Week 17 Fantasy Football: Which playoff scenarios impact who starts and who sits?
Three teams have nothing to gain in the final week of the NFL season, but does that mean they'll all rest their starters? Dave Richard investigates.
Riding a motorcycle up a ramp and through a ring of fire. Swimming with sharks. Swallowing a sword. Having your Fantasy Football championship in Week 17.?
Some people just live dangerously.?
If your league is deciding the ultimate Fantasy manager on the final NFL Sunday, you might want to know which teams have something to play for, and which ones don't. For now, we'll focus only on the teams that have playoff aspirations.?
Playoff teams with nothing left to play for
Ravens: Clinched home-field advantage in AFC
Coach John Harbaugh has already ruled out Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, as well as two starters on the offensive line and defenders Brandon Williams and Earl Thomas. It figures to create a domino effect that leads to nothing but backups playing for the Ravens versus the Steelers in Week 17. Expect to see a slew of second- and third-stringers, particularly at running back. Rookie Justice Hill might see the most work of anyone.
Bills: Clinched No. 5 seed in AFC
Bills coach Sean McDermott announced Tuesday that he plans to have the majority of his team play on Sunday against the Jets, including Josh Allen, but didn't say how much everyone would play. McDermott did hint that his veterans would rest. With a road game guaranteed the weekend after Week 17, it would be silly for the Bills to do anything impactful or meaningful while also risking injury to their top players in a matchup versus the Jets.?
Vikings: Clinched No. 6 seed in NFC
After getting drubbed by the Packers on Monday, the Vikings are cemented into playing the No. 3 seed on the road in the playoffs. Their game against the Bears is meaningless, though I'm sure coach Mike Zimmer would like to build his team's confidence going into the first round.
Playoff team with very little to play for
Texans: Clinched home-field game for Wild Card Weekend
The Texans earned the AFC South crown and cannot land one of the two byes in the AFC. That means they'll host a playoff game as either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed. They might prefer to make a run at the No. 3 seed because then it means taking on the No. 6 seed, which will either be the Titans, Steelers or Raiders. If they're the No. 4 seed, they'll get the 10-5 Bills, a tougher matchup.
Bill O'Brien seems to not care about that, suggesting several times early this week that the Texans will "play to win." Thing is, if the Chiefs win their game at 1 p.m. ET against the Chargers, the Texans will be into the No. 4 seed before they even kick off versus the Titans. Perhaps then O'Brien will bring his starters off the field.
Bottom line: You cannot count on a full game from anyone on the Texans.
Playoff teams trying to improve their seeds
Expect these teams to play their starters for most or all of the entire game.
Saints: Sean Payton's crew should be able to get past the Panthers pretty easily. If they do, they'll need the 49ers or Packers to lose to earn a bye, and both must lose if the Saints are to be the No. 1 seed. It looks like New Orleans' most likely result is a home game as the No. 3 seed in the first round, but they'll at least try to advance into the better seeds and play their starters.
Chiefs: A win and a Patriots loss gives the Chiefs the AFC's No. 2 seed. A Chiefs loss and a Texans win will push Andy Reid's crew into the No. 4 seed. Anything else and the Chiefs will be the No. 3 seed. Expect to see the starting unit for the majority of their game against the Chargers.
49ers: If they beat the Seahawks on Sunday night, they're not only the NFC West champs but they'll get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If they lose, they'll be on the road in the Wild Card round.
Seahawks: With a win over the Niners at home, the Seahawks will win the NFC West and host a playoff game. They could get all the way up to the No. 1 seed if the Saints and Packers lose. If they lose, they'll be the No. 5 seed.
Teams fighting for a playoff spot
Expect these teams to play their starters the entire game
Cowboys: Jason Garrett's crew needs to beat the Redskins and have the Giants beat the Eagles. If that happens, Dallas is somehow NFC East champs and the NFC's fourth seed.
Titans: A win over the Texans gives them the No. 6 seed. If they lose they'll need the Steelers and Raiders to lose in order to get the spot.
Steelers: A win against the Ravens' backups and a Titans loss put the Steelers in the playoffs.?
Raiders: Oakland needs to win and also needs the Titans, Steelers and Jaguars to lose. If that happens, they're in as the No. 6 seed based on tiebreakers.
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