January 10, 2013

Fantasy Football Report: Divisional Round

By - Tim Swift

The opening round was filled with several disappointing fantasy showings. But as history tells us, some of the best offensive performances usually happen in the Divisional Round.

Top Quarterbacks:

1. Peyton Manning vs. Baltimore -- Manning only threw for 204 yards in the first meeting in mid-December, but you should expect a much better performance against the 17th ranked pass defense this season.

Photo by: Joe Amon
2. Tom Brady vs. Houston -- The New England offense has all of its weapons back for their showdown against Houston, so Brady should go over 300 yards passing and 3 scores.

3. Aaron Rodgers vs. San Francisco -- The Packers offense is much more balanced than it was in their Week 1 matchup. Rodgers has been brilliant over the last 6 weeks and that should continue.

4. Matt Ryan vs. Seattle -- Ryan should have a good game on Sunday, if for no other reason than the volume of throws he should have against a tough Seattle secondary.

Rest of the Quarterbacks:

1. Joe Flacco vs. Denver
2. Colin Kaepernick vs. Green Bay
3. Russell Wilson vs. Atlanta
4. Matt Schaub vs. New England

Top Running Backs:

1. Marshawn Lynch vs. Atlanta -- Lynch is the best bet at the running back position, considering he's going up against the 21st ranked run defense in the league.

2. Arian Foster vs. New England -- Foster had a big game against the Bengals last week, and he is probably the most consistent performer for the Texans. The only problem is a lack of touches if Houston falls far behind.

3. Frank Gore vs. Green Bay -- Gore had 112 yards in the first matchup and should be able to find holes against a Green Bay run defense that was 17th overall this year.

4. Bernard Pierce vs. Denver -- Pierce had the better game than his backfield counterpart on Sunday with 103 yards. He will stay viable in the lineup if Ray Rice's fumble problem continues.

Rest of the Running Backs:

1. Ray Rice vs. Denver
2. Stevan Ridley vs. Houston
3. Knowshon Moreno vs. Baltimore
4. Michael Turner vs. Seattle

Top Wide Receivers:

1. Wes Welker vs. Houston -- He should get the most targets this weekend and is helped with the good health of both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

2. Roddy White vs. Seattle -- White has been more consistent than his counterpart Julio Jones, and should be the #1 target for Matt Ryan this weekend.

3. Andre Johnson vs. New England -- Johnson only had 4 receptions against Cincy on Saturday. For the Texans to have a chance against the Patriots, he needs to be much more involved.

4. Demaryius Thomas vs. Baltimore -- The Ravens secondary struggled most of the year, and they'll have trouble with a physical wideout like Thomas, who scored 10 touchdowns this season.

Rest of the Wide Receivers:

1. Eric Decker vs. Baltimore
2. Julio Jones vs. Seattle
3. James Jones vs. San Francisco
4. Anquan Boldin vs. Denver

Top Tight Ends:

1. Tony Gonzalez vs. Seattle -- The most consistent tight end by far this season, Gonzalez should get 8-10 targets on Sunday.

2. Rob Gronkowski vs. Houston -- Despite missing a big chunk of the season, Gronkowski still had 11 TDs and will be a featured target against the Texans.

3. Aaron Hernandez vs. Houston -- Hernandez should see lots of one-on-one matchups with the return of Gronk and an overall healthy compliment of pass catchers.

4. Owen Daniels vs. New England -- Daniels had the best day of any TE in the opening round, and if the Patriots double-team Andre Johnson, Daniels will benefit.

Rest of the Tight Ends:

1. Dennis Pitta vs. Denver
2. Jacob Tamme vs. Baltimore
3. Zach Miller vs. Atlanta
4. Jermichael Finley vs. San Francisco

Top Defense and Special Teams:

1. Denver D/ST vs. Baltimore -- Denver finished 3rd in fantasy D this season and should force Joe Flacco into several mistakes.

2. New England D/ST vs. Houston -- Matt Schaub has looked very shaky over the last 2 months of the season, and has he really gotten better since the Patriots routed the Texans in Week 14? In a word, no.

3. Atlanta D/ST vs. Seattle -- Atlanta's D has frustrated quarterbacks the likes of Drew Brees and the Manning brothers this season, so they can do the same to Russell Wilson.

4. Seattle D/ST vs. Atlanta -- Seattle's defense is ranked here because of regular season reputation only. This is a tough matchup, but they should a be able to get a few sacks and couple of turnovers off of Atlanta's offense.

Rest of the Defense and Special Teams:

1. San Francisco D/ST vs. Green Bay
2. Green Bay D/ST vs. San Francisco
3. Baltimore D/ST vs. Denver
4. Houston D/ST vs. New England

Since there are only 3 games left in the season following this round, this will be our final report of the year. Hope we helped you finish strong in your league. Be sure to check back with us next season for more fantasy tips. See you then.

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