The playoffs are upon us and just like the rest of the year, there was actionable players on the waiver wire that could play a direct role in our fake football lives right away. We could be seeing Bryce Brown, Denard Robinson, and Tim Hightower starting for fantasy champions. These are things that don't make any sense in August but it's real and it's oddly beautiful - embrace 2015, the year of the injury. Let's get into it, playoff format style.
QBs I love: Cam Newton (@NYG), Russell Wilson (Cle), Carson Palmer (@Phi), Tom Brady (Ten), Matthew Stafford (@NO), Blake Bortles (Atl). Cam & Wilson are on fire and they have great matchups - this is dream material right here. Palmer is the #3 QB with a better matchup than the first two guys. Brady gets a bad Titans secondary - even without a full complement of weapons I still love his potential. Those 4 guys are all obvious but our friends in New Orleans play host to Matthew Stafford who burned down a similarly skilled Eagles secondary on Thanksgiving. Bortles is so hot I don't care that his matchup isn't great, I'm playing him if I have him.
QBs I like: Aaron Rodgers (@Oak), Drew Brees (Det), Derek Carr (GB), Philip Rivers (Mia), Tyrod Taylor (@Was). You'd expect the Raiders / Packers game to be pretty high scoring and I'd feel good about either of these guys. I've got a good feeling about Tyrod even if he let me down last week against the Eagles in a dream matchup. I'm probably wrong on Rivers but he's a pro and is up against a secondary that has been friendly to Eli and Fitzpatrick over the last month.
QBs if no better options: Ben Roethlisberger (Den), Ryan Fitzpatrick (@Dal), Matt Ryan (@Jax). As much as I like Big Ben, I don't want anything to do with Denver's defense. Still, he's so good that if you don't have anyone from up above, hold your breath and hope for some Antonio Brown magic. Fitzpatrick is hot but Dallas' D has been better than you think. Love Matt Ryan's matchup, can't trust Matt Ryan. I'm starting Tyrod over him in a playoff game if it matters to any of you.
QBs I'm avoiding: Eli Manning (Car), AJ McCarron (@SF), TJ Yates (@Ind), Ryan Tannehill (@SD), Jameis Winston (@StL), Marcus Mariota (@NE), Kirk Cousins (Buf), Sam Bradford (Ari), Johnny Manziel (@Sea). I wouldn't want to play the Carolina defense so no Eli for me. I can't put my playoff hopes in the hands of backups like McCarron and Yates or rookies like Winston and Mariota. If I have to tell you not to play Johnny Football against Seattle's defense in Seattle, I refuse to believe you're in the playoffs.
QB Shotgun Longshot - Alex Smith (@Bal): For the under 50% owned crowd, you're buying on floor with Smith. He's got a good matchup with a Baltimore team that has been a mess of late and hasn't been able to slow down the pass all year. Don't expect Smith to win it for you but this is a solid safe floor play. If you're in need of a high risk / high reward play, I'd go with T.J. Yates. He gets Indianapolis and has shown the ability to sling it before. This is a game the Texans and Colts both have to win so I'd expect them to do whatever it takes in this one.
RBs I love: Adrian Peterson (Chi), Tim Hightower (Det), Chris Ivory (Dal), Bryce Brown (Cle), Denard Robinson (Atl). AP All Day against Chicago's defense that can't seem to stop a whole lot. Peterson has let a lot of people down in the fantasy playoffs before but I can't imagine that will continue this year. I love volume backs like Hightower and Ivory on an offense that will score points (Saints) or will want to kill clock (Jets). Hot waiver wire additions Denard Robinson and Bryce Brown get inept run defenses to welcome them to the fantasy year. If you picked one of them up, play ‘em.
RBs I like: Lamar Miller (@SD), Devonta Freeman (@Jax), DeAngelo Williams (Den), LeSean McCoy (@Was), David Johnson (@Phi), Eddie Lacy (@Oak). I'd love Miller if I trusted the coaching - which I don't. Freeman hasn't done much in a looooong time but this is a fair matchup to be useful. DeAngelo might be the Steelers only route to points in this one. McCoy, Johnson, and Lacy all should get volume in good matchups.
