Fantasy Football: 5 league-winners you should be targeting ahead of Sunday's fantasy trade deadline

2T74N3D Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf jogs on the field against the Washington Commanders during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

• It’s time for D.K. Metcalf to step up: The Seahawks receiver is the current WR32 but is coming off a strong showing in Week 10 and could be hitting his stride at the right time.

• Inefficient but effective: Rachaad White hasn't been flashy, but he’s the RB8 and shows no sign of slowing down.

• Dominate your fantasy leagues in 2023: For up-to-date fantasy rankings and projections, check out PFF’s fantasy rankings tool.

 Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Wave after wave of foot soldiers engulf the city as a crow caws in the distance. The bell will soon toll as fantasy football playoffs approach. The time for war is truly drawing close. The next few weeks are what separates the weak from the strong, the prepared from the unprepared and the good fantasy managers from the bad fantasy managers.

 The playoff push is in full effect. Between now and the end of the season, savvy fantasy managers will be looking to acquire players who can get them over the hump at the right time.

Every year, a crop of players hit their groove just at the right time, and it can be the difference between winning and losing a league. Here are five league-winners you should be targeting this time around.

QB Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Take the bigger picture out of the equation for a second. Yes, Justin Fields is likely coming toward the end of his time with the Chicago Bears. The former first-round pick just hasn’t developed in the way the front office has wanted, and with a potential top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft heading their way, there’s every chance the Bears cut the cord with Fields.

Until then, Fields will start at quarterback for the Bears as long as he’s healthy. He’s missed the last four games (thumb) but could be back any week now. And when he is, he’ll be vaulted straight into top-five quarterback territory if he’s used correctly.

Over the first six games of the 2023 season, Fields didn’t quite hit the heights of his QB7 finish last year. However, he did post two consecutive top-three finishes before his injury, scoring 27.80 fantasy points against the Broncos and 32.98 points against the Commanders. This season, he averages 17.9 fantasy points per game.

The Bears have a pretty tough schedule the rest of the way, but Fields’ rushing upside is hard to ignore. He’ll step back into the Bears’ starting lineup and likely get 8-10 rushes a game from the word go. And despite his struggles as a passer, Fields is still the best athlete on most turfs he steps on to. 

Top five quarterbacks in fantasy points per dropback (Week 1 to Week 10)
Rank Quarterback Fantasy points per dropback
1 Jalen Hurts 0.62
2 Brock Burdy 0.61
3 Josh Allen 0.60
4 Lamar Jackson 0.59
5 Justin Fields 0.57

RB Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The idea of efficiency and production going hand-in-hand is real. The best running backs do their jobs well because they do them efficiently, even if they also have the volume to match. However, Rachaad White has proved over the last four weeks — and the season as a whole — that backs don’t always need to be efficient to be productive.

White has been the RB3 in fantasy football over the last four weeks, averaging 19.8 fantasy points per game. But he’s done so while averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, 40th out of 48 qualifying running backs in that time.

Usually, that would feel unsustainable, but White has consistently produced this season despite the lack of efficiency. He’s the RB8 in scoring on the season despite scoring just four total touchdowns. It all feels like an “against all odds” situation.

Roll with it, though. A lot of White’s production comes from his ability to make plays in the receiving game. He’s a solid pass-catcher and has the third-most receptions (35) and second-most receiving yards (326) among all running backs this season.

The Buccaneers have the seventh-toughest schedule the rest of the way, but in that time, they still play the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts. Both teams are bottom-10 in rushing EPA allowed per play. There’s a chance that White could see an uptick in his efficiency if that’s the case, but either way, he’s shown that he can produce.

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 WR D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

This season has been pretty ho-hum for D.K. Metcalf. The Seahawks receiver was our preseason WR15, and many expected him to help lead his team to its second successive postseason appearance. Seattle is still firmly on track to make the playoffs in the NFC, but Metcalf has been something of a bit-part player.

Metcalf is currently the WR32 in points per game (12.8) and has just one top-15 finish this season — and that was in Week 10 against the Washington Commanders. He does lead the Seahawks in receiving yards (552), but he’s second in catches to Tyler Lockett and is tied for the second-most receiving touchdowns (2). So, why is he a league-winner then?

Well, for one, the talent can only be denied for so long. Metcalf is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and he is playing with a quarterback who, theoretically, should suit his playstyle.

That was evident when Metcalf was the WR16 in PPR scoring in 2022, and even though the Seahawks have a tough schedule the rest of the way, the fact that Metcalf had earned 36 targets in his last four games shows that he’s still a significant part of the offense.

If his Week 10 performance is anything to go by, Metcalf is getting closer and closer to his best. He’s someone you want to back the rest of the way.

Dominate your fantasy leagues in 2023: For up-to-date fantasy rankings and projections, check out PFF’s fantasy rankings tool.

TE Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals

 Okay, let’s dip a little under the radar and tackle the tight end position. It’s not everyone’s favorite position to draft, but if you draft right, there’s a good chance you’ll be a happy fantasy manager. And those of you who picked up Trey McBride are starting to feel the benefits.

 After five consecutive weeks of playing less than 50% of the Cardinals' offensive snaps and zero top-20 scoring finishes to start the season, McBride has responded by averaging 17.2 fantasy points per game during the last three weeks, including a TE1 finish in Week 8 and a TE2 finish in Week 10. It’s all happening at the right time, too.

Kyler Murray returned to action in Week 10 and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. As a result of that, the Cardinals' passing game is going to improve. It has to — Murray is that good. McBride is an obvious beneficiary. On top of that, the Cardinals have the most favorable schedule for tight ends for the rest of the season. There’s plenty of time for McBride to keep building on his connection with Murray and reaping the rewards.

PFF’s Fantasy Strength of Schedule (SoS) metric provides a league-wide, season-long view of opponent matchups for each fantasy position.

RB Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

 Bijan Robinson hasn’t had the rookie season that many expected from him. He’s the RB9, impressive in itself, but expectations were high for Robinson since he was not only considered the overwhelming favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year but also the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley. An RB1 overall season wasn’t a world away; things just needed to fall correctly.

So far, they haven’t. Robinson’s efficiency over the season has been great (4.9 yards per carry), but there have been a few bust games in there, including that game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7. There has also been a litany of legitimate questions over how Arthur Smith has used Robinson this season. However, the tide may be turning after Week 10.

Robinson garnered 23 touches in the loss to the Cardinals, outtouching Tyler Allgeier 23 to 10. He scored 17.6 points, his best output since Week 2. His 22 carries were a season-high, and if the Falcons are now shifting toward making Robinson the fulcrum of their offense, fantasy managers should act fast and grab the rookie while his stock is still (maybe) recovering a little from the residual effects of his usage.


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