The last few weeks of the fantasy football season are definitely the most interesting. Not only because the playoffs are coming up, but also because a lot of young players start to break out. This is the time where it really pays to be watching the waiver wire. A lot of teams can win solely off the performance of players who were not drafted or even on the radar at the beginning of the season. This has been especially true for the quarterback position this season. Whether it is because of injury or because young players are finally getting a handle on the playbooks, this is the time where fantasy champions are made. Here are the players to build around. However, remember just having a couple of these players is not enough to win. You must be smart and make good waiver wire pickups if you want to be the last man standing in your league.
By this point, we all realize Philip Rivers is once again a very relevant fantasy option. No, he has not put up the huge single game performances like Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, but he has been extremely consistent in his play. He is not going to lose any games for you. He does enough each week to have a good performance. He is perfect for teams who have plenty of explosive players at running back and wide receiver, and need a guy who can just ensure a good quarterback performance every week. Rivers’ 2691 passing yards are the fourth most in the league. Last week, he threw for 218 yards and a touchdown. This is a low end performance for the San Diego quarterback. He has the potential to do so much more and he has proved it many times this season. The Chargers are going up against the Miami Dolphins this week. The Dolphins have given up at least 20 points in each of their last three games.
Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson has been on fire recently. He leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards with 395. For all the talk surrounding Andrew Luck, it has been Wilson who has proven to be the best second year quarterback. Aside from his rushing totals, Wilson has thrown for 2132 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has only thrown six interceptions this season, which is the same amount as Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning. Russell Wilson has the most upside of anyone on this list because of his ability to make plays with his feet. If his passing stats were closer to the league leaders he would be a lock for a very high fantasy draft pick next season. Wilson should have a big day against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have the 17th ranked rushing defense and the 28th ranked passing defense. With a poor defense and the leagues’ loudest stadium, the Vikings will not know what hit them.
Matthew Stafford is the best young quarterback in the league. He has thrown for 2836 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions. The Lions offense is built around their skill positions. Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush are some of the most dominant players in the league. With these types of weapons around him, Matthew Stafford is always in a position to have a big game. It does not matter who the Lions play, Stafford is very capable of slinging the ball for tons of yards. It helps to have the best wide receiver in the league on the receiving end of his passes. This weekend the Lions are traveling to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers. The Steelers have been very solid against the pass this season, but their run defense has been like Swiss cheese. Stafford will still be able to put up a good game for fantasy football purposes, but the Lion to watch is Reggie Bush. Look for him to man handle the Steelers’ front seven.
Drew Brees was the highest grossing player in terms of fantasy points once again in week ten. Only he and Peyton Manning have eclipsed the 3000 passing yard mark so far. Last weekend, he threw four touchdowns and just shy of the 400 yard mark. It was very encouraging to see Marques Colston have a big game at the wide receiver position. Colston opens up the sides of the field more for Brees. If the running game continues to produce the way it did against the Cowboys, Brees has a chance to knock Peyton out of the top spot. For the first time in a while, the Saints ground game was a dominant force. This effected Brees ability to use the play action pass as a more effective tool. The Saints are firing on all cylinders right now, and it is Drew Brees who is leading the charge.
Peyton Manning has been a huge asset to any fantasy roster each week of this season. Last week, he threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns. This brings his season totals up to 3249 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. He is on pace to break both the single season record for passing yards and touchdown passes. It is a little scary to see him shaken up with a hurt ankle, but the Broncos say this will not affect his status for the week eleven matchup against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have the third best passing defense in the league. The Broncos are going to want to test this early in the game in order to build a quick lead. This is because the Chiefs do not have the offensive capabilities to make a big comeback late in the game. Peyton is going to need to have a huge performance if the Broncos want the top playoff spot in the AFC. Do not doubt that he will rise to the occasion.
Frank Gore is the center of the 49ers’ offense. In the past four weeks, he has totaled 284 yards from scrimmage and scored four touchdowns. Last weekend, Gore did not find the endzone, but he still managed to post 103 total yards. The Niners have been relying on the thirty year old workhorse because of their inability to move the ball through the air. Gore is getting between 20 and 30 carries a game and is not showing any signs of slowing down. If it were not for a slow start to the season, Gore would have been on this list the whole time. As long as the offense cannot pass the football, Gore is going to be one of the best fantasy options at the running back position. The concern, however, is Michael Crabtree has returned to practice. It looks like he might be ready to go back into the lineup as soon as week twelve. Once Crabtree is back, the field will open up more for the 49ers to throw the ball and Gores’ number of carries per game will surely decrease. This week the 49ers are playing the Saints who rank 23rd against the run. Gore will once again see a high number of carries and should be in every body’s starting lineups.
