Bye weeks are over! While this notion will certainly be beneficial to fantasy owners with the playoffs coming up, it is still as essential as ever to ensure that you have a complete roster at your disposable. Even without off weeks to contend with, their are still untimely injuries and questionable coaching decisions to deal with as NFL teams try to remain competitive down the stretch. With the passing of the trade deadline for most leagues, owners will now have to exclusively use the waiver wire to make any required alterations necessary to win week after week. While the end is in sight for fantasy playoff contenders, this is the time to stave of complacency and instead be particularly vigilant as every decision can be the difference between just making the playoffs or being forced to compete in the dreaded consolation bracket.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Cleveland Browns)
While the woeful Browns have a solid run defense, their secondary has been much weaker as they have given up the seventh-most points to opposing quarterbacks. Considering how well Andy Dalton performed against a much stronger Broncos secondary, it’s safe to assume that the red rifle could produce a similar if not better point total by the end of the game. Throwing for nine touchdowns and two interceptions in his last five games, Dalton has been much more disciplined at throwing the football compared to how careless he was at the start of the season (threw six interceptions in his first five starts of the season). While he may not be the most accurate passer in the NFL (61.8 CMP%), Dalton has the weapons to pick apart the Browns at home.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (vs. New York Jets)
Scoring five touchdowns in his last six games, McCaffrey looks to be an enticing late bloomer in a Panthers offense that has been much more efficient in recent weeks. While McCaffrey has been reliable as a receiving target throughout the season (7.6 yards per reception, three touchdowns), he has been able to the make the most out of his limited rushing opportunities in his last two games (4.4 and 4.6 yards per rush attempt and two rushing touchdowns in last two contests). Assuming McCaffrey can be this dynamic against the Jets’ tenth-worst rush defense (have also allowed fourth-most passing touchdowns), he should have no problem producing at a high level again.
Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans (vs. Indianapolis Colts).
At some point, Corey Davis going to explode as a highly-talented wideout. Against a Colts defense that is 30th in the NFL in receiving yards allowed, Davis should finally be able to convert his high-volume target shares into big point totals. Since November 5th, Davis has garnered target totals of 5, 10 and 7, none of which have been converted into touchdown scores. However, when you consider that Davis has only played in five games this season, the fact that quarterback Marcus Mariota is this keen on throwing several passes his way should tell everything you need to know about Davis’ potential.
Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins (vs. New York Giants)
During the last three weeks, Davis has had no less than six targets come his way and has had at least 67 receiving yards in those contests. While he has only caught one touchdown pass this season, he may get a chance to catch at least one more against a Giants defense that has relinquished the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. On top of that, Davis has averaged no less than 10 yards per reception the entire season, meaning that he can score big points in PPR leagues even without a touchdown reception. Assuming Jordan Reed is still not 100%, Davis will once again get a large target share and should have his most productive outing of the season against the Giants.