Approaching the final week of the fantasy football regular season, managers are assessing their teams for the big playoff push. Certain teams are surging coming down the stretch, but others may be limping into the playoffs. For those teams finishing flat, they may be searching for a spark in the final three weeks of fantasy. The players that I will be laying out today could be that push putting good teams over the top and bringing home the titles. While some of these players aren’t obvious starts, they should get heavy consideration to in most, if not all, weeks in the fantasy playoffs. Additionally, if leagues don’t have a trade deadline, fantasy managers should make that push to acquire these players.
Javonte Williams is shaping up to be the quintessential league winning running back. He was a name that dynasty players were clamoring over all off-season being listed as a bellcow capable back. Unfortunately for seasonal leagues he found himself in a time share with Melvin Gordon. Gordon has shown this year that there is still some gas left in the tank. While this capped Williams’ upside, he still provided fantasy relevant weeks splitting the backfield.
The ultimate breakout took place in Week 13 with Gordon inactive. Williams was the No. 1 running back in fantasy on the week. Racking up 102 rushing yards on 23 carries and topping it off with six receptions on nine targets for an additional 76 yards and a touchdown. With Gordon banged up, the door is open for Williams to take over and smash his way through an attractive schedule. Williams gets the benefit of facing the Bengals, Raiders, and Chargers, all of which are giving up over 23 Fantasy Points Per Game to the running back position over the season.
Another rookie running back is poised to take control of his respective backfield because of injuries around him. Rhamondre Stevenson has the potential to provide volume for fantasy teams in the playoffs. Damien Harris is battling a hamstring injury that took him out of the game this past week against Buffalo. This means the number one seat in the New England Patriots backfield is open again. The last time Harris missed a game was back in Week 10. Stevenson was the main benefactor receiving 20 carries and catching four of five targets for a total of 114 yards and two touchdowns, making him the No. 2 running back that week.
While not having the most impressive athletic profile, Stevenson has shown enough to the Patriots to garner touches in this specialist style backfield. More importantly, he is earning the high value red zone touches. Stevenson is averaging just under three red zone carries per game over his last fives. While the schedule isn’t as soft compared to Javonte Williams‘, Stevenson will provide massive amounts of volume and touchdown upside if Harris were to miss extended time with that hamstring injury. Shockingly only 60-percent rostered on Yahoo, Stevenson should be on every playoff team’s bench through the Week 14 bye and be ready to smash come Week 15 in the playoffs.
With how much preseason hype was surrounding Elijah Moore, I have been surprised at how quiet his second half breakout has been in the fantasy world. Moore is another dynasty darling making this list. His electric profile had managers clamoring over the possibilities. With elite agility and a 41.9-percent (85th-percentile among qualified wide receivers) College Dominator Rating, it was only a matter of time before he would produce monster fantasy games. Over the past five weeks, Moore has been a top 10 wide receiver in three games, including finishes in the No. 1 and No. 3 spot. In that five-week span, Moore has been averaging 9 targets per game along with 99 Air Yards per game.
Moore quickly became Zach Wilson‘s go-to after returning from injury. Earning a target on 34-percent of his routes run over the past two weeks and leading the team in targets in that same time frame. Moore will look to get fed more as his competition for targets has shrunk with Corey Davis missing the remainder of the season. The schedule for the Jets doesn’t scare anyone as Moore will continue to break out and bring some boom weeks.
Odell Beckham and Van Jefferson
I am including both LA Rams wide receivers, as the upside of both players hinges on the health of Odell Beckham. Beckham entered Week 13 banged up with a hip injury and was only in the game for 52-percent of snaps. In that short amount of playing time, he ran 21 routes, getting a target on five of those routes. Even more impressive, two of the targets were end zone targets and he secured one for a touchdown. In his three games with the Rams, Matthew Stafford has been looking Beckham’s way often, targeting him on 26-percent of his routes run. Averaging a 59-percent Snap Share, Beckham has 18 targets (three in the red zone) and accumulated 214 Air Yards. The big “if” will be Beckham’s availability. If he can overcome his current hip injury, those Air Yards become Realized Air Yards and Beckham becomes a league winning receiver.
If Beckham remains limited, Van Jefferson will continue to fill the number two chair for the Rams. In the three-game span with Beckham, Jefferson has been enjoying heavy usage being in on 90-percent of the teams snaps. Jefferson is also averaging 8 targets and 104 Air Yards per game, but has finished outside the top 12 the last three. The issue has been drops for Jefferson this season. If he can squeeze the ball there, are fantasy points to be scored in this high-powered offense.
No matter how the regular season went for fantasy managers, the playoffs are a fresh start. The players listed in this article may be the key to stringing together the necessary wins to take home the trophy. The strategy hasn’t changed, I’m chasing the high value opportunities and Air Yards to find those players that will absolutely explode. Pair the boom potential with favorable upcoming schedules and that is a recipe for a championship.