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2013 Fantasy Football: Matchup Analysis for the Fantasy Playoffs

By Christopher Montague

Featured Contributor

(photo by Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

With a favorable fantasy playoff schedule, C.J. Spiller could redeem his slow start with a strong finish. (photo by Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Well, we’ve reached the halfway point of the 2013 NFL season, and it’s been a total oddity so far. If you had told me that Phillip Rivers, Knowshon Moreno, and Harry Douglas would be highly impactful fantasy players a couple of months ago, I would have snorted milk through my nose I’d be laughing so hard. That’s the fantasy game, however. We project what we can based on hard data and intuition, and react to the rest. If you’ve been rolling with FST all year, chances are your team is in pretty good shape. Now it’s high time you started thinking about end game strategy. Today we’re going to take a look way ahead to the Mecca of our game – Weeks 13-16, the fantasy playoffs.

Quarterbacks

Robert Griffin III WAS | QB

Week 13 NYG
 | Week 14 KC
 | Week 15 @ATL | Week 16 DAL

RG3 has underwhelmed for the majority of 2013, but the best is yet to come. His dreadful performance against Denver makes him a buy low, but his best is yet to come. 3 of these 4 games are against poor pass defenses, and the other is against Kansas City at home – By week 14, KC may be playing more to stay healthy than to win games.

Jay Cutler CHI | QB

Week 13 @MIN
 | Week 14 DAL | Week 15 @CLE | Week 16 @PHI

If Cutler can get himself back healthy in time for a playoff run with the Bears, fantasy owners should consider adding him as a backup. The Bears should be playing to make the postseason, and MIN, PHI, and DAL present huge upside, while CLE is at least not a terrible matchup. If you’re worried about Peyton sitting late in the year, stash Cutler in your brain for future consideration.

Cam Newton CAR | QB

Week 13 TB | Week 14 @NO
 | Week 15 NYJ
 | Week 16 NO

Cam has been a total stud muffin lately, and I wanted to show you his roll isn’t about to slow anytime soon. Package two dream matchups with two average matchups and you have yourself an opportunity for a playoff explosion. Don’t sell Cam high.

Drew Brees NO | QB

Week 13 @SEA
 | Week 14 CAR | Week 15 @STL
 | Week 16 @CAR
Brees owners have to be wonderfully happy with their QB investment, and they should be. However, the Saints unfortunately get into the teeth of their schedule during the fantasy playoffs. This is the worst set of matchups available to any QB. Brees is good enough to overcome it, but if you have the chance to sell Brees for a pile, it might be worth considering.

Running Backs

Stevan Ridley/Shane Vereen NE | RB

Week 13 @HOU
 | Week 14 CLE
 | Week 15 @MIA | Week 16 @BAL
Ridley has come all the way from the bottom to the top, as they say. He was droppable a few weeks back, and has now scored double-digit fantasy points in consecutive weeks. The Patriots don’t look good enough to start sitting their stars early this year, and that sure helps us for fantasy purposes. Consider adding either of these backs for your playoff run.

Matt Forte CHI | RB

Week 13 @MIN | Week 14 DAL
 | Week 15 @CLE
 | Week 16 @PHI
Forte has simply been a tremendous investment in 2013. He’s a top 5 scoring back, is handling the goal line carries, and best of all, hasn’t been hurt. If you’re lucky enough to have him, don’t even consider selling high. The ‘worst’ matchup he has in the playoffs is the Eagles. Forte is set up to carry his owners to the fantasy Promised Land.

Darren McFadden OAK | RB

Week 13 @DAL | Week 14 @NYJ
 | Week 15 KC
 | Week 16 @SD
McFadden hasn’t inspired much faith with his 2013 showing thus far, and I’m here to tell you that none is coming. After his juicy week 13 matchup in Dallas, DMC has three straight very poor matchups, the latter two being automatic sits. Add that to his general inconsistency, and you have a back that will only be ‘useful’ for another 4 weeks. I say sell him for whatever you can get.

C.J. Spiller BUF | RB

Week 13 ATL
 | Week 14 @TB | Week 15 @JAC
 | Week 16 MIA
Let me be clear: Spiller has been brutal this year. He hasn’t been effective or explosive when healthy, and he hasn’t really been healthy either. The time has come to use that, and his injury this week, to buy him low. Like, really low. If you can stash Spiller on the end of your bench and let him get healthy for 2-3 week, you get to start him against Jacksonville and Miami when the weeks count the most. Consider a buy-low offer to the Spiller owner in your league.

Wide Receivers

Pierre Garcon WAS | WR

Week 13 NYG | Week 14 KC
 | Week 15 @ATL | Week 16 DAL
Garcon has been awful since week 2, failing to eclipse 10 points all but once. Drafted as a WR1, he’s almost more of a WR3 at this point, because he simply isn’t scoring TD’s. As the Redskins and RG3 continue to figure themselves out offensively, however, Garcon’s arrow will point up, and if you can manage to buy him low this week, you can look forward to a minimum of 3 positive playoff week matchups, along with a possibly indifferent Chiefs squad in week 14. Float an intriguing offer to the frustrated Garcon owner in your league – he’ll more than likely bite on it.

