Fantasy Football Playoffs: Target Jake Elliott & Evan McPherson at Kicker, Dolphins & Eagles Defense For Playoff Push
Eric Espada/Getty Images. Pictured: The Dolphins celebrate a special teams touchdown.
Congratulations on making it to the fantasy football playoffs!
The end is in sight and all of your pre-draft research, late-night waiver claims and savvy trades have paid off. Now isn’t the time to slack off as we head into the final fantasy playoff push.
This article will dive into the two oft-overlooked positions in fantasy football: team defenses and kickers. Strength-of-schedule and previous performances both factored into these selections, with schedule being more of a factor for D/STs.
Below you will find three team defenses and three kickers rostered in 50% of leagues or fewer on Yahoo! which either have a strong Week 15 to Week 17 schedule, or have been trending in a positive direction. Week 18 wasn’t taken into account, as most league championship will take place in Week 17, though it is mentioned for reference.
Top Fantasy Playoff Defenses
Miami Dolphins Defense (50% rostered)
The Dolphins’ D/ST is my top waiver pickup this week and a clear play for the entirety of the fantasy playoffs. They have a soft schedule and on their own, the unit has been impressive: Miami is the DST9 for the season and second in fantasy points from Weeks 9 through 13 behind only the Patriots.
- Week 15 vs. NYJ: They will be well-rested coming off their Week 14 bye and are a locked-in top 12 play this week against the lowly Jets, who are averaging 17.4 points per game — the fourth-worst in the NFL. The Jets are tied with the Jaguars for the most turnovers this year (25) and have allowed the seventh-most sacks per game, which should be a mismatch against Miami, which ranks 10th in sacks.
- Week 16 at NO: Miami should be a top-12 play once again versus the Saints, who have tallied the 10th-fewest yards of offense per game this year. Quarterback Taysom Hill did go turnover-free in Week 14 versus the Jets on the heels of a four-interception game against Dallas. He is dealing with a finger injury which could impede his already limited passing skill set and could mean more Trevor Siemian in the future.
- Week 17 at TEN: The Titans are probably Miami’s toughest opponent down the stretch, which is more of an indictment of the rest of the Dolphins’ schedule. Tennessee is tied with Washington and Cincinnati for the sixth-most turnovers this year and could still be without star running back Derrick Henry and receiver A.J. Brown at that point. The Titans also rank 10th-worst in passing yards per game and are tied with Houston for fifth-most sacks allowed per game.
- Week 18 vs. NE: If you happen to be in one of the leagues that plays into Week 18, I would probably look elsewhere for a streamer in your championship round. The Patriots’ offense looked anemic at the beginning of the year, but has seriously turned a corner of late. The only upside here is if New England has nothing left to play for by Week 18, it’s possible they could roll with their second stringers.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense (21% rostered)
The Eagles’ D/ST is second as a widely available team defense with playoff-long potential. The unit is currently DST14 and has kept many of the Eagles’ games low-scoring (seven games under 19 fantasy points allowed). Their pass rush has been strong this season and ranks third in sacks per game. Philadelphia’s best attribute is its schedule, as it faces three NFC East rivals over the next four weeks.
- Week 15 vs. WAS: The Eagles will also be well-rested coming off of their Week 14 bye to face the Football Team. Washington’s offense ranks 10th-worst in points per game and is tied with Cincinnati and Tennessee for the sixth-most turnovers this year. Their offensive line has been permeable and allowed Taylor Heinicke to be sacked five times last week.
- Week 16 vs. NYG: The Giants rank near the bottom in most offensive categories this season. They have scored the sixth-fewest points per game (17.8) and have tallied the eighth-fewest offensive yards per game. It’s unclear who might be quarterbacking the Giants by this point with Daniel Jones dealing with a neck injury. If Jones is still out come Week 16, the G-Men may need to keep rolling with Mike Glennon or test out second-year quarterback Jake Fromm. Either way, the matchup is a positive for the Eagles.
