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Darren Waller start or sit: Week 17 fantasy football advice

We break down the fantasy football outlook of Darren Waller ahead of the Raiders’ Week 17 matchup against the 49ers.

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 24: Darren Waller #83 of the Las Vegas Raiders points forward after catching a pass and running for a first down against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second quarter at Acrisure Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders head back home with the hopes of bouncing back from a rough Christmas Eve loss. They will welcome the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17, and the contest will mark the third straight game for Darren Waller since returning from IR. With numerous outside factors at play in this matchup, does the Raiders tight end still make sense as a fantasy starter in Week 17?

Fantasy Football Analysis: Raiders TE Darren Waller

Waller has been decent in his two games since returning from IR, recording seven receptions for 106 yards while finding the endzone once. His production has resulted in performances of 13.8 and 9.8 PPR fantasy points, and while it is a far cry from the type of production he’s posted in the past, he still remains of the best tight-end options in fantasy. He’ll be tested this week against a 49ers defense that allows the fourth-fewest fantasy points to his position (4.7 PPG).

The biggest obstacle to his fantasy ceiling this week may be internal, however. The Raiders announced that Derek Carr will be benched for Las Vegas’ last two remaining games, with Jarrett Stidham stepping in as the starter for Sunday. Stidham has thrown for just 342 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions through 11 career games.

The number of elite options at tight end in fantasy is few, and despite the challenges at play it’s hard to justify straying away from Waller this week. There is the possibility that in facing one of the league’s toughest defenses, alongside the change at quarterback, the Raiders' game plan consistents of passes underneath the opposing coverage. That should benefit Waller in spite of the tough matchup.

Start or sit in Week 17?

Start. Unless fantasy managers have an elite option to go to in spite of Waller, the Raiders' tight end should remain in starting lineups. If Stidham opts to play underneath the defense, Waller could provide solid fantasy production by making plays in the middle of the field.