• The Dynasty Doctor

Getting Ready For The Fantasy Playoffs

Twitter: @DynastyDoctorFF


Fantasy Football Playoffs - it’s the time when legacies are etched in stone, but dreams are crushed. We often don’t think twice about benching our early-round studs come playoffs, but there are many other players that have immense potential to deliver championships. Let’s dive into some ideal fantasy playoff schedules (Weeks 15-17) at each position.

 

Quarterbacks


Dak Prescott


Week 15: @ NYG, Week 16: vs WFT, Week 17: vs ARI


Dak deserves a round of applause. After his horrific injury sustained in October 2020, the NFL universe was hesitant on Prescott returning to form. Halfway through the 2021 season, Dak has silenced the doubters. He holds the highest completion percentage, fifth-highest TD%, and is third in passer rating. Despite the Giants ranking in the middle of the pack in passing defense (16th), they have underdelivered on the defensive side of the ball. Through the air, the G-Men have allowed 1.9 TDs per game (11th-most). They are in the bottom third in pressure rate, which should allow Dak to stand confidently in the pocket and deliver premier passes. After having a successful campaign in 2020, the Washington defense has been a massive disappointment. They rank 30th in passing defense, surrendering close to 300 YPG through the air, while also giving up the second-most passing TDs per game (2.5). Dak should have no issues moving the ball at home against WFT. The Cardinals have been tough through the air, ranking 4th in the league and on average holding teams to less than 200 passing YPG. Two high-powered offenses should negate the defensive matchup and set up a lot of scoring in this one. Plus, this may be the last game the ‘boys offensive starters play before the playoffs. They’ll want to end the season strong at home.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)


Jalen Hurts


Week 15: vs WFT, Week 16: vs NYG, Week 17: @ WFT


Hurts finds his way on this list for the same reasons Dak is. Replace a Week 17 matchup with WFT’s struggling defense and Hurts may have the best fantasy playoff schedule this season. With his incredibly high floor and a WFT matchup sandwich, Hurts will lead the charge for many championship rosters. If Nick Sirianni figures out how to call a strong offensive game plan, Hurts to the moon. Cement Hurts in your lineup.


Joe Burrow


Week 15: @ DEN, Week 16: vs BAL, Week 17: vs KC


Burrow has had an excellent start to his Sophomore campaign. He currently ranks sixth in passing yards, third in YPA, third in passing TDs, and third in TD%. On the flip side, Joe is tied for the second-most INTs in the league. A bit of yin and yang. However, Burrow’s matchups in Weeks 15-17 are mouthwatering. On paper, Denver has been impressive defensively this season. However, with the loss of Von Miller and the Denver defense allowing seven passes of 40 yards or more (tied for second-most), Burrow should confidently take deep shots against this secondary. Baltimore and Kansas City rank 32nd and 25th in passing yards allowed per game, respectively. The Chiefs have surrendered, on average, 1.9 passing TDs per game, which is tied for the seventh-most league-wide. Burrow should capitalize on these matchups with one of the strongest receiving corps in the league and find his way into your lineups.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Emilee Chinn)


Trevor Lawrence


Week 15: vs HOU, Week 16: @ NYJ, Week 17: @ NE


This might be a head-scratcher. The former overall #1 pick in 2020 currently ranks in at the QB24 on the season. Lawrence isn’t a guy that I’m relying on to deliver the entire fantasy playoffs, but his matchups in Weeks 15 and 16 deserve attention. Houston and New York come in at 18th and 27th in passing defense, respectively. In Trevor’s first career NFL start, he was able to toss three TDs in Houston, I think he could repeat that, if not improve on his numbers, at home (three INTs in Week 1 @ HOU). Not to mention, Houston allows 1.9 passing TDs per game (tied for seventh-most). The Jets haven’t been able to stop anyone in their last three games - letting up no less than 31 points. Just to reiterate, I’m not relying on TLaw in Week 17, but you can’t find many easier matchups in Weeks 15 and 16.

