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Three season-saving fantasy football moves to make

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For most of the fantasy football world, the playoffs are starting in Week 14. If your league got the party going earlier, good on you. But with the stakes raised and every move carrying much more weight, I thought it'd be wise to offer up a few potentially season-saving moves to make before the playoffs kick off. Some of these are pretty simple, while others require a little more foresight and bench maneuvering. Either way, these are the type of strategic plays to make to help position yourself to take home that fantasy championship.

Add Giovani Bernard and stash other handcuff running backs.

We've been writing for weeks about the importance of handcuffing top running backs this time of year, and Monday Night Football showed why. Joe Mixon suffered a concussion, paving the way for Giovani Bernard to step into a featured role -- one he might hold onto next week as well. With only three weeks of meaningful fantasy football left, use your bench spots on players like Chris Ivory, James Conner, Javorius Allen, Austin Ekeler, and so on. Odds are most of them won't be forced into duty, but if they are, you'll be set up to reap the rewards.

Pick up the Packers and Redskins defenses.

Playing the matchups and streaming defenses is often a better strategy than locking one defense into your starting lineup. Looking ahead to the next three weeks, a combination of these two defenses could prove bountiful in fantasy. The Packers notched seven sacks last week thanks to the return of Clay Matthews and Kenny Clark and now get to face the Browns, who have been one of the most generous offenses for fantasy defensive scoring all year (12.67 fppg allowed). Washington has to face the Chargers this week, but after that, they take on the Blaine Gabbert-led Cardinals and free-falling Denver Broncos in Weeks 15 and 16. Unless you have an elite fantasy defense (Jaguars, Ravens, etc.), these two squads offer great upside all throughout the fantasy playoffs and are available in the vast majority of leagues.

Add Blake Bortles and/or Aaron Rodgers.

I know, I know. He's Blake Bortles. Spare me your @s, please. There's a strategic element to adding Bortles if you're gearing up for the fantasy playoffs. He has a great postseason fantasy schedule in Weeks 15 and 16, facing the Texans and 49ers, respectively. He gets the Seahawks at home this week, which isn't ideal, but also not terrible given their stout run defense and injuries in the secondary. But with that favorable schedule to close out the season, Bortles will have QB1 upside, especially with teams selling out to stop Leonard Fournette so much. Believe it or not, he's scored 16-plus fantasy points four times and 20-plus points twice in the five games since his Week 8 bye. As for Aaron Rodgers, while we still don't know if he's actually coming back (or how he'll perform if/when he does), removing him from the waiver-wire pool now could save you a lot of stress down the line. With both of these moves, you're thinning out the already depleted quarterback pool, which could force your opponent to start someone with an undesirable matchup. This isn't cheating or cheap either -- it's gamesmanship. When it comes to winning in fantasy, you better be making every move you can. Because odds are, your opponent is as well.

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar or "Like" his page on Facebook for more NFL and fantasy analysis.

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