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Fantasy football: Time is of the essence for owners with playoffs looming

This is a defining week for many fantasy teams, especially in leagues where it’s the last week of the regular season.

There’s little margin for error at this point, although owners with their backs against the wall should be open to high-risk, high-reward shots in their lineups.

There are a handful of games (Rams-Lions, Chargers-Steelers, Redskins-Eagles) that could turn into free-for-alls, but there aren’t any locks for explosive fantasy numbers across the board. In fact, there are several games (Bears-Giants, Browns-Texans, Jets-Titans) that could temper scoring.

START: Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions

Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay has been targeted 36 times in the last three games.
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Golladay has been targeted 36 times in the last three games. The Rams have given up 25 touchdown passes and are 29th in average yards allowed per catch (12.3), numbers that play right into the hands of Matthew Stafford in what could be a high-scoring affair.

SIT: Eli Manning, QB, Giants

Facing a Bears defense that leads the league with 20 interceptions doesn’t play well for Manning, despite his six touchdown passes in his last three games. The Bears also are sixth in the league with 34 sacks. They will greatly reduce the time Manning has to throw. A poor game from Manning will have a ripple effect that will impact Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley.

START: Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings

He has attempted at least 38 passes in four of his last five games and can make it five of six against a suspect Patriots defense that’s 25th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks per game. Cousins has thrown at least two touchdown passes in four of his last five. He’ll be in line for a huge game, especially if Tom Brady helps turn this into a shootout.

SIT: Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns

The rookie has a 13-2 touchdown-interception ratio in his last five games and has completed 78.2 percent of his throws in the last two. However, he must hit the road and contend with a Texans defense that’s fourth in fewest fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks per game. The unit is also tied for sixth with 34 sacks. Reality will hit Mayfield and those who start him in brutal fashion.

START: Aaron Jones, RB, Packers

Coming off a season-best 17 carries in the loss to the Vikings last week, Jones has a great matchup against a Cardinals defense that’s 30th in the league in rushing yards allowed. No defense has allowed more rushing touchdowns than the 16 the Cards have given up, bolstering the chances of Jones crossing the goal line for a fourth straight game. He has four touchdowns in his last three. With Jamaal Williams an afterthought, Jones is now a borderline RB1 with room to grow.

SIT: Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins

Since gouging the Giants for 149 yards in Week 8, Peterson has sputtered, failing to reach 70 yards in each of his last four games. His fantasy numbers would be worse if he hadn’t scored two short touchdowns against the Texans in Week 11. Although the Eagles’ run defense has struggled against Ezekiel Elliott and Barkley in recent weeks, it still ranks 11th, and the Redskins will be more focused on attacking the Eagles’ beat-up secondary.