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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
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 yet another profitable fantasy season, I'm looking to make a great season even better. 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 the “Official Rules” link on the entry page. 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 Aaron Rodgers in the Wild Card round and the Packers 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 Green Bay wins again, you can carry Rodgers into the Conference Championship round for 3x the points and, if the Packers 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 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 two weekly scoring periods. Further bonus point modifiers would also apply as long as that player’s team continues to advance 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 0-49 yards: 3 fantasy points
Field Goal 50+ yards: 5 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
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 worth four points, so passing yards are valued more highly here than in the Fuzzy’s leagues I’ll discuss later; 2) all field goals under 50 yards are worth three points, which means we are more concerned about volume of field goals than distance – unless we can find a kicker who regularly converts from 50+; 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.

With 485 points through the first three weeks of the playoffs, I’m 92 points out of first place. While it is probably an insurmountable deficit to ovecome, many of the players near the top have multiple spots to fill while I only need to replace a defense. A huge game on Sunday by Eric Decker, for example, would be just what the doctor ordered since I can only imagine very few fantasy owners will have a 4x next to his name. I’m not suggesting that I will take home the grand prize, but I’m pretty sure my best-ever finish in this competition has been pretty well locked up.


Russell Wilson/Peyton Manning

The call: Peyton Manning (x4). Straight up, this may not end up being as easy of a selection as one might think at first glance given the combination of possible weather conditions and the quality of players Seattle has on defense. Wilson has it easier in terms of the defenders he will face and obviously brings the added element of running ability, but it is hard to see the Seahawks ever getting into a position where they need to play catch-up for an entire quarter or more. I don’t expect Manning to light up Seattle with his arm, but it is entirely possible he will attempt at least 20 more passes than Wilson and has more talented receivers to work with than Wilson. In part due to volume and in part due to the likelihood of a little garbage time on Denver’s end, I’d favor Manning without the qualifier this week.

Running Backs

Marshawn Lynch/Knowshon Moreno/Montee Ball

The call: Knowshon Moreno (x4) and Marshawn Lynch (x3). This is an open-and-shut case. Ball has been a bit more involved than I expected, but the main back for Denver has been Moreno the entire time. Seattle’s run defense hasn’t exactly been the same dominant force on the road it has been at home, but I wouldn’t expect this game to produce two fantasy-relevant Broncos even if they run a bit more due to the conditions. Lynch is pretty much a must-start regardless of the competition.

Wide Receivers

Percy Harvin/Golden Tate/Doug Baldwin/Demaryius Thomas/Eric Decker/Wes Welker

The call: Demaryius Thomas (x4) and Eric Decker (x4). The selections at receiver will be a bit more up for debate in the Fuzzy’s section below, but Thomas and Decker hold the same appeal now as they did at the start of the competition. Seattle CB Richard Sherman rarely ever moves off the left side of the defensive formation, so owners don’t need to be overly concerned about Thomas or Decker spending all day opposite him. (With that said, going up Byron Maxwell – the other starting cornerback for the Seahawks – is no picnic either.) It would come as no surprise if Harvin and/or Baldwin outperformed Thomas or Decker in the fantasy box score or if Welker ends up as the top fantasy receiver in the game, but I’m more than happy to ride my 4x receivers through to the end.

Tight Ends

Zach Miller/Julius Thomas/Jacob Tamme

The call: Julius Thomas (x3). I wish I could have made my Thomas selection one week earlier, but given the likely matchups against S Kam Chancellor, SLB K.J. Wright (and perhaps a bit of S Earl Thomas), I’m not sure it is going to be a whole lot to my fantasy bottom line. Denver’s plan for the passing game figures to involve a lot of quick passes to Welker and fair amount of throws to the left side (thus avoiding Sherman). Thomas is going to win some battles given that he has such a great quarterback throwing him the ball, but it would be an upset if he was the one to take over the game. Miller isn’t a complete afterthought and could surprise with a touchdown catch, but that’s about all owners could realistically expect from him in what should be a run-heavy gameplan.


