Congratulations! If you are taking interest to this article, that means you most likely made your leagues’ playoffs.
It was an interesting fantasy season. We’ve seen unlikely fantasy stars such as Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs emerge as a weekly starter as the top quarterback for the first eight weeks. We also saw Ezekiel Elliott get suspended at the stretch of the season. Even the last week of the season, we saw a crazy end with Smith, Josh McCown and Blake Bortles as top finishers at quarterback while Tom Brady and Matt Ryan delivered single-digit numbers.
The biggest headline in fantasy was injuries. Big names like Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr., David Johnson, Andrew Luck, Julian Edelman and others suffered injuries either before the season or midway through.
The big storylines go on and on, but there are more important things to cover as it is playoff time. The purpose of this article is to start the playoffs right by making decisions to advance to the next week, even if you earned a first-round bye. Here are the top waiver wire pickups for the start of the playoffs.
Running Back Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Doug Martin missing time due to a concussion, many expected Jacquizz Rodgers to be the main back. However, it was Peyton Barber who led the way with 23 carries for 102 yards with a team-high 41 receiving yards on four catches. He racked up the first 100-yard rushing game for the Bucs this season. No one expected that.
If Martin is not available, Barber should continue to get carries and take over as the top dog in the Bucs’ backfield. If Martin does make a return, expect Barber to be the second back after his performance against the Packers.
He is set to be a RB2 as they play the Lions, who rank 28th against running backs.
Running Backs Theo Riddick and Tion Green, Detroit Lions
Ameer Abdullah’s neck injury opened things up in the Lions’ backfield as both running backs found the end zone. Theo Riddick gained 62 total yards on nine carries and five catches while Green had 51 yards on 11 carries.
As for which back to have, there is no wrong way to go depending on the league. Riddick is a better pick for PPR leagues and Green is better for standard leagues. Either way, both should have a solid day splitting reps against the Buccaneers run defense, which has yielded high rushing averages and lots of touchdowns over its last three games.
Look for Riddick to have more upside in fantasy especially with many banged-up backs and receivers. He has flex value in standard leagues. For Green, he should continue to be the preferred option around the goal line.
Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers
With Pierre Garcon out for the year, Marquise Goodwin in the last four games has gained 68, 83, 78 and 99 yards, good for an average of 82 yards per game. Even with the switch at quarterback, Goodwin remained the top target for Jimmy Garoppolo. Along with that 99-yard outing against the Chicago Bears, he caught all of his eight targets. It seems Garoppolo has possibly found his No. 1 target for next year, and this is a good way to the end the year for Goodwin.
He has great matchups in the next two weeks against the Houston Texans, who rank 27th against receivers, and the Tennessee Titans, who are right in front of the Texans against receivers. This makes him a viable WR3/flex start the next two weeks.
Wide Receiver Jermaine Kearse, New York Jets
This could go either way, but Jermaine Kearse is worth a look for depth. He has at least eight targets in each of his last three, and at least 15 fantasy points in each of his last two. Against the Chiefs, he caught nine of his 10 targets for 157 yards. Its evident that Robby Anderson is the top target, which make defenses try to limit him and put softer coverage on Kearse. Josh McCown has no problem leaning on Kearse in their pass-heavy offense.
He has three tough games ahead of him against the Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Chargers, all ranked 12th or higher against receivers. The matchup next week against Denver isn’t the worst matchup as the Miami Dolphins torched them with 35 points. Dolphin receivers caught 11 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown.
Quarterback Josh McCown, New York Jets
My dark horse pickup, especially with the injuries to Tyrod Taylor and Matthew Stafford, is Josh McCown of the New York Jets. He had another solid fantasy day with multiple touchdowns in a high-scoring game against the Chiefs.
In his last eight he has posted double-digit points with over 20 points in his last two. He ranks as the 14th quarterback in fantasy this week according to Fantasy Pros, which is better than Alex Smith, Derek Carr and Jameis Winston, who are all on fantasy teams. Now he mostly picks that up with some garbage time, but the Jets have been a solid team all season at 5-7 within playoff contention. McCown continues to defy the odds and gets better as the season progresses.
McCown should be a QB2 on fantasy teams just in case, especially if you have Taylor and/or Stafford. Like Kearse, he isn’t a bad matchup against Denver.
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