The fantasy season is coming to a close. Odds are, this week is either your last week of the regular season or the first week of your playoffs. This means it’s time to get serious, people! Forget about the points for and points against, the highest score in a single week, that player who scored 40 points on your bench in Week 1, and other regular season garbage! Anyone can show up to a draft and pick from a Top 200 list, but you showed up with your rankings and your analysis. You made the waiver wire moves and trades to better your team throughout the season. Now is the time to flood your league group chats with .gifs from The Office or The League, letting everyone now how badly you want to win through the words of Michael Scott or Kevin McArthur. Let’s get to it!
Mike Davis – Seattle Seahawks – 0.5% Owned (NFL.com Leagues)
The Seattle backfield has been a disappointing mystery all season. I say disappointing because even if you picked the running back with the most carries, odds are you weren’t very pleased with the points you got from him. Davis flashed some serious talent on that Monday night game against the Falcons, but dealt with a groin injury that kept him out of Seattle’s Week 12 contest. On Sunday night, however, Davis proved that he has the talent to be the lead back. He was rewarded for his talent and angry-running style with 16 carries and four targets out of the backfield. He is a good FLEX option moving forward, especially for those in deeper leagues or under-performing running backs.
Schedule ROS: @ JAX, vs LAR, @ DAL
Alfred Morris – Dallas Cowboys – 50% Owned
Speaking of running angry, Alfred Morris gashed his former team last Thursday on 27 rushes for 127 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys seem to have at least figured some of their offensive issues out, and that bodes very well for Alfred Morris. Fellow running back Ezekiel Elliott will return for Week 16 against the Seahawks, which is relevant only if you make it to your fantasy championship. Alfred Morris has a phenomenal matchup this week against a weak Giants run defense, and needs to be started until Zeke comes back.
Schedule ROS: @ NYG, @ OAK, vs SEA
Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – 65.0% Owned
Williams is likely owned in your league, but you need to snatch him up if he’s available. In his last four games, Williams averaged 20 carries per game. That is an insane amount of carries for a running back, especially one that you can get off the waiver wire for nothing. Fellow running back Aaron Jones, the starter in Green Bay before getting injured, was active for Sunday’s game and only got one carry (interesting stat: he won the game for Green Bay every time he touched the ball). Williams has proven that it’s his job to lose, and needs to be started weekly.
Schedule ROS: @ CLE, @ CAR, vs MIN
Josh Gordon – Cleveland Browns – 26.5% Owned
When Josh Gordon was reinstated to the NFL, there was very little fantasy excitement for him. Some critiques were that he wouldn’t have chemistry with quarterback DeShone Kizer, he wouldn’t have a big enough role, etc. After his performance on Sunday, it’s clear that he does have chemistry with Kizer and that he will have an offensive role that can sustain fantasy value. He was targeted 11 times in Cleveland’s game against the Chargers on Sunday, and caught four of those passes for 85 yards (21.25 yards per catch). He showed that he still has the talent worthy of playing in this league and can be relied on for fantasy purposes, especially in PPR.
Schedule ROS: vs GB, vs BAL, @ CHI
Dede Westbrook – Jacksonville Jaguars – 1.7% Owned
Westbrook has only played in three games this season, but in those three games he has averaged just over eight targets and 51 yards per game. The Jaguars seem to be relying more on the pass than they were earlier this season, which bodes well for the rookie out of Oklahoma. His fantasy points haven’t been great so far (in non-PPR formats), but if he can find the endzone he could win games for fantasy owners. He is absolutely worth picking up and starting in PPR formats.
Schedule ROS: vs SEA, vs HOU, @ SF
Sterling Shepard – New York Giants – 32.5% Owned
News broke on Monday that head coach Ben McAdoo was fired and that quarterback Eli Manning would resume being the starter. This is great news for Sterling Shepard’s fantasy production. The bottom line is that Eli can get the ball to Shepard better and more often than Geno Smith, increasing his volume and production. In addition, Shepard owners likely dropped him when they heard that Eli was benched, so he’s probably out on your waiver wire right now. He has a juicy matchup against the Cowboys this week, and is easily worth the start.
Schedule ROS: vs DAL, vs PHI, @ ARI
Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 49.9% Owned
Now that Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is back and looking healthy, Cameron Brate resumes his postion as a top-tier tight end. Brate’s upside is that Winston always looks to him in the redzone. Brate caught two passes on Sunday. They were both touchdowns. Granted, he got six targets on the game, but the key is his redzone targets. He needs to be owned and started in all formats.
Schedule ROS: vs DET, vs ATL, @ CAR
David Njoku – Cleveland Browns – 2.9% Owned
You bet your buns I’ve got two Cleveland Browns in this article! David Njoku flashed tremendous talent in college, and has brought that over into the NFL. He has been fairly inconsistent over the course of the season, but he has a role in this offense (four targets per game over 12 games). He also gets to play a Packers defense that just gave up two touchdowns to Cameron Brate. He could help fantasy owners in a pinch, especially with the news that Rob Gronkowski is suspended for Week 14.
Schedule ROS: vs GB, vs BAL, @ CHI
Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 64.7% Owned
Like I mentioned before, Jameis Winston appears to be healthy again. His absence likely caused frustrated owners to drop him, leaving you with the opportunity to grab him. He proved that he still has trouble keeping the ball safe, but he has major upside in his talented weapons. The Buccaneers also haven’t found much success running the ball, leading them to pass more. In addition, Winston ran the ball five times, which provides a source for points that your opponent likely doesn’t have.
Schedule ROS: vs DET, vs ATL, @ CAR
The best offense is a good defense.
One issue with fantasy football is that there isn’t a way to play defense. Or is there?
You may not be able to keep your opponent’s players from scoring points, but you can cap the amount points your opponent can get.
For example: your opponent has a player playing on Monday night, but they’re injured and listed as “questionable”. If that player doesn’t play, your opponent will have to find another player in the same game to replace the injured player. This is where you come in. If you keep an eye on your opponent’s players, you can find out that their player is unlikely to play in the game. Once you have that information (and a spot on your bench), you can snatch the player that your opponent would have gotten as a replacement. Obviously, without that player, your opponent can’t get as many points. It can either be the next man up or the player with the most upside, but the point is that you have given your opponent a disadvantage and possibly a loss.
This is just one example of how you can play your matchup. You could also pick up a wide receiver on the same team as your opponent’s quarterback. That way, your wide receiver gets more points per catch than their quarterback gets per throw.
This idea of playing your matchup is crucial when it comes to the playoffs. One main idea for picking players in the playoffs is a matter of upside: who has the potential to get me the most points, as opposed to who is the safer play.