2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers Projections Week 17 | Start ‘Em Picks & Matchup Plays

Last Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Welcome to NFL Week 17. If you’ve made it this far in your fantasy football league hopefully that means you are in the Fantasy Football Championship for 2021. Congratulations if you’re playing for a title.

It’s been a long road full of COVID, injuries, players bowing out for personal reasons, poor coaching decisions, and everything in between.

But you’ve made it, and if you are a regular in my fantasy football sleepers column, that means some of my picks helped get you here. I offer a humble brag.

My weekly fantasy football sleepers will help you find the best pivots possible to help you win your week and, when it is all said and done, a 2021 fantasy football championship.

Now, here are my Week 17 fantasy football sleepers. Let’s get that championship. We need one more win.

*NFL bye weeks have concluded for the 2021 season

Please note that all NFL gameday odds and lines below are current as of noon ET on Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 17: Quarterback

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs

  • Chiefs-Bengals Total: 49 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 49 (-110), Under 49 (-110)

Joe Burrow went ballistic last week against the Ravens. I don’t expect another 43-point outing from Burrow this week. But this is one the highest point totals on the Week 17 slate, and it’s a game against the Chiefs at home that could be a shootout, so I like his chances to pop for 20+ points.

Burrow will need to throw to give the Bengals a shot in this one.

The Chiefs have a terrific secondary, but they will have a tough time defending the weapons the Bengals will throw at them. And even though Kansas City’s defense has played better than expected, they are still allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks (22.9).

Outside of limiting the Cowboys earlier this year, the Chiefs have been gashed by upper echelon passing attacks like the one Burrow’s Bengals will bring to the table.

If the stars align, this will be one of Burrow’s best games of the year.

Deep QB Week 17 Sleeper: Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers vs Houston Texans

  • 49ers-Texans Total: 44 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 44 (-110), Under 44 (-110)

Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with a torn UCL and a fractured bone in his right throwing thumb. His playing status in Week 17 is in severe doubt. While Kyle Shanahan has yet to name a Week 17 starter against the Texans, it is safe to assume we will see Trey Lance under center for the 49ers.

In Lance’s only start of the year, he finished with 18.5 fantasy points Per Shanahan, Lance has shown improvement since that Week 5 outing in which the rookie threw for 192 yards with an interception while rushing 16 times for 89 yards against the Cardinals.

The matchup at home versus the Texans couldn’t be a better spot for Lance. Houston’s defense is middle of the pack against quarterbacks but is amongst the league’s worst at stopping the run, which is why we like Lance so much anyway.

If you need a deep dive cheat code at quarterback, Lance is your guy.

*If Garoppolo starts, pivot to Ryan Tannehill.

More Week 17 QB Sleepers To Consider

  • Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans vs Miami Dolphins

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2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 17: Running Back

Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Jets

  • Buccaneers-Jets Total: 45.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 45.5 (-110), Under 45.5 (-110)

In Ronald Jones we trust. Last week without Leonard Fournette, Bruce Arians trusted Jones and he delivered. Jones rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while catching 2-of-3 targets for another 16 yards.

Expect Jones to once again garner the lion’s share of the running back workload in Week 17 at the Jets, one of the worst defenses in the NFL at defending the run. The Buccaneers will have a field day against the Jets and Jones will play a significant role in a projected blowout.

The Jets are allowing 32.7 PPR points per game to the running back potion, the most in the NFL. They’ve been gashed by enemy backs all season long and that won’t change in Week 17. Jones could pop for 20 points here.

Sony Michel, Los Angeles Rams @ Baltimore Ravens

  • Rams-Ravens Total: 46.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 46.5 (-110), Under 46.5 (-110)

With Darrell Henderson once again sidelined (knee), the Rams’ backfield belongs to Sony Michel. Michel has won over Sean McVay and even when Henderson was active, the former was granted the workload.

In his past four games, Michel has finished with 13.5+ PPR points, including two games with 20+. In that four-game period, Michel has drawn 20+ touches four times while totaling over 100 yards three times.

Now, Michel will get a tough matchup against the Ravens, but if he is given 20+ touches, it is a safe bet to assume he will deliver double-digit PPR points. We know the Rams must run the football for their passing attack to work. So even if the Ravens contain Michel early, McVay’s gameplan will continue to wear down Baltimore’s front seven until they break.

The Ravens have given up 10+ PPR points to three different backs in their past two games. Michel is nearly a lock to reach 10, which is not a bad floor compared to the ceiling he is capable of bringing to the table.

