As most fantasy football trade deadlines have passed and we’re down to the season’s final stretch, fantasy managers have limited opportunities to add difference-makers to their rosters.
The fantasy playoffs are really the Wild West of the season, as a relatively unknown player or someone who is on 5% of rosters will win a league for someone. We’ve scoured the league to find that player who must be stashed for the playoffs.
There are nine players trending in the right direction with their usage, production, and have favorable matchups over the next month of action in order to be a playoff start option for your roster. Let’s dive in as we make the case for why you should add each.
Players To Stash for the Fantasy Football Playoffs
Does your roster need an extra running back or wide receiver to start or slide into your Flex spot? We have three running backs and five wide receivers worth stashing right now who are available in the majority of leagues. Don’t wait, add these playmakers to your roster before it’s too late.
RB Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals
Projecting who will step into a bigger role due to an injury is difficult, but sometimes it’s worth rolling the dice on a backup who has a track record of success when given the opportunity.
There’s no better RB candidate to break out during the fantasy playoffs than Samaje Perine, even as Joe Mixon returned to practice this week after missing two games with a concussion.
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In the two games Mixon was out, Perine stepped up with 38 carries and 10 receptions for 249 yards and one touchdown. Though Perine isn’t fast, he’s comfortable catching the ball and benefits from Cincinnati’s loaded receiving unit.
Offenses prefer Joe Burrow to take the checkdown instead of throwing to his trio of stud receivers, and we, as fantasy managers, should gladly profit from this.
With 589 total yards and five touchdowns on the season, Perine’s main value comes when he’s the starter. It’s not worth starting him if Mixon is active. But even with tough defenses left on the slate against Tampa Bay, New England, and Buffalo, it’s worth stashing Perine in the event Mixon has to sit for any game.
WR Isaiah McKenzie, Buffalo Bills
Looking for an ascending pass catcher in one of the league’s most pass-happy offenses? Then don’t sleep on Isaiah McKenzie. The slot speedster was a touchdown-dependent presence for the first month of the season before seeing his role dip until the last two weeks.
McKenzie is peaking at the right time. He’s seen 15 targets since Week 12, tying a season-high for a two-game stretch. His breakout against Detroit brought six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Then, he caught all five targets for 44 yards against New England. Easier matchups against the Dolphins, Bears, and Bengals are coming in the fantasy playoffs.
The combination of his speed and upside in the red zone — as well as playing with Josh Allen — makes McKenzie a tempting stash to any roster. He’s not as consistent as some of his peers, but McKenzie’s involvement in the offense with first-year offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey is promising, and we could see a few more touchdowns before the season ends.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns
The only reason why Donovan Peoples-Jones hasn’t landed on every fantasy roster yet has been because of his lack of touchdowns. Despite proving himself as a capable WR2 for the foreseeable future in Cleveland, totaling 637 yards on 45 receptions, DPJ’s reached the end zone just once all year. He’s due for some positive regression now that Deshaun Watson is under center.
As Watson regains his sharpness and playmaking chops over the next month, Peoples-Jones should benefit as much as anyone. Even in a debut where Watson was clearly rusty, he connected with Peoples-Jones three times for 44 yards. The big plays are coming, especially with weakened secondaries in Baltimore, New Orleans, and Washington coming during the fantasy playoffs.
Only 11 receivers have 35 or more catches with a higher yard-per-reception average than Peoples-Jones this season. This is despite him playing with a backup quarterback for 11 games. Look for Cleveland to see an uptick in efficiency and scoring sooner than later, and for DPJ to benefit.
RB James Cook, Buffalo Bills
It took a while for the Bills to give James Cook a bigger workload, but he’s been a consistent presence within the offense in two of the last three weeks.
In Weeks 11 and 13, Cook combined for 25 carries and six receptions for 191 yards. Whether that continues with Devin Singletary serving as the undisputed RB1 — until last week — is the big question surrounding Cook’s fantasy value.
Cook logged one snap less than Singletary last week, earning a career-high 14 carries and six receptions. This came at a peculiar time, considering Singletary has been performing well all year. It was the first game Singletary logged fewer than 54% of snaps, finishing with 44%.
