Alex Smith, QB (Kansas City Chiefs)
Alex Smith has a great matchup against the Oakland Raiders this week who have given up 20 passing touchdowns and only have 1 interception on the season. The Raiders are giving up the 10th most points to quarterbacks this season with an average of 17.8. With a lot of quarterbacks facing tough defenses this week, Smith will contribute in a major way during the first week of the fantasy playoffs.
Lamar Miller, RB (Houston Texans)
Lamar Miller continues to impress and produce this season, even without rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. Miller is ranked as the 12th highest scoring running back of the season thus far and has a terrific matchup against the 49ers who are giving up the second-most fantasy points (27.8) on average to opposing running backs. Miller should be started with confidence this week and has a great chance to find pay dirt this week.
Michael Crabtree, WR (Oakland Raiders)
With Amari Cooper likely sidelined this week again due to injury, Michael Crabtree faces the Chiefs once again – a team his teammate torched in Week 7 for 11 receptions 210 yards and 2 touchdowns. While Crabtree is unlikely to replicate that type of production, the Chiefs are still giving up an average of 38.7 to opposing team’s wide receivers each week, second-most in the league. With Cooper out, Crabtree should be a lock in your lineups this week as he should be involved early and often once again.
Jason Witten, TE (Dallas Cowboys)
Jason Witten faces the Giants this week who, as we all know by now, give up loads of fantasy points to the tight end position -- an average of 17.3 to be exact. Witten played the Giants in Week 1 and was able to haul in 7 catches for 59 yards and a score. Those who need a replacement tight end for the week due to suspension or injury can find themselves Witten on the waiver wire and feel confident this week.
Randy Bullock, K (Cincinnati Bengals)
Randy Bullock has averaged 11.0 fantasy points over his past two weeks and this week faces Bears’ team giving up 9.6 fantasy points per game which is the second-highest amount in the league. The Bengals opened as 6.5-point favorites and should be able to move the ball against a weak Bears defense away from home.
New England Patriots, DEF
The New England Defense has quietly gotten better as the season has gone on to score an average of 12.2 fantasy points over their last 5 games. This week they square off against the Dolphins for the second time in three weeks, a game in which the defense posted their best total of the season with 18.0 fantasy points. New England is once again large favorites in this matchup and should have no trouble posting double-digit fantasy points once again.
Kirk Cousins, QB (Washington Redskins)
Kirk Cousins is a riskier play this week heading into the first round of the fantasy playoffs. The Redskins face the Chargers who are stout against the pass. This season they’re currently allowing only 12.7 fantasy points to quarterbacks, fourth-lowest in the league. On top of that, the Chargers also hold one of the most fierce pass-rushing units in the game. Coming into this game, Cousins hasn’t exactly been stellar - he’s thrown 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in his past two games and is averaging only 14.35 fantasy points.
C.J. Anderson, RB (Denver Broncos)
While C.J. Anderson scored his third-highest season total of the season last week against the Dolphins with 15.0 fantasy points, he faces a much tougher task this week. The Broncos face the Jets who have a solid run defense that has only allowed 8 total touchdowns to running backs this season. On top of that, the Jets are only allowing 21.2 fantasy points to the position on average which is the 5th-lowest total so far this season. Anderson also doesn’t share the backfield alone, with contributions from Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker on a weekly basis which will limit his overall upside moving forward.
Jordy Nelson, WR (Green Bay Packers)
Jordy Nelson has averaged 5.0 fantasy points over the last six games and has not scored a touchdown since week 5. Nelson proves week-in and week-out that he cannot be started without Aaron Rodgers under center has no signs of stopping this trend. With a semi-final game on the line this week, owners cannot afford to chance it with a player that hasn’t proved himself over the last half of the season.
Eric Ebron, TE (Detroit Lions)
Eric Ebron’s production as of late has been steady, scoring between 6.5 and 12.0 points in his last six games. This week he plays the Buccaneers who are relatively strong at guarding tight ends, allowing only 9.0 fantasy points per game to the position. With Ebron’s inconsistent fantasy production history still in the minds of many, he cannot be trusted this week even if Matthew Stafford were to play with a healthy thumb.
Cody Parkey, K (Miami Dolphins)
Over his past 6 games, Cody Parkey has averaged only 4.5 fantasy points per game. This includes a 5.0 point performance against the New England Patriots, who the Dolphins are playing again this week. The Dolphins offense hasn’t been spectacular this year and will have to keep up touchdown-for-touchdown with New England come Monday night; field goals won’t cut it. If the Dolphins are unable to keep this game competitive early on, the Dolphins may have to abandon field goal attempts altogether in this one.
Philadelphia Eagles, DEF
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense has been a dependable defense to start most weeks this season, however, this matchup against the Rams is one where they should not be started. The Rams offense can move the ball and put up points, scoring an average of 30.1 per game which is tied for first in the league with the Eagles. If that weren’t enough, they are only allowing opposing defenses to score, on average, 1.8 fantasy points per game, good for fourth-best in the league. While the Eagles may be fine in the semi-final and championship games, they are a bench stash this week.