Last weekend, there were certainly a few upsets when it came to playoff football. If you used the strategy of loading up on players from one or two teams and your team lost or did not chart well last weekend, you may be wondering what to do. Or, perhaps you haven’t lost everyone, but you are looking to fill out your roster for this week. What is the best strategy? Typically you want to pick players that are going to give you the most points. However, now you need to look at who you think will be playing in the Super Bowl. You want to pick players that you can have for two weeks and take advantage of a multiplier or keeping them at their current price. If you aren’t sure and still want to take the best possible players, go for it. But hedge your bets. If you can select two running backs, for example, instead of taking one from the NFC and one from the AFC, consider taking two from one conference. This way you’ll be guaranteed to have someone playing in the Super Bowl (injuries aside).
This week, we’ll look at the options you have at quarterback. Obviously, if your league assigns a value to the players, you may not be able to pick your first choice. However, if your league allows you to just pick a player without any salary, go for the best possible option. Here are the four QBs, ranked in order.
Tom Brady, NE
Brady has thrown a touchdown in every game he’s played this season. He’s had three games with one passing touchdown (two other games with one passing and one rushing TD). In 18 games, having a quarterback that has at least two touchdowns in 15 of those games seems like pretty good odds regardless of your scoring format. He’s thrown for less than 250 yards four times this season. He’s thrown for over 400 yards once and throughout the season has even rushed for four touchdowns. Despite losing Rob Gronkowski, Brady still looked good last weekend, using Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker. He even threw to Shane Vereen six times (Vereen posted a 5/83/2 stat line for receiving and added seven carries for 41 yards and a touchdown on the ground). The Patriots did play Baltimore already this season (in Week 3) and Brady threw for 335 yards in that game with only one touchdown. With a ground game emerging, look for Brady to use Vereen for screen passes and Hernandez and Welker as he has been. The Patriots have been playing (and winning) without Gronkowski, so while it is a loss, it won’t affect Brady’s ability to put up good Fantasy numbers.
Colin Kaepernick, SF
While Kaepernick is not likely to throw for 300 yards (the most he’s thrown for this season is 276 in Week 17, followed by 263 last week), he will get you yards on the ground. He did rush for 181 yards and two touchdowns last week; don’t expect that again. Prior to last week, the most rushing yards he had was 84. The 49ers had stopped using the pistol formation toward the end of the season, but brought it back for the playoffs. While the Falcons will likely be more prepared for that, Kaepernick will still put up solid Fantasy numbers. He is mobile and he has found a great weapon in Michael Crabtree. Even if he doesn’t rush for a touchdown himself, he will likely find the end zone. In the eight regular season games he played extensively in, he found the end zone in all but one (Week 13 against St. Louis). Look for Kaepernick to throw the ball about 30 times, put up about 225 yards through the air, find the end zone once or twice and add about 30 yards on the ground. I’ll take those numbers from my quarterback.
Matt Ryan, ATL
Now that Ryan has that playoff win monkey off his back, look for him to shine this weekend. He threw for 250 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions last weekend, and you should expect similar numbers this weekend. Sure, he may throw a pick here and there, but for the most part, he will put up solid numbers. He’s only had two games this season where he didn’t throw a touchdown (Week 9 against Dallas and the dreadful Week 11 game against Arizona where he threw five INTs). He has Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez to throw to – why wouldn’t he be looking for them, especially in the end zone? Michael Turner will plod his way to a few yards and Jacquizz Rodgers will come in for some screen passes, which will also boost Ryan’s numbers. The only reason I’d rank him below Kaepernick is because Ryan isn’t exactly mobile. He plays well at home, he’s motivated to get himself and Gonzalez to the Super Bowl and he’s ready to show the world that he can excel in the playoffs. Don’t count him out.
Joe Flacco, BAL
Sure, Flacco had 331 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s matchup with Denver, but that did include two overtimes. He’s been inconsistent all season, which makes him hard to trust. He’ll throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns one week, and then follow that with a game with 164 yards and no touchdowns. You don’t know what you’re going to get from Flacco on any given week. If it turns into the Ray Rice show, Flacco’s numbers will suffer. While you can throw on the Patriots (the last time these two teams met, Flacco threw for his season-high 382 yards and three touchdowns), if Flacco starts to struggle, Baltimore will turn to the ground game. So far in the playoffs, Flacco has excelled – throwing for 282 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts. He hasn’t thrown an interception in either game. He’ll likely be the cheapest QB for you to play, and he is worth the gamble if you’re loading up at other positions. Just hope the good Flacco comes to play on Sunday.