Whether you skated your way to the playoffs drama-free or had to fight tooth and nail just to make it into the field, the postseason presents a clean slate for all the teams that earned a chance to go on a championship run. Some leagues schedule two-week playoff matchups to reward consistency and lessen the odds of losing on a “fluky” week. While I think that’s a totally fair and reasonable way to decide a champion, the reality is that most of the fantasy football world settles things with a single-elimination tournament at the end of the year. Single-elimination tournaments don’t care about how many points you scored during the season or how you fared against that opponent in a previous matchup; all that matters is who the better team is on that given week. Hopefully, your regulars are healthy and active this week, but if you’re nervous about a difficult matchup derailing you or need an injury replacement, here are a few RB/WR/TE streamers that I feel can help keep your championship hopes alive.
* Players marked with an asterisk below can also be found in the priority waiver wire adds article referenced at the end.
Rashaad Penny (RB, Seattle Seahawks)
Regardless of Chris Carson’s designation as the starter, it appears that the Seahawks are serious about making Penny an integral part of their offense. He has 14+ carries in each of the past two weeks and is averaging an even 7.0 yards per carry in that span. Penny also showed off his versatility as a weapon in the passing game last week, scoring one of his two touchdowns through the air to go along with four catches for 33 yards. As long as he continues to see double-digit touches each week, I feel comfortable trusting Penny as a weekly Flex option with upside for more if his role as a pass-catcher persists.
Benny Snell Jr.* (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers)
This one is contingent on whether James Conner is able to return from the shoulder injury that has kept him out the past two weeks. If Conner sits, Snell should be in line for a relatively safe floor with the expectation of double-digit touches against an average Cardinals run defense. Whether that’s low or high double-digits is dependent on if the Steelers get off to a slow start on the road and have to play catch-up. Snell’s downside is that he hasn’t done much in the passing game up to this point, so a negative game script could burn fantasy managers that take a shot on him. Do not start Snell if Conner plays, but if he sits, I think you can feel good about starting him as a Flex this week.
Alexander Mattison* (RB, Minnesota Vikings)
Similar to Snell, Mattison’s potential this week is tied to the health of the normal starting RB’s ailing shoulder. Dalvin Cook has said that he intends to play against the Lions in Week 14, but there’s a big difference between what a player says immediately after an injury versus what the training staff determines throughout the week and on game day. Pick up Mattison now, whether you own Cook or not, and monitor Cook’s practice participation as we approach Sunday. If Cook is a full-go, Mattison is nothing more than a low-volume, borderline RB3/ RB4. If reports suggest that Cook will be limited, I think you can start Mattison as a Flex vs the Lions’ exploitable run defense. If Cook is out, start Mattison without hesitation as a potential RB2 with RB1 upside. One positive thing to note even if Cook plays: the Vikings open the week as 13-point favorites, so if they get off to a fast start and build an early lead at home, we could see more Mattison to grind out the clock instead of Minnesota risking further injury to Cook.
Additional RBs to consider: Derrius Guice, Bo Scarbrough, Raheem Mostert, Patrick Laird
Zach Pascal (WR, Indianapolis Colts)
Pascal is talented in his own right, but the ongoing attrition in the Colts receiving corps has opened up increased opportunities for the surprisingly effective 2017 undrafted free agent. With Chester Rogers hitting the injured reserve and a cloudy-at-best injury outlook for T.Y. Hilton the rest of the season, Pascal has the potential to see near double-digit targets the rest of the way. Last week he turned his 10 targets into seven catches for 109 yards, his second game this year with six-or-more catches and 100+ yards. Even if he doesn’t reach his ceiling of WR2-level production, Pascal profiles as a volume-driven Flex play in Tampa Bay this week.
Anthony Miller* (WR, Chicago Bears)
When in doubt, follow the targets. In his last three games, Miller has seen 33 targets to go along with 21 catches and 271 scoreless yards. The matchup isn’t ideal against the Cowboys, but Miller’s ability to get open underneath on high-percentage throws should provide a floor that is unlikely to burn you even if he doesn’t hit his ceiling. He was among the players that I was higher on in the preseason and I mentioned that he was likely to get off to a slow start but expected him to finish strong once he re-established his role and timing with the offense. It appears that time may have now arrived, so start Miller as a Flex with WR2 upside (PPR) on Thursday.
Additional WRs to consider: A.J. Brown, Randall Cobb, Russell Gage, Darius Slayton, James Washington
Vance McDonald (TE, Pittsburgh Steelers)
If you made a priority list for the Cardinals defense, defending the opposing team’s tight end would be a distant last. They’ve allowed touchdowns to the opponent’s tight end in 11 of 13 games this year and have been the common denominator in a series of outlier performances that includes T.J. Hockenson (6 catches/ 9 targets/ 131 yards/ 1 TD), O.J. Howard (4/ 7/ 47/ 1), and Tyler Higbee (7/ 8/ 107/ 1) among others. Despite the disappointing season for Vance McDonald up to this point, the matchup is ripe for the picking and should provide a floor somewhere near four catches/ 40 yards with touchdown upside. I’m not going to predict a breakout game like McDonald has proven capable of in the past, but this could very well end up being his best game of 2019.
Additional TEs to consider: Mike Gesicki, David Njoku, Jacob Hollister, Ryan Griffin,
Accountability is everything so here’s a quick look back at last week’s recommendations
Jonathan Williams (RB, Indianapolis Colts): I will be the first to admit when I am wrong, and I was wrong with this call. The frustrating part is that his usage the previous two weeks made 15+ touches seem like a near lock and there’s no real explanation as to why things didn’t turn out that way. With two capable run defenses on tap, there’s no way you can trust Williams as a starter during these crucial playoff matchups. I would probably pick up a high-end handcuff as a lottery ticket/ bench stash instead of holding Williams.
LeSean McCoy (RB, Kansas City Chiefs): I mentioned in last week’s article that trying to predict touchdowns from your Chiefs players is a losing battle, but McCoy came through in Week 13 with a trip to the end zone. He didn’t do much else with just five carries for 10 yards and three catches for 20 yards. McCoy is not the most reliable, but if Damien and Darrel Williams miss Week 14, McCoy’s floor gets a slight boost even in a tough matchup at New England. In the end, he’s too TD-dependent to trust in the playoffs.
Dede Westbrook (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars): The Jags offense was toothless until Gardner Minshew came in for clean-up duty in the second half, making Westbrook’s five catches on eight targets for 60 yards and a touchdown all the more impressive. Although the Chargers will present some challenges with their talented secondary in Week 14, Westbrook is unlikely to draw the tougher matchups since he plays primarily out of the slot. Keep rolling him out as a Flex/ borderline WR2 (PPR) until further notice.
Robby Anderson (WR, New York Jets): At least my receiver suggestions came through last week. Anderson finished with a season-high seven catches on a season-high 10 targets for 101 scoreless yards, his second-highest receiving total of the year. Anderson is capable of tearing off big gains every time the ball comes his way and I feel good about starting him as a Flex in Week 14 vs the Dolphins. Keep an eye on the targets moving forward, but this was really encouraging.
Jack Doyle (TE, Indianapolis Colts): To finish off the trio of pass-catchers who made me look like I knew what I was talking about last week, Doyle assumed a high-volume role for the Colts with six catches on 11 targets for 73 yards and a score. At this point, the Colts aren’t getting any healthier and T.Y. Hilton could sit for the remainder of the season, which means you should keep Doyle in the mid-to-low-end TE1 ranks.
Make sure to check out the priority waiver wire adds article every Tuesday for more insight on who you should be submitting claims for heading into each Wednesday. Good luck in Week 14!
(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)