Wacky Week 18: Who's Motivated?

Jan 04, 2022
Wacky Week 18: Who's Motivated?

With so many injuries and teams resting players for the real NFL playoffs, Week 18 is not ideal for fantasy football, which is why most leagues hold their Championship Game in Week 17. But we do realize 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 four teams competing on Saturday, with the remaining 26 teams playing Sunday afternoon at either 1:00 PM or 4:25 PM ET, plus one Sunday night game between the Chargers and Raiders.

What we already know (AFC): Three of the four division titles have been decided with Tennesee, Kansas City and Cincinnati coming out on top. Either Buffalo or New England will win the AFC East depending on Week 18 outcomes. The No. 1 seed and first-round bye are still to be determined (TBD), with the Wild Card spots going to either Buffalo or New England, depending on the AFC East outcome, along with some combination of Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Baltimore or Pittsburgh.

What we already know (NFC): Similar to the AFC, three divisions have been decided, with Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Dallas all sitting as title winners. The Packers are the No. 1 seed and have won the right to a bye until their divisional-round contest. The NFC West is still TBD, but it will be either the Rams or the Cardinals, who both earned playoff berths regardless of the division winner. The Eagles also have clinched a Wild Card spot with the 49ers and Saints hoping to punch a ticket.

So, who’s motivated?

Highly Motivated

Tennesee Titans (1/9 - 1:00 PM @ Texans)

The Titans are currently first in the AFC and have the tiebreaker over the Chiefs due to the head-to-head win in Week 7. With a victory in Week 18, Tennessee gets the No. 1 seed along with the first-round bye and home-field perks that come with that title.

Note: The Chiefs play on Saturday night so if they lose to the Broncos, the Titans may choose to rest some of their starters.

San Francisco 49ers (1/9 - 4:25 PM @ Rams)

The 49ers can get in with a win in Los Angeles, and probably don’t want to count on the Falcons to take down the Saints as their other way to earn a postseason spot. San Francisco should be rolling out their starting squad in this important Week 18 contest, so feel free to use them in your title games and DFS lineups.

Kansas City Chiefs (1/8 - 4:30 PM @ Broncos)

After a loss last week to the Bengals, the Chiefs now need to win to stay at No. 2 in the AFC, or they could slip down to the fourth seed since they lost in head-to-head matchups with the Bengals and Bills, who currently sit behind them. They get the No. 1 seed if Tennesee loses and they beat Denver.

Kansas City plays in the Mile Hile City before any other matchup, so they should be playing with all their weapons engaged.

New Orleans Saints (1/9 - 4:25 PM @ Falcons)

As the only true bubble team in the NFC, the Saints need a win in Atlanta in Week 18 along with a loss by the 49ers to make the playoffs. They should be firing up all their healthy starters in this NFC South matchup.

Los Angeles Rams (1/9 - 4:25 PM vs. 49ers)

Currently the second seed in the NFC, the Rams have the potential to finish anywhere between No. 2 and No. 5 depending on Week 18’s outcome. They can win their division by beating the 49ers or due to a Cardinals loss. With both games kicking off at the same time, the Rams should be at full strength in order to secure the NFC West.

Indianapolis Colts (1/9 - 1:00 PM @ Jaguars)

Failing to beat the Raiders in Week 17 has the Colts in need of a win on Sunday over the Jaguars. They can also earn a playoff berth with a Ravens loss to the Steelers. These games are happening simultaneously, so expect Indy to do everything they can to grab a spot at the playoff table.

Arizona Cardinals (1/9 - 4:25 PM vs. Seahawks)

The Cardinals can still win the NFC West if they beat Seattle and the Rams lose to the 49ers. They can do no worse than the No. 5 seed, but gaining even one home game is certainly something to play for. Both of these division rival games will take place at the same time so Arizona should be going all out to secure the victory.

Los Angeles Chargers & Las Vegas Raiders (1/9 - 8:20 PM)

This tilt was flexed to the nighttime slot because it’s a win-and-in scenario for both teams. If the Chargers win, they get the last spot in the AFC. If Vegas comes out victorious, the ticket is theirs. There are other crazy postseason paths surrounding this game but expect both teams to give it everything they have on Sunday night.

