With one week left in the fantasy regular season you might be sitting pretty as the #1 seed or maybe you’re clawing your way back into the playoff picture with a do or die game or, at the very least, you’re poised to play the role of spoiler because, while you’re out of it, a win this week would ruin Derek’s season. And seriously: fuck you, Derek.

Regardless of your predicament, the season has flashed before our eyes and the playoff push is upon us. 2017 has been really weird and, with the end of the fantasy season in sight, rosters are decimated, some teams are in tank mode and somehow Case Keenum has become a fantasy football savior. Here are some factors that could be vital for your playoff run:

Josh Gordon

The fantasy messiah. The reckoning. The perpetually suspended wideout. Josh Gordon will finally be activated this week against the Chargers. The former fantasy football god is returning to earth just in time for the playoffs. If you forgot, he’s still on the Browns but he’s only 26 and should have a lot left in the tank. If you were sneaky and followed his timeline all season, you added him to your roster for absolutely nothing. Now you get to insert him into your lineup and see his wizardry once again. Is it unfair to think that he’ll accumulate 1,000 yards in the remaining 5 games? He might not but he should because DeShone Kizer should throw him the ball on every down. Gordon’s impact should be enough for the Browns to get at least one win but, more importantly, he could be your secret weapon down the stretch. Have confidence playing him and then declare yourself a genius after you hoist the championship trophy in your fantasy league.

Go with your Gut or Take Risks?

If you’re a mere mortal and don’t have Josh Gordon on your roster, there are a few things you can do. In one corner, you can stay the course and go with what has gotten you to the playoffs in the first place. Whether it’s a solid RB1/RB2 duo or a trio of outstanding wideouts, you can keep chugging along with the roster that’s earned you a playoff spot. In the other corner, you could take some risks. Playing the hot hand over an established starter can be the difference between a playoff win or an end to your season. Taking huge risks with lineup shifts could be lead to success or devastation. Remember, money is now on the line and over-thinking your lineup could backfire. Look at your individual players and analyze the best matchups that they’re encountering. If you’ve got offensive weapons facing the Browns, 49ers or Colts, play them! Conversely, stingier defenses will make you debate whether or not you should start players lined up against them. Wavering on these decisions will lead to a lot of stress and anxiety. Ultimately, you know your team the best. It’ll be up to you to determine whether or not you want to take risks. Field what you think is your best lineup and roll with them.

Keep an Eye During Your Bye

So, you’ve earned a bye week in your league. You’ve got the #1 or #2 seed and all is right with the world. Your team was untouchable during the season and you’re just two wins away from a championship. But, suddenly your star running back goes down with a major injury and you fall into a full-fledged panic mode. What do you do? Well, hopefully your team is solid enough that you’ve got depth on the bench. Manage your roster by looking at who is getting the most carries or the highest number of targets. The player that is getting the most attention in their respective offense should get the start. If your bench is sparse or riddled with injuries, you’ll have to head to the waiver wire and hunt for the best available option. Don’t mope. Don’t sulk. Take the initiative to fill that spot as admirably and quickly as you can. Never forget that fantasy luck – for good and bad – will always play a factor, especially in crunch time; who knows what will happen next week?

Julio Returns

That sounds like a pretty cool movie title, doesn’t it? The fact that it took Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian 12 weeks to realize that Julio Jones is a monster is mind boggling. Prior to his explosive 12 catch, 253 yard performance, Jones only had one touchdown on the season. He nabbed two in that game against the Bucs on Sunday and everyone across the fantasy world is expecting more of the same. The Falcons are sitting as a potential wild card team and in order for them to get back to the playoffs, a heavy dose of Jones will be required. Outside of the Vikings, the Falcons play weaker secondaries over the next four weeks. Perfect timing for your playoff run! Jones could go on a Calvin Johnson-esque run that would parallel the Great Fantasy Run of 2012. If he’s on your team, you’re happy as a clam. If you face him in the playoffs, you might want to book an appointment with your therapist now.

Sleeper Keepers

If you’re on the outside looking in for this fantasy postseason and you’re in a league that uses keepers, now is the time to plan for your future. Looking at all of the players on your roster, decide which one or two players have the brightest outlooks. If you lost a star like Odell Beckham Jr. or David Johnson keeping them for next year is often a no-brainer. However, you may also have a player like Deshaun Watson, Alvin Kamara or Adam Thielen; players that burst onto the scene in 2017. These types of players often provide the best keeper value (depending on your league’s rules) so be sure to consider their potential future performance and build your franchise through the promise they’ve shown this season


Rob Dubay is a contributor at The Read Option.

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