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Road To The Super Bowl
Super Bowl

Whether you are still basking in the success you enjoyed in cruising to your fantasy league's title, still smarting over your teams' inability to close the deal in your fantasy postseason or just aren't ready to hang up your owner's hat quite yet, playoff fantasy football may be just the thing you need to end this season right.

I'll be the first to admit that playoff fantasy football doesn't appeal to me quite as much as the usual 16-week marathon, but that doesn't mean I don't still enjoy it. And coming off my most profitable fantasy season yet, I'm looking to make a great season even better. For better or for worse, I want to share my experience with you (no matter which category mentioned in the first paragraph you may fall under) in hopes that some of you can end this season on a definite high note.

After getting my first taste of owning multiple teams in playoff leagues last year (and making a bit of money from it, I’m expanding my horizons this time around. In addition to owning one team, I will be taking part in several money leagues with Fuzzy's Fantasy Football. My goal over the next four weeks will be to help each of you through your decision-making process as you attempt to boost your bottom line.

For a complete rundown of how players will score fantasy points for your team, click on this link. However, much of the content immediately below is included on the “How to Play” page, so what I provide here should be more than enough to follow along easily.

The object of the game is to pick the players you think will perform best in their playoff matchup. Select one QB, two RBs, two WRs, one TE, one K and one D/ST. You will earn fantasy points based on their on-field performance during their game, and if your player's team wins, you will have the option to carry that player over to the next round, where he will earn a bonus point modifier to his score.

For example, if you pick Drew Brees in the Wild Card round and the Saints win, you can carry him over to the Divisional Round, and earn two times (2x) the points he earns in his divisional round game. If New Orleans wins again, you can carry Brees into the Conference Championships for 3x his points, and if the Saints win again, you can carry him into the Super Bowl and earn 4x his points. In addition, a user can select a player in the Wild Card round even if their team has a bye into the Divisional Round. In this case, the user would not earn any points for the Wild Card round, but would then be eligible to earn 2x points in the Divisional round, since the player was on the team’s roster for 2 weekly scoring periods. Further bonus point modifiers would also apply as long as that player’s team continued in the NFL Playoffs. Scoring System
Offense Statistic (QB, RB, WR, TE, K) Fantasy Points
Rushing or Receiving Touchdown: 6 fantasy points
Passing Touchdown: 4 fantasy points
Field Goal: 3 fantasy points
Passing, Rushing or Receiving Two-Point Conversion: 2 fantasy points
Rushing or Receiving: 1 fantasy point per 10 yards
Passing: 1 fantasy point per 25 yards
Extra Point: 1 fantasy point
Defense/Special Teams (D/ST)  
Punt Returned Touchdown: 6 fantasy points
Kickoff Returned Touchdown: 6 fantasy points
Fumble Returned Touchdown: 6 fantasy points
Interception Returned Touchdown: 6 fantasy points
Allowing 0 Points: 10 fantasy points
Allowing 2-6 Points: 7 fantasy points
Allowing 7-13 Points: 4 fantasy points
Allowing 14-17 Points: 1 fantasy points
Allowing 18-21 Points: 0 fantasy points
Allowing 22-27 Points: -1 fantasy points
Allowing 28-34 Points: -4 fantasy points
Allowing 35-45 Points: -7 fantasy points
Allowing 46+ Points: -10 fantasy points
Team Win: 5 fantasy points
Interception: 2 fantasy points
Fumble Recovery: 2 fantasy points
Blocked Punt: 2 fantasy points
Blocked Field Goal or Blocked Extra Point: 2 fantasy points
Safety: 2 fantasy points
Sack: 1 fantasy points

Let’s get right into the most worthy candidates by position:

Ben Roethlisberger/Aaron Rodgers

Rashard Mendenhall/Brandon Jackson/James Starks

Mike Wallace/Hines Ward/Emmanuel Sanders/Antonio Brown/Greg Jennings/James Jones/Donald Driver/Jordy Nelson

Heath Miller/Andrew Quarless

Shaun Suisham/Mason Crosby


Let’s get to my picks and my rationale for each position:

QB: Rodgers (x4). There’s really no question at this point what QB I will be using in the Super Bowl, so let’s instead take a deeper look at why Rodgers would be the pick even without the bonus point modifier.

In the Packers and the Steelers, Super Bowl XLV is getting an intriguing matchup between two teams that are more alike than you think. Both offenses do a great job of sticking with the run – even when it is not working – even though each team knows its QB is the straw that stirs its drink. Both teams go four-deep at WR and sprinkle in the TE when necessary (in Green Bay’s case, Jermichael Finley would have been a featured part of the gameplan all season long and in this game as well had he remained healthy). On defense, both teams run an aggressive 3-4 defense with great point men (NTs B.J. Raji and Casey Hampton) and All-Pro caliber OLBs (James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Clay Matthews). The similarities are almost endless, so suffice it to say that Green Bay and Pittsburgh are almost like long-lost brothers, which some come as little surprise since Packers DC Dom Capers used to work for Steelers DC Dick LeBeau and the two remain close to this day.