 

Running Backs


Austin Ekeler


Week 15: vs KC, Week 16: @ HOU, Week 17: vs DEN


This goes without saying, but Ekeler should be locked into 100% of playoff-bound lineups. If you don’t have a share, try and acquire one. Ekeler has found the endzone a whopping eight times over seven games, boasts his highest YPC since 2018, and his highest YPR since 2019. Quite frankly, I think he has a shot to set career highs, especially in the TD department (Nine in 2019). If you think his numbers are good, his playoffs matchups will have you itching to get Ekeler in your starting lineup. KC allows the 13th-most fantasy PPG to RBs (AVG: 17.5), sixth-most rushing TDs per game (1.2), and surrenders 6.2 receptions to RBs per game. The Texans allow the second-most YPG, second-most rushing TDs per game (1.8), and the fifth-most fantasy PPG (AVG: 20.8). Ekeler should have no problem tearing apart these defenses. A Week 17 divisional showdown versus the Broncos with potentially MASSIVE NFL playoff implications should play in Ekeler’s favor. Ekeler’s skill set and workload will trump a more difficult matchup, whose defense still allows over 100 rushing YPG on the ground. Start Austin Ekeler with the utmost confidence come playoff time, you know Austin will be doing the same.


James Robinson


Week 15: vs HOU, Week 16: @ NYJ, Week 17: @ NE


TWO Jacksonville Jaguars in this article? *cleans screen* Yes, it’s true. JRob’s workhorse role + choice matchups = trophies. It’s simple math. Through the first seven games, Robinson has at least 19 touches and a carry of 20+ yards in four of them. With the 18th-most rushing attempts, JRob has managed to rumble for the eighth-most yards, the fifth-most rushing TDs, and the seventh-highest YPC in the NFL. Mix this with two defenses who are allowing the second-most (HOU - Déjà vu?) and fourth-most (NYJ) rushing YPG, JRob should have a feast. The cherry on top? The Jets allow the MOST PPG and rushing TDs to opposing RBs (AVG: 27.1, 1.9). New England poses a more challenging matchup compared to the Texans and the Jets, but their defense still allows 112.8 YPG on the ground. Robinson is Jacksonville’s top offensive weapon and should be leaned on accordingly. Fire him up.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)


Cordarrelle Patterson


Week 15: @ SF, Week 16: vs DET, Week 17: @ BUF


Never in a million years would I think I’d include Cordarrelle Patterson in a Fantasy Football Playoff piece, better yet a Fantasy Football piece at all, but here we are. Patterson has been nothing short of spectacular this season, with Mike Davis becoming an afterthought in the Atlanta offense. With the exception of Week 1, Patterson has had double-digit touches in every game. In five of his games, he has recorded five or more receptions, while in two of his games he’s registered 14 carries. The Falcons have awarded their RBs with the second-highest RB target share (28.7%) in the NFL. Patterson has emerged as the top option out of the backfield, which has coincided with his increase in snap percentage (Weeks 1-4: ~35%, Weeks 5, 7-8: 64%). Now, let’s talk about his schedule. San Francisco and Detroit both rank in the bottom seven in rushing yards allowed. The 49ers are tied for the fourth-most rushing TDs to opposing RBs (1.3) and the Lions are tied for the fifth-most (1.2). San Francisco sits in the middle of the pack in receptions allowed to RBs (5.1 PG). Patterson will continue to thrive in both rushing and passing situations, especially with Calvin Ridley’s future uncertain. The Lions are abysmal versus the run, allowing the second-most PPG to opposing RBS (AVG: 24.1). The Week 17 matchup versus the Bills is a bit frightening, but the game script should force Atlanta to pass nonstop, favoring Patterson’s cemented role as a top weapon. Patterson was a pick-up that has paid dividends for your fantasy team. He’s most likely your RB2 or FLEX, and he should remain there. A high floor player like Patterson should find his way locked into your lineups come the playoffs.


