Fantasy Football Playoff Rankings: WRs and TEs

Jake Ciely, Senior Writer December 5, 2013

Hope you enjoyed, and had reason to be thankful, your Thanksgiving week. I know Black Friday meant nothing to you. It was a crucial win or loss in Fantasy Football Week 13 that truly revved your engine. I know many are thankful for Josh Gordon and Alshon Jeffery… or still cleaning off spewed pieces of turkey and stuffing from their TVs and computers if they faced them. I was on both ends of the situation (that’s what happens when you are in 27 leagues), so I felt both the thanks and hate at the same time. I let the leftovers sooth away the hate though, as few things are better than a hot turkey, stuffing, gravy and sweet potato sandwich… drool! It’s now time for your wide receiver and tight end playoff matchup outlook. Make sure you read up on the quarterback and running back breakdown from last week, so you are 100 percent prepared for a championship run.

Wide Receiver Matchup Ranks
Rank Team Opp
Rank Team Opp
1 Kansas City Chiefs 6.7 17 San Francisco 49ers 17.0
2 Philadelphia Eagles 9.3 18 Miami Dolphins 17.3
3 Cincinnati Bengals 9.7 19 Cleveland Browns 18.0
4 Houston Texans 9.7 20 Tennessee Titans 18.0
5 Green Bay Packers 10.0 21 Buffalo Bills 19.0
6 Baltimore Ravens 10.3 22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19.0
7 New York Giants 11.0 23 New York Jets 19.3
8 Chicago Bears 11.3 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 20.3
9 Dallas Cowboys 12.0 25 Carolina Panthers 21.0
10 Oakland Raiders 12.3 26 Pittsburgh Steelers 21.0
11 Washington Redskins 12.3 27 New England Patriots 22.7
12 San Diego Chargers 13.7 28 Indianapolis Colts 23.0
13 Atlanta Falcons 15.0 29 Arizona Cardinals 24.0
14 Detroit Lions 15.0 30 St. Louis Rams 24.3
15 Minnesota Vikings 15.7 31 New Orleans Saints 26.3
16 Denver Broncos 16.0 32 Seattle Seahawks 27.7

HOLD ‘EM OR FOLD ‘EM

There are few receivers more hated than Dwayne Bowe this year. Most expected Bowe to post his best season yet, since he had his best quarterback to date. Alex Smith isn’t a gun slinger, but he is extremely accurate and a much better than anything the Chiefs trotted out there for years. Alas, that didn’t translate into WR1 production, or even a WR2 level for that matter. In fact, Bowe ranks just 43rd among his peers for the year. Oof. However, Bowe has a solid four-game stretch going with 19 catches and two touchdowns. On top of that, no receiver has it easier from Weeks 14-16, which means Bowe – while not a WR1 or WR2 – is a near lock for lineups, as he will have WR3 the rest of the way.

Nick Foles has been nothing short of amazing. The good news is that DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper don’t just have it good because of Foles. The Eagles have a great three-game stretch with top-notch matchups in Weeks 14 and 15 and the reeling Bears in Week 16.  You would have to be rather deep not to start either receiver.

Two deeper finds are DeAndre Hopkins and Terrance Williams. Hopkins has flashed his upside in a few games, and with three easy matchups – including a gorgeous one against the Jags this week – Hopkins has starter upside, especially in 12-plus team leagues. The same goes for Williams with two teams in the Top 10 for ease of matchups (Packers and Redskins). Miles Austin, while back, is a shell of his former self, and those in deep leagues could do much worse than Williams.

The Giants have the Seahawks sandwiched in between the two easiest matchups of all: the Chargers and Lions. Those Victor Cruz owners might have something to smile about again, and Rueben Randle has potential to start finding the end zone again. Their division rival Redskins have a tough go this week with the Chiefs, but Pierre Garcon is primed for a big Week 15 and 16 push with the Falcons and Cowboys rounding out the season.

Not only is the Percy Harvin situation worrisome, but so is the Seahawks schedule… and very much so. No team has it worse, and all three opponents rank in the Top 10 for difficulty, including two in the Top Five (49ers and Cardinals). Doug Baldwin has come on of late, but if I am in or fighting for the playoffs, I am not starting a single Seahawks receiver the rest of the way. You have to have better options.

