Friday, January 06, 2006

PLAYOFF FANTASY FOOTBALL "START & SIT"

New York Giants: This is NOT the team NY wanted to meet up with in the 1st round. Panther D-Coordinator John Fox will throw all kinds of looks and blitz packages at NY's young Signal Caller, and try to get him rattled early. Fox, as NY's former Defensive Coordinator, is well aware of Big Blue's strengths and weaknesses. The Panther's formidable and relentless pass rush will give a thrown together Giant O-Line fits, and make Barber's job VERY tough.

QB ELI MANNING: SIT- Look for the Cats to confuse, pressure, fluster, and force the young Mann' into turnovers.


NY's bread and butter is, obviously, RB Tiki Barber. Playing in the brutal North East, ANY contender MUST have a top-notch run game. Look for the G-Men to feel the cat D' out with Tiki. The danger? If Barber stumbles early, as they've done before... they'll go away from the run and put the scoring responsibility on QB Eli Manning's inexperienced shoulders.

RB TIKI BARBER: START- How can you sit such a playmaker? I would, however, temper my expectations for Big Blue's back. The moment coach Tom Coughlin strays away from the run, irregardless of the score, is when the game is over.
Keep in mind, however, the Panther run D is amongst the VERY best in the bidniss'.

NY's Secondary is its Achilles heel, and I can't see them stopping stud Panther WR Steve Smith. Smith has the strength to be press coverage, and the moves and speed to gain yards after the catch when the DBs play off of him. NY will bracket Smith with a Safety and a CB... but that begets its own set of problems. Those problems, incidentally, are embodied in savvy pass catcher Ricky Proehl.

As for NY, look for WR Amani Toomer to play a significant role in the Giant passing game. While the Panthers have talent in the D-backfield, they will allot most of their resources to stopping both WR Plaxico Burress and TE Jeremy Shockey. Toomer has been overlooked by opponents before... and they've paid a 6-point price.

WR AMANI TOOMER: START- With Plax' and Shock drawing so much attention, Amani's a sneaky-good start.


WR PLAXICO BURRESS: START- Temper your expectations for Burress... 'cause he's gonna be a feast or famine start. He'll either post something akin to 110/1-2... or 40-70 receiving yards and no TDs. Nevertheless, Plax' is too talented, too big, and will probably be a big part of the offensive game plan... a game plan that will hinge on RB Tiki Barber then taking shots deep... to Burress.

TE JEREMY SHOCKEY: SIT- The Shock-Jock is forever hurt... and he's currently nursing a banged-up ankle. My guess is that he IS healthy... but I wouldn't want to take a chance on him. Should NY slip past Carolina, and Shockey proves he's healthy, he'll be an excellent 2nd round start.

Kicker Jay Feeley has experienced some confidence issues... he just can't seem to get it up when he needs to.

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Carolina Panthers Here's a scary team. The receiving corps came up a bit short... outside of Smith of course, and the run game is hit or miss. The relentless pass rush and formidable, hard-hitting D will be probelmatic for a Giant team that is probably a few players away from really vying for a 'Bowl berth.

QB JAKE DELHOMME: START- Delhomme is a steady-Eddie slinger and against this porous, vulnerable Giant Secondary, the Cat QB is an EXCELLENT start! Look for both he and WR Steve Smith to hook up at least once... and maybe more.

RB DESHAUN FOSTER: START- While Foster isn't in Tiki Barber's class, his very versatility is what makes him so valuable. Foster can catch the ball coming out of the backfield and once he finds some open real estate... he can make defenders miss. The G-Men will probably be forced to blitz Delhomme after he and Smith burn 'em... and that could open some running lanes for Foster. In addition, the loss of MLB Antonio Pierce looms large. Pierce, an off-season addition, made a world of run-stopping difference, LB Nick Griesen... while solid, isn't a sideline to sideline missile.

WR STEVE SMITH: START!!!- Coming off of what was widely considered to be a career threatening injury... Smith put on an absolute pass catching clinic this season! Smith and Delhomme are one of THE best Pass and Catch combos in the league, and against NY's terrible pass D, Smith could hang a hunnert' or more. Look for something like 125/2.

WR RICKY PROEHL: START- A double-diggy' season vet', Proehl has more speed than one would imagine and possesses a pair of fly-paper hands. With the disappearance of 2nd year Wideout Keary Colbert came the re-emergence of Ricky Proehl. He enjoyed a rennaissance season and he WILL find the End-Zone at least once
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If your league requires IDP plays, 6-7 Julius Peppers will be on QB Eli Manning like stink on garbage.

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Washingington Redskins: This team also has a poor draw in Tampa. The Bucca'D will make life miserable for a gimpy QB Mark Brunell, but the 'Skin D-Unit is a rock-solid unit. When last these 2 teams met, during week 10, the Buccs' escaped with a 1-point win... 36-35.

