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Week 17 Fantasy Football Stock Watch

Bryan takes a look at players trending up and down as we head into fantasy football championship Sunday.

Bryan takes a look at players trending up and down as we head into fantasy football championship Sunday.

At long last, championship week is here (unless your league sucks). The randomness of the fantasy season, a blessing and a curse, is almost behind us. Still, a champion must be crowned. On the final stock watch of the year, it’s time to take a look at which players are peaking and which are faltering before Week 17 kicks off.

Stock Up: RB James Cook, Buffalo Bills

The Bills’ rookie running back was a preseason sleeper, but it took until the month of December for him to become involved in Buffalo’s offense. Cook’s emergence began with a solid game in New England, highlighted by six catches and over 100 total yards. After a disappointing Week 14 against the Jets, Cook found the end zone the following week against Miami (albeit on just seven touches). This past Sunday in Chicago, Cook gashed the Bears for nearly 100 rushing yards and a touchdown, making it three of four weeks this month where he’s put up RB2 numbers.

While Cook’s recent play has been impressive, it’s hard to fully embrace him as a championship-week star due to his competition. While he ran for 99 yards on 11 carries against Chicago, Buffalo’s ‘other’ running back, Devin Singletary, ran for 106 yards on 12 touches. This has become a 50/50 backfield at best, with Singletary out-rushing Cook this month. However, there is enough room for both backs to put up numbers this weekend against the Bengals, especially if Stefon Diggs can’t play. With several RB1s in jeopardy of missing games, you could certainly do worse than the rookie in your lineup on Monday night.

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Check out where Cook ranks in PPR, Half-PPR and Standard leagues this week according to fantasy football ranking expert Chris Kennedy! 

Stock Down: WR Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

Speaking of Diggs, things have been going poorly for Buffalo’s star wideout. Since Week 13, he’s the PPR WR30, behind superstars like Richie James, K.J. Osborn and Russell Gage. It’s safe to say that if you’re still playing for a title, it hasn’t been due to Diggs. Last weekend against the Bears, Diggs’ posted his worst performance of the season, which couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two catches for 26 yards, albeit on a difficult weather day, made for a surprisingly quiet game, one where Josh Allen only gave his favorite pass-catcher two targets. 

A marquee matchup against the Bengals typically brings out the best in Diggs and the Buffalo offense; Cincinnati’s secondary is the 12th-friendliest to wide receivers. However, a recent illness sidelined Diggs from practice on Thursday; as of Friday morning, it’s unclear whether he can suit up. The wait until Monday night makes this a dangerous game for fantasy managers; unless you have a reliable Bill/Bengal flex option on the roster, there is a scenario where Diggs needs to be benched to minimize risk. Still, it’s best to hold out and look for updated injury reports throughout the weekend. A less-than-100% Diggs is still a must-start, but his recent illness attaches another layer of doubt to what has been a disappointing fantasy postseason.

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Stock Up: RB Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons

The expectation all season was that young players on the Falcons would have value late in the year since the team wouldn’t have much to play for. While a mediocre 5-10 record would seem to support this, the dreadful NFC South has kept Atlanta in postseason contention throughout the regular season, and Arthur Smith’s unorthodox coaching has come at the cost of production for Kyle Pitts and Drake London. Now, with the Falcons all but guaranteed to be picking in the top ten of the draft this spring, fourth-round rookie Tyler Allgeier has taken control of the offense. 

Over the past two weeks, Allgeier has been the fantasy RB8, fueled largely by an average of 17.5 carries. He’s even seen a jump in receptions, nabbing a career-high four catches against the Ravens last week. With veteran Cordarrelle Patterson not a key part of the team’s future, there’s no reason for Atlanta’s staff to give anyone but Allgeier handoffs as they figure out what they have at running back. With a more favorable game script against the Cardinals this Sunday, Allgeier could see over 20 carries, a major opportunity against the fifth-worst fantasy defense vs. running backs. There may be some hesitancy to trust such an unknown with your season on the line, but Allgeier is, at worst, a good flex play this weekend.

Stock Down: WR Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

Thielen’s fantasy production has often hinged on his red zone chemistry with Kirk Cousins; the Vikings star has the fifth-most touchdown receptions since 2018. It’s been a bit different in 2022, as Thielen’s solid WR29 ranking has been powered more by his work between the 20s than his five touchdowns. However, recent weeks have become surprisingly boom-bust for the veteran; in five of Thielen’s past nine games, he’s recorded three catches or less. Despite three touchdowns during that time, Thielen has seen his role in the offense shrink, thanks to a combination of Justin Jefferson’s dominance and Minnesota’s acquisition of T.J. Hockenson at the trade deadline. 

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Last Sunday’s game against the Giants, in which Kirk Cousins threw for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns, was a career-worst outing for Thielen, who caught just one pass for six yards. The solid target share is nice, but it’s nearly impossible to put any faith in Thielen at this point, who’s just as likely to put up 20 points as he is to have just two catches. Sunday night’s game against the Packers could be tricky, as Green Bay allows the sixth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. If you have a more reliable flex option on your bench, even one that lacks Thielen’s high ceiling, feel free to give them a start this weekend.