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Road To The Super Bowl
Wildcard Weekend

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

Before we get into the picks, let’s briefly review the rules and how we may use them to our advantage: 1) passing TDs are four points, so passing yards are valued more highly here than in the Fuzzy’s leagues I’ll talk about later; 2) all field goals are worth three points, which means we are more concerned about volume of field goals than distance; 3) this is non-PPR scoring, which obviously favors the big-play threats; and 4) team wins are worth five points, so picking a “winning” defense is worth almost a touchdown and could be worth as much as 3.5 TDs if you pick a defense from this week and that team ends up winning the Super Bowl.

Given the bonus point modifier mentioned above, I could understand an owner making the decision to pass on selecting a defense this week and electing to get twice as many points from a defense such as the Steelers in the Divisional Round. (I’m not saying I would do that, just suggesting that it is a strategy to consider.)

Here are the most worthy candidates by position:

Michael Vick/Aaron Rodgers/ /Peyton Manning/Drew Brees/ /Matt Cassel/Joe Flacco/ /Mark Sanchez/Matt Hasselbeck/Charlie Whitehurst

On bye: Tom Brady/ Ben Roethlisberger/Matt Ryan/Jay Cutler

Jamaal Charles/LeSean McCoy/Ray Rice/LaDainian Tomlinson/Joseph Addai/Reggie Bush/Julius Jones/Thomas Jones/Brandon Jackson/Marshawn Lynch/Shonn Greene

On bye: Rashard Mendenhall/Michael Turner/Matt Forte/BenJarvus Green-Ellis/Danny Woodhead

Dwayne Bowe/Greg Jennings/DeSean Jackson/Reggie Wayne/Jeremy Maclin/Marques Colston/Santonio Holmes/Braylon Edwards/Pierre Garcon/Lance Moore/Derrick Mason/Anquan Boldin/James Jones/Robert Meachem/Mike Williams/Ben Obomanu/Donald Driver/Blair White

On bye: Roddy White/Mike Wallace/Wes Welker/Johnny Knox/Deion Branch/Hines Ward/Earl Bennett/Devin Hester

Jacob Tamme/Todd Heap/Dustin Keller/Brent Celek/Jimmy Graham/Tony Moeaki/Jeremy Shockey

On bye: Aaron Hernandez/Rob Gronkowski/Tony Gonzalez/Greg Olsen/Heath Miller

David Akers/Nick Folk/Adam Vinatieri/Garrett Hartley/Billy Cundiff/Mason Crosby/Ryan Succop/Olindo Mare

On bye: Shayne Graham/Shaun Suisham/Matt Bryant/Robbie Gould


On bye: Steelers/Bears/Patriots/Falcons

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

QB: Rodgers. With all the productive QBs playing this week, there’s no reason to wait on a bye-week QB (thereby eliminating Brady, Roethlisberger, Cutler and Ryan). And given the offenses of four other teams (Cassel, Flacco, Sanchez, Hasselbeck or Whitehurst), the choice comes down to Vick, Rodgers, Manning and Brees. While the Eagles “bye” week in Week 17 was needed by several members of the offense, the truth is that Philly has played little more than one good quarter of offensive football over the last four games. Vick is needlessly putting the entire offense on his shoulders and taking too much punishment. Zone-blitz defenses like the Packers are the best in defending Vick because they don’t hesitate to pressure the quarterback with the added benefit of always having their eye on him should he leave the pocket; Green Bay has the added benefit of having played against him already. With the success teams have enjoyed blitzing Vick of late, look for CB Charles Woodson to notch a sack or two. If Manning still had Austin Collie available, I’d be tempted to go with him, but with the Jets and their two top CBs coming to town, I don’t expect a repeat of Manning’s AFC Championship Game last year.

Therefore, it comes down to Brees and Rodgers for me. I believe Green Bay can go to Philadelphia and win, but New Orleans is a much better bet to advance past Seattle. With that said, New Orleans may enter this weekend with at least eight players carrying questionable tags, including Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham and Jeremy Shockey (Chris Ivory was placed on IR Tuesday and Pierre Thomas followed suit on Wednesday). That’s enough reason to downgrade Brees just enough that I will take the chance that Rodgers’ Packers will upset the Eagles on the road. Despite Philadelphia’s reputation on defense, the secondary is beat up to the point where an elite QB should have his way with them. And with the depth of WR talent at Rodgers’ disposal, I will take him and expect HC Mike McCarthy to spend a great deal of the game exploiting the secondary (especially CB Dimitri Patterson) with spread formations as often as possible.