Pittsburgh Steelers & Baltimore Ravens (1/9 - 1:00 PM)

Both of these AFC North teams still have a shot, but they need a lot of help and an individual win. The Steelers must beat Baltimore and have the Colts lose, but they also need the Chargers-Raiders game to not end in a tie.

For the Ravens to claim a postseason spot, they’ll need a victory over Pittsburgh to go along with losses by the Colts, Browns, Chargers and Dolphins. Expect your standard rivalry contest in this one, as it kicks off in the early timeslot with wins needed on both sides of the ball.

Somewhat Motivated

Cincinnati Bengals (1/9 - 1:00 PM @ Browns)

Winning the AFC North for the first time since 2015, the currently third-seeded Bengals can snag the No. 1 spot by beating the Browns, along with losses by the Titans, Chiefs and Patriots. A Bengals win plus a Bills victory and losses by Tennesee and Kansas City also works. There are also scenarios for the No. 2 seed with a win or falling to fourth with a loss.

With Cincy playing in the early game slot, there is some motivation to gain a higher seed, so we should see starters playing in this contest—at least in the first half depending on how it goes.

Buffalo Bills (1/9 - 4:25 vs. Jets)

The Bills are in the postseason for the third straight year under coach Sean McDermott and can win the AFC East with a victory over the Jets. While there is motivation due to home-field advantage for the Wild Card round, Buffalo should be able to get it done at less than full strength. The NFL tweaked the schedule to have the Patriots and Bills playing at the same time so expect some of their best players in the mix until this game is in the bag.

New England Patriots (1/9 - 4:25 @ Dolphins)

The Patriots need a Bills loss and a win over Miami to secure the AFC East title and move out of the No. 5 seed. There is also a long-shot scenario where they clinch the overall No. 1 seed in the AFC with a victory over the Dolphins, and the Titans, Bills and Chiefs all lose.

If Miami makes this competitive, the Patriots could play most of their starters for a decent amount of this contest. If they get up early, however, we could see some players on the shelf by the half.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1/9 - 4:25 PM vs. Panthers)

The Bucs can’t end up lower than the fourth seed, but if they beat Carolina and the Rams lose, Tampa Bay would shoot up to the No. 2 spot in the NFC. Home-field advantage for a few games is indeed something to play for, but the Panthers may not put up much of a fight, allowing for some rest amongst the Buccaneer starters.

Dallas Cowboys (1/8 - 8:15 @ Eagles)

The NFC East was wrapped up in Week 16 but Dallas lost their hope of the top seed last week by losing to the Cardinals. They have an outside chance of moving up to the second or third spot, but they will most likely remain the fourth seed. There is the motivation for another home contest besides the one already earned for taking down their division, but it’s also likely the Cowboys decide to rest some key players on Saturday night.

Not Motivated and Probably Resting

Green Bay Packers (1/9 - 1:00 PM @ Lions)

Head coach Matt LaFleur has expressed the Packers will treat this like any other game, but chances are that’s not actually the case. We may see the starters in for a few series, but considering the top seed and home-field advantage that comes with it are already locked in, expect very limited output from any Packer starters.

Philadelphia Eagles (1/8 - 8:15 vs. Cowboys)

The Eagles will either be the sixth or seventh seed in the NFC and their individual matchup has no relevancy on where they end up. If the 49ers get in, they’ll get the higher seed, but if San Francisco loses and the Saints win, Philly gets the sixth spot with New Orleans taking the seventh, regardless of the outcome of the Eagles/Cowboys contest.

A rematch with Dallas could be in the cards for round one of the postseason, so Philly may choose to keep things minimal as far as game script, plus they have plenty of injured starters that could use some rest.

Eliminated from Playoffs

AFC: Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins

NFC: Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Washington Football Team, Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings

Note: Seattle and Carolina can play spoiler to division rivals so they may play at full strength.

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