The fantasy playoffs are upon us.
That means everybody is freaking out about who to play and who to sit and doing more tinkering to their lineups than Ruxin:
Don't sit your studs, the guys that got you here.
Julio Jones is going up against Josh Norman and the Panthers defense? So what? Rob Gronkowski could be limited, but still may suit up? If he plays for the Pats, he plays in your lineup. It's that simple.
You don't want to risk keeping a guy like that on your bench and then watch as they put up a surprising and unpredictable fantasy day that would have meant victory for you...if only you hadn't tinkered with your lineup.
That would hurt worse than a ref lowering his shoulder to blindside a high school kid:
— Sean Patrick Bowley (@SPBowley) December 8, 2015
We don't have a crystal ball to know what will happen this week, but we can guarantee we put more effort into these Start/Sit picks than Tom Brady put into trying to make a tackle last week:
So let's find a way to STREAK to the championship, eh?
Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA (at BAL) - Five touchdowns in the last two games? Baldwin is coming up huge for fantasy owners in a critical time of the season. He's taken Jimmy Graham's yards and then some. We've said for a while that the Seahawks don't really have a "go-to" passing option in their offense but Baldwin is starting to emerge as the best fantasy receiving play there. He's also got a great matchup against a beat up Ravens team that has been very susceptible to big plays. I like Baldwin this week to help you in the playoffs. (John "The Professor" Paschall)
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, IND (@ JAC) - I know, it's crazy. Do I really expect you to start Matt Hasselbeck in the first round of the fantasy playoffs? No. But if you're desperate you could do way worse than the wily vet. Hasselbeck has multiple TDs in three of his last four starts and he's now going up against a Jacksonville defense that has surrendered seven passing TDs the last two games and multiple tuddies through the air in six of the last seven contests. Hasselbeck is a Top 20 QB play this week. (Tony Andracki)
Vincent Jackson, WR, TB (vs. NO) - To be honest, you can't go too wrong with a lot of the Bucs offensive options this week. It's the Saints defense, after all, that they're going up against. Jackson has had some success against the Saints in the past (3 catches, 54 yards, TD in Week 2), and there's just something going on with Mike Evans that worries me (case of the dropsies). Jackson may end up being a more reliable target for Jameis Winston, who is really starting to pick up the offense. In what should be a shootout, a lot of the Bucs are good plays this week, including Jackson. (Paschall)
Duke Johnson Jr., RB, CLE (vs. SF) - I guess I'll hop on the Johnson hype train this week. He's been pretty disappointing so far this year after getting hyped up throughout the preseason (like that's never happened before...). But I got a feeling this might be his week to breakout. In standard leagues this year, the 49ers are the worst defense against running backs. He's about even with Isaiah Crowell for playing time so that doesn't concern me either. With Johnny Manziel back in at quarterback, the Browns might try to lean on the running game a little more (especially with Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge as major question marks to play). Johnson's a good play this week if you're debating who to put in your FLEX spot. (Paschall)
Ryan Mathews, RB, PHI (vs. BUF) - This is another risky call, but I think it's a risk worth taking. The Eagles clearly seem committed to the run lately and everybody but DeMarco Murray has had a degree of success in the Philly backfield. With Murray supposedly benched and Mathews returning from a concussion issue, he could be a sneaky-good play against a Buffalo defense that has been beaten by the ground game this season. Mathews has looked explosive in limited touches this year, so the thought of him with a lot of looks is incredibly enticing. (Andracki)
Charcandrick West, RB, KC (vs. SD) - West is back and ready to roll. After missing a game with a hamstring injury and being somewhat limited against the Raiders last week, West should be unleashed against the poor Chargers defense in the opening week of playoffs. The Chargers have been given up a ton of points to fantasy backs this season, allowing 100 or more rushing yards in nine of 12 games thus far. West should get back to that must-start status after this week. (Andracki)
Buck Allen, RB, BAL (vs. SEA) - Did you see what the Seahawks did last week to Adrian Peterson? I get it the game got out of hand quickly but that's because the Seahawks never let Peterson establish himself. There's no denying Allen isn't anywhere near the caliber that Peterson is so how can Allen have success against this Seahawks D that's shut down running backs all year long? (Paschall)
Gio Bernard, RB, CIN (vs. PIT) - With the playoffs upon us, there are two schools of thought: Bet big and boom-or-bust players or play it safe and put the most reliable players in your lineup. Bernard definitely does not fall into the "reliable" category after turning in five single-digit fantasy performances in his last six games. But he's not boom-or-bust either, with zero games this season at 15 points or over in standard scoring. The Steelers are also the second-best team in the NFL at limiting fantasy RBs and with Jeremy Hill actually playing pretty good lately, stay as far away from Bernard as you can. (Andracki)
Charles Clay, TE, BUF (at PHI) - I get it. There just aren't that many tight ends out there to play these days with injuries and what not. But Clay isn't a good option this week. The Eagles have yet to give up over 100 yards in a game to tight ends this year and have only let them score three times. Tyrod Taylor is going to be too busy throwing to Sammy Watkins all day anyway to focus on Clay. Get him out of your lineup. (Paschall)
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
Amari Cooper, WR, OAK (@ DEN) - Cooper has fizzled a bit lately, with 17 catches for 267 yards and no scores the last four games. Now he goes up against the RIDICULOUS Broncos defense that has permitted only one touchdown to opposing wide receivers all season. In 12 games. That's just...wow. Even in PPR formats, Denver has allowed 7 fantasy points or less to the ENTIRE group of opposing wide receivers in three of the last four games. Just, don't play any receivers against them. None. Not right now, anyways. (Andracki)
Matt Ryan, QB, ATL (at CAR) - It's official: Matt Ryan is just a brand name now. He's not playing well at all, especially given the fact that he has one of the best receivers in the game (has anyone also noticed Julio's production dip a bit too??). He's thrown six interceptions in the past three games compared to five touchdowns and did not go over 300 yards in any of those games. In fact, he's only gone over 300 yards in three games this year. THREE. You can't trust Ryan on your team in the playoffs. Oh, and did I mention he's going up against the Panthers defense? (Paschall)
Delanie Walker, TE, TEN (@ NYJ) - Delanie Walker is a Top 5 tight end, regardless of league format. He's a stud with three straight games of at least six catches and 90 yards. But that will come screeching to a halt against the Jets this week. The Jets have been phenomenal against tight ends this season, with their only blemish being a 21-point output from Gronkowski in Week 7. But since then, New York has allowed just 18 fantasy points to TEs in six games (21 catches, 206 yards), including four games with 3 or fewer fantasy points. I know Walker is probably the best tight end you own, but he is a risky, risky play this week. (Andracki)