Week 11: Player Upgrades
Player Upgrades is intended for fantasy football diehards. Each week when setting a lineup, a closer analysis is necessary to find out which players are destined for a great performance. Sometimes it is a favorable matchup or it can be as simple as an increased role due to an injury. Very few players are matchup-proof in this game. For every Aaron Rodgers or Ray Rice, there are a dozen players who could potentially be interchangable depending upon a number of factors.
This weekly article isolates your best options for a statistical breakout from Week 1 to Week 17. Let FFToolbox do the homework for you! Instead of scouring the waiver wire and opening up 20 tabs to compare and contrast players, let Player Upgrades be your guide. Each week, we will identify seven players (typically two QBs, two RBs, two WRs and one TE) that you should consider starting and we'll break each player down with some analysis.
In last week's Player Upgrades, the focus was on players who could help you from Weeks 10 to 13. In this installment, we'll focus on Weeks 14 to 16. Assuming you're going to make the playoffs, these players have the most favorable matchups during the most common postseason schedule.
The Rams play Buffalo (ranked 28th in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks), Minnesota (25th), and Tampa Bay (29th) during Weeks 14 to 16. Sam Bradford is widely available and could be stowed on your bench if your regular starter has a bad matchup later in the season. Admittedly, the third-year signal caller has been wildly inconsistent this season, but he also did not have his best wide receiver (Danny Amendola) at his disposal for a few weeks either. With Amendola back in the starting lineup last week, Bradford threw for 275 yards and two scores against a typically tough San Francisco defense. If you are lacking confidence in your current backup QB, Bradford's favorable playoff schedule could be a difference maker.
Josh Freeman enjoys one of the most favorable schedule in Weeks 14 to 16 when factoring his opponents' fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks per game. The Bucs play Philadelphia (11th), New Orleans (32nd), and St. Louis (21st). Even though the Eagles have defended the pass well on the season, they have struggled in over the last month, sacrificing an average of 23 fantasy points per game. If you ignore the matchups and focus on Freeman's play, it is hard to ignore what he has done. Since Tampa's Week 5 bye, Freeman is averaging about 26 fppg and has not thrown fewer than two TDs in each of his last five contests. He has not thrown a pick in over a month either. The Bucs are on a three-game winning streak and are still in the mix for a wildcard spot, so there will be plenty to play for during your postseason.
Prying away Jamaal Charles from an owner is probably a tough task, but this article is not intended to teach you how to trade. All three of the Chiefs' opponents from Weeks 14 to 16 rank among the bottom ten in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Cleveland (23rd), Oakland (28th), and Indianapolis (25th) will all offer Charles little to no resistance. Say for example that you have Stevan Ridley. New England plays Houston and San Francisco in Weeks 14 and 15, so you might trade him away in a package deal with Beanie Wells (Seattle, Detroit, and Chicago). Another example of a tough playoff schedule is Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson. What this all boils down to is setting yourself up as best you can to win your league.
Even though Willis McGahee has not scored many fantasy points in his last two games, he has a great opportunity ahead of him during your postseason. In Weeks 14 to 16, Denver plays Oakland (ranked 28th in fantasy points allowed per game to running backs), Baltimore (22nd), and Cleveland (23rd). McGahee had one of his best games (135 total yards and a TD) against Oakland in Week 4, so there is already some precedent to fall back on. Denver has a comfortable lead in the AFC West at the moment, yet they are only one game back from securing an opening round bye. Either way, if they keep winning, they will want that bye or if they start losing, they will have to fend off San Diego from stealing away their playoff spot. McGahee has performed his best against poor rush defenses, which are a great indicator that his performance is usually swayed by the matchup.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Eagles right now. Michael Vick suffered a concussion, Nick Foles could finish the season as the starter, and Andy Reid's future employment is under fire. With all this in mind, fantasy owners have probably cooled on both DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, yet the fantasy gods smile upon them. Both receivers face one of the most favorable matchups during your postseason. Philly plays Tampa Bay (ranked 30th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers), Cincinnati (10th), and Washington (31st) in Weeks 14 to 16. For what it's worth, the Bengals' pass defense numbers are a bit skewed after facing Cleveland twice, a Pierre Garcon-less Washington, Jacksonville, and Miami. Either way, the best matchups are in Weeks 14 and 16 against two teams that have been consistently torched in 2012. Consider this blurb to be a recommendation for Maclin and Jackson.Injury Status: Injured Reserve