Steven Hauschka/Matt Prater

The call: Matt Prater (x4). Prater scared his owners a bit last week when he missed practice with the flu, but all indications are that he will be no worse for wear by Sunday. Both kickers have dealt with their fair share of the elements and possess strong legs, so there is very little difference here.

Defense/Special Teams


The call: Seahawks. I was pretty confident in the Broncos’ ability to make the Super Bowl all along, which made my selection of Lynch a few weeks ago easier since I had a good feeling he would outscore Gore by a wide margin and pay off for me in a big way if he made it to this weekend. The other thought behind that strategy was if Seattle defeated San Francisco, the payoff was going to be relatively small for all the owners who initially started the Seahawks’ defense this week. Obviously, my strategy will backfire if Seattle scores a special teams/defensive touchdown, collects a lot of sacks and/or creates multiple turnovers, but it seems highly unlikely a Manning-led team will allow the Seahawks to score big points on defense and special teams.

Fearless predictions for my selected team:
Manning: 270 passing yards, two passing TDs, one interception (16 x 4 = 64 fantasy points)
Moreno: 65 rushing yards, 25 receiving yards (8 x 4 = 32 points)
Lynch: 90 rushing yards, one rushing TD, 10 receiving yards (16 x 3 = 48 points)
D. Thomas: 75 receiving yards, one receiving TD (13 x 4 = 52 points)
Decker: 40 receiving yards (4 x 4 = 16 points)
J. Thomas: 65 receiving yards (6 x 3 = 18 points)
Prater: two extra points, two field goals (8 x 4 = 32 points)
Seahawks DST: 20 PA, one sack, one turnover and a team win (8 points)

Projected Total:270 fantasy points

Fearless Super Bowl prediction: Seahawks 24, Broncos 20


Many of the scoring parameters used above apply here as well, with the key differences being that Fuzzy’s uses PPR scoring and there are no bonus-point modifiers or team-win points. Kickers get four points for field goals between 40-49 yards and six points for 60+ conversions while all TDs are worth six points. Your goal is to pick the highest-scoring lineup each week with no strings attached. Additionally, each owner is asked to select a tiebreaker every week which will be used to break any ties following the Super Bowl. Fuzzy's leagues contain no more than 50 teams in a league 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.

 Fuzzy Portfolio - Conference Championships
  Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
QB Brady Brady Manning Brady
RB Lynch Lynch Lynch Lynch
RB Moreno Moreno Moreno Moreno
WR Decker Decker Decker Edelman
WR Edelman Edelman Edelman D. Thomas
WR Welker Welker Welker Welker
TE J. Thomas J. Thomas J. Thomas J. Thomas
K Dawson Dawson Hauschka Dawson
DST Niners Seahawks Niners Niners
Tie Manning Manning Brady Manning
WC Pt Total 72.6 67.5 76.8 78.4
DR Pt Total 123.9 123.8 123.9 132.6
CC Pt Total 123.3 126.3 135.5 137.4

As was the case last year, it appears my downfall will be the first week of the playoffs. To be fair, it was ridiculous to expect T.Y. Hilton to scorch the Chiefs’ defense to the degree he did when he is the only game-breaking talent in the passing game the Colts had in that game. It also made sense to me that Keenan Allen could have his way against an injury-ravaged Bengals’ secondary and Marques Colston could do likewise against the Eagles. Instead, both waited until the week after I selected them to have their huge day. Similarly, opting against Demaryius Thomas last week was a solid call, up until the point where Wes Welker ended Patriots CB Aqib Talib’s day with a pick/rub play in the first half. The fantasy season rarely ever goes according to plan, so it isn’t as if we should expect that to change in the postseason either.

