It’s playoff time for many fantasy leagues and that means every game counts just a little bit more than it did before. For players like Adrian Peterson, a tough matchup against Baltimore doesn’t mean you should sit him, but it does mean you may want to look at your other positions and consider that boom or bust option over the guaranteed 6-8 point play.
Riley Cooper, for instance, is in a great matchup against Detroit and has all kinds of potential for a huge game (see: weeks 9 and 10). However, the past two weeks, Foles has been looking elsewhere. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker are likely safer options thanks to Manning throwing them the ball, but against Tennessee’s unbelievably consistent pass defense, their chances for a score are minimal. Therefore, when faced with that kind of decision in a playoff scenario, Cooper might just be your ticket to the final 4.
Roddy White and Harry Douglas are similar plays this week. After White’s fantastic 10 catches for 143 yards, I think it’s safe to say he’s feeling better, but Douglas is equally capable of a big week and Matt Ryan can’t throw to both of them on every down. Still, if faced with the choice between either Atlanta receiver against Green Bay or someone like Julian Edelman who has been great the past two weeks, but could start to see some extra coverage when Cleveland comes to town, White and Douglas offer higher ceilings.
Marques Colston has been a big stat producer for years, but after a couple tough weeks, his matchup doesn’t get any easier this Sunday night against the Panthers. Sure, it may seem crazy, but even Nate Burleson, who failed to make a catch last week, has a higher upside. Colston’s going to catch a few passes, he always does. However, with the fantasy season on the line, Burleson’s chances for a score are far greater and owners will need to weigh the risk verses the reward.
Keeping it in New Orleans, if Pierre Thomas’ four carries for zero yards wasn’t enough to convince you to sit him, keep in mind Carolina’s defense is good at just about everything. Instead, Rashard Mendenhall, who looks like he’ll get the starting nod over the injured Andre Ellington again, is a much better start. Even if Ellington suits up, both he and Mendenhall have higher upside than Thomas on Sunday night. There may not be a lot of people with both Thomas and one of these Arizona receivers, but fill in your favorite running back with more potential for a scoring opportunity. Even Willis McGahee fits that description.
We mentioned Adrian Peterson’s tough matchup already, but some other running backs could struggle as well. Frank Gore has failed to top 10 fantasy points for the past three weeks and in case you weren’t paying attention on Monday, Seattle doesn’t make it easy to run the ball. If you think back to week 2, Gore only managed 9 carries for 16 yards against the Seahawks and although he’ll likely top that number and still get plenty of carries, there are stronger plays for your fantasy playoff matchup. Ray Rice, for instance, has also failed to top 10 fantasy points for a few weeks, but his matchup against the Vikings gives him a much greater chance to score. No one wants to bench their first or second round pick, but this might just be the week to consider it in Gore’s case.
Zac Stacy is another one. His situation may not be quite as dire as Gore’s, but the Cardinals held LeSean McCoy to just 79 yards on the ground last week in a game where Philadelphia did their best to kill the clock. That may not be the case for St. Louis as Arizona could easily move ahead early in this contest. Look for Stacy to have similar numbers to last week’s 19 rushes for 72 yards. Although that’s not a terrible score, if you’re already starting someone like Peterson, it might be worth considering a guy like Montee Ball who rushed 13 times for 117 yards last week and has a much easier matchup this week. With Tennessee keeping the passing game under control, Denver will be running the ball early and often. It’s still Knowshon Moreno’s show, but Ball will get his due and if he breaks one for a score, Ball has potential to be a top 15 back this week.
For QBs, as much as it pains me to say this, it’s time to sit Andrew Luck. With guys like Josh McCown and Ryan Fitzpatrick in great matchups, Luck’s a hard player to count on in Cincinnati. I’d tell you to sit Peyton Manning against Tennessee as well, but if anyone can break the Titans’ streak of games without a wide receiver scoring, it’s Peyton.
Want a sleeper pick? Dexter McCluster hasn’t had a TD since week 8, but he has consistently tallied up the receptions. In a PPR, he’s a great fill-in flex this week. In standard leagues, he still has plenty of potential if you’re in a jam.
Best of luck to all of you.