Whatever you did the first 13 weeks of the season doesn't much matter anymore. Neither does how you got to where you are today. All that matters is winning Week 14, Week 15 and Week 16. Every year, the fantasy football playoffs turns regular season afterthoughts into postseason heroes. It doesn't take much to turn around a player's fortunes for a few weeks. Maybe he gets a couple favorable matchups. Maybe an injury opens a door. Maybe a bounce or two goes his way. Maybe he simply hits his stride after missing it all season. For whatever reason, each year has its Billy Volek. It can be a sign of future greatness or just a brilliant flash in the pan, but either way identifying these unlikely playoff heroes now can make all the difference in the next three weeks.
This year's Billy Volek Memorial Award winners are ...
Rex Grossman, Redskins -- Seriously, I mean it. Despite last week's stinker against the Jets, Grossman is averaging 260.5 yards per game with four touchdowns and six interceptions since taking over as starter once again. Luckily for the Redskins, they won't see a defense anything like the Jets' the rest of the season. Grossman will face a Patriots unit this week that has surrendered 8 yards per attempt and 18 passing touchdowns, and has allowed nine quarterbacks to throw for at least 300 yards. That's a combination of its own failings and the fact that Tom Brady and the offense consistently build up a huge lead, but stats are stats for fantasy purposes. The loss of Fred Davis cannot be overstated, but Grossman finally has both Santana Moss and Roy Helu at his disposal. Put all that together, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Grossman throw the ball 40 or 50 times on Sunday. After this week, the Redskins visit the Giants (23rd ranked pass defense) and then host the Vikings (29th). Those three opponents give Grossman the friendliest schedule of any quarterback in the league the rest of the way.
Malcom Floyd, Chargers -- Floyd's return last week came not a moment too soon for receiver-needy owners. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Floyd caught four passes for 108 yards and a touchdown in the Chargers' rout of the Jaguars last week. It's easy to forget, but Floyd was on a roll before missing four games, going over 100 yards two times in the three weeks leading up to his injury.
The Chargers have been one of the league's most disappointing teams, but there's no doubt they can still rack up yards and points with the best teams in the league, especially when healthy. For the first time in seemingly forever, Floyd, Vincent Jackson, Ryan Mathews and Antonio Gates are all upright at the same time. The Chargers have a great matchup this week against Buffalo, a defense giving up 7.5 yards per attempt. Opposing teams have thrown for 21 touchdowns against the Bills, fifth-most in the NFL. Vincent Brown has emerged as a downfield threat for the Chargers, but Floyd remains the third option in the passing game behind Jackson and Gates. Get him in your lineup this week and beyond.
Marion Barber, Bears -- The Bears' loss is the gain of Barber's owners, with Matt Forte's knee injury opening the door for the former fantasy standout to shine once again when it matters most. Forte is out this week and will probably sit at least once more, giving Barber an opportunity at a time when the Bears are all the more likely to rely on their run game. Losses to Oakland and Kansas City showed the Bears that they can still control games with their defense, so long as the offense doesn't make any huge mistakes. The best way to do that is for them to focus on the run, win the field-position battle, and keep the defense as fresh as possible. That all translates to a heavy dose of Barber this week against the Broncos and next week against the Seahawks.
In the last five weeks, the Broncos gave up 129 total yards and a touchdown to Michael Bush, 137 rushing yards to Ryan Mathews, and 133 total yards to Toby Gerhart. Even Jackie Battle was able to rack up 61 yards on just nine carries against the Broncos. With Von Miller potentially out again this week, Barber is a top-20 option. As long as he starts again against Seattle, he likely will be next week, too, helping you along the way to a fantasy title.
Chat with me on Twitter, @MBeller.