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Players to Target & Avoid for the 2021 Fantasy Football Playoffs

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
Dec 3, 2021
trevor lawrence

The fantasy football playoffs are right around the corner. Crazy, I know. If your squad has already clinched a playoff spot, congratulations. Making the playoffs in what’s been a pretty random and difficult season to navigate is a heck of an accomplishment.

And if you’re like me, you can’t help but look ahead to what your lineup could look like once the postseason begins. You may even be adding players to stash them for a good matchup weeks down the road. Nothing is off the table when it comes to winning a fantasy football title. And as we gear up for the homestretch, I’m here to help you with some players you should target and avoid for the 2021 playoffs.

This article will do its best to avoid stating the obvious. You’re most likely starting Jonathan Taylor or Davante Adams regardless of the matchup. Using our Matchup Calendar tool, my goal is to offer up starters with excellent matchups upcoming or lesser known names who could become league winners.

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Note: I am excluding all Week 18 matchups for consideration. Nobody should have a fantasy league championship decided in Week 18. If you do, you need a new commissioner. 

Quarterbacks to Target 

Aaron Rodgersvs. CHI, at BAL, vs. CLE, vs. MIN

Rodgers’ toughest fantasy points allowed per game are Chicago, a team he routinely dominates of all these matchups. Rodgers should finish the year strong.

Russell Wilsonat HOU, at LAR, vs. CHI, vs. DET

Wilson is awfully tough to trust right now, but hopefully, he can work off the rust from his finger injury and start playing like himself. He’s got a few exciting matchups against some lackluster defenses.

Jimmy Garoppoloat CIN, vs. ATL, at TEN, vs. HOU

If you’ve been streaming quarterbacks or have suffered an injury to your starter, Garoppolo may be your best option down the stretch. The matchup with Cincinnati isn’t easy, but Jimmy G faces three of the league’s worst secondaries to close out the fantasy season.

Trevor Lawrenceat TEN, vs. HOU, at NYJ, at NE

Lawrence is tough to trust at this point, but you can’t argue with his next three matchups. Just don’t start Lawrence against the Patriots if you’re playing for a title.

Running Backs to Target 

Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordonvs. DET, vs. CIN, at LV, at LAC

Denver’s tailback tandem gets three great matchups against the Lions, Raiders, and Chargers, each of whom has given up at least 21.5 fantasy points per game to opposing backs. The only problem is the workload split, so they’ll have to make the most of capped opportunities.

Elijah Mitchellat CIN, vs. ATL, at TEN, vs. HOU

Mitchell gets a couple of juicy matchups against Atlanta and Houston, two teams who struggle mightily against the run.

Wide Receivers to Target 

Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyukat CIN, vs. ATL, at TEN, vs. HOU

Hopefully, Samuel can get back healthy sooner than later, as he and Aiyuk have a great closing stretch of matchups. Cincinnati has been pretty stingy against receivers, but the Falcons, Titans, and Texans are all surrendering at least 23 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts.

Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypoolat MIN, vs. TEN, at KC, vs. CLE

Johnson and Claypool face the two most generous defenses to opposing wideouts in the next two weeks, then face Chiefs and Brown’s secondaries that have gotten torched through the air on multiple occasions. Now, we have to hope Ben Roethlisberger can be competent.

Hunter Renfrowat Kansas City, at Cleveland, vs. Denver, at Indianapolis

Renfrow has three pretty favorable matchups in his next four and should see plenty of volume if Darren Waller continues to miss time. A championship week matchup with the Colts could make Renfrow a great start in your FLEX.

Tight Ends to Target 

Noah Fantvs. DET, vs. CIN, at LV, at LAC

While the Lions and Bengals are merely average at defending tight ends, the Chargers and Raiders have given up the second and third-most points to opposing tight ends.

Logan Thomas: vs. DAL, at PHI, at DAL, vs. PHI

Washington’s weird stretch of divisional games works to Thomas’ advantage, as Philadelphia has given up the most yards and touchdowns to opposing tight ends this year. Dallas has also given up the ninth-most points to opposing tight ends.

