With the playoffs coming, matchups in the final weeks of the season are more important than ever. I’ve won championship games with well-past their prime Kerry Collins and Jeff Garcia when they happened to have great matchups. There are quite a few potential players out there this week if you do some rummaging.
Marion Barber, RB, Chicago – Barber becomes the no-brainer add of the week. Matt Forte’s strained MCL means he will be missing some time, quite likely the remainder of the fantasy season. Chicago is still stuck with something called a “Caleb Hanie” at quarterback (Didn’t he use to star on “Green Acres”?), so they will need to establish Barber in the offense if they are to have any chance going forward.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver – Thomas finally looked like the athletic machine that he has the potential to be. During the second half of Sunday’s game, he was all over the field, providing Tim Tebow with the big, athletic target that he needs to hit on the run. Thomas has good matchups Weeks 15 and 16, including a matchup against New England in Week 15 that could be huge. (If Dan Orlovsky can shred the New England defense, Tebow can surely put up a solid performance.) I’d grab him now, sit him against Chicago to see if he is still a top Tebow target and consider using him in Week 15 or 16 if needed.
Matt Moore, QB, Miami – If you picked up Moore last week, I would hold onto him. Moore is likely my pick for QB from here thru Week 16. He is hot and has matchups with three of the 11 worst fantasy defenses, including matchups against Buffalo and New England. Moore’s schedule is so favorable, you might want to consider kicking a more established backup QB to the curb if they have poor playoff matchups.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota – Gerhart continued to improve against Denver. He showed that he has enough power to drive a pile in the NFL and grind out yardage. If Minnesota continues to hold out Adrian Peterson, Gerhart should be a solid contributor, though he does not have the best matchups during the key playoff weeks.
Roy Helu, RB, Washington – Helu would seem likely to remain this week’s chosen one in Washington. He also has decent matchups (NWE, NYG, MIN) coming up. However, as always in Washington, its buyer beware. Helu could find himself on the far end of the bench at the start of any given game and you could be left out in the cold.
Jake Ballard, TE, New York Giants – Ballard has cooled off a bit from a midseason touchdown streak. He is still putting up around 8 points a game in PPR leagues and faces a Dallas defense that is surrendering the third most points to TE’s.
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco – Crabtree has been hot in two out of the last three games. He faces an Arizona team that allowed him 120 yards on seven receptions just a few weeks ago. Crabtree is also worth watching for later games if he has another big game.
Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Kansas City – McCluster’s numbers continue to slowly improve as he sees more touches. He is getting about 8-10 carries a game and is usually active in the passing game. He had a solid game on Sunday, but it remains to be seen if that was a fluke or a trend of improvement. I would keep an eye on McCluster, particularly given his dual eligibility in some leagues. Unfortunately, he is likely emerging too late in the season to become reliable enough to use in fantasy football.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Indianapolis – People appear to be flocking back to Pierre Garcon after a lengthy non-productive stretch. He may have some decent games left, but he likely will not match his production against New England again this season (particularly this week against Baltimore). New England has to have the worst pass defense of any potential top seed I’ve seen in a long time and even the woeful Colts managed to take advantage.
Marshall has over ten years fantasy football experience and maintains a fantasy football blog over at Sunday Morning Legend (In My Own Mind).
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!