If the fantasy gods have aligned for you, and you’re reading this article with a sense of optimism, give yourself a pat on the back. It’s been a long road but by golly, you’ve almost made it. You might be one win away from reaching the promised land, or you might already be there. Either way, it’s now you can start to plan for December. If you aren’t going to make the playoffs, then I don’t know what to tell you – move along.
You might think the title is a bit dubious, but that’s what a lot of fantasy football is about, right? It’s predicting who’s going to go off one week and who’s going to lay an egg. It’s about speculating which player is going to make it off the dreaded injury report in time. It’s second guessing yourself over Tyler Eifert, adamant he’s going to score a TD against the lousy Cardinals D, only for him to go and score 3.4 points. You get the message.
This is Part 1 of my forecast – players who are languishing on your waiver wire who might just be a knight in shining armour.
TIER 1 – Most Confidence In
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants (34% owned in ESPN)
Weeks 14-17: @PHI, vs MIA, @WAS, vs PHI
Yeeshhh, I hear you say. After that big intro, you were expecting something juicier than ‘Danny Dimes’, weren’t you? My reasoning here, and with everyone else I’m going to list, is purely playoff based. So, stop the tutting.
Jones has a Philly cheesesteak sandwich for his playoff run, but the filling is gooier and more golden than ever. Weeks 15 and 16 see him line up against the Dolphins and the Redskins, who are probably 2A and 2B for worst teams in the league; the Bengals get the unequivocal 1 spot from me.
To give you some numbers, Jones has 2 games with over 300 yards and a combined 4 TD’s, zero picks, in his last 3 outings. Also, with a bit of luck, Philly might have nothing to play for in Week 17. That means 3 very winnable games against teams who could’ve mailed it in by then. If you’re in a 2 QB league or facing an injury dilemma, Mr Dimes could change your fortunes.
Randall Cobb, WR, Dallas Cowboys (39% owned in ESPN)
Weeks 14-17: @CHI, vs LAR, @PHI, vs WAS
Any man who can earn Aaron Rodgers’ trust is good enough for me. The 8-year vet who has seemingly been around for ever is currently looking as good as ever. In his last two outings, Cobb has racked up 10 catches for 121 yards, 2 TD’s and a whopping 44.1 points. Not bad for a guy who was pretty much an afterthought for much of this season.
Although back to back games against the Bears and Rams is not exactly creampuff, it’s no death row either. Just think of the friendliness of the Eagles secondary and the downright generous Redskins secondary to finish off.
With Cooper banged up and constantly drawing the defence’s best corner, and Gallup stepping up to the plate meaning more attention too, Cobb can flourish in that lovely, little flex spot.
TIER 2 – Slight Worry, But Still
AJ Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans (16.6% owned in ESPN)
Weeks 14-17: @OAK, vs HOU, vs NO, vs HOU
The rookie has had a topsy-turvy year but, in all fairness, Marcus Mariota would have that effect on most people. Out with the old and in with the new, with that new being Ryan Tannehill. Since the QB change, the Titans are 3-1 but it’s not necessarily equalling big numbers for our man, AJ.
If we’re going to look on the bright side, which I’m trying to do hence his inclusion in this segment, then there are some things to take note. Brown is leading the Titans in snaps and is also seeing 24% in air yards come his way. This has been with Corey Davis out, so naturally defenders have had less to worry about. The thinking is, with Davis back, the floor is a bit more open.
Game script will probably mean Tannehill throwing the ball a fair bit in this playoff run. Plus, if you hadn’t of noticed, there’s 2 games against a JJ Watt-less Texans D, who are really struggling to pressure any defender. Again, if you’re in a tight spot at flex or need to fill a WR2 slot, Brown could turn that frown upside down.
Ryan Griffin, TE, New York Jets (18% owned in ESPN)
Weeks 14-17: @MIA, @BAL, vs PIT, @BUF
I won’t ramble on about how bad the Tight End position is anymore – we all get it. This prediction is erring on the semi-irrational scale, but it’s a player who might fill a void at a position that’s so thin, bad, annoying…see, done it again.
Ryan Griffin is now the leading TE in New York since Chris Herndon found himself on IR. Week 11 saw a 5 catch, 109 yards game against the Skins, which is promising for the road ahead. No real competition at the position and a Sam Darnold who is no longer seeing ghosts but seeing open targets, is even more promising.
After Miami, the road does look a bit difficult. Game script, however, will surely be in our favour for the last 3. This should mean a lot of volume and, fingers crossed, some real rewards for Ryan.
TIER 3 – Semi-Irrational On Steroids
Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots (14.4% owned in ESPN)
Weeks 14-17: vs KC, @ CIN, vs BUF, vs MIA
Demaryius Thomas, Jordan Wilkins, Dwayne Haskins…they were all pondered for this section. Truth to be told, I shouldn’t really do Tier 3, but I haven’t listed a running back yet, and I’ve had a Friday night gin, so let’s roll with it.
Predicting what might happen in the Pats running game is a waste of time usually. The depth chart will also list Burkhead as number 3, so you’re probably thinking why I’ve bothered. BUT WAIT! The Pats need to get the offence going – it’s stagnating and becoming one dimensional.
The thinking here is that Rex gets more involved, particularly in the passing game. One interesting titbit – Burkhead saw the second most snaps behind James White the last time out. That was in a game they trailed all day long, and that scenario might present itself at Arrowhead in Week 14. Hell, the Pats might even be ringing the changes in Week 17 to keep guys fresh for the playoffs – we can dream!
This is a fitting end to the ‘SEMI-IRRATIONAL PLAYOFFS FORECAST – PART 1’. Be sure to check out Part 2, where I’ll be throwing my arms up in the air and reeling off some defences for you, with a few handcuffs thrown in. Adios.