Deep RB Week 17 Sleeper: Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs @ Cincinnati Bengals

  • Chiefs-Bengals Total: 49 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 49 (-110), Under 49 (-110)

We don’t know the playing status of Clyde Edwards-Helaire just yet. He injured his collarbone last week versus the Steelers and is viewed week-to-week. With the playoffs on the horizon the Chiefs might want to play it safe with CEH and hold him out, or limit his touches if he plays in Week 17 against the Bengals.

Whether CEH is ruled out, or limited, I am all-in on Darrel Williams, who has been outstanding when given the starting role.

Edwards-Heliare missed Weeks 6-10 earlier this season. In those five games, Williams went for 10+ PPR points four times, including three games over 17.

Even with CEH active and healthy, Williams did not disappear. In his past four games since Week 13 with Edwards-Helaire healthy, Williams managed 11+ PPR points three times.

In Week 17, Williams will get the Bengals, one of the best matchups for enemy running backs. In a projected shootout, look for Williams to be heavily active in the passing game as well as on the goal line.

If Williams is the featured back, he could go for at least 15 PPR points in Week 17.

More Week 17 RB Sleepers To Consider

  • Rex Burkhead, Houston Texans @ San Francisco 49ers
  • Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills vs Atlanta Falcons

Find better Week 16 fantasy football players on the waiver wire with our 2021 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Top Pickups.

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 17: Wide Receiver

Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams @ Baltimore Ravens

  • Rams-Ravens Total: 46.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 46.5 (-110), Under 46.5 (-110)

Van Jefferson has been quiet in his past two games. However, he is in a terrific bounce-back spot against a beat-up Ravens’ secondary.

Since Week 12, Jefferson has gone for 16.1 PPR points in 3-of-5 games. In those three games, he scored a touchdown. Jefferson is in the midst of a two-game scoring drought and a two-game drought of failing to score 10 PPR points. Look for both of those mini streaks to come to an end in Week 17.

Since Week 14, the Ravens have allowed seven different wide receivers to drop 14+ PPR points on them in three games. Now, they get Matthew Stafford and the Rams. If Jefferson gets the opportunity, he will deliver.

Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals @ Dallas Cowboys

  • Cardinals-Cowboys Total: 50.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 50.5 (-110), Under 50.5 (-110)

The Cowboys-Cardinals matchup has a ton of playoff implications in the NFC. The matchup also garners one of the highest point totals on the Week 17 slate. And with no DeAndre Hopkins in the mix, Christian Kirk must be relied upon to make big plays against a stingy but exploitable Dallas secondary.

With or without Hopkins in the lineup, Kirk has played well. However, he should see added opportunities, especially if this game is a shootout.

Kirk has gone for 11.3 PPR points in three straight games, finishing with 24.4 points in Week 15 against Detroit. He has a reasonable floor versus ceiling range of outcomes.

In that three-game period, Kirk has drawn 6+ targets three times, including two straight matchups north of nine looks. For Kirk to return his ceiling, he will need to score. I expect Kyler Murray to take some deep shots to Kirk with the hops of Trevon Diggs overplaying the ball and going for an interception. If that happens, Kirk will break a big one.

Deep WR Week 17 Sleeper: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks

  • Lions-Seahawks Total: 42.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 42.5 (-110), Under 42.5 (-110)

If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it. Am I right? Thus, I will continue to hammer Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fantasy championship. Another player that has gone off in the second half, St. Brown has been nothing short of outstanding on one of the worst teams in the NFL.

What’s more, St. Brown is seemingly quarterback proof at the moment. Whether it is Jared Goff or Tim Boyle, St. Brown has delivered in a massive way. In his past four games, St. Brown has recorded 15.3+ PPR points, going for 23.5+ three times including in two straight.

In that four-game period, the rookie wideout has drawn 11+ targets four times while finding the end zone in 3-of-4. St. Brown has also caught at least eight balls for 73+ yards in all four of those games as well.

I don’t love his matchup against the Seahawks, but it is hard to fade St. Brown considering the run he has been on. I don’t expect another 20+ point outing, but he will surely get you 10 as his floor barring a legit face plant.

More Week 17 WR Sleepers To Consider

  • Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots vs Jacksonville Jaguars
  • DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins @ Tennessee Titans

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 17: Tight End

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams @ Baltimore Ravens

  • Rams-Ravens Total: 46.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 46.5 (-110), Under 46.5 (-110)

I am not the biggest Tyler Higbee guy, but he gets the opportunity to shine. Higbee has drawn 5+ targets in five straight games despite a crowded group of pass-catchers on the Rams. In those five consecutive games with 5+ looks, Higbee has returned 9.1+ PPR points four times, two of which were north of 10.

Higbee has a terrific opportunity to reach the 10+ PPR point plateau for the first time since Week 10 in his upcoming matchup at the Ravens. While the Ravens were lit up by enemy tight ends in the first half of the season, they have defended the position better of late, but that doesn’t mean they are not exploitable.

