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Fantasy Football Playoffs Cheat Sheet

I’ve always thought a fantasy football cheat sheet for the playoffs would be a great idea. With the fantasy football playoffs just around the corner, getting one or two pieces of advice might be exactly what a team needs to win the league title.

There’s always one or two players who turn it up a notch when it comes time for the playoffs. Sometimes, these are players who can’t be had, because they have been huge stars all year and are the key player on a playoff run for a team (Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Sidney Rice). But sometimes, those players are fairly obscure free agents who have been brought to prominence for a few weeks due to injuries.

That’s the fantasy football playoff cheat sheet I’m talking about.

For instance, in 2001, Pittsburgh Steelers starting RB Jerome Bettis got hurt for several weeks. In came Chris Fu’Amatu Ma’Afala, the 240-lb bruiser from Oahu. Ma Afala had several solid games in the Steelers running game, enough to be a great “flex position” player on a championship run. Pretty much, no other 4 game stretch of his career would Fu’Amatu Ma Afala have been useful to a fantasy team. We’re looking for those players right now.

Fantasy Football Running Back Cheat Sheets

Running backs are the most invaluable asset you can have as a fantasy owner. Also, even ordinary RBs can be a huge addition this time of year. You get a runner who has fresh legs running against defenses that have been beaten up through 3 months of NFL regular season games.

It’s a mismatch, even if this runner could hardly have gotten 2 yards against the same defense in the preseason. If you can grab one or two of these guys, they could be a solid fill-in for a week or two. And bad teams might shut down the starter for the year in meaningless games, giving you a chance to roll this player out the rest of the year.

A no-name running back puts up big numbers in fantasy football this time every year.

Jerious Norwood – Atlanta Falcons RB

Norwood has been on the hopeful list for years now. This might finally be his chance. Michael Turner looks like he’s going to be out another week for the Atlanta Falcons and possibly more, after getting a second injury to his damaged ankle.

Jerious Norwood came in last week and looked good, after missing five weeks with a shoulder injury and some time with a concussion earlier in the year. In both cases, Jason Snelling, the 3rd string runner, came in and looked good. But now, the real handcuff at RB is back and it looks like Jerious Norwood is the choice over Snelling (0 points last week) to get the bulk of the carries.

Grab Jerious Norwood in free agency, if he’s still out there.

More FA Running Backs

If Norwood’s not available, then look at Chris Brown with the Houston Texans or Chris Jennings with the Browns. Rock Cartwright and Justin Forsett were probably snatched up last week, but take a look at them, if they aren’t on rosters (Forsett definitely).

If you get real desperate, pick up Lex Hilliard from the Miami Dolphins. Ricky Williams is taking all the carries with the Dolphins, now that Ronnie Brown is out of the picture. But Ricky is 32 years old and likely to wear out quickly at the rate he’s running. Lex Hilliard has looked good in spot duty the last couple of weeks and would be a 240-lb load to take down if Ricky suddenly got hurt.

Look at Donald Brown, in the unlikely case he was cut. While Brown is slowly being eased back into the lineup, he’s a 1st rounder that’s shown explosion and Joseph Addai is bound to get hurt eventually. If so, Donald Brown suddenly becomes the difference maker many people thought he would be by now.

Fantasy Football Wide Receivers Cheat Sheets

The receivers are a little picked over this time of time, but with constantly changing situations, you can still find a couple of guys that can help you compete. Here’s a couple that have have big upside right now.

Jason Avant – Philadelphia Eagles

Jason Avant has been productive three weeks in a row, so he might have been snapped up in certain leagues. But with DeSean Jackson‘s concussion, Avant is certain to be the starter in Week 13. And because Roger Goodell was raked over the coals by Congress about NFL concussions back in October, NFL teams are being way cautious with concussions this year.

That means Jason Avant could be the start into the fantasy playoffs. Looks like he’s established rapport and trust with Donovan McNabb at just the right time.

Chris Chambers – Kansas City Chiefs

If Chris Chambers hadn’t been cut by most teams by the time he was waived by the San Diego Chargers, most owners ditched him when he left the Bolts. Three weeks with the Chiefs and Chambers has been productive all three weeks. At this point, Chris Chambers is definitely worth a roster spot.

Antonio Bryant – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I’ve noticed Antonio Bryant was cut in a number of leagues I was in, after his chronic knee injury left his pretty useless most of the season. Last week, Antonio Bryant looked to finally be getting healthy, after the plane ride from London left screwed up his knee for the last month.

Pick him up and see what he does the next week or two. If Antonio Bryant appears to be establishing a connection with Josh Freeman, start him.

Fantasy Football Quarterback Cheat Sheet

NFL QBs get so much coverage that there aren’t a whole lot of sleepers out there. You might look at Vince Young, Alex Smith or Matt Stafford, if you’re quarterbacks have been terrible lately. If you have Matt Ryan, consider picking up Chris Redman, who will get the start this week and led the team on a game-winning drive last week.

If you have Kurt Warner, consider picking up Matt Leinart. He hasn’t looked very good and plays the Vikings Defense in Week 13, but his schedule gets a ton easier after that. Kurt Warner should be back soon, but you never know with concussions. Warner is complaining of lingering vision problems, that kept him out last week.

Fantasy Football Team Defense

Along the same lines, if your defense has been failing you recently and you’re desperate for a defense to play in the coming weeks, consider pickup up the Arizona Cardinals Defense off waivers. The Cards play the Niners, Rams and Lions in Weeks 14 through 16, the normal time for fantasy playoffs.

Fantasy Football IDP Cheat Sheets

In your individual defensive player leagues, there are always a few good steals out there. Look for guys who have either been injured up until now, or who have got a chance to start because of injuries.

David Hawthorne – Seattle Seahawks MLB

David Hawthorne has been phenomenal since taking over for Lofa Tatupu at middle linebacker, after Tatupu went to the I.R. Believe it or not, David Hawthorne has been as good as any linebacker in IDP formats since becoming a starter.

Nick Harper – Tennessee Titans CB

Nick Harper missed 5 weeks with a broken arm for the Titans, but he’s back now. Over the past 2-3 years, Harper has been consistently good in IDP leagues. The 35-year old former Colt is across from Courtland Finnegan, which means teams throw at Harper a lot. Also, the Titans stop the run as good as any team, so teams have to throw a lot. Nick Harper just gets a lot of chances to pick up stats.

Bryan Scott – Buffalo Bills S (LB)

This is the steal of the year here, at least in IDP leagues where you have to start defensive backs. Bryan Scott started the year as the Bills starting safety, but got injured for six weeks and lost his job to rookie Jairus Byrd. Meanwhile, the Bills had tons of injuries at linebacker, so when Bryan Scott came back to the field, the Bills moved him to outside linebacker.

Linebackers generally rule in IDP formats, because they make the most tackles, and tackle stats accumulate more consistently (and tend to account for the most scoring) in IDP scoring systems. So if you have to start a defensive back, you can start Bryan Scott, who will be listed at DB in most fantasy league sites. But he’ll be making tackles at the pace of a linebacker.

That’s fantasy gold.

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