It's go time folks!
Week 14 brings with it the beginning of the playoffs in many fantasy football leagues, as the top teams square off in a three-week tournament that will conclude with the crowning of that league's 2012 champion.
If you're playing this week in a postseason game that most likely means you weren't one of your league's top two seeds (and received a bye), and it also means that odds are as good as not that you're an underdog facing an uphill battle if you want to reach the semifinals.
If you're one of those underdogs then it may be time to throw caution to the wind, and here's a trio of fantasy sleepers who should be set for better production than usual in Week 14.
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens (at WAS)
At first glance it may appear to be lunacy to advise starting fantasy football's 17th-ranked quarterback in a must-win game, especially given how badly Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens has struggled away from home this season.
In six road starts this season the fifth-year pro has averaged just over 200 passing yards a game with only four touchdowns and four interceptions, and after struggling at home in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Flacco told Garrett Downing of the team's website that it's back to the drawing board.
"I’m going to have to look back on film to see what happened,” Flacco said when asked what went wrong. "I think we missed a couple of opportunities early in the game, to take a better hold of the game.”
However, Flacco had his best road start of the season two weeks ago in throwing for over 350 yards against the San Diego Chargers, and this week's matchup with the Washington Redskins is about as good as it gets for quarterbacks from a fantasy perspective.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants (vs. NO)
It's been something of an up-and-down 2012 season for New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who has battled the foot problems that have plagued him throughout his career en route to gaining 733 yards and scoring five touchdowns on the ground.
The Giants had been trying to limit Bradshaw's carries lately in order to keep him fresh, but with fellow running back Andre Brown lost for the season Bradshaw told Peter Botte of The New York Daily News that he knows it will fall to him to carry a heavier workload moving forward.
“Of course,” Bradshaw said. “I’m not going to put all the pressure on me, but I want to help this team as much as I can. When I get an opportunity, that’s what it’s going to be.”
A heavier workload in Week 14 would be music to the ears of Bradshaw's fantasy owners, as the Giants face a New Orleans Saints team that ranks dead last in the NFL in run defense, allowing over 153 yards a game.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (at TB)
The 2012 season has been an absolute catastrophe for the Philadelphia Eagles, who are not only mired in an eight-game losing streak but have also lost Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson to significant injuries.
The season-ending rib injury suffered by Jackson means that fourth-year pro Jeremy Maclin is now the leader of the Philadelphia receiving corps, and as Maclin recently told The Sports Network via KUSA-TV he hasn't been immune to the frustration that has come with the recent losing streak.
"This is something that I have never experienced before," Maclin said after Monday night's 30-22 loss to Carolina. "Last year we were in same position, but this season feels a little different. As a football team and organization, we have to stay strong and stay together."
Granted, given that Maclin will be catching passes from rookie Nick Foles the rest of the way he's something of a risky fantasy bet, but Maclin should be able to take out some of those frustrations out on Sunday against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team allowing the most fantasy points to wide receivers this year.