Hot/Cold List Playoff week 1
The playoffs are about to begin!! This list will include a handful of players at each skill position that has either a very favorable matchup or a matchup to avoid each week in the playoffs. May those players you selected for your fantasy playoff pools appear frequently on the steamy side while those you avoided stay frigid throughout the post-season.
Brett Favre, Green Bay (vs. Seattle): Favre faced the Seahawks in Green Bay back in week five when the Pack won 35-13. In that game, Favre had his most efficient performance of the season completing 19 of 25 passes for 185 yards, two touchdowns, and no INTs. Combine the high-running emotions with Seattle’s 27th ranked pass defense, and you’ve got the recipe for a big day out of Favre and the Green Bay passing attack.
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (vs. Denver): How do you spell most valuable player? M-A-N-N-I-N-G. Not only has Manning been the best player in the NFL, he’s brought his team back from deficits on several occasions (the Tampa Bay game comes to mind as one of the best comebacks ever). Manning posted his worst stats of the season in the last meeting with the Broncos just two weeks ago completing only 12 of 23 passes for 146 with no TDs and no INTs. That game marked only the fourth time all season that Manning failed to throw a TD pass. You can bet the Colts will be fired up for this “revenge” game with the Broncos and Manning will be leading the charge.
Jake Delhomme, Carolina (vs. Dallas): While the Panthers enter the playoffs winners of three straight games, they still are not a team that is striking fear in many opponents. Carolina squeaked past both Arizona and Detroit winning both games by a combination of nine points and defeating a Giants team the last week of the season that had already self-destructed. The Panthers played the Cowboys back in week 12 and lost 24-20. In that game, Delhomme completed only 9 of 24 passes for 175 yards for one TD and one INT. With Parcells leading the Cowboys top-ranked defense into Carolina, you can bet Delhomme’s stats won’t look much better this week.
Jake Plummer, Denver (vs. Indianapolis): Plummer was Mr. Efficiency against the Colts in their last meeting completing 14 of 17 passes (an 82.4 completion percentage for you stat geeks) for 238 yards, a TD and an INT. Denver played ball control dominating the time of possession by 3 to 1 over Indy by running effectively and completing the short passes. While the running game may still be effective this week, you can expect Dwight Freeney and the rest of the Colts pass defense to turn it up a notch and pressure Plummer forcing him to make the mistakes that we saw so frequently when he wore the Cardinal red.
Clinton Portis, Denver (vs. Indianapolis): While Portis missed the last game against the Colts due to a sprained right knee, he is expected to play this weekend in his first playoff game of his career. In Portis’ absence two weeks ago, Quentin Griffin filled in admirably posting 136 yards rushing on 28 carries much to the dismay of the Colts. The Colts have been susceptible to the run all season (Indy is ranked 20th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed), so for Denver to give a repeat performance, they’ll need to control the clock and run effectively. Portis is the key to both and he should do well in his first venture in a playoff atmosphere.
Ahman Green, Green Bay (vs. Seattle): Granted, the Broncos sat half their team last week, but Ahman Green still managed to post 218 yards on the ground with two scores. The last time the Packers faced the Seahawks, Green cracked the 100-yard mark rushing for 118 yards and two touchdowns. With the Seahawks well-documented struggles on the road, this should be another very solid day for Green as the Pack enjoy the friendly confines of Lambeau field.
Eddie George, Tennessee (vs. Baltimore): Even with the injuries to Steve McNair, George has not stepped it up to that elite level that he once played at consistently. George has only managed two 100-yard rushing games and those performances weren’t against a defense like the Ravens. Playing in Baltimore won’t help the situation for George and company as they will find little room to roam against the speedy run defense of the Ravens. Look elsewhere for your playoff RB selection.
Stephen Davis, Carolina (vs. Dallas): Davis has seen limited action in the past three weeks including sitting out in week 16 due to an injured ankle. For Carolina to stand a chance in this game, they’ll need to have success running the ball which means Davis will have to get healthy real quick which is a tough thing to do after 318 carries during the regular season. In the last meeting with Dallas, Davis rushed for just 59 yards on 26 carries with one TD. I wouldn’t expect those stats to improve this week as Carolina may be looking at an early exit from the post-season.