LeSean McCoy was the leading rusher for week ten with 155 yards. He has already gained 1258 yards of total offense this season. It is still a gamble on whether or not he is going to find the endzone, but his yardage totals are saving his fantasy value. It is unlikely the emergence of Nick Foles as a pocket presence is going to help McCoy’s chances of scoring more. Still, McCoy is a consistent fantasy running back who is going to put up a good amount of points each week. He has the most upside of any of the top ten running backs because when he scores it always amounts to a huge fantasy day due to his high yardage totals. McCoy will be a big factor this week against the Washington Redskins in both the running and passing games.
Marshawn Lynch posted another monster game. He ran for 145 yards and a touchdown. He is currently second behind LeSean McCoy in rushing yards with 871. He is also tied with Jamaal Charles for the third most touchdowns by a running back. He has posted two 100 plus yard games in a row, therefore, it could mean a poor performance is in the making as he still lacks consistency. However, it does not appear this will be the case in week eleven against the Vikings defense. Expect Marshawn Lynch to continue his streak of big games this week.
Jamaal Charles has fallen from the top spot for this first time in a while. His stock has been down recently. He no longer posting the huge games he was at the beginning of the season. This can be attributed to the fact that the Chiefs have no passing game. Defenses are squarely focused on stopping Charles. This will undoubtedly be the case once again against the Denver Broncos. Despite his falling value, Jamaal Charles is still extremely valuable and is always a candidate to have a big game. He very easily could take back his title as the best running back at any time.
Unlike Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson’s fantasy stock is shooting up. Nobody has been a better fantasy running back over the past four weeks than the Vikings’ star. Peterson leads the league in touchdowns and is third behind McCoy and Lynch in rushing yards. The Vikings have finally realized they do not have a quarterback with the ability to win games, and instead they must rely on Peterson to be their offensive attack. His value is still on the rise and he should have another good game this weekend against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are a dominant defense, but it is most due to their ability to stop the pass. They are a middle of the road team when it comes to stopping rushing attacks.
Jay Cutler is back in business and this only helps Brandon Marshall’s fantasy value. Last week, with Cutler back, Marshall caught seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. He has totaled 786 receiving yards and caught eight touchdowns this season. He is also fourth in the number of the receptions this season behind Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, and Andre Johnson. With Alshon Jeffery on the opposite side of the field, Marshall is no longer facing as many double and triple coverages as he had been seeing in the past. The door is open for Marshall to have a huge end to the 2013 season. He should have no problem this weekend against a soft Baltimore Ravens’ passing defense.
Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker have trade positions on the list. Last week the four spot was claimed by the Broncos’ slot man, now it has been turned over to Thomas. Thomas was the most valuable wide receiver in week ten with seven receptions for 108 yards and three touchdowns. He is tied with Calvin Johnson at nine touchdowns for the most by a wide receiver. Thomas is primed to have a big game this weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos are going to need a huge performance from all of their skill position players if they are to take down the top team in the NFL.
DeSean Jackson finally has a quarterback to get him the ball. Nick Foles has claimed the Eagles’ starting job for the remainder of the season. He has proven he can throw the long ball very effectively. This is a great thing for Jackson, who is considered one of the best deep threats in the game. Also, Riley Cooper has stepped up big time across the field from Jackson. This is freeing up Jackson to make more plays downfield. If the Eagles offense continues to roll the way it is right now, Cooper might be joining Jackson on this list. Jackson and Cooper are both in for another big day against the Washington Redskins who has had a very disappointing defense so far.
A.J. Green is the best young wide receiver in the game. He leads the league in receiving yards with 1013. He also has caught 65 balls and six touchdowns. Last week he made a very heads up catch in the endzone to send the game into overtime against the Baltimore Ravens. Andy Dalton’s fantasy value is decreasing, but surprisingly his poor play has not had an impact on Green’s stats. Green still sees a very high number of targets per game and is very effective when he catches the ball. He has one of the biggest challenges of any top wide receiver this week against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are playing some very strong defense. Still, there is no reason to take Green out of the starting lineup.
Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson just keeps showing the world he is the best in the business. Last week, he caught six passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns. He is tied with Demaryius Thomas for the most touchdowns by a wide receiver and only trails A.J. Green for the most receiving yards. This is amazing considering his midseason speed bump where he was playing through a lot of pain. This weekend the Lions are in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are ranked fourth against the pass, but they do not have anyone who can match up with Johnson. More than likely, they will put Ike Taylor on Johnson the whole game. Taylor is short and over thirty years old. There is no doubt Johnson will be able to burn him a couple times during the matchup. The Steelers are also going to try to put a safety on him, as well as Taylor, but that has not been a problem for Calvin Johnson so far this season.