Fantasy Football Week 17 Playoff Scenarios: Saints, Falcons, Patriots still have something to play for
If you're still playing into Week 17, you need to know which NFL teams still have something to play for. Dave Richard breaks down the playoff contenders.
You gotta have guts to play into Week 17. Teams with playoff aspirations will go all out, but teams with a playoff spot locked up don't have to. And the teams with no playoff hopes? Who knows what they'll do, or how full-go they'll be, with the offseason just a game away.
So if you're one of the brave souls setting a Fantasy lineup in Week 17, you need to know who's playing for something and what the deal is with teams playing for nothing.
Playoff positions locked up
- Eagles: The Birds wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs by beating the Raiders on Christmas. Coach Doug Pederson said the team would "be smart" with how much their starters play but indicated they would indeed play. It might be a half, it might be a couple of series, but either way, expect Philly's starters to find the bench at some point against the Cowboys.
- Jaguars: The Jags are the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs, but losing on Sunday at San Francisco hurt, so much so that coach Doug Marrone said the team was "100 percent all-in" to compete in their season finale at Tennessee. That isn't a surprise given the track record of Tom Coughlin, who is now an executive for the Jaguars – Coughlin's teams never rested in meaningless games. Bank on seeing plenty of the first-string offense.
- Chiefs: After winning Sunday, the AFC West champion Chiefs clinched the No. 4 seed and a home playoff game. They cannot get a first-round bye. Andy Reid has already named Patrick Mahomes the starting quarterback at the Broncos, not Alex Smith. The expectation is that other key Chiefs starters – namely Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill – will also not play in Denver. Keep an eye on Charcandrick West's status – he's missed two days of practice with the flu and is considered a key role player for the Chiefs. Sunday's game might involve a lot of Akeem Hunt.
- Rams: The Rams have clinched the NFC West and a home playoff game. They cannot get a first-round bye. First-year coach Sean McVay already ruled out Todd Gurley and Jared Goff. It's likely that Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins will also sit out. Sean Mannion will start against the 49ers at home.
- Patriots: Bill Belichick's boys will land the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win over the Jets. As if they needed any motivation against Gang Green. Start all Patriots, but do so with the understanding that once a lead is built we could see backups play in the fourth quarter.
- Steelers: Pittsburgh can still land the No. 1 seed with a win over Cleveland and a Patriots loss, but the team seems resigned to their fate as the No. 2 seed. Signs point to Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell not playing on Sunday versus the Browns – after both were limited in practice on Thursday and did not practice on Friday. Also, offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert let it slip that Big Ben and Bell weren't expected to play. Bank on seeing a lot of Landry Jones under center ( ) with Stevan Ridley and Fitz Toussaint replacing Bell.
- Vikings: With a win over the Bears at home, the Vikings will clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. The Vikings should play their starters until the win is in hand.
- Saints: A win over the Bucs in Tampa Bay will give the Saints the NFC South crown and a home playoff game, most likely as the No. 4 seed. No worries about Drew Brees & Co. being inactive here.
- Panthers: The Panthers are in the playoffs. They can win the NFC South if they win and the Saints lose. They can land the No. 2 seed in the NFC if they win, the Saints lose and the Vikings lose. Because so much is at stake, bank on coach Ron Rivera playing his starters until they've got a win cinched.
- Falcons: Dan Quinn's crew needs a home win over Carolina to earn a playoff spot. Win and they're in, lose and they're out – unless the Seahawks also lose. There are some O-line issues to watch, however.
- Seahawks: Seattle must take care of business at home against the Cardinals, then hope the Panthers beat the Falcons. If those things happen, the Seahawks sneak in as the sixth seed.
- Ravens: The Ravens are in the playoffs as the No. 5 seed with a win over Cincinnati.
- Titans: Tennessee clinches the sixth seed in the AFC if they win at Jacksonville in Week 17. That playoff game would be, surprisingly enough, against the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Derrick Henry is expected to see a huge workload with DeMarco Murray ruled out.
- Chargers: The Chargers need a win and a Titans loss, along with some other help, to sneak into the playoffs. They'll play to win versus the Raiders.
- Bills: All the Bills need to get into the playoffs is a win at Miami, a Ravens loss or losses by both the Titans and the Chargers. But they need to win their game first, so expect the starters to play four quarters.
Non-playoff teams making moves
- Cowboys: Earlier this week it sounded like the Cowboys would rest some starters just so the coaching staff could get a look at some younger players, but coach Jason Garrett put those thoughts in the trash can.
- Dolphins: Knowing that Jay Cutler probably won't be part of the team's plans in 2018, the Dolphins could give David Fales some playing time against the Bills to see if he's got a chance to be a backup option.
- Giants: Davis Webb is expected to serve as the Giants No. 2 quarterback and could see some playing time late in New York's home game against Washington.
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