Congratulations on making it to the playoffs! Unless you are in one of those leagues that uses Week 17 as the championship, and to those people I’ll say: tell your commissioner to get with the times and not use Week 17 as championship week! Regardless, you are probably in some tight spots with your roster (who isn’t these days between injures and COVID-19?), and you’ve got some tough decisions to make. Here are my favorite players that are under 50% rostership on either Yahoo or ESPN.
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Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams (54% rostership on Yahoo/41% on ESPN)
The one thing we’ve been wanting all year for Cam Akers was an opportunity to show how talented he is, and he finally got that, as his snap share skyrocketed to a season-high 63%. He is clearly the most talented running back in Los Angeles, and I think they will continue to phase Malcolm Brown out to just pass protection work, leaving more carries for Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. While we can never be sure which of these two running backs will end up being the more productive one, Akers has had two solid weeks in a row now and is clearly earning the coaching staff’s trust.
Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions (49%/48%)
It’s looking less and less likely that D’Andre Swift is going to be fully ready to play any time soon, as it seems like he’s still dealing with the after effects of the concussion he suffered in Week 10. Adrian Peterson has been the benefactor, as he’s had 15+ carries and 2 touchdowns two straight weeks now. Don’t mistake him for being able to bust out a big play for you, but the steady diet of carries and red zone work makes him a valuable starting running back. They face the Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans the next two weeks, both of whom are below average at stopping the run.
Ty Johnson, New York Jets (4%/1%)
With Frank Gore leaving the game due to a concussion, a huge role opened in the New York backfield and Ty Johnson absolutely ran away with it. He garnered 63% of the snaps and impressed everyone with his running ability. The Seahawks run defense has been solid and the Jets probably won’t be playing with a lead again, but RB depth is always important. Opportunity is king in fantasy football, and it’s not likely you will find a player available with this kind of opportunity in front of him.
JD McKissic, Washington Football Team (49%/73%)
Antonio Gibson is dealing with turf toe, an injury that usually leaves running backs shelved for a few weeks. While Peyton Barber got the early down work, JD McKissic is the more interesting back, especially in PPR formats. He had been getting phased out recently as Gibson was taking on more pass-catching work, but McKissic will be getting all of that work now and will still get a handful of carries. I really liked him back in Weeks 9-11 when he was getting the work, and he’s in that position again now.
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans (28% rostership on Yahoo/23% on ESPN)
There was a huge void left behind in the Texans offense when Will Fuller was suspended for PEDs, and Keke Coutee came in and filled it very nicely. He led the team with 9 targets and showed why we liked him whenever Bill O’Brien would actually let him out of the doghouse. He has a tough matchup against the Bears here, but they haven’t been the same defensively lately, getting shredded by Green Bay and Detroit the past two weeks. Plus, Deshaun Watson has been playing out of his mind, and I think the Texans are going to air it out as their running game just hasn’t gotten any traction. Regardless of whether you want to start him this week against Chicago, you need to have Coutee on your roster, as they face the Bengals and Titans in Weeks 16 and 17, two dream matchups for any wide receiver.
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys (41%/38%)
This Dallas offense has not been anything like what we were hoping at the beginning of the season when Michael Gallup was being picked in the 7th round, but there’s reason for optimism here. Since Andy Dalton has come back under center, Gallup has received an average of 8 targets per game, with 11 targets this past week against Baltimore. The Cowboys face the Bengals in Week 14, who feature one pretty good cornerback in William Jackson III who will likely take on the Amari Cooper assignment. The rest of the Bengals defense is subpar and that will give Gallup plenty of opportunity to shine, especially given this connection he seems to have found with Dalton.
TY Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (46%/47%)
After these past two weeks of production, TY Hilton has put us all on notice, doing his best impersonation of Black Panther at the beginning of the final battle: “As you can see, I am not dead.” He’s amassed nearly 200 receiving yards the past two weeks against Tennesee and Houston, and the Colts play two more subpar pass defenses the next two weeks in Las Vegas and Houston again. Philip Rivers seems to be getting stronger as the season goes on (despite dealing with a plantar plate rupture of his own), and he’s looked Hilton’s way a lot this year. I think they will continue their connection and we are likely to have two more good weeks out of Hilton.
Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team (41%/36%)
If I asked you to guess, where would you think Logan Thomas ranks so far in the season at TE in PPR leagues? If you said 8th, you would be right, and even more impressive, he’s only 2 points behind TE5 Mark Andrews. That’s because Thomas has averaged 12.4 points per game in PPR over his past 7 games, and has scored in double digits 5 times in that span. He has been incredibly reliable since his slow start to the season, and that isn’t going to change any time soon. There isn’t a single TE under 70% rostership who has his kind of consistency, so if you’ve been streaming tight end like me, go ahead and stop doing that and snag yourself a guy who very easily could finish the season as the TE5.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (3%/2%)
I’ll get this out right off the bat: you are not picking up Jalen Hurts to play him this week. He has a terrible matchup against the Saints and his grasp on the starting job is tenuous, at best. You are grabbing Hurts because he has two nice matchups in weeks 15 and 16, that being against the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys. The reason you want to stash him now is because if he plays well against the Saints, we will know two things: one, that he’s pretty good at QB and someone you want to have, and two, that everyone else is going to be trying to pick him up. Beat the rush, snag Hurts, and have yourself a good backup option for the prime playoff weeks.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (38%/26%)
This recommendation is more or less the same as Jalen Hurts, as Baker Mayfield has two nice matchups in weeks 15 and 16 against the two New York teams. While the Giants did just make Russell Wilson look mortal, that had more to do with the horrific offensive line that Seattle has, and Cleveland’s O-Line is much better than that. Mayfield has looked more like the QB we fell in love with during his rookie year, and I think as long as they aren’t playing in that terrible Cleveland wind, he’s got a good chance at being a Top-10 QB in weeks 15 and 16. Stashing him ahead of time would be wise if you can spare the roster spot, because if he does well against Baltimore, he’s going to be a hot commodity this time next week.
Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts (40%/25%)
If you need someone with a high floor, then Philip Rivers is your man. He’s scored 16+ points in 6 of his last 7 games, and above 19 points in 4 of the last 7. His one clunker was against the Ravens, who eat opposing QBs alive, and he’s got the Raiders and Texans the next two weeks, who get eaten alive by QBs. This isn’t the sexiest play you could make, but sometimes you need to be able to pencil in points at QB so you can take your big shots elsewhere.
(Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire)