Be cautious starting Antonio Brown in Week 17

Is there a “Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Winter Olympics if Team USA doesn’t win the gold two days after their monumental upset of Russia? Does anyone remember the David Tyree “Helmet Catch” if Plaxico Burress doesn’t make a remarkably easy catch moments later to defeat the Perfect Patriots?

Or are these moments largely forgotten, like the amazing juggling grab by Seattle’s Jermaine Kearse before the Seahawks threw away the Super Bowl to the Patriots at the goal line? How many recall the double-clutch, game-tying 3 by UNC’s Marcus Paige, which was immediately erased from memory by Kris Jenkins’ game-winning 3 seconds later for Villanova?

How many past almost-champions from your league do you recall? We rest our case.

The last thing you can afford to do is make a wrong lineup decision. And one player who is making us sweat on that front this week is Antonio Brown.

The, let’s call him “eccentric,” Buccaneers receiver is coming off a dazzling return last week after missing eight games with an ankle injury and time on the COVID list. He was boosted by the absence of Chris Godwin, who remains out, and Mike Evans, who could return Sunday but reportedly has appeared winded in limited practice this week — which makes fantasy managers guess a possible limited workload.

All this is good news for Brown. What isn’t is this: He sat out Thursday’s practice, after being a limited participant all of last week. After having just missed half the season, you would think if he was able he would get in at least some work, even if being protected for maintenance.

This stokes worry about Brown. Not to the degree that we’re ready to sit him. But, he did just miss a lot of time. And during that time, if you have Brown on your roster and you’re still alive, you found a way to make it work without him. It could be time to tap that resource again.

Antonio Brown

If, say, you were riding Amon-Ra St. Brown recently? Stick with St. Brown over the just-regular Brown. St. Brown is averaging nearly 23 PPR points per week over the past month, and he is not fresh off an ankle injury or been held out of practice this week.

Maybe you have been waffling between Antonio and D’Andre Swift at Flex, and you know the Madman loathes immediately starting guys fresh off a long layoff. But also consider this: Swift’s was a shoulder problem, and running backs don’t use their shoulders to run. Sure, they might dip into contact leading with the shoulder for an extra yard or two, but it is the cuts and jukes that generate the bulk of production for running backs — you know, leg stuff. We’re not sweating the shoulder so much.

Ronald Jones? Well, he is the lead RB again, and the Jets are the worst run defense vs. fantasy RBs. The Jets aren’t so bad vs. WRs.

So be careful with Brown this week. You don’t want to end up as the forgotten team.

Big Weeks

Tyler Huntley QB, Ravens, vs. Rams (FanDuel $7,500/DraftKings $5,600)

Reports this week haven’t been good regarding Lamar Jackson. Huntley has been impressive when filling in.

Dare Ogunbowale

Dare Ogunbowale RB, Jaguars, vs. Patriots (FD $5,500/DK $5,100)

For those who somehow advanced to the title without a true RB2. If you are desperate for anything, at least Ogunbowale should give you some volume.

Christian Kirk WR, Cardinals, at Cowboys (FD $6,400/DK $5,800)

The Dallas offense looked like it found its stride again last week, which means the Cards might have to play keep-up. If that is the case, we like Kirk’s chances to get a bunch of looks and possibly some big plays.

Ricky Seals-Jones TE, Washington, vs. Eagles (FD $5,000/DK $3,300)

John Bates got garbage-time points last week, but we expect RSJ to get most of the TE targets this week against the worst fantasy TE defense in the league.

Small Weaks

Trey Lance QB, 49ers, vs. Texans (FD $6,400/DK $4,800)

He hasn’t shown a lot of prowess throwing the ball in limited action, so essentially you need a rushing TD. Not the kind of wish-upon situation we like for our QBs.

Chase Edmonds RB, Cardinals, at Cowboys (FD $6,500/DK $5,700)

Dallas has a tough linebacking crew, and they’ve dealt with versatile RBs this season with impressive results — such as Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler, etc.

Michael Pittman Jr.
Getty Images

Michael Pittman Jr. WR, Colts, vs. Raiders (FD $6,500/DK $5,800)

We have only limited trust in Carson Wentz when fully healthy and prepared. Missing practice time on the COVID list? Or Sam Ehlinger starting? No thanks. Pittman needs more help than that against a top WR defense.

Justin Jefferson WR, Vikings, at Packers (FD $8,500/DK $8,400)

Sean Mannion — he of two meaningless Week 17 starts on his résumé with zero career TDs — is expected to start at QB with Kirk Cousins out. Oh, and bone-chilling temps. Pass game could be in deep freeze.

Fantasy Insanity’s Daily Duel

Site: DraftKings

Slate: Sun. main (14 games)

Type: $12 tourney

Top prize: $15K

Total pot: $175K

Drew’s Crew

QB: Josh Allen, (Buf, vs. Atl) $8,000

RB: Sony Michel, (LAR, at Bal) $5,800

RB: Boston Scott, (Phi, at Was) $4,900

WR: Gabriel Davis, (Buf, vs. Atl) $5,000

WR Cooper Kupp, (LAR, at Bal) $9,500

WR: Byron Pringle, (KC, at Cin) $4,100

TE: Frank Moreau, (LV, at Ind) $3,800

Flex: Brandin Cooks, (Hou, at SF) $6,000

DST: Saints, (NO, vs. Car) $3,400

Wilk’s Warriors

QB: Trey Lance, (SF, vs. Hou) $4,800

RB: Ronald Jones, (TB, at NYJ) $6,300

RB: Devin Singletary, (Buf, vs. Atl) $5,400

WR: Cooper Kupp, (LAR, at Bal) $9,500

WR: Kendrick Bourne, (NE, at Jac) $5,000

WR: Jaylen Waddle, (Mia, at Ten) $6,700

TE: John Bates, (WFT, vs. Phi) $2,900

Flex: Antonio Brown, (TB, at NYJ) $6,100

DST: Bears, (Chi, vs. NYG) $3,200

Season risked: $131

Season winnings: Jarad $70, Drew $15