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Fantasy Football: Divisional Trends

Fantasy Football: Divisional Trends

Courtesy of Bleacher Report

Fantasy football is as much about having the best players as is it is about exploiting the best matchups. Below, I give you to expect from each division on a weekly basis.
AFC North (Steelers, Ravens, Browns, Bengals)
The Dog Pound, The Steel Curtain: this is the home of hardnosed football. When looking at potential matchups for the week ahead, you don’t want to see any of these teams. All four of them rank in the top half of the league in points allowed and third down defense. The PPG speaks for itself, but as a fantasy owner of a QB going against these teams; it is the later stat that would worry me. This division excels at stopping the pass on passing downs, so if you own a QB in a pass happy offense (guys like Romo or Vick), a matchup with an AFC North opponent is the last thing you want.
AFC East (Patriots, Jets, Dolphins, Bills)
Other than the Jets, this division can by beat through the air. Heck, even the Jets were the victim of relentless Romo for 3 quarters. The Bills surrendered 35 points last week to the Raiders, with the duo of Jason Campbell and Denarius Moore doing most of the damage. Chad Henne picked on the New England secondary in week one, while the Dolphins has allowed big fantasy days from Brady and Matt Schaub thus far. The Dolphins have an excuse, as those are two elite passers, but they achieved at a level above elite when playing the Fins. If you are stuck in a bye week or an injury situation (Manning, Romo, Vick, etc.) look at the waiver wire for QB’s playing a team in the AFC East.
AFC South (Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Titans)
Looking for a team’s defense to spot start this week? This is the place for you. The Texans have some weapons, but take advantage while Arian Foster is on the shelf. Other than Houston, everyone ranks in the bottom quarter of the league in points surrendered. All four teams are in the bottom half of the league in passing TD’s. So they must be scoring on the ground, right? Wrong. They have combined for four rushing TD’s this year. With a lack of repetitions for stars like Manning, Foster, and Chris Johnson, and just a lack of stars in Jacksonville, now is the time to pounce on these weak offenses.
AFC West (Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders)
This is a tough division to figure out. The defending champion Chiefs look poised to land Andrew Luck, while the joke of a franchise in Oakland looks legitimate. One thing you can count on here, however, is running backs. Not the top tier guys, but with injuries and time shares, this division has seven or eight RB’s worth owning.With Jamaal Charles lost for the year, Thomas Jones moves into the featured role. Dexter McCluster has been gaining carries, and the Chiefs will likely want to evaluate him, and thus give him more touches. In Denver, you’ve got the ever inconsistent but potential stud in Knowshon Moreno. If he isn’t your cup of tea, try out a TD vulture and physical runner in Willis McGahee. The one-two punch in Oakland works in a similar fashion, although Darren McFadden is the clear top option. Michael Bush gets his share of scores, making him a worthy plug and play option. The Chargers have two very gifted backs that are weekly starts in most leagues. Mike Tolbert will get the dirty yards, and most of the TD’s, while Ryan Matthews will handle the ball between the 20’s. If you’ve had some bad luck with RB’s this year (Foster, Charles, Steven Jackson, DeAngelo Williams) turn your attention toward the AFC West.
NFC North (Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings)
Similar to the AFC East, this group of teams is one that can be exposed through the passing game. The numbers are a bit dramatic, but the point remains valid. The Packers have been torched by opposing QB’s (Brees and Newton both went for 400+ yards), but that is because their teams are behind. Green Bay is an efficient offense, meaning their opponents have lots of possessions. The more efficient Rodgers and Co. are the more passing chances for the opposing QB. The Vikings simply aren’t very good, and can be beaten by any offense. They don’t generate much of a pass rush, so mobility isn’t necessary. The Bears and Lions both pride themselves on taking away the running game, which (you guessed it) leaves them vulnerable via the pass. Don’t be scared off by solid defenses, there are fantasy points to be had for QB’s when they enter the NFC North.
NFC East (Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Redskins)
This is the lone division in all of football that offers extreme depth at WR. By employing multiple weapons, the NFC East will regularly have WR’s that contribute WR1 numbers. The duo’s are able to play off of one another, and their quarterbacks typically find the one in single coverage. If both top receivers are covered, that is when you strike gold with a sleeper. Take away DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, and its Jason Avant time. Fred Davis has even made the Redskins more dangerous than anyone would have predicted. Whether it is an elite option like Nicks, or a sleeper like Avant, you want WR’s from the NFC East.
NFC South (Bucs, Panthers, Falcons, Saints)
A quarterback led division in a QB driven league. Cam Newton’s play has overshadowed everyone in the first two weeks, as he has recorded back-to-back 400 yard games. The rookie has shown maturity far beyond his year, and has a great connection with the forgotten Steve Smith. Brees also has a 400 yard day to his name, and is recognized as an elite QB already. Josh Freemen and Matt Ryan have flown under the radar. Freemen is maturing quickly, and has a balanced offense around him. He won’t win a week for you, but he certainly is a solid play. Matty Ice set a career high in TD tosses (4) against arguably one of the finest secondary’s ever created in the Eagles. Ryan has the talents around him to take a step into the upper echelon of signal caller.
NFC West (Cardinals, 49ers, Seahawks, Rams)
This is where WR’s go to die, from a fantasy perspective of course. Larry Fitzgerald has been the lone pass catcher to survive the worst division in football. Sam Bradford and Kevin Kolb could be good QB’s, but neither is ready to make their current cast of WR’s valuable. San Fran’s top WR is actually a TE, and Seattle has a QB in Tavaris Jackson who isn’t comfortable throwing the ball. Under no circumstance should you waste a roster spot on any receiver, besides Fitz, from the NFC Worst.


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