One big thing to monitor for fantasy and gambling in Week 17 is the incentive each team has to win. Here’s what some teams are or aren't playing for:
Note: This is the very first look at team incentives for Week 17, and we still have the important Vikings/Packers game tonight. Make sure to pay attention to news on these situations later in the week when teams leak their plans.
AFC Playoff Picture
AFC No. 2 Seed
AFC No. 5 Seed
Week 17 Incentives: The Patriots need to win to guarantee a first-round bye as the No. 2 Seed. The Bills are locked into the No. 5 Seed regardless of whether they win or lose (they’ll likely play the Texans in the first round), so they could sit starters if they want to. The Jets and Dolphins are obviously out of contention.
AFC No. 1 Seed
Needs things to happen
Week 17 Incentives: The Ravens have clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs. They could opt to rest their starters. The Steelers are currently the No. 7 Seed and need to win to stay alive. Pittsburgh also needs the Titans to lose. The Browns and Bengals are eliminated. The Bengals did clinch the 2020 first overall pick.
AFC No. 4 Seed
Unclinched AFC No. 6 Seed
Week 17 Incentives: The Texans will most likely be the No. 4 Seed and will host the Bills, but they could move into the No. 3 Seed if they win and the Chiefs lose. That would allow them to play the No. 6 Seed (Titans, Steelers, or Raiders) instead, but here's the catch. The Chiefs play before the Texans kick off, so they may learn that the Chiefs have won, which would incentivize the Texans to rest their starters. The Titans will clinch the No. 6 Seed with a win and could miss the playoffs with a loss. They will be playing to win. The Colts and Jaguars are eliminated.
AFC No. 3 Seed
Need things to happen
Week 17 Incentives: The Chiefs could slide into the No. 2 Seed, which gets them a first-round bye, with a win and a Patriots loss. They could also fall to the No. 4 Seed with a loss and a Texans win, which would match them up against the Bills. Kansas City should be playing to win. The Raiders need a few things to happen to sneak into the playoffs as the No. 6 Seed, but there’s a ~5% chance of it happening. They’ll be going at full speed this weekend. The Broncos and Chargers are eliminated.
NFC Playoff Picture
Unclinched NFC No. 4 Seed
Need things to happen
Week 17 Incentives: The Eagles will clinch the No. 4 Seed with a win. They will obviously be playing to win. The Cowboys need to win and have Philly lose. They will also be going full speed next weekend. The Giants and Redskins are eliminated. The Redskins will lock into the 2020 No. 2 overall pick (aka elite DE Chase Young) with a Week 17 loss to Dallas.
NFC No. 3 Seed
NFC No. 6 Seed
Week 17 Incentives: Tonight’s Monday Night Football game will clear things up in the NFC North and with some of the NFC seedings. It appears that both the Packers and Vikings are (somewhat) alive for a first-round bye, especially Green Bay. If the Vikings lose on Monday Night Football, they’d be locked into the No. 6 Seed. They could rest their starters in this scenario. We’ll have to monitor that situation. The Bears and Lions are eliminated.
NFC No. 2 Seed
Week 17 Incentives: The Saints need to win to have a shot at the No. 1 or No. 2 Seed. They’ll be playing their starters in Week 17. The Buccaneers, Falcons and Panthers are eliminated.
NFC No. 1 Seed
NFC No. 5 Seed
Week 17 Incentives: The 49ers and Seahawks will be playing each other for the NFC West title, so they’re playing their starters, of course. That game will be the last game of the regular season. The Rams and Cardinals are eliminated.
Incentive to Rest Starters:
Ravens - Clinched the AFC first-round bye.
Bills - Locked into the AFC No. 5 Seed.
Texans - Would be locked into the AFC No. 4 Seed if the Chiefs win earlier in the day.
Vikings - Would be locked into the NFC No. 6 Seed if they lose to the Packers on Monday night.
Eliminated teams - They all have the incentive to lose to improve their 2020 NFL Draft picks.