Fantasy Football Forecast: Looking Ahead to the Best Playoff Matchups

Will the Giants fantasy players find themselves in a favorable situation during your playoffs?

So are you playing to win this week or are you playing to win the whole damn thing?

It's fine if you are playing to win this week.  If you're 3-4, that's absolutely what you should be doing.  But if you sit at 6-1 or in any position where you feel comfortable with your playoff chances, then its foresight and prognostication for the playoffs that's going to get you a title and maybe some sweet, sweet greenbacks.

One thing to do is to look at team matchups for weeks 14, 15, and 16, typically the playoffs for all fantasy leagues.  Is there risk involved in targeting players now that have excellent-looking matchups that are seven weeks away?  Sure.  That player might get hurt, the defenses might improve, other defenses will definitely get worse.  We're only halfway through the season.

But we are also halfway through the season.

It's a risk you may not choose to take, but here are five teams with the most enticing matchups in the fantasy playoffs, and five teams with the worst looking ones.

Five Best Teams to Have Players for in the Playoffs

5. Chicago Bears

I'm not a big fan of the Bears offense outside of Matt Forte (who really is?) but they've got some interesting matchups at the end of the season.

In week 14, Chicago travels to Denver to face a Broncos team that is 29th in scoring defense, 21st in total defense, 19th against the pass, and 18th against the run.  It should be another field day for Forte.

In week 15, the Bears play Seattle at home.  While I like the Seahawks defense, and if healthy on the d-line still they will get to Jay Cutler, they've recently put their top two corners on IR.  A depleted Seattle team with nothing to play for?

In week 16, they travel to Green Bay in what should be a great Christmas day match.  The Pack are outstanding, which is why they might have already wrapped up the division by now.  They're already 27th in total defense and 31st in passing defense because of the shootouts they find themselves in.  A Packers team with nothing to play for against a Bears team potentially fighting for a wild card berth.  

You could make a big play for Forte early, or bring on Cutler now as your backup.  You shouldn't have to pay much at all for any Bears WRs.

4. Houston Texans

Now might be a great time to pick up Andre Johnson while he's still got a tiny bit less value.

The Texans play the Bengals in week 14, which is not a great matchup on paper right now.  The Bengals are kicking ass on defense, but it should be noted that the best offense they've played is Buffalo, and the second best offense they've played is San Francisco.  

What's more important (especially if you grab that first round bye) is a week 15 matchup against Carolina and week 16 against the Colts

The Panthers are 30th in scoring defense, 17th in total defense, 12th against the pass, 29th against the run and have given up the fourth most rushing touchdowns.  This could be a huge day for Arian Foster and not a bad day for Ben Tate either.

The Colts are the worst scoring defense in the league, 30th in total defense, 23rd against the pass, third most passing touchdowns allowed, 31st against the run, and tied for fourth most rushing touchdowns allowed.  The rumors of Peyton Manning being back by then make it interesting, but if the Colts offense still can't stay on the field, then they'll be ripe pickings for any team down the stretch.

That's big ups for Matt Schaub, Johnson, Foster, Tate, and Owen Daniels.

3. Buffalo Bills

The Bills have been one of the surprise offenses of the year and they've got some nice matchups in week 15 and 16.

They play San Diego in week 14, a team that's no slouch on defense.  Still, a game that should have some scoring all around and if you have a bye week, it won't matter.

They then get to face Miami in week 15, a team thats 22nd in scoring defense, 23rd in total defense, 21st against the pass with the third most passing TDs allowed, 20th against the run.  Any good offense can put up points on the Dolphins, a team that might actually be trying to lose by week 15.

In what could be your fantasy championship, the Bills play the Broncos, a team I mentioned earlier.  The Broncos are hands down my favorite fantasy matchup every week.

Upgrades in my book for Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller on a flier, Stevie Johnson, and David Nelson.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals could actually be a team fighting for the playoffs at the end of the year, and they'll be looking to go 5-2 against Seattle this weekend.  At the end of the year, they've got some nice looking matchups.

