NFL
November 10, 2020
BY Calvin McAlee

Preparing Your Team for the Fantasy Football Playoffs

The fantasy football playoffs are quickly approaching for most leagues. 

With standard leagues starting the playoffs in Week 14, you probably have a good idea if your team is a contender or a pretender. No matter how strong your squad is, it is always important to add as many good players with good matchups as possible.

The trade deadline is also on the horizon. That means you need to hurry up and make a trade ASAP. Of course, everyone would love to trade for the Alvin Kamaras and the Dalvin Cooks of the league, but most people won’t be willing to make that trade. 

So what players should you be targeting that can help you win your fantasy football league championship? What players have the best value and what players should you be picking up from the waiver wire that can really be huge assets come playoff time? We've got the answers right here. 

Players To Trade For

*Players owned in more than 50% of leagues

Quarterback:

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

After a few weeks, Russell Wilson appeared to be the runaway favorite for MVP. Now, Rodgers has closed the gap and put himself in a realistic spot to win the award. Rodgers is the fifth-highest scoring QB in fantasy football after Week 9.

He may not have been most people’s first choice at QB during the draft so perhaps he is sitting on the bench behind someone like Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson in your league and you can steal him away for cheap.

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Like Wilson with the MVP award, many thought Joe Burrow would run away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, Herbert now appears to be the favorite for the award. Despite not playing Week 1 and already having his bye week, Herbert is the ninth-highest scoring QB in fantasy.

The Chargers offense is going to have to throw a lot, especially if they keep blowing big leads.

Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Murray is the second-highest scoring quarterback in fantasy and was a popular choice back during fantasy drafts. He may be difficult to trade for but if you can find a way to do so without selling the farm, it is worth doing.

Murray has a deep and talented receiving group and is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL. With the Cardinals making a serious playoff push, Murray and this offense will have their foot on the gas the rest of the season.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan is a top-10 quarterback in fantasy football right now. He is likely to continue climbing those rankings. He has two elite receivers in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Russell Gage also makes for an explosive third option and now Olamide Zaccheaus is showing he is a major threat as well. The Falcons are starting to go on a run and their offense knows that they can’t afford to let up with their defense playing so poorly.

This Falcons offense is a fantasy football dream and Ryan will continue to pile up the points.

Running Back:

James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

Once Leonard Fournette left Jacksonville, everyone wondered who would be the new lead back in Jacksonville’s run-heavy offense. Well, they found their guy in Robinson. The undrafted rookie runs hard and he also catches a lot of passes, which is why he is the sixth-ranked running back in fantasy.

If you have Ezekiel Elliot, see if you can trade him for Robinson.

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

Kenyan Drake isn’t having the season people expected him to have in that explosive Cardinals offense. Instead, Edmonds has been the better back when he gets his opportunities. Now that Drake is injured, Edmonds is the lead runner in Arizona. Drake could be back soon but Edmonds could easily supplant him as the lead back regardless.

Trade for him now before he locks in that starting role.

Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons

Due to his injury concerns, Todd Gurley didn’t enter the season as highly ranked as he probably should have been in this Atlanta offense. He has been a touchdown machine all season and ranks eighth in fantasy scoring among running backs. Gurley is likely a fantasy team’s second or third running back, so perhaps trading away a player like Elliot or Amari Cooper could get you Gurley.

Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team

Alex Smith is back in control of the Washington offense and that should benefit Gibson. He is the only running back in Washington worth rostering. He has scored in single-digits just twice this season and his stock should continue to grow.

Smith should be checking down to Gibson a lot going forward. Washington is still very much in the NFC East race and this team could sport some big fantasy options going forward. Gibson and receiver Terry McLaurin could be in for big second-half seasons.

Wide Receiver:

Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

Stefon Diggs has been a target monster all season in Buffalo. The Bills offense has been explosive and their defense isn’t what they were expected to be. This means a lot of fantasy points will be scored in this offense. Josh Allen loves to look for Diggs and sometimes even forces the ball to him too much. 

Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

It is clear that Herbert is going to be a good quarterback and that he loves to throw to his No. 1 receiver. Allen is currently the 15th-highest scoring receiver in fantasy but that is likely to change. He should finish the year in the top 10 as he and Herbert continue to put up big numbers together.

