The fantasy football season is drawing to a close, and with just three weeks left in the NFL season, the pressure is mounting for owners who are in the playoffs. No matter what round of the playoffs, the stress of putting together the best lineup means the difference between taking home the trophy or second-guessing decisions until the next NFL season rolls around.
While there are several matchups that make sense for each position, it’s easy to forget that some players or even defenses are simply matchup-proof. But going into this list, remember that the status of Adrian Peterson looks bleak, Aaron Rodgers might not be passing to Jordy Nelson, and Jay Cutler looks like the starter for the Bears this week.
With all of this and more in mind, here are the top 10 players at each position for the fantasy playoffs.
|1||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||San Diego Chargers|
|2||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||St. Louis Rams|
|3||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||N.Y. Jets|
|4||Matthew Stafford||Detroit Lions||Baltimore Ravens|
|5||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks||N.Y. Giants|
|6||Philip Rivers||San Diego Chargers||Denver Broncos|
|7||Nick Foles||Philadelphia Eagles||Minnesota Vikings|
|8||Tony Romo||Dallas Cowboys||Green Bay Packers|
|9||Tom Brady||New England Patriots||Miami Dolphins|
|10||Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts||Houston Texans|
Top Players Breakdown
- Look for Drew Brees to also continue his domination of pass defenses this weekend when the New Orleans Saints travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams. After facing two top-five passing defenses with the Seahawks and Panthers, Brees will take on the 22nd-ranked pass defense that give up 19 touchdowns on the season.
- Cam Newton will have a bounce-back game in Week 15 against the New York Jets after struggling against the Saints. As well as the Jets stop the rush, they simply can’t stop the pass. The Jets have given up 24 passing touchdowns on the season—just two less than the horrifically bad Cowboys secondary—and are surrendering an average of 255 yards per game. Still, look for Newton to run the ball a healthy amount despite the matchup as well.
- Joe Flacco has a good matchup against the Detroit Lions and could have a good night on the other side of Matthew Stafford. The Lions are giving up 256 passing yards per game but have forced 27 sacks on the season. If Flacco can stand upright, look for him to put up good fantasy points.
- Andy Dalton, at times, has the potential to look like a top-10 fantasy quarterback. But without knowing which Dalton will show up, it’s tough to put him on the list yet. How he performs against a top-10 passing defense might dictate whether fantasy owners have confidence in him moving forward.
|1||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||Oakland Raiders|
|2||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||Minnesota Vikings|
|3||DeMarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys||Green Bay Packers|
|4||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||Cleveland Browns|
|5||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||N.Y. Giants|
|6||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers||Dallas Cowboys|
|7||Alfred Morris||Washington Redskins||Atlanta Falcons|
|8||Knowshon Moreno||Denver Broncos||San Diego Chargers|
|9||Shane Vereen||New England Patriots||Miami Dolphins|
|10||Ben Tate||Houston Texans||Indianapolis Colts|
Top Players Breakdown
- Jamaal Charles has been matchup-proof all year. And this week, he faces an Oakland defense that, while ranking 12th in the NFL in rush defense, is simply not very good. If Charles doesn’t get a lot of yards in the passing or running game, expect him to get a healthy dose of carries late if the Chiefs start running away—literally—with this game.
- LeSean McCoy proved this past weekend that he is yet another matchup-proof back who can light up any team. Going against a stingy Detroit Lions rush defense in the snow, McCoy shattered the Eagles’ rushing record with 217 yards on the ground. While that’s not a reasonable expectation this week, McCoy faces a Vikings defense that has allowed 118 rushing yards per game and a total of 13 touchdowns on the season.
- DeMarco Murray had a good performance against the bottom-ranked Bears rush defense, but it wasn’t great because he didn’t touch paydirt. Expect Murray to reach the end zone in Week 15 against another putrid Packers rush defense that has gives up 111 rushing yards per game and has allowed 11 touchdowns on the season.
- Zac Stacy will improve this week, facing the No. 17 rushing defense in the NFL against the Saints. The only reason he’s outside of the top 10 is simply because of his underwhelming performances as of late. Expect a huge turnaround for Stacy this weekend.
- How in the world could Frank Gore be left off the list? Well, because he’s playing a top-10 rushing defense at Tampa Bay that has given up just six touchdowns all season. While Gore is capable of putting up good numbers, this week presents a tougher matchup than even last week against Seattle.
|1||Josh Gordon||Cleveland Browns||Chicago Bears|
|2||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||Baltimore Ravens|
|3||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||San Diego Chargers|
|4||Andre Johnson||Houston Texans||Indianapolis Colts|
|5||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|6||DeSean Jackson||Philadelphia Eagles||Minnesota Vikings|
|7||Alshon Jeffery||Chicago Bears||Cleveland Browns|
|8||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers||Cincinnati Bengals|
|9||Roddy White||Atlanta Falcons||Washington Redskins|
|10||Vincent Jackson||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||San Francisco 49ers|
Top Players Breakdown
- Josh Gordon has simply been the best statistical wide receiver in the league since his return in Week 3. Gordon hasn’t put up less than 18 points since Week 9 and is by far the best weapon the Browns have. Going against a good Chicago defense could reduce his numbers, but there’s no way Gordon can’t be ranked at the top of this list.
- Calvin Johnson, like Gordon, has become matchup-proof. Widely considered the best wide receiver in all of football, Johnson will be looking to bounce back after an awful Week 14 in which a snowstorm and terrible performance by Matthew Stafford grounded his numbers. Look for Johnson to put up huge numbers on Monday Night Football against the Ravens.
- Torrey Smith looks like a fantasy star one week and a fantasy dud the next. With a good matchup against the Detroit Lions, Smith could have another erratic breakout game. But it’s tough to put a guy who’s been reliant on touchdowns to get points this high on the list. Since Week 6, Smith has cracked 75 yards or more just twice.
- The return of Jay Cutler means Brandon Marshall could be seeing more targets this week, but with a tough matchup against the Cleveland Browns, Marshall didn’t quite crack the top 10. He and Alshon Jeffery should put up points, but the Browns are a top-10 passing defense.
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||St. Louis Rams|
|2||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|3||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||San Diego Chargers|
|4||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||Chicago Bears|
|5||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||Green Bay Packers|
|6||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||N.Y. Jets|
|7||Tony Gonzalez||Atlanta Falcons||Washington Redskins|
|8||Charles Clay||Miami Dolphins||New England Patriots|
|9||Martellus Bennett||Chicago Bears||Cleveland Browns|
|10||Antonio Gates||San Diego Chargers||Denver Broncos|
Top Players Breakdown
- Jimmy Graham is the top fantasy tight end this week for many of the same reasons that Drew Brees is a top-three fantasy quarterback. The two have a huge connection, especially in the red zone, and are facing a bottom-tier Rams defense that will likely get burned by this tandem.
- Vernon Davis is typically the beneficiary of Colin Kaepernick‘s red-zone targets, and owners shouldn’t expect that to change this week. Against a Tampa Bay defense that has allowed 24 touchdowns this season through the air, expect Davis to put up double-digit points for the third time in the last four weeks.
- Dennis Pitta returned last week and finished with 48 yards and snagged a touchdown. Against a Detroit Lions team that gives up a lot of passing yards and touchdowns, expect Pitta to be the safety valve for Joe Flacco on Monday Night.
- Coby Fleener is a guy who has underperformed as of late but has a good matchup this week in the red zone. While Houston ranks second in the league in pass defense, it has given up 20 touchdowns through the air.
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