Fantasy football: Looking ahead to playoff matchups

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Lamar Miller could run wild in the playoffs against the Colts, Jaguars and Bengals, all of whom rank in the bottom 11 of the league in run defense. | Jack Dempsey/AP

The trade deadline is next week in many fantasy leagues, so now’s the time to bolster your roster for a playoff run. A good way to do that is look ahead to the matchups in Weeks 14-16, the postseason in most leagues.

But this isn’t just about which players to pursue. You need to know which players to avoid, or at least which ones require contingency plans. Below are teams and players with favorable and unfavorable matchups in the fantasy playoffs. Plan accordingly.

Favorable matchups

Buccaneers: The Saints have allowed the third-most yards per game (408.5), and the Bucs have the pleasure of playing them in Weeks 14 and 16. Quarterback Jameis Winston can put up big numbers (405 yards, three touchdown passes vs. Rams in Week 3). Keep an eye on running back Doug Martin, who continues to nurse a hamstring injury. If he returns in time, he could be very productive.

Chargers: They’ll face the Raiders’ 27th-ranked defense and the Browns’ 31st-ranked unit in Weeks 15-16. Quarterback Philip Rivers had a season-high 26 points (359 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions) against the Raiders in Week 5. The Browns have allowed multiple touchdown passes in every game but one. Running back Melvin Gordon could win you a title against the Browns’ second-worst run defense.

Lamar Miller: With only three touchdowns and one game above 11 points, the Texans running back hasn’t been the stud many thought he’d be. But Miller could run wild in the playoffs against the Colts, Jaguars and Bengals, all of whom rank in the bottom 11 of the league in run defense. Miller’s best game of the season came against the Colts in Week 6, when he totaled 178 yards and two touchdowns.

Unfavorable matchups

Packers: If they don’t get their act together (they rank 16th in offense, one spot behind the Bears), they could struggle against the Seahawks, Bears and Vikings, all of whom rank in the top 12 in defense. Granted, quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 326 yards and three touchdowns against the Bears in Week 7, but it took him 56 passes to do it. The Vikings held him to 213 yards in Week 2, and the Seahawks are the Seahawks.

Seahawks running backs: Thomas Rawls (fibula) should be back by the playoffs, but whether it’s him or Christine Michael carrying the ball, the matchups will be tough. They’ll face the Packers’ top-ranked run defense in Week 14 and the Rams’ 11th-ranked unit in Week 15. The Seahawks haven’t had success running the ball anyway, ranking 30th. If you own any part of this backfield, make sure you have alternatives.

Colts: Their passing game will be tested by the Texans and Vikings before getting a reprieve against the Raiders. The Texans and Vikings rank second and fourth, respectively, in pass defense, and both have allowed more than one touchdown pass in a game just once. If you’re still alive after those games, you should benefit from the Raiders’ fifth-worst pass defense.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffreyA22.

Email: jagrest@suntimes.com

WEEK 10 OUTLOOK

Bye: Bills, Lions, Colts, Raiders.

STOCK MARKET

RISING

Jaguars RB Chris Ivory: He’s coming off an 18-carry, 107-yard outing, and the Jags’ next four opponents rank in the bottom half of the league in run defense.

Titans WR Rishard Matthews: He has at least one touchdown in four of the last five games, and he has a very WR-friendly schedule ahead.

FALLING

Giants RB Rashad Jennings: In three games since returning from a thumb injury, he’s averaging two yards per carry. Plus, he’s sharing time with Paul Perkins.

Lions WR Marvin Jones: He has watched his targets drop considerably since his monster early-season stretch. Worse yet, he had zero points Sunday.

MATCHUPS

STUDS

Bears WR Alshon Jeffery: The Buccaneers have allowed 587 yards and three touchdowns to wide receivers in the last two games.

Ravens RB Terrance West: In the last three games, the Browns have allowed 577 rushing yards and seven touchdown runs to running backs.

DUDS

Redskins WR Jamison Crowder: He has the hot hand, but the Vikings’ fourth-ranked pass defense will be hot after caving against the Lions.

Eagles RB Ryan Mathews: Never mind his touchdowns in back-to-back games. The yards aren’t there, and the Falcons rank seventh in run defense.


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