First off, congratulations are in order for FST_Jwool, whose Youngsters captured the inaugural FST Fantasy Football challenge title this past week, beating out FST_Mike in the championship round. FST_Brent and FST_Lincoln rounded out the top 4. This league was one of the most competitive that I’ve ever been a part of. There were huge trades, massive upsets, and literally dozens of moves every week. My thanks to both the experts and forum members who participated – it was a blast.

While the FST league is concluded, for many other leagues this week is for all the marbles. NFL Week 17 is the last week in the regular season, so we’re dealing not only with players being shut down for the season due to injury, but also players on ‘dead’ teams shutting down early, and players on ‘playoff locked’ teams resting in anticipation of a deep playoff run. It seems only natural that we will therefore discuss players I don’t think you can count on for the final push.

Kansas City Chiefs

Jamaal Charles, Alex Smith, Dwayne Bowe, Defense/Special Teams

Andy Reid has already spoken openly about potentially resting his starters for week 17. KC is locked into the 5th spot, meaning they have nothing to gain or lose. Even if Reid chooses to play his starters, I can’t imagine them being out there in the 3rd and 4th quarters. The same goes for the generally formidable defensive unit, which is both an obvious downgrade for KC D/ST but also an upgrade for the SD offense.

Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush

Anyone who watched Megatron’s week 16 performance against the Giants could clearly see he wasn’t himself. With the Lions eliminated from playoff contention, there seems to be little reason for him to suit up at far less than 100%. Reggie Bush looked healthy any dynamic, but he’s been banged up all season, and with nothing to play for I feel like he would also be a poor start this week. Look for a lot more work than usual for Joique Bell, Theo Riddick, and Mikel Leshoure. I’m not certain there is a DET WR that I would play with any confidence if Calvin isn’t active.

Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning, Knowshon Moreno, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Defense/Special Teams

Peyton Manning’s record-breaking year certainly has spawned an offensive monster in Denver. I’d guess a good many teams still active in week 17 have at least one of the above players. Denver plays Oakland this week, and a win there secures home field, so there’s something to play for, but you can’t imagine this game will be in doubt for very long. I’d guess the starters play the first half here (except Welker – he won’t play at all) so if you’re starting Broncos this week, it is in the hopes of you guy catching one of however many first-half TD’s Peyton chooses to throw. It seems obvious that they will rest Moreno as well, leading to more carries for Montee Ball and perhaps even the generally-invisible Ronnie Hillman. I also wanted to note the Bronco’s D here because the matchup seems to look good against the Raiders with Pryor starting. Proceed with caution, however – this is a D/ST that wasn’t great anyway, just lost Von Miller for the season, and will be resting starters as well.

New England Patriots

Tom Brady, Shane Vereen, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman

This note is more based on supposition than actual fact. I’m looking at the matchup (BUF vs NE, in NE), the fact that the Bills are totally dead in the playoff hunt, and the fact that the Patriots just finished destroying a much better Ravens defense on Sunday. The Bills may be able to rack up some yards and scores on the ground, but I can’t see this game being close for too long. In many leagues, like the Bronco’s above, these are your studs and it’s going to be tough to sit them without confirmation that they’re resting…but again, proceed with caution. I wouldn’t be shocked to see most of the Patriots skill players resting in the second half while Ridley, Bolden, and Blount run out the clock.

Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith, Ray Rice, Dennis Pitta

This projection is half based on this weekend, half based on matchup, and half based on injury. Flacco sustain a brutal MCL sprain in week 15, and played in week 16 agains the Patriots…but he was brutal. The entire offense came to a sputtering stop as New England blew the doors off of Baltimore. If you started any Ravens last week and are still alive, my hat’s off to you. None of these guys are wonderful options anyway, and unless you simply have nothing else, I would stay away from Ravens this week against a decent Bengals defense with something to play for. Especially because the game is in Cincy.

Week 17 Injury Roundup

Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers is still recovering from a broken collarbone. The Packers continue to make noise about the possibility of him starting each week, but other sources have noted that his injury generally and that if he were to start, the Packers would be putting themselves and their franchise QB in a very dangerous situation. If you are still holding Rodgers, you might as well follow his updates closely this week, but for me, I don’t think I could trust him in a championship matchup when he hasn’t played since week 9.

Adrian Peterson

He’s nowhere near 100%, which was painfully obvious on Sunday. The Vikings have literally nothing to play for except better draft position, which would require them to lose. I think you can do the math here.

Jordan Cameron

Two weeks later, and he’s still in the NFL concussion protocol. Not that he’s been wonderfully consistent since Brian Hoyer went down early in the season. He’s now got a hurt Jason Campbell throwing to him. I actually think Brian Hoyer, minus an ACL, might be a better QB option here. Feel free to cut Cameron loose if you’re still rostering him for some reason.

Tony Romo

Romo’s back injury is being reported as a herniated disc. It’s also being reported he took an epidural injection in an effort to play on Sunday. While I’m sure the Cowboys would love to have him on the field for their NFC East championship-deciding game against the Eagles, it seems incredibly unlikely he takes the field. Even if he were to do so, he would be an incredible risky start in a fantasy championship situation. This might represent a slight downgrade for Dez Bryant, maybe, if he wasn’t a total STUD, and if he wasn’t facing an Eagles defense that would have difficulty covering the ground with a tarp.

Steve Smith

Smith sprained his PCL during week 16, and there’s no reason for the Panthers to play him during week 17 while they prepare for the playoffs. The chances he plays this week are about nil.