If you’re reading this because you’re in the first week of your fantasy playoffs, then congratulations on making the postseason. If you haven’t made it to the fantasy playoffs, however, and are still reading this, then you deserve even more congrats for being just that hardcore of a fantasy content consumer.
We’re nearing the finish line, but there are still situations that could provide opportunities in the coming weeks for attentive owners. For instance, Mike Davis will try to solidify his tenuous grip on the Seahawks’ starting RB job, and while that backfield thus far has proved a huge waste of everyone’s time, and it’s not out of the question that he could prove pretty useful down the stretch.
Of course, it’s very much not out of the question that Davis could show little in a tough matchup at Jacksonville, and even if he does impress again, Chris Carson might make a late-season comeback and spoil the party. But that’s why it’s important to know more than your opponents, and to plan accordingly, right?
Matchup: vs. Lions, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Doug Martin is practicing this week and appears to be on track to play after missing last week’s game with a concussion, but assuming he suits up, will he get his starting job back? In his absence, Peyton Barber authored Tampa Bay’s first 100-yard rushing performance of the season and racked up 143 total yards, more than Martin has produced in any game since November 2015.
Martin hasn’t played in every game since then, missing time with injuries and a PED-related suspension, but that’s hardly a mark in his favor, and the fact that he’s last among qualified rushers in yards per carry (3.2) probably won’t help his cause, either. In addition, he’ll be 29 in January, and the final three years of his contract contain no guaranteed money, so the Bucs (4-8) could have incentive to see what they have in the 23-year-old Barber, a second-year player out of Auburn.
Tampa Bay certainly wasn’t shy about using Barber in Week 13, giving him 48.2 percent of the team touches, a greater portion than any Bucs RB had attained in a game this season (hat tip to Rotoworld’s Rich Hribar). Unfortunately for the fantasy community, the most likely scenario has Barber and Martin in a committee, with Charles Sims playing on passing downs, but if Barber continues to prove a superior option, one would hope that the Bucs would react accordingly.
Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones, RBs, Packers
Matchup: at Browns, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Back in September, Aaron Jones took advantage of injuries to Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams by looking great and taking over as Green Bay’s feature back. However, in November, Jones’s knee injury gave Williams a chance to reassert himself, and over the past four weeks, Williams is second only to Le’Veon Bell in touches.
If last week’s Packers game hadn’t gone into overtime, we might not be talking about Jones again, but it did, and he again took advantage of an opportunity by breaking a game-winning TD run that reminded everyone of his talent. This time, though, Williams is healthy, so it remains to be seen how much of his workload he cedes to his fellow rookie.
Green Bay may well want to give both RBs plenty of work, given that struggling Brett Hundley could be making his final start at QB before Aaron Rodgers returns. Williams appears better suited for an early-down, move-the-chains role, but Jones has more explosive ability, so if the Packers fall behind to a Browns squad that suddenly has a scary receiving corps with Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman and David Njoku, Williams’s owners may see their guy on the sideline far more often than they’d like.
Stephon Diggs, at Panthers
Matchup: at Panthers, Sunday, 1 p.m.
While we were all celebrating Adam Thielen’s unlikely ascension, Diggs, thought to be a solid WR1 candidate before the season, was going the other way. In five games since coming back from a groin injury, the Maryland product has three outings of 32 yards or fewer, no game with more than 78 yards and just one TD in that span.
In other words, Diggs has become very difficult to trust, and he faces a test against a Panthers defense that’s seventh in yards allowed. However, Carolina has been leaky to WRs in its past four games (Falcons, Dolphins, Jets, Saints), and a good performance could restore some confidence in viewing Diggs as at least a flex play with tempting upside.
Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, WRs, Broncos
Matchup: vs Jets, Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
It’s not the fault of this duo that their team’s QB situation has gone from bad to worse to Paxton Lynch, then back to bad (Trevor Siemian) again, but here we are. In four of his past five games, Sanders has 30 yards or fewer, with no TDs, while Thomas has 45 scoreless yards over his past two games.
A home date with the Jets holds the potential for an unlikely shootout, given the fact that New York and Denver rank 31st and 32nd in the NFL, respectively, in passing TDs allowed (I know, you wouldn’t guess the Broncos would be anywhere near last in that category, right?). It seems like a million years ago, but Siemian actually looked good to start the season, and if the Jets can help him get back some of his long-lost swagger, Thomas and Sanders would look more appetizing in Week 15 and 16 games against the Colts and Redskins.
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