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With the arrival of Week 17 in the NFL, we also get the final week for fantasy football. We will witness the end of the 2008 fantasy season this weekend and a lot of league championships will be decided. The question of who to play and who to pick up can be a difficult task because we don’t know what NFL coaches will be doing with their starting players.
If a team’s playoff spot is already cemented then, odds are a coach will not risk injuring his starting players and will send in backups. Also, some teams have already made the playoffs but are fighting for better positions and/or first round byes. Then we have teams that are not making the playoffs and are just playing for pride.
So, who are the best plays this weekend?
Just let Uncle Pete take care of the thinking for you. Here are (in my opinion) the players who could impact your team’s fate this weekend.
Jim Sorgi, Indianapolis Colts: With the Colts already guaranteed the #5 seed in the AFC, coach Tony Dungy won’t see the need to keep Peyton Manning on the field for too long. This is Sorgi’s normal routine at the end of every season. Don’t let the matchup against Tennessee’s 5th ranked defense scare you. The Titans have secured a first round bye and won’t send out their “A-Squad” in a meaningless game for both teams.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers/Jay Cutler, Denver Broncos: If you own any one of them, then count your blessings. The winner of this game win the AFC West and the loser misses the playoffs entirely. Needless to say, both teams will be fighting for their lives. The Broncos have the 2nd best offense in the NFL with over 395 total yds per game and San Diego is also good with 339.5 total yds per game (Rivers has been amazing in the past three weeks with 9 TD and 1 INT). Each team has problems on defense as Denver is ranked 28th in the league and San Diego is not far behind with the 25th ranked defense. So add this together: Great Offenses+Poor Defenses= High Scoring Game.
Matt Leinart, Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals are guaranteed the NFC West no matter what. So, just like last Sunday, expect Kurt Warner to sit out the majority (if not the entirety) of the game. Leinart can be a good play since he faces the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle allows over 250 pass yds per game and boasts the 3rd worst defense in the NFL with over 370 total yds given up per contest.
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati Bengals: After last week’s explosive game of 171 rush yds, Benson once again faces a more than favorable matchups with the Kansas City Chiefs and their run defense that allows over 155 rush yds per game.
Quinton Ganther, Tennessee Titans: The Titans have nothing to play for and won’t risk injury to Chris Johnson or LenDale White. Enter Ganther. He hasn’t seen a lot of action this season. He last played in Week 13 against the Lions and ran for 23 yds on 3 carries (7.7 avg). Now he will face an Indianapolis team that allowed over 125 rush yds per game this year. That was their first string defense, just imagine what will happen if Ganther gets a crack at Indy’s backup squad.
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints: New Orleans won’t make the playoffs but, they will be playing with their starters just to pad their stats and to look awesome. Plus, they can play spoiler for the Carolina Panthers. If Carolina wins, they get the #2 seed and a first round bye in the NFC. Thomas is a good play because he has found the endzone six times in the last four weeks and the Panthers defense gives up over 125 rush yds per game. Hell, last week, Derrick Ward of the Giants ran all over Carolina for 215 yds.
Steve Breaston, Arizona Cardinals: Breaston is #3 on the team but with Arizona not wanting to risk the health of Anquan Boldin or Larry Fitzgerald, Breaston looks to get the most attention against Seattle. As I said before, Seattle’s defense is ranked 30th in the league and with Arizona’s crappy running game, expect a good game from Breaston.
Eddie Royal, Denver Broncos: Royal hasn’t had a 100-yd game since Week 10 against Cleveland but, that will change this Sunday. Royal and the Broncos are playing for the AFC West title and that offense will be in full swing against the Chargers. All three of Royal’s 100-yd games have come on the road and this week on the road he will do it once more against the Charger’s 25th ranked defense. Plus, Royal needs 96 yds for 1,000 on the season so, that is even more incentive to have a big day.
Dennis Northcutt, Jacksonville Jaguars: After two straight 100-yd receiving games, it is time he gets my endorsement. The matchup against Baltimore doesn’t seem favorable but, since the Ravens are in the playoffs with a victory, they will be going all out. This could mean that the Jaguars will be trailing most of the game and will have to throw it a lot. Both of Northcutt’s TD’s have come in the last two weeks and the same goes for his 100-yd games. The man is on fire and is getting endzone looks, end of story.
Dan Orlovsky (QB), Detroit Lions: Look, the Lions are currently 0-15. They are trying to avoid being the first team to go 0-16. It is my gut feeling that Orlovsky and the Lions will be playing their little hearts out in hopes of avoiding the title of “Worst Team Ever”.
At 5-10, the Green Bay Packers are looking to avoid being the only team to be defeated by the Lions in 2008. Green Bay has lost five in a row and has given up an average of 30 points per game. If Detroit has a shot to win this season, this is it. Orlovsky will be a busy beaver on Sunday when he tries to win the last game of a failed season. His motivation is pure pride and that will be enough to compile a big game.