We’re nearing the point of the season when savvy owners (i.e. those definitely headed for the playoffs) should start looking at their players’ matchups during the playoff weeks. A couple of bad matchups could be all it takes for your dream season to go down in flames.
Fortunately, we’ve asked a handful of our Featured Pros which players owners should be targeting via trade, based on recent performance and their matchups during the playoff weeks (14-16). Conversely, we also asked which players owners should be looking to sell while their value is still reasonably high. Here’s what the experts had to say…
Q1: Give us one player destined to be a playoff stud (weeks 14-16) you would target soon in a trade.
DEMARCO MURRAY (RB, DAL)
“If you’re looking to strengthen your RB situation, I’d target DeMarco Murray. He was playing very well before he went down, and because he wasn’t thrown into the fire during his return game in Week 9, you may be able to get him at a slight discount. Dallas has one of the best fantasy playoff schedules for running backs as well so he should have ample opportunity to produce some huge numbers.”
KEENAN ALLEN (WR, SD)
“Keenan Allen has already proved to be a consistent stud, but we feel he will be a serious asset in the Fantasy Playoffs. Throughout his last 5 games, Allen is averaging 99.4 YPG, 8.8 Targets Per Game and 6.2 Receptions Per Game. We expect the positive trends to continue as he has emerged as Rivers’ favorite target. San Diego squares off against porous pass defenses in Weeks 14-16, who are generous to wideouts: NYG, DEN, and OAK.”
“Keenan Allen could pay big dividends come fantasy playoff time when he faces the New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders. The Broncos and Raiders have given up big-time fantasy points to receivers all season. The Chargers could be in a tight battle for the wild card during these weeks so there’s no concern about Allen resting.”
“I’ll give two, one bigger name, and one deeper-type player on the rise. Despite already seeing a huge increase in fantasy value over the last couple weeks, Giovani Bernard is a player that can still double his value come Weeks 14-16. Unless he gets hurt, the worst-case scenario could be that he remains a strong RB2, which is about what you’d have to pay to acquire the little guy right now. My second player is Andre Brown, who comes back from IR this week. While it doesn’t appear that he will have a huge role this week, as the team eases him into the line-up, the Giants need a spark at the running back position, and Brown could really be an unexpected surprise in weeks 14-16 (and you won’t have to spend a lot to acquire him right now).”
“If you lack a true stud at QB, I recommend going after one of two guys. Tennessee’s Jake Locker faces Denver, Arizona, and Jacksonville in weeks 14, 15, and 16 and that’s the 31st, 22nd, and 17th ranked fantasy pass defenses. The other is Baltimore’s Joe Flacco. He gets Minnesota, Detroit, and New England; the 32nd, 24th, and 14th ranked fantasy pass defenses. When you lack a stud QB and are playing matchups with second and third tier guys, having a QB with great matchups those playoff weeks is critical and both of these QBs probably can be had for a lot less than you’d have to give up for many others.” Editor’s Note: Locker is expected to be out for the season with a Lisfranc injury.
C.J. SPILLER (RB, BUF)
“Although it may be too late, I went out and acquired C.J. Spiller in a few leagues before his big game in week 9. Maybe his owner is looking at that game as a chance to sell high, and if so I am definitely reaching out to see what he wants. He was able to top 10 fantasy points against Carolina, Cincinnati, and the Chiefs this season so I see no reason he can’t produce against Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami in weeks 14-16. This guy can win you a week, we have seen it.”
“While you likely missed a buy low opportunity on him, Andre Johnson is set up to have a monster second half of the season. The connection was undeniable between Case Keenum and Johnson, and all of Johnson’s match-ups from here on out vary from good to “happy dance” great. Capping off this stretch of tremendous opportunities is a week 14-16 run against JAX, DEN, and IND. (Runners-up: RGIII, Vincent Jackson & C.J. Spiller)”
Q2: On the flip side, name a player you would consider trading since he could be a playoff disappointment?
ANDREW LUCK (QB, IND)
“Andrew Luck and the Colts face 3 top 10 fantasy pass defenses in weeks 14-16 (Cincinnati, Houston, and Kansas City), with two of those games on the road outside of their dome. It’s not so much I expect Luck to be bad in these games, but he’s likely to be mediocre, especially if the Colts RBs continue to be sluggish running the ball. And mediocre QB stats will end a playoff run pretty quick. Luck has “name” value that makes his real fantasy value (he’s currently 10th in fantasy points scored per game for QBs; but is less than 1 pt per game away from being 14th) seem to be better than it really is. Take advantage of that.”
ANY BRONCOS RECEIVER
“The value you’d get from trading away someone like Jordy Nelson is minimized because everyone knows the QB situation in Green Bay. If you’re looking to get a big name player onto your roster, you’re likely going to have to deal a big name yourself. Enter the Denver Broncos – they have the 3rd worst wide receiver playoff schedule out of any team and have plenty of names that people love – Decker, Welker, Demaryius… take your pick!”
MARSHAWN LYNCH (RB, SEA)
“Marshawn Lynch is a big name that looks primed to disappoint during the fantasy playoffs. All three run defenses Lynch faces (SF, NYG, ARI) are holding opposing ball carriers to less than four yards per carry. Besides that, the 8-1 Seahawks are cruising to a playoff spot and will likely limit the work of their veteran runner during these crucial fantasy weeks.”
ANTONIO BROWN (WR, PIT)
“Antonio Brown has excellent match-ups in weeks 10 & 11 against BUF and DET. I’d recommend selling high on him at that point. After week 11, Brown and the Steelers have some truly brutal games against great pass defenses. Highlighting this is a very difficult week 14 & 15 against MIA and CIN, and a middle of the road week 16 facing GB. With all of Pittsburgh’s offensive woes, let Brown redeem himself in the next week or two, then cash out. (Runners-up: Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Bush & Marshawn Lynch)”
LAMAR MILLER (RB, MIA)
“With Miami hosting another “Martin Race Case,” we expect Lamar Miller and the Miami Offense to crumble as they have lost pivotal pieces to their offensive line. Miller has pieced solid games together and should offer a higher value for a return player. We’re not excited about this situation and recommend avoiding this problem.”
CHRIS JOHNSON (RB, TEN)
“I know Chris Johnson has run well over his last two games and should have another big one against Jacksonville this week. Another thing that is great for him is the fact he doesn’t have a tough matchup through the next four weeks. So why sell? If you make it into the playoffs with him, I don’t think you’ll go very far considering he plays the Broncos in week 14 who allow under 3 yards per carry and then Arizona in week 15. Forget that he plays Jacksonville again in week 16, because he won’t get you there. Sell, sell, sell.”
ARIAN FOSTER (RB, HOU) *Editor’s Note: Foster is out for the season.
“Not that you can get much for him now, as he is unlikely to play in Week 10, but Arian Foster (back) just doesn’t look like the same RB that he once was. The wheels have too many miles on them; he just can’t stay healthy. If he gets back into his starter role in the next couple weeks, consider selling as high as you can heading into Weeks 14-16. Could he somehow get healthy and play well down the stretch? Sure, anything is possible, which is why you should target a guy that can also deliver, but just do your best to buy-low and sell-high once/if Foster can get back onto the field.”
Thanks to this week’s Featured Pros for sharing their insight with us. If you’d like to get more advice from the experts, please visit their sites and follow them on Twitter.
Best of luck to everyone this weekend!