Players to Target & Avoid for the 2021 Fantasy Football Playoffs
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.
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 Rodgers: vs. 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 Wilson: at 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 Garoppolo: at 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 Lawrence: at 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
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 Mitchell: at 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
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.
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 Renfrow: at 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 Fant: vs. 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. Uzomah: vs. 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 Wentz: BYE, 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 Ryan: at 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.
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.
Chicago’s offense faces a group of formidable defenses, with none of their final four matchups being particularly appealing.
Jarvis Landry: vs. 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 Pitts: at 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. Hockenson: at 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 Schultz: at 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.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Trade Analyzer – that allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.