The Final Stretch By: Dan Dankert

The Final Stretch

It’s that time of the year. It’s time to get your team in gear, or feel the wrath of your fantasy team for the next year. If you are like me, and have come so close to winning, and lost twice, you know the importance of finishing the year strong. For some of you, the playoffs start this week, for others it will start next week or maybe even the week after next. Either way, you need to start looking ahead now to prepare for those big games. This list will mostly look at running backs and wide receivers, both of which are more matchup dependent than quarterbacks

Let’s first take a look at some players who have favorable matchups down the stretch.

LeSean McCoy

So you are telling me, that arguably the most talented running back in the league gets to play the winless Cleveland Browns in week 15 and then Miami in week 16? If McCoy doesn’t score 20+ both games I won’t know what to do. McCoy could easily score 20 in a single quarter against the Browns. Barring injury I don’t know if there is a better running back to have on your team down the stretch. McCoy is the 5th high scoring running back in the league even with two games where he scored 1 or fewer points when he was fighting injury.

Odell Beckham Jr.

With the Giants fighting for playoff positioning look for OBJ to come up big against a mediocre Detroit Lions defense and then go off for big points against the Eagles in a crucial rivalry game. Neither is particularly an easy team to beat, but I think both have good matchups, or good situations for OBJ to have big games, and when you are a superstar those are the games where you build a legacy, and that is exactly what OBJ will do.

Next let’s see some players with tough schedules coming up.

­DeMarco Murray

Murray has week 13 off for a bye and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Coming off the bye Murray gets to test his luck against the Denver and Kansas City defenses. Those matchups are both terrible, but considering Murray’s volume is so high he should be able to get some points. However, if it’s taking a lot out of Murray to get the Titans to the rezone, which I would expect to be the case, Derrick Henry stands to poach a touchdown or two. Understandably I would never tell you to bench Murray (Unless you have Johnson, McCoy and Elliot), but don’t expect huge numbers from Murray down the stretch.

LaGarrette Blount

Blount faces off against the Broncos in week 15 and then has to go against the Jets in week 16. The Jets aren’t good this year, and haven’t been playing well, but the Jets always come up big against the Patriots, with a rivalry as fierce as theirs is expect the Jets to step up. The Patriots will win the game, but it will come at the hands of Tom Brady and not Blount. Expect single digits from Blount in both week 15 and 16.

There are also players who have a mixed bag when it comes to schedule strength.

David Johnson

Johnson has some very favorable matchups the next several weeks. Washington hasn’t looked great, and the week 15 matchup with the Saints should be a shootout, something that would lead me to believe that a 20+ point performance from Johnson is likely. However, week 16 brings us a big test. Johnson will be up against the Seahawks, and that world class defense. With playoff positioning on the line for both teams, the game will feel more like a playoff game than a regular season game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson scores 5 or fewer points in week 16 against the Seahawks. The major problem is, week 16 is the fantasy football super bowl week, and Johnson’s chances of scoring big points are quite low.

Jordy Nelson

The week 14 matchup against the Seahawks will be a trying game for Nelson and the Packers. Sherman will be a tough test for Nelson, and I don’t think he will be able to outplay Sherman and get big points. But his week 15 and 16 matchups are favorable. The Bears are struggling, and Nelson has the tools to go off for big points against them. The Vikings matchup in week 16 is a bit of an enigma. If the Vikings get Peterson back, they could be back to their dominant early-season form and Nelson would have a much tougher time. If they haven’t reached their early-season form expect Nelson to reach his final form and go off for 15+ points. Honestly, I have this feeling that there will be an offside play where Trae Waynes will slip and Nelson will score a 60+ yard touchdown. That however is utter conjecture.

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