C.J. Uzomahvs. SF, at DEN, vs. BAL, vs. KC

Uzomah is here because of his closing stretch against the Ravens and Chiefs, who both have given up more than 600 yards and at least six touchdowns to tight ends this year.

Defenses to Target 

Jacksonville Jaguars:  at TEN, vs. HOU, at NYJ, vs. NE

The Jaguars are a tough option to trust. But matchups against a Titans team without Derrick Henry, the miserable Texans offense, and the turnover-prone Zach Wilson are pretty appealing. You may need another option for your championship.

New Orleans Saints: at NYJ, at TB, vs. MIA, vs. CAR

A Week 15 matchup against Tom Brady is scary, but the Saints have performed well against the Bucs in past meetings against Brady. Aside from that, nobody on New Orleans’ slate scares you.

Seattle Seahawks: at HOU, at LAR, vs. CHI, vs. DET

This is a pretty manageable slate for a Seattle defense that’s played well against lower-tiered offenses. The Rams in Week 15 are a concern, but that offense hasn’t exactly been a world beater as of late. Seattle might be the best defense to pick up for Week 17 too.

Miami Dolphins: BYE, vs. NYJ, at NO, at TEN

Miami’s defense has been red-hot lately, and that stretch could continue once they’re back from the bye week.

Quarterbacks to Avoid

Carson WentzBYE, vs. NE, at ARI, vs. LV

Not only does Wentz go on bye in Week 14, but he comes back with two brutal matchups against New England and Arizona. Avoid if possible.

Matt Ryanat CAR, at SF, vs. DET, at BUF

Aside from a matchup with generous Detroit, this is a tough slate for Ryan. Definitely don’t start him in your fantasy title game against Buffalo.

Justin Fields or Andy Daltonat GB, vs. MIN, vs. SEA, vs. NYG

You probably aren’t considering these guys unless you’re in a dire spot. But if you’re in a desperate situation, don’t even think about these two. Chicago’s offense is obviously quite bad, and none of these matchups are appealing.

Running Backs to Avoid

All Jets running backs: vs. NO, at MIA, vs. JAC, vs. TB The Jets will face a trio of stout run defense other than the Jaguars.

All Bills running backs: at TB, vs. CAR, at NE, vs. ATL

Buffalo’s backfield is a mess anyways, but three tough matchups in the next three weeks give me even more reason to sit them.

Wide Receivers to Avoid 

Any Detroit Receiver: at DEN, vs. ARI, at ATL, at SEA

These players likely aren’t cracking any lineups, but their upcoming schedule is pretty tricky, aside from Atlanta.

Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooneyat GB, vs. MIN, at SEA, vs. NYG

Chicago’s offense faces a group of formidable defenses, with none of their final four matchups being particularly appealing.

Jarvis Landryvs. BAL, vs. LV, at GB, at PIT

Landry is Cleveland’s only viable starting receiver, and he doesn’t get much help from his upcoming matchups. Other than Baltimore, none of these are overly exciting.

Tight Ends to Avoid 

Kyle Pittsat CAR, at SF, vs. DET, at BUF

Pitts doesn’t face a defense that’s allowing more than 7.6 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.

T.J. Hockensonat DEN, vs. ARI, at ATL, at SEA

Hockenson faces the two best defenses against tight ends in consecutive weeks and doesn’t get much of a reprieve against Atlanta or Seattle.

Dalton Schultzat WAS, at NYG, vs. WAS, vs. ARI

Schultz doesn’t face a defense giving up more than eight fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends during this stretch of games. He may be unavoidable, but it may be worth searching for your options.

Defenses to Avoid 

Indianapolis Colts: BYE, vs. NE, at ARI, vs. LV

None of these matchups are particularly easy for Indianapolis.

Chicago Bears: at GB, vs. MIN, at SEA, vs. NYG

Consecutive matchups against Green Bay and Minnesota aren’t ideal. And Seattle could have its offense figured out by the time they face the Bears.

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