A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

Brown is arguably the most underrated wide receiver in the league. He missed three weeks due to injury, which is why he is only ranked 26th in fantasy among wide receivers. However, he is averaging eight targets and 20 points each week. The Titans offense relies on Derrick Henry but when they do throw, Brown is clearly Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target. 

Will Fuller, Houston Texans

The Texans are going to be throwing a lot more this season as they continue to struggle on defense. Fuller is the team’s WR1, and aside from Brandin Cooks, not too many other receivers really exist in Houston. Fuller has seen at least five targets in every game he has played the entire game. He has even drawn double-digit targets in two games. He should continue to see high volume and be Deshaun Watson’s favorite target for the rest of the season.

Tight End:

T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

If someone asked you who the third-highest scoring tight end was, would you guess Hockenson? Probably not.

With George Kittle likely out for the rest of the season, Hockenson is now the third-best option at tight end. The Lions will continue to put up big offensive numbers as their young defense struggles. Hockenson is a reliable TE1 each week.

Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons

Back to that potent Atlanta offense again, tight end Hayden Hurst is another intriguing target. There are a lot of mouths to feed in that offense but Matt Ryan throws the ball plenty enough to keep everyone happy. Hurst is the sixth-ranked tight end after nine weeks and he should continue to see constant volume each week.

Players To Pick Up From Waiver Wire

*Players owned in less than 50% of leagues

Quarterback:

Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers

Surprisingly, the Carolina Panthers did well without Christian McCaffrey for six weeks. Now that he is back, a lot of the focus for defenses will be on him, freeing up Bridgewater and the Panthers’ passing attack.

Bridgewater has excellent weapons to throw to and he can also do damage on the ground. He will be a great bye week filler and, if your QB1 goes down for the year, Bridgewater is the best option available on the waiver wire.

Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

It has been just two starts but it appears Tagovailoa may be the sure-fire starter in Miami now. While his first start wasn’t very good, he showed in his second game against the Arizona Cardinals exactly what he is capable of. The Dolphins are now in a legit playoff run and this offense is looking good. Stash Tua on the bench now and see how he develops as the year goes on. He could turn into a Kyler Murray-type QB by the end of the season.

Running Back:

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys’ offense is in trouble with Dak Prescott done for the season. However, Garrett Gilbert did play well against the Pittsburgh Steelers so maybe the Cowboys still have a shot at the playoffs in the weak NFC East. Either way, Pollard has looked dynamic in his expanded role. 

If Zeke does ultimately get hurt, maybe Pollard can take over in Dallas for the rest of the season. He should be stashed in all leagues.

Wayne Gallman, New York Giants

Although the New York Giants brought DeVonta Freeman in after losing Saquon Barkley for the year, Gallman has looked like he should be the lead back going forward. Freeman is injury prone so it is hard to rely on him being in the lineup every week.

Gallman is the back in New York that you want. He has a touchdown in three-straight games and has seen double-digit touches in each as well. Stash him now as his stock continues to rise.

Wide Receiver:

Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers

It's about time someone unlocked all of Samuel's immense talents. It took Matt Rhule and Joe Brady to unleash the former Ohio State weapon in the Panthers' attack. Not only is Samuel an improving receiver, but he's also earning touches in the running game — which is extremely valuable in fantasy football.  

Over the past four weeks, he is averaging over five targets and 19 points per week. As teams put their focus on McCaffrey each week, Samuel could be the one making big plays each week.

Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers

The week before his injury, Lazard had the best game of his career (six catches for 146 yards and a touchdown). He should be coming off of IR this week and jump right back in as the much needed second receiver in Green Bay. Davante Adams is the obvious WR1 but with defenses looking to stop him each week, Lazard could be the one to get open for Aaron Rodgers. Lazard is a must-add.

Tight End:

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

If you had George Kittle as your tight end, you are likely struggling to replace him. Tight end is a hard position to roster because outside of the handful of elite tight ends, there is a huge drop-off. Gesicki is a high-ceiling, low-floor option but he is likely the best option available in most leagues. With Tagovailoa now in at quarterback, perhaps Gesicki can start seeing consistent targets.

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

Thomas has seen at least four targets in every game this season. With Alex Smith now in at quarterback, Thomas’ stock should start to rise. Smith has done well with tight ends throughout his career and outside of Terry McLaurin, Thomas is the second-best receiving option in Washington. His value should rise throughout the season.

Photo: Getty Images