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Fantasy & Reality: Week 17 Fantasy pitfalls

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The albatross that is Week 17 is upon us. And though roughly two-thirds of Fantasy leagues have been decided by now, it doesn't mean that the season is over for everybody ... even though the regular season is over for the starters on a few NFL teams.

Playing into Week 17 is a fun challenge, but a game already dominated by improbabilities and uncertainties is compounded by the wishes of a team without the proverbial "something to play for." Everywhere you look there's risk in starting key players because their teams might not need them for the full 60 minutes. Some won't be used at all.

The good news this season is that there aren't many teams with playoff spots locked up. That should mean a lot of players who helped you get to Week 17 playing for you. That's how it should be when a championship is on the line.

Playoff implications for both teams

Cowboys at Redskins: For the second straight year, the Cowboys are on the road in a win-and-in game. Not only is the winner in the playoffs but they'll host the Seahawks in the Wild Card round. Not the best prize in the world but certainly one worth playing for. The loser will likely miss the playoffs but there is a scenario where the Redskins can still make it with a loss, though it will depend on results earlier in the day. Expect the starters for both teams to play the whole game.

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Packers at Vikings: The Vikings are in with a win on Sunday. The Packers are already locked into a home game, but they could land the No. 2 seed and a bye with a win. You won't see Aaron Rodgers' backup throw six touchdowns in this one.

Playoff implications for one team

Texans at Colts: With a win, the Texans will own the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Their starters will play.

The Colts, meanwhile, are locked into the No. 5 seed and have nothing to play for from a playoff standpoint. However, emotions will run high when their head coach, Chuck Pagano, makes his expected return from chemotherapy treatments for leukemia. Pagano is a first-time head coach who has worked as an assistant for a number of head coaches, much like interim head coach Bruce Arians. Neither have been at the helm of a team in this "meaningless" situation but they have both been around it. In Pittsburgh, Arians was part of a Steelers team that played their starters for most of blowout wins against Cleveland in 2010 and again versus Cleveland in 2008. In 2007, several starters rested for the whole game after the Steelers locked up the AFC North. Pagano was part of a Ravens team in 2007 that pulled their starters after putting the final touches on a convincing win. The hunch is that the Colts' top stars like Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne will play most if not all of the game because of Pagano on the sideline and the electric atmosphere thanks to the home crowd and an opponent desperate for a win.

Ravens at Bengals: The Ravens have a home game locked up in the Wild Card round. It is unknown how hard they'll fight for a chance at the No. 3 seed but chances are they'll come out firing in an attempt to simply fine-tune the offense. As we noted with Pagano above, the Ravens have rarely been in a position to rest their starters under coach John Harbaugh. We'll probably see the first-team offense on the field for a decent portion of the game but not the whole thing. The Ravens might actually prefer to land the No. 4 seed to keep a home game with the Colts and see the Texans in Round 2, not the Broncos or Patriots.

The Bengals have clinched the No. 6 seed and have nothing to gain from playing. The last time Marvin Lewis' crew was in such a situation was when they won the AFC North title in 2009 -- the starters played a little bit and gave way to the backups soon thereafter against the Jets. They wound up playing the Jets at home the very next week and lost, something Lewis made mention of during a press conference this week. Even with Lewis saying he'll "play to win," it doesn't mean he'll try to do it with his starters for 60 minutes.

Dolphins at Patriots: If the Patriots want to have a chance at a bye, they need to win. Losses by Houston or Denver would give them a top-two seed, so expect the Pats' first-team offense to play until the game's in hand. The Dolphins are out of playoff contention but their first-year head coach will likely demand a good effort while potentially looking at some younger players.

Chiefs at Broncos: The Broncos land a bye with a win. If the Texans lose and the Broncos win then the Broncos will clinch the top seed in the AFC. John Fox said previously he wasn't resting his starters and chances are that will be the case until the Broncos build a big lead on the Chiefs. That should be by halftime.

Bears at Lions: The Bears land the NFC's sixth seed with a win and a Vikings loss. Because the Vikings play a late game, the Bears won't know their fate until after their game. Their starters will play. The Lions have nothing to play for, but Calvin Johnson will probably aim for over 2,000 receiving yards.

Eagles at Giants: The only team here with playoff hopes is the Giants, and they're faint. A Giants win gives them a chance at a wild card spot depending on other games later in the day. Perhaps the Giants will finish strong.

Cardinals at 49ers: The 49ers must win and also need a Packers loss to slide back into the No. 2 seed. The Packers and Niners play at the same time so expect Harbaugh's starters to stay in the game a while.

