It’s fantasy playoffs time, and if you were lucky enough to make it in your league there are five words I have for you:
DO NOT OVERTHINK YOUR LINEUP.
That’s the death of many a playoff dream, taking too much time and energy thinking and rethinking your decisions when it come to what your playoff team will look like this week. I understand. You’re excited to be in the playoffs, but don’t forget what (and who) got you here.
The playoffs is a time to shore up your lineup by grabbing valuable backups to the key pieces of your lineup, because you never know when someone will get hurt. But that’s the only reason to grab people off the waiver wire now, not to insert them into your lineup this week. Don’t fall victim to the pull. It’s killed many a playoff dream.
I made the playoffs in the league where I started 0-5 and 1-6, so I’m just happy to be in, and not on the outside. And I drew a meeting with a team I’ve already beaten this year, so I’ve got no pressure. Now, hopefully the players who got me to this spot will perform now that we’re here. Now’s the time I’m relying on players like Theo Riddick and Allen Hurns to get me to next week. And now’s the time for Setting Your Lineup…
QBs to PLAY
JAMEIS WINSTON vs. New Orleans – Don’t overthink things. It’s the Saints defense. Start Winston with confidence this week. He should look a lot like the guy who dismantled the Eagles a few weeks ago.
ANDY DALTON vs. Pittsburgh – The red-headed wonder has been consistent for the vast majority of the season, and he gets a home game against a defense that gives up yards through the air. Don’t get pretty and sit him this week.
BLAKE BORTLES vs. Indianapolis – It’s not rocket science. The Colts do not boast a solid defense, and Bortles has been very good this season against so-so units. Besides, he gets Allen Hurns back in this one, and that matters. I’m playing him in one of my playoff games.
QB to AVOID
JOHNNY MANZIEL vs. San Francisco – I don’t care that it’s the 49ers. In fact, they’ve been better than advertised against mediocre offenses, and the Cleveland attack is decidedly mediocre, no matter who’s under center.
RBs to PLAY
THOMAS RAWLS @ Baltimore – This isn’t your grandaddy’s Ravens defense anymore, and they’re susceptible to the run this year. Rawls has, for his part, been great running the football in place of Marshawn Lynch. That’s a good combination.
SHAUN DRAUGHN @ Cleveland – Remember what I said about mediocre offenses? Well, Cleveland also sports a mediocre defense, and Draughn has been a workhorse of late. Volume + opportunity = success running the football.
CHARCANDRICK WEST vs. San Diego – Yeah, I don’t care about splitting up some carries with Spencer Ware. West is back to full strength, and he is the difference maker. Look for the Chiefs to lean on him, especially in short yardage situations around the goal line.
RB to AVOID
JAVORIUS ALLEN vs. Seattle – Don’t look now, but the Seattle defense is back. Maybe not all the way back, but good enough that I think it makes a huge difference vs. earlier in the season. Good enough that I wouldn’t start any RB against them right now.
WRs to PLAY
ERIC DECKER vs. Tennessee – Decker often uses his size advantage to catch balls that are out of reach for defenders, and he’s been doing that a lot of late, as Fitzpatrick has been finding him in the red zone. Look for at least one score from Deck this week.
DEZ BRYANT @ Green Bay – There was a time I would never have to write about Bryant in this space, but that time’s done, at least while Matt Cassel is his quarterback. But I like the matchup against Green Bay this week. Something tells me he will do more than decoy duty, and a healthy Dez is always in my lineup.
DOUG BALDWIN @ Baltimore – I’m high on the Seattle offense, so I’m high on their WR1 as well, and make no bones about it, Baldwin is definitely a WR1 with a lot of upside in this matchup against a poor Ravens defense. He keeps it going here.
WR to AVOID
AMARI COOPER @ Denver – You know what the Broncos can do to opposing receivers, particularly WR1s. I would trust Crabtree more, but I still wouldn’t start him in this matchup. It’s just too easy to score few to no fantasy points, and Cooper hasn’t been playing great of late anyway.
TEs to PLAY
TRAVIS KELCE vs. San Diego – He’s still the leading receiver on the Chiefs, and that actually means something lately as Alex Smith has been airing it out more often. He’s also a huge red zone target.
AUSTIN SEFERIAN-JENKINS – The man possesses a long hyphenate for a name, and he’s been out more often than he’s been in, but when he’s been in he has made an impact. Obviously Winston likes him near the goal line, so you should too.
ZACH MILLER vs. Washington – Now that Bennett is gone for the rest of the season, look for Jay Cutler to find Miller even more often than he has been. I’m expecting a bounceback game from Cutler, so his receiving corps will come along for the ride.
TE to AVOID
ANTONIO GATES @ Kansas City – I’m a believer in that Chiefs defense, and I think they will be chasing Philip Rivers all afternoon. Gates hasn’t been great of late anyway, so security blanket or no, the Chiefs will scheme to take him out of the game anyway. You can probably do better.
FLEX to PLAY
TODD GURLEY vs. Detroit – Remember about a month ago when Gurley being in this piece would have been unheard of? He got off to a riveting start, but now that teams have begun zeroing in on stopping the run (Foles just ain’t that good) he has cooled off. But I like Foles’ chances to get it going against the Detroit secondary, and open up rushing lanes for Gurley.
JEREMY HILL vs. Pittsburgh – I must be a glutton for punishment because I keep going back to the well with this one, and by “one” I mean the Cincinnati backfield. They’ve been inconsistent, but this Pittsburgh defense can be run on, and they are susceptible to the power run, which is Hill’s forte.
JARVIS LANDRY vs. NY Giants – The Giants give up big plays to receivers, and Tannehill will feed him the ball in this matchup after leaving him by the roadside in the last game. It’s big risk-reward, and Landry is worth it in this matchup.
FLEX to AVOID
DeMARCO MURRAY vs. Buffalo – It’s possible Murray will shoulder the load this week for the Eagles, but knowing Chip Kelly, and having Ryan Mathews back, any number of things could happen. I wouldn’t want to put my playoff chances and hopes on Murray’s back because of the uncertainty.
K to PLAY
MASON CROSBY vs. Dallas
ROBBIE GOULD vs. Washington
BRANDON MCMANUS vs. Oakland
K to AVOID
MIKE NUGENT vs. Pittsburgh
D/ST to PLAY
BEARS vs. Washington
DOLPHINS vs. NY Giants
49ERS @ CLEVELAND
D/ST to AVOID
BENGALS vs. Pittsburgh