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Fantasy football 2023 Week 17 sleepers: Trio of league-winning RB2s

And so, we've made it to the end. Championship Week. The reason we play fantasy football. The reason you spent so much time this summer studying draft guides and listening to the NFL Fantasy Football Show (and maybe some other podcasts). All that stands between you and a fantasy title is assembling the best possible lineup.

Here's the rub: This isn't exactly the week to take chances. We're not going to blindly "start our studs," but it's not wise to dive too deep, either. That's why this edition of the Sleepers column might have a few names that aren't traditional sleepers. Maybe they're guys who have been fringe starters most of the year. Maybe they're guys who you had been rolling with but have been slumping for a bit.

Whatever the reason, we're saddling up for one last ride in the 2023 fantasy season. This one's for all the marbles. Thanks for hanging out with me this year. Congratulations on getting this far. Best of luck this weekend. So, for the last time, here are some names ...


Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals ARI

We’ve spent most of the year picking on the Eagles’ secondary. Why stop now? Murray’s passing numbers haven’t been great since his return in Week 10. That shouldn’t be surprising for a player who missed all of training camp and the first two months of the regular season. But he has started to look more like himself over the past couple of games. Last week, he threw multiple touchdown passes for the first time this year. 

On the one hand, you could claim that Philly’s defense has tightened up against the pass. On the other hand, you could say that they’ve faced Drew Lock and the duo of Tommy DeVito and Tyrod Taylor over the past two weeks (you’d be correct). The Eagles allowed multiple scoring strikes in each of their previous six games -- and more than 300 passing yards in four of them. For those who have streamed through the playoffs, Kyler could be your Week 17 QB1 hero. 

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Derek Carr
New Orleans Saints NO

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. Carr isn’t exactly playing well, despite what his recent stats might show. In Week 16 against the Rams, he did most of his work with New Orleans trailing by multiple scores. The previous week, Carr threw three touchdowns against a bad Giants defense. And yet, in fantasy football, they don’t talk about how … they talk about how many. And in the past two weeks, Carr has been a top-five fantasy quarterback with consecutive 20-point performances.

He could make it three straight weeks against Tampa Bay in Week 17. The Bucs are allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this year. And that number has been softened by a series of underwhelming passing games over the past month. The Saints are far from the league’s most potent air attack, but Carr and crew have shown enough moxie lately to put up good numbers against this defense. He’s a high-end QB2 in Week 17.

Running backs

D'Andre Swift
Philadelphia Eagles PHI

Over the last two weeks, the Eagles have given Swift the gift of volume. And, lo, hath he prospered! He rushed for 166 yards and a touchdown in those two contests. Yes, he’ll always be a victim of Jalen Hurts’ Tush-Push success, but it’s good to see that Philadelphia has remembered Swift can be a playmaker and are using him as such. 

He should be a playmaker again this week against Arizona. The Cardinals have the NFL’s worst run defense. No group has faced more rushing attempts. No group has allowed more rushing yards. Just four teams have allowed more rushing touchdowns. If Nick Sirianni’s offense is truly serious about running the football (or at least interested in appeasing the fans), Swift should again be loaded up with touches. He’s a solid RB2 for your championship lineups. 

Chuba Hubbard
Carolina Panthers CAR

Sometimes, fantasy production comes from unexpected sources. Over the summer, there was little excitement in fake football circles about Miles Sanders in the Panthers offense. That disinterest proved to be well-founded. However, there was even less enthusiasm for Hubbard. That’s turned out to be a mistake. Hubbard fully took over the backfield in Week 13 and has done well with the opportunity. He’s had more than 90 scrimmage yards in four of his last five games and scored double-digit points in all five contests. 

This week, he takes on a Jaguars run defense that has been boom-or-bust. Will they be the defense that held the Bucs and Browns to fewer than 90 rushing yards? Or will they be the group that was torched by the Ravens, Bengals and 49ers? Carolina’s rushing ceiling isn’t as high as those three teams. But Hubbard, with steady touches, could post another solid outing against a stop unit giving up four yards per carry. The Panthers runner is a low-end RB2 this week. 

Travis Etienne
Jacksonville Jaguars JAX

Two running backs from the same game? What year is this? Yep, this could be one of those types of games. The Jaguars’ pass attack has struggled recently. The Panthers’ has been awful all year. Though Chuba Hubbard has exceeded expectations, Etienne has been disappointing over the second half of the season.  

This could be a get-right game for Etienne. The Panthers’ run defense has consistently been one of the most RB-friendly units in the league. No team has allowed more rushing scores to backs than Carolina. Not to mention Jacksonville’s quarterback situation is again in flux. (Will Trevor Lawrence be healthy enough to go? Or will it be C.J. Beathard?) All of that suggests that Etienne could see more work than usual. He has RB2 vibes in Week 17.

Wide receivers

Demarcus Robinson
Los Angeles Rams LAR

Robinson has become a legitimate threat in the red-hot Rams offense. He took over snaps after Tutu Atwell went down with an injury. He’s held onto the gig even after Atwell has returned. Along the way, Robinson has scored a touchdown in four straight games. It might feel like we’re chasing the TDs here, but we’re actually chasing the usage. Since Week 13, Robinson has run a route on 87 percent of L.A.’s pass plays and has earned an 18 percent target share. 

