Welcome, all you fantasy football junkies, flunkies and rookies! It’s playoff time folks, so this Tuesday before the fantasy week starts, “Mark’s Fantasy Goldmine” will be updating you, LB Nation, on exactly who you need in that oh-so-tricky flex spot, the best matchups to exploit on this crucial week and players who may prove to be game-changers.
To keep myself responsible to my fellow peers and prove why you should pick up these golden nuggets of wisdom, I will post my personal fantasy team each week, “The Funky Bunch.” This week I picked up my fifth straight win against my best friend (5-0, sorry Zac), thanks to a late field goal by the Seattle Seahawks. Alright, now let’s get digging!
Flex On ‘Em
Every year, a new crop of players stand out throughout the season due to new opportunities arising, good matchups presenting themselves, or just flat out catching fire on the field. Here are the best risk/reward options you should unearth and plug into your x-factor slot this week.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks expected big things out of their first-round selection from San Diego State, and that potential is finally starting to shine through. As Pete Carrol has implemented his two-head running back attack, it has relieved the pressure from Wilson’s weighed down shoulders. Penny is a must-flex this week against an exploitable Rams defense in an important divisional matchup.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Melvin Gordon has cemented his spot as the lead-back once again, but Austin Ekeler is still an integral part of the team’s offensive production. The Jacksonville Jaguars struggle to stop dynamic running backs, so Godron may receive the start and more overall points, but Ekeler will get his own too.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones expects to play the next game, which will free Ridley from double-coverage and opposing teams’ best boundary corners. The Panthers have a middling secondary and the Falcons’ record doesn’t indicate the potential of the offense. Trust Ridley in a divisional matchup this week.
Each week presents teams a clean slate with a new matchup to get back on track. Some teams face a tough opponent you should stay away from while others play a team worth picking on. Here are some teams that may produce above-average fantasy production during a week when fantasy owners need all the points they can get.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions currently rank 30th in the NFL in pass defense, and the Vikings are coming off a heartbreaking loss Monday night in a shootout. Expect Kirk Cousins to air the ball out plenty to the purple pass-catchers with the running game taking over after the lead is built.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Seattle Seahawks are heating up at the perfect time right before the playoffs, so don’t expect them to let off the gas against the division rival. The Rams defense struggles to contain high-octane offenses, leading to a ton of opportunities across the board for the Seahawks offense.
Green Bay Packers vs. Washington Redskins
Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes in the snow last week. I’m tempted to leave it there. The Packers are still feeling the Minnesota Vikings breathing down their necks as the season comes to a close, so expect a big win by the big cheese this week. Both running backs warrant starts along with the star of the show, Davante Adams.
The playoffs are a beast of its own. If you’re lucky enough to have made it to the postseason, congrats!. Rarely is a team healthy with a fully loaded bench by season’s end. Now is the time to turn your attention to sleepers. These players may not be consistent fantasy producers across the season, but with opportunities trending upward and meaningful games being played, depend on these under the radar players to provide a boost when it matters most.
James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Washington took a while to get up to speed, but the wide receiver has put up big numbers in three of the last four games. The Arizona Cardinals have the worst pass defense in the NFL, so even with inconsistent quarterback play, the targets will be there with JuJu Smith-Schuster likely out of the lineup.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans are finally seeing the balance they need on offense. With the Oakland Raiders pass defense hardly putting up a fight against anybody this season, expect Tannehill to have a solid outing if you’re in need of a QB streamer.
Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have shown a dedication to the run game this season. While the Saints are no pushovers, they aren’t dominant either. Mostert has dominated the production in the running back stable, so expect him to produce again this week.