Chris Wesseling

Post-Season Fantasy Football Guide

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Updated Fantasy Playoff Ranks

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


Quarterbacks

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2. Drew Brees, Saints

Rodgers became the first quarterback in league history to have two seasons with 500-plus pass attempts and seven or fewer interceptions. “That is beyond super,” says Hall of Famer Steve Young. “As a quarterback, you tip your cap out of pure respect and you shake your head. Because you just can't fathom what Aaron's done this season.” … Brees is 7-0 with a 25:3 TD-to-INT ratio over his past seven games. "Dan Marino and all these great quarterbacks talk about being in the zone,'' said SIRIUS XM analyst and former Bears QB Jim Miller. "Drew Brees has been in a zone for about three years now.” NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi agrees, suggesting Brees is “in a zone that few players have ever achieved.” 

3. Tom Brady, Patriots
4. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
5. Matt Ryan, Falcons
6. Eli Manning, Giants
7. Joe Flacco, Ravens
8. Matthew Stafford, Lions

Nearly as hot as Brees with eight straight wins of his own, Brady also surpassed Marino's 1984 single-season record with 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns. The three-time Super Bowl winner carries a 14-5 postseason record into 2012. … With an inviting matchup at Denver, Big Ben should be a lock for two games. … Ryan has posted a passer rating over 110 in five of the past seven games, and this offense is playing significant better than last year’s 13-3 squad heading into the postseason. … Eli authored an NFL-record 15 fourth-quarter touchdown passes and six fourth-quarter or overtime comeback victories. He’ll need to channel that magic against a better team.

While Flacco has good shot at two games, the Ravens have the worst average yards per attempt (6.66) of any of the AFC playoff teams. NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi believes Cam Cameron’s aerial must get a lot more sophisticated for a Super Bowl run. … After missing 19 of his first 32 games to injury, Stafford became just the fourth quarterback ever to throw for 5,000 yards in a season. Although he led Detroit to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 with 41 touchdowns, he’s likely one-and-out 

9. Alex Smith, 49ers

10. T.J. Yates, Texans

11. Tim Tebow, Broncos
12. Andy Dalton, Bengals

Smith enjoyed a career-year under Jim Harbaugh’s tutelage, vying with Stafford and Steve Smith for comeback player of the year honors. While coaching staff publicly bristles at the notion of Smith as a game manager, their schemes and play-calling tell us that’s exactly what they believe he is. … Rookie QBs are 6-9 in playoff games since the merger, and no first-year passer has ever led his team to a Super Bowl. The only rookie QB to start 16 games, Dalton “hit a bit of a rookie wall” down the stretch, failing to top 200 yards in four of the final five games. … Yates expects to start Saturday after “dinging” his shoulder in the regular-season finale. Though Yates out-dueled Dalton a month ago and welcomes Andre Johnson back for the playoffs, he’s averaged just 158 yards per game while losing three straight. 

Tebow magic has worn off after the Patriots provided the blueprint for taking away scrambles and forcing him to win from the pocket. The Broncos have totaled just 40 yards in the past three games while Tebow has managed just a 43.1 passer rating and 41.1 completion rate. 


Friday Update: The more I study the Texans-Bengals game, the stronger I feel about Houston emerging victorious. I've flip-flopped Yates and Dalton to reflect that analysis. 

Running Backs

1. Ray Rice, Ravens
2. Darren Sproles, Saints

Of the top six teams, Rice is the top back in the playoffs after finishing as fantasy’s No. 1 back in total points. … The Saints exploded for 40 or more points in five of eight games at the Superdome -- outscoring their last four by a margin of 170—74. Easily the NFL’s top pass-catching back, Sproles is going to go wild on the Lions Saturday night. 

3. Arian Foster, Texans
4. Pierre Thomas, Saints
5. Isaac Redman, Steelers

The Texans will have to win with a 49ers-style attack, riding Foster, Andre Johnson, a strong defense and special teams to victory. … Thomas is not only the Saints’ designated screen-play back, but also the primary goal-line option since Mark Ingram went down with a season-ending injury. … Redman takes over as the feature back with Rashard Mendenhall out for the playoffs. 

 

6. Stevan Ridley, Patriots
7. Frank Gore, 49ers

8. Ryan Grant, Packers

9. Chris Ivory, Saints

10. James Starks, Packers
11. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots
12. Michael Turner, Falcons
13. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
14. Kevin Smith, Lions
15. Cedric Benson, Bengals
16. Brandon Jacobs, Giants

Gore is in danger of lasting just one round, but the matchup is right against a defense giving up 5.0 yards per rush. … Ridley has taken over as the Patriots top back the past two weeks, though Green-Ellis remains the goal-line horse. … While Grant saved his most effective play for December, Starks is fully expected to be ready in two weeks. The two figure to cancel each other out in a pass-oriented offense.

Turner and Bradshaw are 50-50 options to advance. Pay no attention to Turner’s eye-popping numbers against the Bucs’ dead-men-walking defense. He’s running on fumes. … The Saints haven’t lost much if anything with Ivory as Ingram’s replacement, but the goal-line work has gone primarily to Thomas. … I’d rather bank on Smith than Benson for a big game this weekend. … Jacobs is 1B to Bradshaw’s 1A.

 

Friday Update: James Starks' status remains in question after sitting out the entire bye week. Ryan Grant gets a bump as more of a sure thing. After going back and watching late-season Saints games, the hard-charging Chris Ivory is also getting a small bump. For the Patriots, Stevan Ridley continues to gain separation from BenJarvus Green-Ellis in my eyes.



17. Willis McGahee, Broncos
18. Ben Tate, Texans
19. Ricky Williams, Ravens
20. Kendall Hunter, 49ers
21. Bernard Scott, Bengals 
22. John Kuhn, Packers
23. Danny Woodhead, Patriots
24. D.J. Ware, Giants
25. Mewelde Moore, Steelers
26. Lance Ball, Broncos
25. John Clay, Steelers
26. Shane Vereen, Patriots
29. Brian Leonard, Bengals
30. Kevin Faulk, Patriots
31. Derrick Ward, Texans

 

McGahee has a brutal matchup. … Tate finished with 161 more yards than Bucs starter LeGarrette Blount despite nine fewer attempts, though consistency has been elusive. … Williams, Hunter, and Scott are change-of-pace options. … The Packers don’t run much near the goal-line; Kuhn has been the option of choice more often than not when they do pound it in. … Woodhead, Ware, Moore, and Ball are purely passing-down backs. … Clay could be the No. 2 in Pittsburgh with Moore’s knee in question.


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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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