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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
Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph ruled out for Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:09 pm ET) Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is set to miss his fifth consecutive game Sunday against Tampa Bay with abdomen and groin injuries.

Rudolph, who entered the season as a promising talent, caught just 10 passes for 96 yards and one score in three games before going down.


Buccaneers mostly healthy heading into Week 8 game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:06 pm ET) Linebacker Brandon McGee (knee) is the lone Buccaneers player ruled out for the Sunday game against Minnesota. Cornerback Johnthan Banks (neck) is the only teammate on the Friday injury report not deemed questionable.

That group includes linebacker Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), tackle Anthony Collins (knee), safety Dashon Goldson (ankle), wide receiver Vincent Jackson (rib), quarterback Josh McCown (thumb) and defensive back Keith Tandy (hamstring.

Goldson and McCown both went from limited in practice to full participation Friday. Jackson has been limited throughout.


Sammy Watkins among Bills players green-lighted for Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:30 pm ET) As expected, the Bills have officially ruled Fred Jackson (groin) and Ty Powell (ankle) out for Week 8 against the Jets, the team announced.

Marquise Goodwin (hamstring) was the only player listed as doubtful on the final injury report on Friday. Marcus Easley (knee) and Aaron Williams (neck) were labeled as questionable for Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ron Brooks (groin), Brandon Spikes (ribs), Sammy Watkins (groin) and Mario Williams (thumb) were all deemed probable.


Ravens unveil final injury report for Week 8
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:25 pm ET) The Ravens have officially ruled Chris Canty (wrist) and Owen Daniels (knee) out for Sunday's game against the Bengals. Meanwhile, Eugene Monroe (knee), Kelechi Osemele (knee), Daryl Smith (rest) and Steve Smith Sr. (rest) were all labeled probable for Week 8.

Impact of Owen Daniels' injury?
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:25 pm ET) Just as he seemed to be finding his way in the offense, Ravens tight end Owen Daniels has been sidelined surprisingly in Week 8 after undergoing an undisclosed knee procedure.

We loved Daniels' chances to find success Week 8 against the Bengals after hauling in six passes for 58 yards and a touchdown last week. Now he will miss at least one game, with his status moving forward unknown at this point. Fantasy owners in desperate need of a tight end for Week 8 might want to see if Charles Clay of the Dolphins or Jared Cook of the Rams is available right now.

Long-term, it is impossible to say just how this will impact Daniels. Coach John Harbaugh has not ruled him out for Week 9, but he might be limited even if he is able to return that quickly. Daniels isn't a must-drop Fantasy option, but he also isn't someone you absolutely have to have on your roster.

Still, Daniels was third on the team in targets, and that was with Dennis Pitta playing a huge role before his injury. If you have room on your roster, it might be worth hanging on to Daniels for one week to get a clearer picture.


Three Steelers ruled out Week 8
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:20 pm ET) The Steelers have officially ruled out Steve McLendon (shoulder), Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) and Ike Taylor (forearm) for Week 8 at home against Indianapolis. Marcus Gilbert has yet to pass the league's concussion protocol and was labeled doubtful for Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ryan Shazier (knee), Brett Keisel (rest), Mike Mitchell (rest) and Troy Polamalu (rest) were all deemed probable.


Jets relatively healthy entering Week 8 against Bills
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:15 pm ET) The Jets enter Week 8 at home against Buffalo relatively healthy despite having 12 players on the final injury report for Sunday's game. Trevor Reilly (knee) and Greg Salas (wrist, ankle) were the only players deemed questionable for the game.

The following players were labeled probable: Oday Aboushi (shoulder), Phillip Adams (groin), Antwan Barnes (knee), Willie Colon (knee), Eric Decker (hamstring), David Harris (shoulder), Chris Johnson (ankle), Nick Mangold (shoulder), Bilal Powell (foot) and Darrin Walls (knee).

DeAngelo Williams among Panthers ruled out for Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:12 pm ET) The seven players who have not practiced all week have been ruled out by the Panthers for their Sunday home game against Seattle.

That group consists of cornerback Bene Benwikere (ankle), linebacker Chase Blackburn (knee), wideout Philly Brown (concussion), guards Amini Silatolu (calf) and Trai Turner (knee) and running backs Fozzy Whittaker (thigh) and DeAngelo Williams (ankle).

Fellow running back Chris Ogbonnaya (groin) and linebacker Jason Williams (hip) are questionable while offensive linemen Nate Chandler (thigh) and Byron Bell (elbow) are probable.


Colts list seven players on final injury report
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:09 pm ET) The Colts listed seven players on the final injury report for Week 8 against the Steelers. Reggie Wayne (elbow) was the only player on the list ruled out for Sunday's game. Trent Richardson (hamstring) and Jack Doyle (knee) were deemed questionable.

Meanwhile, Darius Butler (ankle), Arthur Jones (ankle), Gosder Cherilus (rest) and Erik Walden (rest) were all labeled probable for Sunday.


Bears LBs Jon Bostic, Lance Briggs doubtful for Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:59 pm ET) Bears linebackers Jon Bostic (back) and Lance Briggs (ribs) have been deemed doubtful for the Sunday game at New England.

Both have been sidelined the last two games.


 
 
 
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