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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Unconventional Wisdom - Week 17
Fritz Schlottman
December 30, 2005

FAVORABLE CONDITIONS

Week 17 is a very difficult week for fantasy players and writers alike as you’re never certain who’s going to play and which team is going to try and win the game. The Sports Gods in Nevada are also struggling. It’s very unusual for the lines to move five points during a week, but it‘s happening this week. That either means the Sports Gods blew it and hug the wrong number on a game or there is a wide diversity of opinion and no one really has any idea where the game will land. We will find out who‘s right, but be very careful this week.

Denver at San Diego

Denver has already announced that they will be resting their starters. DEN has announced that RB Mike Anderson will not play. The Chargers will try and end their season on a high-note by playing their starters for most of the game. San Diego starters are likely good plays while Denver fantasy players are risky at best.

Tampa Bay at New Orleans

The Buc’s need a win to clinch their division and get a first-round home game. New Orleans quit playing some time ago. All N.O. has to look forward to is a visit by the commissioner. TB fantasy players are good starts and you take your chances with the Saints.

New York Giants at Oakland

The Giants need a win to clinch the NFC East Division and a first-round home game. The only thing the Raiders are playing for is their lives as Raider fan is none to pleased with how this season has gone. This could get to be an ugly seen if the Raiders get behind by two touchdowns early. It’s a rough crowd in Oakland and the stands may look like a scene from Gangs of New York if they turn on the home team.

UNFAVORABLE CONDITIONS

Cincinnati at Kansas City

If the Chargers beat the Broncos, this game is meaningless as the Steelers will make the playoffs. As it may be Chiefs HC’s last game, the team may play hard, then again, if they’re heartbroken they may not show up at all. Just know that if you have Chiefs in your fantasy line-up, you take your chances.

Detroit at Pittsburgh

This is a very dangerous game. If San Diego beats Denver then Pittsburgh is in the playoffs and has no incentive to play hard against the visiting Lions. PIT will likely rest many of their key starters if the game is meaningless. The Steelers are big favorites today, but that will change in a heartbeat if the Chargers win on Saturday.

St. Louis at Dallas

This game could go either way for the Cowboys. This is the last game of the season (why they have Saturday games or a late game to finish the year is beyond me) and Dallas will know by game time if they still have a chance at the playoffs. If Washington or Carolina loses, the Cowboys will need a victory and they will be sky high for this contest. If both the Panthers and the Redskins win, Dallas is done and their motivation goes down the commode.

Note: A special thanks to DMD and WW for their fine work at TheHuddle.com again this year. I wish everyone the best for 2006.

P.S.-There is an annual debate in fantasy circles, and TheHuddle.com message boards, that involves “throwing” games to get better match-ups in playoff games. While you can find valid arguments on either side (strategy vs. ethics), this week it gets put to the test.

As you are aware, a number of real-life coaches will be resting their starters this week and playing their back-ups. Aside from teams that can’t improve their position, there are two games worth watching in this regard. NE or CIN will likely play PIT or JAX in the first round. Neither NE nor CIN wants to play the Steelers (the likely 6 th seed) who are getting healthy and playing very well at the moment. It will be interesting if one or both teams takes the week off to “rest their starters” , take a loss, and get Jacksonville at home next week. Winning three straight games against PIT, DEN, IND (assuming the favorites win their playoff games) would be very difficult, but JAX, DEN, and IND is horrible, but better than the alternative. CIN has already indicated that QB Carson Palmer (did not practice on Thursday with a slight groin injury) may not play against Kansas City. The Patriots didn’t practice at all on Wednesday and are rumored to be resting some of their injured starters. This will be interesting to see how this debate plays out in real life. If I were a betting man, I’d say the chances were good that both teams will take a powder on Sunday.