In most fantasy football leagues, Week 14 is the beginning of playoffs. Now, you most likely got to playoffs using a mixture of good decision making and building a solid roster throughout the season; this includes the studs you drafted or players who you may have stolen off the waiver wire.
If you made it this far, the smart move would be to start your studs and continue to ride them to the promised land; however, you most likely have some decisions to make. These are some guys who you should be able to count on for strong performances or help you avoid the dreaded fantasy punishment in the playoffs.
Three weeks ago, Keenan Allen did not look like he was going to be utilized like he was pre-injury and was a reliable WR3 for the rest of the season. However, he stepped it up in Week 11 and he has continued to shine ever since. He has been the number 2 wide receiver since that time and now resides as the number 3 receiver in all of fantasy. You were already staying in the flames with this hot streak, but with the schedule he has it looks like it may not stop in the near future. He may be matched up with the talented Josh Norman in Week 14, but he faces two defenses, the Chiefs and the Jets, that can be easily exploited.
Often the smart thing to do in fantasy is to stream defenses in favor of matchups; it’s rare that there is an exception, but the Jags have been exactly that. The Jacksonville Jaguars have easily been the best defense in the NFL this season, so good that when one of your players match up against them, you have to reconsider playing them. In fact, they rank around the 15th wide receiver or 10th best running back with 172 points in ESPN standard leagues; that’s more than high-profile players such as Doug Baldwin, Jordan Howard or Dez Bryant. If you have them, you’re starting them. Also, keep in mind that during the playoffs they face a struggling Texans offense manned by Tom Savage and a 49ers offense that is still finding itself behind Jimmy Garoppolo.
Ever since Alvin Kamara’s opportunities increased a few weeks into the season, he has been simply amazing. You could make an argument that he has been the most explosive back in the league this season and he will most likely win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Every week, he proves to be a fantasy superstar even when he’s not receiving the bulk of the workload. A lot of Kamara’s production comes from his usage in the passing game and he plays an Atlanta Falcons defense that is susceptible to pass-catching running backs twice. He also plays the Jets who have been better than expected, but not good enough to be scared of a production hit.
Many people have questioned Burkhead’s role in this offense on a weekly basis due to the Patriots depth at the position and Belichick’s ever adaptive coaching. Dion Lewis seems to be the primary runner in New England and so this makes people nervous about starting him; however, it looks like there is enough fantasy points to go around and make them both very usable. Burkhead blew up for two touchdowns and 100+ yards from scrimmage on 15 touches. That gives him over 15 points in 4 of his last 5 games. Now, Burkhead goes up against the Miami Dolphins who just allowed the struggling C.J. Anderson to rack up 110 yards from scrimmage and the Buffalo Bills who he just torched. Put 2 and 2 together…
After Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon tore his meniscus in the pre-season, they signed Alex Collins to their practice squad. There had been concerns about his fumbling in the past, but since starting running back Terrance West went down with an injury early, Collins has taken the role and run away with it. Javorious Allen and Danny Woodhead still get some touches, but Collins has become the lead guy and has been a steal if you picked him up off waivers. Coming off a two touchdown game against the Lions, he now has 4 in his last three games and has seen upwards of 14 touches in his last 5 games. You can feel comfortable starting him as a RB2 or FLEX every week, especially when he goes up against a Cleveland run defense that has fallen off as of late and a banged up Colts defense in championship week.
There’s a good chance Marquise Goodwin is still sitting on your league’s waivers as he is only owned in 15.2% of ESPN leagues. Goodwin has world-class speed and can squeeze by any defense with that alone. He’s taken over the number-one receiver role since Pierre Garcon went on the IR. Since Jimmy Garoppolo has taken over the offense, he was clearly looking for him when he gave him 8 targets. Goodwin caught all 8 of those for 99 yards. He only has one touchdown on the season, but with that volume and his speed I expect that to change in the coming weeks. In weeks 14 and 15, he plays the Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans, both of which have struggled against receivers, before facing the Jaguars in the championship game. He has the speed to breakaway and make his day on one play, but you probably have a better option. Goodwin offers a lot of upside at the FLEX position the rest of the way so he might be worth picking up.