The fantasy football playoffs are here, with Week 14 marking the first round for most leagues. Several struggling stars seek redemption in critical matchups, while some surprise performers aim to continue their breakout campaigns. This pivotal week could make or break fantasy seasons.
Big Names Look to Bounce Back
Some huge names have recently posted duds, delivering far below fantasy manager expectations. This week offers the chance at redemption.
Justin Jefferson’s last three games have been his worst fantasy outputs all season. The WR1 faces a middling Raiders’ pass defense allowing the 13th most fantasy points to receivers. Despite recent struggles, Jefferson remains an elite option who could erupt this week.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire disappointed last week with just 7.1 fantasy points. He now splits work with Jerick McKinnon. Both RBs face a sturdy Broncos defense. McKinnon saw more snaps last game and offers receiving upside, giving him flex appeal over Edwards-Helaire.
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Jefferson’s talent gives him every chance to bounce back against Las Vegas. McKinnon seems the better Chiefs back to deploy this week in fantasy lineups.
Intriguing Options Emerging
Some new faces have burst onto the scene recently. Managers scrambling to fill lineups during the playoffs could find value in these emerging options.
Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson finally showed life last week, scoring over 20 fantasy points for the first time all season. He draws a Chiefs defense allowing the 6th most fantasy points to QBs. Wilson makes for an excellent streamer with high upside in Week 14.
Chargers receiver Joshua Palmer erupted with a 9 catch, 106 yard outing last Thursday night. He outpaced teammate Keenan Allen in snaps, targets and production. Facing Miami’s porous pass defense, Palmer offers WR3/flex appeal in this potential shootout.
Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert returns from a shoulder injury that sidelined him the past month. In his last full game in Week 10, Goedert went 6-63-1. With receiver DeVonta Smith iffy to play, Goedert should retake an expanded role against the Cowboys.
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Palmer and Goedert have great matchups to keep rolling. Wilson’s rushing gives him a somewhat stable floor and nice ceiling to deliver for managers once more.
Defense/Special Team Outlook
Defenses can swing fantasy playoff matches. Several readily available units have juicy situations that make them prime streaming candidates.
The Seahawks surprised many by limiting highly-touted offenses recently. Now they face the hapless Panthers and new starting quarterback Sam Darnold. Carolina allows the 5th most fantasy points to defenses. Seattle’s unit offers plenty of big play potential this week.
The Commanders generate pressure and turnovers in bunches. They take on the Giants and quarterback Daniel Jones who tends to give the ball away under duress. Jones was just sacked 5 times last game. Washington’s aggressive defense should feast at home in this divisional tilt.
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Riding surging defensive units into fantasy playoff matchups can pay major dividends. The Seahawks and Commanders stand out as widely available streamers that could deliver this week.
Navigating Byes and Injuries
The next two weeks feature all teams taking their bye weeks. Managers need contingency plans to replace absent superstars or those who popped up as injury game day inactives last round.
Texans receiver Brandin Cooks was a surprise inactive for Week 13. But now returning from a calf injury in this critical week, he has an appetizing draw against Dallas’ generous pass defense. Cooks holds WR3/flex appeal as a replacement for those missing a receiver on bye like A.J. Brown or others hurt like Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson looked very sharp in his second game back from suspension last week. He takes on Cincinnati’s middle of the pack pass defense that Patrick Mahomes just shredded for 331 yards and 3 touchdowns. Watson’s rushing floor and improved play makes him a great streamer for those missing Justin Herbert or deploying Russell Wilson already.
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Cooks and Watson have terrific matchups to keep producing. Both make for strong injury and bye week fill-ins to slot into starting lineups.
Outlook Moving Forward
While Week 14 marks the start of the fantasy postseason, plenty remains up for grabs in the next few pivotal weeks. Several backs sit in murky committees, but could still emerge down the stretch run as featured options.
The Chiefs’ McKinnon and Edwards-Helaire continue battling for lead duties. In Miami, both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. see equitable touches. Their roles may crystallize more in coming games.
Some receivers have enjoyed expanded opportunities recently as well. The Falcons’ rookies Drake London and Olamide Zaccheaus continue seeing increased targets. Broncos’ Courtland Sutton draws softer coverage with Jerry Jeudy sidelined. These pass catchers can provide critical production for fantasy squads when needed most.
Streaming defense and quarterbacks based on matchups also remains viable for those still competing for fantasy glory. Veterans like Derek Carr and Daniel Jones have expressed desire to finish their seasons strong. Their play combined with choice draws for defenses like Denver, Detroit and Cleveland could make a championship difference.
Staying atop the key injury and depth chart changes will determine who advances during these decisive fantasy playoff weeks. Making the right moves now at running back, receiver and quarterback while targeting advantageous defense pairings carries even more importance as the season hangs in the balance. One astute waiver claim and optimum lineup configuration is all it takes to be crowned league champion this year. Good luck to all still chasing the fantasy crown!
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