In the end, there are a few key factors that sway me towards Rodgers as the pick: 1) the Steelers’ run defense, 2) the quality of Pittsburgh’s defensive backs beyond CB Ike Taylor and S Troy Polamalu and 3) Green Bay’s overall reliance on Rodgers to “be” the offense. Some teams have enjoyed limited success against the Steelers’ run defense, but overall if an opponent is going to score on Pittsburgh, it will come via the pass. Taylor has emerged as an under-the-radar “shadow” CB recently and Polamalu is already well-known for his ability to always be around the ball, but if there is a weak part of the Steelers’ defense, it is the secondary aside from those two DBs. As for the Packers’ reliance on Rodgers, it has been that way for most of the season, but will be even more evident in Super Bowl XLV because the Steelers’ run defense is just that good.

RB: Mendenhall (2x) and Starks. Because we have reached the final game of the NFL season and with this being a non-PPR scoring format, there are really only two candidates worth considering (unless you have a strong feeling John Kuhn will score a short TD against a defense that has allowed a total of five scores to the RB position all season long, including the playoffs). With C Maurkice Pouncey likely out (or extremely limited) for the Super Bowl, Mendenhall’s job just got that much tougher. By all accounts, Pouncey has been the rock of the offensive line, if not its best player all season long. Then again, he has been dealing with a different offensive line combination seemingly every week, so maybe we shouldn’t expect that much of a dropoff from the Steelers’ RB.

Even though the Packers’ backfield is technically still a three-man committee, Starks is starting to command more and more of the workload. Whether or not that makes a big difference in playoff fantasy leagues this weekend depends entirely on how often Green Bay’s “bone” formation can provide Starks a hole to run through. HC Mike McCarthy has done a great job of sticking with the run during the postseason. Green Bay would be wise to give Starks at least 15 more carries – and call approximately 22-25 run plays – against Pittsburgh in an effort to take just a bit of the onus for winning the game off Rodgers and his receivers.

WR: Jennings (4x) and Wallace (2x). Given the WR depth both teams possess, there is a very high probability that neither Jennings nor Wallace will be the star at their position, especially when you factor in the cornerback that will likely be defending them for the majority of the contest. Pittsburgh CB Ike Taylor has been used in a “shadow” role of late and will likely be tasked with keeping Jennings in check. On the other side, Wallace will probably see equal time with CBs Tramon Williams (the defensive star from the secondary in the first two playoff games) and Sam Shields (the standout from the NFC Championship). Wallace has the speed and ability to defeat either defensive back, but it’s getting harder to back him when he is seeing a safety over the top regularly plus Ward isn’t making the opponent pay over on the other side. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this competition, I need to stick with the two players that have the bonus point modifiers going for them.

As for the likely standouts at the WR position in this game, I’m tempted to say Antonio Brown could emerge as the Steelers’ best fantasy receiver in this game because the Packers’ CB depth (Williams, Shields and Charles Woodson) should neutralize Pittsburgh’s trio of Ward, Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders on a fairly regular basis. Green Bay has a much better chance to give fantasy owners a wild-card option at WR, as the Packers can create advantageous matchups behind Jennings (Driver, Jones and Nelson) against the likes of Steelers’ CBs Bryant McFadden, Keenan Lewis and William Gay. Recent history suggests the receivers that tend to work out of the slot (such as Jerricho Cotchery did in the AFC Championship) can enjoy more success than the outside receivers, which means Driver and Nelson have a slightly better chance at fantasy success this weekend than Jennings or Jones. Once again, though, I am not so convinced by this research that I am going to move away from Jennings and Wallace and their potential for providing me with huge point totals.

TE: Miller (2x). As much as I would like to make this choice sound interesting, the most noise we should expect from this position is the tweet that Jermichael Finley (along with Packers’ fellow IR occupant Nick Barnett) placed on Twitter last week when they expressed their desire to be included in the team’s Super Bowl photo. Three Green Bay TEs have combined to catch five passes for 48 yards and a TD in three playoff games. Miller, on the other hand, hasn’t set the world on fire with seven catches for 77 yards and a score in two postseason games, but at least he is a trusted and somewhat reliable source of fantasy points when compared to the Packers’ trio of TEs. Because Green Bay should be able to limit the damage of Pittsburgh’s top three WRs on a regular basis, Miller might end up becoming a featured receiver in the game against Green a Packers defense that struggled against the position in the regular season.