 Fuzzy Portfolio - Super Bowl
  Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4
QB Manning Manning Manning Wilson
RB Lynch Lynch Lynch Lynch
RB Moreno Moreno Moreno Moreno
WR Harvin Harvin Harvin Harvin
WR D. Thomas D. Thomas D. Thomas D. Thomas
WR Welker Welker Welker Welker
TE J. Thomas J. Thomas J. Thomas J. Thomas
K Prater Prater Hauschka Prater
DST Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks
Tie Wilson Wilson Wilson Manning

Thankfully, I will get to see the conditions in New York before I have to set my lineup on Sunday, but the fantasy-point differential between Wilson and Manning could be minimal if there is anything more than a 15-20 MPH wind (the forecast is not calling for it to be that windy as of press time). Wilson is going to be a good bet to get his 15-20 fantasy points regardless of the conditions simply because more frigid and windy conditions will probably give him more incentive to run if there is any doubt about his ability to pass on a certain play. Obviously, Manning does not have that luxury. If the wind isn’t blowing any harder than the 15-20 MPH I mentioned earlier, I’ll feel safe in starting Manning in every league. If the wind is stronger than that, however, I’ll place more of my chips on Wilson.

There are really only three realistic options at running back this week and only two smart choices. Ball is a desperation play for those owners that may be hoping he can get a short-yardage score or Moreno’s ribs will not hold up, but Lynch and Moreno should pretty much be universal picks.

While it is too simplistic to say that Denver must pass to win and Seattle must run to win, it seems to be a safe bet that two of the top three fantasy receivers in the Super Bowl will probably be Broncos and other one will be a Seahawk. Demaryius Thomas has seen significantly more attention from Manning than Welker or Decker through two games (Thomas has 20 targets, Welker has 14 and Decker has 13). Even though Richard Sherman could probably make a fine “shadow” cornerback if the Seahawks chose to use him in that fashion, about 95% of his snaps came at left corner or safety this season. In other words, Thomas and Decker will each probably be in his coverage less than half the time, but neither will probably see him much more Sherman than the other. And let me clear about this: just because most casual football fans don’t know who RCB Byron Maxwell is doesn’t mean he can’t play. While he isn’t Sherman, he’s actually proven to be an upgrade over the suspended Brandon Browner. If Denver is going to win, it will likely be because Welker had a huge game. As for the Seahawks, I tend to believe they will be very happy to unleash Harvin as much as possible against a Broncos’ defense minus slot CB Chris Harris. I could easily see Harvin winning the Super Bowl MVP between his work as a returner and receiver this weekend.

Denver didn’t exactly stuff opposing tight ends during the season, but Miller is a pure desperation play when Julius Thomas is also an option. Thomas will probably get roughed up a bit at the line of scrimmage from time to time, but Manning will be throwing a number of 5-10 yard passes on Sunday and that is usually the area in which Welker and Julius Thomas live. He may not have a lot of yards after catch or high yards-per-reception average when the game is over, but I do think he’ll be a PPR asset once again.

Picking a kicker in this format is usually a toss-up and it is no different when it is for the Super Bowl. I tend to believe the Broncos will stall more often in scoring position than will the Seahawks, making Prater the slightly better choice in my opinion. Given that I think Denver will move the ball with slightly more consistency than Seattle, I also feel as if Prater has the better shot at kicking 3-4 field goals.

I’m not overly thrilled with either defense/special teams unit option this week since one of the options is matched up against the highest-scoring offense in NFL history and the other option has been ravaged by injury and personnel losses. With that said, the Seahawks have the pieces necessary to keep the Broncos’ offense in check for the most and will probably create a bit of chaos. Don’t expect huge numbers from either side, but Seattle is the clear choice in all four of my leagues this week.

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

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and appeared in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine in 2010 and 2011. He is also the host of USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday. Doug regularly appears as a fantasy football analyst on Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive” and for 106.7 The Fan (WJFK – Washington, D.C). He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.