Mike Clay

Post-Season Fantasy Football Guide

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Divisional Round Rankings

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wide Receiver

1. Andre Johnson - HOU (@ NE)
2. Julio Jones - ATL (vs. SEA)
3. Michael Crabtree - SF (vs. GB)
4. Demaryius Thomas - DEN (vs. BAL)
5. Eric Decker - DEN (vs. BAL)
6. Roddy White - ATL (vs. SEA)
7. Wes Welker - NE (vs. HOU)

Johnson has reached the nine-target mark in 10 of his last 12 games, but saw only five in Saturday’s win against Cincinnati. Expect him to bounce back in a big way this week with the Texans likely to have to throw the ball early and often…Crabtree has seen between nine and 12 targets in each of his last five games. Over that five-game span, he ranks third among wide receivers in receptions (35), third in yards (538), fourth in touchdowns (four), and second in fantasy points (78). A whopping 39 percent of Kaepernick’s throws have gone his way since Week 13…Thomas and Decker have combined to see 45 percent of Manning’s targets this season. Thomas has reached eight targets 12 times this season. Decker has achieved the feat on nine occasions. Denver’s likelihood of controlling this week’s game against Baltimore (and thus running quite often in the second half) is the only thing keeping these two from a top-three ranking…Welker remains a target machine, having seen eight or more targets in all but the season opener this season. Of course, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski have played only three full games together this season. Welker already doesn’t score very often (six touchdowns on the year), and will see even fewer opportunities near the endzone with those two fully back this week.

I wanted to expand a bit on Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White vs. Seahawks corners Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, so I separated them from the field.

First of all, thanks to ProFootballFocus.com, we can take a look at a few snap splits from the 2012 season. Sherman plays left corner on 82 percent of his snaps. That's where Roddy White is 56 percent of the time. Sherman is in the slot on only two percent of his snaps, compared to16 percent for White. On the other side of the mirror, Browner plays right corner on 89 percent of his snaps. That's where Jones is 62 percent of the time. Browner is in the slot on one percent of his snaps, compared to seven percent for Jones.

That being the case, we’d expect to see Sherman on White more than he is on Jones, and vice versa. Additionally, check out the Seattle secondary’s effectiveness against wide receivers this season (Weeks 14-17 are excluded because Browner was out):

Wide Receiver Trg Rec Yds TD % Slot F Pts   Wide Receiver Trg Rec Yds TD F Pts
Titus Young 9 9 100 2 7% 22.0   Calvin Johnson 7 3 46 0 4.6
Wes Welker 14 10 138 1 74% 19.8   Brandon LaFell 3 3 44 0 4.4
Brandon Marshall 12 10 165 0 15% 16.5   Steve Smith (Car) 11 4 40 0 4.0
Davone Bess 8 7 129 0 57% 12.9   Greg Jennings 9 6 35 0 3.5
Miles Austin 9 5 63 1 63% 12.3   Michael Crabtree 5 4 31 0 3.1
Andre Roberts 6 5 54 1 41% 11.4   Santana Moss 4 3 19 0 1.9
Danny Amendola 8 5 53 1 71% 11.3   Jordy Nelson 3 2 19 0 1.9
Ryan Broyles 4 3 37 1 65% 9.7   Dez Bryant 7 3 18 0 1.8
Brandon Lloyd 12 6 80 0 7% 8.0   Brian Hartline 5 2 17 0 1.7
Earl Bennett 3 1 12 1 60% 7.2   Randy Moss 3 1 14 0 1.4
Larry Fitzgerald 9 4 63 0 14% 6.3   Percy Harvin 6 2 10 0 1.0
Jeremy Kerley 7 5 57 0 59% 5.7   Randall Cobb 2 1 -1 0 -0.1
James Jones 6 5 55 0 6% 5.5              
Chris Givens 3 1 52 0 14% 5.2              
Pierre Garcon 6 4 50 0 12% 5.0              

The chart on the left shows the top wide receiver performances against Seattle during our 13-game sample. Notice that six of the top eight and eight of the top 12 games in terms of fantasy points were put up by wide receivers who work as their team’s primary slot man. This is a product of Sherman and Browner’s dominance on the outside. For further proof of their impact, check out the chart on the right side. This is simply a list of additional top receivers who faced off with Seattle this season. The duo was able to keep the likes of Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith, Greg Jennings, Michael Crabtree, Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, Percy Harvin, and Randall Cobb each below five fantasy points.

Jones and White are among the best at their position and have combined to see 45 percent of Ryan’s targets this season. That keeps them on the radar as strong plays this week. Still, Seattle’s dominance against outside receivers may force Ryan to throw to slot man Harry Douglas and tight end Tony Gonzalez more than usual.

8. Randall Cobb - GB (@ SF)
9. James Jones - GB (@ SF)
10. Greg Jennings - GB (@ SF)
11. Jordy Nelson - GB (@ SF)
12. Torrey Smith - BAL (@ DEN)
13. Golden Tate - SEA (@ ATL)
14. Anquan Boldin - BAL (@ DEN)

I feel like I cheated a bit by putting all four Packers right next to each other, but it’s really the only way to go right now. Cobb's low for targets this season is two (three times): Weeks 2, 3, and 18. He ranked third at the position in snaps against Minnesota on Saturday, but remains the team’s target leader this season. He’ll bounce back this week. Jones is a touchdown machine and played all but two snaps last week. Jennings was second in line for snaps this past week and has seen a team-high 20 percent of Rodgers’ targets since Week 13. Nelson was targeted six times despite playing only 19 snaps last week…Tate has seen a team-high 19 percent of Wilson’s targets since Week 7. Seattle moves their wideouts around quite a bit, but Atlanta’s corners are locked into their spots. Tate will see Dunta Robinson when he’s lined up wide left (about half his snaps), Asante Samuel when he’s wide right (a third of his snaps), and impressive Robert McClain when he makes a rare trip to the slot.

