Week 13 is nearly in the books and it is time for the fantasy playoffs to begin, for those of us lucky enough to have punched our ticket to the big dance. It’s that time of the season when each position decision is magnified by the fact that should we lose this week’s game, there is no chance for redemption next week.
It’s time to win or go home, and with that in mind we take a look at some players who stood out this week and determine if they are names that belong in our playoff plans.
NFL teams will begin to determine just how long they will be playing their starters once a playoff spot is secured and the trickle down effect to fantasy owners will need to be monitored closely.
Dry those sweaty palms and join me as we take a look at ten names you need to know as the fantasy football postseason kicks off next week.
Josh Gordon, WR, CLEVELAND: Gordon emerged on the fantasy scene earlier in the season when in a three week span (weeks 5-7) he put up 240 yards receiving and scored four touchdowns while averaging 34 yards per reception. He continued to contribute to the Browns offense but fell from fantasy grace during weeks eight through twelve by averaging only 49 receiving yards a game and failing to reach the end zone. In week thirteen he burst back into fantasy relevance with six grabs for 116 yards and a touchdown while being targeted seven times. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden will continue to have up and down performances and that will limit Gordon’s upside as well.
Jason Snelling, RB, ATLANTA: Yes, that would be the same Jason Snelling who touched the ball only four times in the Falcons’ victory over the Saints this week and is averaging 1.8 yards per rush in 2012 on nine total carries. He does have 24 receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown this season, but more importantly, possesses the skill set to be an every down back. And as soon as the Falcons wrap up the NFC South title and then home field advantage throughout the playoffs, which will happen sooner rather than later, Snelling will be the man to carry the rock as the Falcons rest Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. Snelling is going to be very relevant in fantasy football when it matters most, during the playoffs.
Pierre Thomas, RB, NEW ORLEANS: Thomas had a very productive game against the Falcons as he finished with 84 yards rushing and another five yards receiving. He ran hard with a nice burst to the edge and looked like a very capable fantasy option moving forward. However, it was Mark Ingram that took the ball in from the one-yard line as getting a handle on the Saints running back rotation is near impossible. Before his 14 carries on Thursday night, Thomas had carried the ball a total of 17 times in the previous four games combined. Don’t be fooled into jumping on Thomas as a fantasy option off of this performance. New Orleans will continue to shuffle their running backs in this seemingly random fashion, rendering all of them except Darren Sproles (in PPR formats) useless.
Jason Avant, WR, PHILADELPHIA: Avant is in a prime spot to become the new favorite target of Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles. After having played briefly together in week nine when Foles replaced the injured Michael Vick, Avant saw his first extended action with the youngster this week. He was targeted five times and had four receptions for 79 yards. He is a sure handed receiver (he’s caught 72% of passes thrown his way in 2012), which makes him a rookie quarterbacks best friend. Look for the rapport between Foles and Avant to grow each week and for Avant to be a nice WR3 or flex option in the season’s final weeks.
Chris Givens, WR, ST LOUIS: Givens had a huge week thirteen game against the 49ers, hauling in 11 receptions for 92 yards and establishing himself as a very viable fantasy option for the remainder of the season. With his usual go-to guy, Danny Amendola, sidelined with a heel injury, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford turned to the rookie out of Wake Forest. Givens was targeted 14 times in the defensive slugfest with San Francisco as he helped lead the Rams to an overtime upset of the division leaders. With Buffalo, Minnesota and Tampa Bay on the schedule in the coming weeks and the availability of Amendola heading forward in serious doubt, Givens is the real deal and primed for some very nice games.