RB: Rice and Charles. Once again, let’s quickly eliminate the players that deserve next to no consideration (of course, let’s discard Turner, Forte, Green-Ellis, Woodhead and Mendenhall this week due to their byes. It should be noted, however, I would give strong consideration to playing the “Law Firm” this week and believe his 2x production would cover my zero this week and pay off for me with 3x in the AFC Championship and 4x in the Super Bowl) . Next, let’s remove Tomlinson, Addai, Bush, Julius and Thomas Jones, Jackson and Lynch. LT hasn’t posted a strong non-PPR game in months and figures to lose more than half of the touches in the Jets’ backfield to Greene, Addai is still coming back from injury and facing a stout run defense, Bush and Julius Jones can’t be counted on to play much and/or stay healthy, Jackson is in a three-headed RBBC and Lynch is running behind an awful o-line.

After weeding out the backs above, the choice becomes two of following four RBs: Charles, McCoy, Rice and Greene. HC Rex Ryan suggested that Greene’s workload would increase in the postseason (much like it did last season) and that he would be used as a ‘battering ram”. While that may sound great in theory, LT isn’t just going to completely fade from the playoff picture like Thomas Jones did last season and given Greene’s lack of usage in the passing game, he becomes a non-factor very quickly if Indy jumps ahead quick or can continue its run-stuffing ways. Also consider the notion that the Jets may also be a one-and-out team and it is just not worth the risk this week.

As far as McCoy is concerned, it’s hard to feel giddy about a RB who often gets vultured in the red zone by his own QB. Four of his nine scores this year came in the first week of the season and now he faces a Packers’ defense that has surrendered five TDs to the RB position all season long. Despite his 5.2 YPC average, McCoy will get bumped by two similar RBs who have seen a steadier workload recently and have a better chance at scoring. In Rice, I will be selecting a back that has seen his carries increase recently. Although I admit Willis McGahee is the goal-line vulture of all goal-line vultures, Rice is every bit the all-around threat McCoy is (with more touches). Plus, there’s no guarantee McGahee will replace him inside the five, as both RBs have three scores from five yards in or less. As for Charles, will Baltimore be just the second defense this season to hold him under 4.0 YPC? Perhaps, but I bet if HC Todd Haley is going to see his Chiefs go down as a one-and-out team this year, he’ll do it by emptying Charles’ gas tank. I also have to believe that Baltimore will not become just the third defense this season to hold Charles under double-digit fantasy points.

WR: Jennings and Garcon. Once again, with only two spots available here, let’s eliminate most of the bottom half of the list-worthy receivers (Boldin, Jones, Meachem, Williams, Obomanu, Driver and White). The most troubling one of that bunch to toss away is Boldin, but with only two double-digit fantasy point totals over the second half of the season and no plans by OC Cam Cameron to free him up with motion or using him in the slot, there’s not a ton of reason to believe his fall from grace will end anytime soon. The second round of cuts is a bit tougher, but let’s eliminate Wayne (will be covered by Darrelle Revis), Colston (may be limited followed arthroscopic knee surgery last week), Edwards (too hot-and-cold in a run-oriented offense against a defense that has struggled more with physical receivers than deep threats), and Moore (more of a PPR asset than non-PPR).

As a result, we are left with Bowe, Jennings, Jackson, Maclin, Holmes, Garcon and Mason. I will eliminate both Eagles WRs from the mix as Green Bay has been very good against opposing WRs (third-stingiest in non-PPR) all season long and when it has struggled, it has been against the “physical freaks” such as Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant, which Maclin and Jackson are not. (Maclin is a zone beater and willing to run over the middle, however, so he is certainly the better pick of the two Eagles’ receivers.) I think Mason is the best bet among Ravens’ receivers this week, but I cannot put a lot of faith into him when I expect Baltimore to run the ball so much. Holmes is a strong consideration despite the matchup (the Colts are the fifth-stingiest defense against opposing WRs this season), but I don’t want to count on both Sanchez being “on fire” and Holmes overcoming a pass defense that has allowed just 11 passing scores to the position this year.

