• No more waiting with bated breath, I am back. Last week, similar to six NFL teams, I took my bye week (although I took mine because of midterms). But fear not, your fantasy expert has returned with one of the more important articles of the year.

    The fantasy playoffs are suddenly creeping up on us. For most leagues, you’ve only got 3 weeks left to either make a run or make an exit. Now for some, you may already be looking towards the playoffs. Maybe you’re sitting at 8-2 and have already clinched a spot, or maybe you’re 7-3 just looking for one more win to punch your ticket. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in, it’s time to look at players with an eye for the playoffs. So in today’s article I want to take a look at a couple players at each position that could be the difference between making the playoffs and being a championship contender. Now you may feel it’s a little early to start looking ahead but remember the key to fantasy football success: being ahead of the curve. Beat your league rivals to the waiver wire and reap the benefits on your way to the trophy.

    For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume your playoffs run from weeks 14 through 17…

    AND DON’T FORGET: You can always email me at FantasyDecisions@gmail.com with any weekly questions, trade help or anything you need. I’m the “expert” with the answers.

     

    Favorable Playoff Schedules

    QB

    ·Robert Griffin

    The Baylor project may just have the most favorable down the stretch schedule of any QB in the league. In weeks 14-16 he faces the Rams, Giants, and Eagles. Or in other words, the seventh, ninth, and third worst against the pass, respectively. It’s hard to find a more passing-friendly stretch of matchups. If he’s somehow available in your league’s waiver wire, stop reading this article and go grab him. I also think you could get him for very little in a trade if your deadline hasn’t passed. While you’re not starting him over any of the top three-six guys, he could easily slide in to the second tier of QBs.

    ·Tony Romo

    It’s no coincidence that, like RG3, Romo plays in the NFC East. For such a consistently competitive division, the passing defense among the four teams is lacking, to put it lightly. Romo may even have a better schedule then the aforementioned Griffin. In weeks 14, 15, and 17 Romo plays three of the four worst passing defenses in the NFL! The juiciest matchup obviously being the Bears in week 14. (Did you catch what happened when Aaron Rodgers took a turn at them in week 10? Yeah, I want anyone and everyone on the offense playing Da Bears)

     

    RB

    ·Mark Ingram

    Some may be considering “selling high” on Ingram with the Saints running backs getting healthy and coming back to steal carries. If that’s the case in your league, please go send whatever it takes to get the Alabama stud on your team. It’s no fluke that Ingram has AVERAGED 27 carries the last three weeks. He has been an absolute bellcow in an offense that hasn’t had one in a long, long time.  And his schedule just gets easier and easier. He’s facing 3 of the 10 worst rush defenses in the playoff weeks. Including maybe the very best matchup of any position down the stretch, a week 16 home game against the Falcons, the league’s worst rushing defense. His numbers aren’t a fluke. Sean Payton trusts him and so too should you.

    ·Chris Ivory

    This week may be your last chance to buy in on the Ivory market. After a bye this week, Ivory’s schedule is almost full proof (minus a tough week 12 matchup in Buffalo). In weeks 14-16, Ivory faces the 24th, 25th, and 26th ranked rushing defenses, respectively. The Jets RB is the perfect, under the radar tailback that could easily be a RB2 on a championship team. Not to mention, it shouldn’t take much to get him after two tough weeks and this week’s bye. Buy in on him now and be prepared to use him to crush your league-mates.

     

    WR

    · Andre Johnson

    My homer-ism may be strong here but my boy Dre has a shot to be a top 10 WR come playoff time. Two matchups against Jacksonville certainly don’t hurt with that prediction. Not to mention a meeting with the Ravens who lost Jimmy Smith, their top cornerback, for the year to a foot injury. Mallett and Andre are known to have a special bond, more so than Fitz had with Dre. By the time we get to the fantasy playoffs, Mallett will have had 3 games under his belt and will be looking for the trustworthiest hands in the NFL. A hall of fame receiver will be looking like his old self as he tears up the Jags in route to a huge end to the season.

    · Kelvin Benjamin

    The huge red zone target has been absolutely massive for Newton this season. His acclimation to the NFL has had its bumps but there’s no questioning his talent, which has led to him being the 10th best receiver in fantasy this year. I’m loving the week 14 and 15 back to back against the Saints and Bucs, the 4th and 1st worst passing defenses in the league. With a bye in week 12, Benjamin may be gettable in your league. Make it happen and smile as the Florida State kid tears up some weak secondaries.

