Chris Wesseling

Post-Season Fantasy Football Guide

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Wild Card Preview

Thursday, January 07, 2010




Patriots

Tom Brady – While he couldn't match the heights of 2007, Brady earned another Pro Bowl bid in the second best statistical season of his career. Showing trademark toughness, he reportedly played through broken ribs and a fractured finger in December on his way to Comeback Player of the Year honors. Now as healthy as he's been since mid-season, Brady will have to find a way to navigate the playoffs without vital security blanket Wes Welker.

Randy Moss – Since making headlines with his controversial "dog" effort against the Panthers in Week 14, Moss has played the role of the good soldier. Highlighted by his playful antics with a fan sporting a Moss mask during this three-touchdown performance in Week 16, the Pats' most explosive weapon has his head back on just in time for the playoffs. His field-tipping ability becomes even more important with Wes Welker out.

Julian Edelman – A quarterback at Kent State, Edelman has been a quick study at wide receiver as a rookie. While he can't touch Wes Welker's route running and sure-handedness, Edelman boasts similar quickness and elusiveness. In the three games that Welker missed, his replacement in the slot has averaged seven catches for 74 yards. Edelman better be ready to shine because the spotlight will be bright this weekend.

Vince Wilfork – Arguably the best nose tackle in the NFL, Wilfork eats up defenders as the key to the Pats' run defense. Though he and defensive end Ty Warren sat out last week's game with ankle injuries, both players are expected to start against the Ravens this week. With Willis McGahee coming off his best game of the season to go along with the explosive Ray Rice, Wilfork's healthy return is crucial.

Ravens

Joe Flacco – Courtesy of a strong first-half, Flacco has bettered his impressive rookie season in all categories. So why did he engender more confidence throughout last year's playoffs? After a mid-season funk, Flacco's confidence has waned, leading to inconsistent mechanics and a pocket presence in disarray. There's no telling which Flacco will show up Sunday, the one who threw four touchdowns in Week 15 or the one who was held to 102 yards last week.

Ray Rice – Second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage, Rice has been a dynamo in the passing game, leading all backs in receptions and receiving yards. He's no slouch on the ground, either, averaging a stout 5.3 yards per carry while establishing himself as one of the best all-around players in the league at his position. After pushing Willis McGahee into a secondary role, Rice has taken over as the offensive focal point.

Ray Lewis - One of the best team leaders in all of professional sports, the 34-year-old is still an elite run defender and deserving of his 11th Pro Bowl bid. Unfortunately, he's also reached the point where he can no longer backpedal fast enough to cover opposing tight ends and running backs in the passing game. Matchup mastermind Bill Belichick will exploit Lewis' weakness with Kevin Faulk and Ben Watson this week.

Ed Reed – Nursing groin, hip and ankle injuries, Reed returned at an estimated 85 percent last week after sitting out a month. With the hip ailment still bothering him, the six-time Pro Bowler is expected to split time with Tom Zbikowski on Sunday. The Ravens' secondary has been leaky with two starting corners lost for the season, so it's imperative that Reed plays at a high level.

Editor's Note: Looking for another way to keep the fantasy season going? Try playing Snapdraft. We have it set up just for the playoffs. Draft a team before the playoffs start!


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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