The playoffs begin this week for most leagues, and if you’re now in the tournament for the big pay day (or bragging rights) odds are you have a solid starting group, and a key bench player or two that has produced.
Now, you're still not going to find "start Aaron Rodgers" here, but we’ll take a look at some big names who might be good (or bad) plays in the fantasy football playoffs.
On that note, here we go for week 14:
Houston Texans defense at Jacksonville
I’ve said it before that I don’t think defenses matter very much – unless you happen to catch the right one on the right year – but that thinking dramatically changes in the playoffs. Again, unless you have a standout scoring unit, load up the next few weeks and play the matchups. The Texans are going up against the Jaguars, who are so awful offensively J.J. Watt might get you 12 fantasy points on his own. First, the Texans are playing well defensively. But the Jags have allowed 21 sacks the last five weeks (4.2 per game), have been intercepted once per game on average, and have lost four fumbles. While scores from your defense or special teams can’t be counted on, Jacksonville has allowed six defensive scores (5 touchdowns, 1 safety).
C.J. Anderson, Denver running back vs. Buffalo
I’ve been wary of the Broncos running back situation this year, but Anderson remains the only viable, healthy option and even though the Bills are very good against the run – they have allowed just two rushers to top 90 yards – the fact that Peyton Manning trusts Anderson so much in the pass game makes him a must-play this week. Anderson has been a workhorse for the last four weeks and a fantasy stud the last two. While Manning will likely take to the air more often against the Bills, Anderson should get enough touches to produce large fantasy numbers yet again.
Last week: Jarvis Landry (11 targets, 8 catches, 68 yards); Travis Kelce (3 targets, 3 catches, 36 yards).
Note: I’m approaching this category as though you have a better option to choose from. These players are must starts if you do not.
Keenan Allen, San Diego wide receiver vs. New England
Allen has finally emerged as a big-time fantasy threat, and has been very productive in four of the last five Chargers games, including a monster 11-catch, 121-yard, 2-touchdown performance last week. But, alas, Allen will likely see Patriots defensive backs Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, and even if Philip Rivers force feeds him the ball, he likely won't get much production. The high-voltage Green Bay offense really stagnated until the Packers' No. 3 receiver stepped up with a huge game, forcing Revis and Browner to move around. And even then, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson didn't have typical fantasy days. Allen has been good, but this is a terrible playoff matchup.
Tre Mason, St. Louis running back at Washington
Good for you if you inserted Mason into your starting lineup last week – he no doubt got you a with three touchdowns and 164 yards of total offense. But he’s not a good play this week despite the fact the Rams are playing a terrible Washington team that is playing out the string. The one thing Washington does do well is stop the run – they’ve allowed only two 100-yard rushers this year (Arian Foster and DeMarco Murray) and only six rushing touchdowns (three by Matt Asiata). Mid to lower-tier backs like Mason just don’t produce against Washington. He’ll be good for a few catches and some rushing yards but don’t expect another huge game.
Last week: Delanie Walker (3 targets, 1 catch, 6 yards); Isaiah Crowell (29 rush yards, 1 catch, 15 yards).
Ryan Tannehill, Miami quarterback vs. Baltimore
Sometimes there are holes in even a playoff team’s roster, and it’s possible you’ve been mixing and matching somewhere along the line. If you don’t have one of the top tier quarterbacks, Tannehill is a good start this week against a Ravens team that has been lit up of late. The only quarterback to not throw for over 300 yards in the last four weeks was Tennessee’s Zach Mettenberger. While Tannehill isn’t Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers or Drew Brees, Mike Glennon ripped the Ravens for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Last week: Tim Wright (1 target, 1 catch, 12 yards).
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.