Congratulations – you’ve made it to the playoffs! But success is still 3 long weeks away and many important decisions lie ahead.
Written by Lucas Walsh
To the keen eye, some of these may be obvious – but there are a lot of players around the leagues starting (that shouldn’t be) and sitting (wasting their talent).
Here, I aim to look at some of the players being wasted or overly trusted, to make sure that critical last FLEX spot or depth decision play is the right one.
KJ Osborn – WR MIN. (7% rostered, 2% start)
- If you aren’t starting Osborn yet, you should be looking to him with the same fervour we looked at Mattinson last week.
- KJ is primed to be a match and playoff winner for you this year.
- Thielen’s ankle sprain will sideline him for a short period and maybe limit his usage upon his return, sending defenses attention to Jefferson, and in the red zone, Tyler Conklin.
- Having been on the field for over 50% of the offensive snaps all year long, Osborn has been out there doing the team job and favourable matchups against the Steelers and Bears could set you up nicely before they welcome the Rams in Week 16.
Marquez Valdez-Scantling – WR GB (28% rostered, 3% start)
- The key to good bench depth is usually the same in fantasy as real-life football, filled with teams who win often or have several weapons. Cue the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers.
- Cobb is coming off his best game of the season, but the discussion about who truly plays the WR2 behind Adams is still alive and well.
- Coming off 19 targets in his last two games, there is a good chance MVS is likely to get behind the Bears and Baltimore defenses in Weeks 14 and 15, particularly given most teams continue to play long slow drives against the Packers, forcing them to strike quick while the iron is hot.
- Certainly not the safest play, but MVS may be rounding into form at just the right time.
Russell Gage – ATL WR (54% rostered, 28% start)
- It doesn’t come as a shock to anyone to say the 2021 Falcons offense is broken.
- The gap without Ridley there stretching the field is obvious. Patterson cant get ALL the extra targets though and Zaccheus has only entered double digit fantasy territory twice all season.
- Cue Russell to come in against a wounded Carolina, a tougher matchup against a desperate Niners and a nice finish against the Lions, and you could certainly ride Gage in the FLEX spot to aid you a potential victory.
Taylor Heinicke – WAS QB (40% rostered but 23% start)
- Taylor Heinicke is the QB #15…Yes you read that right.!
- That’s just 12 fantasy points less than Murray, and more than Tannehill, Ryan, Bridgewater, Jones and more. Most of those blokes listed have spent the last month ruining playoff chances from a Superflex spot.
- The reason I’m so bullish on Heinicke though is that they are about to play Dallas twice, who despite the improvements across the board are 27th in points allowed to the Quarterback position. Whether the defense leaks points, or the offense gets ahead and forces a pass-first game plan, there are plenty of situations where Heinicke can throw 3TD’s and give you a decent floor that may help you across the line.
Dontrell Hillard – TEN RB (41% rostered, 2% start)
- Is there a Henry replacement? Of course not. Most of you have probably torn your hair out trying to work out which of Foreman, Hillard, McNichols, Evans was going to take his place.
- I would have no issue with those who are buoyant on Foreman as well, he is also every chance to succeed. But if you are desperate and need a back to go, I’m backing in Foreman.
- The Titans play the Jags, Steelers and Niners, all of which are in the bottom half of points allowed to running backs this season. Expect Tennessee to commit to a heavy run game, add Hillard’s explosiveness as they wear down defenses and there could be some points scored that you don’t want to leave on your bench.
Boston Scott PHI RB (81% rostered, 35% start)
- Let’s start with an interesting conundrum. Who to trust in the Eagles backfield. The answer? Probably Jalen Hurts.
- The running back room is productive though, so if you can pick it, you go a long way to winning an important matchup. I too, thought Gainwell was (and in future, will be) the guy in Philly.
- After a solid middle of the season, Scott’s role and starting percentage has grown, and despite the Week 13 illness, many may consider still starting him.
- His playoff schedule, after the Week 14 bye? The WFT, a team who in 2021 are notorious for long slow, Heinicke drives that make sure you don’t have time to run the ball all day long. Scott may have gotten you that playoff spot, but for me he’s a fade in the playoffs.
Christian Kirk ARI WR (52% start)
- Kirk right now is in the spot of his life, he’s on a team that is cruising towards the vital #1 seed, he’s got a top 5 QB and he isn’t required to carry a huge load, just do his part.
- It’s great for footballers, however not great for fantasy.
- I loved Kirk as a 2021 breakout candidate, but the plethora of weapons in Arizona is starting to become too much.
- DHop is back, the Rams are as stingy of a backfield as they come and Conner is still very much a factor in the passing game. Kirk may deserve a spot on the field, but in fantasy, if not already, he should be on your bench come playoff time.
Emmanuel Sanders BUF WR (91% rostered, 44% start)
- Sanders had a red-hot start to the season by his standards yet hasn’t been a feature since Week 6.
- His last 5 games? 12 catches for 146yards, 0 TD’s.
- A crazy weather plagued MNF game aside, this offense as a whole is struggling to regain its identity, and a play-off schedule of Tampa, Carolina, and New England again bodes as an eerie omen.
Kendrick Bourne – NE WR (40% roster, 15% start)
- Figuring out what Belicheck plans to do with his offense is about as difficult as solving a Rubik’s cube without hands, yet here we find Bourne having started all 13 games this year.
- Unfortunately, it has only yielded 42 receptions, 3 games over 75 yards and 5 touchdowns.
- Even if you do manage to get through the bye week, the Pats face the Colts and the Bills again, and neither give up double digit fantasy points to multiple receivers. Not to mention that after Harry, the TE’s are getting the most looks, and you’d be best benching Bourne for now.
Cole Kmet – CHI TE (88% rostered but 31% start)
- Kmet has been one of the bright sparks in an otherwise dull Bears offense this year, and for argument sake has seen 6 or more targets every week since Week 6 except one.
- By the same token though, Kmet is yet to score a touchdown on the year and has gone for more than 50 yards only twice.
- Add in the fact that the fantasy playoffs will include 2 division rivals who need the win, a Seattle team desperate to make something of its season, and a QB room more dicey than Matt Nagy’s play calling and I’d be sitting him or sending him to the wire in redraft.
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