Fantasy football is over for the season, unless you want to jump into a postseason game. NFL.com and numerous other sports sites offer free games in which you draft NFL players for the postseason and compete based on how many points they produce for you.
With that in mind we chased down Tim Schuler, a Buffalo native who is the chief operating officer of RotoWire.com.
Here's our Q&A:
Q: Tim, this was another year full of surprises for fantasy GMs. Now that we're into January there are probably no sleepers about to come out of nowhere in the NFL playoffs, but are there any NFL players who are being overlooked or who might surprise us in the postseason?
A: Unlike the regular season, the fantasy postseason is all about trying to squeeze an extra game or two out of your guys. So if you can identify the teams you think can run off two or three games, the numbers almost always trump a star from a one-and-done team. I've got Jake Delhomme, an average fantasy QB, ranked third at the position because Carolina should be good for at least two games, maybe three. Plus, the Panthers will see Minnesota, Atlanta or Arizona in their first game, all below average passing defenses.
Tight end Kevin Boss may offer more value than a monster like Antonio Gates because he could see at least twice the action. And after the stud running backs are off the board, someone like Joseph Addai … who killed owners in 2008 … might be a sneaky pick. The Colts may be around until the second or even third round, and Addai is finally getting healthier after a season of maladies. He should see some holes if teams spend too much energy trying to slow down a Peyton Manning attack that's clicking on all cylinders again.
Q: There are quarterbacks in the tournament who have no playoff experience: Matt Ryan, Tarvaris Jackson and Joe Flacco. Aside from any salary cap considerations, which of those three is the best bet for a playoff fantasy team?
A: I'd rank them Ryan, then Flacco, then Jackson. Ryan and Flacco seem to have the better shot of advancing, and I'd say Atlanta stands the best chance of running off a couple of games. Yes, lack of experience with Ryan and Flacco is a slight concern, but don't worry about the rookie factor too much. They're entering their 17th pro games, and it's not like either just took over the starting job. Both the Falcons and Ravens, even though they thrive with the run, see defenses you can pass on, so the numbers should be adequate.
Jackson, on the other hand, faces a stiff Philly defense and his team may not even get out of the first round. In fact, if he's shaky, he may not even get out of the first game with veteran Gus Frerotte waiting in the wings. Jackson is the worst QB you can own this postseason.
Q: For fantasy playoff games, do you put more of a premium on players who score touchdowns as
opposed to high-yardage guys?
A: Touchdowns. Yards are harder to come by in the playoffs than during the regular season. The defenses are better, the weather is generally worse, and the games get played closer to the vest. So it levels the playing field. Michael Turner doesn't get to torch the Lions for 220 yards. Scoring also gets curtailed a bit, but the teams that advance will still have to put up points. So I focus on guys who might score three or four times before the postseason dance is done. Brandon Jacobs, Le'Ron McClain, Steve Smith and Dallas Clark are the types of guys who fit that bill.
Q: Tight end is always a tough position without a lot of depth for fantasy GMs. Which tight end do you like for the playoffs?
A: If you think the Colts can at least get past the Chargers, Clark is by far the best tight end available. He's worth nabbing a round earlier than expected because there's not much out there after the top 2-3 guys. If you miss out on Clark, Heath Miller is starting to heat up with 13 catches for 124 yards in the Steelers' last two games, and Boss did score six times this season. With Plaxico Burress out, he'll remain a red-zone target. If you snooze on this position, you're going to end up unrealistically hoping someone like Brent Celek magically turns into Mark Bavaro. Don't count on it.
Q: The oddsmakers list the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans as the favorites to meet in the Super Bowl. How do you see it?
A: It's hard to argue against the Giants. They don't have a glaring weakness, which you can find on almost any other team. But there's something I like about this Panthers team. Lots of veterans, an excellent offensive line and a running game built for January. The AFC, unlike last year, is so wide open. You could make a case for any of the six teams -- almost all are playing well -- while no one is above a quick out either. I'll go with a Final 4 of Panthers, Giants, Steelers and Colts. And just to go against the grain (keeping a New Year's resolution for at least one day), I'll take the Panthers to win it all.