Here is a breakdown of a handful of unlikely heroes whose stock is rising in the thick of the fantasy playoffs, including K.J. Osborn, Zack Moss and Royce Freeman. However, are they worth starting going forward?
K.J. Osborn - WR, Vikings
Osborn played by far the best game of his career as the Vikings pulled off the largest comeback in NFL history against the Colts. He set career-highs in receptions (10) and yards (157) for a single game. His previous best was 91 yards, so he certainly picked the best time to have his best day. The 16 targets he saw in Week 15 obviously won't be the norm as we don't expect Kirk Cousins to throw 54 times every game, but we do expect Cousins to trust Osborn more down the stretch. Osborn has now scored in two straight games and the Vikings face the Giants, Packers and Bears as they fight for seeding in the NFC playoff race. Osborn is set to be a fantasy football playoff hero this season.
Zack Moss - RB, Colts
Coming into Week 15, Moss was merely a cast off from a crowded Bills' backfield brought over to the Colts to serve as Jonathan Taylor's backup. Heading into Week 16, in the thick of the fantasy playoffs, he's all of a sudden in a spot of relevancy. Moss entered the game and rushed 24 times for 81 yards after Taylor left with an ankle injury. It was first reported that Taylor's injury is “nothing major”, but he suffered a high ankle sprain and with the Colts now sitting at 4-9-1 it's likely he's done for the season. Moss has a favorable remaining schedule that includes the Chargers, Giants and Texans. Deon Jackson, who went 13/55/0 and caught a touchdown pass in Week 15, is also worth an add to lesser extent.
Royce Freeman - RB, Texans
Not Rex Burkhead, not Dare Ogunbowale, but Royce Freeman led the Texans backfield in Week 15! After being brought up fresh from the practice squad, Freeman carried the ball 11 times for 51 yards against the Chiefs. While his stock is on the rise, you'd have to be bottom of the barrel-desperate to start him or any Texans running back going forward. Despite out-producing his back mates, Ogunbowale still played 47% of snaps to Freeman's 38%, Burkhead checked in at 16%. In Week 16, the Texans will face the Titans who represent one of the elite run defenses in the NFL, it's a scary matchup, but like I said, you may not have a choice but to roll with a guy like Freeman.
Rachaad White - RB, Buccaneers
You may need to fade White for the rest of the fantasy playoffs. It's just become too risky to start him at this point. Outside of scoring a touchdown, there isn't much hope for solid production. At the core of the problem is the Bucs' offense as a whole. They stink. Another issue keeping White from his ceiling is the steady presence of Leonard Fournette who out-snapped White 57% to 42% respectively. Since his 100-yard rushing game in Germany, White has failed to reach 65 rushing yards in four straight games. With the Bucs' remaining schedule (Cardinals, Panthers, Falcons) not posing a real threat, there's hope, but in a true 50/50 split where White is not the primary pass-catching back, Fournette may be the better play down the stretch.
Marquise Brown - WR, Cardinals
We were already worried about the Cardinals' receivers coming into Week 15 with the loss of Kyler Murray for the season, now we're seeing it. Brown has failed to have a solid game since returning from injury. He has not topped 50 receiving yards in three straight games despite seeing eight targets in all of them. It's clear that opportunities aren't the problem, but rather the type of opportunities he's getting. Furthermore, there's always going to be a capped ceiling when you're playing second fiddle to DeAndre Hopkins. It'll be tough to trust Brown any further in the playoffs against a Buccaneers' team fighting for their lives in Week 16. Only start Hollywood if you're forced to, don't get cute.
Jakobi Meyers - WR, Patriots
I promise you that putting Meyers here has nothing to do with that backwards lateral/interception(?) he threw to Chandler Jones on the final play to lose the game. Although it was funny (for anyone outside of the Patriots' organization and fan base), what's not funny is that you can't rely on Meyers in the fantasy playoffs right now. The Patriots' passing game just isn't consistently in rhythm enough to trust any player on that offense besides Rhamondre Stevenson. In fact, the Patriots' offense would probably be the worst in the league if Stevenson didn't exist. Meyers hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 8 and hasn't gone over 65 receiving yards since Week 5. Silly me for not putting him in this portion of this column sooner, fade any receiver Mac Jones has to throw to.