Let’s take a look a the defense rankings for the divisional round.
1.  Chicago Bears
2.  New England Patriots
3.  Green Bay Packers
4.  Pittsburgh Steelers
5.  Baltimore Ravens
6.  New York Jets
7.  Atlanta Falcons
8.  Seattle Seahawks

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Let’s take a look at the kicker rankings for the divisional round.
1.  Billy Cundiff, Baltimore Ravens
2.  Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons
3.  Shayne Graham, New England Patriots
4.  Shaun Suisham, Pittsburgh Steelers
5.  Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
6.  Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
7.  Nick Folk, New York Jets
8.  Olindo Mare, Seattle Seahawks

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From John Carlson’s two touchdown performance to Todd Heap’s ten catch day, the unlikely TEs did the damage. Let’s take a look a the tight end rankings for the divisional round.
1.  Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots:  Came on strong down the stretch averaging 56 yards and a score in the last four games.
2.  Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens:  Coming off an monster game (ten catches, 108 yards). Should see a lot of check downs against the Steelers.
3.  Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots:  Ripped the Jets for 152 yards and a score on nine catches.
4.  Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons:  Disappointed most of the year, but caught six passes for 51 yards and a score in Week 12 against the Packers.
5.  Dustin Keller, New York Jets:  Mixed results against the Pats this year. Led Jets with nine targets against the Colts. Should be active once again.
6.  Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears:  Mr. Inconsistent. Didn’t catch a pass in the first meeting with the Seahawks.
7.  Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers:  Only had three catches for 43 yards in the two meetings with Baltimore.
8.  John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks:  Scored two touchdowns last week, but still managed just 17 yards. He’s not a strong bet to have another big game based on his season totals.
9.  Andrew Quarless, Green Bay Packers:  Rodgers does spread the ball around so he has a chance to produce. That also makes it harder to rely on him.

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Last week Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne, and Greg Jennings combined for 9 yards making the wide receiver position one of the toughest to predict in the playoffs. I think normalcy will be restored this weekend, but that could just be wishful thinking.
1.  Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers:  After getting held to eight yards last week, I think Jennings will bounce back in a big way against Atlanta. Jennings was one of the top receivers in the second half and the Pack will look to get him back on track. He had 119 yards in the first meeting.
2.  Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers:  Wallace closed the season out with three straight 100 yard games. Big Ben will rely on his speedy receiver to move the chains.
3.  Santonio Holmes, New York Jets:  The Pats struggled to cover him in the the first meeting. Even though they’ll look to slow the tempo with the running game, the Jets will need to throw the ball if they want to pull off the upset. Holmes will get plenty of opportunities.
4.  Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons:  Roddy caught 115 passes on the year, and will again be a big focus. He was held to 49 yards in the first meeting, but I’m expecting a stronger performance this time.
5.  Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens:  Boldin delivered in his first playoff game with Baltimore by catching a touchdown in the back of the end zone. He played well in both meetings with Pittsburgh, and should be a strong factor once again. continue reading »

Michael Turner running
Marshawn Lynch’s mad dash shook things up in the Wild Card round. We know longer have to worry about the Colts or Saints RB situations. Unfortunately exciting players like LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles will be watching from home. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the divisional round rankings.
1.  Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons:  Turner had 11 touchdowns in the Falcons last ten games. Atlanta was 9-1 during that stretch. I expect a heavy dose of Turner to keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline.
2.  Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers:  This has the makings of being an epic battle. I don’t know that he has a lot of yards in this one, but I think he scores on a short run.
3.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis, New England Patriots:  BJGE ran for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Jets in Week 13. The sledding will be tougher, but I think he’ll still turn in a solid performance.
4.  Matt Forte, Chicago Bears:  Forte averaged 117.4 total yards in the Bears final seven games. He should be a huge factor against the Seahawks.
5.  Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens:  Pittsburgh kept him in check in both meetings, but it’s hard to keep a runner like Rice down three times in a season. I’m thinking solid total yardage, but a small likelihood of a score. continue reading »

