The playoffs are here! Well, for most of us, at least. Some of you out there might be finishing your regular seasons this week, which is almost like being in the playoffs. Either way, the quest for a fantasy championship begins in earnest. Time to send out this week's S.O.S.!
1. New York Jets (at JAC, at TEN, vs. SD)
Somehow one of the NFL's most dysfunctional offensive teams has been blessed with the league's best fantasy schedule down the stretch. If you want to deal with any of this group's skill players, good luck with that. Rex Ryan wasn't even sure on Sunday evening who his starting quarterback was going to be in Week 14. This, in a word, is a waste.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (at CLE, at OAK, vs. IND)
It's very encouraging that the Chiefs have been giving Jamaal Charles a heavy workload in recent weeks. It isn't great that Charles has just one touchdown in the past eight games, but if he continues to see 20-plus carries every week, it seems like a near certainty that he'll find the painted area again soon.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. PHI, at NO, vs. STL)
Josh Freeman and Doug Martin have teamed up to be one of the most consistent QB-RB combinations in the second half of the season. It's a trend that should continue over the final weeks of the season. That's good news for Vincent Jackson owners as well -- though a fantasy Super Bowl matchup against the Rams is reason for some concern.
4. Indianapolis Colts (vs. TEN, at HOU, at KC)
Andrew Luck is in full command of the Colts offense, but there are two points of concern about the rookie in the final three weeks. First is the matchup against the Houston Texans -- although Houston's recent defensive struggles lessen that worry somewhat. The second is that those final two games are on the road, where Luck has struggled this year. The upside is that the final game is against a defense that has had its issues this season.
5. Denver Broncos (at OAK, at BAL, vs. CLE)
The Broncos have been one of the league's hottest teams for the past couple of months. They're also in a heated battle for the AFC's second first-round bye. Add that to a favorable schedule and it's a match made in fantasy heaven. Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas and crew could be poised to help more than a few owners claim championships this season.
1. Minnesota Vikings (vs. CHI, at SLT, at HOU)
It's no secret that Adrian Peterson is amazing. It's the rest of the Vikings' skill guys that are at issue here. Percy Harvin is banged up and Christian Ponder is regressing. There may be some hope for Kyle Rudolph, but his inconsistency is likely to cause fantasy owners some indigestion.
2. Arizona Cardinals (at SEA, vs. DET, vs. CHI)
The situation in Arizona is similar to the situation with the Jets (need I remind you what happened in Week 13 between those two teams?). The only difference is that the Cardinals have a much tougher schedule to negotiate down the stretch. Larry Fitzgerald had wasted away on many a fantasy roster this season.
3. New England Patriots (vs. HOU, vs. SF, at JAC)
Tom Brady and Wes Welker are going to do what they do -- regardless of who lines up on the other side. At this point, it's hard to doubt Stevan Ridley as well. There aren't many fantasy options you can trust against a defensive schedule this strong, but the Patriots are one of them.
4. Seattle Seahawks (vs. ARI, at BUF, vs. SF)
Strangely, the Seahawks are staking their claim as another offensive group not to be overlooked. In the past several weeks, the 'Hawks have found ways to score points against the Bears, Dolphins, Jets and Vikings. Plus, one of Seattle's remaining three games is against the Bills. Russell Wilson and company could warrant some postseason flex plays.
5. San Francisco 49ers (vs. MIA, at NE, at SEA)
When you're going through quarterback controversy, the last thing you want is to face a daunting schedule. If there's any hope, it's that the Niners are a run-first team -- which gives him value against the Patriots. Beyond that, things could be rough, fantasy-wise, by San Francisco Bay.