The playoffs are nigh, and you’ve undoubtedly spent countless hours parsing the key positions on your roster. You’re insulated against injury at quarterback, have running backs with quality matchups, and your receivers are highly targeted and highly productive.
But what about the rest of your roster?
It’s easy to overlook the tight end/kicker/defense back end of your fantasy lineup. If you’re lucky you have zero decisions to make, plugging in Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, John Kasay or Sebastian Janikowski, and the Ravens or Bears and moving on to agonizing over the rest of your roster.
But if you’re not among the fortunate… hey, the legwork has been done for you.
If you’re not riding Gronk or Graham into the playoffs, you’re bound to run up against them somewhere along the way. That gives you an opportunity to swing for the fences by playing favorable matchups against teams that haven’t had much success stopping tight ends of late. Over the past six weeks seven teams are allowing double-digit points to the position. Sadly, the most fantasy-friendly defense, the Giants, doesn’t face a tight end available in most leagues, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options. Here’s a rundown of the more available opposition to help you capitalize.
Daniel Fells, DEN (available in 97% of MFL leagues) at Minnesota
Scott Chandler, BUF (available in 56% of MFL leagues) vs. Titans
Kellen Davis, CHI (available in >98% of MFL leagues) vs. Chiefs
Lance Kendricks, STL (available in 85% of MFL leagues) at Seattle
Leonard Pope, KCC (available in >98% of MFL leagues) at NY Jets
Kevin Boss, OAK (available in 85% of MFL leagues) at Green Bay
Kellen Davis, CHI (available in >98% of MFL leagues) vs. Seahawks
Jacob Tamme, IND (available in 90% of MFL leagues) vs. Titans
Leonard Pope, KCC (available in >98% of MFL leagues) vs. Packers
Marcedes Lewis, JAX (available in 70% of MFL leagues) at Tennessee
Kevin Boss, OAK (available in 85% of MFL leagues) at Kansas City
Kellen Davis, CHI (available in >98% of MFL leagues) at Green Bay
Kellen Davis, CHI (available in >98% of MFL leagues) at Minnesota
Anthony Fasano, MIA (available in 87% of MFL leagues) vs. Jets
Todd Heap, ARI (available in 86% of MFL leagues) vs. Seahawks
Daniel Fells, DEN (available in 97% of MFL leagues) vs. Chiefs
It’s easy to ignore the position… right up until you flip on the TV Sunday morning Week 16 and your kicker’s team is playing in a driving snowstorm where field goals from beyond 20 yards are borderline impossible.
I usually try to draft a dome or southern US-based kicker, but it’s more a suggestion than a rule. Here’s a quick rundown of potential kicker trouble spots during the playoffs, as well as some weekly substitution options.
Potential weather issues: Chiefs at Chicago, Ravens at Cleveland, Colts at New England
Dome kickers: Lions at Saints, Broncos at Vikings, Cowboys at Cardinals
Potential weather issues: Raiders at Green Bay, Bears at Denver
Dome kickers: Vikings at Lions, 49ers at Cardinals, Giants at Cowboys
Potential weather issues: Dolphins at Buffalo, Seahawks at Chicago, Patriots at Denver
Dome kickers: Jaguars at Falcons, Bengals at Rams, Titans at Colts, Saints at Vikings, Panthers at Texans
Potential weather issues: Broncos at Buffalo, Dolphins at New England, Bears at Green Bay
Dome kickers: Texans at Colts, Chargers at Lions, Eagles at Cowboys, Falcons at Saints
Potential weather issues: Bills at New England, Steelers at Cleveland, Lions at Green Bay, Chiefs at Denver
Dome kickers: Titans at Texans, Bears at Vikings, Buccaneers at Falcons, Panthers at Saints, 49ers at Rams, Seahawks at Cardinals
Multiple potential weather issues:
Four games: Robbie Gould, CHI; Stephen Gostkowski, NEP; Matt Prater, DEN
Three games: Dave Rayner/Rian Lindell, BUF; Mason Crosby, GBP
Two games: Ryan Succop, KCC; Phil Dawson, CLE; Shayne Graham/Dan Carpenter, MIA
Multiple dome games:
Four games: Ryan Longwell, MIN
Three games: John Kasay, NOS; Jay Feely, ARI
Two games: Jason Hanson, DET; Dan Bailey, DAL; David Akers, SFO; Matt Bryant, ATL; Josh Brown, STL; Rob Bironas, TEN; Adam Vinatieri, IND; Olindo Mare, CAR; Neil Rackers, HOU
TEAM DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS
No fantasy football position is more matchup-driven than Team Defense/Special Teams. And the one-and-done nature of the playoffs requires you to keep an eye out for stoppers. Much like Darrelle Revis can take a wide receiver off the board, a good offense can ruin your fantasy defense. Depending on how heavily your scoring system penalizes your fantasy defense for giving up points and yardage, there are three teams—the Saints, Packers, and Patriots—who could very well be a stopper down the stretch. That’s bad news for the Bears, who visit Green Bay in Week 16, and the Lions, who travel to New Orleans this week and Green Bay in Week 17. The Giants (Green Bay in Week 13) and Titans (New Orleans in Week 14) are perhaps less used but also face potential stoppers very early in the process as well.
Conversely, if you’re able to play the matchup from week to week there are several backup quarterbacks to feast on. Here’s a roadmap to Week 17 playing the matchups and using lightly-owned defenses.
Falcons (available in 50% of MFL leagues) vs. T.J. Yates
Chiefs (available in 79% of MFL leagues) vs. Caleb Hanie
Patriots (available in 33% of MFL leagues) vs. Dan Orlovsky
Broncos (available in 71% of MFL leagues) vs. Caleb Hanie
Titans (available in 58% of MFL leagues) vs. Dan Orlovsky
Panthers (available in 89% of MFL leagues) vs. T.J. Yates (or maybe Kellen Clemens or Jake Delhomme)
Seahawks (available in 66% of MFL leagues) vs. Caleb Hanie
Raiders (available in 58% of MFL leagues) vs. Tyler Palko (or more likely at this juncture Kyle Orton)
Colts (available in 93% of MFL leagues) vs. T.J. Yates
Jaguars (available in 75% of MFL leagues) vs. Dan Orlovsky
Vikings (available in 74% of MFL leagues) vs. Caleb Hanie
Broncos (available in 71% of MFL leagues) vs. Tyler Palko
Titans (available in 58% of MFL leagues) vs. T.J. Yates