Who are the safest plays during the fantasy football playoffs? We dig into the key stats of targets and touches to find out. Also, follow Nate on Twitter at @kingofkckingdom.
It’s that time of the year, ladies and gentlemen! The vast majority of you are about to enter your fantasy football playoffs (we hope). I’ve been holding off on this piece for just this occasion. It’s time to break down who you can trust to get you to that elusive championship.
We’re going to do things a bit differently for this particular breakdown. I’ve only included the teams with good matchups throughout the fantasy football playoffs (based on total fantasy points allowed), just in case your league doesn’t allow waiver additions during this time. I have all the tinglies just thinking about it. Time for the Floor Check!
Phillip Lindsay (DEN)
Here’s the deal, people. If you’re not starting Phillip Lindsay every single week at this point, you’re just not paying attention. He’s been absolutely dynamic this year. Lindsay is sitting on 15, 14, and 20 touches in the past three weeks, so the Broncos have definitely taken notice. Almost everyone will be starting him, so this is a no brainer. That being said, there’s even more reason for optimism. The Broncos are playing the 49ers (7th in points allowed), Browns (11th in points allowed), and Raiders (3rd in points allowed).
Gus Edwards (BAL)
This pick needs to come with a major caveat: Joe Flacco’s continued absence. I’d move Edwards way down in my rankings if Lamar Jackson moves back to the bench. In the past three weeks, Edwards has 17, 23, and 21 touches. That’s bell-cow territory, folks. The Ravens are playing the Chiefs (5th in points allowed), Buccaneers (2nd in points allowed), and Chargers (29th in points allowed, volume alone works for you here, not the matchup).
Tarik Cohen (CHI)
I really do feel bad for Jordan Howard. The Bears seem to think he’s mostly a figment of John Fox’s imagination. Tarik Cohen is sitting on 10 and 20 touches the past two weeks. Howard is sitting on 8 and 17, respectively. Don’t let that 17 fool you. Cohen is the back to play here. The Bears are playing the Rams (12th in points allowed), Packers (17th in points allowed), and the 49ers (7th in points allowed).
David Johnson (ARI)
I don’t think there’s a player in all of fantasy that’s been more of a disappointment this year than David Johnson. That being said, promising rookie receiver Christian Kirk is done for the year, and Larry Fitzgerald just isn’t the same anymore. Volume alone is going to dictate fantasy points for Johnson. He’s sitting on 26, 19, and 21 touches the past three weeks. The Cardinals are playing the Lions (9th in points allowed), the Falcons (4th in points allowed), and the Rams (12th in points allowed). Johnson should be just fine for the playoffs.
Courtland Sutton (DEN)
Of course, we’ll have to start off on a sour note. This was my spot for Emmanuel Sanders. As most of you probably know by now, Sanders is done for the year. With Sanders out, the Broncos will need to lean heavily on Sutton in the passing game. (Philip Lindsay can’t be everywhere at once. Pretty sure.) Sutton is sitting on 6, 4, and 7 targets in the past three weeks. Sanders had 6, 12, and 6 targets in that timeframe. Double-digit targets are a possibility here. The Broncos are playing the 49ers (7th in points allowed), Browns (11th in points allowed), and Raiders (3rd in points allowed). Sutton should be a good bet for the playoffs.
D.J. Moore/Devin Funchess (CAR)
I’m including two Panthers receivers for a reason. D.J. Moore is your high upside play here, as he’s sitting on 8, 9, and 8 targets through the past three weeks. Funchess only has 8 and 3, but Greg Olsen is done for the season. Cam Newton likes to lean on Funchess as a de facto tight end when Olsen has been out. That gives Funchess a fairly stable floor through the playoffs. The Panthers are playing the Lions (9th in points allowed), Falcons (4th in points allowed), and the Rams (12th in points allowed). Both of these receivers should give you good numbers.
Jarvis Landry/Antonio Calloway (CLE)
The Browns have been very hot and cold recently, but I believe in Baker Mayfield’s upside. If I believe in Baker, by default I have to believe in his weapons. Jarvis Landry is still the target leader here, sitting on 5 and 9 targets since the Browns’ bye. Calloway is right there with him, though, sitting on 5 and 6 in that time. The Browns are playing the Panthers (13 in points allowed), the Broncos (20th in points allowed, not as good here, but manageable without Chris Harris), and the Bengals (1st in points allowed).
Tyler Lockett (SEA)
I think we can safely say the torch has been passed from Doug Baldwin to Tyler Lockett. (Angry Doug will make a fool out of this statement. I’d put money on it.) Lockett doesn’t always have the most stable target volume, but that’s mostly credited to the lack of passing volume from Russell Wilson. Lockett is sitting on 5, 5, and 2 targets in the past three weeks. However, I expect that number to climb with Baldwin’s numbers trending down. The Seahawks are playing the Vikings (23 in points allowed, so not great in Week 14), the 49ers (7th in points allowed), and the Chiefs (5th in points allowed). I’d start Lockett in Week 14, cautiously, then do it with gusto in Weeks 15 and 16.
David Njoku (CLE)
Corresponding with my statements above about Mayfield, by default I have to believe that David Njoku is about to give you a fairly high ceiling at the TE position. Njoku is sitting on 5 and 6 targets the past two weeks, which is right in line with Landry and Calloway. The Browns are playing the Panthers (13th in points allowed), the Broncos (20th in points allowed, I firmly believe the Broncos will shift coverage to help their corners against Landry and Calloway), and the Bengals (1st in points allowed).
Austin Hooper (ATL)
The Falcons might not be going anywhere this year, but there are still plenty of fantasy points to be had. I’m just fine with Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones (provided he’s healthy), and even the RB’s in their playoff matchups. However, don’t overlook Austin Hooper, particularly in the wasteland that is the TE position. Hooper is sitting on 8, 5, and 5 targets in the past three weeks. The Falcons are playing the Packers (17th in points allowed), Cardinals (6th in points allowed), and Panthers (13th in points allowed). Hooper should have a decent floor throughout the playoffs, even if he doesn’t give you a crazy high ceiling.
C.J. Uzomah (CIN)
This is just a fun name to say, so I put him in here. Ha! Kidding. The Bengals are a dumpster fire here in the second half of the season. Much like the Falcons, however, there are still fantasy points to be had. Uzomah is sitting on 5, 13, and 7 targets in the past three weeks. The Bengals are playing the Chargers (Not the best matchup, but someone has to catch passes, right?), the Raiders (3rd in points allowed), and the Browns (11th in points allowed).
Jared Cook (OAK)
This one isn’t so much about matchup as it is sheer volume. The Raiders are about to face some stiff run defenses, so they’re going to need to throw the ball. Jared Cook is just about the only actual weapon they have, outside of Jordy Nelson just being Jordy Nelson. Cook has 6, 5, and 8 targets in the past three weeks. The Raiders are playing the Steelers (21st in points allowed), Bengals (1st in points allowed), and Broncos (20th in points allowed).