2019 Fantasy Football Playoff Primer: Part 1
It is that time of year. The most joyful time of year. A time when family, friends, and strangers alike can come together and share in the spirit of the season. The fantasy postseason that is! Not sure what you were thinking about but this is playoff time. The time when trash is talked, money is won and lost, friendships are pushed to the brink, and victory laps are happily taken. This is what we tilt all season for. What we give up our Sundays for. What we lay our hard-earned money down for. It is time to take the bragging rights with no regard for human emotion. Sorry, I got a little excited. Without further ado, this is the 2019 Playoff Primer.
Let’s Get It!
My goal with the 2019 Playoff Primer is to help you prepare for the fantasy playoffs by going over some of the best matchups in individual weeks and throughout the playoffs. identify some of the best streaming candidates among the lower owned tight ends, quarterbacks, defenses, and yes, even some kickers. We will look at some of the most consistent performers you rely on every week that may have a matchup that is a trap or that has a situation that has recently been muddled. Who may be a league winner and who you should lose the faith in and running back handcuffs you should already own but if they are available still, which ones to grab. All this and more. Let us begin with the streamers at each of the four more easily replaceable fantasy positions and the handcuffs you should own in part 1/2.
Under Lock And Key
By now, if you do not own the handcuff to your starting RBs, I am not sure what to say. They might be gone. This is the time of the year to get rid of depth you will not need following the bye weeks and add high upside handcuffs. The players that will take over the RB touches in the case of an injury to the starter or player that gets the vast majority of the RB touches. The backs that dominate the snaps and touches like Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry, and the glaring example right now, Dalvin Cook are the ones that you want to ensure that you own. Even if you do not roster the starter, These guys are worth owning in all formats.
(Below spreadsheet: Vacated touches if an injury were to occur and the potential increase in volume if the handcuff were to take a similar role to the lead back.)
Then you have your second-tier handcuffs. The players that back up the RBs that dominate the touches but not necessarily the snaps for one reason or another. Also, players like the Ravens RBs that have their upside capped because they have a running back that also lines up under center. These are players you will usually not own unless you have the starting back on the team, unlike the tier one handcuffs. Then there are the tier three backs. These are guys you will add in a deep roster league when you have a free spot. Players like DeAndre Washington that even if the starter were to get hurt, you know they will be in a 50/50 split essentially.
Go get your guys!
Field of Streams
Streaming is always a risky proposition but smartly choosing the right matchup while taking all factors into account can pay off big time for your team. Now is also the time where people will add double up on some of these positions to set themselves up for great matchups down the stretch or simply make a waiver claim to keep an opponent from snagging the best options.
If you have a league that runs on FAAB, what are you waiting for? The money does not roll over to 2020. If you have to put a claim in, make sure you order them from most to least important to YOUR team first. Then you can block your league mates because keeping your opponent from getting their streaming defense instead of grabbing your much-needed handcuff or TE streamer that has a much better matchup than your mid-level TE is a bad process. Let us begin.
Top Ten Defense Vs QB Matchups
When looking at the best matchups for quarterbacks, it is very important to keep track of trends. There was a time this season that the Philadelphia Eagles were a doormat for any passing game and in four/five games, they have not allowed more than 69 yards receiving to any player or more than 215 yards passing to any QB. Even though they were good in four of the games, the fifth will scare people away.
Multiple Streaming Weeks (Top-10 matchups)
Three Top-12 Matchups
Three Top-10 matchups (wk 14 @ OAK, wk 15 VS HOU, wk 16 VS NO)
- Ryan Tannehill has enjoyed a 2019 resurgence while taking over for Marcus Mariota. Tannehill has thrown for an average of 2 TDs over the last 6 games and has just 4 INTs since taking over the job in Week 6, mid-game. He has three rushing TDs as well, three games with 250+ yards passing, and three games with 37+ yards rushing to help with the floor. Since Tannehill’s first start in Week 7, he is the QB6. The way he gets there may not be the most optimal at times but he has got the job done for fantasy. Tennessee will take on Oakland in Week 14. The Raiders have allowed the third-most passing TDs (27) and 3 on the ground as well. Houston looked good until garbage time against Tom Brady in Week 13 but have still allowed the fifth-most yards passing (3348) and passing TDs (25) as well as 2 TDs rushing.
