Fantasy Football Playoff Guide
The fantasy football playoffs are quickly approaching. Most leagues’ playoffs span from week 14-16. In those weeks some of your players may have easy or tough matchups. Here are some players to try to get on your team before this time, and some players you may look to trade away.
Quarterbacks to Own
- Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben may have one of the easiest schedules of any quarterback from a playoff perspective. In week 14 the Steelers take on one of the worst teams in the NFL, the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders gave up 22.2 fantasy points to the San Francisco 49ers 3rd string quarterback Nick Mullens. On the season, the Raiders have given up the 7th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Also, with this being a road game in Oakland weather shouldn’t be an issue. The next week the Steelers will face off against the New England Patriots. The Patriots have given up the 8th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, including 31.4 fantasy points to Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky. With the Steelers and the Patriots both having high-powered offenses, expect a high scoring game. The high scoring trend should continue in week 16 as the Steelers travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints. The Saints have given up the 2nd most points to opposing fantasy quarterbacks. With facing three of the bottom 10 defenses against quarterbacks this season, acquiring Big Ben as your quarterback may be a move that can win your league.
- Cam Newton – Newton may be a tougher player to acquire than Big Ben, but if you can, try to get him. The Panthers have one of the easiest playoff schedules for quarterbacks. Week 14 is by far their toughest week as they play the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have currently given up the 18th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. This will be a tough matchup for Newton, so if you think you will have a tough first round matchup, Newton may not be for you, but if you can fight through this one tough matchup you will be licking your chops at his next two matchups. In Week 15, they play the Saints and week 16 the Falcons. They have the 2nd and 3rd worst defenses when it comes to giving up points to opposing quarterbacks. With these two easy matchups, look for Newton to be one of the best quarterbacks in the final two rounds of the playoffs.
- Joe Flacco – Flacco is owned in only 33% of leagues, so he should be an easy free agent grab come playoff time. Flacco has one of the easiest schedules playing the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the L.A. Chargers. The Chiefs have given up the 6th most points to opposing quarterbacks. With Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes having one of the best seasons ever, expect the Baltimore Ravens to get behind quick, which could lead to Flacco airing the ball out. Tampa Bay has the worst defense in the NFL, which could lead to a field day for Flacco. The Tampa defense has given up over 20 fantasy points to every single quarterback they have played this season besides Nick Foles. The Chargers are their toughest matchup as they have given up the 13th most points to opposing quarterbacks. If you are struggling at the quarterback position look to add Flacco come playoff time.
Quarterbacks to Avoid
- Matt Stafford – STAY AWAY FROM STAFFORD. Stafford has a brutal playoff schedule playing Arizona, Buffalo and Minnesota. Arizona and Buffalo have given up the 2nd and 3rd least fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. He is not a guy that you should look to start in the playoffs, and if you have him look to add Flacco as he would be a way better play in the playoffs. Minnesota also has a stingy defense that held Stafford to under 10 fantasy points the first time they played this season.
- Carson Wentz – Wentz doesn’t have too brutal of schedule, but he is a high value quarterback who you should be able to get someone better with in trades. They play the Cowboys, Rams and the Texans. The Cowboys and Rams rank towards the middle of defense, but they are not great matchups. The matchup that puts Wentz on this list is the Texans in week 16, as thye have given up the 4th least points to opposing quarterbacks. Wentz isn’t a bad option, but quarterbacks like Big Ben or Cam Newton may be better options.
Running Backs to Own
- Joe Mixon – Mixon has been banged up a lot this season, but when he is healthy, he is potentially an RB1. Week 14 Mixon and the Bengals will take on the Chargers. This isn’t an amazing match-up as the Chargers rank in the middle of the pack against opposing running backs. Don’t look for a huge week 14 for Mixon, but if he is healthy, expect at least a double digit fantasy game. Week 15 will get much easier for Mixon as he faces the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have given up the 9th most points to opposing running backs this season, and expect them to keep dropping lower and lower, as they look like the worst team in the NFL. With this being said, Mixon should have a field day against a struggling Raiders defense. If you’re lucky enough to make the championship in your league, and you have Mixon, you are in good shape. The Bengals travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns, who have given up the 4th most points to opposing fantasy running backs. Along with the great matchup for Mixon the weather could also be a big factor. Playing Cleveland so late in the season may call for some cold conditions, which will limit the pass game and help the run game immensely. Cleveland has given up over 40 points to other teams running backs three times this season, and with Mixon being the clear Bengals workhorse going forward, expect a big game on championship Sunday.
