity. And as good as Perriman's line was, he had a 32-yard catch overturned on review, and was overthrown on another that would have been a touchdown. There is a ton of upside in this passing game, and Perriman is the most likely person to fulfill it.
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