FANTASY PLAYS: Players to start as fantasy playoffs begin
It’s playoff time in most fantasy leagues, so if you’re still contending for a title it probably means you had a crafty draft, timely waiver wire moves and a fortunate bounce or two along the way.
Now, the job is shifting.
Week 14 is also the last week of the regular season in a host of leagues. Weather could be a factor this week in some games, but the objective is the same as it was in September: win.
START: Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys: Performing at a WR1 level, Cooper has caught 16 of 17 targets in the past two weeks and will have a great opportunity to continue his pace against an Eagles pass defense that is 30th in fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers. Cooper was targeted 10 times in the Week 10 victory at Philadelphia and will see a similar volume of targets from quarterback Dak Prescott. The Eagles have allowed 47 completions of better than 20 yards, which plays well for Cooper’s chances.
SIT: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: The touchdowns haven’t been there for Brady, who has just four scoring tosses in his last five games, including a pair of zeroes in Weeks 8 and 10. With the emergence of rookie running back Sony Michel, the need for Brady to air it out has lessened. He’s also been less than stellar throughout his career at Miami, who is second in the league with 19 interceptions. Unless he’s the only available option, look elsewhere.
START: Gus Edwards, RB, Ravens: Since being plugged into the lineup, Edwards has averaged 105 yards per game. Now he gets a Chiefs defense that is 31st in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs. Edwards has just one touchdown this season, a total that should go up considering that Kansas City has given up 14 rushing scores and a hefty 5.1 yards per carry. He’s a borderline RB1 with potential to put up monster numbers.
SIT: Marlon Mack, RB, Colts: Out of the frying pan that was the Jaguars‘ defense and into the fire of a blistering hot Texans D goes Mack, who had just eight carries for 27 yards last week against Jacksonville. His production could be further carved if Indianapolis must go pass-heavy, as rookie Nyheim Hines will see more touches. Houston is fifth in the league against the run, and only the Bears (four) and Patriots (five) have allowed fewer rushing touchdowns than the Texans with six. Mack is too risky, especially in PPR formats.
START: David Njoku, TE, Browns: Inconsistent of late, Njoku has just 12 targets in his last three games but will have the opportunity to reward faithful fantasy owners against a Panthers defense that is the worst at stopping opposing tight ends. Carolina has allowed at least two touchdown passes nine times this season and with Cleveland looking to avoid the Panthers’ fifth-ranked run defense, it’s easy to see quarterback Baker Mayfield making Njoku a focal point of the offense, especially in the red zone.
SIT: Jared Goff, QB, Rams: Yes, Goff has led many a fantasy team to postseason glory, but starting him against the Bears could lead to a one-and-done scenario. Game time temps will be in the upper 20s and the only thing colder than the weather are opposing passers against the Chicago defense, which leads the league with 21 interceptions while allowing just five touchdown passes in the last five games. The risk-reward that comes with starting Goff on Sunday night leans heavily to the risk category.
START: Adam Humphries, WR, Buccaneers: He has thrived in the wake of DeSean Jackson’s absence, catching touchdowns in each of his last three games. Humphries will have every opportunity to extend his scoring streak against a Saints defense that is the worst in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing receivers, as his sure hands have caught 16 of 20 targets in the past three weeks. With this game a potential offensive free-for-all, add Humphries as a WR3/flex.
SIT: Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Eagles: Fantasy owners would love to know the whereabouts of Jeffrey, who hasn’t scored since Week 7 and has failed to exceed 50 receiving yards in his last five games. There’s little reason to envision Jeffery reviving his fortunes against a Cowboys pass defense that is sixth in fewest receiving yards allowed and is tied for third with just 16 touchdown passes allowed.
START: Aaron Jones, RB, Packers: After rushing for only 36 yards last week against the Cardinals, Jones is a strong rebound candidate when he squares up against the Falcons, who are 27th against the run and giving up 4.9 yards per carry. He did score last week, marking four straight games with a touchdown. Jones could finally see a more extensive workload under interim coach Joe Philbin.
SIT: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: It’s tough to bench a quarterback who has thrown multiple touchdowns in eight straight games, but Wilson is facing a Vikings pass defense that has been in lockdown mode in the past month. Minnesota is ninth in fewest passing yards allowed and has contained the likes of Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady over the last five games, surrendering a combined four touchdown passes in the same span. Wilson hasn’t run much this season, but a Vikings pass rush that has recorded 36 sacks will force him to be more run-centric.
- Adam Humphries
- AFC East
- Amari Cooper
- Carolina Panthers
- Chicago Bears
- David Njoku
- David Njoku
- Gus Edwards
- Gus Edwards
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Jared Goff
- Jared Goff
- Marlon Mack
- Marlon Mack
- Minnesota Vikings
- New Orleans Saints
- NFC East
- Russell Wilson
- Tom Brady