The Comfortables: Week 17
Congratulations to all who won a fantasy championship! I went 2-for-2 in my championship games last week. For those that are still playing and have a championship game during Week 17, please consider only having a 16-week season next year. Week 17 fantasy championships are awful. It's bad enough that you have to worry about your players' status during the season due to injuries. But now you have to worry about whether or not they'll play so they can rest for the real-life playoffs.
Leagues who have a 17-week season this year have lucked out, because few teams have nothing left to play for. The majority of playoff seeds are still up for grabs, and there's five teams looking to capture two playoff spots in the NFC.
So rather than list the comfortables, cautions, and casualties that I have done in weeks past, I'm only going to say what's at stake for each team, and the only fantasy relevant players for each squad. Like I said last week, if you've made it this far, you're likely going to dance with the girl that brought you and not get cute. Still, maybe we can find a few diamonds in the rough this week, eh? Lets go!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons
What's at stake?: The Falcons have already locked up the 1 seed, so they have nothing to play for. This team has the most danger of benching their starters, including Roddy White, who blew up last week with a 150+ yard, multi-TD game. He's a high candidate for shutdown. The Bucs may look to get a respect win against a division foe, but otherwise have nothing to play for.
Who's Comfortable?: You might get three good quarters out of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez. Even if Roddy White starts, I'd be wary that they'll shut him down after a quarter or half. It'd be almost better to have him be inactive. Michael Turner is always good for a goal-line vulture. The only Bucs I'd consider starting are Doug Martin or Vincent Jackson.
Prediction: Three quarters of Matt Ryan and the starters should be enough to give the Falcons a home win and send the fans home happy and ready for the playoffs.
New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills
What's at stake?: Rex Ryan's job. CJ Spiller's future as a full-time back.
Who's Comfortable?: No Jets, that's for sure. I'd only start CJ Spiller and Stevie Johnson. The Buffalo defense looks like a decent plug-and-play this week. The Jets whooped on the Bills back in Week 1, but that seems a lonnnnnng time ago, doesn't it?
Prediction: Spiller dazzles as the Bills defeat the quitting Jets.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals
What's at stake?: Not much on the surface. The Ravens have locked up the division but can't get a playoff bye, so does it really matter if they have the 3 or 4 seed? The Bengals have clinched the 6 seed and cannot go any higher. But this is still a division rivalry (and a possible first-round playoff matchup) so there is certainly pride on the line.
Who's Comfortable?: Ray Rice, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Torrey Smith, AJ Green, Dennis Pitta, Jermaine Gresham, and both defenses.
Prediction: Baltimore eeks it out on the road.
Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions
What's at stake?: Chicago's playoff hopes rely heavily on winning this game. They also need Minnesota to lose. Detroit has given up on the season and Jim Schwartz may likely be fired. Calvin Johnson already has Jerry Rice's receiving record, so there may be some danger in him being a healthy scratch in order to preserve him for next season. Keep an eye out.
Who's Comfortable?: Matthew Stafford, Matt Forte (if active), Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, Chicago Defense
Prediction: With something to play for, Chicago beats Detroit.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans
What's at stake?: A whole lotta nothin'. This is Chad Henne's final audition for the full-time Jacksonville QB job...at least until the Jags get Tim Tebow from the Jets.
Who's Comfortable?: Chris Johnson, Cecil Shorts, Kenny Britt, Tennessee Defense
Prediction: CJ0K busts a big one and the Titans win at home.
Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts
What's at stake?: Houston can clinch the number 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win. A loss and a Devner victory could drop them to #2. Indy's locked into the 5 seed, but this is Chuck Pagano's first game back since being diagnosed with Leukemia, so you can bet his players are dying to get him a victory in his first game back.
Who's Comfortable?: Matt Schaub, Andrew Luck, Arian Foster (if active), Vick Ballard, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Owen Daniels, Houston Defense
Prediction: Houston spoils Chuck's comeback with a big road win.
Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints
What's at stake?: Both teams are eliminated, but the Saints would love to finish the season without a losing record after their dismal start.
Who's Comfortable?: Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Steve Smith, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham
Prediction: New Orleans wins at home and finishes 8-8 on the season.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants
What's at stake?: The G-Men need a lot of outside help to make the playoffs, but first priority is to beat the Eagles. Michael Vick makes his return after Nick Foles was put on IR with a hand injury, and will most likely be playing for a job elsewhere after the Eagles cut him in the offseason.
Who's Comfortable?: Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy (if active), Ahmad Bradshaw, Victor Cruz, Martellus Bennett, New York Giants Defense
Prediction: The Giants get the win to end the season at 9-7, but it's not enough to get them to the playoffs.
Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
What's at stake?: Neither team can make the playoffs, but Pittsburgh will most likely be playing for pride after their first year in a long time watching the playoffs from home.
Who's Comfortable?: Ben Roethlisberger, Trent Richardson, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Defense
Prediction: The pissed-off Steelers pound on the lowly Browns.
Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers
What's at stake?: Nothing for either team. This is most likely Norv Turner's last game as head coach of the Chargers...notice I say "most likely"...dude should have been fired years ago.
Who's Comfortable?: Darren McFadden, Danario Alexander, San Diego Defense
Prediction: Chargers eek by the Raiders.
Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
What's at stake?: 49ers need to win to have a chance at getting a first-round bye. Beanie Wells is apparently playing for a job elsewhere despite being under contract to the Cardinals next year.
Who's Comfortable?: Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Larry Fitzgerald, San Francisco Defense
Prediction: The 49ers win in what's most likely Ken Wisenhunt's last game as Cardinals head coach.
St. Louis Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks
What's at stake?: The Seahawks do still have an opportunity to win the NFC West with a win and 49ers loss.
Who's Comfortable?: Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice, Seattle Defense
Prediction: It's the Seahawks at home. C'mon man. They finish up perfect at Qwest Field.
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
What's at stake?: Packers need to win this game to maintain a first round bye as the 2 seed. As for the Vikings, a certain someone named Adrian Peterson is going for a certain rushing record.
Who's Comfortable?: Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Green Bay Defense
Prediction: Peterson does not get the rushing record, and the Pack get a big road win.
Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots
What's at stake?: The Patriots need to win and have the Broncos lose for the opportunity at the #2 seed and a first-round bye. Rob Gronkowski might make his return from a broken forearm.
Who's Comfortable?: Tom Brady, Reggie Bush, Stevan Ridley, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski (if active)
Prediction: Patriots roll.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos
What's at stake?: Denver needs a win and a Houston loss to clinch the #1 seed and a home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Who's Comfortable?: Peyton Manning, Jamaal Charles, Knowshown Moreno, Eric Decker, Demariyus Thomas, Denver Defense
Prediction: It's 11 straight wins for Peyton and the Broncos.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
What's at stake?: This one is for all the marbles. For the Cowboys, it's simple. Win and you're in, lose and you're out. The Redskins can still make the playoffs with a loss, but they'll need serious help. The easiest way to get in is to win.
Who's Comfortable?: Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, DeMarco Murray, Alfred Morris, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Pierre Garcon, Jason Witten
Prediction: Romo has another late-game meltdown and RG3 goes to the playoffs in his first year!
That's it for the regular season! I'll be back next week to tie everything up, look back on 2012, and look forward to 2013! Good luck in the championships!