     

    TE

    ·Kyle Rudolph

    The young TE has finally returned to practice after going through foot surgery following week three. Teddy Bridgewater needs a reliable target in Minny and I think Rudolph provides that for the young QB down the stretch. He had 5 targets in all three games to start the season and returns to a team desperate for a better passing offense. Rudolph has a great sandwich of the Jets awful secondary in week 14 and a week 17 meeting with Da Bears. Now that’s some favorable white bread on your sandwich. Just today I actually dropped Vernon Davis for the young TE. I’m all in and I think you should be too.

     

    DEF/ST

    ·Texans D/ST

    Just remember, this defense put up 20 points in the only game of the year in which JJ Watt, Brian Cushing, and JD Clowney played together. This unit has had a bye week to get healthy and it’s time to store them away for the playoffs. If nothing more than for the week 14 and 17 matchups against the woeful Jaguars. A stiff D against the Jags in the last week of your championship? Yeah I’ll take that everyday of the week.

     

    Week 11 Rankings

     

    QB

    1.  Aaron Rodgers

    2.  Peyton Manning

    3.  Andrew Luck

    4.  Philip Rivers

    5.  Tom Brady

    6.  Drew Brees

    7.  Matthew Stafford

    8.  Matt Ryan

    9.  Robert Griffin

    10. Josh McCown

    11. Colin Kaepernick

    12. Mark Sanchez

    13. Jay Cutler

    14. Teddy Bridgewater

    15. Ryan Tannehill

    16. Cam Newton

    17. Shaun Hill

    18. Derek Carr

    19. Andy Dalton

    20. Ryan Mallett

     

    RB

    1.  Arian Foster

    2.  Matt Fort

    3.  Le’Veon Bell

    4.  Mark Ingram

    5.  Jamaal Charles

    6.  Marshawn Lynch

    7.  Alfred Morris

    8.  LeSean McCoy

    9.  Eddie Lacy

    10. Jeremy Hill

    11. Andre Ellington

    12. Frank Gore

    13. Ryan Matthews

    14. Ahmad Bradshaw

    15. Rashad Jennings

    16. Fred Jackson

    17. C.J. Anderson

    18. Jonathan Stewart

    19. Shane Vereen

    20. Steven Jackson

    21. Jerick McKinnon

    22. Terrance West

    23. Lamar Miller

    24. Ben Tate

    25. Bobby Rainey

     

    WR

    1.  Demaryius Thomas

    2.  Jordy Nelson

    3.  Calvin Johnson

    4.  Antonio Brown

    5.  Jeremy Maclin

    6.  A.J. Green

    7.  Randall Cobb

    8.  Julio Jones

    9.  DeSean Jackson

    10. Kelvin Benjamin

    11. Emmanuel Sanders

    12. Brandon Marshall

    13. T.Y. Hilton

    14. Roddy White

    15. Odell Beckham Jr.

    16. Sammy Watkins

    17. Andre Johnson

    18. Golden Tate

    19. Mike Evans

    20. Alshon Jeffery

    21. Vincent Jackson

    22. Mike Wallace

    23. DeAndre Hopkins

    24. Julian Edelman

    25. Brandon LaFell

     

    TE

    1.  Rob Gronkowski

    2.  Jimmy Graham

    3.  Antonio Gates

    4.  Julius Thomas

    5.  Greg Olsen

    6.  Larry Donnell

    7.  Dwayne Allen

    8.  Travis Kelce

    9.  Jared Cook

    10. Martellus Bennett

     

    DEF/ST

    1.  Broncos

    2.  Bills

    3.  Seahawks

    4.  Cardinals

    5.  Dolphins

    6.  Lions

    7.  Steelers

    8.  Redskins

    9.  Chargers D

    10. Vikings

     

    Flex

    1.  Arian Foster

    2.  Demaryius Thomas

    3.  Matt Forte

    4.  Le’Veon Bell

    5.  Jordy Nelson

    6.  Calvin Johnson

    7.  Antonio Brown

    8.  Mark Ingram

    9.  Jamaal Charles

    10. Rob Gronkowski

    11. Marshawn Lynch

    12. Jeremy Maclin

    13. Alfred Morris

    14. LeSean McCoy

    15. A.J. Green

    16. Randall Cobb

    17. Eddie Lacy

    18. Jimmy Graham

    19. Jeremy Hill

    20. Andre Ellington

    21. Julio Jones

    22. DeSean Jackson

    23. Kelvin Benjamin

    24. Frank Gore

    25. Antonio Gates

    26. Ryan Matthews

    27. Emmanuel Sanders

    28. Brandon Marshall

    29. Julius Thomas

    30. T.Y. Hilton

    31. Roddy White

    32. Odell Beckham Jr.

    33. Ahmad Bradshaw

    34. Rashad Jennings

    35. Fred Jackson

    36. C.J. Anderson

    37. Greg Olsen

    38. Jonathan Stewart

    39. Sammy Watkins

    40. Andre Johnson

    41. Shane Vereen

    42. Larry Donnell

    43. Steven Jackson

    44. Golden Tate

    45. Mike Evans

    46. Alshon Jeffery

    47. Jerick McKinnon

    48. Terrance West

    49. Vincent Jackson

    50. Mike Wallace

  • After ten weeks of regular season play, it is time to start predicting who will win what awards in the NFL.

