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.
At 4for4 we will continue through the Super Bowl with our weekly rankings and projections, and if you aren't playing this week, or simply want more action, we encourage you to check out the DFS and betting sections of the site, where there will be fresh content until the bitter end of the NFL season.
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 Football Team and the Eagles.
What we already know AFC: Three of the four division titles have been decided with Kansas City, Buffalo and Pittsburgh coming out on top. Either Tennessee or Indy will win the AFC South depending on Week 17 outcomes. The Chiefs have earned a first-round bye, and wild-card spots will go to the Dolphins, Ravens and Browns, or possibly the Titans if they lose the AFC South.
What we already know NFC: Similar to the AFC, three divisions have been decided, with Green Bay, New Orleans and Seattle all sitting as title winners. The NFC East is still TBD, but it will be either the Football Team, Cowboys or the Giants. The Buccaneers are locked in for the Wild-Card round, with the Rams, Bears and Cardinals all hoping to punch a ticket.
So, who’s motivated?
Washington Football Team (8:20 pm @ Eagles)
This is the simplest of scenarios, as the Football Team will clinch the NFC East with a victory over the Eagles on Sunday night. If they lose, the winner of the Cowboys/Giants game takes the worst division in the NFL this season. Washington will be doing everything they can to win this one and earn themselves a spot at the playoff table.
Green Bay Packers (4:25 pm @ Bears)
Green Bay is playing for the top spot in the NFC, including a first-round bye and the home-field perks that come with it. They can also earn that with a Seattle loss, but the Seahawks are favored to beat the 49ers, and are playing with some motivation since they’ll get the top gig with a Packers and Saints loss.
Tennessee Titans (4:25 pm @ Texans)
The Titans failed to clinch their division in Week 16, but have multiple ways to get it done this week. If they beat the Texans or if Indy loses, they’re tops in the AFC South, or they can also earn a playoff spot with a loss by the Ravens, Colts or Dolphins.
Note: Baltimore and Miami both play in the earlier set of games so if either team loses, Tennessee may choose to rest some of its starters.
Miami Dolphins (1:00 pm @ Bills)
As the current fifth seed in the AFC, the Dolphins can make the playoffs with a win over the Bills, or losses by the Ravens, Colts or Browns. This team is fired up and thrilled to be in the hunt for only the second time in 12 seasons, so expect full throttle from Miami this week.
Baltimore Ravens (1:00 pm @ Bengals)
Thanks to four straight wins and the Browns crapping the bed against the Jets, the Ravens find themselves as the current six seed in the AFC, and punch their ticket with a win on Sunday against a withering Cincinnati squad. The Ravens are also playoff-bound via either a Colts or Browns loss. With a win-and-in scenario in front of them, Baltimore should be fired up for this contest.
Los Angeles Rams (4:25 pm vs, Cardinals)
The Rams are down a starting quarterback and a few running backs heading into this must-win contest. In order to win a coveted wild-card spot, they’ll need to beat Arizona and hope the Bears lose to the Packers. Despite a depleted offensive squad, they should attempt to give the Cards everything they have this week.
Cleveland Browns (1:00 pm vs Steelers)
The Browns can snag that final wild-card spot with a win over the Steelers, so will certainly be driven in Week 17. They’ll also be looking to bounce back after a humiliating loss to the Jets, which I’d think could provide additional motivation.
Chicago Bears (4:25 pm vs. Packers)
Despite a mid-season meltdown, the Bears are on the brink of an implausible playoff berth. They’ll either need to beat Green Bay or hope the Cardinals lose to the Rams. Chicago will be super-pumped to hang onto their wild-card spot, so should be rolling with their most fantasy-relevant players.
Dallas Cowboys & New York Giants (1:00 pm)
For either of these two teams to make the playoffs via the NFC East title, Washington would have to lose to the Eagles. If that were to happen, the victor in this contest gets the postseason berth. Dallas could also get in with an overtime tie and a Washington loss. While this game is not the sexiest fantasy-wise, both teams have something to play for since the Football Team doesn’t kick off until Sunday night.
Indianapolis Colts (4:25 pm vs. Jaguars)
It’s not smooth sailing for Indy right now, but they definitely need to beat the Jags for any chance of postseason play. Along with their victory, they also need a loss by either the Titans, Ravens, Browns or Dolphins. A win and a Titans loss also would give the Colts the AFC South title. Despite not controlling their own destiny, the Colts are still alive so they will want to play everyone they can.
Arizona Cardinals (4:25 pm @ Rams)
It’s not entirely over for the Cardinals after their Week 16 loss, as they can steal the sixth or seventh seed in the NFC. They need to win or tie no matter what the Bears do, so they should be firing up whatever is left of the Air-Raid offense in 2020.
New Orleans Saints (4:25 pm @ Panthers)
The Saints clinched their fourth straight NFC South championship in Week 16 and sit as the second seed, but have a few scenarios that could propel them up to earning a first-round playoff bye and the top seed in the NFC. The easiest path is to beat Carolina, have Seattle win and the Packers lose. However, if the Packers (who play at the same time) win, it won't matter whether the Saints win or lose.
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.
Buffalo Bills (1:00 vs. Dolphins)
The Bills are playing for the No. 2 spot in the AFC. They can also earn that slot with a Pittsburgh loss, but are playing against a Miami team that’s fighting for its own postseason berth.
Note: The Steelers play at the same time as this matchup so if Pittsburgh happens to be getting blown out by Cleveland at halftime, Buffalo could rest its key players in the second half. This scenario is looking pretty likely heading into Sunday's game.
Seattle Seahawks (4:25 pm @ 49ers)
As winners of the NFC West, the Seahawks are a lock for the playoffs and are currently the No. 3 seed in the conference. There is still motivation here, since they can score the top spot with a win, along with a loss by both the Packers and New Orleans. Since all three contests are being played at the same time, it seems as if they’ll be going with their starters in this one, at least in the first half depending on how the other NFC games go.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1:00 pm vs. Falcons)
Normally we take what Bruce Arians says with the teeniest grain of salt, but when he says they are playing to win against Atlanta this week, it does make sense. With a victory in Week 17, the Bucs seed in at fifth which would pin them against the winner of the NFC East in the first round of the playoffs. That is motivation enough to at least start the game with their best players.
Not Motivated and Probably Resting
Kansas City Chiefs (4:25 pm vs. Chargers)
Andy Reid has already expressed that we’ll most likely see Chad Henne this week and it would make sense for the rest of the starters to relax a bit in Week 17, as well. The Chiefs have already clinched the top spot in the AFC, and with that comes sweet home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1:00 pm @ Browns)
With the division title won and the Chiefs out of reach, the Steelers will either be a second or third seed depending on the Bills’ outcome. They have indicated that they may sit some starters including Ben Roethlisberger, so they fall into the not so motivated category this week.
Eliminated from Playoffs
Note: The Texans are playing divisional rival Tennessee and can hurt/ruin their playoff prospects in Week 17. They may be motivated to play to win.