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Six players to pick up and stash for the fantasy football playoffs

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Austin Ekeler is a must-add in Week 13 (1:37)

Field Yates says RB Austin Ekeler is a priority add on waivers and Matthew Berry ponders expectations for Justin Jackson. (1:37)

So you weren't able to complete that last-minute trade to shore up your roster for the upcoming fantasy playoffs, which begin one week from now in standard ESPN leagues.

Or, perhaps you did complete that blockbuster deal but are always looking for reinforcements in your postseason quest.

Whatever the case may be, if you've got a roster spot to burn -- entirely possible considering we're now beyond the bye weeks -- it's wise to add a high-upside, speculative player for the upcoming postseason. Remember, there are always out-of-nowhere performers who are instrumental in leading their fantasy teams to a league title.

Last season alone:

Jimmy Garoppolo, a newly minted starter available in more than 85 percent of ESPN leagues entering Week 13, wound up the third-highest-scoring fantasy quarterback in the traditional Weeks 14-17 ESPN playoffs.

Dion Lewis, available in more than half of ESPN leagues entering Week 13, also finished as the third-highest-scoring fantasy player at his position in those same four weeks.

• And Keelan Cole, who wasn't even on 1 percent of ESPN rosters entering Week 13 last season, scored 72.6 PPR fantasy points in the final four weeks, good for fourth most among wide receivers during that span.

Who will be this year's Garoppolo, Lewis or Cole? It's worth making a few dart throws in the hopes one hits, and what follows below are the six such players I'm stashing in my fantasy leagues. They're all available in at least 75 percent of ESPN leagues, and each has at least a league-average-or-better remaining schedule (which helps!).

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills: It's rare that a quarterback available in at least three-quarters of ESPN leagues at this late stage of the season has the skills to be a reliable weekly option during the fantasy playoffs, but Allen has a schedule that could make him a worthwhile QB2 for those in two-quarterback leagues, including matchups against the Detroit Lions (Week 15) and New England Patriots (Week 16), not to mention his upcoming game against the Miami Dolphins. Allen's mobility is what makes him fantasy-relevant, as he has tallied at least seven fantasy points on his rushing plays alone in three of his six starts, and despite his learning curve as a passer, he's not as likely to commit costly turnovers against weaker defenses.

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Amari Cooper's acquisition has deepened the Cowboys' offense, leading to stronger numbers from Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott as well. But at some point Prescott is going to need to get other receivers involved. Gallup's recent usage makes him worth a stash, considering he has played 72 percent of the team's offensive snaps (143 of 200, only seven fewer snaps than Cooper) and been targeted 14 times (14.4 percent target share). The Cowboys also face one of the easier wide receiver schedules, including matchups against the Philadelphia Eagles (Week 14), Indianapolis Colts (Week 15) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 16). As Gallup gains experience, he might see even more looks from Prescott.

Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers: While everyone scurries to the waiver wire to scoop up Austin Ekeler, knowing full well he stands to benefit most during whatever amount of time Melvin Gordon (MCL sprain) needs to miss -- and by the way, many fantasy managers who do will come away disappointed, since Ekeler is already on at least 50 percent of ESPN rosters -- Jackson is a smart, stealth stash considering the circumstances. Jackson, who had gains of 10, 19 and 20 yards among his seven carries on Sunday, should slide in as Ekeler's immediate backup beginning this week. Though Jackson failed to make the Chargers' opening-week roster, that was more a product of the hamstring injury that cost him much of the preseason, but he put up big workloads and solid numbers at Northwestern and should immediately become one of the stronger handcuff choices in the game.

Ty Montgomery, RB, Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens' remaining schedule for running backs is the second-most favorable in the league, and here's one way to grab a share for the mere price of a waiver pickup. While Gus Edwards is the name generating the most excitement, there's still a bit of a committee approach going on in Baltimore, evidenced by Montgomery's eight carries in Week 12. Montgomery can contribute as both runner and receiver, and his usage hinted that he might be on the verge of stealing Javorius Allen's pass-catching role. Considering how uncertain the roles are among Edwards, Montgomery, Allen and Alex Collins, it's a good move to make sure all four are rostered for the stretch run, just in case.

Rod Smith, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Speaking of handcuffs, there is perhaps none more important than Smith, considered the next in line in the event of an injury to Ezekiel Elliott. While Malcolm Brown (Todd Gurley II), Wayne Gallman (Saquon Barkley) and Spencer Ware (Kareem Hunt) might seem like more logical choices from the handcuff class -- and each absolutely makes more sense than Smith for those who have the respective starters rostered -- if I'm making the choice from a pure speculative-stash perspective, I want backups with: A) a great schedule, B) a run-heavy scheme and/or strong offensive line, C) the likelihood of a full-time role if the starter gets hurt, and D) preferably a little of A, B and C. Smith checks all the boxes, with the schedule far and away the highlight. The Cowboys face the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants in Weeks 14-17, ESPN's traditional fantasy playoffs, easily the best schedule in the league.

Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans: He had a career-high amount of usage in Week 11, catching six of his eight targets, and followed that up with a 61-yard TD catch in Week 12. He appears to be finally becoming an integral part of the Titans' passing game. It's not all that unusual that it took this long, considering the lengthy learning curve at the position in the NFL, as well as the fact that his path was previously blocked by Delanie Walker. Interestingly, Walker was one of the comps for Smith at the time the latter was selected in the third round of the 2017 draft. Smith brings more upside than any of the tight ends as widely available as he is.

Others to consider: D'Onta Foreman, Houston Texans; Zay Jones, Buffalo Bills; Elijah McGuire, New York Jets; Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers