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Patriots-Giants: Do You Bench Tom Brady and Eli Manning?

The biggest question for football fans in Week 17 is "Will the Patriots go 16-0"?

The biggest question for fantasy football owners in Week 17 is "Do I start my star Patriots and Giants?!"

The answer to the first question is very likely "yes".  The answer to the second question is much more difficult.  

What will Bill Belichick consider to be more important, the record or the health of his players?  The obvious answer is "both".  If the Patriots can get out to a large enough lead (and they're currently 14 point favorites), they will no doubt rest their starters.  Once that happens, the Giants will also likely rest their starters, who need to be healthy for the playoffs as well.  That strategy will be great for the Patriots and Giants, but deadly for your fantasy championship.  The TV networks won't be too happy about a entire half of Matt Cassel vs Anthony Wright either.

I don't think it works the other way though; if the Giants get out to a big lead, then I think the starters for both teams stay in the game.  It's unlikely that Belichick falls behind and then just gives up and benches his starters, but it is possible.  It's also unlikely Coughlin benches his starters while the Pats still have their first string in but again, it is possible.  

The best scenario for your fantasy team is a close game all the way through, similar to the Patriots-Ravens game earlier this year.  A close game means all the starters, all the offense, all the defense.  It also means extra chances for somebody to get hurt and miss the next game, but that doesn't effect your fantasy football team

The record would be a great one for the Patriots to have, something that would put this team in the record books forever.  On the other hand, losing Tom Brady (or, on the Giants side, Eli Manning) to injury would keep the team from the Super Bowl and how would either coach justify that?

My prediction is that the Patriots are going to come out firing from the first snap to try to put this game away at halftime.  Its possible Brady could have three touchdown passes by the break, which would be good enough for most fantasy teams even if he doesn't play the second half.   If you're planning to start Brady, Manning or Moss I think you still have start them and then  keep your fingers crossed that the Giants can keep it close.