Championship Week RankingsWednesday, January 16, 2013
1. Julio Jones - ATL (vs. SF)
2. Michael Crabtree - SF (@ATL)
3. Roddy White - ATL (vs. SF)
4. Wes Welker - NE (vs. BLT)
The top-four wide receivers are fairly even this week. Jones has seen one-quarter of Ryan’s targets since Week 12. He’ll be covered primarily by Tarell Brown, who has had an outstanding season in coverage. White saw 27 percent of Matt Ryan’s targets during the team’s last three games. He’ll see plenty of Chris Culliver this week, who, like Brown, has been great in coverage this season. Both Atlanta wideouts figure to see 10 or so targets, which solidifies them as strong plays in fantasy leagues.
Crabtree has handled nine-plus targets in six consecutive games. He’s seen a whopping 39 percent of Kaepernick’s targets since Week 14, which equals Brandon Marshall’s enormous regular season rate in Chicago. Crabtree bounces around the formation, so he’ll see plenty of Dunta Robinson, Robert McClain, and Asante Samuel.
Welker has handled at least eight targets in 16 consecutive games. With Rob Gronkowski done for the year, Welker will see a slight boost in targets and has a better shot at find paydirt. New England’s slot man works inside on just under three-quarters of his offensive snaps. He should have a field day against Raven’s slot corner Corey Graham.
5. Brandon Lloyd - NE (vs. BLT)
6. Anquan Boldin - BLT (@NE)
7. Torrey Smith - BLT (@NE)
With Gronkowski out during Weeks 14-16, Lloyd totaled a whopping 36 targets in three games. Gronkowski is done for the year, which puts Lloyd back into position for a massive workload. He should see seven-to-nine targets and has a good chance to score, especially with Cary Williams and Chykie Brown in coverage.
Boldin has handled 18 targets during the Ravens’ first-two playoff games. That works out to 34 percent of Flacco’s throws. Smith has seen just 10 targets, but had a pair of long touchdowns against Denver. Both get a boost with Baltimore likely to throw more than usual this week. Boldin works the slot on 56 percent of his offensive snaps, which means he’ll go up against underwhelming Kyle Arrington quite often. Smith plays solely on the outside, but plays each side about evenly. He’ll hope to see more of struggling Aqib Talib than impressive Alfonzo Dennard.
8. Randy Moss - SF (@ATL)
Moss has handled exactly four targets in five of his last six games. He’ll start opposite Crabtree, but isn’t an every-down player anymore. Lining up wide to the left of Kaepernick about 60 percent of the time, he’ll see plenty of Dunta Robinson, who has been awful in coverage this season.
9. Harry Douglas - ATL (vs. SF)
10. Jacoby Jones - BLT (@NE)
Douglas and Jones will be lucky to combine for a half dozen targets, but they play enough to warrant their own tier. Douglas will be covered by Carlos Rogers in the slot. Jones is usually to Flacco’s right, which is usually where New England lines us Talib. If Talib chases Smith, as rumored, Jones will have his hands full with Dennard.
11. Ted Ginn - SF (@ATL)
12. Deion Branch - NE (vs. BLT)
13. Tandon Doss - BLT (@NE)
14. Drew Davis - ATL (vs. SF)
Before I move on, I wanted to share these snap distribution/matchup charts, courtesy of the fine work done at ProFootballFocus.com:
*Includes only the games Talib played in full
1. Aaron Hernandez - NE (vs. BLT)
Hernandez figures to play every snap this week with Gronkowski done for the year. He’s totaled 66 games over his last seven games, including a three-game span where he totaled 43 snaps while Gronkowski was out. He’s a safe bet to approach double-digit targets this week, and will be Brady’s go-to receiver in the red zone.
2. Tony Gonzalez - ATL (vs. SF)
Although Gonzalez’s targets have been down during the second half of the season, the good news is that he’s enjoyed seven-plus targets in four of his last five games. That includes a seven-target, six-catch, 51-yard, one-score performance against Seattle this past week. He’ll be heavily involved, especially with Jones and White dealing with Brown, Rogers, and Culliver on the outside.
3. Dennis Pitta - BLT (@NE)
Pitta has totaled just seven targets during the team’s two playoff games, but it will help that the team figures to throw more this week. He’s still Flacco’s third option in the pass game, which usually means five-to-seven looks. He’s a big step down from Gonzalez, but is a better option than either 49ers tight end.
4. Vernon Davis - SF (@ATL)
5. Delanie Walker - SF (@ATL) Walker has seen 12 percent of Kaepernick’s targets since Week 12. Davis has managed just nine percent. The good news for Davis is that he was targeted five times in the team’s win over Green Bay on Saturday. While promising, he’s too risky to use in playoff fantasy leagues. Walker leads the NFL in drop rate, which makes his expanded role a bit puzzling.
6. Ed Dickson - BLT (@NE)
7. Michael Hoomanawanui - NE (vs. BLT)
8. Michael Palmer - ATL (vs. SF)
1. Stephen Gostkowski – NE (vs. BLT)
2. Matt Bryant – ATL (vs. SF)
3. Justin Tucker – BLT (@NE)
4. David Akers– SF (@ATL)
Team Defense / Special Teams
1. 49ers (@ATL)
2. Patriots (vs. BLT)
3. Falcons (vs. SF)
4. Ravens (@ NE)