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PURE FANTASY: New faces key to fantasy playoff success

We’re down to the nitty gritty, crunch time, the end of the line in fantasy football. I’m talking playoffs for those of you in standard ESPN leagues who are about to start on the first of your two-week postseason matchups.

Congratulations to all of you that are still in the hunt for your league championship. You’ve obviously managed well enough to get you there. Well done.

But as we all know, stuff happens to all those who got you there — need I bring up the name of Kareem Hunt? — so here are some players who should still be available in your leagues. They may be able help you get through that round and on to the next.
 
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

If you’re not set at quarterback by now, good luck. But if, for example, you’ve been relying on injured Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky or underperformers like the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, Jackson might not be a bad choice for a last-second pickup. He’s more runner than passer, and the Ravens offense hasn’t been any great shakes all season anyway, but he’ll give you decent mid-range numbers if it’s a good matchup and low-end numbers if it isn’t.

Oh, and if you’re impressed by the 22-point showing by San Francisco’s Nick Mullens last week against Seattle and are considering him for the same role as Jackson, keep in mind that while he’ll face Denver in Week 14 and the Seahawks again in Week 15, the 49ers will meet the Bears and the Rams defenses in the last two weeks of the season. Pick him up at your own risk.

Jaylen Samuels, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

This is the replacement for the replacement for the all-pro. James Connor has been one of the greatest fantasy finds, based on the way he stepped in for the Steelers’ top-four fantasy pick Le’Veon Bell, the holdout. Now Connor is hurt, definitely for this week and possibly longer, and will be replaced by the seldom-used Samuels a season-best week of just 8.9 fantasy points) and ex-Patriot Stevan Ridley.

My guess is that Samuels will do the bulk of that work and will reap the bulk of the fantasy points.
 
Charcandrick West, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

If Spencer Ware is available in your league, get him as he’ll likely pick up a majority of the points previously devoted to the now-released Kareen Hunt. If you’ve missed out on Ware, think about West, who with Ware a few years ago shared the backup role to Chiefs then-starter Jamaal Charles.

If for any reason Ware is not up to the new job, it will probably go to West, just re-signed for that very purpose.
 
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

The first-round rookie has had a few good fantasy moments this season, enough to convince management to earlier this season deal Demaryius Thomas to the Texans and make him their No. 2 wideout. Now, he’s No. 1 after No. 1 end Emmanuel Sanders suffered a serious leg injury — possibly a season-ending torn Achilles — at Wednesday’s practice.

It’s a pretty good bet that Sutton will pick up the larger portion of the targets that made Sanders a top-15 WR through the first 13 weeks.
 
Adam Humphries, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Humphries, a slot receiver, has taken advantage of the thumb injury to wideout DeSean Jackson to net many of his targets, and he’s producing with them to the tune of double-digit points in four of the last five weeks, with five TDs in that span. It seems he has a good connection with Jameis Winston in the Bucs’ pass-happy attack.

And as with Mullens, those picking up WR Dante Pettis should be wary of the same tough schedule the last four weeks of the year.

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