Key players who could disappoint in the first round of the playoffs

Editor’s note: The players below are NFL stars who have been drafted in virtually every Yahoo Fantasy league. That said, this column is not a recommendation to bench them in week 15. You are in control of your selection; every league size and shape is different. That’s what we’re trying to explain expectations should be lowered this week compared to normal for some of the NFL’s biggest stars. Aside from watching this week’s matchups, this can also serve as a reminder not to overreact if one of your high draft picks disappoints in Week 15.

After posting top-five quarterback numbers in three consecutive weeks, Tagovailoa has not been a top-15 QB in any of his three games since retiring from the team. He has struggled tremendously of accuracy recently and gets a tough matchup to try to bounce back. Miami travels for the third week in a row to play in Buffalo on Saturday night where up to seven inches of snow is possible. The Bills have allowed one touchdown pass with a healthy Tre’Davious White and Jordan Poyer in secondary. Tagovailoa was just the QB25 when these teams met in Miami in Week 3, and Saturday night conditions will be much worse (when he also may not be completely healthy Tirek Hill at its disposal).

The Dolphins have the second-lowest implied team total this week (tied with the Texans!), so Tagovailoa is off to a shaky start to open the fantasy playoffs.

St. Brown has emerged as a legitimate star, but it’s worth noting that this season he’s averaged 7.8 catches and 86.9 yards with six touchdowns at home, compared to 5.6-58.0-0 on the road . Jared Goff has a TD:TO ratio of 20:3 in Detroit versus 2:7 on the road. While the Lions’ offense is improving — and Goff’s YPA drops a modest 0.2 away from home — St. Brown will also face additional issues this week due to the cold weather.

The Jets have awarded the third fewest YPA and fantasy points to wide receivers this season (including closing the slot). And while the sun god saw nine more targets last week, he’s got a lot more competition to go with in appearance Jameson Williams, D’Andre Swift and DJ Chark all healthy together for the first time. Don’t bench St. Brown in fantasy leagues, but keep expectations tempered – and definitely look elsewhere in DFS this week.

Since getting 35 rushing attempts in Week 10, Barkley has 53 carries for 152 yards (2.9 YPC) over four games while playing through injuries. The Giants hope Barkley’s neck problem improves this week, but that and a lopsided score limited him to a season-low share of 32 percent against the Eagles.

Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants is a fantasy star

Many factors countered Saquon Barkley’s fantasy favor in Week 14. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

A rough schedule also contributed to Barkley’s slump, and he’s in for another tough game this week against a Washington defense, giving up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. Only the 49ers were a worse opponent for fantasy backs when the schedule was adjusted. The Giants have the fifth-lowest implied team total this week, so a busted Barkley should be considered more of an RB2 during the first week of the fantasy playoffs.

After allowing 11 rushing scores by RBs in the first seven games, the Lions have since yielded just two over six games (with no back reaching 75 rushing yards in that span). Opposing-adjusted, the Lions have one of the league’s stingiest defenses against fantasy backs since the team saw off in Week 6. No running back has racked up 10 fantasy points (0.5 PPR) against Detroit since Week 7. The Lions have both Saquon Barkley and Dalvin Cook until less than 25 rushing yards on 15 carriers during the past month.

Knight undoubtedly made an impression when he came out of nowhere, but he ceded most of the passing work during Michael Carter‘s return last week and gets a sneaky, tough game on Sunday.

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