Image courtesy of Icon SMI

The Seahawks certainly put the wild in the Wild Card round. Eliminated were Michael Vick, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning. With that crop of elite quarterbacks out of the mix, let’s take a look at the divisional round rankings.
1.  Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers:  He’s truly an elite talent. He does not even need to go to his favorite weapon (Greg Jennings) to put up three touchdown passes.  Now he’s Atlanta’s problem. With the 22nd ranked pass defense, I’m thinking another upset is in the making. Win or lose, Rodgers should put up big numbers.
2.  Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears:  No, I’m not sniffing glue. Yes, I did watch Seattle pull of the upset. They were playing at home though. As long as the weather is decent in Chicago, I think Cutler lights up Seattle’s 27th ranked pass defense. They are also one of four teams to allow 30+ passing touchdowns this year.
3.  Tom Brady, New England Patriots:  Brady got the Rex Ryan monkey off his back when he threw for 326 yards and four scores in Week 13. Things will be tougher this time around, but I’m still expecting Tom to deliver.
4.  Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers:  I realize the Ravens made Matt Cassel look like a guy that should be backing up Tom Brady, but he and the Chiefs did not look ready for the next level that comes with playing in the playoffs. Big Ben and the Steelers don’t have that problem. I think Big Ben rises to the occasion and turns in a solid effort.
5.  Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons:  I pretty much have the same feelings for Ryan and Joe Flacco. Both face tough defenses this week and will lean on the ground game. I give Ryan the slight edge since he’s playing at home.
6.  Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens:   See above. The only thing I’ll add is that I hope Flacco doesn’t try to run like he did last week because he likely won’t last the entire game.
7.  Mark Sanchez, New York Jets:   The Patriots were 30th against the pass this year, but it’s a new season now and the stakes are higher. Sanchez had mixed performances against the Pats in their two meanings. Facing Belichick a third time is a daunting task for a young quarterback.
8.  Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks:  With all due respect to Hasselbeck, I have to rank him last again. They called a great game and his throws were precise. I just don’t see that style working on the road against the Bears.

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Wild Card Round Results:
1-3 (NO, INDY, PHI)

Regular Season Lock Picks:  24-10 (.706)
Regular Season Total:  159-97 (.621)
Playoffs Picks:  1-3 (.750)
Overall Total:  160-100 (.615)

NFL Divisional Round Picks:
Pittsburgh Steelers over Baltimore Ravens
Green Bay Packers over Atlanta Falcons
Chicago Bears over  Seattle Seahawks
New England Patriots over New York Jets
Also check out:

  • Divisional Round Fantasy QB Rankings
  • Divisional Round Fantasy RB Rankings
  • Divisional Round Fantasy WR Rankings
  • Divisional Round Fantasy TE Rankings
  • Divisional Round Fantasy K Rankings
  • Divisional Round Fantasy DEF Rankings
  • Here’s a breakdown of playoff  fantasy rankings for the divisional round. You can also check out my Divisional Round Picks.

    1. Kurt Warner
    2. Drew Brees
    3. Philip Rivers
    4. Peyton Manning
    5. Tony Romo
    6. Brett Favre
    7.  Joe Flacco
    8. Mark Sanchez

    Running Backs
    1. Adrian Peterson
    2. Ray Rice
    3. Thomas Jones
    4. Joseph Addai
    5. Felix Jones
    6. LaDainian Tomlinson
    7. Beanie Wells
    8. Marion Barber III
    9. Willis McGahee
    10. Pierre Thomas
    11. Tim Hightower
    12. Darren Sproles

    Wide Receivers
    1.Larry Fitzgerald
    2. Miles Austin
    3. Sidney Rice
    4. Marques Colston
    5. Reggie Wayne
    6. Vincent Jackson
    7. Jerricho Cotchery
    8. Austin Collie
    9. Early Doucet
    10. Derrick Mason
    11. Roy Williams
    12. Steve Breaston

