The Players That’ll Decide the First Round of the Fantasy Football Playoffs

We’re down to the final game of Week 14 as we close out the first round of most fantasy football leagues.

Those in Monday night’s Minnesota Vikings/Seattle Seahawks game are set to determine thousands of fantasy matchups, so hopefully you either have the players that perform or you already took care of business in Sunday’s action.

Here’s a preview of the players in the position to make or break your fantasy season!

 

Quarterbacks

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Thought by some as a top-five fantasy quarterback heading into 2018, Cousins hasn’t been quite as successful as many thought he’d be playing in the best offense he’s ever been a part of.

The story of the season for Cousins has been his ups and downs. He’s had three weeks with more than 27 fantasy points, but he’s also failed fantasy owners a handful of times finishing with less than 15 points four times, including last week’s 10-point performance against New England.

Seattle comes into Monday’s game as the 19th-best fantasy defense against the pass, so it’s not statistically a bad matchup for Cousins. The good news for Cousins’ owners is that the volume has been there recently as he’s attempted at least 38 passes in each of the last three weeks. The bad news for Cousins owners is that his fantasy potential hasn’t been maximized recently due to turnovers as he’s thrown seven interceptions in the last seven games.

Projection: 28-of-39, 285 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT

Image result for kirk cousins

 

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Wilson has been the model of consistency at the quarterback position over the last eight weeks as he’s posted between 18-26 fantasy points in each game. So while he hasn’t necessarily been the player posting “boom” weeks as the reason you’re in the playoffs, he definitely hasn’t been a weak spot in your starting lineup.

Last week, Wilson posted a pretty incredible fantasy day considering the fact he threw the ball just 17 times. However, it helps when four of those completions go for touchdowns as he reached 25 fantasy points against the 49ers.

Despite playing against the Vikings’ pass defense that ranks ninth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, Wilson owners should feel fairly confident heading into this matchup as he’s thrown multiple TD passes in eight straight games and 22 during this stretch.

Projection: 20-of-30, 210 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT

 

Running Backs

Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

It’s been a pretty disappointing season for Cook due to injury and lack of volume in games he’s been active.

His last two outings won’t kill you – a pair of 15-point performances – but it’s been hard to trust Cook as he has just one total touchdown on the season.

One bonus for Cook owners was the fact that the Vikings finally utilized him out of the backfield last week as he notched a season-high eight receptions on 10 targets. His previous high for receptions this season was six, and that came all the way back in Week 1.

You may be in a position where you didn’t have to use Cook this week, but if you were forced to use him, you likely have low expectations. The Seahawks are just 18th against running backs, so there is hope, but in a perfect world your squad’s other starting running backs did their job on Sunday.

Projection: 11 carries, 40 yards, 0 TD; 5 receptions, 40 yards, 1 TD

 

Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings

You’re real desperate if you’re using Murray this week, and I’m wondering who else you have in your starting lineup that got you to your fantasy playoffs.

It’s been rough for Murray recently from a fantasy perspective as he hasn’t reached double digits in the last three weeks despite double-digit performances in four straight weeks leading up to his decline.

The volume just isn’t there anymore as he has just 19 carriers over the last three weeks, but if you’re forced to use him, just pray to the Fantasy Gods for a touchdown.

Projection: 7 carries, 30 yards, 0 TD; 1 reception, 10 yards, 0 TD

 

Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

Not known as a running back that’s going to single-handedly go out and win you a bunch of weeks, Carson is more of a consistent guy that you’ve been able to rely on week to week.

Carson has posted double-digit fantasy points in six of the 10 games he’s appeared in this year including each of the last three. However, Monday’s game will be a challenge for Carson and the Seahawks’ ball carriers as the Vikings rank eighth in the league in fantasy points allowed to running backs.

The nice thing about Carson is that he’s been a consistent fantasy scorer despite a lack of touchdowns. He’s reached paydirt just four times this season, all on the ground.

Projection: 14 carries, 65 yards, 1 TD, 2 receptions, 15 yards, 0 TD

Image result for chris carson

 

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks

Similar to Murray, hopefully you’re in a situation that doesn’t include the need to use Penny this week. On top of that, Penny has drawn the “Questionable” tag with an ankle injury.

Penny has reached double-digit fantasy points just twice this season and hasn’t come close to living up to his inflated average draft position.

If you’re forced to use him and you’re looking for one positive stat about Penny to make yourself feel better, it’s that he had his second-highest rushing yardage total last week (65 yards) against the 49ers’ 10th-ranked rush defense. That’s all I’ve got for you.

