It sure seems like the Derek Carr era in Las Vegas is over. Head coach Josh McDaniels announced Wednesday that Carr would not start Week 17's game against the 49ers, and Carr is going to "step away" from the team for the final two games, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
In some ways, it's a stunning outcome – Carr is the Raiders' franchise all-time leader in just about every relevant passing category, and they added McDaniels and wide receiver Davante Adams last offseason, seemingly with the intention of helping Carr and the Raiders get over the hump.
Instead, Carr enters Week 17 leading the league in interceptions, with his lowest completion percentage since his rookie season and his lowest yards per attempt since 2017. Carr has struggled at times to get on the same page with Adams, and while there have been plenty of big plays, he also leads the league in interceptions on passes thrown at least 10 yards down the field. Carr has often been criticized for being too conservative, btu he has struggled in going against his nature while being more aggressive down the field.
So, good news, Jarrett Stidham: You get to make your first NFL start this week … against the 49ers. The best defense in the NFL. Yikes. Maybe Stidham will shock the world, but I'm expecting this one to be pretty ugly, and I'm downgrading Adams and Josh Jacobs with this move. That's not great news for me, because I've got Adams in one of my three teams vying for a championship, though I'm still starting him over D.J. Moore, and Jacobs is still a top-12 RB – though you do have to wonder if the Raiders might not have a quick hook with their stars if this game gets out of hand.
Yep, we're at that part of the season. The uncertainty around which teams may or may not be willing to rest their starters is a bigger concern for Week 18, but there's definitely some risk already this week. We'll try to keep you up to date on any potential risks, so make sure you subscribe to the Fantasy Football Today YouTube channel and join Adam Aizer and me at 2 p.m. ET for our start/sit live stream. We'll be discussing all of the latest news and answering your toughest lineup questions there, and it's your best chance to get direct answers to your questions before tonight's lineup lock.
In tomorrow's newsletter, I'll have previews of every game on the Week 17 schedule as usual, including the latest injury updates plus Dave Richard's Start/Sit calls for each game, plus all of the key takeaways from tonight's game. Get ready for Week 17 with all of our preview content here:
- Week 17 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: QB | RB | WR
- Starts, sits and sleepers for every game
- Week 17 Position Previews: QB | RB | WR | TE
- Week 17 Rankings: Jamey | Dave | Heath
- My rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE
Here's what else today's newsletter will cover:
🆚TNF Preview: Cowboys at Titans
All lines from Caesars Sportsbook
- Line: Cowboys -11; 40 O/U
- Implied totals: Cowboys 25.5, Titans 14.5
When the schedule-makers put this one on the Thursday night slate, they probably expected to have two teams very much still in playoff contention going head to head, and that's what they've got. The problem is, neither team has all that much at stake this week. The Titans literally have nothing at stake, with their entire season coming down to Week 18's game against the Jaguars, while the Cowboys have a very narrow path to winning the NFC East, but need a lot to go right and have already clinched a playoff spot. The stakes are pretty low for this one, and that's reflect especially on Tennessee's side by the number of starters already ruled out.
Toughest lineup decision: Ezekiel Elliott -- Start. It sounds like Tony Pollard may be limited for this one, but it sounds like he's got a chance to play. Still, I think they're going to take it easy with him, letting Elliott take the bulk of the work. The Titans have been very stingy against running backs, allowing the third-fewest Fantasy points to the position on the season. Still, this is a very good Cowboys offense that should be able to move the ball, and we know they like to establish the run. Elliott is always a threat to score, and he might get 20 touches in this one.
Injuries: There are some real injury concerns for this one. Derrick Henry (hip) is doubtful despite being limited in practice Tuesday and Wednesday. It seems unlikely he'll play, so Hassan Haskins should be the lead back for the Titans, and he's in the RB3 conversation with a tough matchup. Tony Pollard (thigh) did not practice this week, but he will travel with the team to Nashville, so he hasn't been ruled out. He'll warm up before the game to determine whether he can play, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was limited even if he was active. Malik Davis should see a larger than usual role, while Elliott figures to get the start and serve as the lead back. Elliott is a solid RB2, but you'd have to be pretty desperate to trust Davis.
🚑Week 17 Injury Watch
The Big News: We've got a few running back situations to keep an eye on as we head into Week 17, with three big names sitting out practice Wednesday. Before we get to the rest of the injuries, here's what you need to know about that trio:
- Alvin Kamara (quad) – DNP. Kamara was also listed as being out for personal reasons, with head coach Dennis Allen telling reporters he didn't expect Kamara's absence Wednesday to impact his available for Sunday against the Eagles. This seems like the least worrisome of the three situations, but we'll definitely keep an eye on it over the next few days of practice just in case.
- Miles Sanders (knee) – DNP. I didn't see anything about Sanders coming out of last week's game, so this is a new one. The Eagles don't have a ton to play for this week, needing to win just one of their final two games to lock up the No. 1 seed, so if there's any question, they may opt to rest Sanders. If he does sit out, Boston Scott would likely be the lead back, with Kenneth Gainwell likely in line for a bigger role -- both would be in the RB3 range for me, with significant upside in both cases.
- Antonio Gibson (foot/knee) – DNP. Gibson has been dealing with a foot issue for a while, but Commanders coach Ron Rivera told reporters Tuesday that Gibson was dealing with a "sprain," so that's probably about the knee -- and it's probably the bigger concern. The Commanders have a great matchup on the way against the Browns, and Brian Robinson could be in line for 20-plus carries, with Jonathan Williams likely to take on most of Gibson's passing role. If Gibson is out, Robinson is going to be close to a top-24 RB, though he'll likely need to find the end zone for you to feel good about him in your lineup.
