So, you’ve been killing it this season, you’re either 7-0, 6-1, or 5-2 and on the fast track to the playoffs. You’ve somehow managed to avoid players like Kyle Pitts or Javonte Williams and probably struck gold with guys like Josh Jacobs or Chris Olave. Congrats! But remember, it means nothing unless you walk away with the pride and glory of a league winner. The season isn’t over, to solidify yourself as the favorite to win it all, you’re going to have to make trades that target fantasy playoffs (weeks 15-17).
There are essentially two different strategies to use when making these kinds of trades. One option is to target players who have favorable matchups between weeks 15-17. These players may range from a tier one to a tier three player; think of a David Montgomery type player. Montgomery averaged over 25 fantasy points per game over the final six games of the 2020 NFL season, in large part due to succulent matchups. The other strategy is to capitalize on injuries, acquire great players from teams who have been suffering serious injuries and who are desperate to make a change before their playoff hopes die.
Some teams who have favorable matchups for weeks 15-17 include the San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, and the Cleveland Browns. The 49ers play the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Commanders, and Las Vegas Raiders, all of whom are top 11 in most passing touchdowns allowed so far this season. Every pass catcher will be elevated over this stretch, so shoot for Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk with confidence, all with varying price points, of course. Their new running back Christian McCaffrey is also fantastic, but he will be extremely difficult to pry from his owner.
The Titans have the pleasure of playing the Los Angeles Chargers, Houston Texans, and Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have a very good defense, but that is not who we are focused on when viewing the Titans. The Chargers and Texans are both top 10 in most rushing touchdowns allowed, they are both top eight in rush yards allowed, and both are top four in yards per carry allowed. They are atrocious at stopping the run, and Derrick Henry is going to dominate both opponents. He is worth paying a pretty penny for in order to get you a ton of points in weeks 15 and 16. Although Week 17 against the Cowboys won’t be so easy, the important thing is that you at least get to the championship game and to not lose before then!
The New York Jets play the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Seattle Seahawks for the fantasy playoffs. The Lions and Seahawks are both top three in most yards allowed in the league, while the Jaguars have given up the eighth most passing yards in the league. This Jets team is a bit unpredictable as of now following the Breece Hall injury, but it’s extremely likely either Garrett Wilson, James Robinson, or Michael Carter could be hyper-productive over this span. We may not know who it will be at the moment, but if you can grab one of these guys for cheap on your bench, you can take the “wait and see” approach as the season goes on.
The last team to target on this list is the Cleveland Browns. They play the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, and Commanders for the fantasy playoffs. This one is easy to examine. The Ravens currently have the most total yards allowed on the season and have given up the second most passing yards. Following Week Eight’s games, they are still sure to be top 10 in both categories. The Saints lead the league in points allowed. The Commanders have given up the second most passing touchdowns on the year and have the third least amount of forced interceptions. Oh yeah, and Deshaun Watson will be back before Week 15 as well! You should be aggressively targeting Amari Cooper and Nick Chubb, especially Cooper, who could single-handedly win you your league.
The other strategy to bolster your team for the fantasy playoffs is to attack teams who have struggled with injuries. Ja’Marr Chase is a player who you should be aggressively targeting in addition to Cooper. Chase is currently the WR4 on the year, but will be sidelined possibly for the next 4-6 weeks. Any borderline playoff team may not be able to make the playoffs without their best player for a month. Now is the time to offer lesser players who are not injured to the Chase owner. I’d comfortably offer players like Michael Pittman Jr., Courtland Sutton, or JuJu Smith-Schuster to get the deal done. Other injured players to target include Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Michael Thomas, and Amon-Ra St. Brown.
The inverse approach to the injury debacle, is to target healthy players by providing their owner with assets at their injured positions. Look at the roster of the teams who have lost Breece Hall, Javonte Williams, and Cordarrelle Patterson. The first idea would be to offer a running back and a receiver for their best wide receiver. Trade away players similar to Ezekiel Elliott, Antonio Gibson, and Najee Harris to try to get a top wide receiver like Stefon Diggs or Davante Adams. Injury heavy teams will have no choice but to consider your offers to fill their needs.