The Ravens have allowed 12.5+ PPR points to an enemy tight end in two of their past five games. While the matchup isn’t great on paper, Higbee gets enough targets to deliver. He will need a touchdown to reach 10+ PPR points. I see him getting one in Week 17 with the Ravens likely focusing on containing Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, and Odell Beckham Jr.

Deep TE Week 17 Sleeper: Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks vs Detroit Lions

  • Seahawks-Lions Total: 42.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 42.5 (-110), Under 42.5 (-110)

Gerald Everett has really come on in the second half of the season. Since Week 10, Everett has finished with 10+ PPR points in 5-of-7 games, scoring in the double-digits in three straight. In six of those games, Everett has drawn 4+ targets while scoring a touchdown in three of his past five.

I am not sure why it took so long, but Everett is finally delivering as I thought he would in the preseason. Now, Everett will look to keep his good fortunes rolling in Week 17 against the Lions.

Once stout against the tight end, the Lions have fallen off of late. The Lions have given up 12.6+ PPR points to the top-scoring enemy tight end in five straight games. Everett will help deliver you a title.

More Week 17 TE Sleepers To Consider

  • Hunter Henry, New England Patriots vs Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons @ Buffalo Bills

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 17: Kicker

Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs @ Cincinnati Bengals

  • Chiefs-Bengals Total: 49 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 49 (-110), Under 49 (-110)

Harrison Butker is unvaccinated and missed Week 16 as he was on the COVID list. However, there is a chance he is cleared in time to play against the Bengals on Sunday. For Butker, he has finished with nine fantasy points in five of his past six appearances, including three games north of 12.

If Butker is once again ruled out, you can pivot to his backup, Elliott Fry. In Week 16 sans Butker, Fry popped for 13 fantasy points. Any Chiefs kicker is a superb option being tied to one of the best offenses in the NFL. Kansas City’s offense has faltered at times this season, failing to score touchdowns, which has resulted in field goals and fantasy points for their kickers.

More Week 17 PK Sleepers To Consider

  • Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Jets
  • Brett Maher, New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 17: Defensive Team

San Francisco 49ers vs Houston Texans

  • 49ers-Texans Total: 45 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 45 (-110), Under 45 (-110)

The 49ers let us down last week, only finishing with five fantasy points on the road against the Titans, but I will double down on them in their upcoming home matchup with the Texans. The 49ers have totaled 9+ fantasy points in five of their past seven games since Week 10, including two games over 11.

The Texans have one of the worst offenses in the NFL and are giveaway prone. Don’t be surprised if the 49ers pop for double-digit fantasy points in Week 17. At worst, I will take another nine-pointer. A team fighting for their playoff lives, their defense will need to step up in a prime spot.

Other Week 17 D/ST To Consider

  • Seattle Seahawks vs Detroit Lions
  • Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Football Team

NFL Week 16 Injuries to Monitor

  • RB Miles Sanders (hand)
  • RB Jordan Howard (stinger)
  • RB Darrell Henderson (knee)
  • RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder)
  • RB James Robinson (Achilles)
  • TE Jack Doyle (ankle/knee)

Anthony’s Accountable: Sleeper Pick Success Rate

This is a recap of my plays from Week 16 (skill position players only). I consider a sleeper a hit if the player scores 10-plus PPR points (15-plus for QBs, 8-plus for D/ST):

Anthony’s Sleepers are 100-84-3 this season.

  • QB Joe Burrow (43.4)
  • QB Justin Fields (DNP)
  • RB Devonta Freeman (10.0)
  • RB Javonte Williams (10.0)
  • RB Ronald Jones (16.1)
  • WR Antonio Brown (20.1)
  • WR Gabriel Davis (COVID)
  • WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (26.0)
  • TE Zach Ertz (13.4)
  • TE Kyle Pitts (16.2)
  • K Jake Elliott (10.0)
  • DST San Francisco 49ers (5.0)


Anthony Cervino

Anthony Cervino is an NFL Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day. He is also a lifelong NFL savant and self-proclaimed league historian. In the industry, Anthony has excelled in both the fantasy football and sports betting space with fantasy his proverbial bread and butter. Anthony has made appearances on SiriusXM, amongst other publications. He is also the co-creator of the FF Faceoff (Faceoff Sports Network) and the FF Faceoff Mental Health Podathon partnered with the Hayden Hurst Foundation. Industry Clout: 15th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for both draft and in-season accuracy (2019) | 8th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for sleepers (2020) | 13th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for in-season accuracy, including 2nd at quarterback and 3rd at tight end (2021).

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