Projection: 7 carries, 25 yards, 0 TD; 0 receptions, 0 yards, 0 TD

 

Get signed up for our latest giveaway – a signed Davante Adams mini helmet – sponsored by Pristine Auction!

 

Wide Receivers

Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings

On an absolute heater before last week’s seven-point fantasy performance against New England, Diggs posted 19, 25 and 23 points the previous three weeks.

Diggs has also seen a much-needed uptick in touchdowns recently as he’s scored in three of the team’s last four games after going on a five-game scoreless streak.

Now he gets the Seahawks and their 19th-ranked pass defense in a matchup you’re surely starting him in. Teammate Adam Thielen has been the more consistent fantasy scorer between the two, but Diggs has boom-week potential to help put you over the edge in your playoff matchup.

Projection: 7 receptions, 85 yards, 1 TD

 

Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

Despite being drafted as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2, Thielen has outperformed his ADP as he currently sits as the overall WR2, just seven points behind Tyreek Hill.

Thielen has all of the accolades this year. The stretch of eight consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards, a touchdown in nine of 12 games, second in the NFL in receiving yards (1,116), the league leader with 98 receptions, this guy is likely one of the main reasons you’ve made your fantasy league’s playoffs.

He’s an obvious start and he likely provides you a chance of winning your first-round playoff matchup if you’re anywhere within striking distance heading into Monday night.

Projection: 8 receptions, 105 yards, 1 TD

Image result for adam thielen

 

Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

If it wasn’t for a 52-yard touchdown, Lockett would have been held scoreless in last week’s victory against the 49ers.

That’s sort of been the story all season for Lockett as he’s never going to be mistaken as a target monster. Lockett hasn’t seen double-digit targets in a single game this season as his high this year is seven, and that came all the way back in Week 2.

However, Lockett has made finding the endzone a habit this season as nine of his 44 receptions have gone for six. His nine touchdowns are good enough for fifth-most in the NFL this season.

If you had a debate at receiver this week it was likely hard to leave Lockett on the bench due to his touchdown numbers, but he’s in store for a difficult matchup against the Vikings’ ninth-best pass defense.

Projection: 4 receptions, 60 yards, 1 TD

 

Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

Here’s another player that falls into the category of “hopefully you don’t have to play him”. This is especially the case this week as he looks to be a game-time decision with a leg injury.

It’s been a rough fantasy season for Baldwin, who slid on draft day due to a knee injury, as he’s reached double-digit fantasy points just twice. He has found the endzone twice in the last three weeks, his only touchdowns of the season, but any points you get out of him this week will likely been seen as a bonus. Hopefully you were able to avoid this situation.

Projection: 3 receptions, 35 yards, 0 TD

 

David Moore, Seattle Seahawks

A pleasant surprise in a handful of games this season, Moore has been a decent add from the waiver wire this fantasy season.

He’s tied for second on the team with five receiving touchdowns this year, but was held catchless last week in Wilson’s 17-completion performance. You’re likely only starting Moore if you are a fantasy owner of the likes of Odell Beckham Jr.Sammy WatkinsEmmanuel Sanders, or any other WR that missed this week.

Someone has to catch the touchdown passes that Wilson throws, and if Baldwin is out or has his snaps limited due to his injury, Moore may end up being the biggest beneficiary.

Projection: 4 receptions, 55 yards, 1 TD

Image result for david moore seahawks

 

Tight Ends

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

Is there a better player than Rudolph that summarizes the tight end position in fantasy this year?

He’s reached double digits just twice and has two touchdowns on the entire season. I’d like to think you have a better option at tight end than Rudolph, but with the lack of quality options out there, you may not.

Rudolph hasn’t scored since Week 3 and has just 14 catches over the last four games. Once again, if you’re looking for a stat to make you feel better heading into Monday’s game, he did catch all seven of his targets two weeks ago against the Packers.

Projection: 3 receptions, 15 yards, 0 TD

 

Nick Vannett, Seattle Seahawks

It’s been tough sledding for Vannett lately has he’s become another touchdown-dependent tight end.

He’s had two or less targets in each of the last four games and has just one game this season with double-digit fantasy points. If you’re reading this you likely aren’t using Vannett in your tight end slot, but if you are, I don’t see you surviving the first week of the playoffs unless you got lucky and also started Derrick Henry.

Projection: 2 receptions, 12 yards, 0 TD

 

Kickers/Defense

I don’t get paid enough to analyze these positions – I’m sure you’re fine with that.

 

Ben Morgan is a co-host and blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast. Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: