Well, it’s almost that time. You know, the most wonderful time of year?
No, I’m not talking about the holiday season. I’m talking about the fantasy football playoffs.
After this week’s set of games, there will likely be one more week of regular-season games, as most fantasy football playoffs get set to begin in Week 14. So, now is the time to hunker down and get ready for the playoff push, as every move you make will prove to be critical.
Here, then, are the 25 players you can trust the most for your playoff run. You’ll notice some notable names omitted from this list like Tom Brady (Seriously, have you seen his schedule for the playoffs?), Stevan Ridley and LeSean McCoy since scheduling is what it all boils down to. The following players have the ability, track record and (for the most part) a favorable schedule ahead of them.
In my last column, I suggested the idea of selling high on Robert Griffin III. However, I have done an about-face. No matter who he faces, RGIII will always find a way to light up the stat sheet. After facing the Ravens in Week 14, RGIII will be facing two awful squads in the Browns and the Eagles in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively.
Steady, consistent and reliable. You know what you are going to get from Aaron Rodgers, and with a schedule that includes going up against Detroit, Chicago and Tennessee, Rodgers will do enough to carry his owners in the playoffs.
Arian Foster has done nothing to dispute his claim as being the game’s overall best running back this year. And with a slate that features three vulnerable defenses in the Patriots, Colts and Vikings in Weeks 14 through 16, Foster should be in line for a fantastic finish.
Doug Martin’s fabulous rookie season should also end in a bang. In Weeks 14 through 16, Martin and the Bucs will go up against the Eagles, Saints and the Rams, and with the way those teams plays defense, Martin should have little trouble posting beastly numbers.
You drafted Ray Rice with a high draft pick, and although he hasn’t been super dominant thus far, he could end the season on a high note. Considering the Ravens play the Redskins, Broncos and Giants in Week 14, 15 and 16, respectively, Rice will be a running back you can bank on.
A.J. Green has broken out in 2012 and may have arguably laid his claim to being the game’s best receiver. After all, Green is on a nine-game scoring streak, and although his schedule down the stretch (vs. Dallas, at Philadelphia and at Pittsburgh) is tough, would you ever dare sitting him? Didn’t think so.
Trent Richardson has proved to be the Browns offense this year, as everything revolves around his playmaking ability. With games on tap against the Chiefs (Week 14), Redskins (Week 15) and the Broncos (Week 16), Richardson will be a guy you can ride.
After a year off from football, you might have thought there would be some rust with Peyton Manning. However, Manning has come back with a bang and is making a case for being league MVP. With a schedule in Weeks 14 through 16 that includes the Raiders, Ravens and the Browns, Manning should be able to post some monster numbers.
Tied to Manning’s success, of course, is the play of his main receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. With the aforementioned schedule, Decker and Thomas should be the prime beneficiaries of Manning’s greatness and they too—like Manning—should carry owners down the stretch.
After a little bit of a slump (at least to Megatron’s standards), Calvin Johnson is finishing the season in style. Johnson is a beast no matter the matchup. So, don’t look for him to slow down despite facing some decent competition in the Packers (Week 14), Cardinals (Week 15) and Falcons (Week 15).
Adrian Peterson is another stud you can never think of sitting, especially after the year he has had. After coming back from injuries with a vengeance this year, the schedule does no favors for Peterson, as he will face off against some tough run defense in the Bears (Week 14), Rams (Week 15) and the Texans (Week 16).
Like Peterson, Marshawn Lynch is too good a player to sit despite the matchups.
Lynch should have no troubles with the Cardinals and Bills in Week 14 and 15, respectively, but the 49ers in Week 16 could be problematic. Lynch did run wild earlier on the year in San Francisco (19 carries for 103 yards), though, and with that game at home, Lynch could do some damage.
Just as reliable as Aaron Rodgers is, so are his trusted targets. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are receivers you’re going to want to have active when they face off against the Lions, Cardinals and Titans in Weeks 14 through 16.
Andrew Luck’s rookie season is going as expected, and the young signal-caller keeps getting better as the season progresses.
Luck has favorable matchups in Week 14 (vs. Tennessee) and Week 16 (at Kansas City) sandwiched in between a tough one in Week 15 when Luck has to go up against the Texans in Houston. So, trust Luck for Week 14, and if you can advance in Week 15 then Luck will be a fantastic option to end the season when he faces the Chiefs in Kansas City.
Helping matters for Luck will be his No. 1 target, Reggie Wayne. Wayne has had a great rebound season, and he’ll go as far as Luck can take him.
The game’s preeminent tight end is about the only tight end these days (especially with Rob Gronkowski going down with a season-ending injury) you can plug into lineups and expect dominance. Expect that dominance to continue in Weeks 14 through 16 when Jimmy Graham and the Saints take on the Giants, Buccaneers and Cowboys.
Jamaal Charles has a schedule that is as good as it gets to end the season. Charles should be living on easy street as he’ll be facing the Browns in Week 14, the Raiders in Week 15 and the Colts in Week 16.
Drew Brees and the Saints are coming on like gangbusters, and they will try like heck to make it back to the real playoffs. In the fantasy playoffs, Brees should be able to throw all day on the likes of the Giants, Buccaneers and the Cowboys in Weeks 14 through 16.
For the Bears to succeed they will need to rely their imposing defense while also depending on their playmakers in Marshall and Matt Forte. Forte should do just enough against the likes of the Vikings (Week 14), Packers (Week 15) and the Cardinals (Week 16) to earn your trust.
Although Victor Cruz and Eli Manning have hit a bump in the road, expect that all to change soon. With a fantasy schedule that includes going up against the Saints, Falcons and the Ravens in Weeks 14 through 16, Cruz and Manning should be able to get on the same page and correct a few wrongs that have ailed them lately.
Piggybacking on my last statement about Ryan, it is throwing to Roddy White and Julio Jones that makes Ryan so good. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon. As long as they are healthy (looking at you, Julio), then this is a wide receiving duo you can have faith in.
It has been an up-and-down season for Chris Johnson, but he is righting the ship of late. Drafted to be a cornerstone of your team, you should at least have comfort with the schedule Johnson faces down the stretch. Johnson should be able to rack up the points while taking on the Colts (Week 14), Jets (Week 15) and Packers (Week 16) in the fantasy playoffs.
After a slow start, Andre Johnson is really upping his game of late, and he is a tried-and-true vet you can depend on for the stretch run. With a slate that features the Patriots (Week 14), Colts (Week 15) and Vikings (Week 16), Johnson could flourish to end the season.
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