K: Suisham (2x). This is one is easy for me, if only because I predicted Green Bay-Pittsburgh last week and decided Suisham was the better choice at that time. Nevertheless, the reason I feel this is an easy pick is because the Steelers will be more content in settling for field goals than the Packers will. What do I mean by that? Despite Green Bay’s second-place finish (behind Pittsburgh) in scoring defense this season, the Packers’ identity is more offensive. On the other side, the Steelers have always maintained a defense-first mentality and trust that unit will always get the stop when the team needs it the most. The injury to Pouncey also increases the likelihood that Pittsburgh will use a slightly more conservative gameplan and decreases the likelihood it will find the end zone all that often. In short, I expect a lot of field goal attempts from Suisham.

D/ST: Packers (2x). Much my kicker dilemma, my decision was made last week when I forecasted a Packers-Steelers game in Super Bowl XLV. While both offenses could turn this into a shootout like the last time these teams met (last season, Week 15), the Green Bay offense scares me just a bit more than Pittsburgh’s. And while it has been proven time and again that no offense thrives consistently against the Steelers’ defense, the Packers’ ability to spread the field and Rodgers’ ability to buy time in the pocket make them one of the toughest matchups Pittsburgh could face.

Fearless predictions for my selected team:
Rodgers: 310 pass yards, two pass TDs, one INT, 15 yards rushing (19 fantasy points x 4)
Mendenhall: 75 rushing yards, one rushing TD, 20 receiving yards (15 points x 2)
Starks: 40 rushing yards, 15 receiving yards (5 points)
Jennings: 60 receiving yards (5 points x 4)
Wallace: 45 receiving yards (4 points x 2)
Miller: 60 receiving yards, one receiving TD (12 points x 2)
Suisham: two extra points, three field goals (11 points x 2)
Packers DST: 23 PA, four sacks, one INT, one fumble recovery and a team win (12 points x 2)

Projected Total: 209 fantasy points (includes points via bonus point modifiers)


Most of the scoring parameters used above apply here as well. The key differences are as follows: no bonus point modifiers (including team win points although more fantasy points are awarded to kickers who kick long field goals) and PPR scoring where all TDs are worth six points. In short, your goal is to pick the highest-scoring lineup each week with no strings attached. Additionally, each owner is asked to select a tiebreaker each week which will be used to break any ties following the Super Bowl. Fuzzy's leagues contain no more than 50 teams whereas most other major sites employ a one-man-against-the-world approach. As a result, 20% of the entrants into Fuzzy's playoff leagues will - at the very least - recoup their entry fee, with first through ninth place receiving a nice return on investment for their troubles. Follow this link for a complete list of the rules.

Position Requirements: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 Defense/Special Teams

Since I will be running several teams with Fuzzy’s this season, I’ll simply list my teams below and present a brief overview on my overall thought process. Depending on how strongly I feel about matchups in a given week, I may use the same lineup in more than one league, but in general, I believe in “diversifying my portfolio” in the postseason as well.

 Fuzzy Portfolio - Conference Championships
  Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4 Team 5
QB Rodgers Rodgers Rodgers Rodgers Rodgers
RB Forte Forte Forte Forte Forte
RB Mendenhall Mendenhall Mendenhall Mendenhall Mendenhall
WR Edwards Edwards Driver Edwards Edwards
WR Holmes Holmes Holmes Holmes Holmes
WR Jennings Jennings Jennings Wallace Wallace
TE Olsen Miller Miller Miller Olsen
K Crosby Suisham Suisham Suisham Crosby
DST Packers Packers Steelers Packers Steelers
Tie Roethlisberger Roethlisberger Roethlisberger Roethlisberger Roethlisberger
WC Pt Tot  85.2 135.8 102.3  80.4 94.0 
DR Pt Tot 102.3 116.4 91.5 116.8 89.8
CC Pt Tot 133.1 135.9 124.8 116.5 128.1

It was a banner week across the board, if I may so myself. For four of my five teams, it may have come one week too late. Team 1 (30th place) and Team 3 (31st) face long odds of finishing in the money in my most expensive league, each of which are more than 30 fantasy points behind the 10th place entrant. In another cheaper league, Team 4 (27th) is also roughly 30 points behind the 10th place entrant. And finally, in the cheapest league, Team 5 (30th) is 35 points off the money.

