fantasy football     JOIN THE HUDDLE    


Playoff Preparation
Joe Levit
November 22, 2006

During league playoffs, owners have a tendency to want to dance with the players who brought them to the promised land. Obviously that is what you must do if you are faced with starting a stud versus a mediocrity. However, how should you decide between two studs, or two pedestrian players? Here is the time when playing matchups is especially valuable. Below I have compiled a list of players to strongly consider starting or benching during the last three playoff weeks of the fantasy season (15-17). Use the week guide I provide to figure out who would most benefit you. Perhaps your league doesn’t allow a week 17 game. If so, then take that into account.

If your league still allows trades at this point, it may be worth it to you to swing a few late-season deals to stock your club with good players who have great matchups in the playoffs. If you cannot trade at this time, at least you will have some terrific information to aid you in setting your fantasy lineups at that time.

I took a look at the top eight and bottom eight pro teams versus each of the major fantasy positions to come to these conclusions. Best plays are players with a favorable matchup all three weeks . Good plays are players with a favorable matchup two of the three weeks. Poor plays are players with an unfavorable matchup two of the three weeks
There are no Worst Plays.

Ironically, there are some players who have merited either a good or poor ranking that have a complete opposite ranking in the third week. If they are rated poor, they have a very favorable matchup in one playoff week. If rated good, they have a very unfavorable matchup in one playoff week. I will provide that list at the bottom, with the aberrant week listed. Here then are some players to get, trade away, insert into lineups or avoid during your league playoffs.

Best Plays

Rex Grossman – Grossman faces Tampa Bay, Detroit and Green Bay to end the season. All three give up a lot of fantasy points to quarterbacks, so Grossman can be a net gain for your team at crunch time.

Ronnie Brown – Brown gets to grind into three soft run defenses late this year. If he can regain his full health heading into the playoffs, his schedule of Buffalo, New York Jets and Indianapolis will have some owners smiling widely.

Tatum Bell – Bells plays at Arizona, against Cincinnati and against San Francisco to close out the season. If he gets to play as much as he should – hint, hint Shanahan – he’ll be a terrific option.

Steve Smith – Smith is consistently good when healthy. He should dominate against three defenses that give up points and receptions to wide receivers.

Jeff Wilkins – St. Louis and thus Wilkins just got shut out on the road against the Panthers, but don’t expect him to be held down against three teams that allow opposing field goal units to get their kicks.

Good Plays

Peyton Manning (weeks 15 &16) – As if you needed another excuse to get or use him.

Drew Brees (weeks 15 & 16) – He’s been hot of late even if he hasn’t created wins for his team. If he’s hot late this season, he will create wins for your team.

Jason Campbell (weeks 15 & 17) – Obviously this is a scenario that bears watching. You just can’t start Campbell unless he is playing lights out by then or you have no other options.

Charlie Frye (weeks 16 & 17) – Nice close-out schedule.

Chester Taylor (weeks 15 &17) – The Vikings might just run him into the ground with nothing else to play for.

Corey Dillon/Laurence Maroney (weeks 15 &17) – Both of them can be a good option in any given week.

Justin Fargas (weeks 15 &17) – I suppose “good play” is a relative term when talking about Fargas, who has not put together a truly impressive game since joining the NFL. Still, his matchup looks good these two weeks, and if you had been using Lamont Jordan, Clinton Portis or some other back who is suffering, Fargas is an option in your playoffs.

Torry Holt (weeks 16 & 17) – Holt started out hot and then cooled down. He will bookend the year with big games.

Plaxico Burress (weeks 16 & 17) – Burress can be an aid only if Eli Manning has his head on straight by then.

Travis Taylor… or Marcus Robinson… or even Troy Williamson (weeks 16 & 17) – Do you feel lucky? Well, do you?

Chris Cooley (weeks 15 & 17) – Campbell at least seems to know enough to look for Cooley when the pass rush gets heated.

Dallas Clark/Ben Utecht (weeks 15 &17) – Good luck figuring out which one to start.

Robbie Gould (weeks 16 & 17) – League leader per game has more good weeks ahead.

Dave Rayner (weeks 15 & 16) – Middle of the Pack kicker has nice matchups.

Jason Elam (weeks 15 & 17) – This Bronco could kick you into your championship.

Mike Nugent (weeks 15 & 17) – These could be some better days for a bereft foot.

Poor Plays

Carson Palmer (weeks 15 & 16) – Two ugly games face Palmer. He’ll be on the rug against the Colts and then into the Rockies for a tilt with Denver.

Trent Green (weeks 16 & 17) – Just give up on him this season.

David Garrard (weeks 16 & 17) – He finishes at Arrowhead Stadium. Ouch.

David Carr (weeks 15 & 17) – He will remain inconsistent against the Patriots and Browns.

Bruce Gradkowski (weeks 15 &16) – Why would you want him in your lineup anyway?

Vince Young (weeks 15 &17) – He’s not quite ready for prime time.

Brian Westbrook (weeks 16 &17) – How well is Westbrook really going to do without McNabb behind center?

Kevin Jones (weeks 16 & 17) – Even if Jones can get healthy again, he faces Chicago and Dallas late in the year.

Ahman Green (weeks 16 & 17) – Green plays against the Vikings and away versus the Bears at the end. That is a tough couple of weeks.

Travis Henry (weeks 15 & 17) – Henry must play against Jacksonville and New England. Though both games will be at home, they will be tough, and by then LenDale White may be getting some more looks.

Anthony Thomas (weeks 15 & 17) – Thomas, who has been a nice surprise, will play Miami in week 15, and then travel to Baltimore for the last game of the year.

Wali Lundy/Samkon Gado (weeks 15 & 16) – They are splitting stats right now, and easily could be by then.

Leon Washington/Kevan Barlow (weeks 15 & 16) – Hopefully if you are in the playoffs you don’t have to start either of these players.

Chad Johnson/T.J. Houshmandzadeh (weeks 15 &16) – If he hasn’t cooled down by then, playing at Indianapolis and at Denver will rain on Johnson’s hit parade.

Hines Ward (weeks 15 & 17) – He must play at Carolina and at Cincinnati. That’s a tall order.

Eddie Kennison (weeks 16 &17) – His QB will have a tough time too. Not good.

Michael Jenkins/Roddy White (weeks 16 & 17) – Though you aren’t missing much anyway.

Kellen Winslow Jr. (weeks 15 & 17) – At Baltimore and Houston. He might peter out just when you need him the most.

Owen Daniels (weeks 15 & 17) – He’s helped a few owners out, but won’t come playoff time.

Rob Bironas (weeks 15 & 16) – No reason to start using him now.

Kris Brown (weeks 15 & 16) – He’ll be a drag if you start him.

Olindo Mare (weeks 15 & 17) – The Dolphins are playing better, but Mare won’t help you here.

Jason Hanson (weeks 16 & 17) – Even if the Lions get on track this doesn’t look promising for Hanson.

Joe Levit provides fantasy football presentations for corporate outings or client appreciation events. Go to and find out what this service is all about. Joe can be reached at