    Offensive Rookie of the Year: Sammy Watkins, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills

    Many may argue that Carolina Panther’s wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is the clear offensive rookie of the year since he has caught seven touchdowns compared to Watkins’ five. However, Watkins provides more of an impact to his team. Anytime Watkins hauls in over 80 receiving yards in a game, the Bills are 4-0. When he records less than 80 yards in a game, the Bills are 1-4. Watkins and Benjamin have put up similar numbers but Watkins’ impact to his team is undeniable.

    Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kyle Fuller, Cornerback, Chicago Bears

    Despite dropping off the radar the last couple of weeks due to injury, Kyle Fuller is still in contention for defensive rookie of the year. Fuller’s performance this season should have Bears fans excited about their heir to Charles Tillman. As the first player in 20 years to record three picks and two forced fumbles in his first three NFL games, Fuller’s play indicates he will easily fill in Tillman’s big shoes. Fuller currently has three forced fumbles and three interceptions on the season. Regardless of Fuller’s impressive play, if the Bear’s defense keeps giving up 50 points per game, there is no way Fuller wins this award.

    Comeback Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers

    After breaking his collarbone last year in a contest with the Chicago Bears, Aaron Rodgers has sought out revenge against Chicago and is playing some of the best football of his career. Rodgers has torched Chicago this season throwing for ten touchdowns against them in two games, including a six down touchdown performance in the first half alone against the Bears this past Sunday. Rodgers isn’t only performing well against Chicago, as he is third in the league with 25 touchdowns and only three interceptions. What’s amazing is that Rodgers has thrown for 25 touchdowns on only 277 passing attempts. In comparison, touchdown leaders Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck have compiled passing attempts of 353 and 393, respectively. Rodgers is officially back.

    Coach of the Year: Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals

    Bruce Arians is the clear-cut coach of the year. Through Week 10, the Arizona Cardinals are 8-1 and hold the best record in the league after defeating the St. Louis Rams 31-14 in Week 9. Arians’ performance this season has been especially impressive since he has lost many key players on both sides of the ball, but the Cardinals somehow continue to win games. However, it will be tough for the Cardinals to recover after losing quarterback Carson Palmer for the season due to an ACL tear, but if Arians is able to get the Cardinals to win the NFC West with Drew Stanton under center, Arians should win the award unanimously.

    Offensive Player of the Year: DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys

    DeMarco Murray has been everything and more that the Cowboys have asked for this season. Murray started the season rushing for 100 yards in each of his first eight games. Perhaps the reason for these amazing numbers is that his workload is insane. He has carried the ball a total of 244 times and has rushed for a league high 1,233 yards.  If Murray stays healthy, he is on pace to break the 2,000 rushing yard mark and possibly Eric Dickerson’s regular season rushing yard record of 2,105 yards. The only blemish on Murray’s resume is that he has fumbled the ball five times this season. Murray’s performance this season is one of the key reasons why the Cowboys are playing so well.

    Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, Defensive end, Houston Texans

    Watt’s dominant performance this season has not only put him ahead in the defensive player of the year discussion but also in the NFL MVP conversation. In addition to three touchdowns, Watt also has 39 tackles, eight and a half sacks, three fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble. Since 1957, the NFL MVP has been awarded to the best player who is thought to be the most valuable to his team. The award is almost always won by a quarterback or a running back and has only been awarded to a defensive player twice. Lawrence Taylor, linebacker of the New York Giants, last won the award back in 1986. Watt is with no doubt going to win the defensive player of the year award, the real question is, will he be the first defensive player to win the MVP award since Lawrence Taylor?

    Most Valuable Player: Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

    There are many candidates for MVP in the NFL this year including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and J.J. Watt but, through Week 10, Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback Andrew Luck is the frontrunner for the award. With a league leading 3,085 passing yards through nine games, Luck is on pace to break Peyton Manning’s record of 5,477 passing yards in a season. Luck’s completion percentage (63.6%) and average yards per attempt (7.85) are significantly higher than his first two seasons in the NFL. Luck and the Colts are also on pace to win the AFC South for the third straight year and could possibly clinch a first round bye in the postseason. Even with similar numbers to Brady and Manning, Luck might be given the award simply because he has never won it before.