If you’re reading this, you’ve probably advanced to the semifinals of your fantasy football playoffs. “And if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further.” Andy Dufresne wrote that in a letter to Red in The Shawshank Redemption, a 1994 movie that should have won an Academy Award for Best Picture. While Andy referenced Zihuatanejo, a city on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, I’m talking about yearlong envy from your friends after you defeat them and win a league title.
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers (at Kansas City)
Coming into this season, I thought the Chargers would be a run-first team with new head coach Anthony Lynn. Instead, Rivers has thrown at least one touchdown pass in every game except for Week 3, which, coincidentally, was against Kansas City when he had three interceptions. But that was a long time ago. Kansas City’s secondary now allows the fifth-most yards passing yards (248.5) and nearly 1.5 touchdowns per game. Rivers has 3,611 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s had a passer rating of 103.2 or higher in four straight games. Kansas City allows 22.2 points per game and lost four of its past five, while the Chargers are on a four-game winning streak.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland (vs. Dallas)
Weeks 2-5 were forgettable for Lynch, but since then he’s averaged 5.2 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns in a four-game span. The Dallas rushing defense is decent at 107.4 yards per game, 4.2 yards per carry and seven touchdowns. I think the game is going to be close, and if it is, that bodes well for Lynch considering his most productive performances have come in games decided by seven points or fewer.
Alfred Morris, RB, Dallas (at Oakland)
Besides a poor showing against the New York Giants, Morris averaged more than 4.7 yards per carry and had one touchdown in the prior four games as Dallas’ starting halfback. Ezekiel Elliott is great but those numbers aren’t too shabby. Oakland’s rushing defense has similar statistics compared to Dallas. Both teams also have two of the best offensive lines. Regarding run blocking going into Week 14, Football Outsiders, a statistical and analytical website, ranked Dallas and Oakland third and 12th, respectively. Morris had 27 attempts, 127 yards and a touchdown against Washington in Week 13. There’s no reason to think Dallas won’t continue to feed Morris behind one of the game’s best offensive lines.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco (vs. Tennessee)
Jimmy Garoppolo has almost made Goodwin a must-start receiver for your playoff run. In his first game with Garoppolo as the starting quarterback, Goodwin caught eight receptions (eight targets) for 99 yards against Chicago. On Sunday against Houston, Goodwin caught six receptions for 106 yards. Now, he faces Tennesse’s 11th-worst passing defense in yards per game (233.3) that has allowed 22 touchdowns. San Francisco’s defense gives up 24.2 points per game. Tennessee is fighting for an AFC playoff berth. Expect Tennessee to gain a lead, while Garoppolo is forced to target Goodwin often.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland (vs. Baltimore)
Cleveland stinks and may go 0-16, but Gordon is a bright spot amid a horrible franchise. The downside is Cleveland quarterback DeShone Kizer has thrown 17 interceptions and completed 53.9 percent of his passes in 12 games. Also, Baltimore’s defense, before giving up 39 points and 506 passing yards passing to Pittsburgh on Sunday, allowed 198.6 yards passing per game and 20 interceptions. Although it’s only been two games, Kizer targets Gordon often. In his first NFL game since 2014 due to being suspended for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, Gordon was targeted 11 times for four receptions and 85 yards in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers. He then had 69 receiving yards and a touchdown against Green Bay. Baltimore should lead throughout the game, and if that happens, Kizer has shown a propensity to lock onto Gordon.
Other Players to Like
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville (vs. Houston)
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee (at San Francisco)
Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami (at Buffalo)
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina (vs. Green Bay)
Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit (vs. Chicago)
Jermaine Kearse, WR, New York Giants (at New Orleans)
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas (at Oakland)
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota (vs. Cincinnati)