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Players to Target for the Fantasy Football Playoffs

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Nov 3, 2018

We’ve arrived at Week 9 already if you can believe it. That means that the fantasy playoffs are just four weeks away for most owners and, if you’re reading this, that means that you’re in contention. Congratulations to you. 

That being said, owners should start planning ahead for playoff matchups, starts, and sits. For many leagues, the fantasy trade deadline will be here in the coming weeks, so time is running out for owners to make critical moves. I’m going to highlight players you should target for the most crucial three weeks of the year. Fantasy playoffs typically run from Weeks 14 through 16, but I’ve also included two players at each position for those of you that will still be playing in Week 17 (my condolences). For advice on players to avoid for the fantasy playoffs, check out this article.

Full disclaimer: Don’t get cute with lineup decisions. Regardless of matchup, you’re playing Todd Gurley, Antonio Brown, Zach Ertz, and all of your studs. This article will highlight players who are not every-week starters, players who carry question marks, or players who may be completely off of your radar.

Scoring is half-PPR, four-point per passing TD

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Quarterbacks

Joe Flacco (QB – BAL)
Playoff schedule: @KC, TB, @LAC

Flacco is in the midst of his best season in the last six years thanks to an improved supporting cast, a new contract, and competition from Lamar Jackson. Flacco has been a decent fantasy option this year, but his schedule down the stretch is one of the friendliest to QBs, and he should be even better for the second half of the season and the fantasy playoffs. The Chiefs, Buccaneers, and Chargers combined to average 293.0 yards and 2.1 passing TDs per game to opposing signal-callers. Flacco isn’t widely owned, and his schedule leading up to the playoffs is great too. He’s poised to pop off when it matters the most. I’m “whacko” for this pick.

Russell Wilson (QB – SEA)
Playoff schedule: MIN, @SF, KC

OK, so I highlighted his shortcomings in By the Numbers a couple of weeks ago, but I still have to recommend him as a playoff target. Wilson is not an every-week play this year, but he is generally great at home and a winner in December (19-8 in six seasons). The ‘Hawks have home games against the Vikings and Chiefs sandwiched around a road trip to San Francisco. Even in a down year, Wilson is still wildly talented, and he can explode in the right matchup. His fantasy championship game is against the Chiefs, who have allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game in the NFL this season. I love the upside, and Wilson can probably be acquired cheaply.

Other QBs to target

Dak Prescott (QB – DAL): PHI, @IND, TB
Case Keenum (QB – DEN): @SF, CLE, @OAK

Week 17 only

Derek Carr (QB – OAK) @ KC, Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB – TB) vs. ATL

Running Backs

Phillip Lindsay (RB – DEN)
Playoff schedule: @SF, CLE, @OAK

Lindsay has been one of fantasy’s biggest surprises this year. Piling up 687 scrimmage yards and four total TDs, he’s the overall RB14. He’s still not getting much love from the fantasy community at large and, try as I might to use him in trades, I usually get laughed down when he’s included in a potential deal. Regardless of Lindsay’s perceived value, his playoff schedule rocks, and he’s a premium buy-low candidate right now. Royce Freeman sat out Week 8 allowing Lindsay to pile up over 100 yards and a score, and Freeman is very likely to sit again in Week 9. If Freeman’s injury persists into December, Lindsay could be the bell-cow in Denver. His playoff schedule features losing teams with bad run defenses. Denver should be able to control the clock and pound the rock. Playoff expectations for him should be a mile high.

Kerryon Johnson (RB – DET)
Playoff schedule: @ARI, @BUF, MIN

Kansas once famously belted, “Don’t you cry no more!” Ok, so the “Carry On Wayward Son” jokes are stale at this point, but I just can’t resist a good pun. Seriously, you won’t be crying a single tear with the rookie from Auburn plugged into your RB slot for the fantasy playoffs. He’s been marvelous in the Motor City this year with 624 scrimmage yards in only seven games, and he should be the MVP of Week 1 of the playoffs facing a Cardinals defense currently allowing the second-most FPPG to opposing backs. The schedule rounds out nicely from there, and Detroit faces Buffalo and Minnesota in Weeks 15 and 16. The matchup with the Vikings is a little tough for championship week, but Detroit’s gameplan should be to keep Kirk Cousins and company off of the field as much as possible, leading to positive game script for Johnson. Carry on.

