You don't want to do too much adjusting to your lineup with the fantasy football playoffs about to be in full swing, but it would be ridiculous to ignore top players emerging down the stretch.
The Miami Dolphins' 27-20 win over the New England Patriots Monday night was a surprise, not just because of the final score, but because of the individual performances that took place throughout the night.
You are still starting Tom Brady if you survived his dud (233 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions), but these players could also be useful over the next few weeks after big games in this one.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins
There were times Kenyan Drake looked like the best player on the field Monday night, and it's clear his recent success has not been a fluke.
The running back finished with 114 rushing yards on 25 carries, plus five catches for 79 receiving yards. He helped a lot of fantasy teams even without getting into the end zone.
Field Yates of ESPN examined the Dolphins' past actions in light of the performance:
Drake initially saw limited playing time after Jay Ajayi was traded with Damien Williams splitting carries, but Williams going down with a shoulder injury ended up being the best thing for the Dolphins offense.
The team rode Drake in Week 13 with 23 carries for 120 yards in a win over the Denver Broncos, and he was a star again this week against the Patriots, two defenses that could be tough to produce against.
While he just was a waiver-wire flier at first, he could be a star down the stretch with RB1 upside, someone who helps you bring home a fantasy football championship.
Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots
Coming into the year, you probably wouldn't have guessed Rex Burkhead would have been a key to your fantasy playoffs, but here is where you are. It just goes to show you never know what to expect from the Patriots offense.
Burkhead had just five carries for eight yards on the ground but came through with five receptions for 45 yards through the air. He also scored a rushing touchdown, continuing an impressive recent trend:
Dion Lewis is the Patriots' top running back, but the team loves using Burkhead in all situations, especially near the goal line where he can rack up fantasy points in a hurry.
He should also have more rushing opportunities in future games with New England unlikely to be playing from behind all that often. The former Cincinnati Bengals player is worth an RB2 spot against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that struggled mightily this week and is even more valuable in points-per-reception leagues.
Jay Cutler, QB, Dolphins
There could be a lot of desperate teams scrambling for quarterbacks with Carson Wentz going down with a knee injury Sunday. While the waiver wire is likely barren, Jay Cutler showed he is worth a look.
The often-mocked veteran finished with 263 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in the upset.
Barrett Sallee of CBS Sports provided surprising analysis of the effort:
Jarvis Landry had two touchdowns and remains a dynamic weapon, while Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker are also capable of big plays. Jakeem Grant actually had the best catch of the day with this grab for a 25-yard score:
Believe it or not, Cutler now has at least two touchdown passes in six of his last seven games, with his only exception coming in a game he left early because of a concussion. He doesn't always throw for a lot of yards and is bound to make mistakes, but he has quality weapons around him and has played well when healthy.
With upcoming matchups against the inconsistent defenses of the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, Cutler could be a quality streamer for the fantasy playoffs.
Like Cutler, this unit has been inconsistent this year. However, this defense went against the toughest fantasy offense to score against and held its own.
Xavien Howard put himself in rare territory Monday, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Considering Brady only had four interceptions all year coming into the day, this is quite a feat. However, Howard continues to impress with now four picks over the past two games to go with some shutdown defense against the opponents' top receivers.
The Dolphins now get a chance to face the Bills offense in Week 15, which, because of injuries, could be led by Joe Webb. Even if Nathan Peterman is back, he doesn't exactly instill fear on any defense.
After two solid performances in a row, Miami is a viable streamer next week.