Sadly, there are only two football games this weekend. Hopefully you are still invested in your playoff Fantasy Football leagues. As I said last week, we’ll discuss the type of playoff league where you can make unlimited moves, but if you keep a player from week to week, you get a multiplier (example, if you’ve had Colin Kaepernick since the first week of the playoffs, he’s at a 3x multiplier this week).
In future columns, we’ll look at keepers and other offseason items, but while there’s still football, let’s focus on the games that are actually being played.
At quarterback, Peyton Manning is still your best bet, followed by Tom Brady, in a game where there are two teams that aren’t exactly known for their defensive prowess. Look for a shootout between the Broncos and the Patriots Sunday afternoon. When these two teams last played each other (in New England), Manning had the only game of the season with less than 200 passing yards. He had 150 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Brady had one of his best games of the season. He had 344 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. These two quarterbacks are the best options at the position. Look for Manning to put up Brady-like numbers this week and Brady to put up good, but quite as good, numbers as well. Wilson and Kaepernick will be fine, but that game looks to be more of a defensive battle than an offensive one. The yards and touchdowns may not be there for either quarterback.
At running back, Marshawn Lynch is still the best option. Fantasy owners who went with him last week were pretty happy with 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He will have a tougher road this week against San Francisco, but he is the arguably the most talented running back left. Sure, LeGarrette Blount had four touchdowns, but considering he only had seven touchdowns in the 16-game regular season, do you really see that happening again? He’s the best running back in New England, but that’s not necessarily a reason to start him over Lynch or even Moreno.
Again, the Seattle-San Francisco game will likely not be as high scoring as the Denver-New England game. When the game is not as high scoring, there aren’t as many Fantasy points to go around. This is just simple logic – to pick players from teams that are going to score points. However, talent at some point has to take over. Knowshon Moreno is another option, but Denver hasn’t been scoring many rushing touchdowns. In fact, they have only scored one rushing touchdown in the past five games (Moreno scored vs. Tennessee in Week 14). However, New England’s rush defense is better than their pass defense, and odds are, Manning is going to throw the ball. Choose Lynch over Moreno if you have that choice.
For wide receiver, you still need to look at the Denver-New England game. With Percy Harvin a question mark, there isn’t anyone on Seattle you really want starting. Looking at Seattle’s defense, trying to pick a 49er that might have a great game will be tough as well. Go back to Julian Edelman this week. He had six receptions for 84 yards last week, but Brady is looking for him all the time. Don’t expect that to change. Edelman has proven to be reliable, and that’s exactly what Brady looks for (see: Wes Welker, New England days). For Denver, the best receiver to have on your team is Demaryius Thomas. Sure he only had 54 yards last week, but it was on eight receptions and he did manage a touchdown. As mentioned before, this game has the makings of a shootout. Pick your Bronco and your Patriot and enjoy.
At tight end, the obvious choices are Julius Thomas and Vernon Davis. Thomas was targeted seven times last week. He caught six of those passes for 76 yards. Tight ends have done well against New England (last week, Coby Fleener had six receptions for 74 yards. Coby Fleener. Want to bet Julius Thomas does better than that?) Thomas is the best bet for a tight end this week. If you are hesitant about your all-AFC team, you can look at Davis (and hope for a 49er victory). He’s the best red-zone target for San Francisco, and odds are the 49ers aren’t going to put up zero points in Seattle. If someone is going to catch a passing touchdown, odds are it’s going to be Davis.
As I said last week, when it comes to the kicker position, choose one on the team you think will play in the Super Bowl. It’s that simple.
For a defense, for the second week in a row, I’m not sure how you could not go with the Seahawks, playing at home, where they have been so successful. They’ve shut down many teams, and San Francisco isn’t a high-powered offense. Kaepernick certainly has turned the ball over plenty of times, and you know the Seattle DST will capitalize on that.