Even in the most earliest times of the season, most owners will have their eyes on matchups for the fantasy playoffs. And many owners will wheal-and-deal just to land those one or two players who have a cake walk in terms of fantasy matchups late in the season. By now, you know how a defense is going to respond against each fantasy position. So here are several names that we threw into the hat who could have great value as your playoffs approach. Like Charlie Sheen says: It's all about WINNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kyle Orton - KC: Mentioning a QB that isn't a household name at this point in the season isn't usually worth its weight in gold unless you are really in the market for a fill-in or spot starter, and if so, Orton could be your man. Remember, this is a guy who passed for 7,454 yards, 41 TDs and only 21 INTs in his last two seasons prior to this year. In fantasy, it's all about match-ups, and if Orton picks up where he left off, you could toy around with starting him in any one of his last three games (particularly) where he faces Oakland, Green Bay and Denver. Think outside the box kids, think outside the box!
Alex Smith - SF: Smith has really only struggled once this year, and that was against Baltimore in Week 12 primarily because his O-Line was confused by Baltimore's line-shifts and stunts. Aside from one game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15, Smith has some excellent matchups on tap including two games against the hapless Rams, a showdown in Seattle and round two with an Arizona team he shredded for 267 yards and two TDs in the first meeting—that week I started Smith over Philip Rivers, and reaped the benefits....see? It's all about the matchups!
Shonn Greene - NYJ: Like Ray said above, this list is all about matchups. And looking over Greene's matchups over the course of Weeks 14-16, he has plenty to offer. In Week 14, Greene goes up against the Chiefs at home. So far the Chiefs have been giving up 21 points to fantasy running backs. And playing at home, Greene could be a low-end RB2 or a high-end flex. In Week 15, Greene faces a Philly Defense that got dismantled by the Seahawks' offensive line and Marshawn Lynch Thursday night. Philly ranks 6th worst against fantasy running backs, giving up 21.2 points a game. If you manage to make it to your league championship in Week 16, Greene finishes off with another strong matchup against the Giants, who have given up 20.7 fantasy points to running backs (8th worst). Considering it's tough to find a running back with at least one good matchup, having 3 is solid gold.
Michael Bush/Darren McFadden - OAK: This should be geared more towards those fortunate owners who managed to get both Bush and McFadden on their roster. The Raiders go to Lambeau Field to visit the Packers in Week 14. And while the Pack are ranked in the middle of the road in terms of fantasy points against running backs (17.4), their last two games against the Buccaneers and Lions have yielded a plethora of fantasy points for Legarrett Blount, Kevin Smith (if he had played the entire game) and Maurice Morris. No matter what Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs do in Week 13, I still like the Raiders ground game in Week 14. Week 15, the Raider host Detroit (16.2 ppg) and then they finish off at Kansas City (21 ppg) for most leagues; championships in Week 16.
Deion Branch - NE: The Louisville grad is having a career year, and moving forward, has six straight quality match-ups. Branch should finish the year with career highs which should bode well for owners looking for that weekly WR 3 support that won't fail them, especially in PPR leagues.
James Jones - GB: Again, at this point in the season trying to find a WR 3 who could potentially provide consistent supplemental points is often difficult, especially in deeper formats. Jones is a sizable option for Aaron Rodgers, who typically sees more targets towards the end of the year. Jones is on pace for a career years, and also will benefit from s softer schedule moving forward.
Kevin Boss - OAK: Much like Bush and McFadden, Boss has some decent matchups @ Green Bay (9.4 ppg), vs. Detroit (6.2 ppg) and @ Kansas City (10.0 ppg). Boss isn't top notch, but having 2 favorable matches out of 3 could make him a decent flex option if you are desperate enough at the spot.
Kellen Winslow - TB: I'll be the first one to admit that I had high hopes for the Buccaneers offense this year. I really thought Josh Freeman was going to come into his own, but oh well. As for Winslow, his schedule for Weeks 14-16 is a fairly favorable one. In Week 14 he will face off at Jacksonville (9.2 ppg), then he plays home against Dallas (9.2 ppg) and then Winslow plays at Carolina (8.1) in Week 16. This year has been slow for fantasy tight ends. The worst team in terms of points given up is Chicago with 11. But going past Buffalo (10) and KC (10), no other team has given up double-digit points through the first 13 weeks of the season.
New England Patriots: The Patriots defense on the field can sometimes leave a lot to be desired. They let up a lot of yards and their secondary is in shambles. So why am I selecting them? Two reasons really: schedule and trending. While the Pats are a middle tier fantasy D right now (hovering around 15th), they are a top-5 defense over the past four weeks or so. Andre Carter is putting pressure on opposing QBs, their patchwork secondary is helping to create turnovers, and while their defense lets up a lot of yards, they do an OK job limiting points allowed. As for schedule, they face Indy, Washington, Denver, Miami and Buffalo to close the year. None of those teams are offensive juggernauts and NE will jump out to early leads on them all and render them fairly turnover prone as they helplessly try to mount comebacks.
Denver Broncos: Denver is another defense that started off slowly and is riddled in the middle of the pack for their season average right now. However, since Tim Tebow has started and the team has kept games close, the D is starting to produce. Von Miller has been a stud all year and now Elvis Dumervil is coming on strongly. Denver is getting a good amount of sacks and is doing an admirable job of limiting opposing offenses. Their schedule down the stretch is favorable as well. They play Minnesota, Chicago, New England, Buffalo and Kansas City down the stretch. Those are not any big-time offenses (other than NE) and should allow Denver to finish the season strongly.
INDIVIDUAL DEFENSIVE PLAYERS
Colin McCarthy LB - TEN: McCarthy has come on strongly since taking over for an injured Barrett Ruud three weeks ago. He is getting better and better and the Titans just may decide to stick with him to see what they have for now and the future. Ruud is a free agent after the season and McCarthy was drafted to be the future at the MLB position. He is already paying dividends. He has averaged over nine total tackles per game since taking over the middle and has performed against teams that are not the greatest matchups for LBs. He dropped 10 solo tackles and a forced fumble against an Atlanta team letting up the 23rd most points to LBs. So don’t worry about his facing teams averaging a 23.4 ranking over the final five games.
Kurt Coleman - DB - PHI: Coleman can admittedly be very up-and-down. However, when he is up he is way up. In his last six games he has tallied 31, 2, 24, 21, 7, and 25 points in one of my leagues. That is an average of over 18 ppg in that time and he is averaging a healthy eight tackles per game in that stretch. He faces two top-10 teams in terms of points allowed to safeties in the next five weeks. During that time he only has one bad matchup (against the 27th ranked Jets in Week 15), so his schedule is favorable. I’d ride him till the end of the year gladly.