The objective during the fantasy football playoffs is simple: win. If you don’t, all your work this season will be for naught. And that means tough decisions need to be made.
If you are favored in your matchup, go with as many sure things as you can. If you aren’t, it makes sense to take on some risk for a high reward — and that includes benching star players who are in less-than-ideal situations. It won’t be easy to start or sit players based on these parameters, but it still will be the right thing to do.
Jaguars defense/special teams
Washington’s offensive players already ruled out include quarterbacks Alex Smith and backup Colt McCoy, offensive linemen Brandon Scherff, Shawn Lauvao and Tyler Catalina, wideouts Paul Richardson, Trey Quinn, Cam Sima and Robert Davis plus tight end Jordan Reed. Josh Doctson is going through the league-mandated concussion protocol and is questionable to play in Week 15.
With so many starters unable to play, Jacksonville should have little trouble limiting the NFL’s sixth-worst offense (after adjusting for strength of schedule and weighting recent results more heavily than earlier weeks) per Football Outsiders.
Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders
Cook caught 7 of 10 targets for 116 yards on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers giving him two straight games with at least 100 yards receiving. Plus, this week’s opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, allows a robust 113.7 passer rating this season to opposing quarterbacks targeting tight ends in coverage per TruMedia; the league average is 98.6.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Dixon is slowly carving out a niche for himself in Baltimore late in the season. The third-year pro was on the field for almost a third of the team’s snaps (32 percent) in Week 14, more than Ty Montgomery (27 percent) and close to Gus Edwards (44 percent), and carried the ball eight times for 59 yards and a score. Plus, he remains one of the more elusive backs in the NFL per Pro Football Focus, forcing eight missed tackles on 29 carries in 2018.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Everyone remembers Rodgers orchestrating a come-from-behind victory on one leg against the Bears at the start of the season but that has been a highlight in an otherwise mediocre year. The six-time Pro Bowl quarterback is completing a career low 62 percent of his passes and will again face a Bears defense that ranks No. 1 in the league per Football Outsiders.
Plus, Chicago hasn’t allowed more than nine fantasy points to a passer since Week 12, and that includes holding Jared Goff to 180 passing yards with four interceptions last Sunday.
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
We’ve seen good and bad from Wentz this season but the Rams are going to be a tough test for him in Week 15. Los Angeles has the second-best pass-rushing unit and the 13th best secondary per the game charters at Pro Football Focus, which will almost certainly keep Wentz in check for most of the game. In addition, Wentz’s passer rating drops from 110.5 to 76.9 when facing pass-rush pressure in 2018.
The Eagles may also sit Wentz before you have to, as he’s reportedly dealing with back spasms and will be evaluated after missing practice Wednesday. Should he miss the game, don’t expect Nick Foles to come to the rescue like last season.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans has caught 70 of 111 targets for 1,207 yards and five touchdowns in 2018. Matchup proof, right? Maybe.
The Ravens defense is holding No. 1 receivers like Evans to 55.6 yards per game, which, after adjusting for strength of schedule, is the fourth-best mark in the NFL. Overall, quarterbacks have produced a passer rating of 84.3 against Baltimore this year, making it the fourth-best pass defense in 2018; league average passer rating is 93.8.
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