2021 NFL Fantasy Football Week 17 Waiver Wire Pickups

 NFL Week 17 Fantasy Football playoff, waiver wire, and injury help is here! 


RUNNING BACKS (RB): Darrel Williams, Jeff Wilson Jr, Ke’shawn Vaughn, Brandon Bolden, Derrick Gore, Jordan Howard, Kenneth Gainwell, Dare Ogunbowale, Rex Burkhead, Devontae Booker

WIDE RECEIVERS (WR): Amon-Ra St Brown, Allen Lazard, KJ Osborn, Isaiah McKenzie, Kendrick Bourne 

TIGHT ENDS (TE): Hunter Henry, Foster Moreau, Tyler Conklin, Cole Kmet

QUARTERBACKS (QB): Trey Lance, Jared Goff,  Mac Jones

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS (D/ST): Lansas City Chiefs (at Bengals), Cleveland Browns (at Steelers), Green Bay Packers (vs Vikings), Chicago Bears (vs Giants)

RUNNING BACKS (RB): 

Darrel Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (currently owned in 60.3% of all ESPN leagues):
Williams will get a much larger role this week with CEH potentially unable to go for this week’s matchup against Cincinnati.  The latter didn’t break his collarbone, but he did suffer a bruised shoulder that has shown some swelling.  Even if CEH is able to go this week, chances are he’ll have a very limited role which helps raise Williams’ ceiling.  Williams took 11 totes for 55 yards and brought in all 3 of his targets for 30 yards against the Steelers last week.

Jeff Wilson Jr, RB, San Francisco 49ers (currently owned in 61.5% of all ESPN leagues):
Wilson managed 45 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and he brought in all 3 of his targets for 13 yards against a tough Tennessee run defense.  The 49ers have a much easier matchup this week against a Texans run defense that’s among the worst in the league.  Even if Elijah Mitchell returns this week, Wilson could have a chance to log some garbage time points or he could break off some big plays when he’s called on to spell Mitchell.  Given Mitchell’s absence and ongoing leg injury, the 49ers backfield could be a timeshare between Mitchell and Wilson this week.

Ke’shawn Vaughn, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (currently owned in 1% of all ESPN leagues):
Vaughn might be one of the top candidates to get garbage time work this week.  The Buccaneers have a very favorable matchup against the Jets and Vaughn could be deployed early and often in a rout worse than Dallas vs Washington last Sunday night.  Moreover, the Jets have one of the worst run defenses in the league which means Vaughn could break off some long runs with one of the league’s best offensive lines blocking for him.  He logged 70 yards and a touchdown on 7 carries which included a 55 yard scamper to the endzone last week against the Panthers.  He’s available in virtually all ESPN leagues. 

Jordan Howard, RB,  Philadelphia Eagles (currently owned in 8.6% of all ESPN leagues):
Howard suffered a stinger last week against the Giants and was sidelined for a bit.  While that injury limited him to just 9 carries for 37 yards and 2 catches for 19 yards, he could have a much larger role this week against a Washington unit that’s defended the run well.  If he can suit up on Sunday, he’ll fill in for Miles Sanders who suffered a broken hand. 

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (currently owned in 10.2% of all ESPN leagues):
With Sanders sidelined for the remainder of the season, Gainwell would step in as lead back if Howard is limited or can’t go.  Gainwell is easily the Eagles’ most complete playmaker and gets involved in the passing game when he takes the field.  He could have a complimentary pass catching anyway with Montez Sweat back on the field for Washington.  Gainwell is a deep league PPR flier. 

Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots (currently owned in 5.7% of all ESPN leagues):
Harris is an injury-prone Running back who’s typically on a snap count.  That could be the case this week in what could turn into a potential blowout against the Jaguars.  If Rhamondre Stevenson can’t clear Covid protocols prior to Sunday’s kickoff, Bolden could get carries especially late in the game.  This makes Bolden worth rostering, especially in deep leagues, but owners should monitor Stevenson’s status before getting Bolden into any lineups.  

Rex Burkhead, RB, Houston Texans (currently owned in 24.2% of all ESPN leagues):
Here’s the thing.  Burkhead’s 22 carries for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns last week weren’t a breakout, especially not behind a Texans offensive line that’s struggled all year.  Instead it exposed a lack of depth in the Chargers’ defense behind Joey Bosa.  Burkhead and the Texans will have a much more difficult matchup this week against a good 49ers run defense.  He can be rostered, but started only in desperation.  
**UPDATE** David Johnson has been placed on Covid IR giving Burkhead the role of lead running back.

Derrick Gore, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (currently owned in 0.5% of all ESPN leagues):
The Chiefs’ backfield was a full on timeshare last week with Kelce on Covid protocol and Hill not clearing protocol until late in the week.  Reid and the Chiefs game planned without Hill as a result and got other pass catchers like Derrick Gore involved.  Gore logged 43 yards on 12 carries as a result and added another 61 yards on 3 catches.  The Bengals offense is much more competent than the Steelers.  If Tyrann Matthieu is held out because he truly has a quad injury, this week’s bout could turn into a shootout which means Gore could have an expanded role in the passing game.  However, if Kelce and Hill are both back, all bets are off. 

