I can’t help but wonder if the fantasy community as a whole jumped the gun in adding an extra week to the regular season. Even with an 18th week, Week 17 is looking to be just as volatile as it used to be. A prime example of this is the Raiders benching a perfectly healthy Derek Carr to ensure he doesn’t get hurt.
With fantasy football championships on the line, what is the immediate impact of Jarrett Stidham taking over as starting quarterback for guys like Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, and Darren Waller?
Fantasy Impact of Jarrett Stidham Starting on Raiders’ Skill Position Players
The player impacted most by Stidham replacing Carr in Week 17 is clearly Adams. After seeing no drop off in production going from Aaron Rodgers to Carr for the first 13 weeks, Adams’ performance has taken a nosedive over the past three weeks — right when fantasy managers needed him most.
Since Adams became incredibly good at football in 2016, he’s averaged 20.2 PPR fantasy points per game with Rodgers, and 19.3 ppg with Carr. In his eight games with quarterbacks not named Rodgers or Carr, Adams has averaged 15.5 ppg. Those are still high WR2 numbers. But we didn’t draft Adams to be a high WR2.
MORE: Week 17 Fantasy WR Rankings
In Week 13, Adams had eight catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns. In Weeks 14-16 combined, Adams had nine catches for 114 scoreless yards. If you somehow made it to the fantasy championship with Adams, congrats. My lone team with him (and Stefon Diggs) lost in the semifinal. That type of performance is tough to overcome.
This week, the Raiders face off against a very beatable 49ers’ pass-funnel defense. You cannot run on this team, but they allow the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers. It’s a good spot, but Stidham is a significant downgrade from Carr. Depending on how deep your rosters are, you need to give serious consideration to benching Adams in Week 17.
It’s been just two games since Waller returned from his lengthy absence due to a strained hamstring. In those two games, he’s been a solid TE1 back-end despite playing below 50% of the snaps.
I am very worried about Waller this week for three reasons. First, his usage of him hasn’t been great. He ran just 15 routes against the Steelers. His targets per route run rate was an impressive 33%, but 15 routes isn’t going to get it done.
Second, the matchup. The 49ers may struggle against wide receivers, but they are elite against the tight end. No team allows a lower percentage of receiving yards allowed to the position than the 49ers’ 15.2%. They allow the seventh-fewest fantasy points to the position.
Third, Waller is 30 years old and has played just six full games all season. The Raiders are clearly packing it in for the 2022 season. If the Raiders are benching their starting quarterback, they’re clearly not trying to win. What’s stopping them from protecting all of their high-end assets?
There’s a nonzero chance Waller doesn’t play this week, either. The same goes for Adams as well.
The tight end position is a disaster this season. If Waller does play, it’s doubtful you have a clearly superior option. But I would look to the waiver wire and at least have a contingency in place. There’s no reason to risk zero with Waller if you have a viable touchdown-or-bust alternative.
The one player the Raiders seemingly have no interest in protecting is Jacobs. He’s in the final year of his rookie deal, and the team already declined his fifth-year option. He will be a free agent in March.
Jacobs has battled injuries at various points throughout the season. He’s played through all of them. Jacobs’ 77% snap share is third among all running backs. His 84.2% opportunity share of him leads the NFL.
Stidham taking over at quarterback will not impact Jacobs’ volume in any way — as long as the Raiders choose not to sit Jacobs as well. If Jacobs is playing, he will be in his normal role.
MORE: Week 17 Fantasy RB Start/Sit Recommendations
The bigger issue will be his severely reduced touchdown upside. With Stidham, the Raiders will struggle to move the ball. They are unlikely to be near the goal line and in a position to give Jacobs a short touchdown opportunity. He will have to create his own offense, which is damn near impossible against the best run defense in the NFL.
The 49ers allow the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. They allow just 3.3 yards per carry, by far the lowest rate in the league. Only the Patriots have allowed fewer rushing scores than the 49ers.
If Jacobs is active and we don’t get any wind from beat reporters that his role will be reduced, you probably have no choice but to start him. However, expectations must be tempered considerably.
Overall, the move from Carr to Stidham is a massive negative for all Raiders. This includes anyone potentially throwing a dart at Hunter Renfrow or Mack Hollins. Both are completely off the table. Although, if Adams and Waller sit, there may be some PPR volume appeal in one or both of them.
There’s also the added factor of motivation. We have no idea how Raiders players feel about the team benching their starting quarterback. Perhaps the players will just go through the motions over these final two weeks and look to escape without injury themselves.
Any way you slice it, this is a bad situation for fantasy managers heading into championship matchups. This will be a situation to monitor throughout the week as we learn more about whether the Raiders will rest other veterans.