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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
Jake Locker has no structural damage in wrist
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:38 pm ET) An MRI has revealed that Titans quarterback Jake Locker did not suffer any structural damage in his right wrist in Week 3, The Tennessean reports.

Locker said the wrist is still sore, however, and his availability for Week 4's game against the Colts won't be determined until later in the week. He has completed 56.4 percent of his passes while throwing for 685 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.


Chargers shuffle active roster Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:31 pm ET) The Chargers made several moves Tuesday, adding running back Shaun Draughn and linebackers Kevin Reddick and Cordarro Law to the active roster. The team also placed running back Danny Woodhead on injured reserve and released defensive lineman Lawrence Guy.

The Chargers added three players to the practice squad Tuesday as well: running back D.J. Adams, tight end David Paulson and outside linebacker Colton Underwood. Adrian Phillips was released from the practice squad, while Marcus Cromartie was released from the reserved-injured list.


Saints sign Orson Charles to practice squad
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:24 pm ET) The Saints signed tight end Orson Charles to the practice squad Tuesday, NOLA.com reports. Charles was a fourth-round draft pick by the Bengals in 2012.


Streaming kicker options for Week 4
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(5:30 pm ET) In Jamey Eisenberg's Week 4 waiver-wire column, Chargers kicker Nick Novak, Bills kicker Dan Carpenter, and Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham are named as the top streaming options for this week's set of games.

Novak has connected on all six of his field-goal attempts this season, and gets to face the Jaguars Sunday. Carpenter faces the Texans having made a league-high nine field goals in 10 tries. Suisham has yet to miss on eight tries, and is 4 for 4 from 40 yards heading into Sunday against the Buccaneers. 


Two running backs have tryout with Chargers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:30 pm ET) Running backs Shaun Draughn and D.J. Adams worked out for the Chargers Tuesday, according to ESPN. San Diego is looking for roster depth after placing running back Danny Woodhead (leg) on injured reserve.

Titans waive WR, add TE to roster
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:20 pm ET) The Titans announced Tuesday they signed tight end Chase Coffman. To clear a spot on the roster, wide receiver T.J. Graham was waived.

Steelers, Dolphins, Chargers top streaming options in Week 4
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) In his Week 4 waiver-wire column, Jamey Eisenberg tabs the Steelers, Dolphins and Chargers DST units as the best streaming options for Week 4.

The Steelers have a date with the Buccaneers coming up in Week 4, and that has been a good thing for other defenses this season. Opposing DST units are averaging 18.3 Fantasy points per game against the Bucs, including two games above 15 points.

The Dolphins travel to London to face the Raiders, who have yet to top 14 points on offense this season. Opposing DST units have scored 12 Fantasy points in each game against Oakland.

The Chargers are coming off a strong performance, as they racked up 13 Fantasy points against the Bills, on the strength of three sacks and a safety. They get the Jaguars in Week 4, who have allowed opposing defenses to rack up at least 15 Fantasy points in each game, for an average of 19.0. 


Phillip Supernaw takes Dennis Pitta's spot on Ravens roster
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:17 pm ET) The Ravens announced Tuesday they placed tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) on injured reserve. To take his spot on the roster, tight end Phillip Supernaw was elevated from the practice squad.

Rex Ryan: 'Everybody is behind Geno Smith. He's our QB'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:13 pm ET) The Jets have lost two straight games and quarterback Geno Smith has had his struggles in both outings. However, coach Rex Ryan gave the second-year quarterback a vote of confidence Tuesday following Monday's loss vs. Chicago.

"Everybody is behind Geno. He's our quarterback. Our football team believes in him," Ryan said, per the New York Daily News.


It's a 'possibility' Chris Ivory will get more playing time
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:02 pm ET) After totaling 94 yards (44 rushing) during Monday's loss against the Bears and averaging 5.7 yards per carry through three games, Jets running back Chris Ivory might start to see more reps moving forward.

"Maybe Chris Ivory will get more time," coach Rex Ryan told reporters Tuesday. "He's running hard and there's not a whole lot of guys who want to tackle him. Will we play Chris Ivory more? That's a possibility."


 
 
 
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