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Fantasy Football Fix: The fantasy playoffs

LISTEN: The Fantasy Football Fix - Week 14

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six touchdowns in Week 13. That wasn’t just some weird, Ryan Fitzpatrick-induced dream — it actually happened. If you somehow knew to start him, more power to you and you probably don’t need our advice. In fact, you may want to consider opening one of those psychic reading places where you look at people’s palms and tell them what the future holds for the Houston Texans’ offense. They have those, right? On the other hand, if you faced someone who was starting Fitzpatrick, well, therapy is always an option.

Week 14 is here and, put quite simply, this is your season. In many fantasy leagues, the playoffs start now. In others, they begin in Week 15 — but you’re still in virtual must-win territory just to get there.

To that end, this is the time to get back to basics and follow the one key rule to fantasy success: don’t overthink it. Sure, Fitzpatrick just went off. And sure, he faces the Jaguars on Sunday. Don’t get cute and use him over your No. 1 QB. If Tom Brady got you here, that’s who you’re starting with everything on the line. Look, you can do all the research and work all the angles to get every little advantage over your friends but, at the end of the day, you can only control so much in fantasy football. When all is said and done, you want your most reliable guys in there. If your season ends, at least it won’t happen with Julio Jones going off on your bench while you desperately try to squeeze points out of Jarvis Landry. And it’s more likely you’ll win this way anyway.

That’s not to say you won’t need to make some difficult decisions as well, though. Injuries happen, guys get benched and there are certainly some tough calls to make the further you go down the depth chart. As always, the quickest path to fantasy success is to find the strong players that are facing weak opposition in those spots and cash in. With that in mind, here are the Money Matchups for Week 14…

QB: Drew Brees, NO (v CAR). This is the very definition of keeping it simple. The Saints have struggled this season and, at times, so has Brees. In fact, it probably feels like you haven’t gotten the return you expected if you invested a first or second round pick on him. But he’s actually No. 4 among all QBs in scoring now, and he faces a terrible Panthers defense this week in a game New Orleans has to have (kind of). Plus, this one will be played in the Superdome, which makes, like, 19 home games for the Saints this season. I know plenty of people who have gotten fancy and started guys like Tony Romo, Ryan Tannehill and even Colin Kaepernick over Brees at different points this season. Don’t. Just don’t. It’s the playoffs. If Brees melts down on you, it wasn’t meant to be.

Sleeper: Russell Wilson, SEA (@ PHI). The Seahawks are looking more and more like the dangerous group they were a year ago, and now they get an extended rest before facing the Eagles. This has all the makings of a potential playoff preview, and Wilson usually excels in high-pressure situations. On top of that, Philadelphia is very generous to opposing quarterbacks, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to them this season. Put another way, the Eagles score points, give up points and cram a lot of plays into 60 minutes. And Wilson gets his points even in the low-scoring contests, thanks to his 679 rushing yards.

RB: Arian Foster, HOU (@ JAX). If it seems like Foster has been on this list a lot this season, it’s because he has. Why? Because the Texans never seem to play anyone that can stop the run. And the Jaguars — who they will somehow face yet again later this season — certainly fit that mold. They allow 129.4 yards on the ground per game, have already ceded 11 rushing touchdowns and have proven beyond a reasonable doubt in the past that they simply cannot stop Foster. The one caveat here? Double check that Foster is actually suiting up on game day. He doesn’t appear to be hurt, but he has burned fantasy owners before by sitting out at the last second. When he plays, he’s a monster. And Jacksonville has issues with monsters.

Sleeper: Eddie Lacy, GB (v ATL). Remember Lacy? He was a top-five pick in most fantasy drafts, then proceeded to drive his owners crazy for the first six weeks of the season? Well, he’s quietly gotten back on track, scoring double-digit fantasy points every week since then. And now he faces a Falcons defense that has little-to-no interest in stopping the run. Just know the situation going in: Green Bay has a guy named Aaron Rodgers at QB. When they get in the red zone, they like to pass. That doesn’t mean Lacy can’t pile up enough yards to be useful, make some noise as a receiver and/or get into the end zone, too. The Packers score about 300 points per game. There’s enough to go around.

WR/TE: Odell Beckham Jr, NYG (@ TEN). Well let’s see here: the Titans just let Ryan Fitzpatrick toss six TDs on them. And Beckham — by far the Giants’ top receiver at this point — catches everything. Moving on…

Sleeper: Mike Wallace, MIA (v BAL). This one could get risky. Wallace has seven TDs, but he doesn’t have a 100-yard game yet this year. The Ravens have a decent defense overall, but they actually allow more fantasy points to opposing receivers than anyone. The Dolphins may need to get their offense through the air this week, and that could mean good things for Wallace.

D/ST: Houston Texans (@ JAX). This could easily have been Detroit (v TB). Or San Francisco (@ OAK). Honestly, there are a number of top tier defenses with really nice matchups this week, but we always pick on the Raiders and the Buccaneers have been playing (marginally) better lately. So let’s take another shot at Jacksonville this week. The Texans have J.J. Watt, get a decent amount of sacks (25) and lead the NFL in takeaways. Meanwhile, the Jaguars allow their QB to be sacked at an alarmingly high rate (50 already — by far the worst in the NFL).

Sleeper: St. Louis Rams (@ WAS). The Rams defense was a trendy late-round sleeper pick in a lot of drafts before the season started. But then Chris Long got hurt, the schedule got tough and the numbers just weren’t there. Long is back now, and St. Louis has quietly been one of the more reliable D units over the last few weeks. On the other side of the field, Washington hasn’t really shown up to a football game since they knocked off the Cowboys and eliminated everyone from their survivor pools six weeks ago. That was their contribution to this NFL season.

The Fantasy Football Fix podcast is available on ArizonaSports.com every week during the NFL season, with Luke Lapinski, Jordan Byrd and Paige Dimakos giving you all the insight you need to rise to the top of your league. You can interact with the show by finding us on Twitter (@FantasyFballFix) or on Facebook.