The Ravens will throw more than they’d prefer against Denver this week, which means additional targets for both Smith and Boldin. Smith has scored only once since finding the endzone twice against Oakland back in Week 10. Still, he’s seeing near 20 percent of Flacco’s targets and leads the league in average depth of target. Boldin is on fire over his last two games, having hauled in 12 of his last 14 targets for 238 yards and a touchdown. The key here is which receiver will be covered by Denver’s standout corner Champ Bailey. When the two teams met in Week 15, Smith played 36 snaps before leaving with an injury. Bailey lined up across from him on 32 of those plays. In fact, after Smith left, Bailey covered replacement his Jacoby Jones, leaving Boldin to Chris Harris and Tony Carter. In that game, Smith caught one pass on three targets. Boldin was shut out on six targets.

15. Brandon Lloyd - NE (vs. HOU)
16. Sidney Rice - SEA (@ ATL)
17. Randy Moss - SF (vs. GB)
18. Doug Baldwin - SEA (@ ATL)
19. Brandon Stokley - DEN (vs. BAL)
20. Harry Douglas - ATL (vs. SEA)
21. Kevin Walter - HOU (@ NE)
22. Jacoby Jones - BAL (@ DEN)
23. Tandon Doss - BAL (@ DEN)
24. A.J. Jenkins - SF (vs. GB)
25. Deion Branch - NE (vs. HOU)

Lloyd played behind Branch in Week 17, but that doesn’t figure to be the case in a more competitive game against Houston this week. Still, Lloyd is now fourth in line for targets with Welker, Gronkowski, and Hernandez all back to full health…Over his last three games, Sidney Rice has totaled four targets. He’ll see a lot of Asante Samuel and Robert McClain this week…Speaking of McClain, Baldwin is a name to avoid this week with McClain shutting down slot corners in the second half of 2012…Moss will start, but is too reliant on the occasional touchdown in order to reach fantasy respectability…Stokley and Jenkins need their respective teams to remain in competitive games in order to see favorable snap numbers…Douglas is a nice sleeper this week with Jones and White stuck up against Browner and Sherman…Walter could benefit from Houston trailing New England throughout most of their game…Jones, Doss, and Branch are well off the fantasy radar.

Tight End

1. Rob Gronkowski - NE (vs. HOU)
2. Tony Gonzalez - ATL (vs. SEA)

Despite appearing in only 11 games this season, Gronkowski managed to account for 32 percent of the Patriots’ receiving touchdowns (11 total). He scored in Week 17 despite working just 25 snaps. Expected back at full strength this week, Gronkowski is locked in as fantasy’s top tight end…During Atlanta’s first nine games, Gonzalez averaged 8.6 targets-per-game and reached 10 targets four times. In seven games since, he’s averaged 6.3 targets and hasn’t eclipsed nine targets. Still, six or so targets is strong for a tight end and he may see even more looks than usual with Jones and White facing tough coverage on the outside.

3. Owen Daniels - HOU (@ NE)
4. Aaron Hernandez - NE (vs. HOU)
5. Dennis Pitta - BAL (@ DEN)

I guess Texans coach Gary Kubiak wasn't kidding when he said he’d be getting Owen Daniels more involved. Daniels saw a season-high 11 targets against the Bengals. He’ll remain heavily involved against New England this week…Hernandez is averaging 8.9 targets-per-game in nine full games this season. His touchdown chances take a shot with Gronkowski back, but he remains a target machine…With Smith and Boldin getting shut down on the outside, Pitta put up 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns on seven receptions against Denver in Week 15. With Smith seemingly stuck on Bailey again this week, Pitta should be in for another six-plus targets.

6. Jermichael Finley - GB (@ SF)
7. Zach Miller - SEA (@ ATL)
8. Vernon Davis - SF (vs. GB)
9. Joel Dreessen - DEN (vs. BAL)
10. Delanie Walker - SF (vs. GB)
11. Jacob Tamme - DEN (vs. BAL)
12. Anthony McCoy - SEA (@ ATL)
13. James Casey - HOU (@ NE)
14. Garrett Graham - HOU (@ NE)
15. Ed Dickson - BAL (@ DEN)

Finley has seen 43 targets since the Packers’ Week 10 bye. That’s tied for second on the team at all positions…Since Week 10, Zach Miller has seen 32 targets, which is one more than Sidney Rice…Since his eight-target Week 11 performance, Davis has totaled 11 targets in six games. Over that same span, Walker has handled 18 targets…Tamme has struggled with inconsistency this season, seeing nine or more targets three times, but fewer than five targets nine times. He’s totaled 10 targets in four games since putting up 13 in Week 13. His teammate Dreessen has scored only one touchdown since Week 10.


1. Matt Prater – DEN (vs. BAL)
2. Steven Hauschka – SEA (@ ATL)
3. Stephen Gostkowski – NE (vs. HOU)
4. David Akers / Billy Cundiff – SF (vs. GB)
5. Matt Bryant – ATL (vs. SEA)
6. Shayne Graham – HOU (@ NE)
7. Justin Tucker – BAL (@ DEN)
8. Mason Crosby – GB (@ SF)

Team Defense / Special Teams

1. Broncos (vs. BAL)
2. Seahawks (@ ATL)
3. Patriots (vs. HOU)
4. 49ers (vs. GB)
5. Packers (@ SF)
6. Falcons (vs. SEA)
7. Ravens (@ DEN)
8. Texans (@ NE)

Mike Clay is a football writer for Rotoworld.com and the Founder/Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He can be found on Twitter @MikeClayNFL.
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