Fantasy owners whose leagues play through Week 17 have to be reasonably happy, as the majority of playoff contenders are still fighting for positioning. Only the Falcons, who have clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC, seem like a clear potential candidate to rest starters in the final week of the regular season. However, the Colts (locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC) and Bengals (the AFC's No. 6 seed) also could be inclined to sit some players.
Before fillling out a lineup in Week 17, be sure to have a good idea of how a team intends to approach the final game of the regular season. Intent and motivation are so very important right now. Also, a look at the weather is also prudent.
As you look to finish the season on a positive note, here are waiver-wire suggestions at the QB, RB, WR, TE and D/ST positions. Players are in order of how I would prioritize them on the waiver wire, and they are ranked by position, not relative to all players on the list. The suggestions below are a function of matchups, expected opportunities and other factors.
As a general rule, I focus only upon players available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Good luck to all as the regular season draws to a close:
1. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (owned in 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues) — Why is he available in so many leagues? My theory: He didn't really start producing like a fantasy starter until November, and there haven't been a lot of big-time QB injuries in 2012. If you need a quarterback and he's STILL on the waiver wire, pick him up. That, or take a snapshot of the computer screen, because he's not going to be widely available next season.
2. Eagles QB Michael Vick (49 percent) — With Nick Foles out with a broken hand, Vick likely will be the one to face a reeling Giants defense in the regular-season finale.
3. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (40 percent) — Threw three TD passes against the Jets in Week One.
4. Titans QB Jake Locker (17 percent) — Hasn't played well of late, but he gets a favorable matchup in Week 17 (Jacksonville), and the motivation to have a nice game entering the offseason should not be lacking.
5. Jaguars QB Chad Henne (nine percent) — Faces the Titans, who are No. 26 vs. the pass and have allowed 29 TD passes.
6, Vikings QB Christian Ponder (16 percent) — Only if you are convinced the Vikings will fall behind vs. Green Bay and will be in pass-first mode.
7. Rams QB Sam Bradford (26 percent) — Hard to love the matchup with Seahawks, especially at noisy CenturyLink Field.
8. Falcons QB Chris Redman (zero percent) — We could see quite a bit of Redman in Week 17. The Falcons are locked into the No. 1 seed in the NFC. If it's clear Redman will play extended minutes, he's usable in big two-QB formats.
1. Saints RB Mark Ingram (31 percent) — Got a season-high 21 carries in Sunday's win at Dallas and scored a TD for the second consecutive game. He's getting the most rushing attempts of the Saints' backs.
2. Packers RB Ryan Grant (five percent) — Authored one of the feel-good moments of the fantasy football season with 114 total yards, two TDs and a Lambeau Leap in the Packers' blowout win vs. Tennessee on Sunday. If Alex Green (concussion) is again out, Grant is startable in Week 17 at Minnesota, especially in bigger leagues.
3. Chargers RB Jackie Battle (14 percent) — Led the Chargers with 19 carries in Week 16 and faces an Oakland defense that has allowed 18 rushing TDs in 15 games. A sleeper.
4. Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall (37 percent) — Racked up 50 yards on 11 carries in Sunday's loss to Cincinnati. Very interested to see how much he plays — and how he's received — in the Steelers' regular-season finale. My gut feeling? Mendenhall will perform well in what could be his last game at Heinz Field as a member of the Steelers.
5. Jaguars RB Montell Owens (27 percent) — Merits flex consideration if Maurice Jones-Drew doesn't return for the season finale against Tennessee (No. 23 vs. the run).
6. Patriots RB Danny Woodhead (40 percent) — Has scored seven TDs in 108 touches for the Patriots' powerful offense.
7. Browns RB Montario Hardesty (two percent) — Likely to get most of the carries if Trent Richardson (ankle) can't play in Week 17, but the Browns are not playing well, and the Steelers are allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game.
8. Texans RB Ben Tate (31 percent) — A reasonable pickup for Arian Foster owners after Foster left Sunday's game with an irregular heartbreat. Foster has said the incident was a "a very minor situation," but Foster owners might want to pick up Tate or Justin Forsett just in case. Tate is the preferred pickup.
9. Falcons RB Jason Snelling (zero percent) — With the Falcons clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC, could Snelling, their No. 3 running back, see a significant increase in carries in Week 17? It's possible. Owners in bigger leagues might claim him with the hope it becomes clear he will have a bigger role in the regular-season finale.
10. Bears RB Kahlil Bell (zero percent) — Would see his workload increase if Bears RB Matt Forté (ankle) misses the regular-season finale at Detroit.
11. Lions RB Joique Bell (42 percent) — Lions' top reserve back quietly has racked up 874 combined yards and three TDs.
1. Panthers WR Brandon LaFell (23 percent) — A solid plug-and-play option against the Saints' No. 31-ranked pass defense.
2. Seahawks WR Golden Tate (43 percent) — A starting role in a high-scoring Seattle offense and good production (seven TD catches) are the appeal.
3. Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin (four percent) — Hauled in four passes for 53 yards and two TDs in Seattle's rout of San Francisco on Sunday night. What's more, Baldwin played 53-of-65 offensive snaps.
4. 49ers WR Randy Moss (18 percent) — The 49ers need a win in Week 17 to clinch the NFC West, and they lost WR Mario Manningham and TE Vernon Davis to injuries on Sunday night. Moss' six targets in Week 16 equaled a season-high, and he scored a 47-yard TD in the first meeting with Arizona.
5. Saints WR Joseph Morgan (one percent) — Big-play threat didn't have a pass thrown his way in Sunday's win at Dallas, but he did play 44 percent of the snaps, and he could be worth a look in big leagues in Week 17.
1. Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (45 percent) — Caught 4-of-5 passes thrown his way in Week 16, racking up 56 yards. The lone incompletion was near the goal line. Pitta is second on the Ravens in TD catches (seven).
2. Buccaneers TE Dallas Clark (25 percent) — Third on the Buccaneers in TD catches (four), targets (74) and catches. The Falcons could be resting starters with the No. 1 seed in the NFC in hand.
3. Broncos TE Jacob Tamme (35 percent) — Had catches of 36 and 33 yards vs. Cleveland in Week 16. What's more, he had a TD catch in the Broncos' first meeting with Kansas City.
4. Lions TE Tony Scheffler (12 percent) — Will continue to have some fantasy value, particularly in bigger leagues, as long as Brandon Pettigrew (high ankle sprain) is out.
5. Rams TE Lance Kendricks (two percent) — Has a TD catch in each of the last two games, including an 80-yarder at Tampa Bay on Sunday.
1. San Diego (49 percent) — The Chargers sacked Jets QB Greg McElroy 11 times (!) in Week 16, and they host the Raiders in Week 17. San Diego's stock rises all the more if Raiders QB Carson Palmer (ribs) is out.
2. Detroit (47 percent) — The Bears' offense lacks punch and struggles in pass protection.
3. Buffalo (23 percent) — The Bills host the Jets in the season finale.
4. Tampa Bay (29 percent) — A consideration only if it's clear the Falcons will be resting their stars on offense for most of the game.