David Montgomery may just carry your team to first place after Week 15.

© Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

For most fantasy football leagues, Week 15 marks the second round of fantasy playoffs.

As you may have learned from last week, playoffs require a slightly different strategy. Now is not the time to gamble on a player that could develop—you need to pick the perfect players to overperform in Week 15, depending on their matchups, injury reports, and various other factors.

A win this week could lead to third, second or even a first place cash prize—or it could mean your frenemy claims your $100 entry fee and your dignity. If you want to cash in next week, here are some drops, pops and shops to make in the second round of fantasy playoffs.


Drop

Antonio Brown

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) runs the ball against the defense of Kansas City Chiefs free safety Juan Thornhill (22) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium.© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When Antonio Brown became a fantasy factor in Week 9, fantasy managers who stashed him early thought their golden egg would hatch soon enough. While there's still a chance to cash in on this investment in Week 15 against the Falcons, the fact is that Brown has been closer to gooseggs than golden ones. In his five weeks of play, he's gotten 25 total receptions, but he hasn't been the number one overall pick he once was in 2017. He might be one of Brady's favorite targets, but so are Mike Evans, Gronk and apparently Scotty Miller.

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) signs to Ohio State fans after the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 14 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.© Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services, LLC

In Week 8, I suggested dropping Ezekiel Elliott, which would have been a fantasy faux pas in any year before 2020. If you kept Elliott, you enjoyed his 18-point game against the Vikings, but every other start has been a disappointment for the former fantasy first-rounder. Recovering from a calf injury, Elliott split carries with Tony Pollard this week and converted 12 carries into a measly 48 yards. Hurt as he heads into a matchup against the fourth best NFL run defense, things look sour for Elliott in Week 15. Consider starting someone else if possible, like David Montgomery, D'Andre Swift, or Melvin Gordon.

Pop

David Montgomery

Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field.© Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

A skyrocketing fantasy star since the bye, David Montgomery is everything you wanted this Bears running back to be. In the last three games, Montgomery has notched nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns, and the trend will likely continue against the Vikings this week. Montgomery is in set-it-and-forget-it territory for the rest of playoffs, so keep him locked in your lineup as long as you last.

D'Andre Swift

Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift (L) celebrates with wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (R) after scoring a rushing touchdown during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field.© Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

After a three-week absence, D'Andre Swift is back, and he's here to lead the Lions running back committee without question. Unlike other NFL RB committees (hello San Francisco), the Lions have their committee order in check, meaning Swift is a sure thing when he's healthy. Although he only managed seven carries for 24 yards, a touchdown saved Swift fantasy owners last week, redeeming his value as a playoff-level player. Facing a weak Titans run defense this week, Swift could get even more work if Stafford is injured in Week 15.

Emmanuel Sanders

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (17) prior to kickoff against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.© Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees, or not Drew Brees—that is the question in Week 15.

Whether Drew breezes back for a surefire shootout against the Chiefs or not, it looks like veteran Emmanuel Sanders will get work no matter what. Disappointingly spotty all season, Sanders has produced decent numbers as a flex option, but Week 15 provides a great matchup for someone Taysom Hill has been targeting as well. Although a touchdown saved him last week, Sanders stands to get some catches this week—after all, he's gotten at least three in the past four games.

Shop

Chad Hansen

Houston Texans wide receiver Chad Hansen (17) makes a catch against the Chicago Bears during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field.© Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Another benefactor of a decimated roster, Chad Hansen has swooped in to catch Deshaun Watson's bombs just in time for playoffs. Promoted from the practice squad in Week 13, Hansen has scored 12 catches for 157 yards over the past two weeks. While he's been relegated back to the practice squad as of Monday, it's likely that he could return in Week 15. Upgraded or not, he's worth stashing for the next two weeks just in case. If you're not confident in Hansen, Keke Coutee is the only other Houston receiving option unless Brandin Cooks returns.

Russell Gage

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage (83) is unable to catch a pass against Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Trayvon Mullen (27) during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.© Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Julio is out, Calvin and Russell are in.

While Calvin Ridley is a definite play as the seventh overall fantasy receiver, fellow Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage is available in 85 percent of ESPN leagues. Gage's week went particularly well because he threw a 39-yard touchdown to Calvin Ridley, but he still has a prime matchup against a Tampa Bay defense that's given up the ninth most yards all season. Although the Buccaneers have talented safeties, Gage's position as WR2 positions him to get solid volume in Week 15.

Tim Patrick

Denver Broncos wide receicver Tim Patrick (81) on the sidelines in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium.© Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy is always a gamble, but there are still sure bets on waivers that deliver on their promise. That was Tim Patrick this season: I suggested picking him up in Week 7, and here he is in the playoffs, averagng 10.2 points per game at the 35th overall receiver. Miraculously, Patrick is still available in 77 percent of ESPN leagues, which is surprising for Denver's most consistent red zone target. Sure, they actually played an NFL game without a quarterback, but Patrick and Melvin Gordon might be the most stable aspects of this shaky offense. Ignore the noise and pick up Patrick if he's still available in your league for Week 15.

Rashard Higgins


Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (82) and Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (85) celebrate after a touchdown during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium.© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

We've all been waiting for Rashard Higgins to live up to his fantasy potential: I've been waiting since Week 8, and Yahoo Sports' Matt Harmon has been waiting for forever, apparently.

Higgins may have finally arrived in time for playoffs this year: he's gotten six catches and a touchdown in each of his past two games. On a playoff-bound Browns team, Higgins is likely to get some work against the New York Giants in Week 15.

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