Fantasy football is a game of week-to-week survival. But as the calendar inches towards December, each transaction you make should keep one eye on the question: will this player start for me in the playoffs? Below are a few players you should be able to pick up or acquire at Black Friday prices who can help you now but also help your team come playoff time.
Deshaun Watson (QB – CLE)
To be honest, you should have picked Watson up a few weeks ago, but to the extent he is still available (48% rostered in Yahoo leagues), go pick him up before you finish reading this article. The last time Watson saw the field in 2020, he was wrapping up a top-5 fantasy finish with over 4,800 yards and 33 passing TDs, to go along with 444 rushing yards and three rushing TDs. Watson is eligible to return in Week 13 and is expected to start right away. For those of you without a set-it and forget-it QB1 — I’m looking at you, Brady, Smith, Cousins and Rodgers managers — Watson could prove to be the high-end starter you’re looking for. And, as icing on the cake, Watson has a very QB-favorable fantasy playoff schedule, home to the Saints and at the Commanders in Weeks 16 and 17.
Honorable Mention: In deeper leagues, don’t be afraid to pick up Jimmy Garoppolo (63% rostered in Yahoo leagues) or trade for him on the cheap. With multiple TDs in five of his last six games, Jimmy G is finding his stride at the right time. And it doesn’t hurt that his list of weapons reads like a Pro Bowl roster. He also has prime QB-friendly playoff matchups with the Commanders in week 16 and the Raiders in week 17.
Alvin Kamara (RB – NO)
With only one top-18 finish since Week 7, Kamara’s explosive Week 8 performance may seem like a distant memory to the Kamara owner in your league. If that’s the case, see if you can pick up Kamara at a black Friday discount. Kamara is still seeing a 70%+ snap count since Week 7 with no signs of letting up in a Saints offense desperate for playmakers. If the Kamara owner in your league is on the playoff bubble, a Week 12-14 stretch of at 49ers, at Buccaneers, and bye may be enough for them to trade you Kamara for a short-term gain. But if you can weather that storm, you’ll be handsomely rewarded with positive RB matchups in Weeks 15-17.
Amari Cooper (WR – CLE)
The buying window may have closed after an explosive Week 11 showing, but any manager who wants to try to “sell high” off that performance would be wise to hold instead. Already seeing over eight targets per game in Cleveland’s run-heavy offense, Cooper’s ceiling can reach new heights once Deshaun Watson takes over at QB. Cooper has 20 more targets than any of his teammates through Week 11 and has an opportunity to finish the season strong with advantageous matchups against the Ravens, Saints, and Commanders in Weeks 15-17.
Honorable Mention: As much as I hate to invest in bad offenses, if the Jets make a change at QB, Garrett Wilson is in line to receive a nice production boost. During Weeks 1-3 with Flacco at the helm, Wilson saw elite volume with 33 targets and converted those opportunities into over 200 yards and two TDs. Couple that volume and skill with six straight weeks without a negative WR matchup to close the fantasy season, and Wilson has the potential to put you over the top in the playoffs.
Don’t Forget Your Defense
As silly as fantasy defenses are, most leagues still include defense in the starting lineup. With this in mind, don’t forget to look ahead to see which available defenses have the best playoff matchups. Now is not the time to carry a seventh RB who would never start for you come playoff time. Instead, consider lining up an extra defense you like for the stretch run. For example, consider a Chiefs/Titans stack for Texans, Texans, and Broncos matchups in Weeks 15-17.