Dare Ogunbowale, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (currently owned in 0.2% of all ESPN leagues):
Ogunbowale carried the ball 17 times for 57 yards and a touchdown last week after James Robinson went down with a torn Achilles’ tendon.  However, he posted that box score against the Jets who have one of the worst run defenses in the league.  He’ll face a stout Patriots front this week so he’ll probably be held in check.  He’s a desperation dart throw only.  

Devontae Booker, RB, New York Giants (currently owned in 24.8% of all ESPN leagues):
This truly is a speculative play in every sense.  The Giants might shut down franchise running back Saquon Barkley now that they have nothing left to play for.  This means Booker would step into the role of lead back against a Bears run defense that’s been average at best all year.  Booker has stepped in occasionally to spell Barkley on the ground and he’s caught 4 passes in 3 of his last 4 outings which means he’s involved in the passing game as well.  

WIDE RECEIVERS (WR):

Amon-Ra St Brown, WR, Detroit Lions (currently owned in 61.8% of all ESPN leagues):
St Brown has been lighting up opposing defenses for weeks now.  Last week he brought in 9 of his 11 targets for 91 yards and a touchdown and he did it with Tim Boyle taking snaps.  Since moving from the perimeter to the slot in week 13, he’s been targeted a monstrous 44 times and he’s brought in 35 of those targets for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns.  While he’s not a yardage monster, he certainly has volume on his side especially as Detroit’s premier possession receiver.  Jared Goff cleared Covid protocol to raise the rookie wideout’s ceiling against the Seahawks suspect secondary this week.  He should be rostered in all leagues and formats.

Allen Lazard, WR, Green Bay Packers (currently owned in 16.2% of all ESPN leagues):
Lazard has always been a big play boom or bust dart throw.  He got extra targets against a solid Browns coverage unit last week with Marquez Valdez-Scantling added to the Covid list and used the opportunity to log 2 catches for 45 yards and a touchdown.  He’ll face a softer Vikings secondary this week and he could have more big play opportunities if MVS can’t suit up.  

KJ Osborn, WR, Minnesota Vikings (currently owned in 29.6% of all ESPN leagues):
Osborn saw extensive usage again after Adam Thielen left the game with an ankle injury and the Vikings fell behind the Rams early in last week’s game.  Most of the coverage focused on stopping Justin Jefferson first which allowed Osborn to haul in 5 of his 7 targets for 68 yards and a touchdown.  This week could be more of the same if the Packers jump out to an early lead and Cousins is forced to sling it to play catch-up.  Roster Osborn, but monitor the statuses of Thielen and Dalvin Cook before starting Osborn.  

Khalif Raymond, WR, Detroit Lions (currently owned in 2.7% of all ESPN leagues):
Raymond gets a soft matchup and a bump in targets this week.  Josh Reynolds entered Covid protocols on Monday and could be sidelined for this week’s bout in Seattle.  Meanwhile the Seahawks injured coverage unit adds to Raymond’s upside.  There was a stretch during weeks 3-7 when he saw 7 targets or more in 3 of 5 games prior to the Lions signing Reynolds.  During that time he brought in 21 of his 33 targets for 266 yards and a pair of scores, and he did it against some tough coverage units like the Bears, Rams and Eagles.  He could see that type of volume again this week if Hockenson, Reynolds, and Swift are all sidelined. 

Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Buffalo Bills (currently owned in 0.3% of all ESPN leagues):
McKenzie brought in 11 of his 12 targets for 125 yards and a touchdown against a tough Patriots coverage unit last week thanks to the absences of Davis and Beasley.  The Bills possession receiver and shifty playmaker could be in line for another big workload if Gabriel Davis and Cole Beasley can’t clear Covid protocols again this week.  McKenzie and the Bills face a fantasy friendly Falcons secondary this week.  Monitor Davis and Beasley’s statuses prior to kickoff before getting McKenzie in the starting lineup. 

Kendrick Bourne, WR, New England Patriots (currently owned in 22.6% of all ESPN leagues):
Bourne is one of the weapons that make the Patriots offensive engine go.  He lines up all over the place, even in the backfield, and Josh McDaniels uses him in a variety of ways.  While the last few contests have presented some pretty tough matchups, Bourne’s touches are mostly designed plays that manufacture offense.  This means Bourne will get his touches.  The Jaguars come to Foxborough this week which means weather could play a factor.  However, Bourne benefits from the fact that he takes handoffs and pitches and usually works in the short passing game so he can make plays in the open field with the ball in his hands.  He’s a boom or bust deep league flier this week, though his matchup and usage provide added upside.  

TIGHT ENDS (TE): 

Hunter Henry, TE, New England Patriots (currently owned in 54% of all ESPN leagues):
Hunter Henry has seen his fantasy stock drop along with the production of the Patriots passing game.  He’s still an add this week against a suspect Jaguars secondary and there’s a good chance he could find the endzone this week. 