QB MARK BRUNELL: SIT- Bru' is hobbled by a bum ankle, and the O may well look to red-hot RB Clinton Portis.
Bru' floundered last week... and against a ball-hawkin CB such as Ronde Barber and his hard-hitting mates, Brunell will have a long day at the office. Oddly enuff', WR Santana Moss is a better start.

RB CLINTON PORTIS: START- C-Port tore off a fistful of 100+ yard rushing games and ended the season in strong fashion. Against a defense that flows to the ball with all the speed of a flash-flood, a cut-back runner like Portis could prove to be their undoing. Portis is a much different runner than he was even at the start of the season. Portis is patient and he waits for his blocks to develop, he's powerful enough to pound the rock between the Tackles... and swift enough to bounce a broken play outside and turn the corner. RB Ladell Betts spells Portis and is capable of moving the chains. Tampa struggles with the power running game... precisely the style of O Washington plays.

WR SANTANA MOSS: START- Moss has been utterly brilliant. Dude can make things happen after the catch, he and Brunell share a nice rapport, and really...there ain't another Wideout for Bru' to throw to!

H-BACK/TE CHRIS COOLEY: START- With all the attention Moss will garner, Cooley, who has soft-hands and brilliant body control, WILL be Brunell's Red-Zone target of choice.


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Pittsburgh Steelers Next to the New England Patriots, NO team has been hotter entering the post-C'. The boys from PA have the run game going, the run D is as stiff as a bowl whipped Egg Whites, and the skill po' players have quietly assembled excellent seasons.

QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER: SIT- Nursing a bum thumb, Big Ben knows what time it is... time to hand the ball off to Bettis and Fast Willie. *NOTE: If Roethlisberger is forced to drop back to pass more than 20-25 times, the team will have strayed away from both their game plan and offensive strength. Roethlisberger will look for 2 receivers when forced; Hines Ward and TE Heath Miller. Unheralded but highly productive WR Hines Ward, in particular, shares a strong rapport with the Steeler Signal Caller.

RB JEROME BETTIS: START- Bettis, as hard as it is to believe, has quick, nifty feet for such an enormous man. In addition, he hits the hole or crease in a hurry, and is big enough to make one for himself. Bettis can also hurl himself through any number of stacked defenders. Looking at "The Bus," you just KNOW he hasn't missed too many team meals. Unfortunately for Steeler and Football fans in general, this IS Bettis's 'Swan Song." After so much abuse and so many seasons, look for "The Bus" to retire after this season. But because the Canton-Bound back is looking to leave on a high-note, he's been running hard and productively. Look for coach Cowher to consistently feed Bettis the G-Line carries. Bettis may well be one of the best short-yardage/Goalline runners EVER, and Cowher would like to see the legendary runner add a score or 4 to his final TD tally.

RB WILLIE PARKER: START- "Fast Willie Parker" has become a local legend inside of a single season. With more moves than a "Solid Gold Dancer," excellent pass catching abilities, and speed to burn, "FWP" has proven himself to be a diamond in the rough... especially for his fantasy owners. Cincy' CAN be run on and Parker will get the carries between the 10's... the Red-Zone totes belong to Jerome. It wouldn't be surprising at all to see Parker total 20-25 touches.
If you belong to a "yardage league," Parker MUST be considered a top 4 back.

WR HINES WARD: START- Ward and Roethlisberger share a spooky chemistry... and if the play call is a pass... Big Ben will look to Ward first... and second.

TE HEATH MILLER: START- A sneaky start if ever there was one, Heath "Big Money" Miller is it. The hands-down best pass-catching TE to come out of the '05 draft, Miller's improved incrementally and should be a Pro Bowler inside of a year or 2. He certainly will get some Red-Zone looks.

Cincinatti Bengals Let me tell ya', the one team the Bengs' did NOT want to see in tghe first round was the Steelers. The teams split the pair of games they played this season... but Cin' City is jogging into the Post-C where the Steelers are heading into the second-season with a full head of steam.

QB CARSON PALMER: START- If the Steelers have a defensive weakness... it's the secondary. Look for Palmer and the pass to set RB Rudi Johnson and the run up ... as opposed to Bettis and Parker paving the way for 18 or so passing plays.

RB RUDI JOHNSON: SIT- The Steeler run D is brutal, and there are better alternatives. Sit Rudi for this game, at least.

WRs CHAD JOHNSON, T.J HOUSHMANDZADEH: START- Watch c'ARSON attempt to set the Steeler D-backfield ablaze. Johnson, in particular, will be a tough matchup for the Steeler Secondary. Better believe that the Hairy-Human-Heat-Seeking-Safety/Missile named Troy Polamalu will be doubling up on Chad.... leaving T.J Houshman-hatetospellhisname in single coverage. A sleeper... and a solid one at that, would be WR Chris Henry. Henry, recently suspended for indulging in a lil' o' the sticky, has great speed and seperation skills. It wouldn't be a stunner to see him snare a couple of deep balls. Heny has great speed, size, and leaping ability. If he can stay on the straight and narrow, he could become the #2 receiver by mid-season of next season.

REST TO FOLLOW!

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