Three Top-10 matchups (wk 14 @ HOU, wk 15 @ KC, wk 16 VS DET)
- Do not mess around with this situation unless Lock shows the ability to produce through the first two matchups. If he has success in Weeks 14 and 15 and there is an emergency start needed, Lock could be an option. He had a solid first start going 18 of 28 for 134 yards and 2 TDs. Obviously nothing special but a solid first start against an above-average matchup. (2QB/Super Flex sleeper)
Two Top-12 Matchups
Two Top-10 matchups (wk 14 VS KC, wk 15 @ CIN)
- Nothing about Tom Brady’s performance lately gives reason to be excited outside of some garbage time in Week 13. The Hall of Famer is having what is likely his worst statistical season to date but the Patriots are right where they always are and he does have some good matchups on the horizon. They have the Kansas City Chiefs (12th) and the Cincinnati Bengals (ninth) in Weeks 14 and 15. The Patriots defense has been good enough, outside of their games against the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans, to keep New England from having to put many points on the board. This may need to change against the Chiefs. The weather could affect the game in Foxboro against KC but we will not doubt Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady too much.
Two Top-10 matchups (wk 15 @ OAK, wk 16 @ ATL)
- Minshew-mania is back. Nick Foles was unable to hold onto the starting job after just three starts and Gardner Minshew has been named the starter for the remainder of the season. The matchup in Week 14 is not the greatest but the Los Angeles Chargers are traveling across the country. West coast teams can sometimes come out sluggish in these games. Following that, the Jaguars get the sixth (OAK) and the third (ATL) best QB matchups and he has shown this year that he can have sustained fantasy success. There is also experience that can not be matched unlike a fresh rookie coming off the bench in Week 14.
Two Top-10 matchups (wk 15 @ NYG, wk 16 VS CIN)
- Ryan Fitzpatrick has been the QB3 since Week 7. That is crazy. We have seen this kind of upside from him before but we have also seen the worst downside imaginable. At any given time, Fitzpatrick can throw 4 INTs and completely ruin any good vibrations he had started. Fitzpatrick has seemingly done the impossible to his credit in 2019 though. He made DeVante Parker relevant. Even good. Fitz-magic will have a few chances to have those boom games we love him for. Week 15, Miami gets the New York Giants who have allowed 22 passing Tds as well as 5 on the ground to QBs. New York will likely be playing for nothing. In Week 16 they get the Cincinnati Bengals who will have Andy Dalton under center with John Ross and possibly AJ Green. Two bad defenses and two QBs, unafraid to throw sounds like points.
Two Top-10 matchups (wk 14 VS CIN, wk 15 @ ARI)
- Mayfield has essentially fallen on his face in 2019. There were so many expectations on the Cleveland Browns that they were almost certainly going to fall short of what so many thought possible. All the weapons have not made the difference during the season as a whole but outside of Week 13, they had been on a nice little run with three straight wins. In Week 14, Mayfield will get a crack at the Bengals defense (ninth) that he torched in 2018 (2 games, 542 yards passing, 7 TDs and an 11.1% TD rate). In Week 15, the Browns get the best matchup for QBs in the league. The Cardinals have given up the most completions (330), yards passing (3898), and TDs passing (31).
Two Top-10 matchups wk 14 @ TB wk 15 @ NO
- Jacoby Brissett has done more than we ever could have imagined for the fantasy relevance of the Indianapolis Colts following the retirement of franchise QB Andrew Luck. The value may be spread out but there have been very few games where someone did not perform in terms of fantasy and the panic and subsequent dropping down the ranks for all Colts skill position players during the fantasy draft season was a bit premature. Brissett will get the second-best matchup for QBs in Week 14 against TB and follow that with a trip to New Orleans. This may not be the matchup it seems to be. Saints star cornerback Marshon Lattimore had missed some games but has returned from injury now. This may be one to avoid especially with all the injuries to skill position players.