- Christian McCaffrey – McCaffrey has asserted himself as a top 10 fantasy running back as of late and expect that trend to continue in the playoffs. Weeks 14 and 16 McCaffrey will face off against two of the bottom four defenses in giving up points to opposing running backs in the Cleveland Browns and the Atlanta Falcons. Fantasy owners should expect big time weeks from McCaffrey in those two weeks, but Week 15 against the New Orleans Saints may be the wildcard. On paper it looks like a tough matchup as the Saints have one of the best run defenses in the NFL. But McCaffrey is used just as much in a receiving roll, as his normal running back roll. And the Saints are one of the weaker pass defenses in the NFL. McCaffrey should be able to take advantage of this and put up plenty of receiving yards. The playoffs should be a coming out party for McCaffrey, and top five numbers are not out of the question. Of course, upgrade McCaffrey in PPR formats because of his threat as a receiver.
Running Backs to Avoid
- Kareem Hunt – Now don’t take this the wrong way. Don’t just go trade away Hunt because he has a tough playoff schedule. Just try to test the market for Hunt and try to acquire a guy like Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley, Christian McCaffrey, James Connor or even Saquon Barkley. Now with that being said, if you can’t get a guy of that caliber, DON’T TRADE HIM. In the playoffs, week 14 Hunt and the Chiefs will take on the Baltimore Ravens who have given up the 3rd least points to opposing running backs this season. This matchup is almost as scary as it can get as they have only given up three touchdowns to opposing running backs this season. Week 15 the Chiefs take on the Chargers. The Chargers are in the middle of the pack of defenses this season, so Week 15 may be a pretty good week for Hunt. Week 16 Hunt travels to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. The Seahawks have been a top 10 defense against the run all season and expect that trend to continue. These matchups could make for a tough time in the playoffs for Hunt. Now don’t go trade him away for nothing, but if you can acquire a top end RB1 like the ones mentioned earlier, it may be in your best interest.
- Adrian Peterson – Peterson has been one of the biggest surprises of this season. Sadly, looking at Peterson’s playoff schedule this trend should not continue. Week 14 is actually an encouraging matchup for Peterson as he takes on the Giants. Last time Peterson took on the Giants, he went off, and this may happen again. Weeks 15 and 16 things get much tougher for AP as he takes on the Jaguars and the Titans. The Jags have traditionally had one of the best defenses in the NFL and should be competing for a playoff spot at this time. This all spells for a bad game for Peterson. So if you own him, don’t expect a big Week 15 for AP. Week 16’s matchup with the Titans may be just as tough as they are the 4th best fantasy defense against the run. These last two playoff matchups don’t look good for AP. If you own him, try trading him while he still has value.
Wide Receivers to Own
- Emmanuel Sanders – Sanders plays two bottom 10 defense in the playoffs this season. Their playoff schedule is the following: at the 49ers, at home against the Browns and at the Oakland Raiders. The 49ers and the Raiders are two bottom 10 defenses which receivers have feasted upon all season. With both of these games being on the road late in the season in California, expect good conditions for throwing the ball. The Browns aren’t a great matchup for Sanders, but with two very good matchups for him against two of the worst teams in the league expect him to thrive.
- Antonio Brown – Brown is already one of the best receivers in all of the NFL right now, and arguably of all time. Look for Brown to put up historically good numbers in the playoffs this year. With Ben Roethlisberger being on this list as quarterbacks to add, it’s only sensible to have his go to target on the receivers list. Oakland, New England and New Orleans are the three teams that Brown will face in the playoffs. Three teams that place in the bottom 10 for passing yards given up this season. Oakland is one of the worst teams in the league, and the New England and New Orleans games should be shoot-outs. Don’t be surprised if AB ends up being the number one receiver during the fantasy playoffs.
Wide Receivers to Avoid
- Alshon Jeffery – With the acquisition of Golden Tate, Jeffery should lose even more targets. Jeffery is no longer the WR1 that he once was, but in the playoffs, he may not even be startable. Jeffery has one of the toughest playoff schedules out there with playing the Cowboys, Rams and the Texans. The Cowboys boast the best defense in the league this year when it comes to giving up points to opposing receivers. Not something that Jeffery owners should be happy about. The next week Jeffery travels to Los Angeles to take on the Rams. The Rams rank in the middle of the pack when it comes to defense, but their corners are some of the best in the league, led by all-pro Marcus Peters. In Week 16, the Texans come to town in what should be another brutal matchup for Jeffrey. The Texans have been the 8th best defense against the pass this season. If you own Jeffery look to trade him, or you may be looking at a huge disappointment in the playoffs.
- T.Y. Hilton- Hilton flat out has a brutal playoff schedule. All three teams he plays are top 10 defenses, including the best defense in all of football against the pass, in the Dallas Cowboys. Before Hilton and the Colts take on the Cowboys they first have to compete against the Houston Texans. The Texans have the 8th best defense in the league and that’s their easiest game of the fantasy playoffs. After Dallas in Week 15, who has the best defense against the pass, they take on the Giants, who have the 4th best defense against the pass this season. With three top 10 defenses going against Hilton come playoff time try trading him while you still can.
Week 14. Jets, Denver, Buffalo, Pittsburg
Week 15. Cincinnati, Seattle, Detroit
Week 16. New England, Denver, Miami