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Featured Pros: Playoff Sleepers and Situations in WAS and SD

by dave
Nov 20, 2010
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 31: Jon Kitna  of the Dallas Cowboys throws a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Cowboys Stadium on October 31, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

For those of you that are sitting comfortably near the top of your league standings, it makes sense to start planning for the playoffs. How many of you have had a team crank through the regular season firing on all cylinders only to get blown out in the finals? In an effort to help folks avoid this fate, I asked a few of our experts to provide some advice on “playoff sleepers” to stash.

For those of you needing to make a run to even make the playoffs, I asked the same experts to shed some light on two cloudy situations that could provide an opportunity to “guess right” – the WR situation in San Diego and the RB situation in Washington.

This week’s Featured Pros are John Paulsen from The Scores Report, Chet Gresham from Razzball, and Ryan Lester from Lester’s Legends. These guys happen to be our #1, #4 and #5 most accurate experts, respectively. Let’s see if their advice can help us down the stretch!

Give us 2 or 3 players that might be available off of waivers that you would target to stash away now for the playoffs (weeks 14-16), and tell us why.

John Paulsen – The Scores Report

Jon Kitna Is still available in 88% of ESPN leagues and seems poised for a strong finished after the Cowboys’ impressive outing against a tough Giants pass defense. Moreover, according to my strength of schedule calculations, he has a terrific schedule (PHI, WAS, @ARI) during the fantasy playoffs. I know there is some talk about Tony Romo coming back for the stretch run, but Dallas will probably be out of the playoff hunt by then, so the franchise isn’t likely to risk rushing him back under those circumstances.

Running backs are tough, because they are generally scooped up pretty quickly, but one player that could finish strong is Jonathan Stewart. Everyone knows he’s talented, and while he didn’t show it in his Week 8 game against the Rams (14 carries, 30 yards), he looked a lot better against the Saints (5 carries, 30 yards) before being knocked out of the game with a concussion. His Week 16 matchup (@PIT) is brutal, but he has a favorable matchup in Week 15 (ARI), and could be startable against the Falcons in Week 14.

Vincent Jackson is available in 41% of ESPN leagues and would be a fine addition to just about any fantasy team for the stretch run. With Antonio Gates sidelined with a foot injury, Philip Rivers will have to lean on his WRs, and assuming he can shake off the rust, Jackson’s fantasy playoff schedule (KC, SF, @CIN) isn’t bad at all. Looking for a couple of sleepers? Louis Murphy (@JAX and DEN in W14-15) and Mike Thomas (WAS in W16) could both make some noise during the fantasy playoffs.

Chet Gresham – Razzball

Ronnie Brown may not be on waivers just yet, but after a horrible game against the Bears you might start seeing him there in shallower leagues. He has stayed healthy unlike in previous years and ends the fantasy season at home against Buffalo and Detroit. By then we should see Chad Henne back and a semblance of a passing game which should give Ronnie a chance to run. I also see management wanting to test him toward the end of the season to see if he’s worth keeping around.

Beanie Wells is another player who may or may not be on the waiver wire, but owners are about fed up with him and for good reason. The good news is that he should play this week and if he can gather some momentum going into the fantasy playoffs he gets Denver at home, then Carolina on the road and Dallas at home.

Jon Kitna just pulled off an amazing game against the Giants and if he is on your waiver wire I’m loving his week 15 and 16 playoff matchups against Washington and Arizona. He is going to be inconsistent, but against the right matchups he has too good of a supporting cast not to be fantasy worthy.

Ryan Lester – Lester’s Legends

Beanie Wells’ knee concerns me. Even if he’s able to go this week, I’m not convinced he comes away Monday without swelling. If they lose as expected to Kansas City this week, they will be 3-7. With nothing to play for, Arizona’s front office could shut down Beanie Wells, meaning Tim Hightower could get some starts down the stretch. They have a favorable schedule ahead with St. Louis, Denver, Carolina, and Dallas looming in Weeks 13-16.

Arrelious Benn has scored in consecutive weeks and is finally showing up on the fantasy radar. He too has a nice stretch of games in Weeks 13-16 as he faces Atlanta, Washington, Detroit, and Seattle. If you aren’t able to get his teammate Mike Williams, Benn may be a sneaky force down the stretch.