Danny Amendola NE | WR

Week 13 @HOU
 | Week 14 CLE
 | Week 15 @MIA
 | Week 16 @BAL

Well, it’s been a frustrating year to own Amendola, but you knew what you were getting into when you drafted him. He’s…frustrating, at best. If you’re still holding him for a potential playoff run, I’m here to deliver the bad news. The Patriots have not looked good offensively and their matchups during the fantasy playoffs are dreadful. If you can still use the Amendola name recognition to get some trade value out of him, I’d recommend doing so. If not…I think he’s getting close to droppable in 10 team leagues.

Steve Smith CAR | WR

Week 13 TB
 | Week 14 @NO
 | Week 15 NYJ
 | Week 16 NO
I’m not generally a Steve Smith guy. I think his QB is inconsistent, his offense generally poor, and I dislike small wideouts because of their obvious disadvantages in the red zone. But as noted earlier, Cam Newton has a very favorable fantasy playoff schedule, and the same extends to Smith. He’s barely eclipsed 50 points in 7 games this season – you should be able to buy him at a discount without too much trouble.

Torrey Smith BAL | WR

Week 13 PIT
 | Week 14 MIN
 | Week 15 @DET
 | Week 16 NE
I really just wanted to mention Torrey here because of his last two games. He scored less than 9 total points in weeks 6 and 7 combined before going on bye this past week. His value should be at an all-time low this coming week, and I’m trying to buy him low with an eye on weeks 14 and 15, where the Ravens play against two of the worst pass defenses in football.

Tight Ends

Delanie Walker TEN | TE

Week 13 @IND
 | Week 14 @DEN
 | Week 15 ARI | Week 16 @JAC
Ugh. Just looking at this is obnoxious…look at this schedule! Could it be any better? Whoever the TE is for the Titans should be a great option! Oh. That’s Delanie Walker. He’s the TE with the best fantasy playoff schedule. Man. What a waste. If you’re playing in a super deep league, and Delanie Walker is not only owned but fantasy relevant…take note. Everyone else, let’s keep moving.

Jordan Cameron CLE | TE

Week 13 JAC | Week 14 @NE
 | Week 15 CHI
 | Week 16 @NYJ

I’m not sure that this really impacts how owners were planning to play Jordan Cameron for the rest of the season. He’s a stud, and you’re going to start him. However, if you’re in the market for a TE, and have a chance to acquire Cameron from a desperate owner, or an owner that has Cameron + Julius Thomas, or Witten, or Gronk, consider the above matchups if uncertain on pulling the trade trigger. I could not find a better series of matchups for a stud TE anywhere.

Jason Witten DAL | TE

Week 13 OAK
 | Week 14 @CHI
 | Week 15 GB | Week 16 @WAS
Witten’s matchups might not be as peachy as Cameron’s, but he’s still in line for quite the easy slate to finish up the season. I’m expecting the Cowboys to be fighting for a playoff spot, and the timing is perfect for Witten to go on a fantasy playoffs tear. Also, note that he’s been simply terrible lately, and can most likely be had for a box of Cracker Jacks and some duct tape. Finally, his week 16 matchup is against my Redskins, a team he has shredded over the course of his career.

Defense/Special Teams

Carolina Panthers CAR | D/ST

Week 13 TB
 | Week 14 @NO
 | Week 15 NYJ
 | Week 16 NO

The Panthers have been one of the most consistent fantasy defenses, and biggest surprises, this season. They’ve been good enough that they should begin to have trade value as teams get more desperate and they continue to pile up strong performances. If you have the chance to sell the Panthers, I’d advise it. Nobody wants to start a D/ST against the Saints in the fantasy playoffs…and I’d say with 100% certainty that nobody wants to do it twice. Even if you’re not in a position to sell, savvy owners will do well to consider stashing another option with better matchups for the playoffs.

San Francisco 49ers SF | D/ST

Week 13 STL
 | Week 14 SEA
 | Week 15 @TB
 | Week 16 ATL
The 49ers have been sort of underwhelming so far in 2013. They rank 4th in D/ST scoring and were embarrassed in weeks 2 and 3 by Seattle and Indianapolis, respectively. They’ve righted the ship since, however, scoring over 10 fantasy points in all their games since. They’ve gotten players back, and more help is on the horizon with the return of stud linebacker Aldon Smith possible in Week 10. The 49ers play 3 of 4 fantasy playoff games at home, have easy pickings against STL, TB, and ATL, and I like their chances in a payback game at home against Seattle. If you can hold the SF D/ST this week while (they’re on bye) you will be repaid in spades when the fantasy playoffs come around.

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