Derrick Mason, Tennessee (vs. Baltimore): Whether it’s been McNair, Billy Volek, or Neil O’Donnell, Mason has gotten open all season. His 95 catches and 1303 yards receiving were both career highs and they couldn’t have come at a better time with the Titans struggles with the running game. While facing a Ravens defense that is ranked 4th in the NFL in passing yards allowed in Baltimore is not exactly the best case scenario for Mason and the Titans, but they’ve got to feel confident that if they are to move the ball offensively, it’ll happen via the aerial attack. With McNair likely to play, you can expect Mason will get every shot to make his presence felt and he will not disappoint.
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (vs. Denver): Marvelous Marvin did not give a repeat performance of his record-breaking 2002 season this year, but he was still one of the top WRs in the game. He posted six 100-yard receiving games and his 10 TD catches were tied for 4th best from WRs in the NFL. Despite Manning’s struggles in the last meeting with Denver, Harrison still managed to post solid numbers (6 catches for 85 yards). Expect an increase in those stats as the Colts will return the favor when it counts most.
Darrell Jackson, Seattle (vs. Green Bay): If the Seahawks stand a chance at advancing beyond the wild-card, they’ll need to take advantage of their 7th ranked pass offense against Green Bay’s 23rd rank pass defense. That should mean that Hasselbeck will look to his top guy in Jackson early and often. Jackson only posted four catches for 58 yards in Seattle’s last meeting with Green Bay, but Jackson has had huge games against better pass defenses this season (his 7-catch, 146-yard, 2 TD performance against the Ravens comes to mind). Jackson won’t be the whole reason that Seattle wins or loses, but he’ll be a major player in the outcome.
Joey Galloway, Dallas (vs. Carolina): Galloway entered this season as the #1 WR in Dallas. As the 34 catches for 672 yards and two TDs indicate, that status of #1 did not last the entire season. Terry Glenn emerged as the go-to guy and even Antonio Bryant caught more passes than Galloway (39) when all was said and done. In the last meeting with Carolina, Galloway posted decent numbers (3 catches for 50 yards and a TD). You shouldn’t expect much more than that with the Panthers likely to pressure Quincy Carter all day leaving him to resort to short passing routes and checking down to the hot receivers.
Marcus Robinson, Baltimore (vs. Tennessee): Coo-coo-ka-choo Mr. Robinson. After posting a total of seven catches in the first ten weeks of the season, Robinson posted two 100-yard receiving games in the final six weeks including an eye-popping four TD performance against the Seahawks back in week 12. Despite the late season turnaround, it’s difficult to envision big things from Robinson this weekend. With the Ravens offense ranked dead last in passing yards and tops in rushing yards, their game plan will be to control the ball and keep the Titans off the field. That type of play isn’t conducive to big numbers from Robinson who is better served in a shoot-out as was the case back in week 12.
Ashley Lelie, Denver (vs. Indianapolis): The rookie posted his best numbers of the season in the last meeting with the Colts catching five passes for 115 yards. If you think Tony Dungy doesn’t remember that like his own birthday, you’re crazy. Lelie’s inconsistency, he’s had two games of 100+ yards receiving and two games where he didn’t even have a catch, combined with Indy’s high-ranked pass defense (5th in the NFL in passing yards allowed), make Lelie a risky option for playoff pools and does not come recommended.
Shannon Sharpe, Denver (vs. Indianapolis): In what may be Sharpe’s last game in the NFL, he should see plenty of action as the safety valve for Plummer this weekend. Sharpe’s eight TDs on the season make him a viable goal line threat and if Denver is to have success against the Colts, they’ll need to find the long-toothed one to perform at a high level early and often.
Todd Heap, Baltimore (vs. Tennessee): Despite playing on the worst passing offense in the NFL, Heap still managed to rank 3rd in the NFL in receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. Heap has also shown the ability to make big plays as his 13 catches for 20 yards or more indicates. With the Raven likely to keep things close to the vest this weekend, expect a conservative passing game which should fit Heap’s game perfectly.
Bubba Franks, Green Bay (vs. Seattle): To say Franks’ role in the Green Bay passing attack has taken a step back since last year is a mild understatement. In 2002, Franks had 54 catches for 442 yards and seven TDs. In 2003, Franks only managed 30 catches for 241 yards and four TDs. Don’t expect much to change as Green Bay has outscored it’s opponents 72-10 in the last two games with little help from Franks.
Kris Mangum, Carolina (vs. Dallas): If you’re stuck for a TE position in your playoff pool and you’re considering taking Mangum just to have a Panther, I’d think otherwise. Mangum did not catch a TD pass and the most catches he’s had in a game this year was four back in week seven when he “lit up” the Bucs for 34 yards.