Other RBs to target

Alex Collins/Ty Montgomery (RB – BAL): @KC, TB, @LAC
LeSean McCoy (RB – BUF): NYJ, DET, @NE

Week 17 only

Aaron Jones (RB – GB) vs. Lions, Jalen Richard (RB – OAK) @ KC

Wide Receivers

John Brown (WR – BAL)
Playoff schedule: @KC, TB, @LAC

Where there’s “Smokey” there’s fire, and John Brown has been lighting the fantasy world ablaze since arriving in Charm City. Brown has a 31-586-4 line through eight games, and he leads the Ravens in receiving yards and receiving TDs. He ranks fourth in the NFL in yards per catch at 18.9 and owns a 37.5% share of his team’s air yards, good for seventh in the NFL. Needless to say, his big-play ability makes him dangerous every week. He’s the highest-scoring wideout for the Ravens, and he should be able to exploit some cake playoff matchups against the Chiefs, Bucs, and Chargers. If you’re this far into the article, you know that Brown’s QB, Joe Flacco, is a recommended fantasy target and, if you’re in the market, a Ravens stack with these guys for a playoff run wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.

D.J. Moore (WR – CAR)
Playoff schedule: @CLE, NO, ATL

Moore continues to see his snap count rise, and Cam Newton is the most accurate he’s ever been, completing 66.4% of his passes this season. Cam is also scoring more consistently than ever, and Moore has become one of his favorite targets as of late. With Torrey Smith out in Week 8, Moore hauled in five receptions for a team-leading 90 yards and added 39 yards rushing. His rapport with Newton should only improve in the coming weeks, and his playoff schedule is magnificent, facing the Browns, Saints, and Falcons who all rank in the top-10 most points allowed to WRs. Moore was a hot waiver wire add this week, but he should still be a cheap trade target. He’s playoff gold.

Other WRs to target

Tyler Boyd (WR – CIN): @LAC, OAK, CLE
Marquez Valdez-Scantling (WR – GB): ATL, @CHI, @NYJ

Week 17 only

Mohamed Sanu (WR – ATL) @TB, Tre’Quon Smith (WR – NO) vs. CAR

Tight Ends

David Njoku (TE – CLE)
Playoff schedule: CAR, @DEN, CIN

He’s still a favorite of Baker Mayfield and the best receiving option not named “Juice” on this roster. Njoku can be had for a little bit of nothing after his donut in the box score in Week 8, and I actually just traded Jordan Reed straight up for him in one of my leagues. His schedule from here on out is great, but the playoff matchups are so tasty, featuring the Panthers and Bengals who both rank in the top-three in most fantasy points allowed to TEs. If he slipped onto the waiver wire, pick him up immediately, and if he’s already owned, make a low-ball offer and see what you can do. Njoku is a great play for the fantasy playoffs.

Benjamin Watson (TE – NO)
Playoff schedule: @TB, @CAR, PIT

Watson has arguably the best playoff schedule available for TEs, facing the Buccaneers (second-most points allowed to TEs), the Panthers (most points allowed), and the Steelers (fourth-most points allowed). He recorded a big fat goose egg in Week 8 along with Njoku, and he is only 57% owned in Yahoo! leagues. With the Saints facing some of the league’s highest-scoring offenses (all in the top-12 in PPG), Drew Brees should continue to air it out, making Watson a valuable addition to any playoff roster.

Other TEs to target

Jared Cook (TE – OAK): PIT, @CIN, DEN
Ed Dickson (TE – SEA): MIN, @SF, KC

Week 17 only

Hayden Hurst (TE – BAL) vs. CLE, Antonio Gates (TE – LAC) @DEN

D/STs

Washington Redskins
Playoff schedule: NYG, @JAX, @TEN

Eli Manning, Blake Bortles, Marcus Mariota. There’s not a lot more that needs to be said, but those are the QBs that Washington will face in the fantasy playoffs. Those teams rely more on the run than the pass, but Washington’s run defense allows the second-fewest rushing yards to opposing backs, at just 80.1. They recently acquired Pro-Bowler HaHa Clinton-Dix to add to the already loaded secondary of Josh Norman and D.J. Swearinger, and the pass defense should only improve from here. Grab this D/ST now in a week where they face the Falcons because the schedule for the rest of the season is “Set and Forget.” They may very well be on your waiver wire right now at only 39% ownership in Yahoo! leagues.

Denver Broncos
Playoff schedule: @SF, CLE, @OAK

The Broncos have been a solid defensive unit this year, and the playoff schedule is juicy. Matchups against San Francisco and Cleveland kick off the festivities which culminate in an unbelievable Championship Week match against the hapless Raiders. The great news is that Denver can probably be picked up easily off of waivers after this week’s matchup with Houston. The Broncos take their bye week in Week 10 and follow that up with tough games against the Chargers, Steelers, and Bengals. Ownership is 66% in Yahoo! leagues, but that’s likely to go way down next week.

Other D/STs to target

Tennessee Titans: JAX, @NYG, WAS
Detroit Lions: @ARI, @BUF, MIN

Week 17 only

Kansas City Chiefs vs. OAK, Buffalo Bills vs. MIA

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Zachary Hanshew is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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