Teams that might bench their starters in week 16

Nothing’s more devastating in fantasy football than watching your stud player sit out a late-season game because his coach chose to rest him up for the playoffs. It’s as if they have no idea there are fantasy championships on the line, or that – unimaginable as it seems – they don’t really care. Peyton Manning sat out most of the week 16 game in ’05, and many owners still have yet to forgive him.

Indy: Right now Dungy’s saying that he plans to use his starters (most notably Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, and Reggie Wayne) for the whole game:

With at least 26 days until the Indianapolis Colts’ next meaningful game, coach Tony Dungy talked Monday about playing two meaningless games without sustaining more injuries — but keeping an edge.

A month is a long time," he said.

Dungy plans to use his players "like we normally would" in Sunday’s game against Houston at the RCA Dome, with perhaps a more conservative approach for the regular-season finale at home against Tennessee a week later.

One person who doesn’t want to be cautious is quarterback Peyton Manning, who told reporters after the Oakland victory that he needs more game action with new players such as rookie receiver Anthony Gonzalez. Dungy said Manning told him the same thing on the flight home.

"I think it is important," the coach said. "We’ve got some guys who do need to play, and we need to continue to get sharper. That’s my thought right now — that we’ll get those guys a lot of playing time, at least this week."

Right now it sounds promising, but keep an eye on the situation. If Dungy starts sounding a little wishy-washy on the issue, and you’ve got a decent replacement for one of these three, you may have to consider benching them.

New England: Here’s Belichick on resting his starters:

"I think that’s a conversation that you can have, and the fans can have, but it’s not really part of our approach to the game," Belichick responded. "I don’t think it’s a good one to have. I don’t really understand it either. You’re going to pick out one guy that is important and say somebody else isn’t? I don’t think that’s a good way to manage your football team."

You’re undefeated, you’re up against a team that just got its first win, and you’re going to let your best players risk injury on the field? You’re either lying or insane. I’m betting on the former, and would not be surprised in the least to see Brady, Moss, and Maroney on the bench as soon as the game turns into a blowout (which should happen in the first couple of minutes). I don’t care how much everyone laughs this week and says, "Oh, that Bill Belichick, he’s too bloodthirsty to ever tone it down," I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid. NFL coaches do what makes sense.

San Diego: The Chargers are still in a battle with the Steelers and Browns for the #3 spot in the AFC, so the only way LT comes out of the game entirely is if it’s a blowout like last week. Darren Sproles will likely see 5-10 carries if it’s close, and a lot more if it’s not. Antonio Gates is the other player who will sit if it’s a blowout, like he did last week when he ruined Christmas for his owners with a one-catch performance.

Don’t expect Dallas or Green Bay to sit any starters the rest of the way, unless they completely blow their opponents (Carolina and Chicago, respectively) out of the water. There’s too much at stake, as they’re tied atop the division and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is crucial whenever Lambeau Field is involved.

Same goes for Seattle and Tampa Bay, at least this week. If Tampa Bay loses this week, they’re automatically #4 in the NFC and Seattle will get #3, so both teams might rest their starters in week 17.