We have reached that point of the year where some of you have already secured a lucrative spot, and the rest of you are well and truly in the hunt to get to the promised land – the fantasy playoffs.
If you are in these categories, your team should be well equipped to push you over the final hurdle in securing a playoff berth; but what do you need to do in the playoffs in order to win that all-important Fantasy Championship title?
Here you will find 10 players not necessarily considered “studs” (always start your studs kids!) that can make the difference from now until the championship week in week 16.
QB – Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Dak and the Cowboys had a slow start to the 2018 campaign. In fact, over the first three weeks, Prescott hadn’t even broken 500 total passing yards and only had 2 TD’s under his belt. Thankfully for Cowboys fans, they’ve managed to get into their groove in recent weeks, with the addition of Amari Cooper on trade deadline week certainly helping to open the field up for Dak.
Dak also has a nose for the endzone with his legs, having scored 4 rushing touchdowns in the last 5 games. All of this translates wonderfully in fantasy football and next week, Dak faces the Saints who, coincidentally, have given the most rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks so far this season (4).
The rest of season slate looks great too, with New Orleans, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay rounding out the fantasy season. FantasyPros has Prescott down for the easiest strength of schedule for quarterbacks, so if you have been streaming the position so far this season, Dak could be your answer rest of season and could lead you to glory.
QB – Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
The first overall pick in the 2018 draft promised plenty of excitement and personality as he entered the league after a successful college career with the Oklahoma Sooners. He’s certainly delivering on that promise too, with some superb performances over the last few weeks. Only once since his debut in week 3 against the New York Jets has he thrown for less than 200 yards, and that was against the ‘Steel Curtain’ in Pittsburgh.
Not only is the yardage there, but the touchdowns are also plentiful too. No less than two a week since week 6 meaning his touchdown total for the season is at 13 in 7 games. The rest of season matchups are in his favor too with two juicy games against Cincinnati (the home fixture is conveniently on fantasy Championship week), and beatable defenses at home to Carolina and on the road in Denver. Mayfield could well be a top 10 QB rest of season and could be responsible for winning titles in week 16.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Let’s revisit those games between Cinci and Cleveland. Although showing signs of improvement, the Browns defense is still leaking fantasy points to running backs to the tune of 23.8 per week. This is mainly down to the fact that no team has given up more rushing touchdowns (12) on the season, so look for Mixon to take advantage in weeks 12 and 16.
Mixon also gets to face the Broncos, Chargers, and Raiders from now until Championship week – all of which rank in the bottom half when defending running backs so he should be able to sustain his healthy 4.6 yards per carry average on the season and build on his 6 total touchdown season.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
Don’t roll your eyes! Hear me out. I get it; Cook has hardly set the fantasy world alight so far this season. But, picture this scenario – the niggling injuries are over, the Vikes need to win to get a Wild Card spot, they get their main man going and Cook ends up winning ‘comeback player of the year’. Well, that’s the line I’m going for, anyway.
Minnesota has the 9th easiest strength of schedule for RB’s according to fantasy pros with Seattle, Miami, and Detroit on the slate weeks 14 through 16. All of these rush defenses can be exploited, especially if Cook and the Vikings offense are firing on all cylinders. You might want to test the water with Cook in your flex spot over the next couple of weeks, and who knows, this hot take may just come through for you.
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
For the last 18 months, many analysts of this wonderful sport have been telling you Jones is the best option at running back in Green Bay. So why it has taken Mike McCarthy that long to finally give him that RB1 designation, your guess is as good as mine.
Nevertheless, it’s happened and now we get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of Jones’ labor for the remainder of the season. Since being gifted the role permanently after their week 7 bye, Jones has averaged 21.2 PPR points per game and that included games against stout secondaries in Seattle and the L.A Rams.
The rest of season schedule is decent for the run game too, with home games against Atlanta, Arizona and a trip to New York to face the Jets all in the next few weeks. Two of those opponents (ARZ and ATL) rank in the top 5 for giving points away to opposing running backs, so start Aaron Jones every week from now on if you weren’t already.
