Two games, three tops, to get into the big dance; lose now and it doesn’t matter what your team looks like in December.
So by whatever means you have at your disposal—trades, the waiver wire, anything else you can think of—you need two weeks of fantasy-friendly matchups. Here are some candidates for a roster that needs to win now at any costs.
Case Keenum, QB, Texans
Fortunately, after a brain fart in Week 11 the Texans have returned to their senses and reinstalled Keenum as the starter over Matt Schaub. Either way, there’s a fantasy helper here against a pair of secondaries (Jacksonville and New England) that over their past two games have allowed a combined 1,316 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, the fantasy community—and in particular Andre Johnson owners—strongly prefer it be Keenum.
Scott Tolzien, Packers
This may wind up being a one-week fix if Aaron Rodgers is able to return on Thanksgiving to face the Lions. But if it’s instant bang you need it’s instant bang you’ll get from Tolzien against a Vikings defense that’s allowed at least 27 points in every game this year. Tolzien has already been named the starter, as the Packers should be able to get by Minnesota without risking Rodgers. He’s been plenty productive yardage-wise, with 619 in two appearances, but he has just one TD toss in the two games. The Vikings have the cure, however, as they’ve given up multiple scoring strikes in four straight and eight of 10. You can worry about who takes on a reeling Lions’ secondary that’s surrendered an average of 314 and 3 over the past month later.
Also consider: Josh McCown, Bears; Eli Manning, Giants; Alex Smith, Chiefs
Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns
The Browns are mercifully weaning themselves off of Willis McGahee, giving Ogbonnaya a larger share of the backfield touches. He’s already one of the top receiving backs in the game: over the past three weeks only three RBs have more targets. Give him even more touches against a shell of the former Steel Curtain and a Jacksonville defense that’s giving up an average of 140 combo yards to opposing backs on the road
Rashad Jennings, Raiders
Maybe Darren McFadden will be back soon from his hamstring injury, but… wait, haven’t we seen this movie before? The oft-injured Raider isn’t exactly a fast healer, and the team has already indicated if and when he does return it will be to a job share with Jennings, who has the second-most rushing yards in the NFL over the past three weeks and the fourth-most fantasy points among running backs. As an added bonus he’ll face two reeling run defenses leading up to the fantasy playoffs: the Titans, who have allowed multiple RB TDs in five straight games; and the Cowboys, who over the past month have allowed the most fantasy points to the position despite having been on the bye last week.
Andre Brown, Giants
Brown has been a busy boy since his return, with 48 carries in two games. He’s also seen eight targets and is without question the unchallenged top dog in the Giants’ backfield. As a reward for his efforts, over the next two weeks Brown gets the aforementioned fantasy-friendly Dallas run defense as well as a Washington D that over the past month has given up more running back touchdowns than anyone else in the league.
Also consider: Frank Gore/Kendall Hunter, 49ers; Matt Forte/Michael Bush, Bears
Michael Floyd, Cardinals
Floyd’s 91-yard bomb last week has blown the lid off his sleeper status, as he’s not just a one-hit wonder with three touchdowns over the past five games. He’ll also face a pair of pass defenses (the Colts and Eagles) who have allowed the most and second-most WR yards over the past month. With defenses focused on Larry Fitzgerald underneath, it’s a great opportunity for Floyd to get deep once again and help you set the table for a deep fantasy postseason run of your own.
Kendall Wright, Titans
Over the past three weeks Wright ranks 12th in targets, sixth in catches and 14th in yardage amongst wide receivers. And while in non-PPR leagues that hasn’t yielded much in the way of fantasy bang, a pair of dates with the soft Indy and Oakland secondaries—a duo that in the past month has surrendered 1,772 yards and 13 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers—should rectify that situation.
Kris Durham, Lions
True, being Calvin Johnson’s wingman is a little like being the second-leading scorer on the Grinnell men’s basketball team. But Durham is clearly WR2 in Detroit over the past month, with 24 of the 33 non-Megatron WR targets in that span. There’s a comfort level between Durham and his former Georgia teammate Matthew Stafford that should survive the return of Nate Burleson—and thrive given the Lions’ upcoming Bay dates with Tampa (you think Darrelle Revis will be on Durham or Megatron?) and Green.
Also consider: Mario Manningham/Michael Crabtree, 49ers; Hakeem Nicks/Reuben Randle, Giants; Jarrett Boykin, Packers
Delanie Walker, Titans
No tight end is hotter over the past two weeks, as Walker has posted 14-153-2 on 18 targets. Maybe he’s still in your free agent pool, maybe you need to convince the Walker owner in your league to sell high on him; either way, with a schedule that features matchups against Oakland and Indy there’s a very good chance Walker’s hot streak continues—maybe even heats up further.
Coby Fleener, Colts
Fleener has 15 catches for 204 yards in his past three games and is filling some of the void left in the Indy passing game when Reggie Wayne went down with a season-ending injury. No touchdowns, though, so he may still be flying under the fantasy radar for some. Matchups with two top-10 (as in, fantasy friendly) tight end defenses should snap that scoreless streak and make Fleener one of the more productive players at his position over this final playoff push.
Also consider: Mychal Rivera, Raiders; Rob Housler, Cardinals