Elijah Mitchell


Week 15: vs ATL, Week 16: @ TEN, Week 17: vs HOU


Once referred to as a FAAB-burner, Mitchell has established himself as the surefire 49ers bellcow. Across his five active games, Mitchell has touched the rock 18+ times on four occasions and has topped 100 yards on the ground while finding paydirt in three of them. He has been banged up this season, missing two games and potentially a third in Week 9. If he stays healthy and can fend off Jeff Wilson Jr. and JaMycal Hasty, he’ll undoubtedly reward fantasy owners in the playoffs. Atlanta and Houston (recurring theme here?) land in the bottom eight in rushing yards allowed per game, while surrendering​​ the 11th-most (AVG: 18.7) and second-most PPG to RBs. The Titans have proven to be a tougher matchup against the run, but they allow the 12th-most PPG to opponents (AVG: 24.4). The 49ers have scored 53% of their offensive TDs on the ground, which should give teams starting Mitchell a boost of confidence despite a sub-par matchup in Week 16.

 

Wide Receivers


A.J. Brown


Week 15: @ PIT, Week 16: vs SF, Week 17: vs MIA


If you have A.J. Brown shares in redraft and held through his disappointing beginning of the season, well done. He was destined to bounce back because after all, AJB is a bonafide superstar. The 2020 Pro Bowler will undoubtedly deliver in Fantasy Football playoffs given the three-game stretch for the Titans. After a slow start to the season, Brown has turned 29 targets into a 25-379-2 line over his last three appearances. I expect his momentum to continue indefinitely, especially with the unfortunate injury to Derrick Henry. The Titans will try to re-establish the rush attack, their true identity, but will have to lean on their top offensive weapon in Henry’s absence, AJB. The Steelers have surrendered the ninth-most fantasy PPG (AVG: 22.9) to WRs, while Miami has gifted WRs the third-most fantasy PPG (AVG: 26.9). On his 20.4% target share, A.J. Brown has run 60% of his routes out wide and 39% from the slot. This versatility allows AJB to create mismatches and take short routes to the house. The 49ers' defense, although tougher statistically, has been flagged for the most DPIs in the league. This will extend drives for the Titans in Week 16, setting up more targets and production for Brown. Even if King Henry returns in Week 16, AJB has proven to be a game-breaker regardless of who is on the field. Expect a ground-shaking return in the playoffs.

(Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)


Diontae Johnson


Week 15: vs TEN, Week 16: @ KC, Week 17: vs CLE


Diontae Johnson is simply a target hog. He ranks third in the league in targets per game with 10.5. Only Tyreek Hill and Cooper Kupp have a higher per game stat. Tennessee has been a cake matchup for WRs this season, allowing the most YPG (216), receptions (16.5), and the second-most TDs (12) to the position. Factor in Johnson’s 23.3% target share and the opportunity in Week 15 at home against the Titans, you have yourselves a “BOOM”-type performance. Did I mention that Tennessee has allowed 28.9 PPG to WRs? Oh, it’s the most allowed in the league, if you were wondering. Matchups against the Chiefs and the Browns are middle of the road in terms of statistics, but they both allow 21+ PPG to WRs. The Chiefs have not looked like their ‘19 and ‘20 squads, but by the time Week 16 rolls around, Kansas City should be firing on all cylinders, especially at home. Steelers will have to play catch-up, with Big Ben tossing a potential 50 attempt effort. The 62% wide receiver target share could increase as the year goes on; the Steelers sat at over 70% in the 2020 season. I would expect around 15 of these to go to Johnson. In Week 8, Diontae recorded six catches for 98 yards (on 13 targets) in Cleveland. I expect these numbers to improve in a Week 17 divisional clash that will be bound to have playoff implications. This target monster should have a very high floor throughout the season and the fantasy playoffs.


Michael Pittman Jr.


