Caplan's Week 17 Insider Fantasy Notebook


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Caplan's Week 17 Insider Fantasy Notebook

Here’s my inside look at some of this week’s games from a fantasy perspective… Rams-Ravens

Rams: The team gets a huge break here as the Ravens are down yet another CB-- Anthony Averett (chest, ribs-out). He had become a full-time starter after starting CB Marcus Peters (ACL-IR) was lost for the season prior to Week 1. And keep in mind starting CB Marlon Humphrey (torn pectoral-IR) was lost for the rest of the season after suffering his injury in Week 13.

While veteran QB Matthew Stafford came up small last week against the inconsistent Viking secondary, he should be able to rebound nicely against a defense that has given up at least 2 TD passes per game over its 4 and has given up 7 TD passes over its last two games. And the Ravens have nowhere else to turn at CB and you saw what Bengal QB Joe Burrow did against them last week (over 500 yards, 4 TDs).


Bears: While their fantasy defense has mostly been a disappointment this season, the Bears will face a Giant offense that is completely inept and HC Joe Judge said earlier this week that he would prepare both QBs to play and both were terrible (Jake Fromm, Mike Glennon) against the Eagles last week. And the team got bad news when rookie WR Kadarius Toney (shoulder) came out of last week’s game with yet another injury and is out again this week. It’s Toney’s 5th listed injury (right ankle, hand, quadriceps contusion, oblique) this season in addition to landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

And the Giants got even worse news at WR when Darius Slayton was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, leaving them down 6 total (Sterling Shepard-torn Achilles-IR, Dante Pettis-shoulder surgery-IR, John Ross-knee-out, Collin Johnson—hamstring-out).

The Bears got some good for their defense after several starters on that side of the ball were removed from the reserve/COVID list as the week progressed: DT Akiem Hicks, CB Jaylon Johnson, S Tashaun Gipson. All of what’s been written here should give you some confidence that using their defense this week is worth a shot if you’re struggling to find one.


Titans: The team, I’m told, decided to hold starting WR A.J. Brown (calf) out of Thursday’s practice after his calf tightened up, but they never thought he was in danger of not playing or that it was an issue, which is why he took in a full practice on Friday. In fact, they didn’t even list him with an injury designation after Friday’s work, which is obviously a great sign.


Eagles: The team surprisingly did not add another RB off their practice squad, so that should be an indication that veteran RB Jordan Howard (shoulder-questionable) will be able to play, as they’ll only have 3 RBs on the 53-man roster and two of them are dealing with an injury.

The Eagle coaching staff prefers to only use two backs in the rotation in each game, but with rookie RB Kenny Gainwell (ankle) also dealing with an injury, albeit minor, 4th-year RB Boston Scott figures to have an increased role against the host WFT.

During the previous three games that starting RB Miles Sanders (broken hand-out) missed this season, Scott has averaged 10.6 touches per game and he figures to see at least 10+ in this game. We should note that the coaches surprisingly used Gainwell over Scott against the Jets when Howard was out that game with a sprained knee, but with Howard dealing with a few issues with his shoulder (stringer, sprain), it’s hard to imagine that Scott won’t have a solid role in this game.

WFT: With starting RB Antonio Gibson on the reserve/COVID-19 list, UDFA RB Jarret Patterson figures to get an extended look for the coaches in this game. Patterson was the story of training camp on the offense for this team and the coaches knew during their OTAs that Patterson would make the roster—he was that good. The Eagles have a top-10 run defense against opposing RBs over the last 8 weeks (3.72 ypc), so don’t expect a huge game for Patterson, but he should get a decent amount of work.


Lions: Unless the forecast changes drastically, this is the one game Sunday that the game figures to have weather issues all day, as it’s expected to rain the entire game.

And with that, you can look for a lot of work on the ground from the Lions. Plus, I can’t see the coaches asking QB Tim Boyle to drop back 30+ times again unless they’re behind as they were last week. Oh, and they were and still ran it 30 times with Jamaal Williams and Craig Reynolds.

HC Dan Campbell seems pretty confident that starting RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder) is ready to play in this game.

Swift, who does not carry an injury designation for this game, took in full practices all week after being limited all last week.

Based on his practice participation and how Swift talked confidently about playing this week, I’m putting him in my lineup for the two leagues that I have him in that are still alive. Both are PPR leagues and I’m hoping for 12-14 points.


Vikings: This one could get ugly.

Not only are QB Kirk Cousins (reserve/COVID-19) and WR Adam Thielen (high ankle-IR) out, but on defense, run-stopping DT Michael Pierce (illness) was downgraded to out on Saturday.

And starting CB Cam Dantzler (calf-doubtful), who played every snap during last week’s loss to the visiting Rams, is not expected to play.

So, your Packer offensive players (RBs A.J. Dillon, Aaron Jones, QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Davante Adams) and fantasy defense (no Cousins, Thielen) are looking better than first expected in this one in terms of matchups.

However, it will be the coldest game of the season (temps 5-8 degrees throughout the game, but wind is pretty calm—4-5 mph), so the passing numbers might not be super huge, but the matchups are really good with so many key players on offense due to the Vikings personnel issues.