Two Top-10 matchups wk 14 @ NO, wk 15 VS ATL
- Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance in 2019 has been a little less spectacular than expected but it is kind of just the player he has been. Steady and better for real life than fantasy. This does not mean that he can not have a boom week though. Week 14, the 49ers take on the New Orleans Saints who we talked about briefly above. The Saints do have a good rush defense so there could be a need to throw the ball more than usual but the likelihood that the game is a shootout is slim. Week 16 though, Jimmy G-Q will get the third-best matchup for quarterbacks when Atlanta comes to town. San Francisco should have a fully healthy offense and weapons all over the field. You may not know who is going to get the ball but you do know who is throwing it.
Two Top-10 matchups wk 14 @ ATL wk 15 VS SEA
- This situation will be interesting moving forward following the firing of former head coach Ron Rivera and the move of Norv Turner’s son to offensive coordinator. The situation will probably not change drastically but the formula for the Carolina Panthers has not been a winning one, no matter how great Christian McCaffrey has been for fantasy. There could be some more passing in certain situations where the former play-caller would have called run (Norv Turner). Something to keep an eye on is all. Kyle Allen will be the starter moving through the fantasy playoffs and he starts with the third-best matchup (ATL). Then in Week 15, the Panthers get the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle has allowed some nice performances but for the most part, the upside has been limited. They have not allowed more than 2 TDs (rush and pass) to a QB in any game this season.
Single Game Streamers (Top-10 matchups)
wk 14 VS MIA
- Darnold has kind of left a sour taste in people’s mouths in 2019. Despite coming up small in Week 13, the 22-year-old is the QB 5 from Weeks 8-13 and he has a great matchup in Week 14. The issue is that Darnold had this same matchup 5 weeks ago in Week 8. Darnold threw for a decent amount of yardage (260) but just 1 TD and had an INT as well. Look for better performance at home this time against the fourth-best matchup for QBs.
wk 14 VS NYG
- Carson Wentz started the season on a pretty good roll. From Weeks 1-6, Wentz was the QB9 and had a per-game average of 21.8 completions on 35.7 attempts for 243 yards and 2 TDs with just 0.5 INTs. since then, he is averaging 23.3 completions on 36.7 attempts for 330.3 yards and 1.3 TDs with 0.7 INTs per game. He is the QB23 in that time frame (Weeks 7-13). In Week 14, Wentz gets to take on the eighth-best matchup for QBs with a lot on the line. DAL and PHI have equal records but the Cowboys beat the Eagles once already. After a disappointing loss in Week 13 to the Dolphins, look for Philly to bounce-back at home against a division foe. Wentz threw for 3 TDs and 310 yards in Week 13.
wk 16 VS KC
The one thing Mitch Trubisky has going for him in a Week 16 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs? It is not in KC were QBs traditionally fall short of expectations. You are not going to want to use Trubisky no matter what he does over the next couple weeks or did in Week 13.
wk 16 VS OAK
Rivers has looked old and broken as of late and even in a good matchup, it will be tough to trust him in your fantasy championship week. If Rivers shows that he is at least a shell of his former self in the next two weeks, you could use him as an emergency option in a 1QB format. You are going to feel sick about it though.
wk 16 VS MIA
Andy Dalton is back and it is strange to say “thank goodness” but we need to say it. The Bengals fantasy potential has life outside of Joe Mixon again. John Ross is coming backs and the fingers are still crossed for a few games from AJ green. Dalton takes on the fourth-best QB matchup in Week 16. If you have the guts, Dalton could contribute to a championship win.
wk 14 @ ARI
Against the best Matchup in football for QBs, Hodges is an option in 2QB and SuperFlex formats in Week 14. Both the floor and ceiling are low for Hodges but the matchup is good enough that he could produce a solid game. He is still not an option in 1QB formats.
Daniel Jones/Eli Manning
wk 15 VS MIA
Monitor the situation and watch how Eli Manning performs in Week 14. If he has success and does not look like he is covered in rust, a start in Week 15 could be a viable option with all the Giants’ weapons starting to get healthy. Jones was in a walking boot per the latest reports so he could be out potentially longer than one week. Keep an eye on it.
wk 16 VS NYG
DO NOT MESS WITH THIS unless an absolute emergency in a 2QB format where you are required to start two. You can find a better SuperFlex option.
wk 15 VS TB
Even against the second-best matchup for quarterbacks, David Blough is not really an option in 1QB formats. Certainly, Blough showed a little bit on Thanksgiving but as the game went along, outside of a couple passes, the Bears were able to shut the Detroit Lions down.
wk 14 VS SEA
Jared Goff has a hit and miss history in terms of fantasy against the Seattle Seahawks with Sean McVay as you can see below but at home, he should be startable.
