The fantasy playoffs begin this week for most leagues and injuries to key fantasy players are beginning to pile up. Key names like Matt Forte, Andre Johnson, and Kevin Smith were among those going down with injuries this week and they couldn't have come at a worse time for their fantasy owners. The injuries could make names like Marion Barber key factors in fantasy playoff runs so be sure to continue to hawk the waiver wire as having capable replacements for your injured stars is more important now than ever.
GOOD MATCH UPS
Marshawn Lynch vs. Rams defense: Lynch has been in beast mode since a bad Week 8 outing against the Bengals and had his best game of the season last week against the Eagles when he ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams NFL-worst run defense should supply Lynch with an appetizing feast of open running lanes for him to choose from this week, making Lynch a must start.
Ryan Grant vs. Raiders defense: This is a bit of a riskier play but hear me out. James Starks aggravated a nagging ankle injury last week against the Giants and it appears that there's a good chance he will miss this week's game against the Raiders. In his absence, Grant would be expected to carry the majority of the workload in the running game, sharing some carries with Brandon Saine. The aforementioned Raiders are the not-so-proud owners of one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, allowing
NOT SO GOOD MATCH UPS
Beanie Wells vs. 49ers defense: One week after turning in a career-best performance against the Rams, Beanie came up mediocre against the Cowboys this past week. The downtrend in fantasy production is likely to continue this week as Beanie faces the best-run defense in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers. In his Week 11 match up against the Niners, Beanie managed just 33 rushing yards on eight carries and you shouldn't expect too much more than that this week.
Percy Harvin vs. Lions defense: Harvin had a monster game last week against the Broncos, nabbing 8 passes for 156 yards receiving, two touchdowns and another 19 rushing yards. He's not likely to repeat those numbers this week however as the Vikings travel to Detroit to take on the Lions who, despite their recent struggles, still have one of the better pass defenses in the league (when they're not facing Drew Brees, anyway). When Harvin faced Detroit at home in Week 3, he produced just 47 receiving yards and no touchdowns.
WAIVER WIRE WATCH
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers: Crabtree has stepped his game up over the past three games and should be on everyone's radar as a number two or three wide out. He gets a good match up this week against an Arizona Cardinals defense that he torched in Week 11 for 120 yards on seven catches. If you need a WR for the first round of your playoffs, Crabtree should be your top target.
Kyle Mulligan is a contributing sports writer for the Observer. He welcomes your feedback and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.