The RB situation in Washington seems to be up in the air. With Keiland Williams doing well, Portis supposedly coming back this week, Torain out at least one more week, and James Davis waiting in the wings, how would you force rank these players in terms of who you’d want to own for the rest of the season? Please tell us why you like the guy on the top of your list.

John Paulsen – The Scores Report
The guy I want right now is Keiland Williams, because he has looked good and he’s healthy. Clinton Portis is on his way back, but didn’t look great before his injury and seems likely to get nicked up again. Ryan Torain was improving, but has had a setback, and that puts him behind Portis once again. Davis could emerge, but I think it would take an injury/fumbleitis to Williams and Portis for Davis to get a chance to shine.

Chet Gresham – Razzball
There are two things you can count on in this world and that’s Clinton Portis and Ryan Torain getting injured. I’m not a big fan of Keiland Williams, but I trust him to stay upright for the rest of the season much more than either of those two. The Redskins do end with a few nice matchups against Tampa, Dallas and Jacksonville so I can see holding onto Williams even if Portis or Torain get the starts in the next few weeks.

Ryan Lester – Lester’s Legends
A Mike Shanahan running back situation is cloudy? Imagine that. Right now I have to go with the hot hand. Keiland Williams did his thing even as the Skins were getting their doors blown off. He’s the one I’d want to own. Of course, if he struggles a bit, the Shanahan could turn to Clinton Portis again. Without the toll of a season worth of carries, CP could just finish the year on a high note. After that I’d rate James Davis, simply because I think Torain has run his course. I’d rather stock my bench with Atlanta’s Jason Snelling or even Marion Barber than take the third or fourth Redskins option.

The WR situation in San Diego is going from super thin to somewhat crowded. How would you force rank these guys in terms of who you would want to own for the rest of the season (Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, Patrick Crayton, Seyi Ajirotutu, and Legedu Naanee)? Please tell us why you like the guy on the top of your list.

John Paulsen – The Scores Report
I would rank them in the order you have them (V-Jax, Floyd, Crayton, Ajirotutu and Naanee). With Floyd coming back from injury, Vincent Jackson will have a chance to reclaim his WR1 status for the Chargers. Floyd will be a good complementary receiver while Crayton is built to be a WR3. I give Ajirotutu the edge over Naanee because he’s’ healthy and Naanee continues to struggle with his lingering hamstring injury.

Chet Gresham – Razzball
We’ve seen just about every Charger wide receiver have fantasy value at some point this season and it’s not because of their outstanding skill. Philip Rivers is having a once in a career kind of season and is elevating this rag tag group out of mediocrity. The question is, who can stay healthy and actually stay on the field for the rest of the season? I would worry more about Vincent Jackson being off the field for so long, but he has been practicing with the first team for a month now and shouldn’t have much trouble getting used to game speed. Seyi Ajirotutu came off the practice squad and contributed quickly, I don’t see VJax having any trouble doing the same. Add to that Jackson’s ability coupled with Rivers throwing him the ball he automatically have an elite fantasy player. After Jackson the default #2 receiver is Antonio Gates, and after that is Malcom Floyd. But as soon as we think Floyd is back for week 11 he experience soreness in his hamstring and Gates has foot issues. So it feels like a week to week problem that teams with shallow benches will have trouble with. You have to keep the three core players in Jackson, Gates and Floyd, but for backup purposes I would keep Ajirotutu and Crayton around.

Ryan Lester – Lester’s Legends
While Washington has a bad mess, San Diego has a good mess. Tops on my list is Malcom Floyd. Despite his absence, I think he’s the number one WR option. Next up, I’d go with Vincent Jackson. He has a lot to prove, but we know what kind of ability he has. I don’t think it will take him long to get up to speed. It’s just a matter of how many snaps he gets to play. Next I go with Patrick Crayton because I think he offers something different than the other long WRs. Number four is Seyi Ajirotutu because it’s been so long that Legedu Naanee has been a factor.

I want to thank our Week 11 Featured Pros for providing their advice to our members. It will be interesting to see how these situations in Washington and San Diego unfold and whether the playoff sleepers mentioned become relevant in the playoffs.

Good luck on prepping for the fantasy stretch run and be sure to check out our fantasy news and advice links every day – it’s the easiest way to keep up!

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