And it’s not just about Robinson. It’s also about the Giants. Big Blue has been a soft target for fantasy wideouts all season. They’re allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the position. They’re also surrendering a gaudy 13.2 yards per reception to receivers lined up out wide. The bulk of the targets should go to Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua, but Robinson could see enough volume to be a WR3 this week.

Deep sleeper ...

Rondale Moore
Arizona Cardinals ARI

Arizona’s passing game hasn’t truly achieved liftoff since Kyler Murray rejoined the team. It hasn’t helped that Marquise Brown has been dealing with injuries and missed last week’s contest. But if there’s a chance for the Redbirds to take flight, it’s against the Eagles. Which is a weird thing to say about a team that’s 11-4 and in the hunt for the top seed in the NFC. But here we are. 

Alas, the Eagles have given up a ton of big plays in the passing game. Per Next Gen Stats, Philly has given up 86 explosive pass plays (that’s 16 or more yards), fifth-most in the NFL. That falls in line with Moore’s recent usage. He’s turned into Arizona’s deep threat, with a 17-yard average depth of target since Week 11. With Murray rounding into form and looking more comfortable, Moore offers a risk-reward proposition as a deep-league flex option. 

Tight ends

Gerald Everett
Los Angeles Chargers LAC

Try as I might, I can’t fully move on from Everett. He’s just outside the top 20 fantasy tight ends. He doesn’t have 50 receiving yards in a game this season and he has only one touchdown since Week 7. But he also does just enough often enough to make you believe in him. Case in point, his 11-point game in Week 16 that was good for a top-12 finish. 

So, with a matchup with the Broncos up next, I am once again asking for you to consider Everett. Denver continues to be a rest haven for fantasy tight ends. Without Hunter Henry last week, the Patriots duo of Mike Gesicki and Pharoah Brown teamed up for four catches, 40 yards and a touchdown. No, it doesn’t seem like much. But it’s Mike Gesicki and Pharoah Brown. As long as Stone Smartt or Donald Parham don’t horn in on his action, Everett has low-end TE1 vibes in Championship Week. 

Jonnu Smith
Atlanta Falcons ATL

Did you really think I was going to say Kyle Pitts? Lol, no! You should know better than that by now. It was nice that Pitts caught a touchdown last week, but he was out-targeted by Smith who played two fewer snaps. Facts don’t care about our feelings (so I’ve heard) and the fact is that Jonnu Smith has not fallen out of favor in the Falcons offense. 

That could work to his advantage this week against the Bears. Chicago is yielding the third-most receptions and third-most points per game to tight ends. Starting Smith is a roll of the dice, with better odds in daily fantasy lineups. Nonetheless, he could see his way into high-end TE2 status in Week 17. 


The best way to get fantasy points from your defense is via sacks and turnovers. The Rams haven’t been great at either. Los Angeles ranks 30th in takeaways. Only the Titans and Panthers have fewer. The Rams also sit 27th in sacks. Only four teams have fewer quarterback takedowns. Accordingly, Los Angeles has the 29th-best fantasy defense. So, why would I have them on this list? 

Because the Giants offensive line has cosplayed as a turnstile this season. New York has far and away ceded the most sacks in the league. Giants quarterbacks have been sacked a total of 77 times -- 16 more than the next-closest team. Even if the Rams don’t force any turnovers, they should be able to get to Tyrod Taylor (the starter once again) enough times to put up a decent fantasy number. 

It’s been a tough rookie year for Bryce Young. The Panthers’ offensive struggles aren’t totally his fault. But it’s been ungood regardless. Young has just 11 touchdown passes this season, compared with nine picks. He’s thrown for multiple scores just twice all year and has lost five fumbles. Chuba Hubbard and the run game have been positive in recent weeks, but that doesn’t dramatically improve what is one of the least productive offenses in the league. 

Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s current four-game losing streak can’t be placed fully on the shoulders of the defense. In that span, the Jaguars have notched eight sacks with five total takeaways. But they’ve been hurt by an offense (their own) that’s given the ball away 10 times in the past three weeks. If the Jags offense can maintain possession and give its defense a rest, their stop unit has streaming potential against a punchless offensive opponent. 

The Bills have been in playoff mode for a few weeks now. Every win is crucial as they try to sneak into the playoffs. Last week’s victory over the Chargers might have been sloppy, but it was still important. The same can be said for this week’s contest against the Patriots. Things aren’t so dire on New England’s side. They’ve been eliminated for a couple of weeks now. Credit Bill Belichick’s squad for continuing to fight -- just ask the Denver Broncos -- but they’re still a haphazard offensive outfit. 

That’s where the Bills can make hay. Bailey Zappe has looked better recently than Mac Jones ever did, but he’s still prone to poor decisions and bad turnovers. Combine that with Buffalo’s pass rush in a must-win situation, and the Bills have life as a streaming defense in Championship Week. 

Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for and a man who doesn't have enough room in his fridge for all the holiday leftovers. Send him your tales of overindulgence or fantasy football questions on X @MarcasG or TikTok at marcasgrant.

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