Playoff Quarterfinal Preview

Final Regular Season Record: 46-40

The time has finally come to start talkin bout PLAYOFFS.  This is the time when every decision, every catch and every drop can mean life or death.  Surviving a grueling regular season requires strong foresight from the beginning; the ability to be decisive and cutthroat dropping yesterdays hero for tomorrows prospect; to be clever and charming enough to swing advantageous trades; and to have unwavering commitment to putting forth the best starting line-up possible week in and week out.  All of the managers who remain at this point have displayed these characteristics in spades and I salute them – except Rape who seems to have some sort of agreement with Lucifer.

Self Indulgent disclaimer (feel free to skip to preview): I cannot deny that this will be a difficult preview for me to write.  Rape called me out in the power poll, accusing me of repressing the anger and despair I must feel for being knocked out of the show in such heartbreaking fashion.  Admittedly, I had gotten ahead of myself in the regular season – two weeks ago I had very little doubt in my mind that I would be in the playoffs.  But that changed after losing in week 12.  My fantasy outlook in general probably straddles realism and pessimism – so I can’t say I wasn’t somewhat prepared for this.  Of course I would love to be in the playoffs, but I cannot complain that I was hard done by.  Last year I was the team who made it further than I should have based on my points, and this year I finished slightly behind where I could have.  Them’s the breaks.  I can rest easy with the knowledge that every move I made was backed by what I consider sound evidence, and that in the long run that preparation and commitment will put me in a championship match someday. 

And without further ado, here are the Quarterfinal match-ups:

(1)Leprechauns vs. (8)LIONel Hutz

Our first match features the top seed versus the bottom.  Lep has basically been locked into the playoffs for a month, while Hutz completed a miraculous late charge (following an almost equally miraculous mid-season collapse) to get here.  The Hutz hype has begun, with the general consensus being his late season moves turned him into a true contender.  He’s entering the playoffs the right way on a hot streak, but has a monumental task in front of him right off the bat.  Lep had a lacklustre final week of the regular season, as teams who’ve locked up playoff spots often do, and will need to get back to form to avoid the embarrassment of an early exit.

QB:  Eli only has to keep it close with A-Rodge for Hutz to consider this a win.  Rodgers has the better match up, but something about Giants/Cowboys night game seems like big points to me.

WR:  Each team starts a stud and boom/bust.  I’ll take Megatron over anybody (especially against the Vikes secondary), and Torrey Smith (playing Indy) over DJax because the guy befuddles me.

RB:  Micheal Turner faces what must be a stout Panthers defense as they managed to hold LeGarrette Blount to 1.9 ypc last week.  So rest easy there Hutz.  I like Mike Bush against the Pack.  Shonne Greene exploded last week for three touchdowns, and often plays his best ball late in the season.  But the guy I’m really looking forward to watching is BEASTMODE on Monday night.

The Rest:  Percy Harvin stands out among the remaining players.  He has exploded and really taken advantage of the additional work he is seeing – I really like him to break a long play against a Lions D which loves to blitz.  (Update: Ponder doubtful, and AP back in practice – neither are good news for Harvin)  Both teams have great defenses – but I would lean towards the 49ers giving Kolb a rude welcoming to the starting job. (Update: The Pitt defense has a 12 point game going right now, but Colt is driving)

Prediction:  This game looks wide open to me and definitely has the possibility of being a huge first round upset.  But I’m not ready to pick against the Leagues top team just yet – Lep FTW.

(4)HURRICANE DITKA vs. (5)The Brink

The second match features the New Orleans Saints (sans Jimmy Graham) vs. a Brink team which looks very different than it did early in the season.  Give the Brink credit, he made some huge trades, and managed to fill in some of the gaping holes on his roster.  I still don’t believe his team has what it takes to go deep, but I’ve been wrong about his team all season long.  Another team I believe less and less in is Ditka.  I think he has a great team, but I don’t trust any team so heavily tied up in a single NFL team.  The Saints probably have a down week sometime in the next three and that’s when Ditka’s season comes to an end.

QB:  Romo outscores Brees this week.  The Giants will pick him off once or twice, but their secondary is really weak right now, and their pass rush has disappeared.

WR:  Robinson has missed some practice this week and Austin is returning.  Bowe is on Revis Island.  If Colston or Moore gets the TD’s this week should be a win for Ditka.  Could easily end up being Graham and Meachemderson though.

RB:  All around nice RB’s here.  I think Demarco does best against the Giants, followed by Mcgahee, Bush and then Sproles.

The Rest:  Both have solid tight ends, and flexes.  I like Gaffney against the Pats this week.  Bmore against Indy is boner inducing.

Prediction:  OK I found the upset I’m ready to pick à The Brink over Ditka.

(3)Dockers vs. (6)PeatyWhisky

The third match features the hottest team in the League against a team that seems to be losing steam quickly.  Dockers surpassed Ditka in the final week to win the West and push up to a 3 seed.  Peaty lost star running back Matt Forte for the entire playoffs, but will be helped by the return of Bradshaw.

QB:  Most single season rushing TD’s by a QB in his rookie season, Cam Newton is what we in the business call a fantasy lock.

WR:  Every wide receiver in this match is a guy equally capable of putting up 15+ or less than 3.  Jordy Nelson is playing inspired, VJax played well last week so shouldn’t do anything this week, and Stevie J seems to be starting to get it together.  Mike Wallace is playing right now and looking pretty mediocre. (Update 2: Wallace just scored a sick TD… or maybe not it’s getting challenged.  My pick was already made and I’m sticking to it.)

RB:  With Ryan Matthews picking up and Ahmad Bradshaw back, Peaty’s RB situation is strong despite losing Forte.  Benson and BJGE are decent options who depend on getting redzone carries if they’re going to put up solid numbers.

The Rest:  Watching Hillis do absolutely nothing so far in the Thursday nighter.  Gronkowski will have to beast to make up for it.  The Crab has a nice matchup.

Prediction:  Peaty upsets Dockers.

(2)Cool Hand Luke vs. (8)Rapethlisburger

Our final match is a rematch of last years championship game.  This time however, the roles have been flipped and the Commish is the overwhelming favorite and Crich forced to play the nobody believed in us role.

QB:  Apparently Mike Vick isn’t a good play this week coming off injury against a fiery Dolphins D.  And Phillip Rivers managed to play his best ball in a month last Monday against the Jags.  We’ll call this a tie for now.

WR:  Love Welker, but don’t trust Floyd yet.  Boldin has the sweet Colts matchup and if I’ve learned anything this season it is to trust in A.J. Green.

RB:  Ray Rice against Indy > Shady against the Dolphins.  That means the Commish needs a rejuvenated CJ to outperform Helu.  Both have decent matchups, so it should be tight.  Crich gets the nod at the Commish’s strongest position.

The Rest:  Both tight ends have seen their situations worsen, both flexes cannot be trusted.  Crich gets an extra point for the spark the Hawks defense will receive from our presence at the game.

Prediction:  Crich remains undefeated in playoff games.

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