Best fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 17

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Usually, there isn’t much interest in the top Week 17 fantasy waiver wire pickups and free agent adds, but this year, with backups more important than ever, you could see heavy activity on waivers for guys like Dare Ogunbowale, Rex Burkhead, Jordan Howard, Isaiah McKenzie and more injury/COVID fill-ins. The usual jockeying for matchup-based streamers will be there, too. 

Our full free agent list is mostly streamers, and we aim to give you as many viable options as possible. Tight end and D/ST will likely be the most important streaming positions, but, again, with starters potentially going on the reserve/COVID list at any point in the week, you should have solid backups at QB, WR, and even RB. You can find the streaming options, listed by position, at the end of this list. 

WEEK 17 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

If you’re still in the running for some money (or trying to avoid a last-place punishment), then use your waiver claim this week. Then use it again. There’s no point in waiting for free agency if there’s a player you want available on the wire. Grab as many guys as you can early in the week, then be ready to pick up new ones later in the week.

WEEK 17 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Play defense against your opponent, too. Not only can you do this early in the week by picking up players your opponent might want, but you can also play the waivers game late in the week and drop guys who won’t clear in time to be used in Week 17. Cycle through players as needed. It’s obnoxious to be over the top about it, but some legitimate add/drops early and late in the week is just good strategy. 

Top fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 17

Unless otherwise noted, only players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues considered.

  • With James Robinson (Achilles’) out for the foreseeable future, Ogunbowale figures to continue operating as Jacksonville’s lead back. That’s not overly inspiring with a matchup against New England on deck in Week 17, but if Ogubowale dominates RB touches like he did in Week 16 (19 for 72 total yards and a score), then he has a chance to work as a flex. After all, guaranteed touches will have value in a week where you never know who will be declared inactive just before kickoff. –Matt Lutovsky

  • With David Johnson out because of a quad injury, Burkhead took full advantage. He lead the Texans with 22 carries, 149 rushing yards, and two rushing TDs. He also added a couple catches.Burkhead had been trending upward in touches even with Johnson healthy, and he should continue operating as the 1A back in Houston’s backfield even if Johnson returns next week against San Francisco. It’s not a particularly great matchup, but Burkhead still has upside, especially in PPR leagues. –ML

  • Even though Boston Scott vultured a short TD, it was Howard who operated as the Eagles’ primary backafter Miles Sanders exited because of a hand injury. Howard finished Week 16 with nine yards on 37 carries and added two catches for 19 yards before yielding to Scott in garbage time, and he should continue being featured next week against Washington if Sanders is out (assuming the stinger he suffered in the second half doesn’t keep him out). Even if Sanders is active, Howard will still playa valuable “change-of-pace” role and is always a candidate to poach a TD, thus giving him flex value in standard leagues. –ML

  • With Miles Sanders (hand) looking doubtful and Jordan Howard (stinger) dealing with an injury of his own, Scott, who scored in Week 16, could be in line for extensive Week 17 carries against Washington. — ML

  • McKenzie took advantage of Gabriel Davis and Cole Beasley being on the reserve/COVID list, catching 11-of-12 targets for 125 yards and a TD. At least Davis will be out again in Week 17, so McKenzie is an interesting boom-or-bust flier against the horrible Falcons pass defense. Given McKenzie’s explosive ability, he could easily pay off in all formats. –ML

  • The Dolphins have struggled to run the ball overall this season, and the Titans are one of the fiercest defenses against the run. What does this all set up for? Expect 35-plus pass attempts against the Titans defense that has given up the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. — Jackson Sparks

  • The matchup with Houston could ultimately set up for a ground-and-pound game plan for the 49ers, but there’s no doubt a lot of points should beand the YAC monsters Deebo Samuel and George Kittle can always rip off a long touchdown on an easy completion. Prior to the game against Tennessee, Jimmy G was dealing, so we think you can roll with him here.–JS

  • After a few weeks of mediocre fantasy performances, Wentz had a nice day against Arizona. The Raiders have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to QBs heading into Week 16, so his ceiling is high for the fantasy championship. –JS

  • The Giants presentjust a natural matchup for QBs, but Fields had come alive in the rushing game prior to his ankle injury,so his floor and ceiling have been raised if he returns for this game. New York has nothing to play for, while the Bears are looking to build some momentum for next year. A QB1 week could be in play. –JS

  • Isaiah McKenzie outshined Sanders against the Patriots, but we can’t write off the veteran heading into a highly favorable matchup with the Falcons. He was coming back from a knee injury, so perhaps he’ll round into form and produce a solid day as a streamer –JS

