Congratulations. If you’re reading this post you’re either in that elite minority of people who survived the dice roll that is the fantasy football regular season, or, conversely, you’re in that pedestrian majority that struck out and missed the playoffs completely (Welcome, masochists!). Possibly you’re even in the final week of your league’s regular season (Welcome, weirdos!). In any case, make like Nestle because it’s #crunchtime.
But it’s not enough to simply qualify for the playoffs. No, this is America and you’re here to win, dammit. Here to ensure you of your winnability and continuing U.S. citizenship is SiriusXM’s top plays for each position in standard leagues for the opening week of the fantasy football playoffs.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals:
The timeless signal-caller for ‘Zona’s high octane offense is the only QB to have scored at least 16 points in every game this season. The Vikings defense has been great all season, but the defenses in Cincinnati, Seattle, and St. Louis are all better, and Palmer missed nary a beat in fantasy beatdowns of them all. Furthermore, the Vikes’ defense will be missing starters: FS Harrison Smith, SLB Anthony Barr, NT Linval Joseph and SS Andrew Sendejo, so there’s that.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Speaking of injuries, the Saints will likely be without Delvin Breaux — and New Orleans’ defense was just flagged as a superfund site. This mean you, the savvy fantasy player, like the prospects of starting Jameis Winston. Since Week 7, the rookie from Florida State has posted five games of 18 points or more, and in his first dance with the Saints back in Week 2, he posted a healthy 18.58 points. Hear more about Jameis Winston in this week’s RotoWizard:
Kansas City Chiefs RBBC:
Feeling lucky? Slot Charcandrick West or Spencer Ware this week against the porous San Diego rush defense. West and Ware have been getting fairly even carries in recent weeks, so it’s anyone’s guess as to who will go in when. But it may not matter. San Diego’s defense cannot stop the run (uhh, they’re allowing 4.8 yards per tote) and Andy Reid will likely run W^2 till the wheels fall off.
LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills:
Facing his old team in Philadelphia, count on Shady to embrace the heel turn in front of Chip Kelly and the Eagles’ famously welcoming fans. More importantly, the Eagles run defense has been erased by Jonathan Stewart, Darren McFadden and Doug Martin in recent weeks. With Buffalo’s o-line finally clicking and with McCoy healthy as he’s been all season, look for LeSean to go off like Pac-Man and gobble yardage like power pellets.
Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars:
The clear WR1 on Jacksonville’s roster, Robinson is money in the bank against a terrible Indianapolis Colts defense in a game that’s off the books in Vegas. Robinson is the receiver you want, but Allen Hurns or Julius Thomas are just as likely to exploit Indy’s receiving defense which is fourth-worst in the league this season.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks:
Coming into a game against the bucket of sad that is Baltimore’s secondary, Baldwin is averaging a hair better than 108 yards per game and 1.5 TDs the past month. With Jimmy Graham’s season-ending injury and with Russell Wilson scorching the earth right now, anticipate more Baldwin bombs against the, again, bucket of sad that is Baltimore’s secondary.
AJ Green, Cincinnati Bengals:
Practically an afterthought for most of the season, AJ Green has gone HAM the past two weeks against St. Louis and Cleveland. And while many of the NFL’s elite wideouts have, thanks to imposing defenses (Julio Jones) or injuries to quarterbacks (Dez Bryant), subpar match-ups this week, Green is facing Pittsburgh’s very giving secondary right in time for the playoffs. The over-under for the game is 49.5 … and someone is gonna have to score all of those touchdowns.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers:
Playing at home against an extremely shaky Falcons defense that looks good on paper, but, well, has lost five of its last six. Start Olsen with confidence and look for him to be heavily targeted in the red zone.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
In his second game back from an extended injury absence, look for ASJ to be open all day on the underneath routes against the Saints’ Stygian defense. If you’re worried about your TE position, in what’s admittedly a shallow talent pool, check and see if Seferian-Jenkins is available on your waiver wire.
Check and see if Houston is somehow on your waiver wire. If you’re in the playoffs, you likely know that Carolina and Seattle are made of concrete and nails. Shy away from Cincy or Pittsburgh, maybe see if you can nab Detroit in a very favorable match-up against the Rams. Green Bay’s defense against a Romo-less Cowboys outfit should be a safe streamer as well.