Things worked out pretty much as I envisioned them. Well, at least three out of four picks were correct. Little did I know how Andrew Luck would fall so hard out of the sky. I know for next time. Anyway, this is the final four I really wanted, and if the two NFC teams were playing in San Francisco it would make my picks that much easier. As it is, though, I am keeping faith with the players who brought me to this point, hoping to ride them all the way.
In fact, because of bonus multipliers, my team was already set for me for the championship round in the Playoff Challenge. And it consists of players from the two teams I believe will be in the Super Bowl: Denver and San Francisco. And I’m hoping both teams play well this week, win or lose, because if one of the two loses but I get enough points from them I’ll be golden in my league for the Super Bowl. If both teams win this week then I’ll also be golden. The one thing that can throw a monkey wrench into everything, though, is if Denver and San Francisco both lose this week.
Here is my lineup for the Championship Round:
QUARTERBACK – Peyton Manning (DEN) 2X bonus
RUNNING BACK – Knowshon Moreno (DEN) 3X bonus
RUNNING BACK – Montee Ball (DEN) 2X bonus
WIDE RECEIVER – Damaryius Thomas (DEN) 3X bonus
WIDE RECEIVER – Michael Crabtree (SF) 2X bonus
TIGHT END – Julius Thomas (DEN) 2X bonus
KICKER – Phil Dawson (SF) 2X bonus
DEFENSE/ST – San Francisco (SF) 3X bonus
I am one of only four players in my league who still has a team full of bonus multipliers, and my keys to victory don’t just lie in Denver and San Francisco winning their respective games. In fact, I broke down exactly what needs to happen to guarantee me a victory once the Super Bowl is all said and done. I won’t share that quite yet because I don’t want to jinx this week’s games, but I will say that sitting in ninth place at the moment has never felt so good. I liken the Playoff Challenge to a marathon, and I’m always about pacing myself in the early rounds, not doing anything to lose it, setting myself up for the possibility of now.
But you want advice, and I have some for you. Here are the players I think will perform best this round:
QUARTERBACK – Peyton Manning. I know the Broncos ran the ball a lot in the regular season matchup, but Manning is on a mission here. He will do whatever it takes to win. And I think it will take more throwing in this one, something he is completely capable of doing. It’s his time, and he will show up huge.
RUNNING BACK – Knowshon Moreno. Don’t worry. When I talked about Peyton Manning up there, I didn’t neglect Moreno. In fact, he has gotten untracked several times this year in the passing game, and I think it fits in here against the Patriots. They will be focused on the traditional run, so check-offs to the running back will do really well.
RUNNING BACK – Frank Gore. The 49ers were unable to run the ball effectively against Seattle the last time they came to town, but this time will be different. For starters, getting the passing game going opens up the run game, and Kaepernick is on fire at the moment. He is also given more free rein over taking off when necessary, which can disrupt the defense enough to get Gore some lanes on option plays.
WIDE RECEIVER – Danny Amendola. I believe the Broncos will put up points, and the Patriots will do their best to keep up. Denver isn’t blind. They’ve seen how active Edelman has been in the passing game, so they will pay a lot of attention to keeping him bottled, opening up spaces for Amendola to get his work done. Amendola will also benefit your Playoff Challenge team if you think the Patriots will go to the Super Bowl, getting you bonus points there.
WIDE RECEIVER – Eric Decker. Sure, he didn’t do much last week, but that has been a pattern this year. He has been ultimately consistent, though, particularly when it matters most. This week it matters most and Decker will dominate near the goal line. If you have the luxury of playing a wide receiver from the Broncos I would pick Decker in a heartbeat. In fact, the only reason I’m not playing him this week is because I get double bonus points for playing Crabtree.
TIGHT END – Zach Miller. So many people are focused on Julius Thomas and Vernon Davis, and rightly so, but so are the other players in the Playoff Challenge. If you are playing from behind, Miller might just be the way to go. San Francisco has given up some points to tight ends this week, and with Russell Wilson struggling of late, I think he relies some on the big man. And if your money is on Seattle getting to the Super Bowl, he could be helpful there against either defense he would face, as neither one of the AFC teams boasts a great defense against tight ends.
AVOID: Wes Welker. The Patriots took him out of his game in his first meeting against his former team, and even though he was serviceable last week, I think they might still be in his head. I wouldn’t trust him against New England this week to get you more than 50 yards.
AVOID: Marshawn Lynch. Obviously you’re going with Lynch if you think Seattle makes the Super Bowl, and especially after his performance last week, but he looked tired at the end of the regular season, and while he was rested for the Saints game, he won’t be here. Count in the tough playoff defense in the 49ers and unless he scores a touchdown he won’t be good for your team. Again, if you played him last week you’re playing him here. Just temper your expectations.
Keep in mind that my advice comes from years of playing fantasy sports, but anything can happen when the games start. That’s why they still play the games, and that’s what makes it so fascinating to see, and to play. Good luck with your teams in the Championship Round!
The Fantasy Ace