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NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Wide receivers for Week 17

You have lineup questions, we have lineup answers -- at least we hope so. Start 'Em, Sit 'Em is here to help fantasy managers make difficult roster decisions. And you know what is a good move? Starting Christian McCaffrey. But that's too obvious, so you won't see such simple analysis here. Instead, we're exploring more debatable situations. And if you can't find a player you are looking for, please check out the latest NFL Fantasy lineup rankings.

Start 'Em

Rashee Rice
Kansas City Chiefs KC

The Chiefs offense is clearly not what it has been through most of the Patrick Mahomes era. But even in a down week, where they scored just 14 total points, Rice still finished with 11.7 fantasy points. He led the Chiefs with 12 targets, six catches and 57 yards. The rookie has begun to lead the team in targets on a weekly basis, but to log double digits in that category is extremely significant. Now, he gets the Bengals, who have allowed the most passing yards to receivers since Week 10. Rice is a must-start player in championship week. 

Tee Higgins
Cincinnati Bengals CIN

I had Higgins as a start last week, and he came through (albeit in a bittersweet way, as I faced him in three semifinals). He went off for five catches, 140 yards and a touchdown -- good for 25 fantasy points. He led the Bengals in routes, targets, catches, yards and touchdowns, with Ja’Marr Chase out. Jake Browning has averaged 322 passing yards per game in his last four starts. It may not be the best matchup -- even if the Chiefs defense hasn’t been quite as tough as of late -- but as the top target in an offense putting up that kind of production through the air, Higgins remains an option worth starting.

Brandon Aiyuk
San Francisco 49ers SF

It was a night to forget for the 49ers on Christmas, but Aiyuk still came through for fantasy purposes. He caught six of seven targets for 113 yards. Not bad, considering the circumstances. He is now a must-start option this week against the Commanders. Washington has allowed the second-most yards, touchdowns and fantasy PPG to receivers. The Commanders also struggle against the long ball, which is among Aiyuk’s specialties. Look for the 49ers offense to bounce back in a huge way this week. 

Nico Collins
Houston Texans HOU

Even in a nightmarish team outing, Collins managed to score a touchdown and finish with 13.8 fantasy points. It’s great to see that he can be productive in those circumstances. Now, he should have C.J. Stroud back this week. Case Keenum managed to throw for 229 yards and a touchdown against the Titans two weeks ago, resulting in a big week for Noah Brown as the top target. Tennessee has allowed the fifth-most yards to receivers this season and the seventh-most fantasy PPG. Collins remains in play in championship week. 

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Stroud cleared the concussion protocol and is on track to start.


Brandin Cooks
Dallas Cowboys DAL · WR

Brandin Cooks has slowed down as of late, but we know the upside he brings, especially at home this season. He has topped 16 fantasy points in three of his last four home games, putting up as many as 32 in one of them. Detroit has struggled against receivers, allowing the second-most yards and fifth-most touchdowns to the position since Week 12. They’ve allowed the fifth-most yards to receivers on deep passes in that stretch. Cooks is a high-upside streamer that could win you a title. 

AND ...

Rashid Shaheed is as boom-or-bust as they come, but he went boom last week and has another great matchup this week against the Bucs, who have allowed the most yards to receivers and fourth-most on deep passes in particular. Jameson Williams is also boom-or-bust, but he has seen a bump in volume as of late and could be playing in the highest-scoring game of Week 17. (It also helps that it's an indoor game.) If you're diving deeper, the Cardinals receivers are in play against the Eagles, who have allowed the third-most yards, the most touchdowns and the most fantasy PPG to receivers this season. Marquise Brown is tough to trust, but he brings upside if he plays. Greg Dortch would be the top alternate option if Brown sits, as he has been getting the most volume. (EDITOR'S UPDATE: Brown has been placed on injured reserve.)

Sit 'Em

Stefon Diggs
Buffalo Bills BUF

This selection could be viewed as spicy ... or a week late, depending on whom you ask. I started Diggs over Amari Cooper last week and it cost me a spot in the Fantasy Live league championship. (Take it home, Kimmi!) Diggs finished with just 7.9 fantasy points and has averaged just 9.3 fantasy PPG since Week 10. Josh Allen underthrew him on what could have been a long touchdown, but otherwise, most of his targets have been disappointingly close to the line of scrimmage. This is a third straight year where Diggs has faded in the month of December. Now he faces the Patriots, who are in the bottom third of the league in fantasy PPG allowed to receivers. Diggs does have a history of success against the Pats, so I wouldn’t sit him for just anyone, but if you have another strong option -- like, say, Amari Cooper -- take it. 

Drake London
Atlanta Falcons ATL

Full disclosure: This spot was originally going to belong to Terry McLaurin. But then the news came out that Jacoby Brissett was starting for the Commanders, which puts Terry back in play -- and opens up a space here for London. Even with Taylor Heinicke under center for Atlanta last week, London was held to fewer than seven fantasy points. He has been held to less than seven in three of his last four games. The floor is simply too low to trust with a fantasy title on the line, especially against the Bears, who have been very stingy as of late. They have allowed the sixth fewest yards to receivers since Week 11.

Diontae Johnson
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT

Before the game last week, we heard about the chemistry between Mason Rudolph and Johnson. Apparently, there was a fly in the beaker, as Johnson was held to two catches for 15 yards, while George Pickens ran wild. Johnson did not finish as a top-80 wide receiver on the week. He needs a touchdown to get to double figures, and touchdowns are not a regularly available commodity in Pittsburgh. The floor is too low to trust with a championship on the line. 

Josh Palmer
Los Angeles Chargers LAC

Last week, Palmer finished with single-digit fantasy points. He needed a long broken play the week before to come through for fantasy, and you just can’t rely on that weekly. The floor and ceiling are both lowered with Easton Stick. Palmer could see a whole lot of Patrick Surtain this week. Stay away. 

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Palmer has been ruled out with a concussion.

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