  • Anderson was once a standard league touchdown-or-bust guy, but he’s looking more like a high-floor, low-ceiling wideout in recent weeks, so he’s in play against a Saints defense that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to WRs. –JS

  • MVS should be able to clear COVID protocols before Week 17 and Minnesota gives up the most fantasy points to fantasy WRs, so heis probably the No. 1 option on waivers at WR.He’s always a boom-or-bust play, but he’s starting to get real volume, and we know all the defensive attention is always on Davante Adams.–JS

  • Lazard doesn’t have quite as much upside if Marquez Valdes-Scantling is back from the reserve/COVID list, but he could still easily deliver a TD in a highly favorable matchup against the Vikings, much like he did against Cleveland. — ML

  • The Bears haven’t been successful in stopping WRs all year, so even though it will likely be Jake Fromm or Mike Glennon at QB for New York, Toney is a boom-or-bust option. He was a bust against the Eagles, but at least he saw a team-high nine targets. –JS

  • Golladay is strictly a consideration for those in a tough spot at WR, but the Bears are generous to wideouts and someone has to catch passes for New York right? Golladay saw a healthy eight targets last week, just one behind team leader Kadarius Toney. –JS

  • Bourne is purely a standard league TD-or-bust player, but he’s often delivered in favorable matchupsand that’s exactly what he’ll get in Week 17 against a spiraling Jaguars’ team. –JS

  • Berrios is clearly the No. 1 WR in New York right now, and even though he didn’t produce impressive numbers against the Jags (unless your league counts return TDs), the matchup with the Buccaneers should set up for a pass-happy game script. Even with Elijah Moore (quad) due back next week, Berrios will have a high PPR floor. –JS

  • Mike Williams will remain on the reserve/COVID-19 list for Week 17, and Jalen Guyton is no sure thing to return either. If you’re in a tough spot at wideout or just need depth, Palmer is a solid pickup. He’s heading into a tough matchup with the Broncos, but he’s tied to one of the best QBs in football and is coming off of a game where he racked up 43 yards and a touchdown on five catches. –JS

  • If Brandin Cooks (reserve/COVID list) is back next week, Conley is only a very deep league option, but the 49ers have been one of the worst defenses against fantasy WRs this season, so he’ll draw some flex interest from those needing a WR in Week 17 –JS

  • Collins’ ceiling is limited if Brandin Cooks comes off the reserve/COVID list, but he just caught a touchdown against the Chargers, so maybe he’ll carry some momentum into a matchup with the 49ers. The Niners are a top-10 matchup for WRs, so roll the dice with Collins if you’re feeling lucky. –JS

  • Uzomah hasn’t delivered a high-quality fantasy performance in quite some time, but Kansas City allows the 11th-most fantasy points to TEsand this game has real shootout potential. As always, he’s a better standard league option, but a touchdown will make him a TE1 either way. –JS

  • The Packers are basically a middle-of-the-pack defense against fantasy TEs, but with limited options this week, Conklin is in play thanks to his upside. This matchup always has shootout potential, so Conklin could take advantage here. He’s due for a decent day after a mediocre performance against the Rams–JS

  • Kmet is commanding a respectable number of targets lately, and that’s enough reason at this position to be considered a streamer in a neutral matchup for TEs (Giants). He only drew five targets (four catches for 49 yards) against the Seahawks, but if Justin Fields is back in the lineup, we can expect plenty more.–JS

  • Taylor Heinicke will be back for this one, and the Eagles allow the most fantasy points to TEs, so RSJ could finally deliver. –JS

  • Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm will get the start here, and that’s good enough reason for us to consider Chicago. Does anything else need to be said? — JS

  • Detroits’ offense has looked better lately, but Seattle’s defense is better than most people think, so we could see the Lions’ revert to its former mediocre self. –JS

  • We aren’t breaking any news suggesting Big Ben is washed, but the Steelers’ offensive line is also one of the worst in the league, so Myles Garrett and co. are set to tee off here. Expect plenty of points from sucks in an ugly, low-scoring game. –JS

  • We like the Steelers’ defense for the same reasons we like the Browns’. This will be a low-scoring game with a lack of explosive plays, so you’re almost guaranteed to at least end up with positive points. –JS

  • It’s no secret the Saints’ offense has its limitations, and while the Panthers’ defensive unit has been exposed here and there, it usually delivers in favorable matchups.

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