I received a request from a Paydirt Gold subscriber earlier this week for an article that would review the players with the best and worst playoff matchups as of right now, so that’s what this week’s article will be about. The caveat is that playoff rankings can change significantly in the next six weeks, especially given the potential for schedule adjustments, but this list should still serve as a valuable primer to help determine who to trade for or trade away in the run up to the playoffs.
Let’s start by looking at running backs with the easiest and toughest playoff schedules.
To begin, it’s worth noting that there aren’t many teams with green-rated matchups in Weeks 14-16. Here is a complete list:
Atlanta: Week 16 (Kansas City)
Chicago: Week 14 (Houston)
Cincinnati: Week 16 (Houston)
Cleveland: Week 16 (New York Jets)
Denver: Week 14 (Carolina)
Green Bay: Week 14 (Detroit) and Week 15 (Carolina)
Indianapolis: Week 15 (Houston)
Los Angeles Rams: Week 15 (New York Jets)
Miami: Week 14 (Kansas City)
New Orleans: Week 15 (Kansas City)
Seattle: Week 14 (New York Jets)
Tampa Bay: Week 16 (Detroit)
Tennessee: Week 15 (Detroit)
Washington: Week 16 (Carolina)
The only club with multiple green-rated matchups in this span is Green Bay. Aaron Jones may end up missing Week 7 with a calf injury, so it’s possible he might be available in more leagues than if he was fully healthy, indicating it may behoove to target him for a trade.
Another playoff trade element might be to target those running backs with green-rated matchups in Week 14, as you can’t get a win in the semifinal or final rounds without a win in the opening round. If that approach is taken, David Montgomery, Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, Myles Gaskin, or Chris Carson might be good trade targets.
Now let’s take a look at the running backs with the most difficult rush defense matchups during the playoffs. There are many teams that have two red-rated matchups, so here is that list:
Arizona: Week 15 (Philadelphia) and Week 16 (San Francisco)
Buffalo: Week 14 (Pittsburgh) and Week 15 (Denver)
Dallas: Week 15 (San Francisco) and Week 16 (Philadelphia)
Minnesota: Week 14 (Tampa Bay) and Week 16 (New Orleans)
New York Giants: Week 15 (Cleveland) and Week 16 (Baltimore)
New York Jets: Week 14 (Seattle) and Week 16 (Cleveland)
Washington: Week 14 (San Francisco) and Week 15 (Seattle)
The trade difficulty here is that most of the running backs on these teams aren’t going to draw huge trade value under the best of circumstances. This may mean looking for trade high options whenever any of these players posts a better than average performance.
Now let’s take a look at teams with the most favorable pass coverage for Weeks 14-16. Since this ranking takes into account a great deal more individual coverage player factors than the rush game matchups, I went into the spreadsheet and made a few adjustments to come up with a 1-100 matchup grade for the fantasy playoffs. Here are those grades:
I know it sounds like a broken record to keep talking about staying patient with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers receivers, but this chart offers one more reason to think along those lines.
It also suggests that the Chiefs may want to throw the ball more frequently down the stretch, indicating that if Patrick Mahomes continues to produce at his very good but not Russell Wilson or 2018 Mahomes pace, he might make for a good elite for elite trade target.
This also indicates that Atlanta, Cleveland, Arizona, Houston, and Buffalo could all be trade high candidates, especially since all of these teams have some players who are putting up trade high-caliber numbers right now.