The Shadow Knows Week 17 2017

By Gary Davenport
Gary Davenport It's the end of the line—past the end of it in most fantasy football leagues.

In the majority of leagues, last week brought with it the championship game. With any luck, this article and the other information available here at Football Diehards helped you to fame and glory.

A few extra bucks would be nice too.

However, for some there's still one week of action to go, whether it's in DFS formats or those that wait until the final week of the season to decide who will reign supreme.

That latter group is paying a price for that decision this year, just as they do in every other. The Los Angeles Rams are sitting many of their starters. So are the Kansas City Chiefs. The Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers will probably follow suit.

A surprise it isn't. It's the risk incurred by waiting that one final week to stage the title game.

Resting players aren't the only issue this week. Many players on teams who are eliminated from playoff contention will be taking the week off with injuries they might otherwise play through.

Add those factors together and you get a final edition of this column for 2017 that's both a bit on the short side and that contains some names you might not otherwise see listed here. "Elite" is a concept in fantasy football that's relative to the pool of talent available.

Let's dip in a toe, shall we?

Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (vs. AZ – Patrick Peterson)

As Gregg Bell wrote for the Tacoma News-Tribune, as goes Baldwin so goes the Seattle offense. "For Baldwin, there is a direct correlation between the Seahawks’ offense humming smoothly at its best and him catching more passes," he said. "The numbers support him. While the offense was getting shut out until the final 83 seconds of the third quarter against Los Angeles, Baldwin had just one catch on three targets for 6 yards. When Seattle had no points until the final 98 seconds of the second quarter at Dallas, Baldwin had two catches on four targets for just 4 yards. Three catches in two losses. Baldwin had twice that many receptions against the Texans on Oct. 29, the day Wilson set the Seahawks’ single-game record with 452 yards passing."

THE SHADOW SAYS: Baldwin has just five catches for 41 yards over the last two games, although a scoring grab against the Cowboys a week ago salvaged a decent day for fantasy owners. However, before Baldwin owners reach for the liquor cabinet consider two things. The first is that this Seahawks team is desperate to win this game and knows as well as Bell does that a big game for Baldwin likely means a good result for the team. The second is that over his last three games against the Cardinals, Baldwin has reeled in 24 passes for 325 yards and a touchdown.

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (at DET – Detroit Lions)

As Slay told Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, the fact that his statistical success in 2017 earned him an extra $550,000 in performance bonuses hasn't been lost on the 26-year-old. “Of course,” Slay said. “Yes, I know my money. I feel I could have been Pro Bowl the past three years, but I didn’t get enough hands on the ball. Now I’m getting hands on the ball, making a lot of plays. I should have been (a Pro Bowler in the past), but it’s good they’re noticing. I’ve been balling. I’ve been working, I’ve been grinding, competing every play against their best and it is what it is.”

THE SHADOW SAYS: The Lions and Packers will meet Sunday in a game that has slightly less meaning than this article – a game where the Packers are chewed to pieces offensively. Aaron Rodgers in on injured reserve again. Jordy Nelson's out. So is (in all likelihood) Davante Adams – the only receiver Brett Hundley looked to with any regularity. That leaves Cobb – who managed a whopping four catches for 22 yards in last week's shutout loss to the Vikings. Slay's the least of his problems.

Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (at LAC – Trevor Williams)

Per Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said a balky hamstring was at least partly to blame for the goose-egg by Crabtree on Christmas that murdered many a fantasy championship fantasy. "I think he was bothered a little bit at the end of the game with a hamstring,” Del Rio said. “But missed opportunity — I think he had one (incompletion) that would have been close to a touchdown if not a touchdown. So yeah, that’s what it was.”

THE SHADOW SAYS: It may also have had something to do with the weather. And the fact that Derek Carr and the Raiders passing game was a steaming pile of hot garbage against the Eagles. This week, that hot garbage passing game and goose-egg-laying wideout who may or not be hurt draws a Chargers pass defense that ranks 25th in PPR fantasy points allowed to wide receivers through 16 weeks. If any part of that sounds good, odds are you started your New Year's celebrating a bit too early.

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. NO – Marshon Lattimore)

Ahead of Sunday's rematch with the Saints, Evans told ESPN's Jenna Laine that his suspension-drawing shot from behind against Lattimore in the teams' first meeting was a "bull***t move" done "in the heat of the moment," with the Buccaneers down 30-3. "He's a great player, having a fantastic season. The ball just finds him, a physical corner, a really good player," Evans said. "It's gonna be fun to play him again."

THE SHADOW SAYS: Evans was a complete non-factor in that first meeting, making just one catch for 13 yards in that blowout loss in New Orleans. However, it's worth noting that game was played with Jameis Winston on the shelf with a bad shoulder. Over the past two weeks, with Winston back behind center, Evans has pulled down 11 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown.

This one should be good.

Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers (at LAR – Trumaine Johnson)

Goodwin told Joe Fann of the team's website that head coach Kyle Shanahan deserves the credit for last week's big upset of the Jacksonville Jaguars. “When Coach Shanahan calls a play, it’s usually the right play call, it’s just about us executing it,” Goodwin said. “He does a great job of planning and getting us ready for the game. What it boils down to is us making the plays. He knows how to get guys in position to win and be successful. That’s why his offense has been so productive in the past few years. He’s a mastermind when it comes to these things. When you’ve got a playcaller like Kyle, there’s no telling what will happen play-to-play.”

THE SHADOW SAYS: Goodwin's been quite the late bloomer since Jimmy Garoppolo took over at quarterback – since Week 13 he ranks ninth in PPR fantasy points among wide receivers. Even if Johnson plays (a sizable "if" given that the Rams are banged up in the secondary and sitting many players) and he were going to shadow Goodwin all game long (which he won't) there's no way I'd consider sitting him. Goodwin's exactly the sort of player who swings games in wonky week – just as he has throughout the fantasy playoffs.

Which all but assures he'll be overdrafted in 2018 – but that's a story for another day.