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Doug Orth | Archive | Email | Twitter
Staff Writer

Super Bowl
Road to the 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 or not quite 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 winning one of my playoff money leagues last season, I’m ready for another shot at the dough. 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 Eli Manning in the Wild Card round and the Saints win, you can carry him over to the Super Bowl, 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 Championship round for 3x the points, and if the Saints make the Super Bowl, you can earn 4x the points. In addition, a user can select a player/defense in the Wild Card round even if their team has a bye into the Super Bowl. 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 Conference Championships, since the player was on the team’s roster for two 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 discuss 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 a non-PPR format, 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 Ravens in the Super Bowl. (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:

Tom Brady/Eli Manning

BenJarvus Green-Ellis/Danny Woodhead/Ahmad Bradshaw/Brandon Jacobs

Wes Welker/Deion Branch/Hakeem Nicks/Victor Cruz

Aaron Hernandez/Rob Gronkowski/Jake Ballard

Stephen Gostkowski/Lawrence Tynes


QB: Eli Manning (x2). This decision was made last week. Obviously, if this were a fantasy draft in August, Brady would be the choice. But despite the improvement New England has made on the defensive side of the ball through two playoff games, let’s remember that the Patriots haven’t exactly played against a quarterback the caliber of Eli Manning since, well, about the last time these teams met in Week 9. While the safety combination of Devin McCourty and Pat Chung is bringing a bit of stability to the secondary, I can’t imagine that New England will enjoy a great deal of success pressuring Manning or be able to cover all three of the Giants’ main receivers for very long. On the other hand, Brady will have to deal with something he really hasn’t to face much all season long – consistent pressure from a four-man rush. New York hasn’t really been full strength in its secondary all season long, but I feel as if they are playing about as well as they are going to play. With only Wes Welker to worry about at receiver and Rob Gronkowski playing on an injured ankle, perhaps DC Perry Fewell will get a bit creative and put a CB on Aaron Hernandez, double Welker and shadow Gronkowski with LB Michael Boley or S Antrel Rolle all game long.

RB: Ahmad Bradshaw (x2) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (x1). I think it is safe to say that New York has been preparing for life after Brandon Jacobs for a while now. Over his last five games, Bradshaw has received at least 15 touches each time while Jacobs’ role has been minimized significantly (less than 10 touches in four of those same five games). So since it appears Bradshaw is a no-brainer selection here, which power back should get the nod – Jacobs or Green-Ellis? Let’s face it, neither option seems all that appealing to me in a game that should be all about the passing attacks for both teams. Sure, Green-Ellis is still his team’s top RB option, but when he isn’t getting vultured by his QB at the goal line, he’s running off the field as Danny Woodhead or Aaron Hernandez steal touches from him. However, his expected 10-12 touches sure seem more appealing to me than Jacobs’ likely workload, so I’ll opt for the “Law Firm” and take what I can get. I’d be stunned if either back reaches 60 rushing yards and a TD.

WR: Hakeem Nicks (x2) and Victor Cruz (x1). The obvious choices would be to take the WR1s from both teams. However, I’m a big believer in chasing the players most likely to score touchdowns in a non-PPR format. I’m also not buying that a less-than-100% Rob Gronkowski makes Wes Welker a better bet to visit the end zone. (On that note, please find me the last time Welker ran anything besides a drag route on one of his short red-zone scores…) Nicks missed the first game against the Pats due to injury, which allowed Cruz to continue his storybook season with a six-catch, 91-yard day. Assuming his shoulder continues to feel better than it did during the off week, Nicks should have every chance to return to his dominant numbers from the Giants’ first two playoff games. As for Cruz, let it be known that when he faced his most difficult defensive back of New York’s playoff run so far, Carlos Rogers, he burned him. Of course, that is only half the story since Cruz was completely shut out after the first 30 minutes once San Francisco put physical rookie CB Chris Culliver on him with safety help over the top. Because I expect the Pats’ defense to play a lot of zone this week, this game sets up well for the aforementioned Giants’ receivers who can find the voids and sit down in those spots. Most people would probably suggest it is a bold move to believe Cruz will outscore Welker in fantasy, but with Gronkowski likely only requiring single coverage this week, New York may be tempted to double Welker.

TE: Rob Gronkowski (x1). This decision will go right down to game time. The safe play would be to take Hernandez’s single-game points as opposed to hoping Brady will target Gronk 3-5 times in the red zone despite his injury just because he is such a size mismatch. Jake Ballard is also expected to play a much bigger role in this contest – according to HC Tom Coughlin – now that he has recovered from his lingering knee injury. One could easily make the argument that both Hernandez and Ballard are both better plays than my current choice, but I could also see Gronk catch three balls for 50 yards and two scores. We should have a pretty good idea where Gronkowski is physically during pregame warmups, so I reserve the right to make my final judgment at that point.

K: Lawrence Tynes (x2). Not too much to debate here. I decided last week that I preferred Tynes – who I considered a safer bet to advance – over the other three options and will stick with that choice here. I could easily see this game turn into a six-kick day (three XPs, three FGs) for Tynes or Gostkowski, but I feel that if one offense will struggle to score in this game, it will be New England. Now those relative struggles may result in a high number of field-goal opportunities for Gostkowski, but Tynes is every bit as likely to be that kicker, so I’ll take his 2x option and run with it.