I'll have a full breakdown of the injury report in Friday's newsletter along with my previews of each game, but here's a look at the first practice participation reports of the week.
- FP = Full participation in practice.
- LP = Limited participation.
- DNP = Did not practice.
Injuries to watch for Week 17
It's not clear what these injuries mean quite yet.
Trevor Lawrence (toe) – DNP. Lawrence has been dealing with this injury for a few weeks without incident, but this week is a bit different since the Jaguars season mostly comes down to Week 18 against the Titans. However, the Jaguars do have a path to the playoffs even if they lose next week, so this game counts enough that I'm not expecting Lawrence to sit out.
Aaron Rodgers (knee) – DNP. Rodgers banged his knee during Sunday's game against the Dolphins,but he told reporters it was a non-issue and he'll be back at practice Thursday. The Packers have a path to the playoffs as long as they keep winning, so Rodgers will keep playing through his various maladies.
Jalen Hurts (shoulder) – DNP. The Eagles haven't ruled Hurts out yet this week; in fact, they've made plenty of noise indicating he may be cleared to play. However, he'll probably have to get at least some work in during practice to be cleared. At this point, I think it's more likely than not that he sits, and Gardner Minshew would be a top-12 QB against the Saints if Hurts is out.
Austin Ekeler (knee) – LP. This is a new injury for Ekeler, so we'll note it here, but the fact that he was limited suggests he's likely to play. It's worth noting that the Chargers locked up their playoff spot last week, so there isn't much to play for here, which raises the risk of some kind of limitation.
Aaron Jones (knee/ankle) – LP. Jones was clearly limited last week by these issues, though the fact that he was limited to open practice suggests it isn't much of a concern. AJ Dillon will likely get a few more snaps with Jones dealing with these injuries, as he has in recent weeks, and I'm viewing both as viable RB2s against the Vikings – in fact, I may end up starting both in one league where my alternatives are Devin Singletary and Raheem Mostert.
Kenneth Walker (ankle) – DNP. Walker was held out of practice last week as well and ended up rushing for 107 yards on 26 carries, so I'm not really downgrading him. The matchup against the Jets isn't a great one, but I'd keep Walker in my lineup unless I've got multiple top-12 RBs.
Tyler Lockett (hand) – DNP. Lockett has a chance to play this week and was able to participate in walkthrough and catch passes, but he was still listed as a DNP Wednesday. At this point, I'd expect he plays, but there's obvious risk here of re-injury against a very tough matchup, so he's a lot harder to trust than he was pre-injury.
Chris Olave (hamstring) – LP. This represents an improvement from last week, when Olave was inactive after missing the entire week of practice. There's definitely a chance Olave plays at this point, though it's a tough matchup against the Eagles, so he's more like a boom-or-bust WR3.
Christian Watson (hip) -- DNP. Watson told reporters after Sunday's game that the injury was no big deal, but he was held out of practice Wednesday, so there's some concern about whether he'll be available for this week's game. If he's out, Allen Lazard becomes a bit more of a reliable WR3 option, though he's still pretty touchdown-dependent. Romeo Doubs should also see a larger role, but I wouldn't feel confident in either option.
Jerry Jeudy (ankle) – LP. Jeudy left practice with trainers but was apparently able to return to finish practice, so it looks like there isn't much to be concerned about right now. We'll keep an eye on it, especially because Jeudy has missed time over the past few seasons with ankle injuries, but right now, I'm keeping him in the WR2 range as he continues to enjoy a breakout campaign.
Greg Dulcich (hamstring) – DNP. Dulcich left Sunday's game due to this injury, and it's definitely one to watch. I'd use him as a fringe TE1 if he plays, but I'm making alternate plans where I have Dulcich.
Noah Fant (knee) – DNP. The Seahawks are thin at tight end with Will Dissly placed on IR in addition to Fant's injury. If Fant plays, he's a decent TD-or-bust option, but I'm not planning to rely on him if I don't need to.m
Hunter Henry (knee) – LP. Jonnu Smith (concussion) also didn't practice, after they got injured on the same play last week. Henry is in a similar range as Fant if he plays, but I'm not terribly excited about the prospect of starting him even if Smith is out.
Trending up for Week 17
This doesn't mean they will play, but we got good news about them Wednesday.
Mike White (ribs) – FP. White has been cleared to return and will start for the Jets against the Seahawks, with Zach Wilson relegated to the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. It's not a bad matchup, and the Jets have shown they're willing to air it out with White if they need to – he's thrown 129 passes in three starts. White is a steamer with 300-yard, multi-touchdown upside, though he is by no means a sure thing.
Colt McCoy (concussion) – FP. McCoy has also been cleared to return and he'll start against the Falcons. You're not using McCoy outside of a 2QB league, but his return should make DeAndre Hopkins easier to trust. I'm starting Hopkins ahead of Davante Adams this week in one league.
Trending down for Week 17
This doesn't mean they won't play, but they aren't moving in the right direction yet.
Lamar Jackson (knee) – DNP. The Ravens continue to hold out hope that Jackson can return, but he's already missed his first projected return date, and the Ravens have already clinched a playoff spot, so they definitely don't need to rush him back. I'm expecting Tyler Huntley to start against the Steelers. Remember, the Ravens beat the Steelers even with Anthony Brown forced into action when Huntley got hurt in Week 14.
Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) – DNP. Tagovailoa has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Patriots, with Teddy Bridgewater set to start in his place. And, at this point, the question is one of whether Tagovailoa will return this season, not when.
Deebo Samuel (knee/ankle) – DNP. Samuel could be back at practice this week, but I'm not expecting him to play even if he does. The 49ers have their eyes on a playoff run, so Samuel may play a few snaps in Week 18, but I don't expect to see much from him until the postseason.