While most of the fantasy football community packs it in after a Week 16 championship, there are many leagues that still play all the way to the end. Week 17 often gets passed over due to so many starters being rested for the playoffs, but for those who do go that extra week, there is still one more hill to climb. Fortunately for you, the final week of the regular season can provide you with some of the most unlikely heroes.
The poster child for Week 17 heroics still has to be former Packers back-up quarterback Matt Flynn, who made his first and only start of the 2011 season during the final week. At 14-1, the Packers had the division well in hand and head coach Mike McCarthy parked his starter, Aaron Rodgers, on the bench for the season finale against Detroit. As the fantasy community used this to hop onto the soapbox and declare the final week of the NFL regular season useless, Flynn donned his Superman costume and torched the Lions for 480 yards and six passing touchdowns. It was an epic performance for the ages.
While Flynn’s performance has remained in a class all to itself, we have witnessed numerous performances that have brought home fantasy championships to those throwing darts at late-season waiver claims.
Last season, as several top teams rested their starting quarterbacks, many were left to try out Browns quarterback Deshone Kizer. The Steelers were resting their starters and Kizer was being asked to lead his team to its first victory of the season. He may not have won the game, but he did reward those who used him with 314 passing yards and two touchdowns along with another 61 rushing yards. He also brought little-known wideout Rashard Higgins, who caught both touchdowns, into the spotlight as another Week 17 savior.
Quarterbacks are not the only ones who thrive once finally in the spotlight. In 2016, with those ahead of them on the depth chart resting comfortably in street clothes, Bengals running back Rex Burkhead and Jaguars running back Corey Grant both raced in to save the day. Burkhead embarrassed a stout Ravens defense with 119 yards and two touchdowns while Grant shredded the Colts for 122 yards and a score of his own. Neither player put on this kind of a show during the year, but when asked to step up in Week 17, neither crumbled under the pressure.
It’s tough to say who will step out and be a man among boys this season, but the opportunity will be there for many. Scope out which teams will rest their starters and exploit the softest match-ups. There will be Week 17 heroes to be found. You just have to dig a little if you want to sit at the winner’s table and eat that victory chicken.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 4-6 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy sports advice and NFL player rankings.