Congratulations, you made it past your first-round playoff game. Or in some cases, you had a first-round bye. Kudos either way. With the effort of trying to win you a championship title and maybe some cash, let’s take a gander at some matchups this week. Some to delight in, and others to be weary of.
Drew Brees (QB, NO) 340 yards, five passing touchdowns and yes, a rushing touchdown to boot. Drew Brees had an outstanding game this past week against the 49ers. But it was all for nothing as the Saints lost an important game. They now know they have to win out and hope San Francisco, somehow, loses two games.
With this loss, Drew Brees tied Ben Roethlisberger in a dubious stat. They have now both lost six games in which they threw for four or more touchdowns and no interceptions in their careers. Brees wants to make sure not to break the record. A game this Monday against the struggling Colts should bring the first win in what should be three straight to finish the season. If they are going to accomplish this, it will be important for Drew Brees to lead the way.
Alvin Kamara is clearly not the same this season. Despite getting great blocking this weekend, He was still only able to gain 29 yards rushing. His PPR volume is good, but it does not make up for the lack of production found in the run game. Brees, therefore, has to step up. Lucky for him and all us Saints fans, Michael Thomas is there. After another incredible game of 11 for 134 and a touchdown, Thomas is far and away the best receiver in the NFL this season. Sure, there are other great players at the position. But no one is playing better this season than Thomas. As the playoffs draw closer, Brees will count on Thomas to remain the beast he has been so far. And we can count on Drew Brees to be the beast he has been in past seasons.
Many think his arm is weaker and it is. But his mind is still there. Oh, and so is his un-human accuracy which has only gone up in recent years. If Kamara continues to struggle, or even if he doesn’t, expect Brees to take this team on his back and carry them as far as they are going to go. It starts this week with a juicy matchup against a team who just gave up 465 yards and four touchdowns to Jameis Winston.
Ryan Tannehill (QB, TEN) If only the Titans had started Ryan Tannehill from the start. Where could they be now? Instead of coming into this game against the Texans hoping to get the division lead, they would already be there.
They are red hot right now. Derek Henry has a lot to do with it, but so does Tannehill. The quarterback left for dead in Miami under Adam Gase. Well a new team brings new vigor. And vigor is abundant here. After four touchdowns last week, including 2 rushing, Tannehill came out this past Sunday against the Raiders and had another monster game. Over 350 yards and three touchdowns is a great start to the fantasy playoffs. A playoff which could see him be the top quarterback by its end.
With a reliable A.J. Brown as an actual number one, sorry Corey Davis truthers, this team is loaded to make waves. The Texans just had trouble with Rookie Drew Lock and the Denver Broncos. Denver was able to do anything it wanted against the Texans defense. Lock threw for 309 yards and the run game was also extremely effective behind Lindsey and Freeman. The chances of Tannehill doing similar to Houston this week are very likely. Not to mention the Texans will be worn down by Derek Henry throughout the game. Making it even easier to pick them apart.
Ryan Tannehill may not be the quarterback Tennessee wanted. But he is the one they needed. He should also be the streaming quarterback you want to start this week in fantasy.
Sure, San Francisco just got blown up on defense by the New Orleans Saints. This does not mean they are a bad defense. As the first ranked pass defense in the NFL, no one should be thinking this way. It was a tough game, in the Super Dome, against a team who has everything to play for. The Falcons on the other hand? Not so much.
The Falcons, like most dome teams, are entirely different outdoors. If this game were in Atlanta the feeling might be different. But being this game is in Santa Clara, the 49ers and Richard Sherman should do what they couldn’t last week. Cover someone. Julio and Calvin Ridley are a great duo. But the injuries have been piling up. Ridley left the game last week. With the announcement on Instagram Monday saying he will be out the rest of the season; this will minimize the effectiveness of Jones in the game. Russell Gage is a nice name. But he is not the talent Ridley is and he will not garner the same attention Ridley across the field from Jones.
We know Julio Jones is not 100% and we also know he will fight through it. But this season has not been a banner year for him. Want proof? Did you realize, coming into Week 14, Leonard Fournette has more receptions than Julio Jones? Exactly. Good thing he got paid this off season.
The 49ers are going to run the ball, and run a lot. They are going to be able to control the time of possession battle making it difficult for Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ pass game to get anything going. As good as Ryan was last week with over 350 pass yards and three touchdowns, this is not going to be repeated in California. There are better streaming options out there at the quarterback position. It would benefit you and your playoff hopes, if you choose one of those options.
We also know the New England defense is incredible. Even in the team’s defeats, the defense has been a constant presence. Against a highly powered Kansas City offense Sunday, they held the Chiefs to three points in the second half of the game. They are a top five defense in all manners of the game, and this will show again this week.
Mixon has had a resurgence of late. Two straight games of over 100 rush yards is a thing of beauty. Too bad it happened after he disappointed all season and most of the teams who drafted him were out of the running. But if you did have him and still advance to the playoffs, you were extremely happy with his game against the Browns on Sunday. Don’t expect the same this week.
The Patriots are desperate and have their back against the wall. You never want to be on the receiving end of a cornered cat. Mixon, Dalton and company are going to be on the receiving end this week. So, make sure you stand out of the way.