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Fantasy Football: Trust or Bust Week 17

Rich Hribar focuses on who he deems as trustworthy starts and peppers in a few sits for your PPR leagues.

fantasy football, Ben Roethlisberger
fantasy football, Ben Roethlisberger

Dec 22, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Pittsburgh won 38-31. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In Fantasy Football Trust or Bust, we will focus on who we deem as trustworthy starts and pepper in a few sits for your Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues.

TRUST

Ben Roethlisberger vs CLE

Big Ben is finishing his 2013 season on fire. During the Steelers first seven games, he threw only eight touchdowns to six interceptions and multiple scores in only one of those games. In the eight games that followed, he’s thrown for two or more touchdowns six times, totaling 19 touchdowns to only five interceptions.

This Sunday will be the first season that Ben has played in all 16 games since 2008, and is 246 yards passing behind his career high of 4,328 yards passing he totaled in 2009. His 27 touchdown passes are already the second most in his career and highest total since 2007 (32). With one game still left to be played, his 553 pass attempts are already 40 more than he’s ever had in any season.

Cleveland is unlikely to pose any threat to slowing him down in the finale. The Browns rank well in yardage surrendered through the air (26th), and have only allowed one 300 yard passer (Tom Brady). However, Cleveland has allowed two or more touchdown passes in ten consecutive games with seven of those signal callers have topped 20 fantasy points.

DeAngelo Williams @ ATL

Since Jonathan Stewart was shelved again, Williams has carried 40 times (70 percent of the Carolina running back carries) for 200 yards over his past three with a score to go with 98 receiving yards (in large part to a 84 yard touchdown against the Jets) and another touchdown. His 191 season rushing attempts and 24 receptions are the most he’s had in a season in both categories since 2009.

Atlanta still allows the second most rushing yardage per game (135.9 yards) and have given up 100 or more yards rushing to teams in 12 consecutive games. They’ve allowed lead backs to reach 90 yards rushing or score in six of their past seven games. Regardless if Steve Smith is ruled out this weekend or not, Williams and Carolina should feature the run at will.

T.Y. Hilton vs JAC

Things started so promising for Hilton’s fantasy prospects when Reggie Wayne was lost for the season. In his first two games in Wayne’s absence, Hilton snatched 14 of 20 targets for 251 yards and three touchdowns. In the six games since, he’s totaled just 265 yards on 30 catches and no touchdowns, reaching 70 yards in just one game.

He’s still caught five or more passes in seven of his past eight, and has seen seven or more targets in nine of his past ten games. The Jaguars have struggled mightily on the back end, not only just in defending the slot, but with vertical options as well. Since their bye in week nine, DeAndre Hopkins, Robert Woods, Michael Floyd, Josh Gordon and Nate Washington have all had 75 yards or more facing Jacksonville, with eight receivers scoring in their past six games.

Cordarrelle Patterson vs DET

Patterson has come on over the past month, averaging 68.8 yards from scrimmage over his past five games, topping 50 YFS in four of those games. Patterson now is up to touching the ball on 11.5 percent of his offensive snaps, which ranks sixth best out of all NFL receivers. Snaps are what he’s finally getting too, playing 40 or more offensive snaps in five of his past six games. He’s added eight carries for 102 yards over his past four games while scoring in all four.

This Sunday he’ll face a Lions team who is still most vulnerable on the back end. Although it’s mostly due to a 70 yard run by Randall Cobb, Detroit has also allowed the most rushing yards to receivers (148) on the season. With his blend of creative usage continuing to be a staple in the Viking offense, Patterson is a perfect boom or bust flex or WR3 option.

BUST

Kirk Cousins @ NYG

Cousins has been a solid streaming option during the past two weeks since replacing Robert Griffin to close out a disastrous season in Washington. He’s had one game of massive volume (45 attempts) versus a lousy pass defense in Atlanta that led to 21 fantasy points, which he followed with a lackluster 197 yard performance at home against a reeling Dallas defense.

Despite their 6-9 record, the Giants actually have a sound defense, including preventing passing damage. New York has allowed only nine passing touchdowns (with 10 interceptions) over their past 11 games, with multiple passing scores in only three of those games. Only two quarterbacks have eclipsed 20 fantasy points in that stretch with only one quarterback passing for 300 yards or more.

Frank Gore @ ARI

After a middling four games in weeks 10-13 where he failed to reach 85 yards rushing and scored only one touchdown, Gore has gotten back into a groove. Over his past three games, he has averaged 20 carries for 97 yards, topping 85 rushing yards in each week.

San Francisco plays at the same time as Seattle, so there’s no real threat of Gore resting, but the matchup is one of the toughest for fantasy backs. Arizona allows the fewest points to backs this season, not allowing a top 12 fantasy back at all through 15 games. Only two backs have reached 90 yards rushing in a game facing Arizona, none since week seven. Gore was the only back to reach 100 yards against them all season, but a repeat performance would be surprising.

Vincent Jackson @ NO

Generally a boom or bust option, Jackson has actually been fairly consistent this year. Consistently average that is. Jackson has topped 100 yards only once in his past nine games, catching three or few passes in five of those with only one game over five receptions. As Mike Glennon has regressed down the stretch (passing for 180 yards or fewer in four straight), Jackson has his once high ceiling capped around mid WR2 levels.

The Saints have not been friendly to opposing wide receivers at all this season, allowing only 10 receivers to score this season (tied for sixth best). They are allowing just 137 yards passing per game over their past three while allowing only 15.4 points per game at home this season. New Orleans has allowed only one receiver to reach 100 yards (Alshon Jeffery) and the 79 yards allowed to Harry Douglas in week 12 are the most they’ve allowed over their past ten games.

Full Disclosure From Week 16

PLAYER

PPR PTS

RESULT

Ryan Fitzpatrick

9.34

QB20

Ryan Mathews

20.9

RB7

Torrey Smith

9.9

WR38

Delanie Walker

7.5

TE14

BUST

Tom Brady

10.9

QB15

Andre Brown

5.4

RB49

Pierre Thomas

6.5

RB45

Andre Johnson

10.3

WR33

SEASON RESULTS

W

L

TRUST

41

36

BUST

40

18

Stats used were provided from ProFootballFocus, Pro-Football-Reference, NFLData.com.

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