Fantasy Match-ups with 4th quarter Back-ups
The Green Bay Packers are 13-0 and for the moment chasing perfection. But a loss or another Greg Jennings-style injury could force Mike McCarthy and co. to be conservative down the stretch and rest their top starters.
While that would only make sense for a team built to make a deep playoff run this year, that golden logic is still a thorn in your fantasy football team’s side. Or at least it might be.
Call me crazy, but I believe Clay Matthews, Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, and Mike McCarthy when they allude to “going for” perfection. The Packers clearly have winning a Super Bowl at the top of their “to do” list, but this is not a team that is about to shy away from greatness that comes across a team so rarely.
Green Bay has nothing left to play for except perfection for the final three weeks, but if they start sitting guys now, they risk being rusty when the games actually count. Look for them to go for 16-0, but once/if they do lose their first game of the year, bank on them sitting their starters immediately after.
As for the other potential NFL playoff teams out there, here’s a quick look and a verdict:
New England Patriots (10-3)
- Even though Wes Welker went down two years ago, you know Bill Belichick doesn’t sit his guys. Besides, with three other 10-3 teams, you know the Patriots are going to play all the way through until the regular season is over.
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3)
- As soon as the division is wrapped up/decided, you can start banking on the Steelers resting some of their guys. The main one is Ben Roethlisberger, who has an ankle injury and is questionable for week 15.
Baltimore Ravens (10-3)
- Same deal here, as the Ravens are likely to rest Ray Rice down the stretch, as soon as their division is decided. If so, Ricky Williams should be the cow bell and could be a worth-while add for a fantasy playoff run.
Houston Texans (10-3)
- This is the team I’m most worried about in the AFC. They’ve clinched their division and a playoff spot, and they’ve experienced enough injuries throughout the year to make you think they’ll rest most of their guys. Andre Johnson is a risky play for the next three weeks, while Arian Foster should be seeing a lighter load with each passing week to end the regular season.
New Orleans Saints (10-3)
- I’m not overly worried about the Saints resting their guys. They’ll probably keep Mark Ingram off the field as much as possible, but Drew Brees is going for Dan Marinos’ yardage record, and I don’t see Sean Payton keeping him from getting it. Besides, the Saints haven’t clinched the NFC South yet, so they have good reason to keep their starters in.
San Francisco 49ers (10-3)
- The 49ers are riding a two-game losing streak and it could become three against the Steelers in week 15. They may want to go out on a high note in the final two weeks if they lose again. However, they’ve already locked down their division, so I’d expect them to take it easy on a less than 100% Frank Gore.
All other teams not mentioned have seeding, their division, or a playoff spot in general to fight for, so it would make no sense for their teams to sit their top players. The key is to stray away from playoff-bound fantasy options that are not 100% healthy. If their teams know they’re in the big dance, they’ll be less likely to force them onto the field.