FFStatistics Defense App
Here is an example of one of the cool things you can do with the FFStatistics Defense App. Here it is used to show you all the QB performances against the number one QB matchup, Arizona Cardinals.
Choosing a streamer:
Let us be brief here. First of all, do not play in leagues with kickers or DST unless you absolutely must. The best way to choose your streaming kicker can be to look for the teams that score the most points and are in a matchup with a high vegas point total. You want the kickers that are going to be in shootouts but oftentimes, these players are owned due to their offenses scoring potential. You can find upside like this when two bad teams play each other as well. Another potential upside play is finding teams that give up a lot of yards but not a lot of points. Your kicker’s team can land in field goal range a lot but not be able to finish the drives and this creates chances for points.
Below are all the kickers that average 6.0 fantasy points per week as well as how they have gotten to those points. Also, below that is a list of the 16 worst defenses in terms of points per play allowed. It can help you find upside by showing you which teams have the highest potential ceiling they could allow. Or, flip a coin because nothing is certain with kickers.
Kicker Fantasy Points Per Game
(FG under 40 yards = 3 points, 40-49 = 4 points, 50+ = 5 points, XP = 1 point)
Bottom 16 defenses (Points Per Play)
Below are the 16 defenses that allow the fewest points in the league this season based on how many points they give up per play faced. (Far right of the spreadsheet) This is a good way to just the upside of the potential matchup by looking at the number of points they allow on a per play basis and how many plays they average a game. You can compare the opponent of said defense’s pace of play and their offensive efficiency. Take a team like the Los Angeles Chargers or maybe the Baltimore Ravens.
On a per play basis, the Ravens allow 0.03 few points than the Houston Texans but have allowed 52 fewer points overall. The Chargers allow the same amount of points per play as the Texans but face 6.5 fewer plays per game (30 fewer points allowed). This is significant in that if these teams play an offense that plays at a very high pace, there can be upside there as opposed to playing a team like the Chicago Bears. Chicago has allowed just 11 fewer points than Baltimore but has a lower point per play total. Offenses facing CHI have a similar floor to BAL but a lower ceiling despite allowing similar point totals. If someone can get the Ravens off the field, their defense is more “gettable” than we perceive.
Top 16 Defenses
This can also be used when you have a good defense facing a great offense. Say the offense scores at a high point per play rate. If your defense faces a large number of plays but allows minimal points, there is a chance that the defense could be had that day. If your defense controls the game and averages a minimal amount of plays faced per game, the offense’s upside is potentially capped. Some of this may just be obvious and you know what defenses are locked in every week while you try and avoid those same matchups with your skill position players. It is just another way to look at the matchups.
Go Get The Chip
Thank you for checking out Part 1 of the 2019 Fantasy Football Playoff Primer. In Part 2, we will look at the TE streamers, potential league winners, studs that could fall short of expectations and more! Let us do a sneak peek.
Both teams on Thursday Night Football are inside the top-12 matchups for TEs. Chicago (eighth) and Dallas (10th). Chicago is on to their fourth TE this season but he did catch a TD in Week 13 and Dallas is banged up at linebacker. Maybe Jesper Horsted is worth a DFS flier. Jason Witten, on the other hand, is absolutely a streaming option. Chicago has great coverage outside and with the Bears pass rush, Dak Prescott could be looking for a quick outlet.
Hopefully, you found Part 1 helpful and it helps you gain any advantage needed to take home the title. Also, check out the other great weekly articles from:
@FFJEFFSMITH Waiver Wire
@john_hesterman Start/ Sit
@DumpsterDiveFF Mail Bag
As well as my Sleepers And Busts articles. Good luck and we will see you for Part 2 of the 2019 Fantasy Football Playoff Primer.