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Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15. He's back after missing Week 16 due to COVID. Ekeler should be reinserted into fantasy lineups without hesitation for Week 17.

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15. He’s back after missing Week 16 due to COVID. Ekeler should be reinserted into fantasy lineups without hesitation for Week 17.

With COVID-19 and its surging variants disrupting rosters left and right in the NFL, fantasy managers have to take a stab at setting their lineups for various league championships for Week 17.

Of course, every player listed in the start or sit sections below will come with a grain of salt, as we publish early this week. Managers will have to stay nimble should any players enter protocols.

More: Fantasy football: Waiver wire could be crucial heading into Week 17, fantasy final

Being flexible will be crucial this week, as even the league has adjusted protocols for players who test positive and are asymptomatic. Stay plugged in, especially if you’ve advanced to your league’s finals.

NFL odds: Matchups, spreads and over/unders



Matthew Stafford, Rams: Stafford wasn’t impressive against the Vikings last week, but if you survived, he should have a strong performance against a Ravens defense that is last in points allowed to quarterbacks over the last four weeks and just got scorched by Joe Burrow.

Jalen Hurts, Eagles: Dak Prescott carved up the Washington Football Team last week and Hurts adds a rushing dimension that has served him well all season. He logged a QB3 performance against the same WFT squad in Week 15.

Trey Lance, 49ers: This is a bit of a crazy call here, but I could see a heavy underdog throw Lance into their lineup as a desperation play due to his upside. The Texans have been middle of the road in limiting the position.


Ryan Tannehill, Titans: The Dolphins defense has been great over the last four weeks and just throttled poor Ian Book on Monday night. Tannehill hasn’t been a QB1 since Week 10.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: There was a point this season in which Big Ben had QB1 performances in three out of four weeks. But after that, he failed to throw for more than 160 yards in two straight games. The last time he played Cleveland, this week’s opponent, he had underwhelming numbers.

Derek Carr, Raiders: The Colts are solid against quarterbacks and Carr hasn’t been a QB1 since Week 12 against the Cowboys. He hasn’t thrown more than one TD pass in a game since Week 10.

Running backs


Austin Ekeler, Chargers: This is why you drafted him so high. If you survived him missing last week due to COVID, don’t be shy about plugging him back into the starting lineup. He faces Denver, a team that gave up 99 total yards and a TD to him in Week 12.

Ronald Jones, Buccaneers: It’s just like fantasy football to have a guy be so useless for so long before becoming so valuable right at the end. Jones logged an RB1 score last week and gets to face the Jets in championship week.

Javonte Williams, Broncos: In the last four weeks the Chargers have been sixth worst in points allowed to running backs. Williams struggled last week against the Raiders but still managed to get in the end zone. He had a top-10 score when he faced the Chargers in Week 12.


Miami running backs: Myles Gaskin, Duke Johnson and Phillip Lindsay should all get meaningful touches for the Dolphins, but none should impact fantasy scores significantly. The Titans have been the best at limiting running backs over the last four weeks.

Dare Ogunbowale, Jaguars: Yes, James Robinson is out, but I don’t think we saw enough out of Ogunbowale to be confident in starting him against the Patriots. Ogunbowale had 57 yards on 17 carries against the Jets in Week 16.

D’Onta Foreman, Titans: The Dolphins have been the second best team at slowing running backs over the last month. They most recently held Alvin Kamara to just 59 total yards and no TDs.

Wide receivers


Antonio Brown, Buccaneers: Brown led the Bucs last week with 101 receiving yards. Mike Evans is currently on the COVID list, so it looks like Brown could end up leading the corps again as the Bucs face the Jets.

Odell Beckham, Rams: The Ravens have been last in points allowed to wideouts and Beckham is coming off a game in which he scored. Stafford has targeted him at least five times in four of the last five games.

Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins: He’s on fire and you can’t stop playing him now. The rookie has had two WR1 games out of his last three. He’s been targeted at least nine times in each of his last four games. The Titans aren’t too strong against wideouts.


Titans not named A.J. Brown: Brown had a great return to the field, but his colleagues probably can’t be trusted for fantasy purposes against the Dolphins. Miami has been the best at limiting wide receivers over the last four weeks.

Terry McLaurin, Washington: Now’s not the time to trust a player who hasn’t recorded a WR2 or better score since Week 11. The last time McLaurin faced the Eagles, this week’s opponent, he caught two passes for 51 yards.

Russell Gage, Falcons: It’s been tough predicting when he’ll have a useful fantasy score. In three of the last five games, he’s been a WR1. In the other two games he finished outside the top 45. It’s a difficult matchup against Buffalo this week.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Fantasy football: Players to start, and others to sit, in NFL Week 17