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PLAYERS TO TARGET: Week 14 “Playoffs Edition – Round 1”

Its hard to believe but its playoff time! For those who made it, congratulations! For those who missed, go play some DFS – the NFL season will be over before you know it! This list is made up of a few of the players at each of the skill position that stand out to me based on recent play and their Week 14 opponent as well as a few other factors. I cannot stress enough that these are NOT Fantasy Sharks weekly projections or rankings! These are a few of the players I’d most want to rely on to lead me to victory in these all important “win or go home” weeks:

QB Opponent Matchup rating vs. position
1. Tom Brady @ MIA 9th Tom was a let down last week but that should prove to be an outlier. Expect Brady to get back on track in round one of the fantasy playoffs.
2. Philip Rivers vs WAS 14th With over 1,000 passing yards and 6 TD’s over the past 3 contests, Rivers is as safe a bet as any when it matters most.
3. Alex Smith vs OAK 6th
Smith posted 342 passing yards and 3 touchdowns when he faced Oakland in Week 7. The Chiefs got moving again last week, let’s see if they can keep it up.
4. Drew Brees @ ATL 15th The Saints haven’t needed Drew’s arm too much lately but they might in this projected Week 13 shoot-out! Huge game with plenty at stake.
5. Josh McCown @ DEN 18th
McCown is playing as well as almost any signal caller in the league right now. For their part, the Broncos’ vaunted secondary has allowed 14 passing touchdowns over the last 5 weeks.
6. Case Keenum @ CAR 23rd
Another player outperforming his name at the moment, Keenum enters another big NFC bout this week with all of his weapons in tact. He has ten total touchdowns since Week 10 and continues to impress.
7. Jared Goff vs PHI 25th
Huge game in L.A. with the week’s second highest projected point total. The Eagles showed cracks in their defense giving up three passing scores to Russell Wilson last week.
8. Dak Prescott @ NYG 2nd
Dak played his best game in a month last week and draws a choice match up against the leagues second most generous opponent for opposing QB’s. there’s risk but we know what Dak is capable of.
9. Russell Wilson @ JAX 32nd The match-up is brutal but I can’t imagine sitting Russ as well as he’s been playing. He’ll probably need to run one in to hit the 20 point mark but you can’t bench Wilson in round one of the playoffs.
10. Carson Wentz @ LAR 28th
This is as much about the importance of the game as it is about Wentz’s play thus far in 2017. He’s been on fire and the Eagles need this win after dropping a game at Seattle Sunday night.
RB Opponent Matchup rating vs. positon
1. LeSean McCoy vs IND 6th The combination of talent and match up couldn’t be better this week. McCoy will be heavily involved whether Tyrod plays or not.
2. Alvin Kamara / Mark Ingram @ ATL 16th
These guys are red-hot but good luck picking between the two any given week. We all tend to lean towards Kamara but Ingram is no slouch either – enjoy the ride!
3. Lamar Miller vs SF 1st
I’m not a Lamar Miller truther but this match up is as good as it gets! He’s seen no less than a 75% share of running back snaps since Donta Foreman went down.
4. Samaje Perine @ LAC 4th
Sometimes you can substitute talent for a nice volume + match-up combination. Don’t let Perine’s 12 carries last week fool you – he missed a few series while getting checked out for a concussion.
5. Rex Burkhead / Dion Lewis @ MIA 9th These guys are the light version of Kamara and Ingram. No clue which one will have the better day but both will be useful and the opponent is generous!
6. Todd Gurley vs PHI 31st Does anybody miss Jeff Fisher? Yeah, I didn’t think so! Gurley is match-up proof.
7. Melvin Gordon vs WAS 13th We all know what Melvin is capable of he just needs to pop a few big runs. With 60 carries over the last 3 games he’s certainly getting the opportunity.
8. Le’Veon Bell vs BAL 26th
Le’Veon might be getting run into the ground but fantasy owners will never complain about this kind of volume (averaging over 25 touches per contest over the last three).
9. Devonta Freeman vs NO 19th
He was the most effective player on the Falcons team this past Sunday and he dominated backfield work over Tevin Coleman. Freeman might be back just in time for a huge Thursday night tilt.
10. Kareem Hunt vs OAK 8th
How can I possibly have Kareem Hunt on this list after all he’s done to us? The match up is great and he played well against Oakland in Week 7 piling up 117 all-purpose yards. With Alex Smith playing better last week there is a glimmer of hope for this offense. Hunt’s safe floor keeps him at the tail end of this list.
11. Jamaal Williams @ CLE 22nd
Tons of volume outweighs a less than stellar match-up. That said, Cleveland has averaged 119 rushing yards allowed to opposing backs over the last three weeks.
12. Mike Davis @ JAX 15th
Seattle may have found their running back. Davis is dominating early down work for the Seahawks and is about the only running back they can trust aside from J.D. McKissick who is really more of a scat-back, slot receiver type. Russell Wilson has this offense flying right now and Davis had 20 touches last week. Jacksonville is much softer vs. the run than they are against the pass.
WR Opponent Matchup rating vs. position
1. Amari Cooper / Michael Crabtree @ KC 3rd
