Just three weeks remain in the regular season for most fantasy football leagues, and winning games has never been more crucial for fantasy playoff hopes.
Making the right lineup choices now make the difference between making the playoffs and a shot at a big payday or missing out on the postseason and watching the team you devoted yourself to for 14 weeks go down the drain.
This column typically begins with waiver-wire advice, but this week, I have to begin with a trade I think must be made. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is the No. 1 player in all of fantasy football this year. If you own him, chances are you are one of the top teams in your league. But, if you want to win a fantasy title, it might be the right time to move the Sheriff.
Manning is putting up ridiculous numbers while averaging around 27 points per game in most formats. By now, you must be thinking, "What moron would trade away a guy who scores that many points?"
But Manning is nursing a banged up ankle that forced him to have an MRI on Monday after a soft hit around his legs late against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Manning was already hobbled by the leg. With a match up this week against a Kansas City Chiefs defense that has sacked the quarterback more than any other team in the league, Manning's ankle is sure to see a few more blows.
Though Manning isn't getting sacked at an alarming rate, he is getting consistent pressure and is taking more hits than he has in a long time. As the weather grows colder, Manning's production also historically goes down. Obviously, you don't trade Manning unless you can get top-dollar value for him, but if you can land a top-ranked wide receiver and another top-five quarterback in a deal for Manning, now is the time to move him. Use Manning's numbers to this point to land you two valuable players and increase your depth. Someone in your league is desperate to add Manning, trust me. I moved Manning for A.J. Green and Tony Romo last week, and I don't think I will regret it too much come fantasy playoff time. And that is coming from a diehard Broncos fan.
Only Dallas and St. Louis are on byes this week, meaning less action on the waiver-wire this week. However, a few players are sure to go in leagues this week.
Minnesota tight end John Carlson is an appealing addition for those in need of a tight end. With Kyle Rudolph sidelined last week, Carlson hauled in seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. It didn't matter who was throwing passes, Carlson got open and made the most of his opportunities as he caught every pass he was targeted on. Rudolph is expected to miss another couple of weeks, and Carlson should continue to see his share of passes.
Miami's Rishard Matthews will get taken in a lot of leagues this week after his big Monday night against Tampa Bay. Matthews had two touchdowns to go along with 11 receptions and 120 yards. It was just the second game Matthews has filled in for the injured Brandon Gibson in the slot for Miami, and it is unlikely he will match Monday night's numbers again this season. Before Monday night, Matthews had just 10 receptions and 117 yards. If you are in a deep league and have a player you don't mind dropping, go ahead and give Matthews a look. If you are in a league that isn't as deep, don't make room for him quite yet.
Tampa Bay has now lost two starting running backs this season. After Mike James went down with a broken ankle against Miami on Monday, Brian Leonard got the bulk of the carries with 20. Leonard only gained 57 yards on those 20 carries, and Bobby Rainey scored the Buccaneers' only rushing touchdown. I wouldn't jump at either running back yet, but Leonard is the guy to take if you desperately need to add someone to fill in for James. Leonard will see more snaps and likely get more touches.
Looking for a defense this week? Look toward the New York Jets at Buffalo. The Jets scored eight points against Buffalo in Week 3. Also consider the Houston Texans defense against Oakland.
This week's survivor pool pick is the Cincinnati Bengals at home against the Cleveland Browns. Cincinnati needs a good bounce-back win after two dismal performances in a row.
That is all for this week. Feel free to keep sending your lineup questions to my email or Twitter. I have enjoyed answering your questions this season.