DST: New York Giants (x2). This selection, besides the fact that I have the 2x option already locked in with the Giants, rests on the belief that if one defense will be forcing the action this Sunday, it will not be New England. While the Patriots should enjoy relatively good success stopping the run, I expect they will play zone for the majority of the day and will not blitz all that often. That is a bad combination for fantasy defensive team success considering New York’s offensive line is blocking as well as it has all season and Manning isn’t throwing many interceptions these days. Conversely, the Giants should get a steady rush from their four linemen and are much more likely to force a turnover. All in all, I don’t expect more than 1-2 turnovers in this game, but believe New York is much more likely to force a critical mistake or create a strip-sack that results in a defensive score.

Fearless predictions for my selected team:
Manning: 280 passing yards, two passing TDs (19x2 = 38 points)
Bradshaw: 85 rushing yards, 35 receiving yards (11x2 = 22 points)
Green-Ellis: 55 rushing yards, one rushing TD, 5 receiving yards (11 points)
Nicks: 90 receiving yards, one receiving TD (15x2 = 30 points)
Cruz: 125 receiving yards, one receiving TD (18 points)
Gronkowski: 40 receiving yards, one receiving TD (10x2 = 20 points)
Tynes: three extra points, two field goals (9x2 = 18 points)
Giants DST: 20 PA, two sacks, one turnover and a team win (9x2 = 18 points)

Projected Total: 175 fantasy points

Week 1 Total: 80
Week 2 Total: 243
Week 3 Total: 97

Fearless Super Bowl prediction: Giants 27, Patriots 20


Many of the scoring parameters used above apply here as well. The key differences are as follows: no bonus point modifiers (including team-win points). More fantasy points are awarded to kickers who kick long field goals, PPR scoring is used and 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 playing with 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
QB Manning Brady Brady Brady
RB Rice Rice Rice Rice
RB Bradshaw Bradshaw Bradshaw Bradshaw
WR Boldin Nicks Boldin Boldin
WR Nicks Smith Nicks Nicks
WR Welker Welker Welker Welker
TE Gronkowski Gronkowski Gronkowski Gronkowski
K Akers Akers Akers Akers
DST Giants Giants Giants Giants
Tie Brady Manning Manning Manning
WW Pt Tot 152.8 147.8 152.3 152.8
DR Pt Tot 159.3 178.9 165.9 161.0
CC Pt Tot 116.6 104.9 103.8 103.8

There’s not really much to say this week that hasn’t been said in my previous “Road to the Super Bowl” columns. I will not place in any of my four leagues based primarily on two decisions – not playing Calvin Johnson in the wildcard round and Gronkowski the following week. I suppose it is an appropriate ending to my least successful fantasy season in some time. (Ironically, despite the fact that I struggled with a number of my teams this year, 2011 was also my most profitable season because I was able to claim the title in the biggest money league I’ve ever played in.)

 Fuzzy Portfolio - Super Bowl
  Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
QB Manning Manning Brady Manning
RB Bradshaw Bradshaw Bradshaw Bradshaw
RB Green-Ellis Green-Ellis Green-Ellis Green-Ellis
WR Cruz Cruz Cruz Cruz
WR Nicks Nicks Nicks Nicks
WR Welker Welker Welker Welker
TE Hernandez Hernandez Hernandez Hernandez
K Gostkowski Tynes Gostkowski Tynes
DST Giants Giants Giants Giants
Tie Brady Brady Manning Brady

The choice at QB pretty much comes down to yards vs. touchdowns. I’d be willing to bet Brady will throw for the most yards while Manning strikes me as the player most likely to throw for three scores. I believe I spelled out the argument for each QB in the section, but tend to believe the lack of a healthy Gronkowski tilts the scale in favor of Manning this week.

The fact that Fuzzy’s uses PPR scoring in its playoff leagues makes Woodhead a usable option – albeit weak one – and adds to what most would believe would be a three-horse race between Bradshaw, Green-Ellis and Jacobs. As I hinted earlier, Jacobs’ diminishing workload makes me even more skeptical about using him than I usually am. Additionally, New England’s defense offers much more resistance against the run than it does against the pass, which locks in Bradshaw and Green-Ellis as the starters in each of my four leagues, at least in my mind anyway.

At WR, there are three clear-cut choices (Cruz, Nicks and Welker). Each player is more than capable of posting 20+ fantasy points in this contest, something that cannot be said with a great deal of confidence about the other two realistic options in Manningham and Branch. Manningham actually stands a decent chance of scoring a touchdown in this contest with so much attention focused on Nicks and Cruz, but he has become a clear third option in the Giants’ passing game, running more clear-out routes than anything else these days. Branch may get a nice bump in targets with Gronkowski being limited, but his upside is still extremely limited. With Manningham and Branch both unlikely to see more than five targets, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to use either player when each member of my selected trio may hit double digits in that category. Factor in the fact that both teams lack a shutdown CB and you have the recipe for healthy totals from Cruz, Nicks and Welker.

As I already stated in the section, my decision to use Gronkowski (or not) will go right down to game time. In all likelihood, however, I’ll simply use Hernandez, who will need to have a huge game if the Patriots are going to eclipse the magic 24-point barrier that I think they’ll need to win this game. I also expect Ballard to be more than useful in this contest, but he doesn’t possess 8-10 catch upside like Hernandez does.

My selection at kicker isn’t complicated, especially since I cannot say with any certainty that one kicker is a better bet to post a 15+ point game than the other one is. As a result, I’ll play the odds and use Tynes in two leagues and Gostkowski in the other two. As for my defensive pick, I don’t expect a high number of sacks or turnovers from either offense, but if one defense is going to impose its will on the other offense in this game, I expect it to be the Giants’ defense.

Suggestions, comments, musings about the article or fantasy football in general? E-mail me.

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006, appeared in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine in each of the last two seasons and served as a weekly fantasy football analyst for 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C. this past season. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can also follow him on Twitter.