    Tight Ends
    1. Dallas Clark
    2. Antonio Gates
    3. Visanthe Shiancoe
    4. Jason Witten
    5. Dustin Keller

    1. Nate Kaeding
    2. Ryan Longwell
    3. Matt Stover
    4. Neil Rackers
    5. Shaun Suisham

    1. San Diego Chargers
    2. Minnesota Vikings
    3. Indianapolis Colts
    4. Baltimore Ravens
    5. Dallas Cowboys
    6. New York Jets
    7. Arizona Cardinals
    8. New Orleans Saints

    Check out my Divisional Round Fantasy Football Rankings.

    Wild Card Round Results:  0-4 (Brutal, just brutal)

    Regular Season Lock Picks:  31-3 (.912)
    Regular Season Total:  177-79 (.691)
    Playoff Picks:  0-4
    Overall Total:  177-83 (.681)

    NFL Divisional Round Picks:
    Minnesota Vikings over Dallas Cowboys
    Indianapolis Colts over Baltimore Ravens
    San Diego Chargers over New York Jets
    Arizona Cardinals over New Orleans Saints

    Since I did such a poor job last week, I’ll let my son make his picks. Maybe you want to heed his advice instead.

    Minnesota Vikings over Dallas Cowboys
    Indianapolis Colts over Baltimore Ravens
    New York Jets over San Diego Chargers
    New Orleans Saints over Arizona Cardinals

    These are heads-up picks. The Yahoo ATS challenge wrapped up. I finished tied for third at 134-119-3 (.529). If you want my take on the playoff match-ups ATS, leave me a message in the comment with your e-mail or send one to me at contact@lesterslegends.com.

    Minnesota Vikings over Dallas Cowboys

    Time for another edition of Fantasy Football Out on a Limb.  I scour the rosters to select a player who I feel will outperform a higher profile player in that given week.  I base my decisions on matchups, how the players are trending, and the ever-important hunch.  To mix things up I’ll occasionally do some two on one matchups or even pit RB or WR duos against each other.  Sometimes I’ll spot a player some points. 

    For the playoffs I will pick one matchup for Quarterback, Running Back, and Wide Receiver

    6 points for rushing or receiving TD
    4 points for a passing TD
    0.1 points per yard for rushing or receiving
    0.05 points per passing yard. 

    Last Week
    Jake Delhomme (14.25) beat Eli Manning (8.45) WHICH I WON. 
    Willie Parker (26.6) beat Chris Johnson (16.0) WHICH I WON. 
    Justin Gage +1.5 [15.0 (13.5 actual + 1.5)] beat Muhsin Muhammad (5.5) WHICH I LOST. 

    Record:  2-1

     Season Record
    Regular Picks:  52-33 (.612)
    Super Stretch Picks:  8-8 (.500)
    Playoff Picks:  4-2 (.667)
    Overall:  64-43 (.598)

    Championship Round Picks

    donovan-mcnabb   kurt-warner
    Donovan McNabb
    over Kurt Warner +1
    Warner had the better regular season, but McNabb is playing like a new man in the playoffs.  I think their numbers will be similar, but McNabb’s running could give him the edge.  To make it an out on the limb pick, I’ll spot Warner a point.

    Running Back
    Edgerrin James
    over Willie Parker
    Both of these backs have had playoff success after disappointing regular seasons.  I think Edge is more likely to continue his resurgence since he doesn’t have to face Baltimore.  Not that Philly is a pushover, but the Ravens are playing some sick ball right now.

    Wide Receiver
    Kevin Curtis over Derrick Mason
    I am categorizing this one in the “hunch department”.  I see McNabb relying heavily on Curtis to get to the Super Bowl.  Westy is banged up and he’ll go to the vet rather than rookie DeSean Jackson.  Mason has to face a tough Pittsburgh D that won’t take it easy like they did last week at the end of the Chargers victory.

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