It’s not the offseason just yet! Each week during the playoffs, we are going to break down some Fantasy performances in all of the big January matchups. Does it project to 2014 success? We shall see…
SAINTS vs. SEAHAWKS
Marques Colston – So, now that Colston is officially off the hook regarding the ill-fated, last-second lateral maybe he will get a little more credit for putting up 144 yards on 11 catches with a score against the top defense in the league. He has the most career catches (607), receiving yards (8,337) and touchdowns (63) in Saints history, and he has topped 1,000 yards six times in his career, just missing a seventh this year with 943 yards. He finished the 2013 Fantasy season as a very reliable WR 2 even though many owners were frustrated by the lack of breakout games in the first half of the year. Colston ran 56 percent of his routes from the slot this season. All that can tell you is that he is as versatile as ever, and extremely valuable to the Saints. Due to all of the weapons that New Orleans uses, you can slot Colston in as a WR2 again next season.
Khiry Robinson – From one week to the next the Saints will keep you guessing. Their commitment to the running back by committee is almost impressive. Khiry Robinson ends up with the most touches against Seattle and delivers with 70 total yards and a score. He had the fourth-most touches on the year in the New Orleans backfield but produced in a big spot when Pierre Thomas was on the shelf. The Saints will come back in 2014 with another RBBC but could part ways with Pierre Thomas to cut costs and that will move Robinson one more rung up the ladder. He is someone to stash in dynasty formats and see how free agency and cut downs pans out.
Doug Baldwin – While there were no big numbers to talk about in the Seattle passing game this past weekend, there was one clutch 24-yard catch, and that came from Doug Baldwin. His role is in making key catches for this Seattle squad but his Fantasy value is often over looked, as he placed 41st in PPR leagues this season, good for a roster spot and flex play more often than not. The 2014 season may bring a healthy Percy Harvin but Baldwin will still have a defined role and is worth grabbing in later rounds. It’s safe to say you should keep him around for those pesky bye weeks at the very least.
Russell Wilson – Wilson may always be perceived as a better real life than Fantasy QB, but he placed in the Top-8 at the position in most formats on the 2013 season. The Seahawks pedestrian passing game over the course of the last month may come back to bite them in this year’s Super Bowl, but it does not change our projections for Wilson long-term. We would consider Wilson to be a Top-3 QB in dynasty formats and a must-keep for 2014 in most keeper leagues.
COLTS vs. PATRIOTS
LaVon Brazill – Along with T.Y. Hilton, Brazill is part of a young, dynamic wide receiver corps in Indy moving into 2014. He tallied two scores against the Patriots, his second multiple-score game this season. With Reggie Wayne trying to come back from an ACL injury, it would seem that Brazill could be taking a much bigger role in the offense. Then again, the second-year player has only 23 receptions in 24 career games. Tight End Dwayne Allen, another pass-catcher who was lost for the season, will be certainly be a key target for luck as the Colts brass considers him to be a significant weapon in their passing attack. Brazill will get the “sleeper” tag from many this summer, so keep that in mind as his draft stock rises. We think he is worth stashing as he moves into his third season.
Donald Brown – The big positive is that Donald Brown found a valuable place on Fantasy rosters in the second half of 2013. The big negative is that he remained inconsistent as his role fluctuated wildly in the Indianapolis offense. Since they felt the need to address the position with a (terrible) early-season trade for Trent Richardson, the Colts may have to ponder Brown’s roles as he heads to free agency. Draft him for depth but don’t be surprised if Indy takes yet another RB in the draft this April/May, as they struggle to solidify defined roles amongst Brown, T-Rich and Vick Ballard.
LaGarrette Blount – Wow. Just wow. That’s the way to earn a little extra free agency money! Blount exploded on the Colts for four scores and 173 yards and appears to have taken the lead in the Pats backfield rotation. At least, that’s what Bill Belichick showed for one week. Blount has had a famously up-and-down career through his first four seasons and will head into 2014 as a free agent. Any number of teams could sign him so his ultimate value is TBD, but it would not surprise us to see him back in New England where he can deliver goal line success in bunches.
