In year’s past, the Week 17 slate would have marked the end of the NFL regular season. Not so in 2021, where we get one more week. And there are still playoff slots—two in the AFC and one in the NFC—yet to be decided. But we did get a lot of clarity on the playoff picture and the post-season. It also marked the traditional end of the fantasy season. With one more game to go tonight, you might still have some championship hopes riding on what happens in Pittsburgh. I’ll get to that game in a minute, but first one to the rest of the Week 17 headlines.
Antonio Brown is Done
And not just with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coach Bruce Arians did make it clear Brown is no longer a Buc, which is hardly a surprise given that he disrobed and left the field during the game on Sunday. The Brown experiment was always a big swing, one that might have already ended had Chris Godwin not gotten injured. But Brown played his way out of Tampa Bay and likely out of the league all together. He was a great receiver, and his Week 16 efforts show he can still catch the ball. But you can’t rely on him, and that’s usually the kiss of death for an NFL player.
Trey Lance Gave the 49ers Plenty to Think About
If Jimmy Garoppolo is available, I suspect he’ll start in Week 18 against the Rams and in the playoffs. But what about 2022? The 49ers shot their shot when they moved up to the No. 3 pick to snag Lance. He’s had a year to learn and after a decent showing in a 23-7 win over the Texans, I expect that the 49ers are going to make a move this off-season. That could leave Garoppolo as an appealing option for a QB-needy team that doesn’t have the draft capital or notion to start over.
The Bengals and the Eagles are in the Playoffs
With Sunday’s action, the Bengals completed the worst to first journey and won the AFC North. They are not only back in the post-season, but they’ll also get to host at least one game. The Eagles, meanwhile, who most including me figured would be among the worst in the NFC are already 9-7 and punched their ticket to the playoffs. It’s a remarkable turnaround for both teams, and both figure to be among the most fun stories heading into Wild Card Weekend!
And now, the final Monday Night Game.
Monday Night Preview
Last year the Steelers and Browns were both in the playoffs. As we head into the final Monday Night Football game of the year, the Browns have already been eliminated and the Steelers are the longest of long shots. In fact, a loss tonight will end that quest. Last year the AFC North sent three teams to the playoffs. By next Monday, it’s seeming quite likely in 2021 only the Bengals, who didn’t go in 2020, will represent the division in the playoffs.
The Browns might not be able to make the post-season, but they certainly would relish ending the Steelers’ bid. That should be a motivating factor tonight. But if you’re looking for a Monday Night Miracle, I wish you the best of luck. I’m not bullish on either offense tonight.
For the Browns, I like Nick Chubb, but he’s the only solid start for me. Jarvis Landry is more of a WR3/Flex, but I’m not trusting Baker Mayfield right now. Hopefully you started someone else. The Browns also are using three tight ends, making that position a total gamble. For the Steelers, Najee Harris and Diontae Johnson are starts. Chase Claypool is a boom-or-bust Flex option, while Pat Freiermuth is a TE2 for me. Like with Baker, I’d prefer not to start Ben Roethlisberger, even if it is his final home game.
Best of luck tonight. I think the Browns get the win, making Week 18 irrelevant for both these teams.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.