Time is ticking down toward the fantasy football playoffs.
The playoffs are no more than two weeks away in the majority of fantasy formats. An even bigger deadline looms this week as the fantasy trade deadline will pass later this week.
By now, pickings are slim on the waiver-wire, especially in deep leagues. Making a trade is likely the best way for teams to make significant improvements before the playoffs begin.
A week ago, I suggested trading the No. 1-ranked player in all of fantasy football, Peyton Manning. Evidence of his late-season fantasy decline was proven on Sunday night when he had just one touchdown pass against Kansas City to go along with 323 yards. After losing a fumble, Manning accumulated less than 15 points for just the second time all season.
This week, I recommend trying to trade away players such as Ray Rice, Antonio Gates or Frank Gore. Chances are, there is somebody on your team that hasn't live up to your expectations. Don't hang on to players who haven't performed just because they have big names. Of course, you never want to let players like Gates, Gore or Rice go for nothing. Make sure you are at least getting fair value.
Start looking ahead to your fantasy playoff schedule. If you see a starter on your team with bad matchups in Weeks 14 through 16, try to dump them for something more favorable. Oakland's Rashad Jennings has been huge the last three weeks in place of the injured Darren McFadden. Try to use his recent success as leverage to move him before McFadden returns and the Raiders face tough run defenses such as the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs in Weeks 14 and 15.
Don't get discouraged if one deal falls through. There is always a trade to be made in any league. Also, don't be the guy who is too afraid to make a deal. If you need something more to get you to the fantasy championship, try adding new pieces to your puzzle.
If you have to look to the waiver-wire this week, the hottest addition will be Tampa Bay running back Bobby Rainey, who exploded for 163 yards and two touchdowns against Atlanta last Sunday. I wouldn't expect Rainey to come close to those numbers again this year, but he should continue to be a factor in the depleted Tampa Bay backfield.
Donald Brown is likely a more consistent play than Rainey and should be added ahead of the Bucs' running back. Brown has outplayed Trent Richardson since Richardson's arrival in Indianapolis. More than just a touchdown vulture inside the 10-yard line, Brown carried the ball for 80 yards on just 14 carries last Thursday night against Tennessee. By adding two touchdowns to that total, Brown put together a double-digit fantasy game for the second consecutive week. Brown should continue to be more involved in the Colts offense each week, and don't be surprised if he continues to perform and eventually passes Richardson on his way to earning the starting job.
Players such as Delanie Walker, Jerricho Cotchery, John Carlson, Percy Harvin, Garrett Graham and Kenny Stills have all been mentioned in this column in recent weeks. They are all still safe additions to most fantasy teams.
A sneaky pick-up this week would be San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who hasn't played a snap all season while sitting on the physically unable to perform list with an Achilles injury. It is uncertain if Crabtree will play this Monday at Washington, but he should be good to go Week 13 against the St. Louis Rams. San Francisco is desperate for a wide receiver opposite Anquan Boldin to open up the field, and Crabtree will be that guy once he returns. Add him now and stash him away from a playoff run.
If you need a defense this week, consider adding the New Orleans Saints for their game with the Atlanta Falcons, who have given up double-digit fantasy points to opposing defenses three out of the last four weeks. The one exception was a nine-point game against Seattle. Adding Tennessee before their game against Oakland is also a decent option.
Remember, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Seattle are all on byes this week, so be sure to fill the holes in your lineup as necessary.
This week's survivor pool pick is the Detroit Lions at home against Tampa Bay.
Feel free to continue to send in your lineup questions to my email and Twitter. The best place to reach me on Sundays is Twitter.John Livingston covers sports for The Daily Times and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.