- Week 17 at WAS: See Week 15 notes.
- Week 18 vs. DAL: If you happen to be in one of the leagues that plays into Week 18, I would venture elsewhere for a streamer in your championship round. Dak Prescott has struggled of late, but the Cowboys rank second-best in total offensive yards per game and points per game this year.
Seattle Seahawks (50% rostered)
This recommendation is specifically for managers with a first-round bye or those looking to stash a defense for the semifinals and finals.
The Seahawks’ D/ST is third as a widely available team defense with playoff-long potential. The unit is currently tied with the Bears and Steelers as DST20 and many of their games have been high-scoring. They do have a decent pass rush, which ranks seventh in sacks per game. Their best attribute is their two-game schedule in Weeks 16 and 17.
- Week 15 at LAR: Seattle is a firm sit for me in Week 15 on the road against the Rams, who have scored the fourth-most points per game and have tallied the third-most passing yards per game. Their offensive line has been strong and has only allowed 1.6 sacks per game — third-fewest in the NFL. They are tied with the Browns for the sixth-fewest giveaways this year.
- Week 16 vs. CHI: The Seahawks should be an excellent start in Week 16 versus the Bears, who rank fifth-worst in points per game. Chicago’s passing attack has been abysmal this season: The team is averaging an NFL-low 176.5 passing yards per game and their quarterbacks have tossed the third-most interceptions and have been sacked second-most. The team as a whole has turned over the ball 22 times this year — fifth-most in the NFL.
- Week 17 vs. DET: The Seahawks get another cupcake matchup in Week 17 versus the Lions. Detroit has been a hot mess this season, specifically offensively. The Lions have the seventh-fewest offensive yards per game and third-fewest points per game. Their passing attack has been brutal, tallying the sixth-fewest passing yards per game and their offensive line is tied with Denver’s for the ninth-most sacks allowed. Seattle will once again be a top play in most managers’ championship round.
- Week 18 at ARI: If you happen to be in one of the leagues that plays into Week 18, I would most likely look elsewhere for a streamer in your championship round. The only potentially redeeming aspect of this matchup is if Arizona has nothing left to play for in the final week of the season and opts to rest their starters. Otherwise, it’s a firm no-go for me.
Top Fantasy Playoff Kickers
Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles (11% rostered)
Elliott has been up-and-down this season, seemingly finishing either top five for the week or bottom 20. He is currently the 12th-best kicker for fantasy, scoring 12 or more points in five games this year — four of which came in the last six games. In addition to his hot streak, Elliott has a nice schedule down the stretch at home versus Washington in Week 15, at home versus the Giants in Week 16, on the road versus Washington in Week 17 and at home versus the Cowboys in Week 18. The Giants and the Football Team rank 10th- and 11th-worst against fantasy kickers this year.
Evan McPherson, Cincinnati Bengals (26% rostered)
McPherson has shockingly low rostership given how good he’s been this year. He is currently the sixth-best kicker for fantasy, averaging 9.2 points per game. One negative is he doesn’t have a great schedule down the stretch on the road against the Broncos in Week 15, at home versus the Ravens in Week 16, at home versus the Chiefs in Week 17 and on the road against the Browns in Week 18. He has had great success of late, however, posting 12+ fantasy points and a top-10 finish in three of the last four games.
Jason Sanders, Miami Dolphins (14% rostered)
Sanders is currently tied as the 21st-best kicker for fantasy but has looked solid over the last few games. He has posted exactly 10 points in three of four games heading into the Dolphins’ Week 15 bye and has a great schedule down the stretch. Miami faces the Jets at home in Week 15, the Saints on the road in Week 16, the Titans on the road in Week 17 and the Patriots at home in Week 18. The Jets rank second-worst against fantasy kickers, the Saints rank ninth-worst and the Titans rank 13th-worst.