We continue our public service to those still slugging away and getting set to end a long season of fantasy football today with a friendly reminder: trust no one.
That especially applies to Mike Smith, who earlier this week had this to say regarding the playing status of his starters during an absolutely meaningless game for the Falcons this afternoon against Tampa:
“We’re gonna play the game to win. That’s how we’re gonna approach it. It’s an important game because it’s a division game. All games I think are important. Does it have no bearing? It really does because we want to win every time we go out and play.”
What the hell does that mean? Nothing. Nothing at all.
Smith is fully aware that his team needs to win playoff games, and ideally multiple games to finally earn some shred of respect after spending a season being arguably the worst two-loss team in history. That’s why even though the Falcons have the most meaningless game of all the playoff teams today, his starters won’t be completely benched.
And while that’s swell and it means Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, and Matt Ryan (all elite or close to elite fantasy producers) will play, with his coach speak Smith has said nothing about their specific playing time and snap count.
Saying that he’s “playing to win” is just a reference to a mentality, one that second stringers have too. What owners of any of the names mentioned above should brace for is likely one half of play, or at best three quarters. That’s why you need to decide if one half from White and Gonzo et al is still better than a full game from Player X on your bench. Often, the answer to that question will be a resounding “dear god no”.
The Ravens have also started to lift their foot from the pedal by playing Ray Rice for only a series or two, and that could continue with other key players today depending on how their game against Cincinnati progresses. Baltimore is nearly locked into the fourth seed in the AFC, and only a win over Cincy combined with an unlikely Patriots loss to Miami can vault them into third.
Then there’s the Colts and those Bengals, with both teams secure in their AFC wild card positions. Indy will likely still play all their regulars to maintain the integrity of a game in which Houston is pushing for a division crown, but A.J. Green owners should be worried about Cincinnati decreasing his opportunities to sustain meaningless damage.
As always, Week 17 is a day with so much meaning, and so little. Embrace the bizarre, and be one with it.