This duo combined for 234 yards and three scores against the Chiefs in Week 7. Granted, Cooper did most of the damage but his status is up in the air at the moment. Both players should have good games in this choice match-up but keep an eye on the practice reports leading up to Sunday.
2. Larry Fitzgerald vs TEN 7th
Larry is nothing short of immortal. With 32 receptions and two scores since week 9 he’s on a roll and should have no problem with this Tennessee “pass defense”
3. Tyreek Hill vs Oak 12th
Alex Smith came alive last week but Hill was surviving and thriving the whole time while the rest of the Chiefs were slumping! Dating back to Week 9, he has had no less than 12 PPR points in any given week.
4. A.J. Green vs CHI 15th
Green had a huge night on Monday Night Football which is rare given Andy Dalton‘s well documented prime time struggles. Expect Green to keep rolling against this middling pass defense.
5. Antonio Brown vs BAL 29th The match-up is rough on paper for both Brown and the Ravens’ secondary! Brown is an obvious must start every week.
6. Jarvis Landry vs NE 2nd
Jarvis has no less than 5 receptions in any game this season. His safe floor keeps him in play every week and is only more enticing against the Patriots improving yet beatable pass defense. He posted 8 receptions for 70 yards in Foxboro in Week 12.
7. DeAndre Hopkins vs SF 17th
Hopkins let us down a little last week but when 8 receptions for 80 yards is a bad week for you, you know that you are good! Solid match-up for one of the league’s most dynamic play-makers who leads the NFL with 141 targets on the year.
8. Adam Thielen @ CAR 13th
It’s hard to sit Thielen any week and I see no reason to do so in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. His 112 targets on the year (6th most) never hurts the case for starting him either!
9. Julio Jones vs NO 21st
I simply cannot fathom Julio not scoring in a game projected at a 53.5 point over/under. Last week was a tough match-up with Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings defense, expect a bounce back.
10. Brandin Cooks @ MIA 23rd
With no word on Chris Hogan yet and Gronk already suspended for week 14 (as of this writing) Cooks is about the last man standing among Brady’s top targets.
11. Michael Thomas @ ATL 24th
He’s been quietly excellent all year and should continue to produce in this NFC south battle. Thomas went 10 for 156 yards and a score against the Falcons back on January 1st.
12. Cooper Kupp vs PHI 19th
Averaging 6 receptions per game over his past four, Kupp remains the Rams most consistent wideout with Robert Woods sidelined. There should be plenty to go around this week vs Philly with a projected 51 point over/under.
TE Opponent Matchup rating vs. position
1. Travis Kelce vs OAK 7th
Kelce went off last week scoring two quick touchdowns. His success should carry over against the Raiders who just got beat by Evan Engram for 99 yards and a score.
2. Evan Engram vs DAL 9th
Speaking of Evan Engram, his week 14 opponent is pretty darn generous vs. opposing tight ends. Engram has come a long way since he last faced this foe in Week 1. Expect him to improve a great deal on the 4 receptions and 44 yards he posted in that outing.
3. Austin Seferian-Jenkins @ DEN 4th ASJ has been quiet lately but draws a prime match up in Denver this week. Expect a nice bounce back game with his quarterback playing great football right now.
4. Hunter Henry vs WAS 5th
I love picking on the Redskins vs. any tight end but this might be the perfect storm with Henry heating up lately having 157 yards and 12 receptions over his last two contests.
5. Jason Witten @ NYG 1st Start all tight ends vs. the Giants, this includes old man Witten. He scored last week and this match-up is too good to pass on.
6. Cameron Brate VS DET 11th
Brate came back to life last week with Jameis Winston back under center scoring two touchdowns. Good time to get hot as these Lions have allowed four scores to tight ends over their last three games.
7. Jimmy Graham @ JAX 14th
Jimmy is red-hot with nine touchdowns since Week 5. The matchup isn’t amazing but Jimmy’s 24 red-zone targets on the year keep him locked in as a strong TE1.
8. Zach Ertz @ LAR 27th
Check his status leading up to the game but if Ertz is a go, you have to play him. His match-up is far from inviting as the Rams haven’t allowed a tight end to score since Week 9 but Ertz has been too good to bench.
9. Delanie Walker @ AZ 15th
The last time the Cardinals faced a tight end worth mentioning was Jimmy Graham in Week 10. He beat them for two scores that week. Their rating vs. the position is bolstered by weak opponents of late. When they face talented opponents at the position, they falter. Walker certainly qualifies.
10. Dwayne Allen @ MIA 3rd
It’s too bad Rob Gronkowski is suspended because this is an excellent match-up for tight ends! Allen is a shot it he dark but if your in a tight spot you could do a lot worse match-up wise.

Best of luck in Week 14! Follow me on Twitter @ tradefantasy for on-the-go lineup advice throughout the fantasy playoffs!

About David Olivarez

David has been writing fantasy football content steadily since 2012 on the web and has been a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association since 2014. He focuses on Daily Fantasy Sports and Trade Analysis. Feel free to ask him questions on Twitter!