Jake Ciely (@allinkid*) gives you the expert takes on New Orleans Saints players from Fantasy perspectives, while letting you know which performers will help you take home a championship. Week 17 holds a few remaining Fantasy titles in its hands, and we'll look toward 2016 a bit too. *
Saints quarterback Drew Brees continued to roll with 412 yards and three touchdowns against the Jaguars. That gives Brees 20 or more Fantasy points in every game since Week 12 on NFL.com. Brees is averaging 337 yards per game in that span and is a great bet to finish with 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns yet again, as the Saints look to finish 2015 on a winning note against the Falcons. Brees continues to produce high-end QB1 numbers and will remain one of the most reliable options for 2016.
The only team with a legitimate concern of resting starters is the Redskins. Ryan Fitzpatrick (Jets) is your main option if you are worried about your quarterback. He had more than 20 points against the Patriots the first time, is QB8 on the year and is a legitimate fringe QB1 for 2016 if he's back with the Jets as the starter. Brian Hoyer (Texans) is a decent backup plan if Fitz is gone, as he should return and gets a great matchup with the Jaguars.
On the subject of the Jaguars, it's not always pretty, but Blake Bortles has cemented his name in the QB1 conversation for 2016. Don't draft him in the Brees, Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers range, but if slips into the seventh-eighth rounds, pounce. Speaking of Palmer (Cardinals) and Rivers (Chargers) both could be huge values again next year if people discount them because of age and perceived lack of upside. Lastly, Derek Carr (Raiders) made big strides this year and is a borderline QB1 next season with Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Clive Walford and Latavius Murray surrounding him.
Tim Hightower already won people titles in Week 16 with 169 yards (122 rushing) and two touchdowns against Jacksonville. He scored 28.9 points on NFL.com and has 52.9 in his three starts. The Falcons are among the worst in the league at stopping the run, making Hightower another must-start Saints player. Deeper leaguers can find value in Travaris Cadet. He returned to the Saints and immediately made noise with 69 receiving yards. If your running back sits in Week 17, Cadet is a nice PPR sleeper.
If you need other running back options for Week 17, James White continues to fill the Dion Lewis role for the Patriots and is a reliable option in PPR leagues. Bilal Powell of the Jets has been a Top 5 running back over the past four weeks and has surpassed Chris Ivory when choosing which Jets RB to start. Isaiah Crowell has two great games in his last four for the Browns and has at least 62 rushing yards in three of those.
Mark Ingram impressed many this year and will narrowly miss RB1 status, even though he played just 12 games. He is a RB1 for 2016 and worthy of an early-second round selection. They came on late, but rookies Todd Gurley (Rams) and David Johnson (Cardinals) are premier talents and worthy of being Top 10 picks and even Top 3 running backs next year. Doug Martin (Bucs) had a terrific bounce-back year, and no matter where he plays in 2016, he'll be a RB1. Lamar Miller (Dolphins) could have a new team too, and has tremendous upside if he finds one that gives him 20 touches a game. There are plenty of big names who will return from injury – Le'Veon Bell (Steelers), Jamaal Charles (Chiefs), Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks), Arian Foster (Texans). All have RB1 upside and all except Bell could come at a discounted value because of the injury concerns. Don't wait too long for any of them.
You can expect another great week for Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead. Cooks has at least 104 yards and a touchdown in three of the last four games. Snead put up another 75 yards and has 21 receptions and 273 yards over his last three games. Cooks is a must-start WR1 and Snead is at least a WR3 in all leagues. Ben Watson is primed for a bounce-back game with the Falcons allowing the fifth most Fantasy points per game to tight ends.
Cooks is firmly in the WR1 conversation for 2016 and rightfully so. Snead is a candidate for Fantasy Breakout Player of the Year next season. Saints fans may say, "Snead is already breaking out," but he has Top 20 upside in this offense, as he should finish with more than 1,000 yards despite not being the clear No. 2 to start the year and missing time due to injury. Brandon Coleman will continue his development and can bring some big-play ability in 2016, making him a sleeper in many leagues.
Even with Odell Beckham Jr. back, Rueben Randle still has value for those needing receivers. The Giants host the Eagles, and that is one of the most favorable matchups you can find. Randle also has three straight games with a touchdown. Keshawn Martin could have sleeper value for the Patriots this week, depending on who is available. Nate Washington has put up some nice numbers for the Texans when Cecil Shorts is unable to play. Markus Wheaton had a quiet game, as did most of the Steelers passing game last week, but his upside is huge, especially with the entire team ready to bounce back.
Allen Robinson (Jaguars) was this year's breakout receiver and is firmly in the Top 5 receiver discussion, but don't forget about his teammate Allen Hurns. He's WR12 as of today and has a nose for touchdowns. He'll be a WR2 again in 2016. Sammy Watkins is nearing WR1 territory and should finish with Top 12 numbers if he plays 16 games. The Cardinals are loaded with receivers, and all three are worthy of WR3 status or better. In fact, even with low numbers to start the season, Michael Floyd has climbed all the way to WR31. Martavis Bryant (Steelers) missed time and still will finish near the Top 25. There is a lot to like with Bryant in 2016. DeVante Parker flashed his ability late in the season for the Dolphins. He should line up as the team's No. 2 option next year and could have an Allen Robinson-like breakthrough. Don't forget about the early-season injuries if you're in a keeper league. Jordy Nelson will go right back to being a WR1 with Aaron Rodgers still at quarterback for the Packers. Tyler Lockett (Seahawks) is another young receiver that will see a jump next year. He's a great slot receiver and dangerous after the catch.
Tight end is a bit thin if you need options this week and/or Jordan Reed rests for the Redskins. The main two options are Zach Ertz (Eagles) and Zach Miller (Bears). Ertz has 200 yards and a touchdown the last two games, and Miller continues to be a reliable, low-end TE1 for the Bears with the job to himself. Will Tye (Giants) is a deeper option, but the rangy linebackers for the Eagles often do a good job at limiting tight ends.
Jordan Reed (Redskins), Tyler Eifert (Bengals), Gary Barnidge (Browns) and Ertz have all broken out at tight end. Ertz has done much more in the second half, but all four of these tight ends are TE1s for 2016. There will still be a few values for next year. As mentioned, the Raiders have a nice group of young talent with Walford heading into his second year, which is when talented tight ends often step forward. For example, the Lions' Eric Ebron is TE14 in his second season and still split time with other options. In fact, Ebron is a value tight end for 2016 as well. Jimmy Graham's season was cut short, and with people focused on the lack of touchdowns (two), he will likely be a great value in next year's draft.
The Saints will help you plenty if still playing for a championship in Week 17 or even putting together a DFS lineup. In addition, the 2016 season looks bright for the team's Fantasy outlook.
*For more in-depth Fantasy Football coverage, visit Jake Ciely and the team over at RotoExperts.com. You can also catch Jake's appearances on the Fantasy Sports Network (FNTSY), which is no available on Apple TV, Xbox One and Xbox 360. *