Back in July, I came across a magazine segment detailing the best fantasy playoff matchups for each player.
Jamaal Charles has a favorable matchup against Cleveland in Week 14, it said, so you might want to draft him. Oh, and beware picking the Giants because Eli and company have to travel to Baltimore Week 16 and face that scary Ravens D.
I hope they pay the folks who make that magazine a lot of money because I could do that. I mean, I could be dead wrong and get paid handsomely. ... Or get paid ugly. As long as it's a lot.
Newsflash: The Browns defense has been remarkably solid, and the Ravens are not what they used to be.
Each season unfolds in its own unique way, and trying to forecast who'll be good, bad or indifferent in July is about as useful as decaffeinated beer or non-alcoholic coffee.
So, knowing now what others thought they knew then … (Did that make sense?) … Here's who you can trust for you playoff run – weeks 14 through 16 – and some guys who you should be very skittish about playing.
Your Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Not just one guy, ALL of them. Josh Freeman, Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, heck, even Mike Williams could pop 100 yards and a TD for you. The Bucs play the mailing-it-in Eagles Week 14, and the shootout-inducing Saints Week 15. There will be stats.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: His four TDs last Monday mean one of two things – A: He's back. Or … B: the Eagles are just that bad. The answer is probably C: Both. What will help is his opponents weeks 14 through 16 are ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in pass defense.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants: The stars are aligning for Bradshaw to carry your team. His main competition for goal line carries just went on the IR, and the Giants face teams ranked 22nd or worse in run defense over the next three weeks. If he stays healthy, he should be the top back come playoff time.
Texans defense: The second-ranked fantasy defense for much of the year has been playing like the NCAA's Houston Cougars recently. The answer is simple: Injuries. When your best LB and your best cornerback are out, you're forced to explore regions of your depth chart you never intended. And looming in weeks 14 and 15? The Pats and Colts. Yikes!
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers: Obviously if the Steelers are relying on a Mid-American Conference alum named Leftwich or Batch, then the offense is useless. But even when that ex-MAC QB is named Roethlisberger, don't expect Wallace to be elite. The Cowboys and Bengals have two of the best pass defenses in the NFL, and who do the Steelers have dates with in weeks 15 and 16?
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: Yeah, I'm putting stud RB and next year's possible No. 1 overall draft pick on the do not trust list. And while I may be crazy, there's a reason why. Peterson faces the second-, eighth- and 14th-ranked run defenses during playoff time. He's good enough to burn those guys, but can he do it to all three? Chances are he has his worst week in that stretch.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: Spiller's a yardage beast who would be a top-five fantasy back with a few more TDs. Against the Jaguars, with the cold Lake Erie winds annoying the southerners, Spiller gets those TDs.
Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins: Playing the Patriots means two things: they score a lot and you need to throw a lot to keep up. Bess usually leads the Dolphins in receptions, so this is shaping up to be a good game for him.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals: Arizona isn't a good running team, but the Jets aren't good at stopping the run. And since the Cardinals can't throw either, their game plan will be simple. Run Beanie and hope for turnovers.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: Ask Eli Manning and Carson Palmer how good the Bengals pass defense has been lately.
Doug Martin, RB, Bucs: Temper your expectations just for this week. The game's in Mile-High and Broncos defense is tough.
Seattle defense: Normally one of the NFL's best, this unit doesn't play as well on the road, and at last check Chicago qualifies as the road.
Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald has been a major disappointment this year. Bad QB play has sapped the life out of his season. But hey, those crazy Cardinals keep trying to get him the ball. Too bad they don't have anyone who can actually do it.
Fitzgerald is sixth in the NFL in targets with 113, but 18th in receptions with 55. That's a 48 percent success rate.