FANTASY PLAYS: Tough roster decisions with playoffs looming

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Many fantasy owners are entering the playoffs this week. Or playing for pride in their league's consolation bracket. Or perhaps done altogether.

If you're finished, condolences - been that kind of season for many of us. If you're still going, congrats and now is the time to be putting your best lineup forward. By now, you know exactly what a good player looks like.

Melvin Gordon? Unreliable. Marshawn Lynch? Sidelined until who knows when. If you're not in a keeper league, why cling to them? Instead, look for someone that might be able to actually add value.

Like Doug Baldwin if he's still around - and may just be considering he's available in nearly half of ESPN leagues. That despite having five TDs the last two weeks. Or take a chance on someone such as Jay Ajayi, who's been relatively productive when given an opportunity and is good insurance if you already have Lamar Miller.

Just because you invested a relatively high pick in a player doesn't mean you have to stick with them. Because you can't afford anymore abysmal nights from your players come playoff time. That four-yard rushing performance from Eddie Lacy just isn't going to cut it.


Just when Broncos running back C.J. Anderson was turning things around, he turns an ankle. Once again, there were quite a few injuries over the weekend:

- Broncos tight end Vernon Davis left with a concussion. In the same game, Chargers receiver Dontrelle Inman suffered a neck injury and was taken off the field in a cart. Inman moved into the starting lineup after Keenan Allen suffered a season-ending kidney injury.

- Browns receiver Travis Benjamin hurt his shoulder injury while making a catch, and tight end Gary Barnidge played most of the game on a twisted ankle.

- And now for some good news on the injury front: Allen Hurns cleared the NFL's concussion protocol and can play Sunday against Indy. Hurns is the team's second-leading receiver, with 48 catches for 758 yards and seven touchdowns.


- Wow, what a finish in the Green Bay-Detroit game. Grab tight end Richard Rodgers if you can. He's only owned in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues.

- Ho-hum, another five-TD performance by Cam Newton. Indeed, he's a pretty good option to start each week.

- Seattle has been known for its defense for so long. But the offense is pretty good, too. Russell Wilson threw for 274 yard and three TDs. He also ran 51 yards and another score. Thomas Rawls is filling in nicely for Lynch. Rawls rushed for 101 yards and a score.

- Antonio Brown's celebration after a punt return for a score deserved extra fantasy points. It was that entertaining. He jumped into padding of the goalpost and straddled it before tumbling to the ground.

- Kickers sure struggled in the extra-point department this weekend. That's no longer an automatic point for fantasy owners. Sebastian Janikowski had his streak of 225 made extra points snapped.


Here are possible waiver additions to consider:

- Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland (owned in 3 percent of Yahoo leagues): May be in line to start again. Was benched because of off-field issues. Manziel threw for 372 yards against Pittsburgh last month.

- Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, New York Jets (owned in 41.9 percent of ESPN): Has thrown 11 TD passes over last five games.

- James White, RB, New England (owned in 26.5 percent of ESPN): Only four yards rushing against Philly, but did catch 10 passes for 115 yards and a score.

- Juwan Thompson, RB, Denver (owned in zero percent of Yahoo): Could provide insurance given Anderson's ankle ailment.

- Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Tennessee (owned in 9.9 percent of ESPN): Grabbed five passes for 119 yards and a score last weekend.


Look for Minnesota's Adrian Peterson to get more touches at Arizona. The league's leading rushing was limited to 18 yards on eight carries against Seattle. Carson Palmer and the Arizona offense rolled up 524 yards last weekend. Rookie David Johnson, who went to Northern Iowa, ran for 99 yards in his first career start.


Pat Graham is an Associated Press sports writer based in Denver. He's played NFL fantasy football for a while and just finished up a college fantasy football season in which his younger brother took home the title. Follow him on Twitter:


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