The fantasy playoffs are right around the corner. Or, in the case of leagues like the Scott Fish Bowl (#SFB480), the playoffs have already begun. The time for adding players as speculative stashes has come to an end. More-so now than in most weeks, the players covered here both now and in recent weeks need to find their way into your starting lineups if you’re planning on acquiring them. Even in the deepest of leagues, there are always going to be players available this late in the season that have the potential to give you a few week-winning performances. This is the time of the year where you can find players that can turn into 2015 Tim Hightower. And he certainly wasn’t winning any fantasy championships for anybody from the bench.
Paxton Lynch (23.80-percent) didn’t impress in his lone start this season, only recording 13.7 fantasy points against a Falcons defense that lets up more fantasy points above the mean per game to QBs than any other team. But he or Trevor Siemien (36.78-percent) should benefit from a favorable projected ROS schedule (No. 6). Jared Goff (34.89-percent) managed a respectable 18.6 fantasy points in a middle-of-the-road match-up against New Orleans (No. 16). Another good performance this week against New England (No. 12) will keep him in the streaming conversation for the playoffs. On the strength of 22.7 Fantasy Points per Game, Colin Kaepernick (59.55-percent) has graduated from bench stash status to top-ten rest-of-season QB. After recording his second best fantasy point-scoring output of the season last week against New England (17.9 points), Ryan Fitzpatrick (47.04-percent) has reclaimed his starting role in New York. Though his efficiency isn’t where it was last year, his favorable ROS schedule (No. 2) should help make up for it. You wouldn’t be faulted if you started him in a juicy match-up against the Colts (No. 2).
Even though he’s been quiet recently, Damien Williams (26.81-percent) still ranks first among qualified RBs in Production Premium (+86.8) and Fantasy Points per Opportunity (1.65). He doesn’t need to be in starting lineups right now, but the strength of Miami’s offensive line and defense makes him a player you’re going to want to stash in case Jay Ajayi goes down. Charles Sims (38.01-percent) returning to practice this week increases his odds of returning to action in time for a Week 14 date with New Orleans in a plus match-up (No. 5). Starting him before we see how he’ll be used in tandem with Doug Martin and/or Jacquizz Rodgers is a risky move, but one that could pay off both now and/or when these two teams meet again in Week 16.
Adam Thielen (38.81-percent) has had a very efficient season, has the fifth-ranked ROS fantasy schedule at the WR position and has been a target hog in games Stefon Diggs has missed. He already played this week, catching seven of nine targets for 86 yards, but needs to be rostered and can be started in favorable match-ups. Even with Allen Hurns out, Marqise Lee (34.27-percent) can’t be started in a nightmare match-up against Denver (No. 30). His ROS schedule ranks dead last, so it may be hard to trust him as a starter going forward, but at least we now know that Lee has passed Hurns in the pecking order of Jacksonville’s receiving core. The big play ability and general efficiency of Kenny Stills (37.87-percent) keeps him in the weekly streaming discussion. With DeVante Parker (back) likely to sit, Stills makes for a good dart-throw play in a middle-of-the-road match-up against Baltimore (No. 12).
The last few weeks have brought us players at the tight end position who make for great weekly starters and/or holds. We’re holding Ladarius Green (52.81-percent) for his increasing Snap Share, explosive ability and fantasy potential in a high-powered Steelers offense. We’re holding Will Tye (35.18-percent) for his fourth-ranked ROS schedule and because his ascent to full-time player has bumped Larry Donnell to the game-day inactive list. We’re holding C.J. Fiedorowicz (55.35-percent) for his second-ranked ROS schedule and because he’s become Brock Osweiler‘s most trusted passing game weapon, with a favorable match-up on deck against the Packers (#7). We’re holding Lance Kendricks (30.94-percent) because he’s seen seven targets in each of the two games Jared Goff has started. And we’re holding Vernon Davis (42.05-percent) because Jordan Reed is sidelined with a Grade 3 AC joint separation, and because Davis has been among the league’s most efficient players at the position.
All listed players are owned in less than 50-percent of MFL redraft leagues.