Rams at Seahawks: The Seahawks have clinched a playoff spot and can actually host a home game if they win and the Niners lose. They play at the same time so expect the Seahawks to put their best foot forward.

No playoff implications

Buccaneers at Falcons: The Falcons have the top seed wrapped up, something they've never had going into Week 17 under head coach Mike Smith. However, Smith has benched his starters for backups during a game as recently as last season. This might not be the week to roll with your Falcons starters.

Jets at Bills, Panthers at Saints, Browns at Steelers, Jaguars at Titans, Raiders at Chargers: A lot of teams with a lot of coaches who may or may not be associated with their teams at this time next week. There might be a surprise inactive or two among this crew, so stay close to CBSSports.com on Sunday when we get the official inactives.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson sitting on Monday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson will not play on Monday against the Dolphins, according to ESPN.

Wilkerson said he won't need surgery on his injured toe, but he would still need time to recover. It's the first time in his career that Wilkerson will miss a game. "It’s a little weird, but I’m going to do my best to support my teammates," Wilkerson said. 


Raiders active RB George Atkinson for Week 13
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Raiders have activated running back George Atkinson for Week 13 against the Rams.

The team will be without Latavius Murray for the contest. Murray was unable to pass the proper concussion tests. Atkinson will have to battle for carries, as the team is expected to have Marcel Reece, Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew for the game. 


Raiders carries will be determined by 'flow' of the game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Raiders will distribute their carries based on the "flow" of the game on Sunday, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Latavius Murray has been ruled out due to a concussion, leaving Marcel Reece, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden in the backfield. Head coach Tony Sparano confirmed that carries would depend on both "flow" and the game situation. It's unclear which player will get the start. 


Seahawks place Kevin Pierre-Louis on IR, claim Loucheiz Purifoy
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Seahawks have claimed defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy off waivers from the Colts and placed linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis on injured reserve, ending his season, per KJR-950 AM in Seattle. Pierre-Louis injured his shoulder Week 11 against Kansas City. His season ends with 13 combined tackles and one fumble recovery in seven games played.

Patriots DT Siliga back at practice, but still on IR/DTR list
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Patriots defensive tackle Sealver Siliga has returned to practice, but he remains on the injured reserve/designated to return list as he continues his recovery from a foot injury that has limited him to three games this season.

Bears LB Lance Briggs lands on season-ending IR list
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Bears linebacker Lance Briggs may have played his last game in Chicago.

According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the Bears have placed him on the season-ending injured reserve list with a groin injury.

His season ends with one interception and one forced fumble, along with 35 combined tackles in eight games played. The 34-year-old will become a free agent at the end of the season.


Quartet of Raiders get red light for battle with Rams
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Four Raiders have been ruled out for their Sunday game in St. Louis, including running back Latavius Murray (concussion). The others are safety Jonathan Dowling (back) and cornerbacks Carlos Rogers (knee) and Neiko Thorpe (hand).

Listed as questionable is guard Gabe Jackson (knee) while safety Larry Asante (shoulder), cornerback T.J. Carrie (ankle) and tight end Brian Leonhardt (concussion) are probable.


Broncos rule out Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman for Week 13
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) The Broncos ruled out running backs Montee Ball (groin), Ronnie Hillman (foot) along with cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder) for Week 13 against Kansas City. Deemed questionable were cornerback Aqib Talib (hamstring), tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) and safety Quinton Carter (ankle).

Meanwhile, the following players were ruled as probable for Sunday: Linebacker Brandon Marshall (concussion), defensive end Quanterus Smith (ankle), safety David Bruton (finger), tight end Virgil Green (calf) and backup running back Juwan Thompson (knee).


Broncos LB Brandon Marshall passes concussion tests
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall has passed the league-mandated concussion protocol and was back on the practice field as a full participant on Friday. The team has designated him as probable for Week 13 against Kansas City.

Marshall suffered the injury the previous week against Miami. He has totaled 94 tackles and one sack, along with two forced fumbles in 11 games.


Broncos' Aqib Talib returns to practice, questionable for Week 13
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11/28/2014) Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib returned to the practice field on Friday after sitting out the previous two days of practice with a hamstring injury. The Broncos have officially listed him as questionable for Week 13 at Kansas City.

Talib suffered the injury Week 12 vs. Miami. He has registered two interceptions, one forced fumble and 43 total tackles through his first 11 games with the Broncos.


 
 
 
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