Foster Moreau, TE, Las Vegas Raiders (currently owned in 21.9% of all ESPN leagues):
Derek Carr will be slinging it this week as Jonathan Taylor wears down the Raiders defense.  Las Vegas’ passing game has struggled and they need playmakers other than Hunter Renfrow.  The Colts are 29th in the league defending opposing tight ends making Moreau a decent flier this week.  He brought in 7 of 9 targets for 65 yards against the Browns just a couple of weeks ago.  

Tyler Conklin, TE, Minnesota Vikings (currently owned in 42.7% of all ESPN leagues):
Conklin could continue to be involved in the Vikings’ passing game, especially this week against a high flying Green Bay offense.  The Packers are 22ns in the league defending tight ends and, if Thielen and Cook are both sidelined this week, the Vikings could turn to Conklin in a shootout. 

Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago Bears (currently owned in 40.5% of all ESPN leagues):
Kmet has been targeted 7 or more times in 3 of his last 5 contests.  Unfortunately he’s more of a possession receiver for the Bears and Jimmy Graham gets most of the red zone targets.  He does get a favorable matchup against a Giants team that’s been average defending tight ends this season making him a decent streaming option if Allen Robinson is out again. 

QUARTERBACKS (QB): 

Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers (currently owned in 4.8% of all ESPN leagues):
The Trey Lance era will officially begin in San Francisco after Jimmy G tore a ligament in his hand and fractured his thumb in last week’s contest.  Lance has a friendly matchup against a Texans secondary that’s average at best, but he can certainly use his legs to add to his box score against one of the worst rushing defenses in the league.  

Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions (currently owned in 3.5% of all ESPN leagues):
Goff heads west to face an old division foe this week. The Seahawks’ depleted secondary has been one of the worst in the league this year and they just surrendered 250 yards and a touchdown to Nick Foles and the struggling Bears offense.  This is an opponent Goff knows and the Lions dink and dunk offense will make it tough for the Seahawks to defend.  Goff is a game manager and light rain could lower his ceiling, but the matchup offers plenty of upside.  

Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots (currently owned in 18.9% of all ESPN leagues):
Jones has struggled lately, throwing 2 picks in each of his last 2 outings against the tough coverage units of the Colts and Bills.  However, this week offers him a chance to bounce back.  While the Jaguars coverage unit is no slouch, it is average at best and Josh McDaniels should be able to call a game that maximizes Jones’ strengths with a full compliment of receiving options as his disposal.  

DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS (D/ST):

Chicago Bears (currently owned in 13% of all ESPN leagues):
Giants QB Mike Glennon has struggled since taking over for injured Daniel Jones.  Glennon was the Bears starting quarterback for a brief period so the Bears know what makes Glennon tick.  The Giants ground game takes another hit if they decide to shut down Saquon Barkley for the season which helps the Bears defense since the Bears struggle to defend the run without DT Akiem Hicks (Covid).  Finally, the Giants have struggled in just about ever offensive category this season.  All of these factors combine to make the Bears a viable streaming option this week.  

Kansas City Chiefs (currently owned in 31.2% of all ESPN leagues): 
The Chiefs defense bounced back last week against a Steelers offense that’s struggled all year.  The Steelers managed just 324 offensive yards, most of which came late in the game during garbage time in a blowout loss.  Tyrann Mathieu did get dinged up though so his status will be something to monitor.  Sorensen will step in for Mathieu this week if the latter is unable to suit up or is kept out of the contest for whatever reason.  At this point it only looks like Mathieu has a bruised thigh so he should be good to go.  They’ll have the challenge of limiting a Bengals offense that’s been hot lately along with offensive rookie of the year candidate Ja’marr Chase.  

Cleveland Browns (currently owned in 39.2% of all ESPN leagues): 
The Browns have a chance to spoil what could be Big Ben’s final home game of his career this week.  They struggled to limit a Packers offense that’s been rolling, but they should have an easier time this week against a Steelers offense that’s struggled all year.  Miles Garrett will lead a defensive front to pressure Big Ben into some mistakes and try to contain rookie Najee Harris.  Greedy Williams will step in for rookie CB Greg Newsome who has been placed on the Covid reserve list.  The Browns should be able to run the ball, control the clock, and keep the Steelers offense off the field though.

Green Bay Packers (currently owned in 61.6% of all ESPN leagues):
The Pack is back with most of their defense in tact.  The Vikings could struggle to run the ball if Cook remains out on Covid protocol and their passing game could suffer if Thielen is sidelined again with an ankle injury.  It should be noted that the Packers allowed 34 points to the Vikings and generated just 2 sacks with no turnovers in week 11’s matchup in Minnesota, but that could change in the frozen tundra this week.  However, Kenny Clark is back to clog up the middle and DB Rasul Douglas is making a name for himself in the secondary.  Monitor the health of the Vikings offensive playmakers before starting this defensive unit.  

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