Patrick Daugherty: Who are you expecting to make the biggest impact during the fantasy playoffs? We're talking players who have struggled so far this season, or perhaps only recently come into their roles. Or maybe someone like Josh Gordon or Adrian Peterson.
The first guy who comes to mind for me is LeSean McCoy. I know he had a rough Week 10 in a favorable matchup, but he's still averaging 4.66 yards per carry over his past four games. That offense is looking reinvigorated with Mark Sanchez under center, and beginning to resemble something close to full strength along the offensive line. Aside from the Seahawks in Week 14, Shady's schedule for the fantasy playoffs is not imposing. I think he's going to be a big-time case of "better late than never" for fantasy owners.
Evan Silva: Le'Veon Bell has a late-season bye and a cupcake schedule in the fantasy playoffs. If you're in a league that has not yet shut down trades, I think you might want to put in an offer for Le'Veon. He's turned in his two slowest games in terms of yardage in back-to-back weeks, which may lower his perceived stock, and he faces the Bengals, Falcons and Chiefs in Weeks 14-16. Cincinnati has arguably had the worst run defense in the league over the course of the year. Atlanta allows the most fantasy points to running backs. And Kansas City serves up over 5.0 yards per carry to RBs.
Nick Mensio: Matthew Stafford is a quarterback I've been trying to acquire in re-draft in preparation for the fantasy playoffs. He has the Bears' cupcake defense on tap in Weeks 13 and 16, with 16 being Super Bowl week. In between that, Stafford and the Lions host the Bucs, who have been getting torched by the pass.
Pierre Garcon is an underachiever who I think could post huge numbers down the stretch. In Weeks 14-16, the Redskins get the Rams, Giants, and Eagles. The Rams have been playing better defense of late, but are still trying to figure out their cornerback pairings. The Giants have lost two of their top three corners, and the Eagles have allowed the third-most fantasy points to receivers. Garcon torched Philadelphia for 11-138-1 in Week 3. And he's always had more success with RGIII at quarterback.
Adam Levitan: Josh Gordon isn't coming back cold. He's been allowed to work out at the Browns facility while not slinging cars (kidding, I think), meaning he should hit the ground running against the Falcons in Week 12. He also gets a home game against Cincy in Week 15 and plays at Swiss cheese Carolina in Week 16. Gordon is a layup.
For those who like to live a little more dangerously, Sammy Watkins should be cheap following Thursday night's clunker. He gets a long week to get his groin right, then faces the Jets. In Weeks 14 and 15, the Bills face Denver and Green Bay. They aren't great spots, but he should see tons volume as the Bills play catch up. And then in Week 16, when all the chips are down, Sammy plays at Oakland.
Nick's call of Garcon scares me a bit for the same reason I was off him in August — he's no longer the "X" in a Shanahan scheme. Can he still have good games? Sure. But is he set up for volume success like he was last season? Definitely not, especially with DeSean Jackson playing at such a high level. Oh, and if you really want to get excited about Gordon — he'll be Kyle Shanahan's "X" in Cleveland.
Ryan McDowell: The guy I’m buying into, of course in dynasty, but for the next several weeks also, is Mike Evans. I was worried about Josh McCown reclaiming the job and how that might affect Evans, but he had another huge game and is clearly the team’s top WR at this point with Vincent Jackson lacking consistency. Evans is the WR1 over the past two weeks, the WR5 over the past three weeks and the WR22 for the season, even with a slow start and one missed game. His schedule is pretty nice too, including a week 15 game against the Panthers.
Daugherty: Drew Brees is someone else I’m in on. For all the hand-wringing over his play, he’s still fantasy’s No. 5 quarterback. Through the fantasy playoffs, he’s at home for 4-of-6 games, while his road jaunts are to Pittsburgh and Chicago. The Bears have the league’s worst pass defense, while the Steelers are beginning to get blown apart by injuries. There’s stiff competition at quarterback this season, but Brees should definitely have a run at top-three overall status in him.