Week 17 Fantasy Football Matchups

We've seen Ryan Fitzpatrick flounder after a hot start and the Patriots pass defense slump for pretty much the entire season. They renew their matchup in Week 17 when the Patriots play for the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the Bills hope to land their second win in nine games (and second in a row).

The Patriots have been very generous to opposing quarterbacks. As an example, they've afforded Vince Young, Dan Orlovsky, Rex Grossman, Tim Tebow and Matt Moore to average 23.4 Fantasy points per week over their last five. Four of those quarterbacks connected for two or more touchdowns either through the air or on the ground while Young had one with 400 yards and 40 rush yards. And yet, the Patriots are 5-0 in those games.

No one's expecting the Bills to win (then again, no one did back in Week 3 either), but should Fitzpatrick come up with a huge stat line just because he's taking on the Patriots. In theory, the answer is a resounding yes, but his play has been anything but consistent. Since that game against the Patriots, Fitzpatrick has posted one excellent stat line since, and it came at the Jets! He's had three other games where he's connected for two touchdowns, and the other eight matchups he's had -- against some easy opponents -- have been very disappointing.

The three factors in Fitzpatrick's decline have involved the Bills' run game being successful (thus him not having to throw as much), the Bills' pass game being predictable and the Bills' receiving corps battling injuries. Offensive line issues have also hampered Fitzpatrick though he's been sacked a total of six times in his last four. And while he's slid, many other quarterbacks have stepped up, making him easy to pass over.

But here's a correlation you can feel good about: In the six games this season when Fitzpatrick has attempted over 34 passes, he's averaged 285.0 yards and 1.83 touchdowns. Only once did he come away with no touchdowns or less than 250 yards, and it happened in the same game (a forgettable effort at Miami).

And here's another: Had an owner merely started the quarterback playing the Patriots in each of the last five weeks, he would have registered more Fantasy points collectively than Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers or Tim Tebow. So obviously there's something to starting a passer against these guys.

Sure, Fitzpatrick has been inconsistent over the course of the season, but in a matchup where he's expected to throw a lot while playing from behind against a Patriots defense that's struggled to get to the quarterback, it's impossible to think he'll be flat-out awful. If you've been flipping through quarterbacks -- perhaps you used Grossman or Moore when they played against the Patriots recently -- it's time to take a look Fitzpatrick in Week 17.

  Go deeper into the week's matchups with our Interactive Fantasy Matchup Magnifier!

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Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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