Fantasy Football Playoffs: Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

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Peyton Fester, Sports Reporter

If you’re reading this, let’s hope your fantasy football team is in the midst of a pivotal playoff run. I myself felt that I could spread some advice on who to start and who to sit. I do not have a crystal ball, but I did manage my team to the best overall record in my league. My advice before reading is simple. At the end of the day remember that your judgement matters the most. I will incorporate my strongest fantasy analysis on each player to the best of my ability for your help, but I do not know everything. Enjoy.

Quarterbacks

Must Start: Matt Ryan, ATL – Ryan’s opponent, San Fransisco, is bad… really bad. However, not only are the 49ers defensive woes giving Ryan the green light this weekend, but also his performance last week. The fact that he is coming off of a three touchdown game without Julio Jones can only be a sign of what’s to come against San Francisco.

Do Not Start: Matthew Stafford, DET – Look, I love Matthew Stafford and all he has done this year, but I do not love the injury on his throwing hand that he suffered last week. The Giant’s defense was stout against Dallas, only surrendering a mere seven points last Sunday night. All I am saying is, be careful. I hope he does great, but the situation certainly could be better.

Desperate?: Sam Bradford, MIN – These are the type of guys that I beg you not to rely on me for. I mean come on Sam Bradford?! He is owned in only 10% of leagues, so he should be an easy waiver wire pickup. I do like the fact that Minnesota is playing against the Colts who stink; plus, the Vikings are still in the running for the playoffs. This’ll give Bradford some confidence and a sense of purpose come Sunday.

Running Backs

Must Start: Carlos Hyde, SF – First of all, Shady, DJ, LBell, EZE, Latavius Murray, and Devonta Freeman all should be included in the “must starts”, but that kind of goes without saying. Anyways, I say you should let Hyde squeak into your ‘flex’ position and feel good about it. You know why? He torched the Jets defense for 193 yards on 17 carries last week. This week, he’s facing an even worse defense in Atlanta on Sunday.

Do Not Start: Todd Gurley, LA – Well bravo, if you’ve made it this far into your season with this guy on your team congratulations. It’s such a shame that he is stuck on a pathetic Rams team. I’ll keep this one nice and simple. Do not start Gurley; he is playing the Seattle Seahawks.

Desperate?: Jerick McKinnon, MIN – There is a decent chance he may be taken, but at this point let’s hope you have better options. If not, McKinnon is sort of a diamond in the rough. You never know what type of performance to expect from him or how involved he will be. However, the Colts are nothing special on defense. and McKinnon has strung together a few solid weeks as of late in PPR formats.

Wide Receivers

Must Start: Jordy Nelson, GB – Jordy is Aaron Rodgers go to target. Especially in the end zone. Nelson leads all NFL receivers with 12 touchdowns currently after two against Seattle. I expect him to add a few more against the sad Bears secondary.

Do Not Start: Brandin Cooks, NO – I don’t know on this one. To me, Cooks is such a high-risk, high-reward kind of guy. You might get a big week out of him every once in awhile, but you never know. Brees has been rather awful in the past two weeks. He’s finished without a touchdown, and I can’t imagine his day will be much brighter at Arizona this weekend. In other words, when Brees plays bad, Cooks plays bad.

Desperate?: Malcolm Mitchell, NE – Alright, so not necessarily the best match up here, but if you need a WR for the semi-finals this weekend then pick up Mitchell. He is a fine play. The rookie has burst on to the scene as of late, scoring 4 touchdowns in his past 4 games. Tom Brady has been targeting Mitchell, and there is no reason to believe that he will stop showing him love in a shootout with Denver.

Tight Ends

Must Start: Tyler Eifert, CIN – Sure, there could be some others that should be under the ‘must start’ category, but I will comfortably slate Eifert here because of his recent production. The tight end position has certainly been underwhelming this season but ever since Eifert returned from an injury in week 7 he has been a consistent producer for his owners who were patient in his return.

Do Not Start: Coby Fleener, NO – Fleener fits into the same category as Brandin Cooks. When Brees plays bad, Fleener does as well. It is more than that though. It’s hard to pick out a premier tight end this year, but Fleener definitely does not make the list. He had two monster weeks this season, but the rest have been relatively quiet. I do not like Fleener, but then again I don’t like a lot of the tight ends this year. Pick your poison.

Desperate?: Trey Burton, PHI – Trey who? Exactly. Hit up the waiver wire if you’re shallow at the TE spot. Burton has stepped up his production lately with the absence of wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, and it looks like you may be able to put your trust in him if the Eagles target him as often as they did last week.