Fantasy Playoffs is About Filling Holes

     Ryan Dowell

Entering Week 14 of the NFL season, nearly every fantasy league, regardless of how screwy its settings are, is either in the playoffs already or getting there next week. Not all owners will make it to hallowed postseason play. Those in contention will have some big decisions to make this weekend...not the least of which resides in New England.

Gronk Alternative

Owners of Rob Gronkowski may not have made the fantasy playoffs. It would be understandable if they came up short. Gronkowski, the clear-cut top TE preseason, ranks just 10th at the position through 13 weeks. Using a first-round pick on a tight end that misses half the year and then gets put on injured reserve is a hard obstacle to overcome. If someone did make it through the regular season, though, they will need a starting tight end for Week 14. 

Looking outside the top 12 at the position to someone who may have found his way to waivers, Cody Fleener is an interesting option. Fleener had a lot of preseason buzz, but has failed to live up to those expectations. However, he still plays on an elite offense, and the man he had been sharing snaps with at tight end, Josh Hill, just broke his fibula. Fleener should see tons of action against Tampa Bay.

Vernon Davis is a quality option as well, assuming Jordan Reed misses another week with his concussion. Even if Reed does play, Davis has shown the ability to make plays down the field still and is not a bad last-ditch option for Gronk owners.

Key Players Returning
Though most of fantasy football is about covering up injury holes, there is the occasional opportunity to add quality players who were forgotten about (most likely because of previous injuries, but still).

Shane Vereen is going to return soon for the New York Giants. Though Week 14 is no guarantee, it also hasn't been ruled out. And when Vereen makes it back to the field, he immediately becomes the Giants' best running back. That isn't saying much, but Vereen is so good in the passing game that he offers great value for fantasy owners even if his carries totals aren't large. He averaged seven points per week before he went down. That could increase against two of the weaker defenses in football these next two weeks.

Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles are in similar situations in Philadelphia. Neither one is guaranteed to play in Week 14, but whoever does see the field could be in store for a heavy workload alongside Wendell Smallwood. Smallwood was given the chance to figuratively run away with the starting RB spot, but he did nothing last week against Cincinnati.

In two-quarterback leagues, there is also the lurking return of Robert Griffin III. Reports indicate RGIII is going to start for Cleveland in Week 14. That fact alone gives him fantasy value; what he does with the opportunity remains to be seen.

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