The postseason has arrived for most fantasy leagues. If you were good enough (and listened to me in this here column), then you're either prepping for a first-round playoff bout or enjoying a stress-free bye week. If you got unlucky, you're looking at a consolation bracket. Either way, there's probably some money, and at the very least, pride at stake for you this week. As such, here are the five players who could help your team finish the year strong.
1. Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings (Available in 83 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
Dalvin Cook went down with another shoulder injury against the Seahawks. He said after the game he'll be able to play this week, but the Vikings are playing the Lions. They're more concerned about Cook's health for the playoffs and a big late-season divisional matchup with the Packers than Detroit. Thus, it's reasonable to assume Mattison will be receiving the lion's share of the touches, if you'll pardon the pun.
He caught four passes for 51 yards against the Seahawks and averaged 5.5 yards per carry (albeit on only four carries) once Cook went down. The Lions shouldn't be any match for this Vikings team, and Mattison could be in line for a big day simply by virtue of being Cook's backup.
2. James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (Available in 77 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
Washington was a favorite fantasy sleeper pick before this season, and I was among those who crowed about his potential. That hasn't come to fruition, in part because of the Steelers' carousel of QBs, but also because Washington just hasn't been that good. But he did have a big day against Cleveland, putting up 111 yards on four catches with a touchdown to total 21.1 fantasy points.
He appears to have decent chemistry with Devlin Hodges, and the Steelers are fighting for their playoff lives against the Cardinals, who have let up the third-most fantasy points to wideouts in the league this season. You might've been burned by Washington before, but it seems like things we'll be different this week.
3. Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams (Available in 99 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
Higbee has been very quiet as a whole on the year, but exploded agains the Cardinals with seven catches adding up to 107 yards and a touchdown, good for 23.7 fantasy points. The Rams' offense has been inconsistent at best, but they did whatever they wanted against Arizona, which (at the very least) proves they can still put up big numbers.
They're playing the Seahawks this week, which should naturally give you pause when thinking about starting a Rams player. But Seattle has given up the second-most fantasy points to tight ends all year. If there's a weakness, it's there, and you can bet Sean McVay will be trying to exploit it with Higbee to play spoiler to Seattle's excellent season thus far.
4. Patrick Laird, RB, Miami Dolphins (Available in 98 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
If you have no idea who this guy is, you wouldn't be alone. But the former Cal running back (nicknamed "The Intern" by Ryan Fitzpatrick) had a hand in the Dolphins' upset win over the Eagles this week. He somehow only ran for five yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, but he did catch four passes for 43 yards to total 16.8 fantasy points.
The biggest reason to start Laird (or any Dolphin, really) is the fact that they're playing the Jets, who just let up 22 points to a terrible Bengals team. Laird is as big a boom-or-bust fantasy option I've had on this list so far this season, but we can bet he'll be involved in the gameplan against a bad team currently spiraling. A long shot, but worth considering if you're desperate.
5. Rashad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks (Available in 63 Percent of ESPN Leagues)
I had Penny on this list last week, but since he's still available in over half of all ESPN leagues, I'm going to put him here again. He received the majority of Seattle's touches in their Monday night bout against Minnesota, and he put them to good use; Penny totaled 26.7 fantasy points on 15 carries for 74 yards and a TD to go along with four catches for 33 yards and a receiving touchdown.
The Rams have a pretty stingy defensive line, but the Seahawks' O-Line dominated a strong Vikings front not 24 hours ago. Penny is utilized enough in both the run and the pass game to be worth a start as Chris Carson continues to work on his fumble issues.