Marques Colston and the Saints draw the Panthers twice: this week and in the championship round. Sorry guys. Not only is Andrew Luck struggling, but the Colts have three tough opponents (Bengals, Texans and Chiefs). While T.Y. Hilton has plenty of upside most weeks, especially in PPR leagues, I am not starting him this week and will be hard-pressed to do so in Week 16. The Steelers have a rough two-game stretch before their reprieve with the Packers in Week 16, but you can’t sit Antonio Brown. What you can do is ignore Emmanuel Sanders’ recent success given the Dolphins (fourth-toughest) and Bengals (seventh) matchups the next two weeks.

Tight End Matchup Ranks
Rank Team Opp
Rank Team Opp
1 Tennessee Titans 6.7 17 Cleveland Browns 16.0
2 Dallas Cowboys 7.3 18 San Francisco 49ers 17.0
3 Houston Texans 8.3 19 New York Jets 17.3
4 Green Bay Packers 9.3 20 Oakland Raiders 17.3
5 Buffalo Bills 9.7 21 New York Giants 18.7
6 Philadelphia Eagles 11.3 22 Jacksonville Jaguars 19.0
7 Denver Broncos 11.3 23 Detroit Lions 20.3
8 Kansas City Chiefs 12.3 24 Seattle Seahawks 20.7
9 Cincinnati Bengals 13.0 25 St. Louis Rams 20.7
10 San Diego Chargers 13.0 26 Arizona Cardinals 21.7
11 Chicago Bears 13.0 27 Minnesota Vikings 24.0
12 New England Patriots 13.3 28 Carolina Panthers 24.0
13 Washington Redskins 13.3 29 Miami Dolphins 24.3
14 Atlanta Falcons 14.7 30 Indianapolis Colts 24.7
15 Pittsburgh Steelers 15.0 31 New Orleans Saints 25.3
16 Baltimore Ravens 16.0 32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29.3

HOLD ‘EM OR FOLD ‘EM

The tight end position is easily the most fluid and difficult of the “big four” each year. There are already limited reliable options, and this year seems to have been filled with more injuries than most. There has also been a remarkable amount of inconsistency. We’re loaded with Jared Cooks this year – yes, I railed against him in the preseason, and he again showed up only three times. A good example is Delaine Walker, who has the best playoff schedule, yet has just five games over four Fantasy points, and each involved a touchdown. There is plenty of upside with his matchups (Broncos, Cardinals – woohoo! – and Jaguars), but still plenty of risk.

Julius Thomas needs to be in lineups if healthy, and not just because of his performance and Peyton Manning. The Broncos see the Titans, Chargers and Texans, and all three are in the top half for quality tight end matchups. Another tight end that wasn’t drafted in the vast majority of leagues like Thomas is Jordan Reed. You don’t want to use him against the Chiefs this week, but like Robert Griffin from last week’s piece, no player has it easier in Weeks 15 and 16 with the Falcons ranking as the fourth best matchup and Cowboys fifth.

Tim Wright was a nice midseason fill-in for byes and injuries, but he has it worse than any other tight end out there. The Bucs see the Bills (third-toughest), 49ers (first) and Rams (seventh) for their three-game stretch. Coby Fleener has it rough, too. The Texans aren’t a bad matchup in Week 15, but compound Luck’s struggles with games against the Bengals (fifth) and Chiefs (second) in Weeks 14 and 16, and we likely have seen the best Fleener has to offer. John Carlson, like Wright, has provided some fill-in value for needy owners, but it only goes from bad to worse for him and the Vikings. Carlson goes from the Ravens (11th) to the Eagles (ninth) and then finally the Bengals to finish the season. Start looking elsewhere… maybe some of those names above – hint, hint.

(Reminder: You’ll notice the rankings are not in exact order of points allowed. Other metrics are calculated in along with just straight points. It allows for better analysis so one off-week doesn’t skew the opponent difficulty too greatly.)

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