Finally, the fantasy football playoffs are here! For some owners, their season-long goal has finally been accomplished, and for many others, the goal has vanished. Week 13 was the final week for many fantasy leagues, showcasing a couple of hot quarterbacks as well as a quarterback-wide receiver combination that is peaking at the perfect time.
Tom Brady and Michael Vick were the two quarterbacks that led the fantasy scoreboard in Week 13. Brady had his second straight 29-point performance, in one of his team’s biggest games of the season, triumphing over the division rival Jets. The Patriots’ quarterback threw for four touchdowns and no interceptions as they took control of the AFC with a 45-3 victory.
Just one point below Brady’s 29-point feat, Michael Vick added another big game to his long list of 2010 accomplishments. The NFL leader in Pro Bowl voting led the Eagles to their eighth victory of the season by throwing for 302 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Just like Michael Vick does best, he also scored a touchdown on the ground, rushing for 48 yards.
Besides these two quarterbacks lighting it up in Week 13, Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings have been quietly doing the same over the last month. Rodgers has thrown for 11 touchdowns in his last four games with no interceptions over that period. He has averaged over 27 points a game in that stretch, and is looking in the direction of his talented wideout Greg Jennings a majority of the time. Rodgers found Jennings six times in Week 13, two of them for touchdowns.
Within the Packers’ offense, Jennings stretches the secondary, and has caught six touchdowns from Rodgers during that four game stretch. Jennings had to wait until Week 6 to garner 100 receiving yards in a game, but he has now done so in three consecutive matchups. Against the porous secondary of the Lions in Week 14, expect much of the same.
The rise in connections between Rodgers and Jennings has come with the injury to tight end Jermichael Finley, and could not come at a better time for the Packers as they are battling the Bears for the NFC North division title.
Fantasy Friday really swung and missed on must-starts last week. Banking on the 49ers to give Brian Westbrook a healthy dose of carries seemed like the most convincing move, but the running back didn’t even get the most touches in the San Francisco backfield. Westbrook received nine carries that amounted to just 33 yards in the 49ers’ 34-16 loss to Green Bay.
Given the inconsistencies of fantasy football, duds like Westbrook give Fantasy Friday reason enough to have two must-starts each week. Unfortunately, the other must-start filled up a similar stat sheet to Westbrook. Giants’ receiver Mario Manningham, the de facto number No. 1 receiver in New York, caught only two passes on Sunday for 36 yards and three fantasy points.
Following that performance, Fantasy Friday is going to need a boost from running back LeGarrette Blount as a must-start for Week 14. Since Week 7, Blount has solidified himself as the number one back in Tampa Bay, and has been putting up consistent, solid numbers for a rookie tailback. If he gets 20 plus carries against the Redskins, look for at least 80 yards and a score.
Vernon Davis is the second must-start in Week 14, starting at tight end for the San Francisco 49ers. Davis was a top three tight end before his starting quarterback went down with an injury earlier this year. Alex Smith is back under center for San Francisco, and Davis’ targets are sure to see an increase.
As for advice entering the fantasy playoffs, do not dwell heavily on any certain start. Teams reach the playoffs for a reason, whether it was a key waiver pickup like Vick or a late-round sleeper draft pick like Arian Foster. Or maybe your team is now stacked from a few strategic trades. Regardless, owners should not change strategies now, and need to go with what got them into the fantasy postseason in the first place.