The Falcons have everything completely wrapped up. They are the #1 seed and all their playoff games will be at home. As a result, they have nothing tangible to gain by winning in week 17. So maybe Ryan, Julio, Roddy, and Gonzalez play some or all of the game. But maybe they play a series or a quarter. There’s just no way to be sure. And even if Mike Smith comes out and says everyone is playing the whole game, you can’t trust that. None of these guys should be in your lineup this week.
Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore could potentially move up to the three seed and Indy and Cincy are locked in at five and six. Baltimore might actually be better of losing in week 17 so that they get the four seed and Indy in round one as opposed to moving up to the three seed and facing a superior Bengals team.
Because of the lack of incentive to win, all the playable guys on these teams take a significant hit. You’re only playing Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta, Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, Andy Dalton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, A.J. Green, and Jermaine Gresham if you simply have no other options. But you should have other options. There are almost certainly decent guys available on your waiver wire. And you weren’t playing Joe Flacco and Vick Ballard in their matchups this week anyway.
Trent Richardson (RB | Cleveland Browns | Week 17: @ Pittsburgh | FantasyPros.com rank: 10 | My rank: 25)
Why is everyone still in on Trent Richardson? He has less than 100 rushing yards in his last six games. He has less than 75 in his last four. He has fallen off significantly in the second half, but the decline was masked by six touchdowns in weeks 12 through 15. But last week he failed to get in the end zone against a stingy Denver run defense and disappointed his owners in championship matchups. This week he faces another stingy run defense in the Steelers who allow the sixth fewest fantasy points to opposing backs. He’s going to disappoint again.
Steven Jackson (RB | St. Louis Rams | Week 17: @ Seattle| FantasyPros.com rank: 20 | My rank: 24)
No active back has as many carries as Jackson. No active back is even within 400 career carries of Jackson. Miraculously, all that wear and tear hasn’t killed him down the stretch as he has at least 8 fantasy points in his last seven games. But this week he has to go on the road against a top five run defense in Seattle. Maybe it will be the wear and tear, maybe it will be the defense, but something is likely to keep Jackson from having a good game in week 17.
Brandon Myers (TE | Oakland Raiders| Week 17: @ San Diego| FantasyPros.com rank: 11| My rank: 13)
What the hell happened to Brandon Myers? He had 53 catches in weeks 6 through 13 and has just six in his last three games. With Carson Palmer out and either Matt Leinart or Terrelle Pryor throwing it to him, don’t expect him to regain the magic.
Michael Vick (QB | Philadelphia Eagles | Week 17: @ New York Giants | FantasyPros.com rank: N/A | My rank: 8)
Vick actually has quite a bit to play for, and he has a great matchup. Vick has a chance to showcase himself for those teams around the league who could look into acquiring him in the offseason to be their starter in 2013. And the Giants, who looked like they gave up on the season against the Ravens, allow the 9th most fantasy points to QBs.
Matt Schaub (QB | Houston Texans | Week 17: @ Indianapolis | FantasyPros.com rank: 13 | My rank: 9)
This game means a ton to the Texans. If they win, they secure the #1 seed. But if they lose, they could potentially to #3 and not even get a first-round bye. And, as mentioned above, this game doesn’t mean anything to Indy. Throw in the fact the concerns surrounding Arian Foster and the fact that Indy has the 31st ranked pass defense according to footballoutsiders.com, and Schaub becomes a very attractive option.
Mark Ingram (RB | New Orleans Saints | Week 17: vs. Carolina | FantasyPros.com rank: 28 | My rank: 20)
Ingram has really worked himself into a consistent role with double digit carries in each of the last three weeks and 21 carries last week. He’s also the goal-line guy now, and he has scored in two consecutive weeks. The Panthers run defense isn’t as bad as it was last year, but it’s still a little bit below average.
Miles Austin (WR | Dallas Cowboys | Week 17: @ Washington | FantasyPros.com rank: 23 | My rank: 19)
The Redskins allow the third most fantasy points to receivers, and the third most passing yards. Dez Bryant is going to have an absolute field day, but there are going to be plenty of fantasy points to go around. Miles and Jason Witten are going to get theirs as well.
Marcedes Lewis (TE | Jacksonville Jaguars | Week 17: @ Tennessee | FantasyPros.com rank: 11 | My rank: 8)
Anthony Fasano (TE | Miami Dolphins | Week 17: @ New England | FantasyPros.com rank: 17 | My rank: 11)
Tony Gonzalez owner? Maybe you have Pitta or Gresham? If your waiver wire is picked clean of tight ends, Lewis (14.1% owned) and Fasano (3%) may be your best options. They both have great matchups against the teams that allow the third and fourth most points to tight ends.
Guys who get an uptick from starters resting
These guys should only be used if you’re desperate, but Jacquizz Rodgers, Bernard Pierce, Jacoby Jones, Donnie Avery and Cedric Peerman could get significantly more work than usual this week.
Written by Brett Talley exclusively for thefantasyfix.com. If you have any further questions about this particular topic, feel free to ask him on Twitter (@TheRealTAL) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.