Engel: Planning Ahead

Updated: December 4, 2006, 2:11 PM ET
By Scott Engel | ESPN.com
As your fantasy playoffs begin, it's not too early to start planning ahead. Sure, you must focus on the short term, and concentrate mostly on the next game, because if you don't win it, you don't advance. But you also want to ensure a smoother run to the title if you can, and don't want to be in a position where you are playing in a fantasy Super Bowl without key players who got you there. So here's a look ahead to some of the final weeks of the season, when some NFL teams might have sealed up their fates and could bench or rest some top players. We examine the teams now in the best positions to bench or rest some of your top players in the final two weeks, and provide some recommendations on how to cope.

Indianapolis (10-2):

The Colts always seem to be the team that annually scares fantasy owners in Weeks 16 and 17. But with San Diego having the same record right now and Baltimore and New England just one game behind Indianapolis in the conference, there are reduced chances the Colts could easily clinch early. With Jacksonville and Cincinnati next on the schedule, there are no guarantees that the Colts can wrap up anything early, and it could take them until Week 16 or 17 to fully determine whether they nail down the first or second playoff seeding in the AFC. The Colts host Houston in Week 16, a certain advantage for owners of their top offensive players. The Colts would realistically have to win their next two games with the Chargers dropping their next two to fully wrap up the first seed, as they would definitely end up with the better conference record, the first tiebreaker since the Colts and Chargers do not play each other this season. The Colts have a 7-1 conference record with four AFC games left, and the Chargers have an 8-2 AFC record with two conference games remaining. It appears there will be a pretty good chance that you can use your Colts in Week 16, but Week 17 is cloudier. With two formidable opponents ahead and the Chargers still in the picture, the Colts might have to take it to the final week to determine their seeding.

Scott Engel | email

ESPN Fantasy Games
Scott Engel covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com.

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