Divisional Round Picks for NFL.com Fantasy Playoff Challenge
Tom Brady (NE): If you had him last week in anticipation of the 2x bonus he'll receive this week, you obviously want to stick with him. If your starter lost last week, I'd still advise going with Brady for your Divisional Round team. Last time Brady played the Texans, he put up 296 yards and four touchdowns. The Patriots are nine-point favorites to advance to the AFC Championship, and will also have a solid shot at making it to the Super Bowl.
Marshawn Lynch (SEA): The Falcons have had an incredible season, finishing the year with the best record in the NFL, but one of their glaring weaknesses is defending the run. They give up 4.8 yards per carry, good for 29th in the league. Lynch has been fantastic all season, and ran for 132 yards with two total touchdowns last week against the Redskins 5th ranked run defense. The Seahawks have a real shot at beating the Falcons this week, and they are 2-0 against the teams they could potentially face in the NFC Championship. Lynch could be rolling with a 3x or 4x bonus for your fantasy team in the Super Bowl.
Stevan Ridley (NE): I had a hard time deciding between Ridley and Knowshon Moreno, but decided to go with Tom Brady's teammate so you can potentially have two big time players with big bonuses in the Super Bowl. Ridley has been a workhorse for much of the season, and ran for 72 yards and a touchdown the last time he played the Texans. The Texans are good against the run, but if they struggle to get the ball in the end zone (as they did against the Bengals last week), the Patriots will likely be pounding the rock with Ridley for much of the game.
Andre Johnson (HOU): I'm assuming most of you will be sticking with Johnson for the 2x bonus this week, as he was the highest started receiver on NFL.com for the Wild Card Round. Facing a high powered Patriots team, the Texans are going to have to put points on the board, and the best way for them to score quickly is to look to their best weapon in the passing game. Johnson is one of the league's best receivers, and the Patriots were ranked 29th in pass defense this season.
Demaryius Thomas (DEN): Thomas has had a fantastic season, and hopefully you took my advice and grabbed him last week for the guaranteed 2x bonus in the Divisional Round. Though he didn't do much of anything (four catches, 13 yards) when the Broncos last played the Ravens, that was because Denver completely dominated the game from the start and didn't need any big plays. I expect the Ravens to keep the game closer this time around, prompting Peyton Manning to look to his leading receiver more often. I also expect the Broncos to win this game, and possibly the next game, so Thomas could get you some nice bonuses down the road.
Rob Gronkowski (NE): Gronkowski is the best fantasy tight end in the league when he's on the field, which is why I advised taking him last week for the 2x bonus this weekend. I don't think I need to explain much here - if you had him last week, you should obviously play him; if your tight end from last week got knocked out, pick up the record-setting player who had the most fantasy points per game among tight ends this year.
As I said last week, kickers are always kind of a crapshoot. I'll be sticking with Shayne Graham, who I had last week. If your kicker got knocked out, I'd probably go with Matt Prater. He'll be kicking through the thin air in Denver, and his team will likely be in a position in which they won't be forced to be aggressive, can sit back and settle for field goals.
Denver Broncos: I'll be sticking with the Seahawks, as I had them last week, but if you're in need of a new defense and are not getting a 2x bonus, I'd go with the Broncos. They are ranked 2nd in total defense and are playing against an offense that struggles on the road. In addition, the Ravens struggled to put points on the board the last time they faced the Broncos' defense. With the Broncos' Super Bowl chances looking pretty decent, they're a solid option for your defense.