Julian Edelman – I would consider Edelman’s season to be among the bigger surprises in all of Fantasy football in 2013. There were simply not a lot of people touting what he could do (he nearly outscored a healthy Tom Brady!!!). Edelman placed in the Top 15 at wideout and crushed his career highs in every receiving category (105 rec, 1056 yds, 6 TDs). His six catches and 84 yards against Indy led the team and are indicative of how valuable he has become in the absence of Rob Gronkowski and after the departure of Wes Welker. Edelman could see some interest in the upcoming free agent market but it is clear that he will be more valuable to Fantasy owners in New England than anywhere else. He’s a dynasty format home run and a probable strong keeper consideration, as he was a late round or waiver wire pick up in most leagues.
49ERS vs. PANTHERS
Anquan Boldin – Boldin is a money player; he loves performing well when the spotlight is brightest. From his screaming match with Todd Haley demanding the ball in Super Bowl 43 to the Ravens Super Bowl run last season to this eight-catch, 136-yard display against Carolina, it’s nearly impossible to doubt him. Fantasy owners saw some explosive performances followed by some disappearing acts, but Boldin still placed in the Top 20 and was far more statistically relevant than his days in Baltimore. He heads into free agency and will be 34 next season. His landing spot will determine his 2014 value but in San Fran he would remain a WR2 or WR3 with Michael Crabtreeback full-time.
Vernon Davis – Davis made his lone catch count against the Panthers, an athletic six-yard TD grab. His 2013 season seemed a little ‘vanilla’ statistically but he topped double-digit Fantasy points 12 times and finished in the Top-5 at the position. Davis has a defined role in a run-heavy offense but luckily, that role includes end zone targets (he was good for 13 scores in 2013). Davis remains a Top-5 tight end for 2014 so consider that in all keeper formats.
Steve Smith – Smith battled for 74 yards and a score against a mostly-suffocating Niners defense in Sunday’s loss. He struggled to put up big Fantasy numbers this season, placing 38th amongst wide receivers, as Brandon LaFelland Ted Ginn, Jr. assumed bigger roles in OC Mike Shula’s offense. Smith is signed for several more years in Carolina but his days of being an elite Fantasy wideout are over. He is a mid-round draft pick and would slot in as a WR3 in a 12-team league for 2014.
Ted Ginn, Jr. – The key to owning Ted Ginn, Jr. is to make sure it’s a league where return yards count towards the total. He had a nice complementary season otherwise in Carolina, where he grabbed 36 balls for 556 yards and five scores. However, he reached five catches just one time, the first time he had done that since 2009. His pending free agency could dictate his overall value, but Fantasy owners would be best served if he stayed put and increased his role for the Panthers. Keep him in leagues where return yards matter, otherwise he’s a bench player.
CHARGERS VS. BRONCOS
Keenan Allen – Each year, we grandstand as to who our choice is for breakout Fantasy football rookie. If you picked anyone other than Allen, you were wrong (sorry Eddie Lacy, fans). Allen put an exclamation point on his 2013 rookie campaign with a six-catch, 142-yard, two TD performance against Denver. He is a must-keep (at good value) in any long-term format and will likely be one of the first ten wideouts off the board in 2014 drafts.
Knowshon Moreno – Moreno continued to deliver for those in playoff Fantasy matchups with 82 yards and yet another score; he tallied 10 during the regular season. Moreno’s 1000-yard season came with only one 100-yard performance, but his Top-4 standing by year’s end was among the best values in the entire Fantasy football landscape, especially in PPR leagues. Moreno heads to free agency this offseason and with Montee Ball taking on a bigger role next season, it will affect his value. We see him back in Denver as part of a committee but think that his 300 touches in 2013 are only likely to decrease in 2014.
Eric Decker – Decker’s two-catch performance was certainly not indicative of the Fantasy star that he has been in 2014. His Top-12 finish at wideout was a very good value for Fantasy owners, and it sends him into free agency with a monster resume boost. Despite Decker being a huge priority, the Broncos have 16 free agents heading into this offseason and Demaryius Thomas will be up in 2015. That might be too rich to keep both players at one position. Decker can be a WR1 in the NFL and may take his talents elsewhere for a big paycheck but it will be tough to top the Fantasy value he established these last two seasons with Peyton Manning at the helm in Denver.
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