As the beginning of the playoffs for Fantasy Football begin I thought I would run down five tips that may (or may not) help you take home the bragging rights for a year. Word of caution: I am in no way saying these are the end all, be all ways to win your league; but with points hard to come by as the season winds down you might find a gem to get you to your goal.
- Kenny Stills: Brandin Cooks is out for the year, Darren Sproles is in Philadelphia, and Marques Colston is a shell of his former self from the slot, now. All of that adds up to Stills getting more opportunities. What else makes him a secret weapon the next 2-3 weeks?: That schedule. The Saints face Carolina (17th in yards allowed), Chicago (30th), Atlanta (32nd), and Tampa Bay (22nd) the last four weeks. With Graham taking most of the focus, I’m banking on the chances Stills will have to be very productive.
- Rams D/ST: Like Stills, the Rams D/ST has come up huge the last few weeks and have inched their way back to Fantasy Football relevance. They held Denver to seven points in beating them three weeks ago. They gave Philip Rivers and the Chargers everything they could handle in a three-point loss to the Chargers in San Diego; and let’s not forget they are coming off a 52-0 shutout of the Raiders. Washington, Arizona, and the Giants make up the next three weeks on their schedule and could mean great performances from this unit in the playoffs for you. Which leads me to my next tip…
- Watch Your Matchup’s, Not The Names: You’re playing Drew Brees not because of who he is, but because the Saints are 5-7, trying to win the NFC South this month, and will be relying on Brees to put points on the board through the air against soft secondaries. You’re playing Andrew Luck for the same reason, right? It’s easy to get caught up in “your guys” or the names on the back of the jersey but I’ve lost championships the last two years with that thinking. Sometimes the situation might warrant you playing Nick Foles over Drew Brees (like it did last year). Fantasy playoffs are, in essence, a crap-shoot; but you can increase your odds by taking a look at the Texans’ Ryan Fitzpatrick (against Jacksonville this week) over the Falcons’ Matt Ryan (at Green Bay). You might also want to take a look at the Colts’ Dan Herron (at Cleveland) over the Broncos C.J. Anderson (against Buffalo). I know that last one may seem crazy, but Buffalo is only allowing 96.3 yards/game on the ground. Miami and Kansas City weren’t as formidable as Buffalo will be.
- Breakout Rookie Wideouts: Going along with my last point, rookie wide receivers should be played if they’re trending in the right direction and not because of who you think they are. How many of you are still playing Sammy Watkins weekly based on his four-game stretch in October (393 yards, 3 touchdowns)? Well, if you are, you probably missed the opportunity to pick up Jordan Matthews who was unreal in November (413 yards, 5 touchdowns) and is easily Mark Sanchez’s favorite target (34 of them). You also probably missed out on Odell Beckham, Jr. (593 yards, 2 touchdowns since week 9), and that is a shame. You also probably missed Martavis Bryant (344 yards, 6 touchdowns since week 7) and Davante Adams (327 yards, 2 touchdowns since week 6). What I’m saying is don’t miss on Donte Moncrief(Colts), Taylor Gabriel (Browns), and Marquis Lee (Jaguars) or it could cost you a victory.
- Tight Ends Impact In December: A position that can make or break a good fantasy roster has an even larger impact in December. Just last season Julius Thomas, healthy for the first time, put up 198 yards and two touchdowns. For his career, Jimmy Graham has totaled 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jason Witten and Antonio Gates both have over 2,200+ yards and 14 touchdowns in December. Chances are the “safety blankets” for quarterbacks come out as the weather gets trickier and the yards harder to come by. Be certain you aren’t relying too heavily on an unproven or someone who will cost you points (Larry Donnell has four fumbles). Mychal Rivera, Colby Fleener, Eric Ebron, and Heath Miller have all seen increases in targets the last three weeks. Might want to give them a look.