2019-20 NFC Divisional Round Playoff and Handicapping Preview
One round full of surprises in the books…let’s see what the divisional round deals us. We’re going to look at each matchup from a fantasy (daily, contests) and handicapping standpoint. Including a look ahead to the next round.
We started with the AFC…and now the NFC previews.
MIN at SF (-7.0)
It’s all going against Minnesota here. Stefon Diggs is sick. Adam Thielen suffered a not-small cut to his leg in practice and has that to deal with. The Vikings are coming off an emotional OT game. The 49ers have been planning and healing for two weeks. And the 49ers are the superior team at every single position on the field.
I think the 49ers are peaking at the right time and are now a serious threat to take down the Ravens in the end…which I didn’t think was possible a few weeks/months ago. If the 49ers get back fully ready-to-go Kwon Alexander – everything changes. We get back to the elite SF defense we saw to start the season to go with their amazing offense from the 2nd-half of the 2019 season.
I think with Kyle Shanahan having two weeks to prepare and considering how superior the 49ers are…this game could be over quickly. And then the 49ers don’t have to run Raheem Mostert heavy or wear out George Kittle…it can be a spread-it-around game getting everyone involved down to Tevin Coleman and Kendrick Bourne.
The only fresh thing about this game that comes to mind, for a slick fantasy play attempt – if one of Diggs or Thielen is down, maybe Irv Smith gets more time/targets and semi-shocks. When Thielen was out this season, Smith started perking up as a real every pass down option…with erratic targeting and results, but he did have some moments…he’s a factor the 49ers may not account for as much.
I’ll take the 49ers by 2+ scores and lay the points. What I really want is the ‘over’ 44.5 pts here.
SEA at GB (-4.0)
I’m taking the points and calling for the upset…or, at least, the cover. I’d have more confidence here if the weather wasn’t going to be 20 degrees/’feels like’ 15 in this game.
The Packers have not faced an elite QB, or close to it, this entire season…part of the reason why they are 13-3. The best offense/QB they faced this year was the 49ers in Week 12…and they lost that game 37-8. When they faced KC…Mahomes was out/hurt. From Week 8 on, here are the QBs/offenses the Packers have faced…Matt Moore, P. Rivers (got smoked by LAC), Kyle Allen, Jimmy G. (got crushed by SF), Dan Jones, Haskins, Trubisky, Cousins minus Cook+Thielen just back/not 100%, Blough. The Packers are a schedule-driven team/event in 2019 as much as anything.
With the other three playoff games, the home team, the BYE week team, has experienced head coaches who have nice records off a BYE. Here, in this contest, you have Matt LaFleur somehow invited to the grown-ups table. When he had a BYE week this season (Week 11), his team lost to the 49ers by 29 points the next week. There is a Pete Carroll over LaFleur advantage.
For fantasy, assume the teams do what they do…they will try to run the ball at each other…with Wilson and Rodgers kept in a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ case on the wall, as they tend to do. Rodgers has averaged 250.1 passing yards and 1.6 TD passes per game in 2019 in this new offense…not even top 10 or top 15 work among QBs per game this season. Wilson has thrown for 256.9 yards per game…and that number declining the whole 2nd-half of the season. These are conservative offenses playing in cold weather…the run game will lead the way as an initial plan.
The Packers defense has been up and down but great at timely turnovers…but now face the least turnover prone QB in the game besides Rodgers. This game has all the makings of a dull slog like the SEA-PHI game was. It should be an exciting battle of ’Wilson v. Rodgers’ but really it will be ‘Lynch/Homer v. Jones/Williams’.
Allen Lazard has 4.5 rec., 8.5 targets, 67.0 yards, and 0.50 TDs per game the past two weeks as he is FINALLY starting to receiver the targeting he deserves.
Travis Homer in PPR could be a surprise – Weeks 16-17 he averaged 5.5 catches on 6.5 targets per game. Homer is like a lesser talented but more needed Boston Scott for Seattle right now.
I think it’s going to be SEA/GB vs. SF in the finals, and I like the 49ers either way. I’m really getting on the 49ers bandwagon if Kwon Alexander is back…their defense started to crumble when he got hurt, at around the same time CB Ahkello Witherspoon did and the both missed a lot of time…Kwon wasn’t sure he could make it back for the playoffs. It looks like he’s back and that’s bad news for their opponents, whether GB or SEA in the NFC finals. I like the SF-DST a lot if Kwon is back.
The 49ers spread it around a lot so I’m not sure there is one go-to for fantasy, but Raheem Mostert has been money for scoring at least one TD in a game since he took over the starting role…which is about the same time the 49ers offense really took off.
The other thing working as SF goes…Deebo Samuel working more and more in the running game as almost another RB. At least one carry on each of his last five games. 2 or 3 carries in a game in three of his last 4 games. Deebo has averaged 11.4 yards per carry and rushed for 3 TDs this season…the same number of rushing TDs this season as Leonard Fournette and Miles Sanders, and one more rushing TD than David Johnson and Devonta Freeman in 2019 season. Two more rushing TDs than Matt Breida in the 2019 season.
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