For a lot of leagues the fantasy playoffs are just 4 short weeks away. It’s time to start making moves that will set you up for success when it really matters. Below are a list of players who can help you win the championship.
Philip Rivers, SD
Rivers has had an up and down season with only two fantasy games of 20 points or more. The Chargers have faced some tough matchups in the first half of the season and key injuries to the offense haven’t helped. The good news is his schedule starts to lighten and gets really good in the fantasy playoffs. The Chargers start with a road game at Carolina (4th worst), then a home game against Oakland (8th worst) and finally championship week at Cleveland (3rd worst). There is little doubt Rivers will be a quarterback owned on many championship teams. Now is the time to go get him.
Eli Manning, NYG
Manning has had a difficult time of it this year but most of that is due to his lack of touchdowns. He has the second highest yards per game of his career but his TD rate is only 3.9%. He has a career 4.7% TD rate so some positive regression seems likely. He begins the fantasy playoffs at home against Dallas (22nd worst), then home against Detroit (2nd worst) and finally at Philadelphia (27th worst) a team he just torched for 4 TDs. Look for Manning to have a big second half of the season.
Jonathan Stewart, CAR
Stewart is often thought of as an unexciting but solid fantasy back who gets touchdowns vultured by Cam Newton. This year, however, Newton is scoring at a career low rate and this has opened up opportunity for Stewart. He already has 4 touchdowns on just 79 carries after totaling just 6 last year on 242 carries. He has by far the easiest playoff schedule of any running back with games at home against San Diego (6th worst), at Washington (5th worst) and home against Atlanta (13th worst). Coming off an injury Stewart put together 2 great games but put up a dud in week 9. See if his owner is frustrated and go get him.
Doug Martin, TB
Martin owners are probably extremely frustrated at this point. After injuring his hamstring early in week 2 Martin was supposed to return after the teams week 6 bye. Unfortunately he suffered a set back and has not returned. Soft tissue injuries can linger and it’s unknown when he will be back, but if you can afford to wait he should be worth stashing. With 2 playoff games against New Orleans sandwiched around a matchup with Dallas in week 15 Martin could pay huge dividends to an owner who held on.
Lamar Miller, HOU
When Miller signed with Houston in the off-season fantasy owners rejoiced. No longer would he be held back by a Miami offense that limited his touches. Unfortunately he has not gotten off to the start fantasy owners had hoped for but the workload is there. Houston had one of the toughest first half schedules but things open up after the bye and look great in the playoffs. In week 14 he’s at Indy (9th worst), home against Jacksonville (17th worst) in week 15, and home against Cincinnati (12th worst) in week 16. If you can get him relatively cheap the time to buy is now.
Michael Thomas/Brandin Cooks, NO
No wide receiver has a truly great fantasy playoff schedule but there are some good ones. The Saints are a team with a good schedule. Thomas has emerged as the Saints number 1 receiver but Cooks is still a big part of this offense. In the playoffs they have 2 games against Tampa Bay (2nd worst) sandwiched around Arizona (28th worst).
Sammy Watkins/Robert Woods, BUF
There is some talk Watkins could be back before the season ends and if he is he could be a league winner. In the meantime Woods has taken over as Tyrod Taylor’s favorite target. If Watkins cannot return this season Woods could be a great waiver pickup for championship winning teams. In the playoffs Buffalo plays Pittsburgh (29th worst), Cleveland (9th worst) and Miami (7th worst).
Antonio Gates, SD
Pairing Gates with Rivers could be a high ceiling, championship winning combination. Many experts predicted Gates to be a top tight end this year but injuries and the ascension of Hunter Henry slowed him down. He has re-established himself as San Diego’s top tight end the last two weeks and even if Henry comes back healthy Gates should be involved as San Diego runs a lot of 2 tight end sets. In the playoffs the Chargers are at Carolina (3rd worst), home against Oakland (8th worst) and at Cleveland (1st).
Jacob Tamme/Austin Hooper, ATL
Assuming Tamme comes back healthy at some point Hooper would lose fantasy relevance, but just in case I’m listing him here. In either case whatever tight end is playing for the Falcons will help their owners win a championship. Not only is this offense just absolutely rolling but they have one of the easiest playoff schedules for tight ends. In week 15 they are at LA (22nd worst), home against San Francisco (16th worst) in week 15 and at Carolina (3rd worst) week 16.
Zach Miller, CHI
Miller is coming off his bye after posting a good game against Minnesota. He may have been dropped in some leagues but even if he wasn’t his owner may be frustrated as he hasn’t scored a TD since week 4. The return of Cutler will greatly help his value as will his playoff schedule. Week 15 sees the Bears at Detroit (2nd worst) then home against Green Bay (12th worst) and home against Washington (18th worst). In fact the rest of Millers schedule is great with his toughest matchup being week 11 against the Giants (19th worst). He’s a tight end you can ride every week from now until the championship.
Disagree with any of my picks? Anyone you think I missed? Let me know by commenting below.