As the weather grows colder and the days get shorter, the fantasy football world buzzes with an atmosphere of excitement unique to playoffs in the winter.

We hope you and your families all are staying safe and healthy while staying connected through the full slate of games to tide you over this new-look holiday season.

While we may not know what will be in store for us during these last few weeks of the year, we can tell you which players to count on for the playoffs in this final installment of Ultimate Fantasy Team 2020.

Week 13 BYE: Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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QB: Derek Carr // LV

Though the Raiders ultimately fell less than a score short of sweeping the season series, Carr put on a show worthy of a Las Vegas residency. His three touchdowns and 275 yards catapult him back into the running as a menacing quarterback who will be facing two of the most generous fantasy defenses in the Falcons and Jets.

Photo: Kansas City Chiefs

RB: Clyde Edwards-Helaire // KC

The American Helaire­­-lines is ready to take off once again after the rookie’s first multi-score game. Even with the introduction of veteran Le’Veon Bell, Edwards-Helaire has more than earned himself a starting spot. The next few games against the Buccaneers and Broncos will be challenging against the run, but it’s already promising that he’s part of a dynamic offense.

WR: Terry McLaurin // WAS

McLaurin has been one of the rare bright spots for the Washington offense. He could use a consistent quarterback group for a change, but he’s already soaring with Alex Smith under center. McLaurin averaged 82.4 yards per game and 13.4 per reception before Smith’s first start against the Lions—he’s now averaging 98 yards per game and 15.5 per reception.

TE: Evan Engram // NYG

It’s been a tumultuous season for both the Giants and Engram himself, who has been one of the more reliable players for Big Blue. His upcoming opponents in the Bengals and Seahawks defenses haven’t been kind to tight ends as of late, but it’s primarily due to the fact that they haven’t been playing TE-heavy offenses with skill players like Engram.

D/ST: Cleveland Browns

The Browns welcomed Carson Wentz and the hapless Eagles to town with a spectacular defensive showing. They were able to permeate Philadelphia’s injury-riddled offensive line to sack Wentz five times and forced three turnovers. Cleveland is primed for some more formidable performances when they welcome the Jaguars and Titans to town.

K: Rodrigo Blankenship // IND

Blankenship started off the season on the right foot with a four-game streak during which he scored over ten points per game. He’s since bounced back from two difficult outings against the Lions and Ravens, having scored a cool 14 points and a 43-yard game-winner in his most recent game to put the Colts on top of Green Bay. In short: respect the specs.

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QB: Alex Smith // WAS

The Washington quarterback room has certainly seen better days. Even with WR Terry McLaurin and RB Antonio Gibson at his disposal, Smith was only passed for 166 yards, a touchdown, and a pick. Although this performance was good enough for a win over Cincinnati, it’s hard to say it’ll do for three straight road games in Dallas, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.

RB: Ronald Jones // TB

Jones came crashing back to earth on Monday after a blowout win against the Panthers in Week 10. The running back has long faced competition for snaps with Tom Brady spreading the wealth between pass-catchers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, and now Antonio Brown. Jones won’t be of much use as a starter even in favorable matchups.

WR: Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd // CIN

Photo: Katie Stratman/USA TODAY Sports

It was a promising few weeks for the young duo in Cincinnati, but their fantasy futures are in limbo with Joe Burrow now out for the season. Until the quarterback situation is settled in Cincinnati, it’s best to move forward with extreme caution when playing either Higgins or Boyd as a starter in crucial playoff games.

TE: Hayden Hurst // ATL

Hurst entered his BYE week scoring double-digit fantasy points in each of his past four games, so it was quite a shock to many fantasy owners that he was shut out in New Orleans. He remains a low-end TE1 and FLEX due to encouraging contests against the Raiders, Saints, and Chargers, but that might not be enough to make him a surefire starter.

D/ST: Baltimore Ravens

The Titans emerged victorious from overtime with a win thanks to a 29-yard run courtesy of Derrick Henry. Baltimore hadn’t seen their opponents score this many points since they hosted the Chiefs back in Week 3. If the Ravens don’t find a way to resuscitate their ailing pass rush against the up-tempo Steelers offense next week, they’re in some serious trouble.

K: Ryan Succop // TB

Succop has enjoyed a late-season surge, scoring 15 points in New York against the Giants and 17 while visiting Carolina. He likely won’t be able to keep up this pace against the Chiefs, who have held Daniel Carlson and Joey Slye to under double digits each. Succop doesn’t boast the same consistency, so he shouldn’t be relied upon in a tight game.

Waiver Claims

QB: Taysom Hill // NO

Even though Hill has lost his TE designation and FLEX eligibility, he still remains the same Swiss army knife in Sean Payton’s offense. Hill made up for his 233 passing yards by running the ball 10 times for 51 yards with two of those carries going into the endzone. He’s a good streamer option in deeper leagues or for managers scrambling to replace Joe Burrow.

RB: Gus Edwards // BAL

It’s time to fire up the Gus Bus for Thanksgiving! The Ravens announced earlier this week that J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram had tested positive for Covid-19, which clears the way for Edwards to be the top ball carrier in Baltimore. He faces a formidable foe in Pittsburgh’s stingy run defense, but he’s a valuable stasher if Dobbins and Ingram miss multiple weeks.

WR: Michael Pittman Jr. // IND

Pittman is sitting pretty as one of Philip Rivers’ favorite targets even in the face of unpredictable play. He enjoyed a career game in Tennessee, hauling in seven receptions for 101 yards, then had another impressive showing against Green Bay with three catches and 66 yards. He should be a solid reliever for teams in a pinch or to replace players on BYE.

TE: Will Dissly // SEA

The third-year veteran enjoyed an explosive start last year before losing his season to an Achilles injury in Week 6. He’s hoping to gain a larger role on the Seahawks’ offense in relief of Greg Olsen, who is currently on IR with a torn plantar fascia. Dissly should be high on everyone’s waiver wire watchlist in case he morphs back into his 2019 form.

Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

D/ST: Green Bay Packers

Fantasy players hoping to find some consistency in the Packers’ defense are probably all over it. They broke double digits once against Detroit in Week 2 but have yet to replicate the same performance. However, it’s encouraging that they’re playing two of the lowest-scoring and turnover-prone offenses in Chicago and Philadelphia. Don’t give up hope just yet.

K: Ka’imi Fairbairn // HOU

Another player suffering from the variable play would be Ka’imi Fairbairn, who has endured a significant slump much like the rest of the Texans’ offense. He’s soon due for some advantageous matchups opposite the most forgiving kicker defenses, including one in Detroit and two against Indianapolis.

Featured Image: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
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