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For the vast majority of fantasy football leagues, this week marks the beginning of the playoffs. After 13 long and grueling weeks, it's time to crown a new champion. We're going to take a look at some of the most compelling storylines in the fantasy football playoffs and make a couple predictions along the way.
Let's first start in Philadelphia and the winner of this year's "Jerome Harrison Playoff Savior" award.
Bryce Brown vs Lesean McCoy
At this point, everyone who plays fantasy football knows about Bryce Brown's 347 rushing yards and four touchdowns over the last two games. We all saw him go bonkers on the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday night. Bryce's playoff slate of the Buccaneers, Bengals and Redskins should have his owners salivating.
Whether McCoy returns this year or not, I wonder, where does he get picked in the 2013 draft? For the last couple years, McCoy has been a 1st round pick, even going in the Top 5 in most 2012 drafts. Even before he was injured though, he was not having a Top 5 RB season. I would rank him somewhere right at the edge of the Top 10 for his position.
It's a fair point to mention McCoy being negatively affected by the erratic play of Michael Vick. Still, he had 20 total touchdowns last year and he only had five after 10 weeks this year. Even if he returns and even if he plays well, it's hard to think that the Eagles will banish Brown to the bench, unless his fumbling problems continue.
Plus, the 2013 Eagles may look a lot different than this year's team with both Vick and probably the entire coaching staff heading for the door. Who knows which runner the new coaching staff might favor come training camp? I don't think there's a player drafted in the 1st round of fantasy drafts whose value has plummeted more than McCoy's. At this point, we're talking about a late 2nd maybe 3rd round pick for next year's draft.
Don't Call it a Comeback
Some of fantasy's biggest studs, who had a disappointing first half of the season, are now turning it up for their owners still left standing in the playoffs. Calvin Johnson is the poster boy of this trend. Through the first nine weeks of the season, Johnson somehow only had one touchdown to his name. Over the last four weeks he not only has four touchdowns but an amazing 661 receiving yards.
Steven Jackson started off the season as one of the biggest busts in fantasy football. Through the first nine weeks of the season he was unable to break the century mark in rushing and only rushed for over 70 yards once in the season. In three out of his last four games he has 100 total yards and his upcoming schedule of the Bills, Vikings and Buccaneers is tailor-made for him to continue his comeback.
Dez Bryant has finally reached his potential and is finally showing the consistency that owners have been craving for years. The first half of Bryant's season was par for the course; a couple amazing games but also three games where he had less than 20 receiving yards. His last month of football though has made all the hype surrounding Bryant worth it. We're talking about a Top 5 fantasy receiver over the last month. Six touchdowns. Two multiple touchdown games and 475 receiving yards. This is the stuff that fantasy dreams are made of, my friends. Mr. Bryant? You've just punched your ticket for the 2nd round of fantasy drafts next summer.
Biggest Sleeper of the Fantasy Playoffs Besides Bryce Brown
I'm going to stick by my guns and go with my preseason pick for Sleeper of the Year, Jonathan Dwyer. Right before Ben Roethlisberger got injured, Dwyer was on fire. He had two consecutive 100+ rushing yard games. Once Big Ben went down though, much of the Steelers offense went down with him.
Multiple reports have Roethlisberger probably returning this week and Dwyer once again has a chance to shine. He's now number one on the depth chart of the Steelers and his playoff schedule against the Chargers, Cowboys and Bengals is very doable. He might not win your game for you but he should produce solid stats, especially at this time of the year when so many running backs have gone down to injury.
Which Slumping Elite Quarterback is due for a Revival: Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees?
I'm putting my money on Aaron Rodgers, despite his leaky and unreliable offensive line. He just got his favorite receiver, Greg Jennings, back and his playoff schedule isn't great but it does have two great matchups against the Lions and a dream Super Bowl Week 16 game against the lowly Titans. In between, there's a tough matchup with the Bears but if owners can make it to Week 16, it's all gravy from there.
Up next for Brees is a tough road game against the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. Brees has thrown seven interceptions over his last two games and the Giants' pass rush is sure to give him problems. His next two games against the Bucs and Cowboys are a lot better but his owners may not make it that far.
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