The playoffs are underway!! The upcoming games look to be very exciting and high scoring. Hopefully, you didn’t start too many Cowboys, Seahawks, Broncos or Ravens in your playoff pool. Onto the list…
Tom Brady, New England (vs. Tennessee): When the Pats last faced the Titans, Brady had an average day (219 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs). The Pats were able to run the ball and make plays on special teams. After watching the Titans shut down the league’s leading rusher in Jamal Lewis last week, you can bet that Brady will be dropping back on many occasions to try and take advantage of the Titans questionable secondary.
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (vs. Kansas City): The guy threw for 394 yards and five TDs last week! You had to guess he would once appear on the start list. Last week, Manning picked apart the Broncos and while the Colts must head to Arrowhaed Stadium this week, Manning will still have much success in the air against a Chiefs defense that is searching to recapture their mojo.
Marc Bulger, St. Louis (vs. Carolina): The Rams playing at home are usually a safe bet, but Bulger hasn’t been lighting the world on fire as of late. He’s only thrown for more than 225 yards once in the past five games and he’s facing a Carolina defense that can get to the passer. I’m expecting the Rams to focus on Marshall Faulk using the pass to only set up the running game meaning fewer stats for Bulger this week.
Jake Delhomme, Carolina (vs. St. Louis): Will the magical ride of Delhomme end this week? Perhaps. One thing is certain: the Rams have a tougher time stopping the run than they do the pass. When you’re playing on the road against the “Best show on turf”, the best way to slow them down is to keep them off the field. Expect a heavy dose of Stephen Davis meaning lesser stats for Delhomme.
Stephen Davis, Carolina (vs. St. Louis): Davis showed no ill effects last week from an ankle injury that slowed him down the last two weeks of the regular season. Expect Carolina to rely heavily on the big man to control the time of possession and keep the high-powered Rams offense on the sidelines. Hopefully, you took the chance on Davis, as he will make it worth your while once again this week.
Ahman Green, Green Bay (vs. Philadelphia): Green only rushed for 66 yards on 23 carries last week, but the last time the Packers faced the Eagles, Green posted 192 yards on 29 carries. I wouldn’t expect Green to reach 190 yards this week, but he will certainly get enough carries to allow him to surpass the 100-yard mark and then some.
Antowain Smith/Kevin Faulk/Mike Cloud, New England (vs. Tennessee): The duo of Smith and Cloud combined for 153 yards on only 23 carries and two touchdowns in the last meeting with the Titans. While no one knows which of the three backs will be starting this week, chances are none of them will match the success on the ground that they had back in week five.
Eddie George, Tennessee (vs. New England): Despite suffering a dislocated shoulder last week, Eddie George posted very respectable numbers against a tough Ravens defense. As tough as the Ravens were last week, the Patriots have been even tougher to run against this season. Add the frigid conditions to the success of Chris Brown last week, and it should equate to lower stats for George this week.
Torry Holt, St. Louis (vs. Carolina): Even stating the Bulger will get fewer opportunities this week, when those opportunities do arise, you can bet Torry Holt will be on the receiving end. Holt had a monster season and has broken the 100-yard receiving mark in three of the past five games even with Bulger failing to throw for more than 225 yards in any of those games. Holt should see enough action to post solid numbers.
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (vs. Kansas City): You can’t have Manning on the Hot list and not expect to see Harrison’s name as well. Harrison posted seven catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns last week. Don’t expect the Colts to change much in their gameplan, as until the Chiefs prove they can stop the pass, Manning will be dropping back all day long and finding Harrison open more often than not.
Deion Branch, New England (vs. Tennessee): While Brady has been successful at distributing the ball to many different receivers, it was Branch who posted the best numbers against Tennessee back in week five. Even though David Givens seems to be the favorite target as of late, my guess is Branch will make his presence felt on Saturday night and post solid numbers.
James Thrash, Philadelphia (vs. Green Bay): The dismal Eagles passing attack is starting to pick up some steam. For Thrash, you cannot overlook only the one touchdown on the season and no games in which he broke the 100-yard mark receiving. While McNabb may have success moving the ball in the air, it won’t solely be attributed to Thrash. Hopefully, you didn’t select any Eagles WRs, including Thrash.
Javon Walker, Green Bay (vs. Philadelphia): Don’t get too excited over the 111 yards receiving that Walker posted last week against Seattle. This Philly defense is much tougher against the pass than Seattle, and Favre will see his share of struggles this week. Unless Walker can bust another long one (similar to his 44-yard jaunt last week), expect mediocre numbers from the Green Bay receiver this week.
Johnnie Morton, Kansas City (vs. Indianapolis): Morton’s second year in Kansas City was a big improvement from his first, but his stats are still a dramatic drop off from his days in Detroit. With so many additional weapons at Trent Green’s disposal, Morton is not the top option and he stats reflect that. Morton may get a few catches, but nothing that would warrant a Hot List selection.
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (vs. Indianapolis): Gonzo is the last of the viable options at the TE position left in the playoffs. Despite many of the pundits moving Shockey, Heap and even Sharpe ahead of Gonzalez on the TE fantasy depth chart, Gonzo kept plugging away and posted better stats than all of them. Expect Trent Green to look Gonzo’s way often as he continues to prove why he’s one of, if not the best TE’s in the league.
Daniel Graham, New England (vs. Tennessee): The rookie could play a huge role in this week’s battle with the Titans. If the Tennessee passing defense showed any weakness last week, it was slowing down the tight end. Now, Graham does not have the same skills as Todd Heap, but Graham has proven that he can get open when needed. As long as Graham uses some stick ’em, he should do well this weekend.
Chad Lewis, Philadelphia (vs. Green Bay): Another Eagles offensive player who has been a disappointment this season. Lewis’ only TD catch came on the very last game of the season and it was his only catch on the day. In the last meeting between these teams, Lewis caught two passes for 33 yards. That’s about as good as it’s going to get.
Brandon Manumaleuna, St. Louis (vs. Carolina): Say that name three times fast! With the Rams likely to emphasize the running attack, you can expect Manumaleuna to be used more as a blocker than a threat in the running game.