Buckle up folks! We're on to the second round of the NFL Playoff Challenge and this is where it gets really interesting. Below are some of our lineups for the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Many of them are similar to our picks from Wild Card Weekend with just a couple of tweaks. It was wise to start with players who had a bye last week because now they get the 2x-point multiplier. Just in case you're not familiar with the point system here's how it works: Players earn points via standard fantasy scoring for NFL.com, with a little twist. The fantasy points accumulated by each player during one weekly scoring period will be multiplied by the number of consecutive weeks in which the player has been on your roster -- assuming his team progresses through the playoffs. A player can earn bonus point multipliers of 2x, 3x or 4x for a given week based on the number of weeks they were on your fantasy team roster. Sound like fun? It is! Join up RIGHT HERE and keep your fantasy season going.
Marcas gets a nod of approval for being the only one of us to pick a player from Wild Card Weekend to advance to this week's Divisional round in DeMarco Murray. He'll get a nice bonus from Murray now and won't have to swap anyone else into his RB2 spot just yet. He will however lose one of either Murray or Jordy Nelson (who has scored nine touchdowns in Lambeau this season) heading into the Championship round as there can only be one winner in Green Bay. I heard that it's pretty cold there. All of Marcas' other players will enjoy an automatic 2x-points multiplier which is of course part of his Playoff Challenge strategy. In addition, Carolina might have held the Cardinals to just 78 total yards on offense last week, but the Russell Wilson/Marshawn Lynch combination will be a bit tougher for the Panthers to handle. He'll also toss in Julian Edelman who was inactive in Weeks 16-17 with a concussion, but logged limited practices this week and has a favorable matchup versus a Ravens' secondary that has struggled against wideouts this season. Baltimore's pass defense has been playing a bit better of late, though. And then there's Gronk who is just, well … Gronk.
Alex definitely thinks the Packers are going all the way this year as he's used half of his picks on Green Bay players including Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, and is interestingly using both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. With the recent developments regarding Rodgers' calf injury, this could be a bit riskier than he may have thought when selecting his lineup before the Wild Card round. Still, when Rodgers is on the field all of Green Bay's playmakers are some of the most valuable in fantasy. Should Matt Flynn have to step in, well that's another story. Alex had Bengals' running back Jeremy Hill in his RB2 spot last week so he won't be getting any multipliers there for the Divisional round as he slots Beast Mode into his lineup. He's also locking in Gronk and the Seahawks defense, which all three of us seem to agree on.
Last week, Alex noted that my picks are a bit more diverse than you might expect to see in a challenge like this. I just feel there's too much risk in going gung-ho on just one team because if they drop out, you lose all of those multipliers, so I decided spread the love a bit. Some may have given up on Peyton Manning in the playoffs, but I haven't. And if I'm going with Peyton, I figured why not roll with one of his most lethal weapons in Demaryius Thomas? Antonio Brown didn't work out last week, so I'm plugging Dez Bryant in his place for a couple of reasons. First off, Bryant scored more touchdowns than any other receiver in the league during the season (16), with six of them coming in the final three weeks. Secondly, both Marcas and Alex have Jordy Nelson entering this round on a 2x multiplier. So if I went with Nelson and the Packers advance, I would just be chasing those points and wouldn't have any advantage. My strategy is to go with Bryant in hopes that the Cowboys move on and both Marcas and Alex lose Nelson next week. But now I risk the loss of either Lacy or Bryant. Anyway, Bryant is due for a big game after he put up a three catch, 48-yard stinker last week. Plus, the Packers secondary has struggled against wideouts all season.
Bell has stocked up on Broncos and Patriots so he'll be in good shape if both teams win in the Divisional round, but only one of them can make the Super Bowl. It looks like he's with us when it comes to Gronkowski, too. But Bell missed out on the Wild Card Weekend round of picks because something tells me he had more important things going on...