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Fantasy Playoff Prep: Now Is the Time to Make Your Move

Five moves you can make to strengthen your fantasy football roster when it counts the most.

For most traditional fantasy leagues, there are six weeks left in the season before the fantasy playoffs begin. Many of you already have a playoff spot virtually locked up. And if that’s the case, it’s time to plan ahead.

Sure, your roster is loaded with players who have been good enough to dominate the first two months of the season. But if your best players have killer matchups come playoff time, you’re done. On the flipside, there’s always a non-playoff team whose biggest disappointment inevitably has a monster game after it no longer matters. “My dumb luck,” that fantasy manager mutters to himself.

But it’s not luck. It’s all about the matchups. So even if you’re on top of the fantasy world right now, don’t be complacent. Take a look at the matchups during your league’s playoff period and see how you can improve your squad specifically for those weeks.

With the 18-week NFL schedule, most fantasy playoffs take place between Weeks 15-17. So let’s see which matchups could have fantasy impact. Here are five scenarios that could suggest possible moves before your league’s trading deadline:

Grounded Falcons? The Atlanta passing attack is still potent, even without Calvin Ridley. Matt Ryan can distribute the ball to TE Kyle Pitts, RB Cordarrelle Patterson and a host of role players at the receiver position. But Week 15 presents a road trip to San Francisco and the top pass defense in the NFL right now. Not a recipe for success. Week 16 is a favorable matchup against Detroit, but then Week 17 sees the Falcons up in Buffalo, where potential weather plus a tough Bills defense spell trouble. Ryan, Pitts and Patterson are more valuable right now than they will be in Weeks 15-17, so get what you can for them.

Don’t wait on McCaffrey: Okay, so Christian McCaffrey hasn’t exactly carried anyone this season. But you know there are fantasy managers just sitting quietly with the Panthers star on their bench, waiting for him to get healthy so he can become that ultimate fantasy weapon. Not so fast. McCaffrey’s matchups in Weeks 15-17 are at Buffalo, home vs. Tampa Bay, at New Orleans -- all three opponents have top 5 run defenses. If you’ve got McCaffrey stashed on your roster, find a sucker willing to trade for him.

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Philly special? Division games can be tough, but on paper, the Eagles have a nice three-game stretch in Weeks 15-17: home in Week 16 vs. the Giants wrapped around a home-and-home with the Washington Football Team, which currently allows the most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to quarterbacks and third-most FPPG to receivers. That could mean big numbers for Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith. You probably don’t have to give up much to acquire those guys.

All-in on Uzomah: Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah has been nothing if not inconsistent this season -- he’s had two games with 90-plus yards and two TDs, but then he’s averaged just 17 yards per game in his other six contests, with one more score. But here’s the good news for Uzomah’s fantasy upside: His Week 16 opponent is Baltimore, which allows the most FPPG to tight ends, and his Week 17 opponent is the Chiefs, who allow the second-most FPPG to tight ends.

So here’s a thought: Let’s say you’ve got Kyle Pitts, who’s looking at some tough matchups come fantasy playoff time. Package him in a deal for C.J. Uzomah, which will presumably allow you to upgrade another position as part of that deal.

Up to you, Mr. Robinson: Jaguars RB James Robinson is currently the eighth-leading rusher in the NFL, and he may have as good a three-game stretch as any back in the league during the fantasy playoffs. Robinson’s Week 16 opponent is the Jets, who allow the most FPPG to running backs. That matchup is sandwiched between games against the Texans (11th-most FPPG to RBs) and the Patriots (15th).

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