Mike Tanier

Going Deep

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Dominate the postseason

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Playoff fantasy pools: they are a great way to recoup some money, reclaim bragging rights, or just keep a Saturday night game interesting when the Saints are beating the Seahawks by 24 points at halftime.

There are hundreds of variations on the "playoff fantasy" format: auctions, weekly redrafts, single-elimination tournaments and so on. There's only one constant: just like in the regular season, you must draft good players who produce big numbers.

We wrap up this season's 'Going Deep' series with some no-nonsense advice about potential postseason fantasy stars: who is slumping, who could get lost in the shuffle, and who can help you keep the fun flowing into February.

The Falcons Triplets: No playoff team is as predictable or reliable as the Falcons. You know the ball will get funneled through three players: quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner and receiver Roddy White. In a postseason full of running back committees and multi-receiver confusion, the Falcons offer safe harbor: they aren't suddenly going to start targeting Ellis Weems a dozen times in the red zone.

The Falcons throw an average of 11.2 passes per game to White, making him the best receiver in the fantasy playoff pool. Turner has had at least 15 carries every week except Week 2, when he was hurt early in the game. Keep in mind, though, that Turner has zero value as a receiver, with three catches for 12 yards in the last nine games. In a PPR league, Ray Rice or Shady McCoy is a much more appealing option than Turner.

Ryan may get overlooked in the rush to acquire Brady-Brees-Vick-Manning. He has thrown at least one touchdown in every game except the season opener and has had nine multi-touchdown games. You can pencil in a 22-of-36, 250 yard, two-touchdown performance almost every time he takes the field. Wait for Ryan to fall to you, and you can concentrate on getting the most from your backs and receivers.

The Ravens Passing Game: Anquan Boldin has been targeted just nine times in the last three weeks, catching just five passes for 26 yards. That's a mind-boggling slump – Jason Snelling has more than twice as many receiving yards as Boldin in the last three weeks – and it's a byproduct of the fact that the Ravens just aren't passing very much. Joe Flacco has thrown just 19.7 passes per game in the last three games, and most of those passes have been short dump-offs, not the usual bombs that drive the Ravens offense. John Harbaugh may keep things conservative against a Chiefs defense that allows opponents to complete just 54.9 percent of passes and has a pair of solid young cornerbacks.

The Ravens slump may be a boon to bargain hunters: Boldin, Derrick Mason and Todd Heap may slip through the cracks of a draft or auction. If you select one of them, you should balance your ticket with a high-target complementary receiver. Try to get Greg Jennings, Wes Welker or Jeremy Maclin to support Boldin or Mason, and you will have one receiver catching 6-7 passes while the Ravens wait for the bombs to start dropping again.

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