Thursday, December 29, 2011 Football Daily Dose

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Who Can You Trust? - 12/29/2011
BY Patrick Daugherty

  • Payton: Saints will go 'full speed' in Wk 17   
  • Jason Taylor officially announces retirement   
  • 7-time Pro Bowl guard Hutchinson may retire   
  • Tony Romo (hand) will practice on Wednesday   
  • Nicks expected to play through hammy strain   
  • Texans hoping to get 15-20 plays from Johnson   
  • ESPN: Jon Gruden will not be coaching in 2012   
  • It’s Week 17, which means that aside from the fact the Bills, Rams and Browns are playing typically meaningless year-end football, the bell has tolled on the large majority of fantasy seasons.

    Those who saw the glory are trying to figure out what to do with their winnings, while those who went the way of the buffalo are left wondering what might have been had they not cast their lot with Peyton Manning and Darren McFadden.

    But there is a select breed of fantasy footballer who opts to solider on beyond the customary Week 17 deadline, daringly taking their season to the limit in the spirit of true boldness. Either that, or they didn’t examine their league’s settings closely enough in August.

    The point is, the season is not over for all fake footballers. Those who are left find a Week 17 landscape akin to a mindfield. Slight injuries will hold out players who’d otherwise go full warrior, while clubs locked into their playoff seed will take many fantasy breadwinners out of the huddle and into over-sized coats on the sideline.    

    So who can you trust if your league is on the line one week later than it probably should be? Let’s find out.

    In: Tony Romo and Felix Jones. The exact kind of players who would be sitting out this week had their team already clinched a postseason berth, Dallas’ run/pass battery can be started with relatively little hesitation against a Giants defense that’s had trouble stopping anyone not named Mark Sanchez of late.

    Out: the Green Bay Packers. Both coach Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers have hinted the 14-1 Pack will take it easy against the Lions, and aside from perhaps Brandon Saine and James Jones, there isn’t a safe Packer out there this week. Jermichael Finley (knee), James Starks (ankle) and Randall Cobb (groin) could all see zero snaps.

    In: the New Orleans Saints. Coach Sean Payton said Wednesday he plans to go “full speed” against the Panthers as the Saints attempt to earn a first-round bye. His statement can be (mostly) taken at face value, as the Saints took a similar approach to Week 17 last season. Aside from Mark Ingram (toe) and Lance Moore (hamstring), most Saints can be expected to play enough to make a difference in fantasy leagues.  

    In/out: Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is going to play this weekend after sitting out against the pathetic Rams in Week 16, but will be on a snap count. He’s unlikely to see the field beyond the second quarter. Unless you’re in a two-quarterback league completely devoid of options on the waiver wire, Roethlisberger needs to be affixed to your bench.

    Out: Vincent Jackson. Barely able to run in San Diego’s lopsided loss to the Lions last Saturday, the free agent to be has no incentive to soldier through a groin injury that’s going to need weeks, not days, to fully heal.   

    In/out: Roy Helu (ankle/toe). Helu has said he’ll play against the Eagles, but like he did last week, Washington’s impressive rookie runner is likely to cede a good deal of touches to fellow rookie Evan Royster. If you’re going for a title, you should be looking for a safer bet in your RB2/flex spot.

    Out: Arian Foster. Foster should start Sunday, but with the Texans locked into the AFC’s No. 3 seed, he won’t come close to playing a full game.

    In/out: Andre Johnson (hamstring). Johnson will be active for the first time since Week 13, but is expected to be limited to 15-20 snaps. If you’re hurting for options at receiver, starting Johnson and hoping for a home run wouldn’t be completely illogical, but it’s not recommended.  

    In: LeSean McCoy (ankle). McCoy didn’t practice Wednesday, but coach Andy Reid has all but guaranteed McCoy will suit up against the Redskins. McCoy will be someone to monitor closely the next two days, but it sounds like you can count on Shady for Week 17.  

    In/out: the Atlanta Falcons. Coach Mike Smith has said he won’t rest his starters, but with Atlanta not having a realistic shot at altering its playoff seed and likely to bury the prideless Bucs early, it could be a short afternoon for most Falcons fantasy stalwarts. Julio Jones and Michael Turner, in particular, are poor bets to turn in full days as they nurse minor injuries.  

    In: the New England Patriots. With the No. 1 seed in the AFC still on the line, coach Bill Belichick will play his starters until the Pats have beaten the Bills into submission, which could be as early as the second quarter. The upside for Tom Brady and his stable of elite pass catchers is high enough, however, that they are worth starting even if they're likely to head to the showers before the fourth quarter.

    Out: Kevin Smith (ankle). Smith is practicing fully for the second straight week, but still isn’t 100 percent. If he takes the field against the Packers, it’s unlikely to be for more than a handful of series.  

    In: Chris Johnson (ankle). CJwhateverK will play through his ankle injury for the second straight weekend, and will do so against a Texans defense likely to pull most of its starters before the second half.

    Out: Darren McFadden (foot). Like he’s done every week since Week 9, Oakland’s vexing lead back will watch from the sideline.

    Too early to tell: Ryan Mathews, Mike Tolbert, Reggie Bush, Mike Wallace, Jacoby Ford.  
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