D.J Moore, Carolina Panthers
Unless your name is Odell Beckham Jr or Michael Thomas, it usually takes a little while for rookie wide receivers to get going when they step up to the big time. Exhibit A comes in the shape of D.J Moore.
Moore has always been involved throughout the season but until recently hadn’t really broke out. Week 11 in Detroit was exactly that though, a breakout in the form of 157 yards and a touchdown. This performance came at precisely the right time for Moore and his fantasy stock as he enters the stretch with the easiest schedule for receivers per fantasypros.
Get this – week 13, Tampa Bay. Week 14, Cleveland. Week 15, New Orleans and week 16, Atlanta. It doesn’t get better than that for the newly appointed WR1 in Cam Newton’s high powered offense. At 53% owned in ESPN leagues, do yourself a favor and pick up D.J Moore right away – from week 13 onwards, he’s a must play WR2/FLX every week.
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos
Exhibit B is the other breakout rookie receiver in Denver. Sutton is the future at Mile High, especially now Demaryius Thomas has gone and Emmanuel Sanders’ future remaining uncertain with a contract extension required in the offseason if he’s to stay.
Although not considered a target hog in a slowly improving offense led by Case Keenum, Sutton makes the most of his opportunities and has managed to sustain a healthy 20 yards per reception average throughout the season to date. He is currently performing to his floor within fantasy scoring as the touches will only go up in the coming weeks, and hopefully, the touchdowns follow suit.
Sutton has the 12th easiest strength of schedule for receivers in the fantasy playoffs but look for potential breakout games against Cincinnati in week 13 and a tasty divisional game in Oakland on championship weekend. Currently, at just 57.7% ownership, Sutton may well prove to be vital waiver wire pickup on your road to success.
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
This ties in nicely with what I’ve already written about Dak Prescott. The remaining games on the docket for the Cowboys offer up plenty of great opportunities for Cooper to continue establishing himself as the talent he promised when drafted 4th overall by the Raiders in 2015.
In just four games as a Cowboy, Cooper has already surpassed the season totals that he produced in fantasy for the entirety of his 2018 Raiders campaign, and I fully expect to see that rise continue. He’s coming off a career-high 38 PPR fantasy point game on Thanksgiving against Washington on Thursday, with the second-best strength of schedule for wide receivers rest of season still to come.
Cowboys fans rejoice, you’ve found Dez 2.0 – watch him solidify that status on your fantasy teams this season.
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
The theme of this article seems to be revolving around a select few fixtures in the upcoming weeks. That trend continues here with Njoku. Not going to lie, it’s been a frustrating season so far as a Njoku owner myself in my home league where I’ve faced consistency issues from him and my other option, Trey Burton.
But looking into the future, Njoku’s worst matchup is against Houston in week 13 who is the 12th worst in giving up points to tight ends, so the strength of schedule is certainly in his favor. The other games are the two versus Cincinnati who gives the 5th most fantasy points to tight ends (9.9 per game) and Carolina in week 14 who have given the most touchdowns and therefore the most fantasy points (11.3 per game) away to the position.
Fantasy owners will be hoping Njoku can return to the three-game stretch he has in mid-season where he scored no less than 12.9 PPR points against Baltimore, LA Chargers and Tampa Bay.
Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints
Who doesn’t want a piece of the most volatile offense in the NFL this season? Well according to ESPN, only 41% of you do when it comes to Drew Brees’ TE1. I know it’s been an up and down season for Watson, but the reality is – it’s not just Watson who’s been unpredictable in the position this season. Unless you are a Zach Ertz or Travis Kelce owner, you’re likely to have been left frustrated by the production consistency of your tight end.
But, as I dive into the fantasypros strength of schedule yet again, I find that Watson has the 2nd easiest schedule for the rest of season. That’s right, a key player in Bree’s led offense currently ranked first in points per game (37.2) will be gifted with a proven area to exploit. Do you want to keep chasing the dream of Trey Burton breaking out, or Jimmy Graham being productive with a broken hand? No, grab Watson and feel confident that he can help you win in the playoffs.
by Rob Grimwood – @FFBritBaller