Will the Cowboys, with nothing to gain and no bye week, rest some starters in Week 17 against the Giants to get ready for the playoffs? They are saying it will be a normal week, but would anyone be surprised if Rod Smith ended up getting as many carries as Ezekiel Elliott?

The Seahawks don’t have anything significant to gain or lose, locked into either a fifth or sixth seed, in a game against the Cardinals they likely would win even without the services of Chris Carson. So why would they risk playing the oft-injured running back? But according to coach Pete Carroll, they don’t plan on taking the foot off the gas for their virtually meaningless Week 17 game.

On one hand, the Madman loves the idea of going full-tilt to the end — if the Peyton Manning Colts teams taught us anything, it is that laying up at the end of the season can be a brutal omen for playoff success. On the other hand, we would understand if teams such as the Cowboys and Seahawks chose to bench some of their stars to protect their health, particularly with no bye week to enhance the possibility of rust.

Ultimately, though, we appreciate them putting the big boys on the field, so that fantasy leagues foolish enough to incorporate Week 17 into their playoffs don’t have to endure a mockery of backups being the catalysts to winning fantasy title weeks, undermining the season-long expertise it took for teams to build championship-worthy rosters.

So sincerely, coaches, thank you. As long as you deliver. Because the only thing worse than sitting a starter is saying you’re not going to pull them early, then pulling them early anyway.

We went out and picked up Smith this week, anticipating the possibility Elliott might sit or get just a few carries. So if we go ahead and use Elliott, then Smith gets more carries … well, let’s just say that could cause a Sam Jackson “furious anger” moment straight out of “Pulp Fiction.”

We’re going to take you guys at your word. We’re going to play Elliott and Carson, because you said you are going to play them. And we’re going to do so even though you guys have some actual justifiable reasons to sit those guys. And we’re going to sit Christian McCaffrey, because Panthers coach Ron Rivera has been noncommittal about his intentions, even though he has less reason to rest his players.

We’re going to hope you guys are telling the truth, even though sometimes we know you don’t. To do otherwise, to try to guess if one of you, or both, are using gamesmanship for reasons unknown, would be crushing if we guessed wrong, especially because it would be so painfully obvious in retrospect, as you stated your intentions so plainly.

So don’t let us down guys. Do what you said you will do. And maybe next year, more commissioners will do the smart thing and schedule their league titles in Week 16, so we all can avoid this mess.

The Decision

Each week Post fantasy Madman Drew Loftis and Roto Rage Jarad Wilk debate whom you should start:

Royce Freeman vs. Marlon Mack

Drew: Freeman — It is going to be hard for a Broncos receiver to beat Chargers cornerbacks on the outside. They have no real tight end threat to exploit. And with no Phillip Lindsay, Freeman is the next rookie in line. Devontae Booker will get some work, but it is pretty clear he is a stiff. This is the perfect opportunity for Denver to see if Freeman is one as well. We think: not entirely, and we think we’re going to like his volume.

Jarad: Mack — If you want guaranteed volume, and you’re actually still playing fantasy football in Week 17, Mack is your man. Though Tennessee has been very good against the run this season, they have allowed more than 100 yards in eight of their 15 games, including four times in their past six games (they allowed 200-plus in Week 12 vs. the Texans). Mack has scored at least one TD in each of his past three games, and six of his past nine. Mack got 64.2 percent of the workload against the Giants last week, and this week they’re playing for a playoff berth. That should be enough motivation for Mack.

Last week: Drew 16.1 (Leonard Fournette – 18-43 rushing, 3-28 receiving, one TD), Jarad 13.8 (Dalvin Cook – 16-73 rushing, 3-35 receiving)
Season: Drew leads series, 10-6

Big weeks

Nick Mullens QB, 49ers, at Rams
(FanDuel $6,700/DraftKings $4,700)
Though the Rams technically have a first-round bye at stake, we don’t expect a supreme effort against an inferior foe with little on the line. And with no Matt Breida, the 49ers likely will be more dependent on the pass.

Mark Ingram RB, Saints, vs. Panthers
(FD $6,600/DK $5,300)
No official word out of New Orleans, but we expect to see less Alvin Kamara than normal this week (and Teddy Bridgewater starting in place of Drew Brees). In the dome against a team in a nosedive, don’t expect a repeat of the 12-9 affair two weeks ago.

Robert Foster WR, Bills, vs. Dolphins
(FD $5,800/DK $5,100)
Miami had given up six TDs to receivers over the previous three games before putting the clamps on the woeful Jaguars passing game last week. All you need is for Foster to snag one long TD, and you’re golden.

Vance McDonald TE, Steelers, vs. Bengals
(FD $5,600/DK $4,200)
A home team with something to play for against a reeling visiting team long since declared dead, and a player with a fantastic matchup.

Small weaks

Mitchell Trubisky QB, Bears, at Vikings
(FD $7,600/DK $5,700)
Minnesota gave up seven combined passing TDs in Weeks 4-5 versus the Rams and Eagles. In the other 13 games combined, the Vikings yielded eight, and none in the past three weeks.

Spencer Ware RB, Chiefs, vs. Raiders
(FD $6,600/DK $6,200)
This goes for Damien Williams, too, new contract or not. We just don’t have a good idea which one will get the work in the finale, or if they will split the workload and undermine each other.

Robby Anderson WR, Jets, at Patriots
(FD $7,000/DK $5,600)
He has scored in three straight games and was a monster last week. But what other player do the Jets have whom the Patriots will aim at shutting down?

DaeSean Hamilton WR, Broncos, vs. Chargers
(FD 5,400$/DK $5,000)
Sure, he has stepped up since the trade of Demaryius Thomas and injury to Courtland Sutton, but do we really trust this guy? Or QB Case Keenum? In the final week? Against primarily Desmond King in coverage?

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