Let’s go ahead and lock in Jennings as one receiver as he has the QB (Rodgers) and likely matchup (Patterson) to explode this weekend. Thus, my other spot is left to Garcon or Bowe, who I would prefer to not start this week after watching the Chiefs come out flat in Week 17 as if they were down about the imminent departure of OC Charlie Weis. On the other hand, Garcon figures to draw Antonio Cromartie in coverage for most of the day, but ever since he has been able to practice regularly (since about the midpoint of the season), he seems to have found his way back into Manning’s good graces and has done a good job picking up some of the slack since Collie went down. While bigger WRs like Bowe have caused problems for the Ravens recently, I’m afraid my decision will go down to the deadline as I tend to favor receivers with better QBs. Therefore, that means that right now I’ll take Garcon over Bowe, in part because I believe he also has a better chance at earning me bonus points in the coming weeks.

TE: Tamme. As we discussed in the Blitz late in the season, there’s not a lot to love at the TE position until next season. While it is tempting to leave this spot open and hope that someone like Gronkowski will pay off big next week, I cannot advise making such a move. Once again, byes should eliminate Hernandez, Gronkowski, Gonzalez, Olsen and Miller from consideration. Let’s also say goodbye to Shockey, Moeaki, Celek, Keller and Heap. Of that group, Heap warrants some consideration, but the combination of his injury history and the Chiefs’ ability to defend the TE is a bit much for me to overcome.

As a result, the list comes down to a pair of players that no fantasy owner could have realistically considered at midseason: Tamme and Graham. While I’m likely to put Graham among my top 10 TEs for 2011, I don’t think there is any chance he is going to see near the amount of attention Tamme will this weekend, especially in light of his ankle injury. With the Jets’ CBs likely doing a good job on the Colts’ starting wideouts and Blair White not likely to carry the day, I could easily see something around 80-100 yards and a score from Tamme.

K: Vinatieri. Kickers never get the respect they deserve – even in fantasy – but when the game is on the line in the closing seconds, is there any position more important at that point? With that said, in regular season fantasy leagues, it’s understandable they are drafted where they are because it has been well-established that you can pretty well throw out last season’s top 10 when putting together a ranking for the following season. It’s not unlike the feeling of trying to pick a kicker in the postseason.

For example, it would not surprise me in the least if Olindo Mare was the best fantasy kicker this weekend, but his likely one-and-done status doesn’t appeal to me. Let’s also remember that game flow plays a large role in determining the best kicker on a weekly basis. At the same time, kicker is the one position in this scoring format that I wouldn’t mind adjusting week to week. What I do want in my kicker (again in this scoring format where distance does not matter) is for him to play in a good offense that tends to bog down in the red zone and/or is playing against a stout defense. An added bonus would be if the kicker has an indoor game or two in his future and is known to be “clutch”. With only one “dome game” this weekend (and only two teams likely to host an indoor game this postseason), all this leads me to Vinatieri, who is much more dependable than Folk and plays for an offense that figures to move the ball but will likely struggle to score TDs this weekend. I think that although Mare may give me a point or two more this weekend, I’ll settle for a 1-2 XP, three-FG game from Vinatieri this week and hope he can deliver a similar game next week when my 2x point modifier could take effect.

DST: Saints. Because the “team win” component stands out for the defense/special teams, it becomes quite advantageous to select a unit that will likely win unless a projected losing defense can be counted on to score on a return (which typically it cannot). Although recent history suggests that at least two home teams will win this week (it has happened in each of the last three seasons in the Wildcard Round), this year a case could be made that each road team will advance – something that has not happened since 1989, the year before the NFL added two more teams to the playoff mix in each conference (from four to six). The Colts strike me as the most likely “home winner” while the Seahawks and Chiefs appear to be the least likely. The toughest one to call by default would then be the Packers-Eagles game. As a result, the first round of cuts should be the Jets, Seahawks, Chiefs, Packers and Eagles, leaving us with the Colts, Ravens and Saints.

