The end of the fantasy football season is always bittersweet. It’s the culmination of hard work, excitement, and cheering on your players. It’s the realization that you have to wait nine months until it starts all over again. And, if you’re lucky, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: league champion.
But for some of you, the season isn’t over yet. If you’re in a league that plays through Week 17, then you have one more week of stress, worry, and anticipation. And this week is going to be trickier than ever.
Because some teams have already clinched a playoff spot, it doesn’t matter if they win or lose in Week 17. There are four teams in this situation: Dallas, New York Giants, Pittsburgh, and Houston.
On the flip side, there are also teams that have no playoff chances anymore, so their Week 17 game is basically just for kicks and giggles. Notable teams in this spot are: Arizona, Buffalo, and Broncos.
Both scenarios bring up the question: will any of these teams rest their starters?
The answer: yes.
This is scary, especially if you’re in the league championship and you need your studs to perform, but they’re not going to play. Here’s my breakdown of who I think is going to be watching the game from the sideline this week, and some suggestions of who you can replace them with.
ALL THE STEELERS: BIG BEN, BELL, AND BROWN
WHO MAY REST: Since they already have their playoff seed locked, the Steelers announced that they’re going to sit some starters, which most likely means the big three: Ben, Bell, and Brown. They’re also playing the Browns, so they may be able to win with their second-strings in.
WHO TO PICK UP: If you’re a Bell owner and need a replacement, consider picking up one of his backups. It’s either going to be Fitzgerald Toussaint or Deangelo Williams, but I would go with Toussaint, since Williams is still recovering from surgery/injury. They’re playing the Browns, so I would start Toussaint with confidence in Bell’s place. Eli Rogers is a wide receiver to consider picking up, as he’d see more targets with Antonio Brown most likely resting.
WHO MAY REST: The Cowboys situation is one to monitor throughout the week. Jerry Jones has said that they won’t rest their starters, but that may not be entirely true. I can see a scenario where the Cowboys run up the score early on the Eagles, and then take out Zeke, Dak, and Dez. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start them, but don’t expect them to play the whole game, since the Cowboys already have the number one seed locked up.
WHO TO PICK UP: If news comes out that they are resting Zeke, then Darren McFadden is the backup to own. It may not hurt to put a waiver claim in for him, in case that this happens.
WHO MAY REST: The Giants also have secured a playoff spot, and there’s already talk of Odell Beckham, Jr. resting on Sunday. I have OBJ in both of my championship games, so I’m sad, but it makes sense.
WHO TO PICK UP: There’s no one worthy to pick up in OBJ’s place, unless Sterling Shepard is somehow available in your league.
WHO MAY REST: Believe it or not, the trashy Texans are in the playoffs! Even though they’re probably just going to lose their first playoff game, they may decide to rest some starters in Week 17. I can see the injured Lamar Miller sitting out again this week, so that they can make sure he’s as healthy as possible for the playoffs.
WHO TO PICK UP: If Miller sits out, Alfred Blue would see another increased workload. Last week against the Bengals, Blue had 73 yards and a touchdown. This week, he goes against the Titans, and should see plenty of carries.
WHO MAY REST: The playoff-bound Seahawks have the easiest Week 17 matchup, as they get end the regular season by playing the 49ers. If you have any Seahawks players, play them. There hasn’t been much talk of Seahawks starters resting, but Thomas Rawls is injured and is questionable.
WHO TO PICK UP: If Rawls does sit this one out, consider picking up Alex Collins. He took Rawls’ place last week and had 47 total yards. Collins is worthy of a flex spot if he gets the start against the league’s worst defense.
WHO MAY REST: The Chiefs have made the playoffs, but they’ll still be playing for the #1 spot in the AFC West on Sunday. They’re playing the Chargers, a team that is struggling so much that they lost to the previously 0-14 Browns, which is very embarrassing. I think the Chiefs will keep their starters in, but one player to keep an eye on is Spencer Ware. He has a rib injury, and is currently questionable.
WHO TO PICK UP: If Ware can’t go, Charcandrick West is the next one in line, and could do some damage against the Chargers, who just got torched by Isaiah Crowell last week. It’s worth noting that the last time the Chiefs and the Chargers met in Week 1, Ware put up 25 fantasy points.
BONUS: DOUG MARTIN AND CARLOS HYDE REPLACEMENTS
This is more of a PSA, but the Buccaneers have made it known that Doug Martin will be inactive once again for Week 17. They’re being very mysterious about why he is inactive, but it looks like Jacquizz Rodgers will get the start again. If he’s available in your league, he’s not a bad start this week against Carolina.
Carlos Hyde will miss the 49ers last game against the Seahawks because of a torn MCL. Look for Shaun Draughn and DuJuan Harris to take his place. Both of them are risky starts, especially against the Seahawks, but if you’re desperate, they may be viable options.
That’s going to do it, folks! Thanks for reading, and good luck getting through Week 17 and taking home the trophy. For more fantasy advice, check out our starts and sits, player rankings, and our weekly podcast. You can also comment below or tweet at us if you have any questions.