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Fantasy Football Playoffs Preview

For the vast majority of leagues, the Fantasy Football Playoffs start this week and climax in the Superbowl in Week 16. This is a time for Legends. A time for those lucky few owners, who have battled injuries, dealt with disappointments and somehow schemed their way into the postseason. It’s been a long road but now owners are only 3 games away from an elusive Championship.

Most leagues have the playoffs run from Week 14-16, which are the weeks we will be highlighting here. I fully understand that some leagues choose to have their Superbowl in Week 17 but this is a practice myself and many others are against because many teams bench their starters in those games. For the purposes of this preview, we will only be focusing on the fantasy playoffs that run through the 16th Week.

Who will be the Fantasy Playoffs MVP?

In the interest of not making an overly obvious choice like Aaron Rodgers or Arian Foster, I’m going to go with DeMarco Murray. He’s been in a bit of a slump the last three games, highlighted by a putrid 38 rushing yard performance against the “mighty” Arizona Cardinals last weekend. The immediate future is looking bright for Murray, starting with him getting back his lead blocker, fullback Tony Fiammetta, whose three game absence has drastically hurt Murray’s stats in the last trio of games.

The next three games for Murray look fabulously tasty. First, he takes on the Giants, ranked 23rd against the run and then in the 2nd round of the playoffs he plays the Buccanneers, who were recently gashed for 190 rushing yards by a back-from-the-dead Chris Johnson. Murray ends the season against the Eagles, one of the most fantasy friendly run defenses for running backs. With Felix Jones stepping up last week, Murray has all the motivation in the world to perform huge for owners and solidify his role as the feature back for the Dallas Cowboys.

Which Fantasy Stud is Destined to Disappoint Owners in the Playoffs?

I had a hard time making my mind up on this one so I’m going to give the dubious “award” to Frank Gore but Marshawn Lynch is a close second. Gore has noticeably slowed down in the second half of the season. He hasn’t had a 100 rushing yard performance since Week 9 and he hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 8. Over his last three games, he’s run for 200 yards on 59 carries, equaling a somewhat miserable 3.23 yards per carry.

Up next for Gore are the Arizona Cardinals, who, as mentioned above, held Demarco Murray to 38 rushing yards. The week before that they held Steven Jackson to 64 rushing yards. Have the Cardinals suddenly become a ferocious run defense? Not saying that at all but what I am saying is that the Cardinals are Gore’s “best” matchup in the fantasy playoffs.

After the Cardinals, Gore goes up against the Steelers and then takes a trip to Seattle to take on the Seahawks, who held him to 59 rushing yards earlier in the season. The long season is starting to take its toll on Gore and he doesn’t have any fantasy friendly matchups the rest of the way. By the time he closes out his season and takes on the lowly Rams in Week 17, most fantasy leagues will already be finished.

While Gore has been disappointing in the second half of his season, Marshawn Lynch has been the absolute opposite, returning to Beast Mode with an incredible string of great games going all the way back to Week 9. His numbers have been nothing short of staggering. Over his last five games he’s rushed for 591 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns and has gone over 100 rushing yards in four of his last five. He’s been amazingly impressive and impossible to bench under any circumstances.

Up next for Lynch is the St. Louis Rams, a Dream Playoff Matchup for fantasy football running backs. After the Rams though, the schedule starts to get very difficult. In Week 15 he travels to Chicago for a tough road game against one of the best run defenses in the league. Finally, in the Superbowl, he goes up against the 49ers, the best run defense in the NFL, who held Lynch to 33 rushing yards in the Season Opener. Lynch has the potential to lead many owners to victory in Week 14 against the Poopy Rams but after that, owners should start setting their expectations very low.

Which Injured Fantasy Stud has the Best Chance to Make an Impact in the Playoffs: Matt Forte, Andre Johnson, Adrian Peterson or Miles Austin?

I’m going with Miles Austin on this one and it’s not a difficult choice. He may be the least talented player of this bunch but he definitely seems to be the most healthy and ready to play. Adding to Austin’s value is the fact that Laurent Robinson hasn’t been practicing this week due to a shoulder injury and Austin has a decent chance of reestablishing himself as Tony Romo’s Number 1 target.

Adrian Peterson has returned to practice and looks like he has a decent chance to play this weekend but has already admitted that he’s not close to 100%. All signs are looking like Andre Johnson isn’t going to play this week and Texans’ Coach Gary Kubiak doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to bring him back quickly. Matt Forte’s initial diagnosis is that he’s going to be out for 2-6 weeks so he might not return at all. All of this makes me put my chips in Austin’s corner as the best injured fantasy stud to make a playoffs comeback.

Which Season Long Bust Will Redeem Himself in the Playoffs?

This was another close one and it came down to Chris Johnson and Philip Rivers but I have to give the edge to CJ because of Rivers’ unfortunate Week 15 matchup with the Ravens. Johnson has rushed for 343 yards over the last two weeks and his schedule going forward is the stuff fantasy dreams are made of. He’s got a high scoring matchup with the Saints this Sunday, a chance to rush for 5,000 rushing yards against the Colts in Week 15 and then he closes out the season with the Jaguars, who were just gashed for 112 yards and a touchdown by Ryan Mathews.

It’s doubtful that there are many CJ owners, who stuck with him the whole season and didn’t acquire him in a midseason trade, that are even in the playoffs at this point. Those that are though have a fantasy bonanza waiting for them and a legit shot at a Championship in the coming weeks.

Good Luck to Everyone who made it this far and a special shout-out to the  10-3 Bonfanti’s Triumph, my Fantasy Sharks team, enjoying our Week 14 bye, awaiting our next opponent in Week 15.

Good Hunting!

Ed Bonfanti

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About Fantasy Sharks began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.