With only three weeks to go until most leagues start their playoffs, fantasy owners need to remain active if they're looking to make a final playoff push or add strength to their starting lineups for a championship run.
As we approach the playoffs, it's important to look at strength of schedule to factor in which matchups you'll want to exploit. This week we have several players with favorable playoff matchups to buy low on.
AJ Green: Fantasy owners probably aren't praising Andy Dalton for much, but they could thank him for driving Green's asking price down. Since returning from injury, the Pro Bowl wide receiver has caught six passes for 67 yards and a touchdown over the past two games.
Joe Haden kept Green out of the picture for most of Week 10, but Dalton's inaccuracy made matters even worse. There are a few things to keep in mind, though, before hitting the panic button on Green.
1) He caught 16 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown in three games prior to his extended absence.
3) He's A.J. Green.
That's basically all you need to know. Dalton needs to figure out his issues, but even if he doesn't light up opponents every week, Green is still going to lead the team and targets. If owners are ready to bail on Green, take them up on that worry.
Fred Jackson: After missing only one game with a groin injury, Jackson returned in Week 10 and finished with seven touches. Obviously the Bills are easing him back into action, and his workload will only increase going forward.
Prior to Week 7 when Jackson went down, he was averaging five receptions per game. He's never the flashiest option in fantasy, but PPR owners can have a solid floor every week with those numbers.
Jackson also faces the Raiders in Week 16, the third-worst team in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. That's a championship matchup you want to exploit.
Joique Bell: It's been a rough season for Bell. He came into 2014 with high expectations in a new offensive scheme, but he hasn't been heavily involved in the passing game, and he's put up some major duds for fantasy owners at times.
Fortunately the road ahead seems to present favorable conditions for Bell. He'll face the Patriots, Bears, Buccaneers, Vikings and the Bears again to finish out the fantasy season. New England, Tampa Bay and Minnesota are all bottom-10 defenses in fantasy points allowed per game to running backs. The Bears are falling apart. Bell could easily redeem himself during this stretch.
Reggie Bush is battling a new injury every day it seems. Theo Riddick is involved in the weekly gameplan, but Bell remains the No. 1 back. He shouldn't cost much right now, and his price might drop even more after he faces a tough Cardinals defense in Week 11.
Brandin Cooks: I advised to sell high on Cooks earlier this year, and I'm standing by that idea now. If you haven't noticed a trend with him, here's what you should keep in mind:
Cooks' targets over the past four games: 3, 7, 3, 8
He's pretty much been an every-other-week start for 2014. Cooks' production has followed this pattern since Week 1, and I don't see that changing the rest of the way.
Pierre Thomas is still working his way back. Mark Ingram is averaging 27 carries per game over his last three starts. There are plenty of mouths to feed in the Saints offense, which is why Cooks will be a volatile option every game. I'd rather sell high for a consistent player instead of starting Cooks and hoping this is the week he comes through.
Cardinals wide receivers: Carson Palmer is out for the year, which means it is time to panic about the Cardinals wide receivers. For a better understanding of their value with Drew Stanton under center, take a look at this tweet from Rotoworld's Evan Silva.
Fitz's stat lines in Stanton's 3 starts: 6-51-0, 3-34-0, 3-57-0. Floyd: 1-19-0, 5-114-0, 1-7-0. Brown: 3-28-0, 4-52-2, 2-7-0. Good luck.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) November 12, 2014
Yikes. Larry Fitzgerald saw a resurgence in recent weeks with Palmer, averaging 6.2 receptions and 92.2 yards over his last five games. He might go off a few weeks with Stanton, but consistency will be lost without Palmer.
John Brown actually averaged more fantasy points with Stanton than his teammates. He was already a good sell-high option. Michael Floyd's stock has crashed. You're not getting anything in return for him.
Fitzgerald and Brown are the guys to sell right now. Fantasy owners won't be likely to buy at their current value with Palmer out, but it's worth a shot.
Steven Jackson: I didn't think we'd reach this point, but Jackson has actually posted back-to-back double-digit fantasy weeks. He rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns over his last two games.
Older players have a tendency to wear down late in the season, and considering Jackson is running behind a makeshift offensive line in Atlanta, his current pace won't continue. He's a boom-or-bust RB2/3 who is touchdown-dependent.
The Falcons face three tough offenses from Weeks 14-16. That could lead to abandoning the run game again like we saw them do against the Bears and Ravens earlier this season. Jackson will be tough to warrant starting in the playoffs.