With his Week 14 matchup against the Jets looking more difficult than the Dolphins, Bears, and Bengals afterward, it’s worth stashing Cook to see if he continues to become the alpha RB over the last month of action. If he is, you just stole the RB1 in a powerful offense, and Cook becomes an automatic start at the most crucial part of the season.
WR Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans
Despite suffering a scary concussion on a touchdown reception in Week 13 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Treylon Burks was clearly coming into his own over the last few games. The rookie had a slow start to the season before missing five games with an injury. But in Week 11, Burks exploded for 111 yards on seven receptions and then recorded 95 yards and his first touchdown between Weeks 12 and 13.
We may not see Burks again until Week 15, but he has a couple of favorable matchups when the fantasy playoffs begin. Burks would be a recommended start against both the Chargers and Texans in Weeks 15 and 16 before facing a tough Cowboys unit in Week 17.
It’s absolutely worth squeezing Burks onto your lineup for even two games with the way the Titans are relying on him.
The exciting part for managers is how quickly his role is growing. He logged only 50% of snaps against Green Bay, then 67% against Cincinnati. Though Tennessee will always rotate their heavy personnel in, Burks has been earmarked as their WR1.
If nothing else, he should be a strong consideration as a Flex starter in the coming weeks.
WR Darius Slayton, New York Giants
Most people haven’t noticed since the Giants’ offense has been hard to watch for most of the season, but Darius Slayton has been really good. He’s produced at least 58 yards in six straight weeks and in seven of the nine games he’s played. With 33 receptions for 566 yards and two scores on the season, Slayton’s revived his career.
The speedster is averaging a ridiculous 17.2 yards per catch this season, ranking third amongst receivers with more than 25 receptions. His shocking consistency and efficiency haven’t translated into many scores. That’s where the limitation of playing with quarterback Daniel Jones factors into Slayton’s fantasy upside.
Slayton has only three red-zone targets all year, making him more of a threat to produce around eight fantasy points per game than ever exploding in a certain matchup. However, there’s value to that type of consistency, and your roster may need that. Especially considering Slayton’s upcoming matchups against Washington, Minnesota, and Indianapolis during the fantasy playoffs couldn’t be more advantageous.
It might shock your opponent, but Slayton is a great starting Flex option when it matters most.
WR DJ Chark, Detroit Lions
Sitting as the WR60 in our rest-of-season fantasy football rankings, DJ Chark is a familiar name, but one that hasn’t been fantasy-relevant in some time. An ankle injury disrupted the start of Chark’s Lions career, causing him to miss six games. Yet, he broke out in Week 13, catching five passes for 98 yards.
With 14 receptions for 212 yards and two touchdowns, Chark has been solid for quarterback Jared Goff when he’s active. The two have chemistry on intermediate and deeper throws. Chark’s underrated route running and speed make him a tough threat for cornerbacks to guard 1-on-1.
Even with the Lions having Amon-Ra St. Brown and adding Jameson Williams to their receiving rotation, Chark could be a major contributor to the team and fantasy managers. He’s slated to face extremely vulnerable defenses in Weeks 16 and 17, with Carolina and Chicago on tap.
It’s possible Chark makes enough splash plays in those two games to win someone their championship matchup.
RB Jordan Mason, San Francisco 49ers
Can we possibly strike gold with a Kyle Shanahan running back? Especially one with only 18 carries and 97 yards on the season? Rostering Jordan Mason could end up being the most rewarding flier of the entire season.
We all know Christian McCaffrey has a deep injury history that seems to be updated on a weekly basis. The 49ers are set to rely on him in a dangerous way with Brock Purdy now under center in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo. It wouldn’t be shocking for McCaffrey to break down with more touches going his way.
If McCaffrey is put into a platoon or suffers an injury, Mason is the logical benefactor. At worst, he’ll sit on your bench and go unused, but he could also become the starter in one of the league’s most productive backfields that faces Seattle in Week 15 and Las Vegas in Week 17.