Congratulations! If you’re reading this you survived the Hunger Games of fantasy football only to begin an even more difficult ascent. It’s like what Maeve must have felt when she saw that ‘SW’ on the wall as she exited to Star Wars style, multi-leveled connecting corridor in the season finale of Westworld. That’s about as spoiler-friendly as I could possibly write that without giving anything away, haha. Point is…now comes the hard part. Now is all that matters. Oh, you finished 9-4 to win the #2 seed and a bye in Round 1? Congratulations. Here’s a LifeSaver to enjoy while you go look at the total points and realize that all four teams under you scored more than you this season. Come Week 15 and Round 2, you’re likely to be in need of a LifeSaver. Fantasy Football is filled with luck (or the lack thereof, like that time when you score the 2nd most points, but miss the playoffs because of Colin Kaepernick ghosting Week 13. I guess that’s what I get after hyping him for a month straight. And don’t talk to me about karma. It doesn’t exist. And don’t worry…I’m not salty about it, either. Hahaha.), so savor that LifeSaver while you can; you may need a real one soon.
So, whether you’re the dominant #1 seed, backdoor sliding into the #6 seed with a 6-7 record, over performing your total points or just looking to finish out strong through Week 16 in your consolation bracket (said no one ever), this final post in Working the Wire for the 2016 season is an all-encompassing look at the names to target for the next three weeks. As a rule, I’m not focusing on low ceiling bench options; they do nothing this point in the year. No one is worth adding unless they carry the potential to start for you and push you into the next round.
Win or go home! Here are the top targets to, well… target for the 2016 fantasy football playoffs!
Note: The threshold for appearing as one of the targets for this post is <25% owned in either league as of Monday. Most of the % will be higher than that since it’s being posted on Wednesday, but each of these guys are still worth the target.
- Mike Gillislee, RB – BUF (ESPN 28.5%, Yahoo 24%) – The final RB I’d target to pick up of the playoffs is a guy with only 22 carries in the past four weeks; however, it should come as no surprise that Gillislee ends up on this list. No, not just because of the 2 TDs from Week 13, but because he’s totaled 6 in his past 7 games. The volume isn’t there, but that’s what happens when you’re in a backfield with LeSean McCoy. One McCoy injury, though, and Gillislee becomes a borderline RB1 in the Bills offense. He’ll get a few carries now, but this is the type of pickup you make to round out your bench for the playoff run. He’s no David Johnson from 2015, but you’re not finding that this year. Tim Hightower? This may be your answer, and Hightower was one of the 5 highest-owned players on title teams last season. Take the flier.
- Dontrelle Inman, WR – SD (ESPN 22.7%, Yahoo 21%) – The next two WR listed feature a higher volume, but Inman’s role as a big play threat and red zone target brings him into the focus as a waiver wire target once again. I get it, at this point in the year a lot of teams are devoid of making moves, and the general perception of players is largely fixed, but Inman’s worthy of rostering for the playoff push. True, he had a less attractive line in Week 13 (2/49/1) than in Week 12 (6/119/1), but that final number in the slash line is the attractive piece. The Chargers and Philip Rivers are still going to throw the ball in heavy doses, and Inman is emerging as the primary red zone compliment to Antonio Gates. That’s valuable real estate to reside upon. Get him on your rosters, especially if you need to hit a home run to move into the next round.
- Brandon LaFell, WR – CIN (ESPN 21.6%, Yahoo 23%) – I was hesitant on LeFell after the A.J. Green injury, putting my eggs int he Tyler Boyd basket. While the Boyd decision hasn’t proven to be wrong, I undershot the value of LaFell in the offense. Granted, I don’t know what the Bengals identity is on offense right now, and I doubt they do either (why isn’t Jeremy Hill getting 25 touches every game?), but LaFell’s usage increased to a really valuable level. And I don’t see it fading away. He doesn’t boast a strong catch rate on the year (41-71), and his Week 13 5/95/1 line may feel like an outlier, but he received even more targets the week prior despite his 3/38/0 production. He’s getting the looks, and has the previous penchant for finding the end zone. If you’re stuck playing LaFell at the Flex for one of your playoff games you could do far worse.
- Malcolm Mitchell, WR – NE (ESPN 35.9%, Yahoo 35%) – The final Burn Notice of the season, Mitchell is increasing his snap counts and taking advantage of the opportunity presenting itself to the young rook with Rob Gronkowski out for the year. Week 13 saw him follow up his two TD performance the week prior with 10 targets for an 8/82/0 line. That’s the typical Danny Amendola-esque line in this offense, but with Amendola potentially done for the year there’s a strong chance the volume continues. Add in the fact that Mitchell’s a far greater deep threat than Amendola ever dreamed of being, and the Pats don’t have that with Gronk gone, and Mitchell’s ownership should be more than double that 35% number. I understand the hesitation in starting him, but at minimum he should be owned universally. You can keep your Marvin Jones’ of the world, I’ll take my shot here, because one more week of double digit targets from Tom Brady and the argument of not starting him dissipates quickly. (Go Dawgs!)
- Ladarius Green, TE – PIT (ESPN 34.5%, Yahoo 34%) – Likely one of the most added players for Week 14, Green’s value should hold true through the fantasy playoffs in the vaunted Pittsburgh offense. His value to Ben Roethlisberger as a potential #2 option to Antonio Brown should also increase the potency of Leaven Bell by keeping defenses more honest. He’s been a crazy elite athlete for a while, but has yet to truly harness his potential, with injuries obviously playing a big factor in that. The 11 targets in Week 13 were eye-opening, but I doubt his production stays on the same level each week. 6/110/1 may not repeat itself often, but even if he turns into 5/50/1 it’s incredibly valuable for a TE when the entire position has been riddled with inconsistency all year. And for those of you looking for the Dwayne Allen add to this list, go find him on another site. Not here. 3 TDs on 4 targets is unsustainable, and that Monday nigh affair was an anomaly for the Colts offense. Give me Green over Allen ROS.
Now…DROP THOSE COMMENTS! Good luck in round one of the playoffs, and hopefully for many of you weeks to come!
It’s been a fun 2016! Loved guiding you along the waiver wire this season, and look forward to 2017! In the meantime, I’m off to the basketball side of Razz with The 7 Ahead every week, and the prep for baseball which will heat up on the other side of the New Year!