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Playoff Motivation
Joe Levit
December 29, 2004

For those of you still in your fantasy playoffs this year, and ready for the last game, congratulations. You have managed to survive. With the compliments dispersed, let’s focus on what it will take to pull off the final win. Week 17 in the NFL features players with distinctly different levels of intensity.

Some teams will merely be going through the motions, meaning that their players are more concerned with avoiding injury than scoring you fantasy points. Those teams have clinched playoff bye weeks, or their seed is set, meaning that they cannot gain anything with a win. Coaches on those teams may even sit their stars for most of the contest. The player who took you to the dance may be tango to another tune this weekend.

In opposition are those guys who will be a big part of their team’s desperate attempt to earn a playoff berth. Coaches from those teams will extract everything from those players, which can lead to big box scores for you. Since you are very motivated to win your playoffs at this point, make it a point to figure out which players are also motivated enough to make it happen for you.

Below are the teams with guys who still have a strong sense of purpose in your postseason. If you start some of them, you’ll have one more factor in your favor. After that list are teams that have clinched what they can, and the players they present who may stage huge disappointments this weekend.

Teams and Players to Pick this Week

Jets – play all of them: Curtis Martin, Chad Pennington, Santana Moss. They need to win, and will play with passion.

Bills – Lee Evans and McGahee are hot, and they will be playing for a big turnaround on the season, but the Steelers are tough on defense, and may be looking to keep Buffalo out of the playoffs so they don’t have to face playing this hot team again.

Broncos – Play Plummer against the Indy D, along with Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie. The Colts have nothing to play for now that they have a guaranteed slot but no chance at a bye, and Manning already the proud owner of the single-season passing touchdown record. Deciding between Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell is a tough call right now.

Panthers – You can’t go wrong with Muhammad right now.

Saints – Don’t think McAllister will back off simply because Carolina will be stoked to stop him. The Saints will be fighting hard after an impressive late-season surge. Joe Horn and even Aaron Brooks are good starts. So is Donte’ Stallworth, who is starting to score again.

Jaguars – Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith are good plays in this contest. They will probably play big even though a lot has to happen for the team to make the post-season.

RamsThe Rams will look to Steven Jackson and Torry Holt again for any chance of a playoff game.

The Ravens don’t have anyone who is a very solid play this weekend, and the Vikings play the Redskins, who have a tough defense and will be motivated just to play the spoiler this weekend.

Teams and Players to Avoid this Week

Steelers – They have clinched home field throughout the playoffs and need to rest to rejuvenate themselves for a good post-season showing.

Patriots – They have secured a bye but cannot catch the Steelers.

Colts – The Colts are the third seed, unable to earn a playoff bye.

Chargers – The Bolts need to regroup after the tough loss to Indianapolis.

Eagles – Another team that has clinched home field throughout the playoffs. They didn’t play Westbrook last weekend, and McNabb only started one quarter.

Falcons – The Falcons are resting Vick, and just cruising to the playoffs.

Packers – The Packers have won their division, but can’t vie for a bye. They play a meaningless game against the Bears.

Seahawks – The Seahawks are in the playoffs already. The game against Atlanta is a time to test younger players with potential under game circumstances.