Whether you're in a weekly player eliminator, a bizarre league where the championship takes place in Week 17 or you just like to tabulate Matt Ryan's statistics by hand, the final games of the season will have some value for you. The key is selecting the right players, and on the right teams.
This last week is traditionally a fantasy graveyard because so many teams are sitting their best players or yanking them early because they have playoff spots sewn up or a forgotten season to end quietly. The Falcons and Panthers are a breath of fresh air, then, because the two teams are playing one another, each has a fairly suspect defense and neither lacks for a reason to play hard.
Let's get right into the best players to start and sit this week.
QB Matt Ryan: Over his last four games, Ryan has nine touchdown passes and almost 1,400 yards, and the Panthers aren't anyone's idea of a shutdown defense. Assuming his top receiving options are ready to go, Ryan should be good for 300-plus yards and a couple of touchdowns in this one, which qualifies as a legitimate QB1 in a week like this.
RB Devonta Freeman: Freeman's the obvious recipient of all those carries Steven Jackson won't be getting in Week 17, because he's the most dynamic runner and a useful pass catcher out of the backfield. His snaps will still be somewhat limited because the Falcons trust Jacquizz Rodgers more as a blocker, but he should get enough touches to give you 80 yards and potentially a score.
WR Julio Jones: He is death, the destroyer of worlds.
WR Roddy White: I don't trust Roddy to be 100% healthy, but beyond Julio you can never be sure how the targets are going to shape up, and Roddy's the likeliest recipient of a touchdown pass besides Jones. Get him in your lineup as a WR3.
TE Levine Toilolo, WR Devin Hester, WR Harry Douglas, RB Jacquizz Rodgers: You could start these guys if you're truly desperate, but you can't count on a score from any of them, and none are particularly likely to put up a 80-100 yard game. Pass.
Falcons Defense: The defense has been a greatly improved unit, yes, and the Panthers offense isn't all that scary beyond Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen and Jonathon Stewart. I'm not going to run the risk of jinxing them, even so.
Will you be starting any Falcons?