As the season winds down and we head into the final week of the NFL season, most of you are done for the year. Your championship game was wrapped up in Week 16 and you’re now in full holiday mode, swigging down some monster egg nog your brother makes with lighter fluid. But for some of you, Week 17 is still in play and your nerves are being tested with reports of players sitting out for their final game to keep them from harm’s way before the playoffs. Suddenly, that guy you’ve been riding all season long is now unavailable to you at the most crucial time.

So rather than go through the targets leaderboards that we’ve been using each and every week, I’m, just going to go through those teams who are heading to the NFL’s big dance or at least still in contention to do so and figure out which receivers and tight ends are safe and which ones are going to be sketchy plays here in the final week. If you haven’t gone through all the possible scenarios yet, this should help.


New England Patriots – They’ve clinched the East, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. While coach Bill Belichick is a competitor, it’s more important for him to have his key assets at full-health for the upcoming run at another Super Bowl title. We should see the majority of the first team start the game, but don’t be surprised to see Rob Gronkowski and Brandon LaFell play a full game. Heck, they might not even play beyond the first quarter. And as he continues to deal with his concussion, Julian Edelman probably won’t even be considered. You should see Danny Amendola get a fair amount of time as the leading wideout, but Matthew Slater and Brian Tyms will probably see the most work. Tim Wright should also be the leading tight end. How they fare with Jimmy Garoppolo under center against a very tough Buffalo defense, though, is another story.

Cincinnati Bengals – With a 10-4-1 record, the Bengals have a playoff spot clinched, but they still have so much to play for here in the final week. They’ll face the Steelers in Week 17 with the winner walking away with the AFC North title and the loser entering the playoffs as a wild card team. But it gets even juicier here as, with a win, the Bengals could actually move into the No. 2 overall seed and earn a first-round bye if somehow Denver loses to Oakland. It’s a long shot, but still possible. That means A.J. Green, if healthy, along with Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Tate and Jermaine Gresham are all viable plays this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers – While the Steelers aren’t able to compete for a first-round bye, their division is at stake and the difference between living on the road in the playoffs or enjoying the winter comforts of the Steel City is in play here. The Steelers obviously want to win this one so we’re looking at an all-hands-on-deck situation. Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Heath Miller will all play this week as will Le’Veon Bell, the No. 2 pass-catching back in the NFL. Enjoy.

Indianapolis Colts – If you were living and dying by the Colts this season, you probably took a loss last week given Andrew Luck’s complete turd of a game. Well, it doesn’t get any better this week as the Colts have clinched their division and cannot earn a better seed in the playoffs. That means that there is no incentive to play these guys beyond the first quarter of the game, if at all. T.Y. Hilton will get more time to rest his hamstring and Reggie Wayne will probably get the day off as well. We could see a half-game from Donte Moncrief and Hakeem Nicks and likely the same for tight ends Coby Fleener and a banged-up Dwayne Allen. But with Luck probably not playing past the opening quarter, no one here looks like a good play.

Denver Broncos – They’ve clinched the division and as of right now, are in-line for a first-round bye in the playoffs. A win by the Steelers would certainly make things easier, but the Pittsburgh/Cincinnati game is the Sunday night feature which means that the Broncos need to secure the win. Now obviously if they are crazy ahead of the Raiders, then Denver will take their foot off the gas in the second half, but with the newly-inspired play of Oakland recently, the Peyton Manning and company may have to endure all four quarters. For those who own Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Julius Thomas, your ship has come in.

The final wild card spot has not yet been determined. San Diego currently holds the spot but will need to win to stay in. Baltimore, Houston and Kansas City all have outside chances here, so there’s no reason to expect anyone on these teams to rest unless they’ve suffered some major injury. It should be business as usual for all of them.


Seattle Seahawks – With an 11-4 record, the Seahawks are tied for the division lead in the West, but hold the tiebreaker over the Arizona Cardinals. With both teams playing in late afternoon games, Seattle will have to win this game outright in order to hold their place as the top seed in the playoffs. Not that the Seahawks are loaded with fantasy talent at the receiver position, but Luke Willson is certainly emerging as a strong candidate for tight end.

Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals need the Seahawks to lose to improve their seeding in the playoffs, but they also need to win their game to make that happen. They have a chance to be either the No. 1 or 2 seed and get that first-round bye if that happens. That means that Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown will all be playing. Of course, Logan Thomas is the one slinging the rock, so that adds a bit of a wrinkle to things.

Detroit Lions – They are currently tied for the division with the Packers but own the tiebreaker. However, with a match-up against Green Bay here in Week 17, it’s all or nothing. Win and lock down a first-round bye; lose and it’s the No. 6 seed and nothing but the road in the playoffs. You can expect all the usual suspects to be in play.

Green Bay Packers – They have the exact same situation as the Lions. Win and it’s life at Lambeau this winter; lose and it’s time to pack for the road. But the important thing here is that everyone will play the full game and guys like Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are must-starts regardless of how good the defense they are facing might be.

Dallas Cowboys – In truth, win or lose this week, it doesn’t matter. They will most likely end up the No. 3 seed, but there’s a remote chance that they could move up to the No. 2 and earn the first-round bye, but a number of things need to happen besides them winning their game. As a result of that, don’t be surprised to see Jason Garrett pull his boys from the field to ensure their safety. Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten will all be on-hand, but if the Cowboys break out to an early lead, you might see them rested in the second half.

Carolina Panthers/Atlanta Falcons – Plain and simple: Win and head to the playoffs as the No. 4 seed; lose and go home for the year. Everyone will play. Everyone.

As for the rest of the NFL, it should be business as usual. Check those practice reports to make sure that everyone is healthy and put your best guys out there. This is what it all comes down to and I wish you all nothing but the best in your final game.

Have a very happy and safe holiday! this information to play on Draft Kings and win.  Claim your FREE $2 Entry for an NFL contest where you could win $100,000 in prizes.