It's hard to believe the fantasy football playoffs begin in a lot of leagues this week. I guess time flies when you spend countless hours filling out your lineup. Now, it's time to see if all that hard work pays off with a championship.
In the playoffs, games usually come down to star power. Having depth is terrific for the regular season, but the postseason is a time when owners need their superstar players to shine. If they don't, the fantasy title will slip away.
Looking at the matchups, there are a lot of big names going up against shaky defenses, which means a high-scoring week is likely on the horizon. That should make for an exciting, and heartbreaking for some, first round of the playoffs.
Let's take a look at a fantasy star from each individual position that should dominate in Week 14, giving them a great chance to lead their respective positions in scoring.
What Peyton Manning has been able to accomplish after missing an entire season due to injury and switching teams is nothing short of amazing. His scoring average (19.3) puts him in a tie with Aaron Rodgers, who was picked several rounds earlier in most drafts.
The best part about Manning is his consistency. He's scored at least 14 fantasy points in all but one week, meaning he rarely costs his owners a game. That's a nice luxury to have heading into the playoffs, when one bad performance from a star usually equals a loss.
Manning goes up against an Oakland Raiders defense that he torched from 338 yards and three touchdowns in Week 4. Since the Raiders have shown no signs of progress against the pass since that point, Manning should be line for a similar showing on Thursday night.
Jamaal Charles has finally begun to illustrate some reliability over the past month. He's scored at least 10 points in four straight games as the Kansas City Chiefs have placed a greater emphasis on getting him the ball. It should have happened earlier, but better late than never.
When owners invested a high draft pick to select Charles, it was because he possesses rare game-breaking ability. He showed off those skills in Week 3, rushing for 233 yards on 33 carries, including a 91-year touchdown run.
It resulted in 34 fantasy points. He hasn't topped 20 since. There's a good chance that changes on Sunday. The Cleveland Browns are giving up 116 yards per game on the ground and have allowed four rushing touchdowns in their last four games. Charles will take advantage in a big way.
Fantasy owners were growing frustrated with Calvin Johnson through nine weeks. The dominant Detroit Lions wideout had caught just one touchdown and was regularly scoring less than five points. He's since turned things around in a major way.
Johnson has caught a touchdown in four straight games and has averaged more than 21 points per game over that span. When he's playing on such a high level, paired with his physical gifts, it's a nightmare matchup for opposing secondaries.
The Green Bay Packers have found that out several times, including three weeks ago when he put up 143 yards and a touchdown against them. A shootout should be expected between the Lions and Packers, leading to another monster game for Johnson.
Brandon Myers is coming off his best game of the season. He caught 14 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns. It was the top score for a tight end last week, and don't be surprised if he makes it two in a row.
While the 2009 sixth-round pick entered the season on very few fantasy radars, he slowly carved out a niche for himself in the Oakland Raiders offense. He's been especially effective over the past five weeks, averaging 11 points per game.
Things set up well for him in Week 14. He gets to face the Denver Broncos, who have struggled to contain tight ends, and it should be a high-scoring game. That equates to more targets for Myers, who should have no trouble keeping his hot streak alive.
Fantasy owners rarely put much thought into kickers. However, in the playoffs—where every single point matters—playing the right one can be the difference between advancing or being eliminated. So it's important to put some thought into the kicking game.
Mike Nugent is an intriguing option. He's available in 88 percent of ESPN leagues and 82 percent of Yahoo! leagues, meaning most owners can simply add him if they don't like their current kicker. More importantly, he has a favorable matchup.
The Dallas Cowboys have given up an average of 2.5 field goals per game over the past six weeks. The Cincinnati Bengals should be able to move the ball. That gives Nugent a good chance to convert a couple FGs, providing the production owners need.