Wacky Week 17: So Who's Motivated?
With so many injuries and teams resting players for the real NFL playoffs, Week 17 is not ideal for fantasy football, which is why most leagues hold their Championship Game in Week 16. But we do realize that some of you are still battling, and to those of you who are, this is the most important week of the season.
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This weekend, some teams will be highly motivated to produce, while others are already playing golf in their minds. There are 30 teams competing Sunday afternoon at either 1:00 PM or 4:25 PM ET, with one Sunday night game between the 49ers and Seahawks.
What we already know AFC: All division titles have been decided with the Ravens, Patriots, Chiefs and Texans coming out on top. Baltimore has earned a first-round bye and Wild Card spots will go to the Bills, along with either the Titans, Steelers or Raiders.
What we already know NFC: The Packers and Saints are division winners, with the 49ers and Seahawks (who are both playoff-bound) battling Sunday night for the title in the NFC West. The NFC East is still TBD, but will either be the Eagles or Cowboys, and the Vikings are locked in as a Wild Card.
So, who’s motivated?
With a win over the Bills last week, New England won the AFC East for the 17th time in 19 seasons, but we all know that’s not good enough for this squad. They can secure a first-round bye and second place in the AFC by beating Miami, or if the Chiefs lose to the Chargers. I’d say it’s full steam ahead for Bill Belichick this week.
If the 49ers can beat Seattle, they’ll claim the top seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. On the flip side, they’ll enter the postseason as a Wild Card team and travel to their first contest. With a prize that massive, this team should be extremely driven to perform in Week 17.
Currently sitting as the sixth seed in the AFC, the Titans clinch that last Wild Card spot with a win over the Texans, or losses by the Steelers and Colts. With a win-and-in-scenario in front of them, Tennessee should be fired up for this tilt.
The Seahawks can win the NFC West and the home playoff game that comes with it with a win over the 49ers Sunday night. They can also clinch a first-round bye with a victory and a Packers loss. If Green Bay and New Orleans both lose, home-field advantage throughout the postseason is granted to Seattle.
The Packers have already won the NFC North but can secure a first-round bye by beating the Lions on Sunday, or with a Saints loss. Green Bay can also snag the top seed and home-field advantage with a victory and 49ers defeat.
Currently on the outside looking in, not only does Pittsburgh need to win, but they also need Tennessee to lose to the Texans. The Steelers can also be miracled into the postseason with a loss if the Titans lose, the Colts win and four teams also lose which include the Bears, Lions, Chargers and Patriots.
The Eagles can take down the NFC East with a win over the Giants this week, or a loss by Dallas to Washington. They can miss the postseason altogether if they fall short in New York in conjunction with a Cowboys victory. Motivation is high for this Eagles team that has been very inconsistent in 2019.
Oakland needs to beat Denver for any shot at a playoff berth, but they also need four tilts to go their way. Along with their victory, they also need the Ravens, Texans and Colts to come out top, plus one win from either the Bears, Chiefs, Lions or Patriots. It’s pretty slim, but they’re still alive so they will want to play everyone they can.
After a late-season meltdown, the Cowboys must beat Washington and hope for a Giants win over the Eagles to take the NFC East. Otherwise, they’re booking tee times and wondering why their coach still has a job.
Heading into Week 17, the Saints sit third in the NFC but have a few scenarios that could propel them up to earning a first-round playoff bye and the number one seed in the NFC. However, if the Packers (who play at the same time) win, it won't matter whether the Saints win or lose. If the Packers win and the 49ers lose on Sunday night, the Saints would move up to the No. 2 seed even with a loss. So if the Packers jump out to a big lead on the Lions, the Saints may elect to rest their key players in the second half. If the Lions keep the game competitive, the Saints will play to win.
The worst they can do is end up third in the NFC which means they are guaranteed to host at least one postseason matchup, but a bye and home-field throughout will certainly be on the minds of all Saints players and personnel.
A two, three or four seed is possible for Kansas City in 2019. If New England loses and the Chiefs beat the Chargers, they’ll be the second seed, and if the Chargers come out on top and Houston beats Tennessee, the Chiefs will slip down to the fourth seed in the AFC. Otherwise, they’re looking at the third spot.
Note: The Chiefs could rest some starters in the second half if the Patriots are blowing out Miami early, assuming they’re good with either the third or fourth seed. However, they may be motivated to secure the third seed in order to avoid a potential Ravens matchup until the AFC Championship Game.
Champions of the AFC South for the fourth time in five seasons, the Texans are playoff-bound no matter what goes down. They’re currently sitting as the fourth seed but can move up to three with a win over the Titans and a Kansas City loss.
Note: The Chiefs play in the first set of games, so if they beat the Chargers, Bill O’Brien may choose to rest some starters since they’ll stay pat as the fourth seed in the AFC. The only caveat is that by beating their division-rival Titans, they can eliminate Tennessee's playoff hopes. That may be enough motivation to play to win.
Not Motivated and Probably Resting
Thanks to 11 straight wins, the Ravens earned the top spot in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. This game is meaningless for them but does have playoff implications for their opponent, Pittsburgh. Baltimore should rest their key starters, so we’ll be treated to Robert Griffin III, along with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill in the backfield. They’ll probably work the depth chart in the receiving corps, as well.
Locked in as a fifth seed in the AFC, the Bills claim they’ll enter the contest with most of their weapons, but they probably won’t be in the game for more than a quarter or so. I’d look elsewhere for players to start or use for DFS in Week 17.
Due to their Monday night debacle in Week 16, the Vikings own the sixth seed in the NFC and will face whoever ends up in the third spot during the Wild Card round. Minnesota has not won a road playoff game since 2004, so having well-rested players will certainly behoove this inconsistent squad.
Eliminated from Playoffs
AFC: Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals. Note: The Dolphins, Chargers and Broncos are playing divisional rivals and can hurt/ruin their playoff prospects in Week 17. They may be motivated to play to win.
NFC: Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, New York Giants and Washington Redskins. Note: The Lions, Panthers, Giants and Redskins are playing divisional rivals can hurt/ruin their playoff prospects in Week 17. They may be motivated to play to win.