It’s the end of the road. The grand finale. The final stop. The last curtain call. This column has been really fun to write this season and I hope I helped some of you prevail in tough roster situations with my weekly shoot-the-moon picks.
Week 17 presents the usual injury and COVID-19 challenges, along with some players possibly being shut down early in preservation for the real NFL playoffs.
Here are a handful of guys who may help you hoist that trophy — or they could do nothing and leave you bitter until 2022.
Davis Mills, QB - 49ers
The rookie QB has quietly put together three weeks of double-digit fantasy points and sits as the fantasy QB9 since Week 14. His best WR, Brandin Cooks, could be back for this Week 17 contest which enhances Mills’ appeal as a streamer this week.
The Texans have won two tilts in a row and travel to San Francisco to face a 49ers defense that is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to enemy QBs this season. The spread on this game is pretty large as the 49ers are 12.5-point favorites, which would mean plenty of airing out for Mills in the second half if they get down early. This play is for those in need of a prayer at QB, and the 23-year old Mills could be your guy.
Josh Palmer, WR - Chargers
Palmer was the beneficiary of Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams and Jalen Guyton landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list for Week 16, catching 5-of-6 balls for 46 yards and a score in the loss to the Texans. With Williams candidly unvaccinated, he may not clear the protocol for Week 17, opening the door once again for Palmer.
The Broncos’ secondary is not exactly the softest of opponents, but with Patrick Surtain ll probably focusing on Keenan Allen, Palmer has the potential for a league-winning day at home.
Derrick Gore, RB - Chiefs
With Clyde Edwards-Helaire most likely out with an injured collarbone, Darrel Williams will assume lead-back duties with Gore as the team’s RB2. The 27-year old led the Chiefs in rushing attempts last week against the Steelers and was responsible for a huge 50-yard play for Kansas City on a throw from Patrick Mahomes in busted coverage.
The Bengals are not the easiest matchup for Gore and the Chiefs run game, but this contest features the second-highest over/under of the week at 49.5 points so it could easily turn into a shootout. We’ve seen big games from Gore before with crickets the following week, so he is risky, but he could also make the most of his touches and find the end zone in Week 17.
Breshad Perriman, WR - Buccaneers
Last week was supposed to be the Perriman breakout, but he couldn’t clear COVID-19 protocols in time for the game. The sixth-year WR is activated and in a smash spot in a depleted Tampa Bay wideout room. With Chris Godwin out for the season and Mike Evans’ status still in heavy doubt, Perriman can slide in as a starter behind Antonio Brown who was the only WR besides Cyril Grayson to catch a pass in Week 16.
With the Bucs still jockeying for their playoff spot, expect full tilt from Tom Brady, and Perriman could reap the rewards in the form of targets. The 28-year old could come up big in Week 17, or pull a Tyler Johnson from last week and do nothing.
John Bates, TE - Football Team
With Logan Thomas out for the season, it’s been presumably Ricky Seals-Jones as the starter at TE for Washington, but things are not necessarily playing out that way down the stretch. Bates saw 74% of last week’s snaps to Seals-Jones’ 46% and out-targeted the veteran TE three to one against the Cowboys.
Bates comes into play this week based on a glorious matchup. The Eagles sit dead-last in touchdowns (12) and receptions (98) allowed to the TE position and have surrendered the sixth-most receiving yards to opposing TEs in 2021. Of course, it could be an RSJ day, but Bates has been trending as the emerging TE and carries more upside.