You gotta have guts to play into Week 17. Teams with playoff aspirations will go all out, but teams with a playoff spot locked up don’t have to. And the teams with no playoff hopes? Who knows what they’ll do, or how full-go they’ll be, with the offseason just a game away.
So if you’re one of the brave souls setting a Fantasy lineup in Week 17, you need to know who’s playing for something and what the deal is with teams playing for nothing.
Playoff positions locked up
- Eagles: The Birds wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs by beating the Raiders on Christmas. Expect their starters to find the bench at some point against the Cowboys.
- Jaguars: Losing on Sunday at San Francisco hurt, but they still won the AFC South because the Titans lost to the Rams. Once the Steelers beat the Texans on Christmas, the Jaguars clinched the No. 3 seed. They cannot get a first-round bye, but they can use Week 17 as a de facto bye and rest starters. We could see very little of Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette.
- Chiefs: After beating the Dolphins on Sunday, the Chiefs won the AFC West and clinched the No. 4 seed and a home playoff game. They cannot get a first-round bye. In the past, Andy Reid has left his starters on the bench in Week 17 when there’s nothing to gain. That will probably be the case when the Chiefs play in Denver next Sunday. Hello, Patrick Mahomes!
- Rams: The Rams have clinched the NFC West and a home playoff game. They cannot get a first-round bye. First-year coach Sean McVay obviously has never made a call on this before but he did rest players in the preseason and could be inclined to keep his key starters on the bench in Week 17 against the 49ers.
- Patriots: Bill Belichick’s boys will land the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win over the Jets. As if they needed any motivation against Gang Green. Start all Patriots.
- Steelers: Pittsburgh must chase a win to keep a first-round bye. They typically don’t rest their starters anyway, and they have a home game against the Browns as a playoff tune-up.
- Vikings: With a win over the Bears at home, the Vikings will clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. The Vikings should play their starters until the win is in hand.
- Saints: A win over the Bucs in Tampa Bay will give the Saints the NFC South crown and a home playoff game, most likely as the No. 4 seed. No worries about Drew Brees being inactive here.
- Panthers: The Panthers are in the playoffs. They can win the NFC South if they win and the Saints lose. They can land the No. 2 seed in the NFC if they win, the Saints lose and the Vikings lose. Because so much is at stake, bank on coach Ron Rivera playing his starters until they’ve got a win cinched.
- Falcons: Dan Quinn’s crew needs a home win over Carolina to earn a playoff spot. Win and they’re in, lose and they’re out – unless the Seahawks also lose.
- Seahawks: Seattle must take care of business at home against the Cardinals, then hope the Panthers beat the Falcons. If those things happen, the Seahawks sneak in as the sixth seed.
- Ravens: The Ravens are in the playoffs as the No. 5 seed with a win over Cincinnati.
- Titans: Tennessee clinches the sixth seed in the AFC if they win at Jacksonville in Week 17. That playoff game would be, surprisingly enough, against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
- Chargers: The Chargers need a win and a Titans loss, along with some other help, to sneak into the playoffs. They’ll play to win versus the Raiders.
- Bills: All the Bills need to get into the playoffs is a win at Miami, a Ravens loss or losses by both the Titans and the Chargers. But they need to win their game first, so expect the starters to play four quarters.