Again, the week 14 match isn't great, and the Bengals play a Houston team that's been overall solid on defense this year.  Though they've had hiccups against New Orleans, Oakland, and Baltimore where they looked very bad.  

Week 15 brings on the Rams, the 31st scoring defense, 29th total defense, 13th against the pass but with the most passing touchdowns allowed, last against the run.  The Rams play the Seahawks, Bengals, and Steelers at the end of the year and you don't want to ignore that information.

In week 16, the Bengals draw Arizona.  The Cards are 28th in scoring defense, 26th in total defense, 29th against the pas, and 15th against the run with the 2nd most TDs allowed.  Arizona is not a very good team and they've given up a lot of points and yards, especially as the season wears on.

Upgrades for Andy Dalton as your backup, Cedric Benson, A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson, and Jermaine Gresham.

1. New England Patriots

As if they needed the help.  The Patriots are already the #1 total offense (and #32 total defense) in the NFL and fourth in scoring.  In BOTH of my money leagues, there's a team with at least four Patriots.  It's a risky strategy, but damn, it might pay off.

The Patriots do play a Redskins team in week 14 that's seemingly good at defense, but I have my doubts.  They held the Rams to 172 yards, and while that was a season-low for St. Louis, they're still St. Louis.  Besides, bye week potentially.

The Patriots draw Denver and Miami in the following two weeks.

It could be a playoff field day for Tom Brady and company.

 

The Five Teams with the Toughest Matchups

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs, already struggling to build on their offensive breakthrough last season and suffering serious injuries at running back, will face a tough task in weeks 14 and 15.

They face a surprisingly effective Jaguars defense that has already held Tennessee, Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore under 20 points this season and ranked 8th in scoring defense and 6th in total defense.  They are 6th against the pass and 10th against the run.

Next up for Tampa is a Dallas D that is 11th in scoring defense, 7th in total defense, and first in rushing defense.  Even if LeGarrette Blount is healthy in week 15, he'll face a Cowboys defense that is stout.

If you do make it to the championship game, they get a Panthers D that is 30th in scoring defense.  

Still, I would not be buying low on Blount of Josh Freeman or Mike Williams right now.  Unless the offer was too good to refuse.

4. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles sick rushing attack is ranked first in the league for good reason, but as usual that will depend on the health of Michael Vick.

If you find yourself with Eagles in a first round playoff matchup, you'll luckily find the Dolphins on the other end.

However, in week 15 they play a Jets defense that could shutdown DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.  Overall, I like the Jets D.

In week 16, they play the Cowboys.

I wouldn't avoid Eagles, but I'd move forward with caution.

3. St. Louis Rams

Not that you'd want to have any Ram right now other than Steven Jackson, but even then, the Rams face the #1 defense in the league in yards per carry against with Seattle in week 14.

They face the Bengals in week 15, a team I talked about before as having a soft schedule, but they've got a talented defensive line that's third in the NFL in yards per carry against.

In week 16, the Rams play the Steelers, and what else do you need to know about Pittsburgh?  They're third in scoring defense, third in total, 1st against the pass, 12th against the run.  

There's no Ram I would want to own outside of Jackson, and even that's a push depending on my situation.

2. Arizona Cardinals

Not unlike St Louis, the Cards really only have one player you'd want to own right now depending on the health of Beanie Wells.  

They face the 49ers in week 14, one of the toughest rush defenses in the league and the hardest to score a rushing touchdown against.

Next they take on a Browns defense where Larry Fitzgerald could be matched up with top cornerback Joe Haden and the number two pass defense.

Finally they take on the Bengals in what could be your fantasy championship.

You shouldn't own Kevin Kolb as it is, but there's not really any sleeper potential here either.

1. New York Giants

I put the Giants at the number one spot in part because of how many fantasy players they have.  

The G-Men play the Cowboys in week 14, the Redskins in week 15, and the Jets in week 16.

That could all leave Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Victor Cruz, and Jake Ballard short of a good playoff fantasy day somewhere.

 

Never stop making moves, never stop looking ahead.  You want the cash, you've got to take some risks.

Follow me on twitter @casetines

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