While you can’t win a fantasy title without at least a few stars on your team, few championships are won without taking some risks and relying on non-stars throughout the course of a season.
With the fantasy playoffs either just around the corner or starting this week in your league, you may be hesitant to roll the dice on more modest fantasy performers. But if you are looking to fill a hole at a position, I’ve selected four players I think will surprise some folks with big showings this week.
Notes: All point totals for standard-scoring leagues. Points against stats via ESPN.
Josh McCown, QB, Chicago Bears
Few backup quarterbacks in football are steadier than Josh McCown—or at least than McCown has been this season for fantasy owners. He now has 15 or more fantasy points in three of his last five appearances and added a solid if unspectacular 12 points in another game.
This week, he faces a Minnesota Vikings defense allowing 20.3 fantasy points to opposing offenses per game (31st in the NFL) and 281.7 passing yards per contest, 29th in the league. If you aren’t confident in your normal starter at quarterback, McCown is an excellent replacement.
Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Two weeks ago, Donald Brown absolutely torched the Tennessee Titans, finishing with 94 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Perhaps that shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise—Trent Richardson has been awful this season, while the Titans allow 20.2 fantasy points to opposing running backs, 27th in the NFL.
The Titans have given up two touchdowns to opposing runners in five of the last six weeks, at least 17 fantasy points nine times and 20 or more points in six straight weeks. Unless you think Richardson is going to suddenly start playing up to his potential, keep Brown in those starting lineups.
Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals
While the Philadelphia Eagles have tightened up defensively over the past several weeks, the team still leaks points to opposing wide receivers, currently giving up an NFL-worst 28.9 per week. While that certainly means Larry Fitzgerald should have a big week, don’t be shocked if Michael Floyd is a stud for owners as well.
Floyd has 13 receptions for 297 yards and a touchdown in his past two games and has scored at least nine fantasy points in four of his last six games. The Eagles have struggled against a team’s second or third option in the passing game, so don’t be surprised if Floyd posts solid numbers on Sunday.
Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Stick with Arizona and Philadelphia here, and turn to a player that hasn’t been very reliable for fantasy owners in Brent Celek (eight or more fantasy points just three times this year) but one who should be able to exploit a tasty matchup this week.
While Arizona has been excellent defensively this season, it has really struggled against tight ends, allowing a league-worst 13.7 fantasy points to the position per game. They have given up touchdowns to tight ends in three straight weeks and 11 in total on the season.
Celek is certainly a risky play, but he’s worth the gamble in deeper leagues.
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