Fantasy Roundtable: Teams and Story-lines We’re Tracking for the Fantasy Playoffs
The crew over at Fantrax hopes that everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving. All over Twitter, we saw pictures of food prep, families getting together, and of course, the delicious meals. Food combined with the 16 total points scored in the first half of the Detroit-Chicago game should have been enough to put anyone to sleep. At least, the remaining games offered some intrigue. Amari Cooper had his annual blow-up game. Plus, the Saints effectively ended the Falcons’ season with another strong home performance. But, we press on with more games to come on Sunday and the real and fantasy playoffs quickly approaching.
This week’s roundtable looked into those playoff storylines. Depending on your draft position, you might have been relying on some of the league’s best players. But, what happens, as their team loses the urgency to produce on the field? It’s a legitimate concern as the fantasy playoffs are only a couple weeks away. For Week 12, our writers tackled the following prompt:
“With the playoff picture for real football starting to come into focus, what teams or storylines have your attention with respect to their fantasy impact as we head into the fantasy playoffs?”
Fantasy Roundtable: Fantasy Playoffs Impactors
Steven Toroni (@FFProfessorST3):
Two weeks ago on the Hot Take Podcast, I said that the Eagles would lose to the surging Saints and the Redskins would lose to the red-hot Texans who had just won six straight games to that point. This “Hot” bold prediction was capped with the claim that the Cowboys would defeat the Falcons in Atlanta. In my opinion, this was the juiciest narrative that could have taken place for the NFL in Week 11.
The Cowboy’s players being Fantasy relevant is directly related to their success this season. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper are coming off of their third straight win on Thanksgiving which enabled them to take the lead in the NFC East for the first time this season. It is not a coincidence that the three had their best cumulative Fantasy day of the season. The Cowboys have seen it all come together this season defensively. The usual underachieving unit is currently ranked eighth in the league in total yards allowed (3,642), third in rushing yards allowed (1,030), and third in passing touchdowns allowed (15). This dominant defense has sparked the playmakers on offense and has set the foundation for their run at the playoffs. For the Fantasy Football playoffs, their schedule looks like this:
Home vs Saints
Home vs Eagles
Away @ Colts
Home vs Buccaneers
That’s the 29th, 27th, 23rd, and 28th ranked defenses, respectively. Elliott has caught at least four passes in four straight games and rushed for at least 121 yards in his last three. The touchdowns are nice, too. Cooper getting involved has been refreshing for both the 24-year-old receiver and the Cowboys organization. He’s received targets 32 times in his four games in Dallas. He was targeted 32 times in six games this season with Oakland. His 8-180-2 explosion was the climax of that usage with more to come. Prescott has scored five rushing touchdowns in his last six games providing a safe floor. His passing yards and touchdowns seem to be capped. He’s yet to throw for more than 300 yards or three touchdowns in any game this season. However, the usage of both Cooper and Elliott in the passing game gives Prescott the potential to expand that ceiling.
The Cowboys are hot at the right time, not only for the real-life playoffs but for Fantasy as well. Prescott is a must-add based on the ensuing schedule. Elliott is a stud who is trending toward being a Top-3 Fantasy back for 2018. Cooper – who knew- is about to be a league-winner for the few that were patient enough to ride this out.
How bout dem Cowboys!
Chris Allen (@ChrisAllenFFWX):
I’m going to cheat and give two answers. Each is in a unique position to help or hurt your squad depending on where you’re sitting in the standings. Let’s walk through them all and, hopefully, I’m wrong.
Am I the only one concerned with how the ‘game of the century’ turned out for Todd Gurley? It was the first game this season without a touchdown or over 100 scrimmage yards. It was later revealed he suffered an ankle injury, but he still saw an 85-percent snap share. The Rams are a lock for the playoffs, but a first-round bye is most likely in their sights. Chicago is the only team to likely challenge them for the second bye spot, but there should be some concern. MVP noise aside, Gurley is an important piece in the Rams’ playoff plans. It’s possible, as their playoff spots are locked in, we start to see less of him. If so, be sure to have Malcolm Brown on your bench.
I don’t know what to do with A.J. Green. This whole situation feels eerily similar to his 2016 hamstring tear. The injury occurs midway through the fantasy season. There’s talk of him coming back just in the time for the playoffs. But, as Cincinnati’s playoffs hopes dwindled, so did our hopes of starting Green. The Bengals are currently tied with the Ravens at 5-5 with three divisional matchups left on the schedule. If they lose to the Browns, Twitter will implode. But, more importantly, it lessens the chance of Marvin Lewis putting Green out on the field. We’ve seen it before with this same player and every fantasy GM should be monitoring the news with the latest.
Mick Ciallela (@themick23):
We are at the point in the season where I start to think about how teams who are out of the hunt will approach the remainder of the season. For example, I wonder how much longer Arizona will give David Johnson 20 touches per game. The Cardinals are 2-8. Johnson signed a three-year contract in September with $30 million fully guaranteed. Johnson turns 27 in December and there is little reason to put added wear and tear on his body. Plus, they’ll want to see what fourth-round rookie Chase Edmonds brings to the table. My feeling is that once Arizona is officially eliminated from playoff contention, Johnson gets diagnosed with some phantom injury and sits out the remainder of the season.
I could see a similar situation with players like Julio Jones in Atlanta or even younger players like Leonard Fournette or Saquon Barkley. I find the situation in New York particularly interesting. Much has been made about the Giants wanting to move on from Eli Manning, and I think that shift is likely to occur if they lose their next two games and fall to 3-9. But at that point, they will have little incentive to risk an injury to Barkley that might affect his 2019 status. The Giants do not need to see any more of Barkley to know what he is and what brings to the table. He is a stud who is clearly a major part of their future. They may be wise to protect their investment and keep the second overall pick on ice until next year.
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