It’s the final week of the regular season, and while that is heartbreaking for many of us, it does segue into an awesome time for the NFL and that is the playoffs.
The first two weeks of the playoffs are my favorite points in the season. You get two games on Saturday and two games on Sunday for the next two weeks. After that, the road to the Super Bowl can feel a little slow.
But back to Week 17, where players will rest for the postseason, teams will take the day off though suit up and play a game, and some teams actually have something to play for.
We had a ton of injuries in Week 16, which is likely going to force you to have to wait for roster construction until Sunday morning (I know I will be waiting). Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota broke bones in their legs, RG3 suffered a concussion, Bryce Petty landed on IR at quarterback. T.J. Yeldon, Thomas Rawls, Spencer Ware, Ryan Mathews, Kenneth Farrow, Chris Ivory, Rob Kelley, Carlos Hyde, Matt Forte, Lamar Miller, Theo Riddick, Jay Ajayi and Melvin Gordon are all either on IR, headed to IR or questionable for Sunday. It’s a mess at the running back position. Wide receivers and tight ends have some injury news to monitor, but not a lot.
What we also have to worry about are the teams that are either going to sit their starters all game or play them, but limit their snaps and/or series. We always think about this in fantasy regarding the players we are rostering on our teams, but we also have to think about these kinds of moves for starters on the defensive side, which would boost opposing offenses.
Here’s the teams that have something to play for this week: Washington, New England, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Green Bay, Kansas City, Oakland and Seattle. The Steelers, Giants, Cowboys, Texans and Dolphins do not.
I find it hard to believe the playoff teams that have nothing to play for this week will play their starters a whole game with nothing on the line. This is a week where teams also might experiment with younger players to evaluate their rosters for the offseason. It can be challenging to find the right plays, but if we get news early of what to expect as far as starts and sits, then it will make it easier to narrow down our selections. There are a lot of great plays out there, but we may not know the news we need until later this weekend, for example, Pittsburgh. I want to rush and play DeAngelo Williams everywhere, but could see a situation where Fitzgerald Toussaint splits carries or even starts in hopes of preserving a quality backup should Le’Veon get hurt in the postseason.
I honestly don’t feel comfortable making a lot of picks this week, but I tried to narrow down some of my favorites that are playing in meaningful games or situations.
Matthew Stafford – QB – Lions – vs. Green Bay Packers – $6,000
Analysis: Outside of Aaron Rodgers, I am not playing another quarterback this week outside of Matthew Stafford. This is the most meaningful game of the entire slate as the winner wins the NFC North and the loser could potentially be out of the playoffs (and they will know this info before the game kicks off since Washington will have played earlier in the day). Stafford hasn’t thrown a TD pass in two games, and he is facing a team at home (where he has a 11-3 TD:INT ratio) that has allowed 30 touchdown passes to quarterbacks this season. I know Atlanta and New Orleans has a ridiculously high 56-point O/U projection, but I will have exposure to that game in other ways. This is a very, very similar situation for me when Drew Brees went to Arizona a few weeks ago coming off two 0 TD, 3 INT performances. Positive regression is going to side with Stafford and the Lions are indoors, at home with the division and the playoffs on the line. Sam Bradford just carved up this Packers’ secondary….Sam Bradford.