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Fantasy Playoffs Preview

It’s been a long season and owners have been through a lot. There have been pleasant surprises like Arian Foster and Michael Vick, and there have also been deep disappointments like every single rookie running back, to name a few. After all the many heartaches mixed in with a few triumphs, the fantasy football playoffs are finally here and owners will finally find out how far their teams will go and if they will be holding up a trophy when it’s all said and done. Here are some of the biggest questions going into the fantasy football playoffs.

Who will be the Hero of the Playoffs?

I’ve been preaching this for months now on how Maurice Jones Drew was this season’s best “Buy Low” option when he got off to a slow start. Those owners that took a chance and traded for Jones-Drew have already been rewarded as he has had four straight 100-yard rushing performances, scoring three touchdowns in the process. For the playoffs, he has fabulous matchups with Oakland, Indianapolis and Washington.

Of the Top 4 players drafted this year, Jones-Drew will prove the most valuable down the stretch. Chris Johnson has unresolved quarterback issues that resulted in him having the worst game of his career last week. Adrian Peterson is dealing with an injury and won’t be playing at 100 percent. Ray Rice has played better recently but he has had trust issues with owners because of his inconsistent season. Going forward, Jones-Drew has everything you could want in a fantasy player: he’s healthy, he has tons of momentum and he has the kind of matchups that owners can only dream about.

Which Bust Will Return to Form for the Playoffs?

Brandon Marshall’s been a bust this season. I don’t think there’s anyone, especially Marshall owners, who would dispute that. He’s had one touchdown all season and only two games where he’s gone higher than 100 yards receiving. He’s also been hurt recently and missed a game last week. He’s been getting healthy though and his outlook for the playoffs is looking better.

In Week 14 he takes a trip to “Revis Island” and will probably be shut down and should probably be on the bench. For Weeks 15-16 though, he has two absolutely fantastic matchups against the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions. Marshall won’t be able to make up for an entire season’s worth of disappointment but he can still make a fair measure of amends by helping owners win a championship.

Biggest Bust of the Postseason

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Tom Brady has a chance to be the biggest bust of the playoffs. The New England Patriots have overachieved this year but they still have issues going forward. Brady’s had a great three-game stretch passing for close to 900 yards with nine touchdowns. His first two matchups in the playoffs aren’t attractive though, traveling on the road to play the Chicago Bears, who have the No. 1 defense in the league currently and playing the Green Bay Packers in Foxboro.

Both the Packers and the Bears are two teams whose defenses have been dominant lately. Remember that before Brady’s three-game stretch of domination, he’d had a pretty inconsistent season with above-average stats but certainly not at an elite level. While it’s true Brady has a great matchup for the fantasy football Super Bowl against the Bills (Week 16), that might be too late for some owners who were relying on Brady in the early rounds of the playoffs. Of course, I would never recommend benching Brady, but owners should be aware that the chances of him carrying your team in the first two rounds of the playoffs are slim.

Biggest Sleeper of the Playoffs

I’m torn between Ronnie Brown and Jonathan Stewart on this one, but I’m giving the tiebreaker to Brown because Stewart plays the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16. I’ve harped about a lot of things this season. Sometimes I was wrong and sometimes I was right. I’ve talked the most about trading for Jones-Drew during his slump, trading for Michael Vick while he was hurt and, finally, getting Brown because of his matchups in Week 15-16 (Bills, Lions).

Brown had one of his best games of the season last week against Oakland, carrying the ball 24 times for 85 yards, monumental for him considering the low standards he’s set this season. Most owners that have him probably aren’t even the playoff race at this point but for the few that are, it might be time to strongly consider reinserting Brown into the lineup. His matchup against Cleveland this weekend should be a good barometer to see if he’s really in the midst of turning his putrid season around.

Good Hunting!

Ed Bonfanti

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