Matt Barkley, QB, Bears (5.76-percent owned)
I guess Matt Barkley took offense to not being last week’s featured QB. After failing to record a TD, attempt 30 passes, or break 158 yards in any of his five career games played, Barkley put up 22.6 fantasy points against the Titans in a losing effort in Week 12. Although he would’ve had an even bigger game if he hadn’t suffered through his receiving core dropping multiple sure-fire TDs. As it stands, he showed enough signs of life for streamers to at least be able to think about deploying him this week without throwing up all over themselves.Coming into the week, Matt Barkley was strictly a match-up play against a 49ers defense letting up the third most fantasy points above the mean per game to opposing QBs. With the news that Jay Cutler will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, Barkley can now be held for the remainder of the season. He may have lost Zach Miller for the year, but he has Alshon Jeffery set to return in Week 15 and has the ninth-most favorable ROS schedule at his position. He also has a number of intriguing and athletic weapons in Cameron Meredith, Marquess Wilson and Josh Bellamy to work with. A string of 300-yard, multi-TD performances to end the season isn’t as out of the question as it appears at first glance.
Rex Burkhead, RB, Bengals (17.42-percent owned)
Giovani Bernard tearing his ACL as late in the season as he did (Week 11) makes it far from certain that he’ll be ready for the beginning of the 2017 season. Even if he is, there’s no guarantee he’ll be as effective a player as he was before the injury. For that reason, as well as the fact that 2016 has become a lost season for the Bengals, it behooves the team to see exactly what they have in Rex Burkhead. His skill-set and athletic profile closely resemble Bernard’s, and his upper-percentile College Target Share ensures that he can be an asset in the passing game.The fact that Rex Burkhead played more snaps than Jeremy Hill in Week 12 (38-37), the first game after Giovani Bernard was lost to a torn ACL, is a good sign for his future prospects. If Hill continues to be ineffective as a runner, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Burkhead to begin seeing more opportunity. Though Hill curiously received six targets against the Ravens to two for Burkhead. Regardless, the kind of skill-set that Burkhead brings to the table is one that fantasy owners should be looking to acquire for the playoff push. Especially with an 11th-ranked ROS schedule. Though it will be hard to start him until he at least gives us a double digit game.
Dontrelle Inman, WR, Chargers (32.57-percent owned)
I was legitimately surprised to see that Dontrelle Inman wasn’t a higher priority add across MFL leagues this week. Especially given the fact that Tyrell Williams missed practice time this week due to a shoulder injury. Williams has since returned to practice and is expected to play through this injury, which has been diagnosed as a torn labrum. Despite the fact that he was able to play through this same injury in college, Inman should still be owned by virtue of the fact that Williams isn’t going to be operating at 100-percent.Though Tyrell Williams has been the fantasy receiver to own in San Diego for much of the season, Dontrelle Inman has led the teams WRs in snaps played in 10 of 11 games. It hasn’t translated into fantasy success, with last week marking only the second time Inman has outscored Williams all season. But there’s still a lot to like here. It helps that he’s seen half of his 62 targets this year in the last four games. It also helps that he has the third-ranked ROS schedule at the WR position. The Week 14 match-up against Tampa, while technically being a favorable one, still represents a middle-of-the-road match-up (No. 16). But when everything starts to align at the right time for a player like Inman, incuding three straight games with a 20-plus percent Target Share, that player needs to owned everywhere and started in deeper leagues.
Josh Hill, TE, Saints (4.06-percent owned)
The sooner we can admit that Coby Fleener has been a massive fantasy bust in 2016, the sooner we can feel better about drafting him in the single digit rounds (then again, maybe not) and the sooner we can commence with our shower crying. Sure he has two games with 20-plus fantasy points, and currently ranks 15th in Fantasy Points per Game (9.8). But unless you started him in Weeks 3, 6 or 11, he hasn’t been helping you win any match-ups. There have been sporadic reports throughout the year talking about how he’s struggled to pick up the offense. And now it looks like it’s finally starting to catch up to him. His Snap Share dropped from 60.9-percent in Week 11 to 26.1-percent in Week 12, an astoundingly high drop for a player who wasn’t reported to be injured. Enter Josh Hill.Josh Hill is one of those players the fantasy community has been waiting to see break out for seemingly forever. I mean, look at his freakin workout metrics. Though he hasn’t come close to the five TDs he scored in 2014, he’s already matched his career high in catches (14) and is 30 yards from tying his career high in receiving yards (176). His Snap Share took a sizeable jump from 62.3-percent in Week 11 to 84.1-percent in Week 12. He ran 21 pass routes on 57 snaps played, while Coby Fleener only managed 12 pass routes on 18 snaps played (though he still drew four targets and scored 9.9 fantasy points). Hill is trending towards becoming the every-down TE on a team that averages an NFL third-best 43.2 pass plays per game, with Drew Brees at QB. And this week, he draws a Detroit defense that allows the most fantasy points above the mean per game to the TE position. You know what to do.