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Fantasy football: Don’t ignore players from bad teams for playoff push

Giants running back Orleans Darkwa and teammates celebrate after Darkwa's touchdown Sunday against the Chiefs. | Kathy Willens/AP

Bad teams are people, too.

Keep that in mind as you make your playoff charge. Points are points no matter who scores them or for which NFL team. This is no time to judge players for their name recognition, only for their production.

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What follows are players from the dregs of the league who belong on your roster, if not in your lineup. They could loom large down the stretch. (Availability in ESPN leagues in parentheses.)

Giants RB Orleans Darkwa (30 percent): The 2-8 Giants have scored the third-fewest points in the league, but since Week 9, Darkwa ranks ninth among running backs in PPR scoring. In that span, only Adrian Peterson (72) has more carries than Darkwa (50), who has rushed for at least 70 yards in each of those games. He also had a 117-yard outing in Week 6. He could exploit favorable matchups the next two weeks against the Redskins and Raiders, who have allowed the eighth- and sixth-most points to running backs. Darkwa has a hamstring injury but is expected to play.

Browns RB Duke Johnson (24 percent): He makes his mark as a receiver, ranking fourth among running backs in receptions (with James White) and fifth in receiving yards. That has put him 16th in RB scoring, ahead of such alleged stalwarts as DeMarco Murray and Devonta Freeman. With the 0-10 Browns often trailing, Johnson has played more snaps than backfield mate Isaiah Crowell for the season. In Week 13, he’ll face a Chargers defense that has allowed the second-most receiving yards to running backs (with the Patriots). But if the Browns keep falling behind, Johnson is matchup-proof.

Browns WR Corey Coleman (80 percent): He returned from a broken hand last week and caught six passes for 80 yards on a team-high 11 targets against a tough Jaguars secondary. Coleman is the Browns’ No. 1 receiver, but his grip is tenuous with Josh Gordon returning from suspension in Week 13. Still, Coleman will start and see lots of action, especially if the Browns keep playing catch-up.

49ers WR Marquise Goodwin (90 percent): He’s the No. 1 receiver on a team that will be trailing a lot. That’s not saying much, but in the last two games, Goodwin has turned three catches into 151 yards and a touchdown. It’s uncertain whether C.J. Beathard or Jimmy Garoppolo will start at quarterback for the 1-9ers. But there’s little competition at wideout, so Goodwin is in position to produce.

Colts TE Jack Doyle (27 percent): From Week 6 to 10 (the Colts were on bye in Week 11), Doyle led all tight ends in PPR scoring. He ranks seventh for the season. Though he has only two touchdowns, he has the second-most receptions and eighth-most receiving yards at the position. On the 3-7 Colts, Doyle is tied in targets with top wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. The next pass catcher is 31 behind (Kamar Aiken).

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Email: jagrest@suntimes.com




Titans QB Marcus Mariota: He has averaged 299 passing yards in four career games against the Colts, who have allowed the second-most passing yards this season.

Cowboys RB Alfred Morris: He has been the lead back in lieu of Ezekiel Elliott, and the Chargers have allowed the most rushing yards to running backs.

Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery: The Bears’ pass defense has been middling the last few weeks, and you have to think this game is personal to Jeffery.


Raiders QB Derek Carr: In six career games against the Broncos, he has thrown for more than 200 yards once and has completed 58 percent of his passes.

Texans RB Lamar Miller: Since Week 8, the Ravens have allowed the fourth-fewest PPR points per game to running backs.

Packers WR Davante Adams: In four home games, the Steelers’ third-ranked pass defense has held wide receivers to an average of 115 yards per game.




Alex Smith: 230 passing, 2 INTs

LeSean McCoy: 114 rushing, TD run & catch

Jeremy Maclin: 4-34 receiving


Jared Goff: 225 passing

Tevin Coleman: 43 rushing, TD

Josh Doctson: 4-81 receiving