Week 15: vs NE, Week 16: @ ARI, Week 17: vs LV


MPJ has emerged as a legitimate alpha. Congratulations to everyone that drafted Pittman Jr. late in drafts. He’s made quite a leap in Year 2. Tied for sixth-most receiving TDs after Week 8 (4), MPJ tacked on a fifth score in Week 9. He’s now tied with Amari Cooper. Yeah, that Amari Cooper (pending Week 9’s slate). Before the Colt's TNF barnburner vs the Jets, Pittman Jr. boasted a 23.3% target share and had the same aDOT as Stefon Diggs and Justin Jefferson. That company is not too shabby. He’s received 12+ targets in a THIRD of his games. Do I need to say more? Let’s talk about his playoff matchups. Upon initial glance, matchups against the Patriots and the Cardinals seem like a bit of a nightmare. New England holds opponents to the 14th-fewest passing YPG, while Arizona allows the fourth-fewest. Is there a silver lining? There is - NE allows the 10th-most PPG (AVG: 22.5) to WRs and Arizona allows a deceptive 13th-most PPG (AVG: 21.9). Las Vegas is a tough foe for the Colts to face in Week 17, particularly stingy to the receiver position, but Carson Wentz should continue to force-feed his #1 target despite the opponent. With a bottom-tier run defense in the Raiders, they may be too locked into stopping the runaway train that is Jonathan Taylor and could slip up defending the pass. MPJ’s 21% slot route could dissect the middle of the field when he's not on the outside. Indianapolis will have to match a fairly capable Las Vegas offense. Michael Pittman Jr. has arrived and he’ll continue to stay put in lineups for the foreseeable future.

(Photo Credit: Gary McCullough / AP)

 

Tight Ends


Dallas Goedert


Week 15: vs WFT, Week 16: vs NYG, Week 17: @ WFT


After the Zach Ertz trade to Arizona, Dallas Goedert became the unquestioned TE1 in Philadelphia. Goedert owners rejoiced. Their battle cries could be heard in the grandest halls. Since the trade, the Eagles, who target the TE position at the sixth-highest rate in the league (26.0%), have featured Goedert as the primary passing option. Across those two games, his 12 targets have been converted into a 9-142 receiving line. That’s the second-most receiving yards amongst TEs in that stretch. Although Jalen Hurts only had to throw 14 passes in a Week 8 Detroit blowout, HALF of his attempts went to Goedert. Four of the six first downs were converted by Goedert. Goedert is becoming Jalen’s security net and will continue to move the chains through the air. The Washington Football Team has allowed the fourth-most yards to opposing TEs this season (67.6 YPG) and Goedert draws this matchup twice. In addition, the Giants have surrendered the third-most TDs to tight ends (4). If you have a Hurts-Goedert stack, man, they will flourish in the fantasy playoffs. Set-and-forget.

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)


Zach Ertz Week 15: @ DET, Week 16: vs IND, Week 17: @ DAL The Cardinals woke up at the beginning of the 2021 season feeling dangerous. Offensively, they decided to get absolutely everyone involved, including the TE position. Maxx Williams was targeted early and often in the ‘21 campaign, registering 16 catches for 193 yards and a TD before suffering a season-ending injury during their Week 5 game. The day after his Week 6 game, Ertz was traded to the Cardinals. In his two games since Ertz has corralled nine targets for seven catches and 108 yards. This is good for the seventh-most receiving yards by a TE over that span. Not bad for a guy who is getting accustomed to a completely new offense (Week 7: 49% of Snaps, Week 8: 73% of Snaps). As his snap percentage increases, his comfortability in a new offense should yield more targets and ultimately, more production. Believe it or not, his easiest matchup in the playoffs is against the Detroit Lions. The Lions have allowed the 14th-most YPG to TEs (52.2). The Colts and the Cowboys, however, have surrendered the eighth-most (9.0) and ninth-most (8.8) fantasy PPG to TEs, respectively. Indianapolis has allowed the sixth-most receptions to opposing TEs (5.9 RPG). Ertz may not be your starter and could possibly be available on your waiver wire. Ertz could reap big rewards come the fantasy playoffs. Jared Cook Week 15: vs KC, Week 16: @ HOU, Week 17: vs DEN Jared Cook, Mr. Ol’ Reliable. Cook is quietly 10th in targets (38) this season but has only been able to haul in 23 of them. The Chargers target the TE at a 20.1% clip, which has allowed Cook to be the third-most targeted player of the LAC offensive weapons. Cook arguably has the most attractive Week 15 and Week 16 matchup at the position. He draws matchups with the Chiefs and the Texans, who allow the third-most (10.6) and fourth-most (10.5) fantasy PPG to tight ends, respectively. The Chiefs have given up the most yards to the TE position (602). Both Kansas City and Houston have given up the most TDs to tight ends (6). I don’t trust Cook against Denver, who allows a third-fewest 3.0 PPG to the position. Cook could get a TE-needy team through the first two rounds of the playoffs.