5 Workhorses to Ride All the Way to Your Fantasy Football Championship
Well, the regular season is starting to wind down in fantasy football (time flies when you're having fun, or smashing your laptop with a hammer...whatever), and in just a few short weeks the fantasy postseason will begin.
For some fantasy owners that means that a disappointing season will end, and at this point the only satisfaction they can draw is from knocking as many other teams out of the playoffs as possible.
However, for some teams, while it's important to finish the regular season strong for seeding purposes, it's also time to take a look ahead at the playoffs and some players who have some very favorable matchups for the all-important Weeks 14-16.
So whether it's to point out potential trade targets or just to get you thinking a bit, here's a look at a handful of just those types of players.
Telling you to start those guys is like telling you to breathe, and I hope you've got that figured out for yourself.
Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have gotten back into the playoff chase with a three-game winning streak, and while the lion's share of the publicity during that streak has gone to running back Doug Martin, quarterback Josh Freeman has quietly been very solid during that stretch as well.
Over the past five weeks, Freeman has averaged nearly 300 passing yards a game with 13 touchdown passes and only one interception, and the fourth-year pro has the benefit of the fourth-easiest fantasy schedule for signal-callers during the playoffs.
Other quarterbacks with favorable fantasy playoff schedules: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens; Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Willis McGahee, RB, Denver Broncos
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Despite some much talked-about fumbling issues this season Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee has still been fairly productive in 2012, rushing for 676 yards and four touchdowns and ranking just outside the top 10 at his position in PPR fantasy football leagues.
The 10-year veteran should have every opportunity to keep that production rolling in the fantasy playoffs, as McGahee and the Broncos have the fourth-easiest fantasy schedule for ball-carriers in Weeks 14-16, including a championship week matchup with the Cleveland Browns and their 27th-ranked run defense.
Other running backs with favorable fantasy playoff schedules: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs; Shonn Greene, New York Jets
Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams
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After missing three games with a shoulder injury, St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola was back in the starting lineup and right back to being quarterback Sam Bradford's favorite target a week ago, reeling in 11 passes for 102 yards in a tie with the San Francisco 49ers.
With the exception of the Week 5 game in which he was injured, Amendola has been targeted at least nine times in every game he's played this season, and that workload should mean big things in the fantasy postseason given that the Rams have the fifth-easiest schedule for wideouts over that span.
Other wide receivers with favorable fantasy playoff schedules: Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles; Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens
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There have been few more frustrating players at the tight end position this season for fantasy owners than Dennis Pitta of the Baltimore Ravens, who started out hot, fell off a cliff and then got back onto the radar with five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown in last week's blowout win over the Oakland Raiders.
Granted, Pitta isn't an option for the faint of heart, but fantasy owners without an elite option at the position should consider adding Pitta for the playoffs given that no team in the NFL has an easier fantasy playoff schedule where the position is concerned than Baltimore.
Other tight ends with favorable fantasy playoff schedules: Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles; Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
Pittsburgh Steelers Team Defense
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From an NFL standpoint, the Pittsburgh Steelers possess a phenomenal defense that leads the National Football League, allowing just over 265 yards a game.
However, a lack of "big plays" (sacks, turnovers, etc.) means that that success hasn't translated to fantasy football, with the Steelers defense ranking outside the top 20 in most scoring formats.
With that said, with team defenses it's often as much about the matchup as the unit itself, and it's those matchups that make the Steelers a potentially attractive playoff defense given their fifth-ranked schedule over that stretch.
Other team defenses with favorable fantasy playoff schedules: Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets