The fantasy football playoffs can be a stressful time. Maybe you are facing Lamar Jackson this week and just watched him throw for five touchdowns against the Jets. Maybe you lost Mike Evans to a hamstring injury and are now wondering if Josh Jacobs is even going to make it onto the field Sunday.
Or maybe players you relied on all year, like Tyler Lockett, have pulled late-season disappearing acts and your confidence in them has dramatically waned. Whatever the case, it is a do-or-die situation for your fantasy life and key lineup decisions you may never have had to deal with are now staring you right in the face.
High-upside or even replacement-level players are tough to come by at this time of year. At the running back position, handcuffing is more vital now than ever before. Just ask those who lost Jacobs last week and were able to plug in DeAndre Washington. But what happens to those who are incapable of trusting Alvin Kamara? The Saints star running back posted fewer than 20 fantasy points in seven of his past eight games and hasn’t sniffed the end zone since Week 3. Do you start him this week against a Colts team that ranks fourth in the league in stuffing running back pass-plays?
The concept of starting your studs no matter what works if there are no other options. But what if you have Patrick Laird available? Over the past two weeks, he has averaged 16 touches per game and has seen 10 targets in that span. Facing a Giants team that ranks 25th against running back pass-plays makes him an intriguing replacement option. Do you trust him? Maybe not. But if you are looking at Kamara versus Raheem Mostert or Sony Michel or even Kenyan Drake, they might provide you with a higher floor and a way to win.
At wide receiver, it is actually a bit easier. A.J. Brown might see just five or six targets per game, but he and Ryan Tannehill have connected for two 100-yard games and three touchdowns over the past three weeks. He is just as boom-or-bust as Lockett, but the results are there right now.
Breshad Perriman will see an increase in snaps with Evans out for the season, and given Jameis Winston’s penchant to sling the rock no matter what, Perriman will see targets. Even Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard warrant attention with a matchup against the Dolphins.
Sitting players with the potential of a Kamara or a Lockett is a risky proposition, but you have to take what is right in front of you. If they aren’t producing and they have tough matchups, change just might be in order. Invest in those who touch the ball as much as possible, and you just might have a chance.Howard Bender is VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays at 4 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy football advice and NFL player rankings.