RBs if no better options: Latavius Murray (GB), Frank Gore (Hou), Jeremy Hill / Giovani Bernard (@SF), Matt Forte (@Min). I'm unclear as to what the Bengals will look like under McCarron and I'd be nervous about starting a timeshare back. Gore just simply hasn't been useful and Murray has a tough draw in a game I think Oakland will want to throw in. Forte's split with Langford last week and the tough draw make me very nervous.
RBs I'm avoiding: Javorius Allen (KC), Brandon Bolden (Ten), Charcandrick West (@Bal), Shaun Draughn (Cin). I'll eat crow on Charcandrick West and I'm dropping him to avoid status. I don't like Allen or Draughn if I have anything else useful. Never trust Bill Belichick on fantasy RBs. Don't do it. Seriously.
RB Toss Sweep Sleeper: The injury bug has given us a few options at RB for our fantasy rosters with Bryce Brown and Denard Robinson and even Tim Hightower. If those guys are available, please put them on your roster and win your playoffs. You can send me part of your winnings. If you missed on those guys, look into a receiving back like Theo Riddick who gets the Saints defense and we all know how much we like them.
WRs I love: Larry Fitzgerald (@Phi), Calvin Johnson (@NO), Doug Baldwin (Cle), Jeremy Maclin (@Bal), John Brown (@Phi), Alshon Jeffery (@Min). I wish I had any kind of shares in the Cardinals offense but I whiffed on them. I just keep replaying the Stafford / Megatron Thanksgiving game and I'm seeing a repeat performance here. Keep rolling with Baldwin - don't question it, just hope it continues. Maclin should feast on Baltimore and I've got a good feeling about Alshon this weekend.
WRs I like: Antonio Brown (Den), Odell Beckham Jr. (Car), Julio Jones (@Jax), DeAndre Hopkins (@Ind), Allen Robinson (Atl), Michael Crabtree & Amari Cooper (GB), Brandon Marshall (@Dal), A.J. Green (@SF), Brandin Cooks (Det), Golden Tate (@NO), Sammy Watkins (@Was), Demaryius Thomas (@Pit), Tyler Lockett (Cle). A lot of guys in this category are actually guys we love that are downgraded due to matchup (Brown, Beckham) or their QB (Julio, Hopkins). Marshall's been so good this year I think you start with confidence. Cooks could pop a big one and Golden Tate will get the remainders that Megatron leaves under the tree.
WRs if no better options: Jarvis Landry (SD), Eric Decker (@Dal), Stevie Johnson if healthy (Mia), Emmanuel Sanders (@Pit), Kamar Aiken (KC), Randall Cobb (@Oak), Marvin Jones (@SF), Willie Snead (Det), Allen Hurns (Atl). I'm probably going to roll out Sanders in one league but I don't love it. Aiken worries me because of who is throwing the ball in Baltimore but he's the only legit receiver. Cobb is most likely to make you very unhappy because it just seems like he should be doing a lot more.
WRs I'm avoiding: Martavis Bryant (Den), Danny Amendola & Brandon LaFell (Ten) - assuming Edelman comes back, Anquan Boldin (Cin), Dez Bryant (NYJ), T.Y. Hilton (Hou), DeSean Jackson (Buf), Travis Benjamin (@Sea). That Patriot game worries me for everyone other than Gronk and Brady - what does this offense look like and will Edelman play? You just can't trust Matt Cassel and therefore Dez Bryant at this point. I don't like Hilton's matchup against the Texans but could be wrong. Playing second tier guys against elite defenses is something I want to avoid so Martavis, Benjamin, and Jackson all sit for me.
WR Fly Route Flier: Ted Ginn Jr. We've been there with Ginn before so why not do it again? The Panthers get the Giants secondary that has been flat awful this year. This is an absolute boom or bust play but why the heck not?
I don't know about you, but I've made changes to my lineups 4 times since the waiver wire cleared. Good luck to everyone!