I rank my top 8 QBs, 10 RBs and 10 WRs for the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.
Drew Brees (NO): After putting up 450+ yards and 3TDs last week, I can’t move Brees from the top rank despite Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers now being in the mix. The 49’ers have one of the best defences in the league, hands down the best rush defence, the Saints however are not a rush team, they are a pass team. San Fran is not as stout defending the pass as they are against the run and will have their struggles stopping Drew Brees and his roster of weapons.
Tom Brady (NE): Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers both enter the mix after a weekend of wild card match ups. Both are likely to throw impressive numbers in their respective match ups, and both will be playing against some of the leagues better pass rushes. Brady and the Patriots played the Broncos just a few weeks ago and were outplayed from start to finish, I expect much of the same this time around. Tom Brady is one of the best ever and will not be showing any mercy to Tebow.
Aaron Rodgers (GB): Rodgers is having a prolific year, throwing 44 touchdown passes to a mere 6 interceptions, he does however, face the New York Giants this weekend, a team that was hot coming into the playoffs and now has a big over the Atlanta Falcons under their belt. The Giants have one of, if not the best pass rush in the NFL with Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora and have a decent chance of upsetting the Superbowl favorites.
Tim Tebow (DEN): Tim Tebow ended up with a great fantasy performance last weekend, rushing a touchdown once again and adding 80 yards and a TD on one play in overtime, padding his stat line. Tebow now plays New England, whom I doubt he has a chance of beating but has a good chance of matching his fantasy numbers. The Patriots have a high powered offence but a weak defence that allows lots of yards per game, and will struggle to stop Tebow from running the ball.
Eli Manning (NYG): Manning knows what it’s like to be in the playoffs and the Giants played the Packers just a few weeks ago in a tough fought matchup. Similar to the Patriots, the Packers have a very high powered offence but a defence that tends to give up a lot of yards. Manning will have better stats with his arm than Tebow, but wil need a very good game to match the points Tebow will generate with his legs.
Alex Smith (SF): Alex Smith is having a good year, but does not put up the kind of numbers you would like in a fantasy starter. Smith does get to face New Orleans this weekend though, a team that gives up a lot of yards. The toughest part of the Saints defence though will be trying to score against them, the Saints give up a lot of yards but do not let you score very easily.
Joe Flacco (BAL): I imagine a low scoring affair between the Ravens and the Texans when they meet on the weekend, a matchup that will feature a lot of RAy Rice and Arian Foster, whom are ranked #1 and #2 on my RB list. I dont imagine much more than 200-250 from Flacco with a TD, maybe two.
T.J. Yates (HOU): A rookie quarterback who has only been starting for a few weeks, meets one of the scariest defences known to the NFL. It is not going to be an easy matchup for Yates against Ray Lewis and company, I don’t think the team will want him throwing the ball unless he really needs to.
Arian Foster (HOU): A lot of people have Ray Rice ranked higher, but I myself think Arian Foster is the more powerful runner and will have more success per carry. I also have more confidence in Arian Foster around the goal line than Ray Rice. Both runner will have a tough time but I have more faith in Foster in being able to fight through a tough run defence.
Ray Rice (BAL): Rice and Foster are the common votes for #1 and #2 ranked RBs this week, and I can’t help but agree; I think Rice will have the tougher time however. Rice is a crafty runner, but doesn’t have the size to break through lines the way Arian Foster can, the Baltimore Ravens frontline also hasn’t quite been as good as the Houston Texans frontline.
Darren Sproles (NO): Sproles will have a rough time gaining yards against a tough San Fran rush defence, but being Sproles he has the ability to score in the air and as a returner. Sproles touches the balls numerous times a game in multiple ways, giving him a great chance to overcome the tough match up.
Frank Gore (SF): To me Gore could end up having a great for San Fran against the Saints. The Saints rus defence can struggle at times, allowing powerful runner likes Frank Gore to break through to the second level. Their playoff run last year was ended by Lynch giving the world one of the best runs in NFL history. If San Fran wants to beat the Saints they will need to limit Drew Brees’ chances and limit the score. Pounding the ball with Frank Gore every chance they get and controlling the clock will be a key factor.
Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG): Bradshaw was outran by Jacobs this week, but is still the younger and more explosive running back. He will get the start against the Packers and should be able impose his will at times, possibly breaking off a touchdown.
Willis McGahee (DEN): McGahee will certainly be able to put up yards against the Patriots if given the chance, he is a more than capable of a runner. My worry for this matchup is that Tom Brady will get his PAtriots out to an early lead that will hav the Broncos playing from behind, throwing the and running the ball with Tebow more than handing it off to Willis
James Starks (GB): Green Bay is a pass-first team with Aaron Rodger at the helm and a roster of weapons in Jennings, Finley, Nelson and Jones, but they also have a very talented RB in James Starks. Starts is likely to see 10-15 carries in the game while catching a few balls as well; my biggest doubt is his chances of crossing the goal-line.
Ben-Jarvis Green Ellis (NE): I don’t find Ben-Jarvis to be one of the most talented or explosive runners in the league, but he doesn’t fumble the ball and will get a decent workload, especially if the Patriots have a big lead.
Brandon Jacobs (NYG): Brandon will split carries as usual with Bradshaw and has the chance to be the better runner on almost any given day, my money though is that Bradshaw will bounce back and have the better performance.
Pierre Thomas (NO): It isn’t going to be easy for Thomas to have a good day against 49’ers rush defence, but he is still a very powerful runner capable of pounding the ball near the goal line should the Saints need him to, giving him a chance for a TD and a decent fantasy performance.
Wes Welker (NE): Welker was second in the league this season in pass yards, and will have a good chance at going for another 100 against Denver. Hernandez was the workhorse against the Broncos when the two teams met earlier this season with Welker being held to just 4 catches for 40 yards. This meeting, I have faith Welker will make 6-8 catches for 80+ yards and a TD.
Marques Colston (NO): Against the stout 49’ers defence, it seems like it will need to be an even more pass first mentality for the Saints. There are many options for Brees to choose from when slinging the ball, but his his most veteran, and likely most trusted is still Colston.
Jordy Nelson (GB): Nelson has had a monster year playing alongside Greg Jennings, at times seeming like the #1 receiver. In the absence of Jennings, Nelson continued to showcase his spectacular talent. I think I would rather roll with Nelson this week as Jennings is just returning from an injury.
Demaryius Thomas (DEN): I didn’t give Denver WR’s much consideration when making my Wild Card round rankings, and Thomas certainly made me pay, catching 4 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. This week Tebow and Thomas have a much more giving match up against the Patriots, who were polar opposites of Pittsburgh defensively this season.
Hakeem Nicks (NYG): Nicks has been in the shadow of Victor Cruz much of this season, but was able to capitalize on all the attention Cruz now gets by hauling in 2 touchdowns in the Giants win over the Falcons. Tough to say who will have the better game against the Packers, but I might want to roll with the hot hand and hope for the best.
Greg Jennings (GB): Jennings is ready to go for the Packers playoff match up against the Giants, but might not be as effective as usual in his first game back since the injury. WR Jordy Nelson has been playing great all season and had a 3 TD effort behind Matt Flynn in week 17, might be the better bet.
Victor Cruz (NYG): Was very quiet last week as the Atlanta secondary made sure to keep him in check with Nicks and Manningham cashing in. Hopefully this week the Packers will have to cover Nicks better than Atlanta did, opening up the field once again for Cruz. With Cruz, Nicks and Manningham all on the field, it can be tough to know who will have the best game.
Andre Johnson (HOU): Johnson had a surprisingly good game last week, catching passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. This week however I doubt he will match those numbers as the Texans take on the always tough Baltimore Ravens; Johnson is capable of catching balls against anyone however.
Anquan Boldin (BAL): Torrey Smith has emerged as the Ravens #1 deep threat, and a very good one at that, but against the Texans in what will likely be a defensive war, I imagine it will be Boldin who will see more targets and has the better chance fo fantasy glory.
Michael Crabtree (SF): I don’t think the 49’ers will be able to score enough points to keep up with or beat Drew Brees and the Saints, they will have to try however. Michael Crabtree is the #1 WR on the team, though maybe not the #1 option with Vernon Davis at TE, Crabtree will likely see a large number of targets.
Thanks for reading my Wild Card Round Fantasy Rankings! I will be back each weekend with my playoff rankings.
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