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See Which Teams Are Resting Starters in Week 18 and Other Injuries Before Making Bets

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in NFL Football

Updated Jan 5, 2024 · 6:38 AM PST

Among the starters resting for Week 18 is NFL MVP favorite Lamar Jackson of the Ravens.
Dec 31, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws during the during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Several NFL teams are planning on resting starters for Week 18 of the NFL season
  • The Baltimore Ravens are sitting out NFL MVP favorite Lamar Jackson
  • In Cleveland, the Browns are opting on resting QB starter Joe Flacco

When it’s Week 18 of the NFL season, you can count on hearing about playoff scenarios, records and incentives that are within reach and perhaps most significantly of all from a pure betting standpoint, which teams are resting starters.

Being able to play it safe and sit out top players for the last game of the season is why teams seek to clinch their playoff seeding as soon as possible. In truth, very few NFL teams are afforded this luxury.

That being said, some of the NFL’s biggest stars and hottest performers are going to be grabbing some bench during Week 18.

Among the resting starters for this week’s games are Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. There’s no need for the Ravens to play the favorite in the NFL MVP odds because they already clinched home-field advantage in the AFC via last week’s drubbing of the Miami Dolphins.

Brock Purdy (San Francisco 49ers), Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs), Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams) and Joe Flacco (Cleveland Browns) are other QB1s being sat by their teams for Week 18 games.

Let’s take a look at the latest data as far as who’s in and who’s out in terms of resting starters for Week 18.

NFL Week 18 Resting Starters

Team Player-Position
Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson-QB, Odell Beckham Jr WR, Malik Harrison-LB, Marlon Humphrey-CB, Darryl Worley-S, Kevin Zeitler-G.
Cleveland Browns Joe Flacco-QB, Myles Garrett-DE, Amari Cooper-WR, Joel Bitonio-G, Denzel Ward-CB.
Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes-QB.
Los Angeles Rams Matthew Stafford-QB, Kyren Williams RB, Cooper Kupp-WR, Aaron Donald-DT, Ernest Jones-LB.
San Francisco 49ers Brock Purdy-QB, Christian McCaffrey-RB.

Several other players may be added to this list before the weekend kickoffs, so check back with this page regularly.


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Ravens Not Influenced By Past History

In 2019, the Ravens also had already clinched home field in the AFC entering Week 18 and sat out all of their key players, including Jackson. Following their bye week, a rusty bunch of Baltimore players were stunningly toppled by the Tennessee Titans in the NFL Divisional Playoffs.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh believes his current club is more mature than that one and will easily handle the regimen required to stay sharp with several players not seeing any game action for two successive weeks.

Tyler Huntley will start at QB for Baltimore in Week 18 against the Steelers. He’s 3-5 as a starter in his NFL career, including a 1-2 slate against Pittsburgh.

Record-Setting Browns Resting Flacco

Locked into the #5 seed in the AFC, the Browns aren’t willing to risk the health of the fourth starting QB they’ve used this season. That means they’re putting journeyman veteran Joe Flacco in proverbial bubble wrap to assure he’s healthy for the playoffs.

Since taking over as Cleveland’s starter, Flacco has gone 4-1 while throwing for 1,616 yards and 13 TDs. In his place, it’ll be another journeyman veteran, Jeff Driskel, who will be under center, barely a week after being signed off the practice roster of the Arizona Cardinals.

Driskel is 1-7 as an NFL starter. Among his former teams are the Cincinnati Bengals, the squad he’ll be facing in Week 18 action. Driskel will be a franchise-record fifth starting QB for the Browns. Five starting QBs is also believed to be a new standard for an NFL playoff team.

While head coach Kevin Stefanski hasn’t officially confirmed it, NFL sources are suggesting that none of WR Amari Cooper, G Joel Bitonio, DE Myles Garrett, or CB Denzel Ward will be seeing the field in Week 18.

Chiefs Reid Mum Regarding Which Starters He’s Resting

Kansas City head coach Andy Reid is revealing that two-time NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes is out for Week 18. Blaine Gabbert will start at QB for the Chiefs in his place.

As to which other starters Reid is planning on resting, he’s not ready to reveal that list. Will he be giving TE Travis Kelce the chance to get the 16 yards he needs for his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season? What about RB Isiah Pacheco, who needs 65 yards for 1,000 yards rushing?

Reid insists milestones won’t be influencing his decisions as much as ailments will. Pacheco, Kelce, WR Kadarius Toney, WR Rashee Rice, LT Donovan Smith, DT Chris Jones and L’Jarius Sneed are all listed as questionable on the Chiefs injury report.

McCaffrey, Purdy Week 18 Scratches for 49ers

QB1 Brock Purdy will take a seat as San Francisco faces the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18. The 49ers are assured of the top seed in the NFC. The Rams are assured of an NFC Wild Card placing. So there’s bascially no reason for either team to take any risks with key players.

Veteran Sam Darnold will be starting at QB for San Francisco. RB Christian McCaffrey, the NFL TD leader with 21, is another starter that San Francisco is resting. He’s nursing a mild calf strain.

As for his other starters, it appears that 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is going to treat Week 18 like a preseason game. He’ll play most of them for a couple of series just to keep his key performers in some semblance of a routine.

Rams Resting Several Starters

Assured of a place in the postseason following last week’s win over the New York Giants, Rams head coach Sean McVay isn’t taking any chances with his key personnel. Among the starters he’s resting for Week 18 are QB Matthew Stafford, RB Kyren Williams, DT Aaron Donald, WR Cooper Kupp and LB Ernest Jones.

Veteran Carson Wentz will be starting at QB against the 49ers. Dresser Winn is being activated from the practice roster in order to serve as Wentz’s backup.

However, McVay did indicate that WR Puka Nacua, who needs 29 yards to shatter the NFL rookie receiving yardage record, will be playing in the game.

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