Are we to believe the Colts have found their run defense after holding three straight opponents under 80 yards rushing? It’s possible, but I’d just as soon not risk it if I don’t have to quite yet. Plus, I don’t see the Jets calling a great deal of passing plays this week, meaning the sack-strip – which has been such a big part of the Indy defense over the years – doesn’t figure to bail owners out this week. This leaves us with the Ravens – who will face the conservative, run-heavy Chiefs – and Saints, who will square off against a Seahawks’ team that will need to throw a lot to offset their porous running game. With the running game providing little threat, I expect Saints DC Gregg Williams to dial up blitz after blitz against whichever QB Seattle decides to trot out this week. I don’t believe for a second that Whitehurst is ready for a Williams-coached defense nor do I believe Hasselbeck will last the entire game if he draws the start against New Orleans. As a result, I’ll predict 13 points allowed (four fantasy points) three sacks (three), two interceptions (four), a fumble recovery (two) and a team win (five) from the Saints, all the while hoping that I can also squeeze out a return touchdown. If I can get those stat totals (minus the TD) from the Saints this weekend, they will post a very respectable 18 points for me and may also be my choice next week if they draw the Bears (but let’s hold off on that until then).

Fearless predictions for my selected team:
Rodgers: 315 passing yards, three passing TDs, 30 yards rushing (27 fantasy points)
Rice: 90 rushing yards, one rushing TD, 30 receiving yards (18 points)
Charles: 85 rushing yards, 40 receiving yards (12 points)
Garcon: 85 receiving yards, one receiving TD (14 points)
Jennings: 130 receiving yards, two receiving TD (25 points)
Tamme: 90 receiving yards, one receiving TD (15 points)
Vinatieri: two extra points, three field goals (11 points)
Saints DST: 13 PA, three sacks, two INTs, a fumble recovery and a team win (18 points)

Projected Total: 140 fantasy points


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
  Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4 Team 5
QB Rodgers Vick Rodgers Vick Rodgers
RB Rice Charles Rice Rice Charles
RB Charles McCoy McCoy Charles McCoy
WR Jennings Jennings Jennings Jennings Jennings
WR Garcon Garcon Garcon Maclin Bowe
WR Maclin Bowe Maclin Bowe Mason
TE Tamme Tamme Tamme Tamme Tamme
K Akers Hartley Hartley Crosby Mare
DST Saints Ravens Ravens Saints Saints
Tie Vick Rodgers Vick Rodgers Vick

As I stated in the section regarding the QBs, there are four realistic options this week – Rodgers, Brees, Vick and Manning. Although Brees has a great matchup – albeit in a hostile environment – I cannot select him if he isn’t going to have Colston or Graham anywhere close to 100%. Manning’s matchup is also too tough without Collie to put much faith in him, especially when the other two options can both supplement their passing-game numbers with yards and potential scores on the ground.

In this PPR scoring format, there are really only three real choices to make a RB this week: Charles, Rice and McCoy. With 10 RB slots open to me on these teams, I’ll likely employ a 4-3-3 attack with Charles representing the “4”. Each back’s potential workload is capped and all three could be vultured at the goal line, although I feel Charles is the safest play of the three (his 6.4 YPC this season helps my thinking in this case).

Jennings will be in the lineup for all my teams this week. After that, I don’t feel like there is a must-start out of the rest of the bunch. In my mind, the best remaining receiver candidates for this week are Bowe, Maclin, Holmes, Garcon, Moore and Mason. Of this bunch, I believe Bowe, Maclin, Garcon and Mason are the most likely receivers to find the end zone this week, although I will not likely put Mason on more than one team despite the fact he should be facing burnable CB Brandon Carr most of the day. I’m also not going to tempt fate by playing Reggie Wayne, who is likely to draw a rested Darrelle Revis in coverage all day long. And despite the questionable health of Colston’s knee, I’m not ready to trust Moore will come through with huge numbers this week.

At TE, I feel very safe with Tamme and no one else…end of story. My kicker selection is not so easy, however. Because distance matters in this scoring format, I’ll probably spread the wealth between Akers, Crosby, Hartley and Mare – all of which have the leg to hit 50-yarders in less-than-ideal conditions. Finally, my defensive picks come down to the teams who I feel have the path of least resistance – the Saints and the Ravens.

With very few exceptions, my tiebreaker picks each week figures to be my No. 2 choice at QB. Not only do quarterbacks score the most fantasy points in this kind of scoring setup, but there are the best bets to post 20+ points each week. In the cases of Rodgers and Vick, both players can give their owners elite QB numbers while providing significant scoring on the ground as well.

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