By Adam Harris-
(CBS) The fantasy football regular season is about 60 percent finished, and by now some teams know whether they are all but a lock for a playoff berth.
With the overwhelming majority of fantasy leagues holding their playoffs in weeks 14, 15 and 16, owners need to begin their preparations for their championship run. The fantasy football playoffs are much like the (real) baseball playoffs in that the best team during the regular season rarely wins. Right now, there are two wild-card teams in the World Series, one of which was the last team in.
All precautions must be done, however, by a fantasy football owner to take as much the luck out of playoffs as possible through additions and planning ahead using the NFL schedule as a guide. So let’s get to some advice.
Best fantasy playoff schedules
Tennessee Titans: Week 14 vs. Giants, Week 15 vs. Jets, Week 16 at Jaguars
The Titans don’t feature many attractive fantasy offensive options, but my faith in them rests on the broad shoulders of one player and one player alone during the fantasy playoffs. That’s tight end Delanie Walker, who is the sixth-best fantasy tight end to this point with a mixed bag of quarterbacks. Walker is fourth in targets among tight ends and tied for third in tight end touchdowns with four.
His playoff schedule is a cakewalk for his position. The Giants have the 27th-ranked defense in the NFL and have given up the eighth-most points to tight ends. The Jets have given up the most points to fantasy football quarterbacks, and they allow 10.75 points to tight ends each week, the fifth most. In championship week, Walker gets to face the lowly Jaguars, who allow 9.75 points a week to tight ends, the seventh most. The Giants and Jaguars also allow more than 380 total yards per game, making Titans receivers Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright good additions as flyers in case rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger figures it out this year.
Washington Redskins: Week 14 vs. Rams, Week 15 at Giants, Week 16 vs. Eagles
The Redskins were an exciting offense coming into the season, but quarterback Robert Griffin III underperformed and then his injury helped ruin running back Alfred Morris’ stellar start and lower the ceiling of potential for receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Having said that, Griffin could be back as early as this week against the Vikings. This gives him five weeks to hit his stride before facing three horrible defenses.
The Rams give up 21 points a week to quarterbacks, the sixth-most in the NFL. The Giants allow the second-most points to running backs on a weekly basis, and the Eagles give up the 15th-most points a week to running backs and the fifth-most to quarterback. Go get Griffin in hopes of him becoming comfortable again. He could be your X-factor during the playoffs.
Carolina Panthers: Week 14 at Saints, Week 15 vs. Bucs, Week 16 vs. Browns
Cam Newton is a hit-or-miss quarterback every week, but he should be consistent in the playoffs. The Saints, Bucs and Browns have been a doormat for NFL offenses this year, as they give up the fifth, first and fourth most total yards per game, respectively. That has translated to fantasy points for quarterbacks, as the Saints allow 21.4 per week and the Bucs allow 23.3 Newton, tight end Greg Olsen and receiver Kelvin Bejamin should have a lot to play for come weeks 14, 15 and 16, and expect them to perform against these poor defenses.
Just missed the cut:
Saints (foes are Panthers, Bears and Falcons)
Packers (Falcons, Bills and Bucs)
Falcons (Packers, Steelers and Saints)
Worst fantasy playoff schedules
Philadelphia Eagles: Week 14 vs. Seahawks, Week 15 vs. Cowboys, Week 16 at Redskins
The Eagles have a dynamic offense but face a tough fantasy playoff schedule, which should limit what they can do. The Seahawks and Cowboys give up the 12th- and fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks weekly, respsectively. All three of these opponents are top-10 defenses against fantasy running backs. Eagles running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Nick Foles are tradable assets at this point. Look to acquire similarly tiered players from the top of the list moving forward with the likelihood that McCoy and Foles could have limited production late in the season.
San Diego Chargers: Week 14 vs. Patriots, Week 15 vs. Broncos, Week 16 at 49ers
The Chargers offense has surprised us all yet again. Philip Rivers has exploded for 170 fantasy points, fourth-best among quarterbacks, but a dark cloud looms once fantasy playoff time begins. The Patriots are a middle-of-the-road opponent all around for fantasy teams, giving up the 16th-most points to quarterbacks and the 19th-most points per game in the NFL. What follows for the Chargers is scary, as the Broncos and 49ers have been excellent at stopping opposing teams from racking up the yards. The Broncos have allowed the fourth-fewest yards, and the 49ers are second. The 49ers defense is eighth against the pass as well, which will force the Chargers to resort more to the running game.
San Francisco 49ers: Week 14 at Raiders, Week 15 at Seahawks, Week 16 vs. Chargers
These three opponents don’t look all that scary, but being on the road for the first two isn’t appealing for Colin Kaepernick owners. The Seahawks are 12th against fantasy quarterbacks, which could make for a rough afternoon for Kapernick on championship Sunday. I’m not bailing completely on the 49ers but just want to issue a fair warning to those who expect the same production out of Kapernick during the playoffs.
Go out and acquire impact players from the teams listed at the top of this column. Ideally, use these bottom three teams as guideline of who to trade for the players up top, assuming they are similarly tier players. It’s never too early to prepare for the fantasy playoffs, and you should take as much luck out of it as possible.
Adam Harris is a producer for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @aharris670 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.