So you’re in a fantasy league that plays all 17 weeks huh? That can always be rough for the teams whose early round picks are resting comfortably on the bench because their playoff seed is locked up. Thankfully, this year there are fewer of those players than there typically are in week 17, but there are still plenty of concerns. You can test your luck with backups, but in many cases, the backup has seen so little action that it’s impossible to tell whether they’ll be able to rise to the occasion.
This year, topping the do not start list is the squad of The Atlanta Falcons. With their win over Detroit last weekend, The Falcons have solidified the #1 seed and will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. That makes week 17 completely meaningless for the birds in red and black. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez likely all helped get you to the top of your league this season, but this week, they’re all extremely risky plays for ANY amount of production. Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers are a bit more of a challenge to predict, but with neither of them impressing lately except for Turner’s 5 consecutive games with a TD that ended last week, I can’t say I’d feel great about starting either of them against Tampa Bay.
The Ravens are in a similar situation. After topping The Giants, The Ravens are guaranteed the playoffs, but they can’t go any higher than a #4 seed. That’s awful news for Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, and Dennis Pitta owners. Even the Baltimore Defense should be depleted. The only saving grace is that their opponent, The Cincinnati Bengals, will likely be benching their starters as well. If you want to take a gamble on a backup, this is the game to do it in, but your guess is as good as mine as to who will show up.
Speaking of Cincinnati, A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, and the Cincinnati Defense were all typically great options this year, but they can’t rise any higher than the #6 seed they are currently in possession of so you know they’ll be letting their starters rest up for whichever terrifying matchup they end up with for the first round of the playoffs.
So who can you start?
Well, believe it or not, Michael Vick is the likely starter for The Eagles against The Giants this weekend. Although The Giants will be fighting for their lives, The Eagles would love to play spoiler for one of their biggest rivals so if your QB is listed above, Vick could prove to be a solid backup.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also in a great spot to end their season on a high note with Atlanta resting their starters so Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Doug Martin, and Josh Freeman are all fantastic starts this week.
Week 17 is extremely difficult to predict. If a team gets up or down by a lot early on, they could opt to rest their starters for the remainder of the game. However, it’s just as likely that the reason they’re up by quite a bit is one of your fantasy starters already had a huge day and sitting in the 4th quarter won’t really matter. For this reason, I say once again “play the team that got you here.” Sure, the exceptions listed above lead to some difficult decisions, but if you have to choose between picking up some backup you’ve never heard of from the waiver wire or starting a guy who has been on your bench 13 of the past 16 weeks, now is as good a time as any to show that bench warmer why you kept him on your team this long in the first place.
Best of luck to everyone!