However, for one team, last week was just what the doctor ordered. In addition to Team 2 scoring the second-most points in the league in the Conference Championship round, this team caught a few breaks as each of the three teams in front of it scored at least 10 points less than my team did. In fact, the two leaders struggled to reach 100 points for the week, leaving my team with a nice 10+ point working margin over the second-place team heading into the Super Bowl. While I realize that lead could fade quickly, I also recognize the fact that just about every lineup this week will feature Rodgers as the QB, Starks and Mendenhall at RB, Jennings and Wallace at WR and Miller at TE. Therefore, to win this league, I feel as if I must win the battle at three positions: WR3, K and DST. As a result, those positions will be the ones I discuss below.

 Fuzzy Portfolio - Super Bowl
  Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4 Team 5
QB Rodgers Rodgers Rodgers Rodgers Rodgers
RB Mendenhall Mendenhall Mendenhall Mendenhall Mendenhall
RB Starks Starks Starks Starks Starks
WR Jennings Jennings Driver Jennings Jennings
WR Wallace Nelson Jennings Nelson Wallace
WR Ward Wallace Wallace Wallace Ward
TE Miller Miller Miller Miller Miller
K Crosby Suisham Suisham Suisham Crosby
DST Packers Packers Steelers Steelers Packers
Tie Roethlisberger Roethlisberger Roethlisberger Roethlisberger Roethlisberger

At receiver, I’m a bit torn about choosing between an old favorite (Ward) and perhaps the most talented WR4 in the league (Nelson). Why? Because although Ward has seen his targets drop this season – especially in recent weeks – he is still a crafty veteran that Roethlisberger leans on at critical times throughout a game. Conversely, Nelson has seen his targets rise recently, seeing his overall numbers spike in the playoffs - particularly in the last two games against the Falcons and Bears did a fair job in stopping the run. There’s little reason to suspect Starks is going to do much on the ground this weekend, thus I expect a Wes Welker-like line from the Kansas State product.

Driver makes some sense as he will be working the slot, but he’s the least explosive of the Packers’ wideouts in a game where manufacturing big plays will be critical. Jones probably offers the most upside of any WR in this game not named Jennings or Wallace, but he is a definite boom-or-bust option. Because Pittsburgh is a defense that just doesn’t give up big plays on a regular basis, I’m leaning more toward bust. As for the Steelers, Sanders has the talent to step up in this game, but Green Bay’s depth at CB suggests he isn’t going to break free for the big play he will need to make a difference for fantasy owners. Brown has the best shot of the Steelers’ receivers to be a nice fantasy option, in my opinion, but I just can’t see him playing enough snaps for me to risk my first-place team’s standing on it.

We know the deal with fantasy kickers by now. I’d be foolish to suggest that either kicker is a “lock” to outscore the other – especially when you consider the big leg of Crosby – but my preferred option will likely be Suisham. To make a long story short, I expect the Steelers will do whatever it can to limit the possessions in this game. I expect nothing resembling the 37-36 shootout from last season and believe that Pouncey’s injury will play a pivotal role in Pittsburgh settling for field goals. It’s also notable that just one kicker has attempted as many as two field goals in a game against the Steelers since Week 12. On the other hand, the Packers haven’t even allowed a field goal attempt in the past two games. Still, if I am pressed to make a decision on this position, I feel there is a greater chance Pittsburgh will set Suisham up for multiple field goal attempts.

Much like the kicker position, game flow will almost always determine which defense is the better play. While both defenses have big-play capability, it’s rarely ever a good idea to count on a return score from a defense/special teams unit in any given game. As a result, an owner is usually best served by projecting which defense/special teams unit is the better bet for sacks and/or turnovers. While I acknowledge the many similarities between Green Bay and Pittsburgh, the most lopsided matchup – if there is such a thing in this game – is the Packers’ receivers vs. the Steelers’ secondary. Also remember that minus Pouncey, Green Bay should have at least 8-10 opportunities to pressure Roethlisberger, some of which could come right up the middle from NT B.J. Raji. Interior pressure is generally the kind that tends to force turnovers, which makes me believe the Packers’ DST is the way to go this week.


Just like I did for last season’s Super Bowl, I’ll put my forecasting skills to the ultimate test by predicting the final score. It’s hard to overlook the Steelers’ edge in overall Super Bowl experience, which means they could easily take advantage of the Packers early on as Green Bay gets settled in. With that said, the Packers’ offensive gameplan from the start will almost certainly be to spread the field with four-WR sets and force S Troy Polamalu into coverage all game long. And much like three of the four teams that defeated the Steelers this year (Ravens, Saints and Patriots), Green Bay has the receiver corps to do it. As I stated earlier, I don’t expect a repeat of last year’s shootout between these two teams and given the fact the Packers haven’t trailed in a game by more than a touchdown at any point all season long, this contest figures to be close throughout. In the end, I tend to believe that Pouncey’s injury along with Pittsburgh’s lack of quality depth at defensive back will be its undoing.


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