Round 1 playoffs (Week 14 ONLY), Spot-start defenses: There are not too many AVAILABLE defenses that you can add/start in relief duty this year. In most leagues, the quality defenses w/ good matchups are taken, so I won’t be suggesting you add Baltimore D for week 15 at this point… too late for that. But there are two defenses that are likely free in most leagues, that can be a plug & play in week 1 of the playoffs (but ONLY week 1).
Minnesota D (at home vs NY Jets): This is a very average defense that I wouldn’t recommend 85% of the time. But this game is being played OUTDOORS in Minnesota – in December. It’s probably a colder home field than any other team in the NFL, even colder than Buffalo. The QB for the Jets will be one of two turnover-prone guys in Geno Smith or Mike Pick. These guys will be tossing hand-grenades to the Vikings when they’re not running for their lives.
New Orleans D (at home vs Carolina): This unit has been equal parts horrendous & porous. Rob Ryan will be fired if the Saints miss the playoffs; however, he will be on a 1-year leash if they make the playoffs (which I think they will). In their defense, they’ve been plagued by injury and an unusually inept offense; but they are NOT GOOD regardless. Why would you start them in a must-win playoff situation then? Simple answer: Cam Newton is absolutely lost this year. The Panthers offense is incompetent, Cam is hurt and he’s making HORRIBLE decisions… the topper here is that it’s in New Orleans, and that makes the Saints the taller midget in this matchup. Yes, they’ve lost 3 in a row at home – that makes it all more enticing. It’ll be a Saints party, and their D is a great fill-in to get you to Round 2 if you have a bad defensive matchup.
Other players to target for the playoffs:
Heath Miller, TE Steelers: He won’t be a miracle worker for your team. He won’t give you 20+ points. He will, however, give you a boring but solid 6 catches for 70 yards. In a playoff week, that is a valuable 10 points. If you are a Zach Ertz owner that has been waiting for him to live up to his potential, you can now cut bait. Add Heath and be happy with the solid 10+ stat line from your TE slot. He’s owned in only 60% of leagues, mostly because he’s a boring player on a boring team. He can help you out if you need some TE production during a season of low TE production.
Bottom Line: Add if your TE cupboard is bare, and you need solid “8-12pt” TE production you can start him.
Marcel Reece, RB Raiders: He’s been the ultimate Raiders employee over the past few years. They give him the ball, he produces. Then they sign MJD, give McFadden another shot… and he’s overlooked. Not sure why. He has been the most productive of the bunch over the last couple of years. He’s listed as a “fullback” — a position that no longer exists — but he will, ONCE AGAIN, be in the mix to close out the season. Don’t expect an all-star stat line. But if you need a starting RB in your lineup for the playoffs, Reece can emerge as a serviceable option — i.e. 90 total yards, 6 receptions, 1 TD kind of production. You’ll want to wait and see how he’s used this week (and also check Latavius’ health) to determine if he’s even startable in week 14.
Bottom Line: Add it you have room… but he could turn into “The Guy” again, especially in PPR leagues.
Charles Johnson, WR Vikings: This is a team that is playing for next year and trying out next year’s toys. This could bode well for Charles. If you’re in a 12-team 3WR league, and you’re depending on a “Michael Crabtree”, you might be able to swap him out for CJ.
Bottom Line: Add, not startable in week 13. If he gets a decent amount of targets, he is startable in the postseason.